Six Ways for Better Sleep

We live in a busy world with untold numbers of stressors that fly at us from every angle. Work, technology, relationships, finances, responsibilities—it can all pile up on you and create major anxiety and stress, causing you to have low-quality sleep. And the last thing that you need on top of all of this is to feel tired, groggy, and cranky all day while you’re trying to manage your life.

Getting good sleep at night can be a remedy for many problems ranging from memory and cognition issues to behavioral issues like how you relate to your co-workers and important people in your life. To help you make the most of your night and get the best sleep possible, here are some tips for practicing good ‘sleep hygiene’:

  • Get a sleep study. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 9 percent of women and 24 percent of men suffer from a condition called Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a sometimes life-threatening condition that causes breathing to stop while sleeping, can mask itself as other conditions like depression, among others. What’s more shocking is that more than 80 percent of people go undiagnosed. This condition can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease a host of other issues. The answer? Get a sleep study. If people have complained about your snoring or you feel exhausted during the day, it may be time for you to consult a sleep specialist and get a sleep study.
  •  Keep a ‘baby’ bedtime. When you were a baby, it’s likely that your parents put you to bed at the same time every night— and it was probably pretty early. Babies need good sleep to help their brains and bodies develop, but adults need this too. If you find yourself tired during the day, power down your life and crawl into bed by nine at night to get some good quality, ‘baby’ sleep.
  •  Manage your stress. Easier said than done, right? It’s true that stress management may seem daunting to some, but if you make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, stress management can easily become part of your daily life. From meditating to playing calming music or folding laundry, finding coping mechanisms to make stress management a part of your nighttime ‘wind down’ routine can really help you catch some zzz’s.
  • Exercise helps. Science has proven that physical activity during the daytime can really help you sleep better at night, so making sure that you make time for exercise during the day is important. Even mild exercise like walking or yoga can help you sleep more soundly at night.
  •  Stop snacking and drinking before bed. If you tend to be a late night snacker or drinker, stop doing that now. Late night snacking can lead to weight gain, but it can also just make you uncomfortable. Drinking late at night can cause you to repeatedly get out of bed to make trips to the bathroom. It’s also important to cut out caffeine late in the day if you have trouble sleeping.
  •  Get rid of the blue light, and create a sleep sanctuary. Recent studies indicate that the blue light emitted from items like laptops and blu-ray players can interrupt sleep significantly. So, power down those electronics early and cover those lights so you can sleep better. Not only that but ‘unplugging’ before bed will help calm your mind and help you relax. Try keeping your bedroom cool (68 degrees or less), dark and quiet during sleep.  Simulate dusk by dimming your lights for a couple of hours before bed.

Know The Risks: Opioid Prevention Is Possible

For the past two decades drug addiction in the United States has climbed steadily until now, in 2017, it is at a record high. It has become a problem of epidemic proportions, taking lives and wreaking havoc in the form of overdoses by the dozens every day. Opioid addiction crosses all cultural and financial boundaries, affecting the poorest neighborhoods and ghettos and the wealthiest of communities alike, as well as all points in between.

In this day and age of the information superhighway where knowledge and warnings of such dangers are shared worldwide in mere seconds, how is this possible? How is it that the caveats of those who have fallen victim to this deadly epidemic are not being heard and heeded?

The answer is because most people are unaware that there are certain risk factors that significantly increase a person’s chances of becoming addicted to opioids in particular. Many don’t realize that addiction begins with a seemingly safe and innocent prescription from their trusted family doctor. Even when used exactly as directed, prolonged use of any opioid will decrease it’s effect on pain as the body builds up an immunity, or “tolerance” to it. When the medication no longer works to kill the pain, it isn’t uncommon for the patient to begin taking more of the prescription than instructed. When the medicine no longer has any effect at all on their suffering, they will often turn to a stronger form of drug – whether it is legal or not – in order to find relief. This can also happen when a person loses their insurance or their medical coverage and/or is no longer able to afford the expensive prescription medication. The illicit street drugs are far less costly.

There are a number of other factors which can also have a heavy influence on a predisposition to addiction. They include:

1. FAMILY HISTORY- The number of members of the same family who often fall victim to addiction points to a genetic predisposition. The closer the blood relation, the higher the risk of addiction.

2. DEPRESSION/ANXIETY- For those who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, opioids provide relief from the tormenting psychological effects that often accompany these conditions.

3. MEN ARE AT GREATER RISK THAN WOMEN- Studies have indicated that males are more inclined than females to become addicts, although sadly those numbers have begun to even out in recent years.

4. ABANDONMENT BY FAMILY- Lack of healthy, nurturing family relationships and bonds with parents, siblings, etc, can greatly increase the chances of developing an addiction as individuals seek comfort from their feelings of loneliness and rejection.

5. PEER PRESSURE- Though nearly archaic-sounding in modern times, the number one cause of drug experimentation which can so easily lead to addiction is the influence on young people by their peer group and friends.

By being aware of the main triggers and pitfalls which can lead down the spiraling path to dangerous, often deadly opioid abuse, there is hope. Addiction can be prevented, treated, overcome. The best way to deal with these issues is prevention. Education, open communication, compassion, professional intervention whenever necessary, all will work together to stop the cycle of addiction. Personal awareness and accountability, a willingness to ask for help when it is needed, honesty, and not allowing feelings of embarrassment, shame, or fear of being judged to overshadow the need for guidance and help – these are the keys to preventing, overcoming, and eliminating this scourge once and for all.

Understanding Holistic Care in Relation to Chronic Illness

In my recent blog post “Understanding Approaches for Pain Management and Patient Care”  I speak on the lasting effects of holistic health care and the benefits that it has in terms of managing pain and taking care of the “whole” patient.

Before I get started, it is important to mention that the holistic approach to health does not reject conventional medicine, but is a sensible, complete form of healing that considers your child’s entire picture of health and uses the best and most appropriate options for healing. It is a process of strengthening every system of the mind-body and allowing your child’s natural healing potential to flourish.

Many of the chronic health problems that affect children will respond best when addressed from a holistic point of view.

Conventional v.s Alternative Medicine

Aside from conventional medicine, alternative medicine covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies that can be used alone, in combination with other alternative therapies, or along with conventional medicine. Most homeopaths, naturopaths, and doctors  of oriental medicine are holistic practitioners, considering all aspects of their patients and assisting them in achieving a vibrant state of health.

But not all alternative practitioners can be considered holistic, nor is a conventional medical doctor necessarily not holistic. Alternative practitioners who believe that all disease is caused by vitamin deficiencies or spinal misalignments are no more holistic than a medical doctor who believes that all illness is caused by germs.

When it comes to medicine, it is beneficial to not have an either/or attitude. Both conventional and alternative have an important place in health care and can make a powerful team in certain situations.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine (another word for holistic medicine) is an emerging system of health care practiced by medical doctors who respect all valid systems of healing, recognizing the value of each one.

Alternative and conventional treatments are combined in order to meet the needs of the patient on all levels of healing. The treatments that are the most effective in helping the patient are the ones used. It is not a matter of what type of medicine is better. It is a matter of what works for each patient.



For more on holistic care and ways to find doctors in your area visit

Meditation Offers a Powerful Integrated Treatment Option

Meditation has been a common spiritual and religious practice for thousands of years. More recently, the practice has been making its way into mainstream and secular use as a strategy to improve stress management, mindfulness, and overall quality of life. Researchers are beginning to take note as meditation becomes increasingly popular and shows promise as an integrative treatment option. Currently, 8% of Americans engage in meditation, and 11% spend time practicing deep breathing. Almost 1 out of every 10 Americans do yoga, which is considered by most to be a form of meditation, and 45% of those who don’t say they are interested in trying it.

Mediation’s growing popularity is easy to understand. Anyone can practice, anytime, anywhere. Meditation requires no special equipment or training. Although teachers and classes certainly exist and techniques vary, practicing meditation can be as simple as spending 15 minutes a day quietly focusing on your breath. Practitioners swear by these simple methods, with many reporting that they feel calmer and more relaxed throughout their day, more compassionate, and better equipped to handle difficult interpersonal situations. Many also report benefits in the form of new perspective and mental clarity, increased intuition and creativity, an ability to live in and appreciate each present moment, and an overall increase in happiness and wellbeing.

Meditation water fall

Scientific and medical research on the effects of meditation are still in the early stages, but a growing body of data promises a strong future for the use of meditation as a healthy, available, drug-free integrative medical treatment option.

Americans today face an epidemic of stress, and meditation may offer a powerful source of relief. Stress-related health problems are at the root of up to 80% of doctor appointments and make up the third highest health care expenditures, behind only heart disease and cancer. Given these numbers, it is shocking that only 3% of doctors attempt to address stress reduction techniques with their patients. A recent study suggests meditation goes a long way to address the problem.

People who participated in a meditation based relaxation program found that they required 43% less medical services compared to the previous year, and the newly relaxed patients enjoyed health care savings from $640 to as much as $25,500 per year. Also indicative of the success of such programs is that Aetna, a health insurance provider, offered its own employees a mindfulness program as an experiment of their own. The company itself enjoyed an increase in worker productivity of over an hour each week, or $3,000 yearly – a 1:11 return on their investment. The employees reported 28% less stress, 19% less pain, and 20% better sleep.

In a similar vein, mindfulness meditation is a natural match for treating both garden variety anxiety and patients suffering from Generalized Anxiety disorder. Based on her research, Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, recommends mediation for anyone “dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power” and “nagging worry that has no benefit.”

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New research suggests that the positive shifts in subjective emotional states that mindful meditators have been reporting for years may even have an objective, traceable physical basis. Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar has been studying the effects of meditation on the brain, and she is reporting some fascinating results. After just an 8 week meditation program, brain scans showed increased grey matter in the frontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with memory and decision making.

They also found thickening in the left hippocampus, which is associated with learning, cognition and emotional regulation, as well as areas which assist with perspective taking, empathy, and compassion. Most notably the amygdala, a brain structure famously called the “fight or flight” center and closely linked to fear, anxiety, and stress, shrank considerably in people who had practiced meditation for 8 weeks. Finally, Lazer found that 50 year old meditators had grey matter density in the prefrontal cortex that rivaled an average 25 year old, instead of the shrunken cortex she would expect to find in someone at that age.

Researchers continue to study and learn about the myriad effects of meditation, but you can start reaping the benefits right now. Even 10-15 minutes a day spent meditating is thought to improve quality of life and reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation certainly can’t cure everything, but it can serve as a powerful tool alongside other therapy and treatment, or simply help to improve your stressful day.



Click here to check out some downloadable guided meditations