Tag Archives: Insomnia

Could Women’s Hearts be More Sensitive to Stress?

heart, mind, health, stress

Stress of the mind can hurt your heart.

Your heart is racing. Your palms are sweaty. Sometimes you may feel dizzy, disoriented, or nauseous. These are all potential symptoms when you are faced with a stressful situation. However, one of the most dangerous symptoms of stress is constriction of blood vessels. A recent study has found that women may be more at risk for heart-related health problems in response to stress.

What is stress?

Stress is a normal reaction to the demands of life that can affect both the body and mind. A little bit can be healthy to remind you to be more alert or more motivated. However, too much can contribute to a variety of health conditions such as:

  • ulcers
  • digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome
  • asthma
  • headaches
  • back pain

In addition to such conditions, stress can also increase blood pressure, which can in turn increase risk of heart disease. This is due to the body’s response to a perceived threat. The body goes into “fight-or-flight” mode in which the body constricts blood vessels to provide more blood flow to the major organs. Also, digestion slows to keep the body focused on providing blood to the brain and the heart.  However, if anxiety or chronic exposure to the perceived threat(s) occurs, then this response can negatively impact health.

Women, Stress, and the Heart

A recent study in the journal Arteriosclerosis looked at 678 people with coronary artery disease, or plaques in the major arteries that affects blood flow. Each person was asked to engage in public speaking, a commonly known fear of many, to see if it triggered myocardial ischemia, or a reduction of blood flow in the heart.

About 15-percent of study subjects triggered myocardial ischemia. Men and women were affected by this condition at a similar rate, but the cause was different.  In men, blood flow was mostly affected by high blood pressure and increased heart rate. On the other hand, in women it was caused by a constriction of blood vessels, also known as microvascular dysfunction. The difference between the two reactions is that in men, the perceived fear increased workload on the heart. However, in women, the dysfunction of vessels impaired blood flow.  It is not known whether this increased incidence of myocardial ischemia can increase risk of heart disease, but such studies are being planned.

Healthy Ways to Deal With Stress

You can help decrease stress, and in turn, lower risk of heart disease in a variety of ways.  The following list includes way you can lower stress on both your body and mind.

  • Limit coffee and caffeine since such constrict blood vessels, thus impacting blood flow. Two to three cups a day is suggested for adequate health benefit.
  • Quit or don’t smoke since smoking can also constrict blood vessels, and in turn blood flow, this increasing heart disease risk.
  • Live a balanced life. It is important to make sure that as hard as you work in your job and in exercising, you should also rest your body just as readily. A good balance of rest and activity is around 30 minutes a day of moderate activity such as walking combined with about 7 hours of sleep each night.  Being both active and resting well each night are important for the regulation of body fluids, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in the body, among other things.
  • Be mindful in everything you do. When you are more mindful and aware of the choices you make each day, it can eliminate a lot of stress on the body.  The following are a list of small things you can do each day to be more mindful and in turn reduce stress on your body inside and out.
    • Plan and prep meals and snacks ahead of time.
    • Make healthy choices at meal and snack time such as less processed food and more fresh foods.
    • Portion out food choices to prevent excess intake.
    • Set a designated bedtime to help your body get more rest.
    • Make a to-do list to keep track of your weekly tasks and delegate any tasks that you can to others.
    • When you get stressed, give yourself a time-out with relaxation breathing to help you better face the situation at hand.
    • Make time for yourself in your schedule by setting aside 15 minutes a day to meditate, read, or do something your enjoy to give your body and mind a break.
  • Take supplements to help with sleep and managing stress. There are many herbal supplements on the market that claim to help with sleep and stress. However, it is important to do your research. Perhaps the supplement most well-known for its sleep-inducing properties is melatonin. It is actually a hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland that affects the sleep/wake cycle and produces drowsiness. Those that may be deficient in this hormone may experience trouble sleeping or insomnia. However, it is important to remember that since it is a hormone, it may not be suitable for everyone, so be sure to check with your doctor first before starting a melatonin regimen.

Another supplement to try is Sereneo by Vita Sciences. Sereneo contains a combination of magnesium, chamomile, and valerian to help promote a feeling of calm by working to help reduce stress and anxiety. Valerian and chamomile have been found to be safe, natural herbal remedies to help induce sleep, while magnesium has been found to help promote reduced anxiety and irritability. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know before starting any new supplement regimen to be sure it does not interact with any of your currently prescribed medications.

-written  by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (June 2014) “Fight Stress with Healthy Habits”

American Heart Association (June 2014) “Stress and Heart Health”

Berkeley Wellness (October 1, 2013) “Can Supplements Help You Sleep?”

Centers for Disease Control (March 2, 2017) “How Much Sleep Do I Need?”

Deans, M.D., E. (June 12, 2011) “Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill.” Psychology Today.

Harvard Medical School: Division of Sleep Medicine (December 18, 2007) “The Characteristics of Sleep”

Mayo Clinic (March 31, 2017) “Stress Management”

Medline Plus (December 21, 2017) “Are Women’s Hearts More Vulnerable to Stress?”

Rodale Wellness (August 25, 2017) “4 Sleep Supplements That Actually Work”

 


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    Could Unemployment Increase Stroke Risk?

    In unstable financial times, losing a job can be a very stressful time in one’s life.  Anxiety and depression could develop as a result of such a big life event. In turn, a person’s health may start to worsen after losing a job if they do not have effective measures in place to help manage their stress.  Emotional eating, loss of sleep, and engaging in unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking may develop as a result of stress. In fact, a study from Japan has recently found that those who are unemployed have a greater risk of stroke than those who are employed.

    unemployment, health, stroke, heart disease

    Unemployment and Stroke Risk Study

    A recent study of about 42,000 men found that those men who were unemployed had a 60-percent higher risk of stroke than those who were steadily employed. In addition, those unemployed men who suffered a stroke were about 120-percent more likely to die from it than those employed men who had a stroke. For women, those who were unemployed had a 50-percent greater chance of having a stroke. Of those women who had a stroke, those who were unemployed had a 150-percent greater chance of death.

    It is suggested that these alarming rates of stroke and stroke-related death in the unemployed may be due to unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, being inactive, and having a poor diet.  In addition, it is suggested that even once re-employed, individuals may feel afraid that they will lose their job again, and therefore may be afraid to take leave when they are sick.  In turn, this could affect their long-term physical health.

    Although this study is based on the Japanese culture, it may not be completely applicable to Americans, so further studies must be done. However, studies like the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System reported by the Centers for Disease Control suggest risk of depression is significantly increased for those Americans out of work.

    How Can I Lower My Risk For Stroke?

    Staying heart healthy involves a holisitic approach of eating balanced meals, staying active, and managing stress. Follow the tips below to help you keep your heart healthy for many years to come.

    • Consume minimally processed foods.  There are many foods that have to go through some processing to create such as yogurt or cottage cheese.  However, these types of products are only minimally processed. When trying to eat heart healthy, just be sure to limit highly processed foods such as neon-colored salty snacks, canned foods, pre-packaged meals, and deli meats like hot dogs or luncheon meat.  Just keep in mind that if it is an unnatural color, or has a confusing list of ingredients, then it is likely to be a highly processed product.
    • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods. Fruits, veggies, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as nuts and seeds are all great natural sources of fiber.  Fiber is important for helping stabilize blood glucose levels, slow down digestion to help with absorption of nutrients from foods, and to bulk stool to help with elimination of wastes from the body. Furthermore, fiber is also great for helping you to stay more satisfied after meals, so it can help with weight management.
    • Stay active.  Staying active each day for at least 30 minutes can be a great way to blow off some steam and keep your heart healthy.  This doesn’t mean you have to go to boot camp classes or run a marathon. Simple moderate activity such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming can help keep your heart  healthy.  Exercise not only works to strengthen your heart, but can also act as an outlet for stress.
    • Get plenty of sleep. When you are feeling stressed, it can be hard to sleep. However, lack of sleep can actually make you more prone to anxiety and depression. This is because your body uses sleeping time to regulate hormones, fluids, and blood glucose levels in the body.  If you have trouble sleeping, try natural essential oils such as lavender or frankincense to help relax your mind. Other sleeping aids may include:
      • Relaxation breathing
      • Listening to relaxing music
      • Eliminating screen time before bed
      • Avoiding fluid consumption 2 hours before bed to avoid interrupted sleep
      • Supplements like Somnova from Vitasciences.

    Somnova includes natural ingredients like melatonin and magnesium that work together to help produce restful sleep. Melatonin is also natural, so it is unlikely to have any interactions with other medicines you may be taking. However, be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any supplement regimen.

    • Develop healthy stress management techniques.  Find 15 minutes a day to engage in an activity that you enjoy. Reading a book,  taking a relaxing bath, or going to an acupuncturist or massage therapist, are some ways to relax. Also, visiting a counselor may help you better deal with stress and anxiety. Consistent self-care is essential to overall health and well-being. You can also try supplements like TheraCALM from Vitasciences to help with stress relief and restful sleep.

    Visit Vitasciences for all of your supplement needs to help enhance your healthy lifestyle. Also, be sure to visit the National Stroke Association for more information on stroke facts, prevention, and research.

    written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (August 2015) “The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WPUehMuQx9A

    Centers for Disease Control (March 19, 2015). “Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010” https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0451.htm

    Medline Plus (2017 April 13). “Another Downside to Unemployment: Stroke Risk?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164623.html


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    Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Insomnia

    Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Insomnia: Can’t sleep? Often, sleeplessness stems from low vitamin B12 levels. Though nearly everyone experiences occasional trouble with falling asleep, chronic insomnia can be part of a range of symptoms attributed to dangerously low vitamin B12.

    Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Insomnia

    Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Insomnia

    Are you spending your nights tossing and turning, unable to get a restful night sleep? Acute insomnia has a short duration, while chronic insomnia will last longer – anywhere from days to months.

    If you suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency and insomnia—and a surprising number of people these days do—then taking extra vitamin B12 may promote good restful sleep at night, and it will also boost your energy during the day, increase your ability to focus, and promote digestive, cardiac, and immune health as well.

    Suffering from Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue? B12 to the Rescue!

    Please note: Insomnia can result from an underlying medical disorder, in addition to vitamin B12 deficiency. Consult your doctor if you suffer from chronic insomnia.

    Here are some ways that vitamin B12 and insomnia are related.

    The vitamin B12-melatonin connection

    Vitamin B12 plays an important role in production of melatonin, the body’s “sleep hormone” which helps you fall asleep at night and get deep rest until morning. Melatonin is one of your best defenses against insomnia, but you need healthy amounts of vitamin B12 as well.

    Melatonin in the blood rises sharply at sundown, making you feel sleepy, and will usually remain elevated for approximately 12 hours – essentially throughout the night – before the onset of sunrise.

    As we get older, and vitamin B12 levels begin to plummet, it becomes more difficult to enjoy a good night’s sleep, due to a reciprocal decrease in melatonin. For that reason many senior citizens struggle with both vitamin B12 deficiency and insomnia.

    Doctors have recently observed that a large percentage of Americans over age 60 suffer from a severe vitamin B12 deficiency.  Without vitamin B12, your body cannot produce sufficient melatonin, which is needed to help one sleep.

    Many people who suffer from insomnia take melatonin pills to help them get to sleep. However, boosting the body’s ability to produce it by increasing vitamin B12 is a more naturally efficient option.

    What is vitamin B12 good for?

    Vitamin B-12, or cobalamin, is one of the B complex vitamins. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Vitamin B-12 is instrumental for maintaining healthy nerve cells, synthesizing DNA and RNA, and regulating blood cells.  A vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause fatigue, irritability, digestive issues, and shortness of breath.

    The elderly, vegetarians, and vegans tend to have a higher risk of developing a Vitamin B-12 deficiency.

    Vitamin B12 for insomnia

    If insomnia is caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, then it’s important to supplement with extra vitamin B12 immediately; untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to nerve cell deterioration and increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Ask your doctor for a vitamin B12 deficiency blood screening while discussing insomnia, and begin supplementation right away.

    Take vitamin B12 with folic acid

    Taking folic acid (vitamin B9) along with vitamin B12 is also helpful for insomnia, as vitamin B12 assists folate in building red blood cells and absorption of iron, both key components for good sleep health.

    For some people, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is yet another cause of insomnia. Research has shown that RLS is related to a folic acid deficiency, and that taking more B vitamins can reduce RLS, helping to provide a full night of sleep, even in people with severe insomnia. It is thus recommended to take vitamin B12 along with vitamin B9 for maximum absorption.

    Topical melatonin cream for sleep

    Get more melatonin while you sleep. Buy Now.

    Your turn!

    What do you do to prevent insomnia? Do you also struggle with vitamin B12 deficiency? Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

    Share with your friends!

    If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

     


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    Natural Herbs, so you can Relax

    Supplements such as 5-HTP, GABA, and green tea extract are safe, natural herbs that can help you relax, sleep better at night and lift your mood. Scientific research supports the use of supplements for anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia.

    natural herbs, relax, stress

    Sleep better and fight stress with these natural herbs.

    Natural herbs for better relaxation

    For centuries, people have used natural herbs to promote good health. In recent years, we have developed the ability to analyze herbs our ancestors used for relaxation, energy, and mood. Through scientific testing, we can objectively identify the therapeutic properties of such healthy supplements.

    Natural Herbs…Relax!

    Supplements such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), theanine, tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) are reported to promote relaxation…based on cellular and animal studies as well as human clinical trials the literature supports a role for these preparations as useful alternatives in the management of the stress and anxiety of everyday life.

    -Benjamin S. Weeks, Med Sci Monit 2009; 15(11): RA256-262

    Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

    GABA is an amino acid produced in the brain which helps to regulate cognitive and neurological functioning. It’s has a naturally calming effect on the nerves. Supplements with GABA are excellent for reducing tension, promoting restful sleep, and elevating the mood.

    L-theanine- Camellia Sinensis Extract

    L-theanine is a green tea leaf extract that is used for its multiple health benefits. Tea has rich sources of flavonoid antioxidants, as well as the amino acid, L-theanine. Placebo studies found it effective for enhancing mental focus, promoting relaxation and reducing depression, without any negative side effects.

    5-HTP mood enhancer- Griffonia Simplicifolia extract

    5- HTP (5-hydroxy-l-tryptophan) is helpful for mood and sleep difficulties. Through serotonin regulation, this beneficial ingredient reduces stress and lifts the mood. Decreased serotonin causes lasting depression, while increased serotonin helps to balance the mood. Griffonia Simplicifolia, a tropical shrubbery, contains rich amounts of 5-HTP. Use daily to maintain healthy levels of the serotonin neurotransmitter in the brain. Effective for depression, nervousness, and sleep problems.

    Getting the most out of natural treatments

    Many forms of natural herbs and vitamins are available for good health, including some that are taken orally in pill form or liquid, as well as in a spray. For maximum absorption, doctors recommend using a vitamin-enriched lotion. Science proves that nutrients enter the body most efficiently when applied directly to the skin.

    Theracalm stress relief cream- buy it here natural herbs relax

    TheraCALM  stress relief cream helps you sleep better and control stress levels. Buy it here for $19.95

     

    Sources:

    Formulations of dietary supplements and herbal extracts for relaxation and anxiolytic action: Relarian

    Anxiolytic-like effect of Griffonia simplicifolia Baill. seed extract in rats.

    L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.


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    Worth It- Melatonin Cream for Sleep

    Not getting enough rest at night? Scientific studies support using melatonin cream for sleep. The hormone melatonin supports a healthy sleep cycle, helping you get more restful rejuvenating REM cycles. If you wake up often in the middle of the night or have trouble settling into your bedtime routine, then you may just need a soothing melatonin night cream.

    Vita Sciences blog- vitamin B12 deficiency, migraine

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    For skin renewal, revitalization and allover health and wellbeing, read more about the therapeutic qualities of topical melatonin.

    Sleep isn’t a luxury!

    In order to function well, your body needs plenty of quality restorative sleep at night. This is true for your emotional and physical health, as well as for your complexion. Wrinkles, bags under the eyes, deep lines, sagging skin- these are all signs of premature aging that happen when you don’t get enough deep sleep.

    As you get older, it becomes harder to get the same quality of rejuvenating sleep as you did when you were younger. Studies have even shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, anxiety, memory loss, and autoimmune disorders.

    Symptoms of insomnia:

    • Morning fatigue, drowsiness
    • Brain fog
    • Disorientation
    • Memory problems
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Frequent illness
    • Dry, flaky skin
    • Wrinkles
    • Facial lines
    • Grey, haggard skin
    • Sagging skin pouches
    • Under-eye bags and shadows

    The sleep hormone

    Melatonin is nature’s alarm clock. Scientists have found that the hormone melatonin is crucial for healthy refreshing sleep, as it promotes a normal sleep/wake cycle. Your brain begins secreting melatonin as the sun sets, increasing production during nighttime, and then slowly decreasing melatonin levels as the morning draws near.

    Unfortunately, as you age, your body slows down melatonin production. Plummeting levels of melatonin make it harder for you to get to sleep and stay asleep the entire night.  That’s why it’s important to supplement with extra melatonin as you get older. Often, signs of aging such as constant tiredness, haggard skin tone, dryness and wrinkles are just symptoms of sleep debt.

    Melatonin cream for sleep

    Topical melatonin cream may be one of the greatest, most efficient anti-aging supplements available; therapeutic moisturizers, vitamins and oils team up with powerful sleep-inducing melatonin to help you attain maximum mind and body rejuvenation while sleeping.

    • Melatonin cream assists your skin’s nightly repair cycle.
    • Melatonin helps people who have trouble getting to sleep quickly and sleeping the entire night.
    • You can rub melatonin directly into your skin, the largest organ of your body.
    • Incorporating massage lotion into your bedtime routine is an excellent way to promote relaxation.
    • Establishing a nighttime ritual is beneficial for good sleep hygiene.

     

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