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The Connections Between Sleep And The Mind

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Even in this fast-paced and hectic world, sleep is one of those things that are considered indispensable. Regardless of how much stress is placed on someone, a person’s body and mind simply will not allow one to go for an extended period without some sleep. There are numerous ways to keep a person awake despite the overwhelming desire to go to sleep, such as caffeine and work-related stress and anxiety. The toll that sleep deprivation and insomnia have on the body is well-documented, but there is less concrete evidence on the effects on mental health. It is generally assumed that the mind does not fully shut down during sleep, but that does not mean it does not require a period of rest. There are several potential side effects of insomnia upon one’s mental health, some of which can aggravate the problem itself.

Among the most well-documented side effects of a lack of sleep is instability of emotions. People who frequently lack sleep tend to be moody and irritable. In some cases, their emotions seem to be on hair-triggers, shifting from “normal” to “angry” with the slightest comment. There has yet to be any form of concrete information on why this is the cause, but it is a well-documented problem related to insomnia. It is theorized that sleep somehow replenishes certain chemical receptors related to emotions within the brain, such that a lack of sleep disrupts the normal production of these chemicals. It is currently unclear whether being asleep cuts off production or increases them, or if it affects these compounds in some other way. There are other theories as to why insomnia affects emotions, but those also lack concrete studies to back up their assumptions.

One of the more infamous side effects of insomnia is depression, though it is arguable whether one is really a product of the other. In the same way that emotions are affected by a lack of sleep, one’s overall mood can also be affected by prolonged insomnia. Since depression is closely tied to one’s emotional state, the disruption caused by a lack of sleep can be enough to push a person into clinical depression. However, there is some argument as to whether or not insomnia is truly a factor for depression. There are some that believe that while there is a connection, it is more viable to assume that depression leads to a lack of sleep, rather than the other way around. It should be noted that, despite the ramifications on mental health, neither theory has been put under serious academic scrutiny.

Some have also attributed some anxiety disorders to insomnia. There is some question as to whether or not this actually counts, however. While there is clear evidence that connects the two problems, most are inclined to believe anxiety disorders cause insomnia, rather than the reverse. However, there is some data showing people developing minor anxiety disorders during a period where they lack adequate sleep. As with the above, further study is required due to the lack of any concrete statistical data to back up the theories and observations.

Insomnia

Keep Your Eyes Open for These Types of Insomnia

If you have a little trouble sleeping occasionally, you’re not alone. Almost everyone does. But most people don’t experience these kinds of problems on a consistent basis. If you frequently feel tired, have trouble falling asleep, or if you wake up too early and can’t fall asleep again, you might be experiencing some form of insomnia. But what kind? There are several different types of insomnia, each with distinct causes, symptoms and management techniques. If you’re suffering from insomnia it’s important to understand which type you have.

Primary Insomnia vs. Secondary Insomnia

Insomnia falls under two main classifications, primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is not caused by another specific health problem, while secondary insomnia is triggered by one or more pre-existing conditions. Medical conditions like arthritis, asthma and depression can cause insomnia. Certain types of medication can also interfere with healthy sleep patterns.

This is an extremely important distinction to make, because it directly influences the approach toward getting help. Primary insomnia help directly addresses the insomnia itself. In contrast, people with secondary insomnia are also treated for the underlying medical condition that’s causing the sleep disorder.

Acute and Chronic Insomnia

Insomnia can also be classified as acute or chronic. Acute insomnia is short-term, and may only last for a few nights over the course of several weeks. Stress, illness, or environmental disturbances such as noise and extreme heat or cold can cause acute insomnia. Schedule changes such as jet lag, or switching from a day shift to a night shit, may also cause temporary insomnia. Acute insomnia is fairly common, but by definition, it is a short-term condition.

Chronic insomnia, in contrast, can be a persistent, long-term issue. This condition is marked by difficulty sleeping for three or more nights per week, for at least one month. Chronic stress, anxiety or depression can all cause chronic insomnia. Medical conditions that cause discomfort or pain at night may also cause chronic insomnia.

Acute insomnia often does not require any specific technique, since its causes are temporary. Often, chronic insomnia and secondary insomnia go hand in hand, and require the diagnosis of underlying health problems. Medication or other sleep aids may be prescribed in the meantime.

Idiopathic Insomnia vs. Psychophysiologic Insomnia

Idiopathic insomnia is very similar to primary insomnia, but with some noted differences. Idiopathic insomnia usually refers to chronic, primary insomnia that is often a life-long problem. Usually, the condition begins during childhood. Idiopathic insomnia can be an extremely debilitating condition that causes mood disturbances, impaired daytime functioning and health problems. It is thought that this type of insomnia occurs because of a lack of important brain chemicals that help regulate the sleep cycle.

Psychophysiologic insomnia is the result of psychological conditioning, rather than a physiological cause. People with psychophysiologic insomnia have learned behavior that prevents them from sleeping properly. This means that they inadvertently make subconscious associations that prevent them from being able to fall asleep. The frustration and stress that comes with insomnia only serves to make the problem worse, and reinforce the psychological problem that prevents sleep.

In severe cases, even getting into bed and trying to sleep causes physical responses such as rapid heartbeat or palpitations, sweating, anxiety and muscle tension. People suffering from this disorder eventually come to associate their beds and bedrooms with unpleasant thoughts and tension, and often can only experience real, restful sleep when sleeping outside the home.

These types of insomnia are typically treated in a sleep clinic, where the person can be monitored and observed while attempting to sleep. In addition to medical observation, sleep clinics also conduct tests using an electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram, to measure heart and brain function during sleep. These tests help the doctors pinpoint what types of problems are preventing restful sleep.

Both idiopathic and psychophysiologic insomnia are types of chronic insomnia, but they typically require different forms of help. In the case of idiopathic insomnia, the problem is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. Medication that restores the balance may be beneficial.

For people with psychophysiologic insomnia, the most effective type of help involves breaking the cycle of learned behavior that prevents sleep. This often includes learning good sleep habits, such as establishing a regular sleep schedule, and following a special nightly routine that helps facilitate sleep.

All types of insomnia can interfere with daily tasks and relationships. Over time, insomnia can take a real emotional, mental and physical toll. But by identifying what kind of insomnia you’re struggling with, and working with an experienced health professional, you can put an end to your insomnia and get the restful, recuperative sleep you need to stay happy and healthy. Whether your insomnia is primary or secondary, acute or chronic, idiopathic or psychophysiologic, there are effective management techniques available.

Leslie Silver is a freelance writer who writes about self improvement and insomnia help .
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What Is Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy?

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Our hormones maintain the chemical balance in the body. The menstrual cycle in women triggers the production of some important hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. When the ovaries stop functioning, whether due to age (menopause) or due to surgical removal, there is a cessation in the production of these vital hormones. Accompanying physiological changes include osteoporosis, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, insomnia, irregular periods, loss of libido, and possibly cancer. In women who have had their ovaries removed surgically, these changes are drastic and they experience a sudden drop in sex hormone levels. This can lead to severe health problems, especially in younger women. The aging process is not easy on men either. They start to lose energy, vigor, and stamina.

This is where Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) comes in. Through this treatment, the body is supplied enough hormones to make up for the lack of natural hormones. But, synthetic hormones are animal-derived hormone products. They come in a ‘one-size-for-all’ dose.

Synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy is associated with a number of possible side effects and risks, which include:

-Increased risk of endometrial cancer
-Increased risk of breast cancer
-Increased risk of ovarian cancer
-Increased risk of Gallbladder disease
-Breast pain
-Nausea and fluid retention
-Increased moodiness

What is NHRT?

Due to the above-mentioned risks, synthetic HRT is now being replaced by Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy (NHRT) or ‘bio-identical therapy.’ The term ‘bio-identical’ means the hormone used is structurally and chemically identical to the hormone produced by the human body. That is why it is called ‘natural,’ as opposed to the synthetic hormone, which has a structure similar but not identical to the hormone produced by the body. Bio-identical hormones are produced from molecules of yam or soy, and undergo a series of chemical processes to make them similar to human hormones. Therefore the side effects and risks are greatly reduced while using NHRT.

In women, replacing the lost hormones can protect their cardiovascular health, prevent mental decline, and relieve menopausal symptoms. It helps to prevent loss of bone mass and occurrence of colon cancer, and may even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Men experience an increase in mood, vigor, sexual function and muscle mass. Hormone replacement is powerful and must be monitored by an experienced practitioner.

Availability:

Some of these natural hormones are available in brand named products. But, it is easier to procure these hormones from compounding pharmacies. Pharmacies can supply the bio-identical hormones alone or combine them into a single dose. They can also offer these in the desired form whether it is a tablet, cream, or oil cap. In this way, you can individualize these hormones to fit your unique needs. Many times a physician who is not inclined to prescribing NHRTs may not be open to suggesting them to you. In that case, these pharmacists also have doctor referral information.

Nothing can replace what our bodies have been making naturally for many years. But NHRT comes as close to the real thing as possible. It is not a miracle cure. And often you have to go through some amount of trial and error such as dosage adjustments before you regain the hormonal balance. Most of the time, it will take between 3-6 months to see the results of therapy. Since the side effects are almost negligible and the benefits are huge, NHRTs are becoming a popular choice among men and women today.

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Sleep ABZ’s: Plain Talk About Insomnia Medications

Approximately 60 million people in the United States suffer from insomnia, and nearly half of American adults report experiencing at least one symptom of insomnia at least a few nights a week in the past year, yet the vast majority remains undiagnosed and untreated. Myths and misperceptions about insomnia and its treatment still persist that keep many sufferers from getting the sleep they need.

When people do not get enough sleep, a “sleep debt” can accumulate, which can be difficult to catch up to if it becomes too big. The consequences of not getting enough sleep can include daytime fatigue, impaired mood, depression, decreased ability to concentrate and make decisions, and increased risk of additional illness and injury. In fact, insufficient sleep has been associated with a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Adding to the problem, many people are reluctant to take sleep medications. According to a recent survey, about two in ten respondents said they assumed their sleep problems would go away naturally, or that they would ignore the problem and do nothing about it.

But ignoring the problem will not always make it go away, and despite the fact that there are many new treatment options available for people living with insomnia, many misperceptions about insomnia treatment remain. This apparent confusion may cause some people to continue to needlessly suffer through sleepless nights.

All prescription medications are associated with benefits and risks. Many commonly prescribed sleep aids are classified as controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meaning, in part, that they carry some risk for abuse or dependence.

“Non-narcotic medications may be controlled substances that still have some potential for addiction,” said Suzy Cohen, RPh, a pharmacist in Ocala, Florida. “Most insomnia medications work by acting widely throughout the central nervous system and, in some cases, can be associated with residual effects including next-day grogginess and memory impairment. Consumers who have concerns about these residual effects or the potential for abuse and dependence should talk with their doctor to find a treatment option that is best for their needs.”

With one exception, all currently available prescription sleep treatments fall under the controlled substances umbrella. That exception is a medication called Rozerem™ (ramelteon), which works differently from other prescription sleep medications. It targets the brain’s own sleep-wake cycle and has not been associated with a risk of abuse or dependence or next-day hangover effects in clinical studies. Rozerem is indicated for adults who have trouble falling asleep. The most common side effects seen with Rozerem that were different from placebo (sugar pill) were sleepiness, dizziness and fatigue.

People with insomnia may find it helpful to practice healthy sleep hygiene behaviors, such as avoiding naps, which can disturb the sleep-wake cycle; avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime; establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine; avoiding large meals close to bedtime; and exercising regularly.

No treatment is right for everyone, and there are many treatment options available for insomnia, so it is important for people to speak to their doctor to find a solution that works best for them.

Note to Editors: Important Prescribing Information: Rozerem™ (ramelteon) is indicated for the treatment of insomnia characterized by difficulty with sleep onset. Rozerem can be prescribed for long-term use. Rozerem should not be used in patients with hypersensitivity to any components of the formulation, severe hepatic impairment, or in combination with fluvoxamine. Failure of insomnia to remit after a reasonable period of time should be medically evaluated, as this may be the result of an unrecognized underlying medical disorder. Hypnotics should be administered with caution to patients exhibiting signs and symptoms of depression. Rozerem has not been studied in patients with severe sleep apnea, severe COPD, or in children or adolescents. The effects in these populations are unknown. Exercise caution if consuming alcohol in combination with Rozerem. Rozerem has been associated with decreased testosterone levels and increased prolactin levels. Health professionals should be mindful of any unexplained symptoms possibly associated with such changes in these hormone levels. Rozerem should not be taken with or immediately after a high-fat meal. Rozerem should be taken within 30 minutes before going to bed and activities confined to preparing for bed. The most common adverse events seen with Rozerem that had at least a 2% incidence difference from placebo were somnolence, dizziness, and fatigue. For complete prescribing information, please visit www.rozerem.com.

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Dangers of Inaccurate or Incorrect Prescriptions

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When people get sick, doctors will inevitably analyze the symptoms, diagnose the problem, and hand out a list if medications that can help alleviate the symptoms. For the most part, doctors suggest prescription drugs rather than over-the-counter medication. This is largely because if the over-the-counter ones actually worked, then there wouldn’t be a need to visit a doctor. This situation is not uncommon and, in general, whenever a medical professional prescribes certain medications, then the recommendation is a reliable one. However, some statistics are starting to show that there in an increase in mishaps related to the prescription process. Particularly troublesome are situations that involve prescribing too many drugs to a patient and prescribing the wrong ones.

Anyone who disputes that prescription drugs are of great benefit and a medical necessity in the modern world can be considered a fool, but too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. However, according to statistics published as early as 2003, thousands of prescriptions a year are incorrect and dangerous. Most experts pile them into two basic categories: the over-prescribed, and the incorrectly prescribed. Being given too many prescription drugs to take could cause harm to the body, particularly if the given medications are too potent or might have dangerous side effects when taken together. In the event that the prescription is incorrect, not only is there a risk that the patient’s condition will simply deteriorate, there is also the risk of unforeseen complications from the effects of the drugs. Statistics show that at least 21.3% of all patients are given prescriptions that are either wrong or have too many drugs listed.

One of the more common reasons for this problem is that the “illness” at the root of the problem is merely an adverse reaction to previously taken prescription drugs. The side effects of some medications can easily look like the symptoms of some diseases. For example, some of the signs of insomnia are known to be similar to the rarer side effects of some muscle relaxant medication. The doctor mistakenly views the side effects as symptoms, which prompts him to prescribe more drugs to combat an illness that isn’t actually there. Of course, this is not always the case.

In other instances, the problem stems from the fact that a more preferable alternative is present, but the doctor instead recommends one that is not perfectly suited to the problem. There are various ways by which any given drug can become inappropriate. The patient may have allergic reactions to one or more of the chemical components of the given drug. The prescribed may be posed as an alternative to a better drug, or better suited to treating a different (but similar) condition. In a few cases, the commercially available doses might be too much, or too little, for the patient in question. In fact, incorrect dosages are among the primary problems that some patients face with regards to the safety of their prescriptions.

There are various other instances where the prescription might not be right. Regardless of how the incorrect information came about, the end result is always the same. There is an increased risk of side effects and damage to the patient, which is exactly what most doctors would prefer to avoid. The problem can only get worse as more people pop pills.