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Night time breathing for insomnia

Posted on 21 April, 2015 at 8:49 Comments comments (5)
Night time breathing for insomnia


Nearly everyone that I see in the Sleep Wales clinic describes feeling agitated at night or having lots of racing thoughts.

If there is one way of staying calm at night, that is to breath!

It sounds like such a cliche doesn't it? We have all heard about how slowing down our breathing can help us to calm down but how exactly does it work? How exactly do we do it?

Breathing is important for several reasons. If we start to feel agitated or tense, our breathing can speed up. This is our body's natural fight or flight response kicking in.

The faster we breath, the more agitated we start to feel and the more tense we become. 

Here's what to do....

Make sure that you are resting somewhere quiet and comfortable. Ideally, you will be in a horizontal position.

Start by becoming aware of your breathing. You don't have to change it, just become aware of breathing...through your nose.

Notice how you your stomach rises with each in breath and drops with each out-breath.

Continue to stay aware of your breathing. If your mind wonders off, that is quite normal, just bring your attention back to your breath.

Now, notice just how nice and enjoyable it is just to breath. Notice how enjoyable it is just to do nothing except breath. Allow yourself that pleasure.

Allow your breathing to naturally slow down

After as little as 2 minutes, you are likely to notice that you feel a lot calmer, your muscles more relaxed and your mind less agitated.

Enjoy

Natural sleep cycles. A must see video!

Posted on 2 March, 2015 at 10:05 Comments comments (0)
Write your post here.

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Posted on 23 October, 2012 at 8:00 Comments comments (0)
For both adults and children, exercise is vital for good sleep.
Have a read of this article to find out why exercise helps sleep.
 
Exercise and good sleep is inextricably linked. Get out for a jog after work. Exercise can help insomnia, sleep walking, nightmares and even delayed sleep phase disorder.

It is ok not to sleep all night.

Posted on 2 October, 2012 at 5:20 Comments comments (0)
Cultural and political perceptions of what good sleep is and should be have a significant impact on how we relate to sleep in our own personal lives.It is ok not to sleep all night. Great article on how we must start thinking differently about sleep.

Just how prevalent is Insomnia?

Posted on 14 August, 2012 at 12:52 Comments comments (0)
Good article from the Guardian exploring the prevalence of sleep problems in the UK

Sleep and Light

Posted on 5 July, 2012 at 8:35 Comments comments (0)
Kittens 16Exposure to sunlight is highly significant factor that affects sleep on many levels. It is not only how much light your are exposed to but also when you are exposed to it that counts. Have a look at this article from Prof Till Roenneberg.
 
 
 
 

A Guide to Napping

Posted on 11 June, 2012 at 12:43 Comments comments (0)

Minding the Body The guide to health and happiness. by Linda Wasmer Andrews
Ultimate Napping: A How-To Guide
6 steps to the best nap ever.
Published on June 5, 2010 by

A catnap might sound like the ultimate indulgence. Yet it’s a natural part of daily life for people in many cultures, not to mention more than 85% of other mammals. If you’re chronically overworked and under-rested, however, you’ll probably want to make every minute of your nap count. And if you’re a science junkie, you’ll undoubtedly want to ensure that your napping technique has the scientific stamp of approval. So just for you, here’s a snore-by-snore guide to the most efficient, most effective naptime ever.

Step 1.
Give yourself permission.
If you've been perfecting your napping form for years, you can skip this step. But if you haven’t napped on a regular basis since preschool, you might have some lingering doubts about whether napping is really a productive use of your grown-up time. Rest assured: It is. In healthy, non-elderly adults, research has shown that naps can:


  • Reduce drowsiness and fatigue
  • Restore alertness
  • Improve cognitive performance
  • Sharpen motor skills
  • Decrease errors and accidents
  • Enhance mood
  • Ease premenstrual symptoms

Step 2.
Choose your time.
Nap too early, and your body may not be ready to sleep
yet. Nap too late, and you may find it harder to fall asleep at your usual bedtime. For most people, an early afternoon naptime—starting somewhere between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.—is optimal. Napping at this time can help counter the classic post-lunch dip in energy and alertness.

Step 3.
Pick your place.
If you can nap lying down on a couch or bed, that’s ideal. Not surprisingly, in a recent study from China, napping in bed was more refreshing than napping in a seat. But if you’re stuck at your desk or on a bus, it’s not a total loss. Both groups of nappers in the study experienced less sleepiness, decreased fatigue and an improved mood, compared to those who didn’t nap at all.
Step 4.

Make yourself comfy.
Say sí to siesta with a restful environment. Make it as quiet and dark as possible by shutting the door, turning off the phone, switching off the lights and closing the blinds. The room temperature should be comfortable but not too toasty, which might make you oversleep.

Step 5.
Gather your gear.
When napping away from home, a small pillow and light blanket may help you get cozy. If you can’t make the room dark and quiet, use a sleep mask and earplugs instead. Or put on earphones and tune into relaxing sounds, such as the
for napping, which improved people’s sense of post-nap well-being in a study from New Zealand. If you need to be wide awake immediately after napping, drink a cup of coffee or can of caffeinated soda right before dozing off. The caffeine will kick in 20 to 30 minutes later—just in time to wake up.

Step 6.
Grab 20 winks (not 40).
Think short. For healthy, young adults, research indicates that the ideal nap length is only 10 to 20 minutes. Such short naps boost alertness and performance without leaving you groggy afterward or interfering with your sleep that night. In contrast, naps lasting longer than a half-hour can cause sleep inertia—a sense of grogginess and disorientation that may linger for several minutes after awakening from a deep sleep. To ensure that you don’t snooze too long, set an alarm.
P.S.

The Zzz-less Nap
Don’t worry if you can’t always fall asleep at naptime. As long as you don’ stress out over it, the rest and relaxation will still do you good. In fact, a study by British researchers found that just lying down with the intention of napping was enough to cause a drop in blood pressure.
Linda Wasmer Andrews

Sleep and Obestity

Posted on 9 May, 2012 at 13:24 Comments comments (0)
Obesity linked to lack of sleep

Less sleep led to higher levels of a hormone which increases hunger A reduction in the time people spend asleep could partly account for soaring obesity rates, a study has revealed. Researchers at the University of Bristol have found that hormonal changes caused by lack of sleep could lead to increased appetite. The population-based study examined more than 1,000 volunteers. Report author Dr Shahrad Taheri said: "Individuals who spent less than eight hours sleeping were shown to have a greater likelihood of being heavier." It is important for people to realise there is more to obesity than just stuffing your face.

Sleep and weight are inextricably linked. Good sleep is important for maintaining a healthy appetite and metabolism.
Obesity linked to lack of sleep
Less sleep led to higher levels of a hormone which increases hunger A reduction in the time people spend asleep could partly account for soaring obesity rates, a study has revealed. Researchers at the University of Bristol have found that hormonal changes caused by lack of sleep could lead to increased appetite. The population-based study examined more than 1,000 volunteers. Report author Dr Shahrad Taheri said: "Individuals who spent less than eight hours sleeping were shown to have a greater likelihood of being heavier." It is important for people to realise there is more to obesity than just stuffing your face.
Dr Shahrad Taheri The research, carried out in conjunction with US scientists, is one of three published in recent weeks to produce similar results. It found that people who habitually slept for five hours had 15% more ghrelin, a hormone which increases feelings of hunger, than those who slept for eight hours. Those who slept for less time were also found to have 15% less leptin, a hormone which suppresses appetite. "These differences are likely to increase appetite and, in societies where food is readily available, this may contribute to obesity," Dr Taheri said. "It is important for people to realise there is more to obesity than just stuffing your face." Sleep is important Dr Taheri, whose work is published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine, said there was evidence that children as young as two years old might be in danger of becoming obese if they lost a lot of sleep. "We have to realise that sleeping is not a waste of time, we have to recognise that it impacts on our health." The results of the study were replicated in a second piece of research, led by the University of Chicago. This study found people who slept for only four hours a night for two nights had an 18% reduction in leptin, anda 28% increase in ghrelin. The young men in the study also tended to eat more sweet and starchy foods when sleep was cut short. A third recent study, by Columbia University, also found found people who slept four hours or less per night were 73% more likely to be obese. Dr Neil Stanley, of the British Sleep Society, said not everybody needs a lot of sleep. "There have been a number of people who have been famous for being short sleepers, most famously in our time Margaret Thatcher, who was renowned for only four hours, and before that people like Napoleon and Hitler. "None of those was particularly large. But on the other side is Winston Churchill, who famously had his two hour nap in the afternoon, but also did not sleep very much during the evening, and cannot be said to have been a slender gentleman."
The research, carried out in conjunction with US scientists, is one of three published in recent weeks to produce similar results. It found that people who habitually slept for five hours had 15% more ghrelin, a hormone which increases feelings of hunger, than those who slept for eight hours. Those who slept for less time were also found to have 15% less leptin, a hormone which suppresses appetite. "These differences are likely to increase appetite and, in societies where food is readily available, this may contribute to obesity," Dr Taheri said. "It is important for people to realise there is more to obesity than just stuffing your face."
Sleep is important
.
Dr Taheri, whose work is published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine, said there was evidence that children as young as two years old might be in danger of becoming obese if they lost a lot of sleep. "We have to realise that sleeping is not a waste of time, we have to recognise that it impacts on our health." The results of the study were replicated in a second piece of research, led by the University of Chicago. This study found people who slept for only four hours a night for two nights had an 18% reduction in leptin, anda 28% increase in ghrelin. The young men in the study also tended to eat more sweet and starchy foods when sleep was cut short. A third recent study, by Columbia University, also found found people who slept four hours or less per night were 73% more likely to be obese.
 Dr Neil Stanley, of the British Sleep Society, said not everybody needs a lot of sleep. "There have been a number of people who have been famous for being short sleepers, most famously in our time Margaret Thatcher, who was renowned for only four hours, and before that people like Napoleon and Hitler. "None of those was particularly large. But on the other side is Winston Churchill, who famously had his two hour nap in the afternoon, but also did not sleep very much during the evening, and cannot be said to have been a slender gentleman."
Article from BBC News

Sleeping Tablets

Posted on 1 February, 2012 at 10:48 Comments comments (0)
Are sleeping pills mother's NEW little helper?

Sleep Tablets, insomnia
Last updated at 10:54 PM on 2nd January 2012

Kathy Twomey fell into bed exhausted after another busy day juggling work with childcare for her two children under three years old.
But instead of falling asleep, Kathy stayed awake — all night and for the next three consecutive nights. ‘I just had so much on my plate that I couldn’t switch off. I’d get into bed and my mind would be racing about things I had to get done the next day,’ she says.
Kathy, a journalist, had returned to work part-time after maternity leave. ‘I regularly put in 12-hour days and worked at home on my days off.
Replacing Valium? A growing number of women given sleeping pills to cope with hectic lifestyles
‘Somehow the adrenaline kicked in during the day and I did all that was required of me at work, but when I got home everything fell apart.
‘I was moody and tearful, and I’d bicker with my husband. I wasn’t depressed, just sleep-deprived, and felt if I could get a couple of good nights of sleep I’d be able hold everything together.’
Desperate after three months of sleep problems, Kathy — who lives in South London with her accountant husband John, 50, and daughters Sarah, now 12, and Flora, nine — went to her GP in tears. He prescribed sleeping pills.
 
More...

Kathy, 45, was prescribed zopiclone  — one of the so-called Z drugs, which work by releasing a brain chemical called Gaba. It acts as a natural ‘nerve-calmer’, reducing anxiety and inducing sleepiness. Other Z drugs include zaleplon and zolpidem.
‘The pills worked really well,’ says Kathy. ‘I’d take them 50 minutes before bed and they’d induce normal sleep —  I was still able to get up at night if the children woke up. The next day I felt refreshed and able to cope.
‘Some friends were horrified when I admitted taking sleeping pills, but at the time I didn’t see the problem. I thought it was better than drinking a bottle of wine every night to switch off as some people did.
‘When I went back after a month to ask for a repeat prescription, my GP handed me one and said: “Here you go. Here’s mummy’s little helpers.” She described them as a crutch to get me through my days. I was grateful and agreed with her.’
Kathy relied on zopiclone for the next four years and admits she was ‘probably addicted’ — fortunately, she was able to wean herself off them over a year. She is just one of a growing number of women given sleeping pills to cope with hectic lifestyles — experts are increasingly concerned the drugs are becoming the modern day equivalent of the original mother’s little helper, the drug Valium.
Doctors are being successfully sued by patients who have been given long-term prescriptions of addictive tranquillisers. The fear is that a similar pattern is emerging with sleeping pills (file photo)
This was widely prescribed for anxiety, but the drug is addictive, with countless thousands who took them long term suffering physical and psychological damage.
Last week, it was reported that  doctors are being successfully sued by patients who’d been given long-term prescriptions of addictive tranquillisers, known as benzodiazepines.
The fear is that a similar pattern is emerging with Z drugs. As well as being potentially addictive, Zopiclone’s side-effects can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, depression and hallucinations.
‘Z drugs are not that different from benzodiazepines,’ says Professor Allan Young, chairman of the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s Psycho Pharmacology Group.
‘They’re not prescribed for daytime use as Valium was, but they are still prescribed too freely for too long. The mother’s little helper problem is still with us.’
Insomnia, which is defined as difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, affects up to one in three of us at some point, according to a study of patients in GP practices by Keele University in 2007.
The researchers found the problem was significantly more common in women than men and suggested this was because women are more likely to consult their GPs about sleep problems. Insomnia is a growing problem, says Dr Dev Banerjee, a consultant sleep physician, who runs three private sleep clinics in the West Midlands. ‘It can be associated with stress, anxiety or being in pain. People with sleep problems tend to have a lot on their plates. They are juggling jobs and families.
‘They’re under a lot of pressure to be available to work 24 hours a day, checking emails before they go to bed. And when they get to bed, they can’t sleep because they have not had any down time to unwind.’
Ten million prescriptions for sleeping pills were written in Britain in 2010, and six million of those were for Z drugs — up by 233,000 on the previous year.
THE DOWNSIDES
The potential side-effects of Z drugs include:

  • Loss of taste
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hallucinations

Withdrawal symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremor
  • Perspiration
  • Tinnitus


This is despite guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) seven years ago, which recommended non-drug treatments for insomnia such as cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes where possible.
Drugs are meant to be prescribed only in severe cases for short-term use of two to four weeks. This is because of the risk of ‘rebound insomnia’ where the brain develops tolerance to the drugs, so the patient starts to suffer sleeplessness again and needs higher doses to fall asleep.
Yet despite the Nice guidelines, around one in five prescriptions for Z drugs in 2006 were for eight weeks or longer, according to a report published by King’s College London last summer.
‘Z drugs are a useful short-term treatment for insomnia, but what we find time and again is that prescriptions are continued and not reviewed,’ says Professor Young. ‘But they don’t work long term and if used in this way the risks outweigh the benefits.’
‘Z drugs should not be prescribed as a first-line treatment for insomnia,’ says Dr Martin Johnson, GP and trustee of the Patients’ Association.
‘GPs should be assessing what is causing sleep problems — drinking too much coffee or smoking before bedtime, for instance.
‘Another big problem is that patients have repeat prescriptions and are not reviewed regularly. Also, people who can’t sleep tend to be really desperate for help. GPs come under a lot of pressure.’
The risk of addiction is very real, says Dr Banerjee. ‘Many of my patients have tried Z drugs or are still on them and want to come off — which can be difficult.’
Sue Parker, 55, a former personal injury lawyer from Oldham, Lancs, was prescribed zopiclone in 1997 and is still on it, having experienced severe rebound insomnia.
‘When I was first prescribed them I hadn’t been sleeping as I was stressed, anxious about work and my first marriage had broken down,’ says Sue.
She was told zopiclone would help her sleep and also help with the withdrawal symptoms from medication for anxiety.
‘Life was always so full on and hectic. I found myself just trying to get through each week,’ she says.
‘If someone had told me the drug was like mother’s little helper  —Valium — I’d have scoffed, but it helped me function normally. At first, it worked like a dream: I slept well and felt calmer and more in control in the day.’
But Sue soon found she needed higher and higher doses. ‘After three months I started suffering insomnia again. My concentration was shot to pieces and eventually I had to give up my job.
‘I’ve gone from being a successful, outgoing career woman to a recluse who can’t work. The pills I was prescribed for a short-term sleep problem made me ten times worse and destroyed my life'
‘By last year I was having to take eight 7.5mg tablets at midnight to get any sleep at all — that’s seven times the recommended daily dose.
‘Even then I would be lucky to get four hours’ sleep. I did worry, but couldn’t bear to give them up. 
‘Thankfully, my new GP has helped me reduce my dose gradually to four tablets. I’d like to come off them completely, but I’m struggling as sadly my second husband Dave died from cancer in March.
‘I’ve gone from being a successful, outgoing career woman to a recluse who can’t work. The pills I was prescribed for a short-term sleep problem made me ten times worse and destroyed my life.’
Ian Milton, project worker with the NHS-funded support scheme the Bristol Tranquilliser Project, says they receive calls from all over the country from people with sleeping pill addiction. ‘It’s utter hell for them. GPs still see Z drugs as safer alternatives — but they’re not,’ he says.
Jim Dobbin MP, chairman of the All Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction, says: ‘There has been a culture that someone with sleep problems and/or anxiety will immediately be prescribed sleeping pills.
‘These drugs have been heavily marketed and drug companies want a return on their investment.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The Government is determined to reduce addiction to prescription drugs. People should read medicine labels carefully, follow the instructions and contact their GP or chemist immediately if there are worries about any side-effects from their medication.’
Kathy was one of the lucky ones — she weaned herself off the tablets over a year.
‘My life is a lot less stressful since I started working from home,’ she says. ‘But I still take one if I get the odd night when I can’t sleep.’
But Sue is still taking four times the recommended dose 14 years after zoplicone was prescribed.
‘I just want to warn other women about the dangers of Z drugs — they’re presented as a safer alternative, but in my experience they are highly addictive and dangerous.’
For further information, contact the Council for Information on Tranquillisers and Antidepressants: www.citawithdrawal.org.uk
 

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