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Category ArchiveWeight Loss

10 Tips to Improve Sleep and Help Lose Weight

How often are you frustrated when you can’t finish a report because you’re not motivated or not be able to cross anything off on the To-Do list and you seem to keep adding on pounds weekly?

Many of us have these similar scenarios: A) you’re feeling sleepy at work, so you drink a two to three cups of coffee with a muffin to give yourself an energy boost to finish a deadline or make it through the day’s appointments or B) stay up late to finish the work you couldn’t get to during the work day then sleep through the morning alarm clock which makes you miss the morning workout and rush to work with  a cup of coffee in one hand and a yoghurt in the other.

You’re left feeling stiff because of no exercise and groggy because of lack of sleep. And the unhealthy cycle of caffeine, comfort foods and faux healthy snacks slowly takes over as normal.

Consider the fact that you may be sleep deprived. Most people do not get enough sleep each night.

As of February 2015, The National Sleep Foundation (sleepfoundation.org) updated their study and now recommends these hours based on the following age category:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range is 14-17 hours each day
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range is 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range is 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range is 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range is 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range is hour to 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours

National Sleep Foundation research has pointed out that women have the ability to multi-task and use more of their actual brain than men which creates a greater need for sleep for women. On average women need a minimum of twenty minutes more of sleep than men. Essentially, the more you use the brain during the day, the more it needs to rest while asleep.  Overall, women need more sleep than men and many do not get the proper range of sleep.

The body rests during sleep, not the brain. The brain remains active, gets recharged and still controls many body functions including breathing during sleep. Sleep prepares the brain for activities related to learning and memory. The brain secretes certain hormones such as Growth Hormone (GH) and the paired ‘hunger hormones’, leptin and ghrelin.

Studies have shown that getting too little sleep lowers the body’s production of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin, which can make a person feel hungrier and activates cravings for high-calorie snacks. Leptin hormone, an appetite suppressor, gets release when we are sleeping. When you have less sleep, you have less leptin. When you have more sleep, you have more leptin released into the body.

Ghrelin hormone, an appetite increaser, is primarily released in the stomach and sends hunger signals to the brain. The more sleep one gets, the less ghrelin gets released into the body. The less sleep, the more ghrelin, hunger signals, gets released to the brain.

Over time, less leptin and more gherlin in the body can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Although worry or stress can cause a short bout of insomnia, a persistent inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night can be caused by a number of other factors. Certain medications and sleep disorders can keep you up at night. Other common causes for insomnia are depression, anxiety disorders, asthma or arthritis may have symptoms that become more active at night.

Older people don’t need less sleep, but often get less sleep or find it less refreshing. As people age, they spend less time in the deep, restful stages of sleep. Older people tend to take medications that have a side effect that disrupts their sleep.

Many believe that resting during the day can replace the required sleep amount. However, it’s not true. Naps are not substitutes for a good night’s sleep. They can be restorative and help counter some of the impaired performance that resulted from not getting enough sleep at night. It’s best to avoid taking a nap late in the day because it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.  Limit naps to about an hour or less because longer naps can make it harder to wake up and get back in the swing of things. Taking frequent naps during the day may indicate a sleep disorder that needs attention.

While sleeping more hours on weekends can relieve some sleep deprivation, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep.  This pattern will not make up for the poor performance during the week due to fatigue from not sleeping enough. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your biological clock. It can increase difficulty sleeping at the right time on Sunday night and waking up for Monday morning.

Lifestyle instructions

  1. Besides improved sleep, those who use acupuncture treatment have obtained an increased feeling of well-being and feel considerable improvement in their overall health.  Acupuncture can balance Qi or Vital Energy which vary with stress levels.  Acupuncture can reduce nervous and irritability sensations, lower feelings of anxiety, relieve muscular tension and cramping. People often tighten their jaws and stomach and hunch over when stressed.
    Using acupuncture to treat difficulty sleeping is often specific according to the other issues surrounding the individual. It’s important to ensure the triggers for difficulty sleeping are significantly reduced. Expect 6-8 weeks of regular treatment to see results
  2. A diet high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins B & E is recommended. These nutrients are easily depleted by stress from lack of sleep.
  3. Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) and alcohol at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Avoid tobacco and sugar whenever possible.
  4. Avoid foods that contain Tyramine near bedtime. Tyramine increases the release of the brain stimulant, norepinephrine, and can increase blood pressure. Food with high content of tyramine include bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, spinach and tomatoes. If you are prone to headaches or migraines, it’s also best to avoid these foods.
  5. If insomnia is related to work or stress, try not to work in the bedroom and remove anything that may remind you of the office. A warm bath or light snack before bedtime may also be helpful.
  6. Have a good routine. Exercise regularly, adequate breaks during the day and sleeping and waking up at the same hours are ideal habits that reduce stress and anxiety.
  7. Practice daily meditation exercises at least twice a day. It can be just 5 minutes each session. However, the longer the meditation time, the better. Yoga is commonly used with meditation to improve mental clarity.
  8. Get away from daily routines and do something enjoyable to relieve stress and anxiety whenever possible. Such as walking your dog or listening to your favourite songs away from the desk.
  9. Create a dark room ambience in the bedroom. Lights affect our internal sleep clock. Darkness signals the brain that it’s time to rest and start producing melatonin, which aids in sleeping. Reduce bright lights including the ones from the computer and cell phone. Some may need to get dark colour or blackout curtains to eliminate outside lights.
  10. Reduce noise in the evening, especially in the bedroom. Turn down the volume on the stereo and television and practice talking at a slightly lower tone.

Do your best to wind down a good hour before bedtime. Watch what you snack on after dinner and before bedtime. Start dimming the lights around the home. Tell yourself it is ok to transit into slower mode. You’ll notice your mood and energy shifting within a few days of longer sleep hours and eventually, you’ll see the weight stabilizing then slowly coming off.

This is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have difficulty falling or staying asleep with difficulty waking up the next morning or you notice unusual patterns during sleep such as snoring, excessive movements or constant sleepiness with sluggishness during the day which continues for more than 2-3 weeks, talk to your doctor or sleep specialist for further treatment options.

Tueykay Jew, L.Ac, is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Health, Weight Loss & Personal Development Coach, based in the Los Angeles, California area. You can reach her at info@simplythinforever.com or call 310-804-4733

8 Tools to Alleviate Mild Depression and Moodiness

8 Tools to Alleviate mild Depression and Moodiness

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. In 2015, according to NIMH, an estimate of 6.7% of adults experienced at least one depressive episode in the past year.

People who have mild depression can experience:

  • weight gain or loss
  • appetite: eating more sugar or snack foods and not hungry for a solid meal
  • insomnia: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • fatigue: mostly from lack of sleep
  • irritability or anger
  • a feeling of hopelessness with excessive crying
  • feelings of guilt and despair
  • a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • a sudden disinterest in socializing
  • difficulties concentrating at work
  • physical aches and pains with seemingly no direct cause

Depression and anxiety disorders are different. People with depression can also experience similar symptoms to anxiety such as irritability, nervousness, difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

Depression affects how you feel and causes changes in the body. Depression tends to affect the central nervous system, which is responsible for awareness, thoughts, movements, sensations and certain behavior, moods and memory.

Here are some tools to help ease some of the symptoms of mild depression.

1) Get some sunlight to activate Vitamin D in your body

It is recommended 15 minutes/ day, 4 or more times per week .

Sunlight helps the brain release a hormone called Serotonin. Serotonin affects mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desires.

2) Physical movement or exercise

At least 30 minutes per day of aerobic activity 5 times per week

Endorphins get released from the central nervous system and pituitary gland. When released, it inhibits pain signals and increases the feeling of euphoria which can be pleasure, excitement, well-being or happiness.

3) Herbal teas

  1. St John’s Wort is good for mild to moderate moodiness
  2. Kava Root plant can ease depression and anxiety because of its sedating effect
  3. Chamomile or mint tea

4) Supplements

  1. Omega 3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA are needed for healthy brain function
  2. B vitamins, especially folic acid and B6. B vitamins assist the brain in producing chemicals that affect your mood and other brain functions.
  3. Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper. They support the nervous system and skeletal muscle system
  4. Amino acids assist in creating proteins, hormones and neurotransmitters.

5) Find ways to relax

  1. Take a yoga class or a Pranayama (Breathe) class. Different breathing techniques soothe the nervous system
  2. Meditation with the Pranayama (Breathe) techniques
  3. Get a massage. Often it’s easier to calm the whole body first, the mind second
  4. Get at least 3 Acupuncture treatments. Be sure to let the practitioner know that you are experience some depression and it’s effecting your sleep, eating, concentration, etc
  5. Listen to soothing sounds or music such as ocean waves

6) Laughing

Spend 15 minutes a day laughing because it releases endorphins into your body just like aerobic exercise.

  1. Find your favourite comedy T.V. show or film and spend time laughing
  2. Spend quality time with a very good friend and be sure to talk about the good and positives in your life

7) Do something creative with your hands

Doing something repetitive like knitting or making something with your hands, shifts the brain from pain mode to focus mode. It’s a completely different task to the brain.

  1. Baking or cooking
  2. Knitting or crocheting
  3. Drawing or painting: they now have Therapy Colouring books for Adults
  4. Playing a musical instrument

8) Get your thyroid checked

People who have low levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, Hypothyroidism, often experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • weight gain
  • depression
  • irritability
  • muscle cramps
  • constipation
  • dry hair and skin

Once the hypothyroidism gets treated, it will usually reduce the depression symptoms of weight gain, irregular menses for women and fatigue.

You can learn to identify the physical signs of depression by asking yourself: “What happens when I’m feeling down or sad? Where do I feel the sadness in my body?” or “What are my top 3 habits when I’m feeling down?” For example, when you are feeling down, you cry often or spontaneously, eat a lot of ice cream, get very little sleep and watch more television than usual. Once you recognize your patterns, you will be better prepared to learn how to manage your depression by using some of these 8 tools.

This is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. If you think you have major depression, a feeling of hopelessness that lasts more than 2 weeks. Then talk to your doctor or health care provider for further treatment options.

Tueykay, L.Ac, is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Health and Weight Loss & Personal Development Coach, based in the Los Angeles, California area. You can reach her at info@simplythinforever.com or call +1-310-804-4733.