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HEALTH ADVICE

Better Sleep for Men

John Gray


Many of us have trouble sleeping and experience times during the day when our energy drops. Sleep deprivation can also cause people to feel less alert and experience confused thinking and mood swings. Getting enough quality rest helps the brain operate better, helps you manage stress better, and helps you stay focused and pay attention longer.

Sleep is so important to your overall health. People who don't sleep enough can experience many health problems, including weight gain, hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.  


How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Most Americans average 6.8 hours of sleep at night. That's just not enough. The leading sleep researchers say that healthy adults need to snooze for at least seven hours a night. Most doctors have recommended eight hours of sleep in the past, but this new research shows that people might be just as healthy with seven hours of sleep each night. The panel of researchers were made up of 15 sleep medicine experts who spent 12 months evaluating the existing research and found that healthy adults over the age 18 perform well with at least seven hours of sleep. 


Sleep and Your Brain

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared "insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic." Lack of sleep is linked to car crashes, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity. It can also lead to increased rick for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

Research suggests your brain depends on sleep to keep it functioning at its highest level. "It's been coined the glymphatic system," says A. Thomas Perkins, a sleep expert and director of the Sleep Medicine Program at Raleigh Neurology in Raleigh, North Carolina. "This system sort of flushes the brain of all metabolic waste, and it does this every night, getting in between the cells and neurons, purging the brain of the metabolic byproducts of the day."

In 2013, a team of researchers at the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found that the brain actually makes room for this nightly flushing of cerebrospinal fluid. Space between brain cells increases during sleep, letting it essentially wash the brain of "toxic molecules." 

For the average person, a lack of sleep could translate to the inability to focus on what's being said at a meeting, to pull information together into an important report or to engage with co-workers in a collaborative and cooperative manner.


Men and Women Sleep Differently

Sleep Cycle, the sleep-analyzing app, released data on 941,300 users in 50 different countries. The findings revealed just how differently the sleeping habits are around the world, and especially between the sexes.

Nearly 90 percent of countries surveyed sleep more and wake up later on Saturday compared to any other day of the week. In the United States, women average more sleep more than men every day of the week, with an extra 25 minutes on Friday nights. However more sleep didn't equate to waking up refreshed and in a good mood. 

The data revealed than men woke up happier than women on a daily basis in every country surveyed except Colombia, Portugal and Ukraine. Both men and women in Japan, South Korea and Singapore reported the worst wake-up moods survey-wide.

Japanese men sleep the least of all, averaging less than six hours on most nights. While both men and women in Finland and the Netherlands sleep the most.

However, just because a person spends more time in bed doesn't necessarily mean they're getting the right kind of sleep. Both men and women in the United States reported some of the worst sleep quality in the world. Chinese women don't sleep the most, but they do enjoy the best sleep quality in the world, followed by women in Poland, the Czech Republic and Taiwan. And when it comes to the men, those in China have the best quality sleep.


Sleep and Prescription Drugs

About 9 million U.S. adults use prescription sleep aids every night, with drugs being more commonly used among women and older adults. The medications work by suppressing activities in the nervous system. But the side effects can be far worse.


None of these drugs are typically recommended for more than a week at a time because no drugs mimic the exact natural progression of sleep. Most of them suppress rapid eye movement, or REM, and may “impair the restorative value of sleep.” Some sleeping aids also come with the risk of parasomnia, a sleep disorder that causes people to eat or leave the house while asleep without remembering they have.  

Sleep aid medications actually make sleep apnea worse. They can also cause depression, lead to harmful infections and increase the risk of cancer. In a 2012 study of about 33,000 people, the University of California, San Diego found that people who use common prescription sleep medications had higher risks of dying prematurely and higher rates of cancer, even after controlling for their underlying health problems.

Non-prescription sleep aids can also lead to an increased risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Even more troubling is how the research shows the risk for developing dementia and other cognitive problems may persist and be irreversible even years after a person has stopped taking sleeping drugs. 

The University of Washington's School of Pharmacy developed a study that originally intended to disprove the association between sleep aids and related brain issues. 3,500 men and women aged 65 and older who exhibited no dementia symptoms at the start of the study were tracked for seven years. Over the course of the study, almost 800 participants developed a degree of dementia. They estimated that the use of such amounts for more than three years could result in a greater risk of developing dementia.

The good news is you don't have to turn to medication to fix most sleep problems.


Sleeping Better With Therapy

Therapy eliminates the side effects and potential long-term health consequences of using sleeping pills. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy has shown to help 60 percent of people with short-term insomnia to sleep better. 
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that targets chronic stress and anxiety, which are often at the root of sleeping problems, by helping people to identify dysfunctional thought patterns and behaviors. 

When research from 20 different sleep studies was analyzed, sleep researchers discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for improving sleep among individuals suffering from chronic insomnia. People with chronic insomnia often worry about their lack of sleep and how that will affect them the next day. The more they worry about sleep, the longer they stay awake. Cognitive behavioral therapy helped patients fall asleep 19 minutes earlier and sleep for an average of 7.6 minutes longer.

Therapy is a healthier treatment alternative to medicating. It should always be used as the initial intervention for chronic insomnia because you can learn skills to use whenever symptoms recur.


Tips and Supplements for Better Sleep

The following suggestions can help insure a good night’s sleep almost every night.

1. Exercise or go for a walk. In 2013, a poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 83 percent of people report sleeping better when they exercise than when they don’t, even if the exercise is late at night. Just try not to exercise to close to bedtime. 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise keeps your body temperature elevated for about 4 hours, which inhibits sleep. However, when your body begins to cool down, it signals your brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin and you feel drowsy.

2. Make it dark and quiet. Avoid disrupting light by using blackout shades or an eye mask. If you sleep in a noisy environment, use a sound machine or earplugs to reduce noise.

3. Stay cool. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 65° F or 18° C) with adequate ventilation. Pay attention to how you feel under the covers. A drop in your body temperature signals the body to produce melatonin, which induces sleep. You can also try to take a warm bath to raise your body temperature. As it lowers in the cooler air, your body will begin to feel sleepy. 

4. Slow down before laying down. Guided relaxation techniques, deep breathing, visualizations and meditations can help those that have difficulty tuning out the world at night. Certain smells, such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang, activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain, which leads to relaxation and helps you sleep more soundly. Mix a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle and give your pillowcase a spray.

5. Write down your worries. Many people complain they cannot fall asleep because their mind just won't turn off. Stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. When you wake up or can’t get to sleep, write down what is bugging you and what you plan to do about it. Once your concerns are converted into some kind of action plan, you'll rest easier.

6. Turn off the TV and the tablet. Most electronic devices, like TVs, tablets, laptops and smartphones give off light which affects the body’s sleep clock and creates mental distractions. We've become highly sensitive to changes in light, with specific photoreceptors in the eye regulating our circadian rhythms, or body clocks, which help us rest and fall asleep. Electronic devices emit "blue light" that our circadian systems equate with daylight. This plays a dirty trick on our brains. Rather than release melatonin, the brain floods us with energy to keep us longer.

7. Eat 
the right foods to encourage better sleep. Try salmon and a spinach salad for dinner at around 7 pm at night. The omega-3s in the fish will help you relax and the magnesium in the spinach can help calm your nerves. If you are craving dessert, eat a handful of tart cherries by 8 pm. They contain the sleep hormone melatonin and will encourage deeper sleep. Tart cherry juice helps too.

8. Start your day right to end your day right right. Drink this special Super Cleanse Drink and take two Super Minerals every morning.
To make the special Super Cleanse Drink, mix together the following ingredients:
·One teaspoon of Mars Venus Super Cleanse
·One teaspoon of Probiotic
·One scoop of Acetyl-L-Carnitine
·One teaspoon of MCT Oil. Gradually increase MCT Oil to a maximum of one tablespoon. Decrease the amount if bloating or pain occurs due to candida die-off. Then gradually increase again.

9. Watch your blood sugar levels. If you are waking up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, this may be due to a sudden drop in blood sugar, which in turn spikes cortisol. Check out my blog on balancing blood sugar here.

10. Cut caffeine after 2pm. That includes coffee, tea, and cola. Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for about 8 hours and it can prevent your brain from entering deep sleep or stop you from falling asleep altogether.

11. If you are getting up in the night to use the bathroom, take two capsules of Flower Pollen a few hours before sleep. Try to minimize drinking water two hours before going to sleep.

12. For men, Prostate Plus contains natural ingredients known to increase urine flow as well as prevent the need to use the bathroom during your sleep time.

13. Rotate the use of Tranquil Sleep and Muscle Relax to set up a good habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Each of these supplements works in different ways. By alternating them you can prevent your brain from becoming dependent on one. Set your goal to not depend on them but to use them to create the habit of sleeping through the night. Then keep them around to use when you are traveling and have to deal with falling asleep in a different time zone or on a long flight. The less you use them, the better they work when you really need them.



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