Natural Sleep SupplementCategoriesBlog

How to Choose a Natural Sleep Supplement in Malaysia?

Sleep is extremely important for proper brain and body function. A solid night’s sleep can help in decision making, learning, and memory. Conversely, insufficient sleep can increase the risk of numerous health issues including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. 

Despite this, many people suffer from lack of sleep as well as poor sleep quality and with the increased stressors and busyness of life, it can only be expected that more and more people will experience sleep problems. 

Sleep/Insomnia related issues in Malaysia- a cause for worry

Natural Sleep Supplement
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Sleep issues such as insomnia are actually quite common in Malaysia. 

According to a community-based sleep survey conducted in 4 Malaysian states, 33.8% of the general population reported insomnia symptoms while 12.2% presented with chronic insomnia. 

Of those who were suffering from insomnia in this research:

  • 40.9% had perceived poor health status.
  • 19.1% reported loss of concentration,
  • 17.2% said they felt exhausted.
  • 12.7% said they were feeling depressed.
  • 9.2% cited that they had poor memory. 
  • 6.4% reported a decrease in work productivity. 

Additionally, Malaysia’s Health Ministry reported that 40-50% of people above 60 years in this nation suffer from insomnia

Malaysia sleep statistics

Adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. However, a 2016 survey reported that Malaysian adults only average 6.4 hours of sleep per day

With 1.6 hours short of sleep every day, Malaysians are building up a sleep debt of 11.2 hours every week. This is indeed quite worrisome as long term sleep loss can increase the risk of health problems. 

In another survey, Statista reported that 20% of Malaysians do not consider themselves to be getting enough sleep while 34% neither agree nor disagree with this statement. This means that at least 2 in every 10 Malaysians who were surveyed felt that they were short of sleep.  

The Star newspaper reported that up to 50% of Malaysians had average sleep quality while 20% experienced sleeping issues 3 to 4 times a week

What are natural sleep supplements? 

There isn’t actually any formal definition for natural sleep supplements. As such, the term can be understood by breaking it down into the following phrases:

  • Natural: Natural usually refers to substances that are derived from plants or those that are synthetically manufactured in a lab, but are found in the body. For example, valerian root is a herb used to promote sleep while melatonin is found naturally in our bodies. 
  • Sleep supplement: Sleep aids or supplements are used to help alleviate minor to major sleep issues such as jet lag and insomnia. The mechanism of sleep supplements can vary greatly depending on the ingredients it contains.
Sleep supplement
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Why use natural sleep supplements? 

There are three main reasons to use natural sleep supplements as compared to prescription sleep aids. 

Firstly, of course, is that they can be just as effective as prescription sleeping pills. Secondly, they are generally considered safer because they are manufactured using natural ingredients that your body is able to process without any issues. 

Third, they have fewer side effects as compared to prescription sleep medication. There are natural sleeping aids that do not cause drowsiness while promoting sleep. You are also far less likely to build a tolerance or get addicted to natural sleep supplements. 

Sleep aids available in Malaysia

There are numerous natural sleep aids in Malaysia, including:

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid that is commonly found in green tea. It has certain health benefits including:

  • Stress and anxiety relief
  • Improve sleep
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Increase cognitive function
  • Increase immunity
  • Blood pressure management
  • Anti-tumor effects
  • Weight loss

Taking L-Theanine supplements before bedtime can help you to relax and wind down while you prepare to sleep.  

For more information on L-Theanine, read ‘L-Theanine: Health Benefits and Cognitive Function’.

Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate (Lactium®

Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate (Lactium®) is a milk hydrolysate that is made by processing milk proteins. 

It is a natural ingredient that can help one to manage emotions, as well as promote relaxation. Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate is recommended for sleep problems, as well as stress and anxiety management. 

The best characteristic of this natural ingredient is that it does not present with any side effects. It does not cause addiction nor have any sedative effects, even when taken in high doses. 

For more information on Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate, read ‘Lactium Sleep Aid in Malaysia: Can it Help You With Stress and Sleep Issues?

Melatonin 

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced naturally by our bodies that work to tell our brains that it is time to sleep. Melatonin supplements are quite popular as they can help with disrupted circadian rhythms. 

Research on melatonin demonstrates that it can improve sleep quality, reduce the time needed to fall asleep (sleep latency) and increase the total quantity of sleeping time. 

Common side effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness might occur when you take melatonin. Less common side effects of melatonin include abdominal cramps, confusion, mild tremors, short lasting feelings of depression, irritability, and hypotension. 

Melatonin can also interact with certain types of medication so it should only be taken on your doctor’s recommendation. While melatonin is considered safe for short term use, more research is needed with regards to its long term safety.

Valerian root

Valerian is a herb that can be found in Asia and Europe. The root of this herb is said to be able to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety as well as menopause. 

A randomized study on the effects of valerian on menopausal and postmenopausal women show an improvement in sleep disorder symptoms as well as sleep quality

Research also shows that taking 300 to 900 mg of valerian before bedtime can help to improve one’s quality of sleep. However, the long term safety of this ingredient is still uncertain and should therefore be only taken as prescribed by a physician.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in regulating melatonin production. It is known to be able to help relax muscles and promote sleepiness. In fact, Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insomnia and poor sleep quality. Thus, supplementing magnesium may help to improve both sleep quality and quantity. 

Lavender

Aromatherapy using lavender oil from the lavender plant is believed to be able to enhance sleep. Studies on the effect of this soothing fragrance show that smelling lavender oil just before sleeping can help reduce symptoms of those who are experiencing mild insomnia. 

Do note that lavender oil is usually used for aromatherapy and oral ingestion can cause stomach pain and nausea.

Lavender
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Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a well-known herb in Malaysia and can be purchased in many medicinal shops and pharmacies. It is believed that taking this natural herb about an hour before going to bed can help promote relaxation and sleep in addition to reducing stress. 

How to choose the best sleep supplement in Malaysia?

Finding a safe, dependable and effective natural sleep aid can be a challenge with so many options available in the market. 

As such, it’s important to look at the ingredient list of the product carefully. Keep in mind that terms such as ‘verified’ or ‘certified’ may not always be for defined, or regulated methods. 

Be sure to do some research on the safety of the product. You can contact the manufacturer and make inquiries about testing, safety and documentation. 

Additionally, it’s also important to remember that products that work for others might not work for you, for whatever reason. Thus, you will need to discover what works best for your body. 

One of the best sleep supplements in Malaysia is Rilax.

Rilax is a natural sleep aid that is designed to improve sleep quality and promote relaxation so that your body is able to get the restorative sleep that it needs. 

It is safe and effective, and contains Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate (Lactium) and L-Theanine, both of which are natural ingredients recognized as safe by the FDA

Conclusion

Natural sleep supplements can help you if you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep. Because sleep is an important part of life and sleep deprivation can lead to a myriad of other physical and psychological issues, it is imperative that you seek help for your symptoms.

lactiumCategoriesBlog

Lactium Sleep Aid in Malaysia: Can it Help You With Stress and Sleep Issues?

lactium
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We’ve all experienced stressful times in our lives. While some stress is good, round the clock schedules, work pressure and other life demands can take their toll, with impacts on both psychological and physical fronts. 

Stress has been known to affect sleep quality and performance

Insufficient sleep can in turn increase the risk of a myriad of mental and physical health issues including depression, memory impairment, weight gain, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and certain cancers.

As such, stress management plays an important role in keeping us as healthy as possible. In the search to find effective ways to reduce stress, researchers discovered Lactium®, a natural ingredient that promotes calm and relaxation. 

What is Lactium® or Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate? 

Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate which has the brand name Lactium® is a milk protein hydrolysate. It contains a natural bioactive peptide and is made via processing proteins in milk from the Holstein breed in France. 

Although it is extracted from milk, almost all lactose is removed during the processing. As such, Lactium® is a casein hydrolysate that is considered lactose-free. This natural ingredient can help you to manage your emotions and help you to relax without any harmful side effects, which is unlike many anti-anxiety drugs.  

The Star reported that a staggering 9 out of 10 Malaysians suffer from at least one sleeping issue

50% of Malaysians say that they have average sleep quality while 38% reported that they had sleeping problems once or twice a week. A little over three-quarters of those surveyed acknowledged that sleeping issues can lead to health and emotional problems. 

With such a seemingly large number of Malaysians reporting sleep problems, the potential benefits of using this Lactium as a natural sleep supplement in Malaysia is indeed bountiful. 

How does Lactium® work? 

Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate works by imitating the gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitters which are known for their relaxing properties and inhibiting anxiety. 

They bind to the GABA receptors and together with serotonin; a hormone that helps to regulate mood and sleep; promote a sense of calmness and well-being. As such, it promotes slow delta brain waves and improves sleep quality, leading to restorative sleep. 

Is Lactium® safe?

Yes, since it is a natural ingredient, Lactium® is safe, even in large doses. 

In fact, it is also safe for those who are suffering from lactose intolerance, even though it is derived from milk. 

There is only about 1% of lactose content in the average daily dose (150mg) of Lactium®

This is well below the 5g/day of lactose that lactose-intolerant people can consume, and thus, should not result in any negative effects. 

Lactium® also does not contain ß-lactoglobulin, which is an allergenic protein present in milk. Besides this, its hydrolysate form means that the milk proteins present in Lactium has been broken down far enough till our immune systems do not recognize it as a potential allergen, making it hypoallergenic. 

What is Lactium® or casein hydrolysate used for?

Lactium is often used in stress and anxiety management as well as in natural sleep supplements. Additionally, it is also able to help with mood swings, loss of appetites, loss of libido and concentration. 

lactium
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Lactium® for sleep 

According to a study from Korea, daily supplementation of Lactium® may help promote sleep quantity and quality. In this study, 48 participants reported increased sleep efficiency when they were given 300mg of Lactium® per day. Data from their sleep journals also indicated improvement in their sleep quality. 

Another study on Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate carried out among day-time workers in Japan found that it improved sleep quality, and decreased both sleep latency and daytime dysfunction

This natural bioactive peptide improves sleep, reduces cortisol levels, induces relaxation, improves cognitive function without sedative effects. As such it is an effective supplement that can help people who are suffering from insomnia  

Lactium® and stress

Lactium® is a natural ingredient that can help you to manage stress. A study in which 3 doses of 200mg of Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate every 12 hours were given to participants found that it reduced increase in blood pressure, stress hormones and heart rate after a stress test was conducted.  

The effects of this milk protein hydrolysate on stress were also demonstrated in a study in which 40 male volunteers were given two 200mg hydrolysate capsules or placebos. 

Upon testing, participants from the treatment group had significantly lower blood pressure and lower plasma cortisol levels as compared to those who were given the placebo. Cortisol is a hormone that helps our body respond to stress.  

lactium
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Lactium® for anxiety

Anxiety can cause one to miss out on many things in life. For example, people who feel social anxiety may avoid going to malls or concerts so that they do not have to be in crowded areas. 

Anxiety often goes hand in hand with stress, with many people experiencing anxiousness when they face stressful events. As such, it is not surprising that Lactium’s relaxing effects also work for those who struggle with anxiety. 

The effects of Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysates on anxiety is evident in this study where a group of 63 female volunteers who had stress-related anxiety, sleep problems and general fatigue were given 150mg Lactium® daily for 30 days. It was found that it helped to relieve their stress-related symptoms

Benefits of Lactium®

As seen above, Lactium can be incredibly beneficial for people who are suffering from sleep issues, stress and anxiety. Other benefits include:

  • It is a natural, hypoallergenic ingredient
  • It can easily be added to food and drinks or taken as a supplement
  • It does not cause addiction
  • It does not cause drowsiness
  • It is suitable for children
  • You can easily use it for times of heightened stress, such as quitting smoking
  • There is virtually no side effects

Lactium® side effects

Lactium® does not present with any side effects. Because it is a natural ingredient, it is not toxic even when taken in high doses. It is hypoallergenic and does not cause addiction or sedation. This harmless, non-GMO ingredient is recognised by the FDA.  

Lactium® vs melatonin

Melatonin hormone is produced by the pineal gland and works to inform our bodies when it is time to sleep and wake up. 

Melatonin levels in our body usually increase in the evening when the sun is setting and levels decrease when the sun rises. Factors that influence how much melatonin your body produces include your body clock and the amount of sunlight you get daily. 

Just like Lactium®, melatonin supplements are available for those who are struggling with sleep disorders such as insomnia, delayed sleep phase disorder and circadian disorders such as jet lag. 

However, unlike Lactium®, melatonin may cause several short term side effects such as:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache / ‘heavy head’ feeling
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Crankiness/feeling moody
  • Short-lived depression

Lactium® supplements 

Because it is heat-stable, water-soluble, pH-stable and doesn’t have an off-flavour, Lactium® is available in several forms such as tablets, capsules, drinks and even chewing gum. 

Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate is used in various supplements to help people with sleep issues, anxiety and stress, including Rilax’s natural sleep supplements that work to promote healthy and restorative sleep. 

When should I take Lactium®?

It is ok to take it any time of the day, as it does not cause drowsiness. However, be sure to adhere to the recommendations and instructions on the usage leaflet to avoid potential risks, if any.  

Lactium® dosage

The amount to take depends very much on your symptoms as well as your emotional state. However, the following is recommended:

  • 150mg per day for one month
  • 300mg per day for 2 weeks
  • 600mg per day for immediate action. For example, one day before taking an exam, or even during the examination day itself. 

Lactium® and theanine 

L-Theanine is another naturally found ingredient that helps to reduce stress, improve concentration, and promote sleep quality and efficiency. It is abundantly found in green tea leaves and does not cause dependency or lead to any adverse side effects. 

Rilax’s natural sleep supplements combine Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate and L-Theanine giving you a perfectly safe, natural and effective supplement that promotes relaxation and helps you to wake up feeling refreshed. 

If you’re looking for natural sleeping aids in Malaysia, Rilax will help you fall asleep easier, stay asleep longer, feel less anxiety and experience deep, slow-wave sleep. 

For more information on L-Theanine, read ‘L-Theanine: Health Benefits and Cognitive Function’.

Conclusion

If you’re struggling with stress and sleep issues, Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate, or Lactium® may be your answer as it can help you relax without any sedating effects or risks to your general well being. 

Nonetheless, do consult your doctor before starting to ensure that it is safe for you, as well as to rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be contributing to your difficulty in falling and staying asleep. 

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Sleep Diary: How to Make and Keep One?

Sleep plays an important role in our health. Insufficient sleep causes various health issues such as a weakened immune system, obesity, and even cardiovascular diseases. 

Lack of sleep can also result in trouble concentrating and memory issues. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation should not be underestimated. 

Statistics on sleep deprivation show that over 6,000 fatal car crashes are due to drowsy driving, and that work related accidents are seven times more likely to happen to people who suffer from insomnia as compared to people who have good sleep. 

If most of your nights are spent tossing and turning, and find that you have difficulties falling and staying asleep, a sleep diary may be of great help in getting you back to a solid night’s sleep.

unable to sleep
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What is a sleep diary? 

A sleep diary, sleep journal, or sleep log is a simple tool that can help you and your doctor investigate how much and how well you sleep. Recording related details in your diary for one or two weeks can help your doctor diagnose your sleeping issues as it reveals your sleep habits and patterns. 

Once your sleep issues are diagnosed and treatment is given, the sleep diary can be used to check whether the treatment is effective. Common details recorded in the diary include bedtime and wake-up time, sleep interruptions, daytime sleep, and perceived sleep quality.

sleep diary
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What does a sleep diary do? 

Sleep diaries are often used by doctors because they are such an easy tool to evaluate a person’s sleep. Daily logs can reveal if a person is suffering from conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders. However, you can also use it to track your own sleeping patterns. 

Properly recording sleep patterns enables one to calculate total sleep time and identify sleep disruptions. It will also reveal other factors that are influencing sleep quality. 

Sleep diaries also enable the identification of patterns and habits that may explain your issues. Concrete daily entries in a sleep log are usually more reliable than a general recollection of sleep patterns. 

Besides this, sleep diaries are also used in certain sleep studies. They can be used to assess patients with insomnia and are sometimes used to collect data on participants’ sleep patterns in the lead up to a sleep study. 

How to keep a sleep diary? 

Keeping a sleep diary is actually quite easy. However, for it to be accurate, the diary needs to be filled out carefully daily. Most of them have two sections – one to be completed in the morning when you wake up, and another in the evening.

It is important to update your diary consistently. Doing so will help you avoid memory gaps. 

For example, you should try to fill in the morning section within an hour of waking up. An easy solution is to ensure this is to keep both the diary and a pen at your bedside table or an accessible place where you can see it.  

If you’re keeping a sleep journal as per your doctor’s recommendations, make sure to follow all given instructions. Your doctor will probably get you to fill in your diary for a minimum of one week.

If you’re doing it on your own accord, it’s up to you to decide on how long you want to record this information. Do remember that you should also review the recorded information. 

What to record in a sleep diary?

Here’s what most sleep logs will require you to record:

  • What time did you go to bed? 
  • How long did it take for you to fall asleep? 
  • How many times did you wake up at night? 
  • How long did you keep awake each time you woke up? 
  • What time did you wake up in the morning? 
  • How well did you sleep? 
  • Did you nap in the daytime? If so, how many times and how long was each nap? 
  • How many alcoholic drinks did you have? 
  • How many caffeinated drinks did you have? 
  • Did you take any medications? If yes, what were the medications taken? 
  • Did you exercise? If yes, at what time did you do so? 

What can your sleep diary tell you? 

The results from your sleep log might come in as a surprise. For example, you might discover that your exercise time is too late in the day resulting in your brain being alert during bedtime.

If so, moving your exercise time earlier will help you avoid taking hours to fall asleep at night. 

Or you might find that the cup of coffee you have in the late afternoon is the culprit. Caffeine can stay in human bloodstream for up to 10 hours. Thus, being careful in timing your last cup of coffee could be the key to better sleep. 

You might also learn that you are checking your phone just before you sleep. Blue light from mobile phones and other electronic devices can disrupt the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps you to regulate sleep.

Whatever the case is, a sleep diary will help you to understand your sleep habits and reveal areas in which you can improve sleep hygiene.

Evaluating your sleep with a sleep diary

If you’re keeping a sleep journal on your own, here are some questions that can assist in evaluating your sleep:

  • Does your diary show a sleep schedule that is consistent or full of fluctuations? 
  • Do you lie down in bed for long and are still unable to fall asleep? 
  • Do you experience sleep disruptions at night? Is there a pattern to it and is there anything in the diary that might explain the reason? 
  • Do you feel that you are well-rested when you wake up? Do you feel sleepy during the day? 
  • Do you take long naps? Are your naps too late in the day? 
  • Is your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and/or medication affecting your sleeping time and quality? 
  • Are you budgeting enough time for sleep? 

These questions can help you identify ways in which you can improve sleep hygiene and boost your overall health. You can continue to fill in the diary for the next few weeks after taking steps to improve your sleep. Thereafter, you can reevaluate your sleep diary to see if you are experiencing better sleep. 

Tips to improve sleep hygiene

Once you have evaluated your sleeping habits, you may find that your sleep hygiene is actually not too great. Following are some habits that can help improve your sleep quality: 

  • Have a consistent sleep schedule (fixed time for going to bed and waking up every day). 
  • Make your bedroom is conducive to sleep – quiet, dark, comfortable temperature
  • Ensure that your bedroom is free of electronic devices (TV, Laptops, etc). 
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or heavy meals just before bedtime
  • Exercise in the first half of the day. 
  • Have a relaxing pre-bedtime routine such as quiet meditation or a warm bath to relax before bedtime. A calming cup of caffeine-free tea or a natural and safe sleep supplement can also help promote relaxation.

Other ways of tracking your sleep

While a sleep diary is a very helpful instrument when it comes to tracking sleep, there are a few other methods available:

  • Sleep trackers are devices that you can wear to track your sleep and activity. It is very similar to devices that track heart rate and the number of steps you take in a day. Sleep trackers can measure heart rate, movements, and brain activity. Some trackers are designed to be worn on your wrist while others are to be placed under your mattress. The accuracy of sleep trackers varies depending on the type and quality of the device. 
  • Actigraphy uses a device designed to measure your sleep by detecting your movement. It is worn on your wrist and often used to diagnose sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia. Doctors sometimes use this device together with a sleep diary to obtain both subjective and objective sleep measurements. 
  • A polysomnography or sleep study is a test in which you wear sensors on your head and body. These sensors work to measure and record breathing and brain activity while you sleep. Polysomnography is usually ordered by a doctor or sleep specialist but can be carried out either at the clinic or at home. 
  • Sleep questionnaires are used for subjective sleep evaluations. While helpful, they are less detailed and generally less accurate than sleep diaries

Conclusion

Sleep diaries can track sleep habits and help diagnose sleep disorders. It is a popular tool because of its low cost, simplicity, and broad insight it offers. Try using one today, you might be surprised to discover ways in which you can improve your sleep.

Sleep diary template

If you’re looking for a sleep diary template, check out below to download Rilax’s easy to use sleep journal. Contact us and let us know how you fare!

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Sleep Hygiene 1CategoriesBlog

What is Sleep Hygiene (+12 Tips to Improve)

Many people suffer from sleep problems simply because they do not have good sleep hygiene. Studies show that up to 30% of adults suffer from chronic insomnia,while 35.2% of adults in America reported that they have less than seven hours of sleep per night.  However, what exactly is sleep hygiene and how can we develop it to counteract sleep issues such as insomnia and sleep deprivation? 

The article discusses some effective tips that will help you to improve your sleep hygiene.

What is good sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene, in layman terms, refers to healthy sleep habits. Many sleep problems are a result of poor sleep hygiene practised for years in a person’s life. As such, it is possible to improve sleep quality by making a few adjustments to our lifestyle, attitude and other sleep-related factors. 

Why is sleep hygiene important?

We know that lack of sleep can potentially cause a myriad of problems, including health issues such as obesity, a weakened immune system, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Long term sleep deprivation has also been linked to depression and anxiety, memory loss and difficulties in concentration. The inability to focus can then lead to accidents in the workplace and on the road. 

Good sleep habits can pave the way to better quality and quantity of sleep, thereby affecting our overall health. Everyone can benefit from better sleep and sleep hygiene plays a large role in reaching this goal. 

While making adjustments to our environment and habits can feel strange and difficult, good sleep habits will help you to feel rested and refreshed when you wake up. 

Aside from the initial part of getting used to the new habits, improving sleep hygiene has virtually no cost and no risk, making it one of the most effective and easy to combat sleep problems such as insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders. 

Signs of poor sleep hygiene

Signs of poor sleep hygiene include having a difficult time staying and falling asleep, experiencing interrupted sleep frequently as well as daytime sleepiness. Additionally, overall poor sleep quality and inconsistent sleep quantity can also point to poor sleep hygiene. 

Sleep hygiene tips

Following are some ways in which you can improve your sleep hygiene:

1. Have a consistent sleep schedule

Having a consistent bedtime and wake up time every day reinforces your body’s internal clock. Your body will become accustomed to the scheduled sleep and wake up time, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night. 

Make sure to budget your time to get enough deep sleep so that your body can rejuvenate while you rest. Here are some useful tips to set a sleep schedule:

  • Fix your wake up time. Wake up at the same time every day regardless of whether it’s a weekday, weekend or holiday. Fluctuating schedules will prevent you from getting into a consistent sleep schedule. 
  • Prioritize sleep even though it might be tempting to stay up late. Remember that sleep is important for your health. Prepare for the coming day by getting enough rest. 
  • Shift your sleep times gradually if you’re trying to make adjustments. Adjusting your sleeping time one hour at a time instead of in one swoop will help your body settle into the new sleeping schedule. 

Sleep Hygiene 1

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

2. Have a nightly routine

A bedtime routine will help your body realize that it’s almost time to sleep and thus, help you to fall asleep quicker. 

Your bedtime routine should be consistent and relaxing. Budget about 30 minutes to wind down, dim your lights and unplug from electronic devices. Here are some relaxing ideas that you can incorporate into your bedtime routine:

  • A warm bath or shower will aid relaxation. Cooling down can help you to fall asleep. 
  • Meditation and deep breathing also helps relax your mind and body. It is especially useful if you find yourself having racing thoughts during bedtime.
  • Gentle stretches can help your muscles to relax.
  • Put on some calm, soothing music. 
  • Read a book

Do try to avoid over-stimulating and stressful activities as these will cause your mind and body to be alert.  

3. Optimize your bedroom for sleep

A large part of sleep hygiene is your sleeping environment. To fall asleep quicker, you want your bedroom to be peaceful and conducive to rest. 

Following are some things you can do to get your sleep environment to work for you: 

  • Choose a comfortable mattress and pillow as they provide comfort and support that promotes restful, pain-free sleep. 
  • Choose bedding that you like. Sheets and blankets are the first things you come in contact with when you get into bed.
  • Ensure that your room temperature is cool, yet comfortable.
  • If you’re a light sleeper, ensure that your room is quiet. A white noise machine helps to drown out sounds. Earplugs may also work, but might be uncomfortable for some people. 
  • Ensure that your room is dark. Prevent light from disturbing your sleep by using blackout curtains or an eye mask. 
  • Try aromatherapy. Light and calming smells such as lavender can help you to relax.  

sleep hygiene 2

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

4. Limit naps

While napping is an easy way to help you regain energy during the daytime, it often makes it difficult to fall asleep at night. To prevent this, keep napping to 30 minutes or less in the early afternoon. 

Napping after lunch or in the evening can no doubt affect your sleep patterns. 

5. Avoid electronic devices before bedtime

Your phones, laptops, TVs and other electronic devices emit blue light, which inhibits the release of melatonin in your body. As melatonin works to regulate your sleep/wake cycle, low levels of it will make it hard for you to fall asleep. 

Besides blue light, just having a phone near you during bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Buzzing and notifications from your phone can cause interrupted sleep. 

6. Exercise often

Research shows that exercise can help with sleep-related problems. 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily will not only benefit our overall health but promote sleep quality as well. 

Try exercising outside if possible, because exposure to natural light will also assist in regulating your sleep cycle. Avoid exercising within two hours of your sleep time as increased energy levels and body temperature can make it hard to fall asleep. 

If you must exercise at night, do low impact exercises such as stretches. 

7. Limit caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine, which is a stimulant, can keep you awake even when you want to sleep. Be aware of when and how much you are consuming. 

It is recommended to avoid caffeine post afternoon to avoid any disruptions to sleep. This is because caffeine can remain in your bloodstream for up to 10 hours. Remember that different people will have different tolerance levels for caffeine. 

Some people are able to sleep well even after drinking a cup of coffee in the later afternoon while others cannot. Thus, always be mindful of how much caffeine your body can take. 

Additionally, alcohol too can reduce sleep quality so it’s best to avoid it if you’re finding it hard to fall and stay asleep. 

8. Reserve your bed for sleep 

It can be tempting to be in bed while working, reading or watching TV especially if you have a comfortable one. However, this can weaken your brain’s association of the bed with sleep, making it harder to fall asleep. Use your bed only for sleep. 

sleep hygiene 3

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

9. Go to bed when you’re tired

If you are unable to sleep long after you’re settled in your bed, get up and stretch or do a relaxing activity until you feel tired. Then, head to bed and try to sleep again. 

Inability to sleep can be frustrating and this can keep you awake even longer. 

10. Manage stress and anxiety

Thinking about your worries can keep you up at night. Check out the following tips:

  • Jot down your worries so that you can get them out of your head.
  • List down your to-do list if you’re thinking about things that you have to get done. Prioritize the list. 
  • Try using a weighted blanket
  • Try meditation and deep breathing techniques to calm your mind. 
  • Safe and natural sleep supplements can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and promote relaxation. 

11. Use a sleep diary

A sleep diary helps in tracking your sleep patterns and habits. Recording information such as your bedtime and wake up time, sleep interruptions, perceived sleep quality and caffeine consumption can help you to better understand your sleep habits. 

Additionally, it can show you the habits that you need to change or improve on. 

12.Have a healthy diet

A well-balanced diet will help with your overall health. However, timing is important. Large meals before bedtime can hinder you from having a restorative sleep. 

Going to bed empty stomach can also be distracting for some people. A light snack or a glass of warm milk can help induce sleep if you can’t go to bed on an empty stomach. 

Conclusion

If you’re experiencing sleep issues, the first thing you want to do is to check your sleep habits and routines. 

Good sleep hygiene will help your body recognize sleep and wake time as well as get you into a regular sleep/wake cycle. Consult your doctor if your sleep problems seem to be getting worse even when you’ve put the above-mentioned tips into practice. 

L-Theanine Health Benefits & Cognitive FunctionCategoriesBlog

L-Theanine: Health Benefits and Cognitive Function

Ever wonder why a cup of tea is offered during stressful situations? Or why it seems to help us to wind down at night? It’s because tea contains the L-theanine compound. It is found especially in green tea and it can help our body to relax and calm down. 

What is L-Theanine?

L-theanine is an amino acid that is actually not essential for humans although it is known to provide certain health benefits. This amino acid was first found in tea by Japanese scientists in the mid-1900s. Because L-theanine is not essential for our bodily functions, the human body does not synthesize it and we don’t require it in our diets. 

L-theanine mechanism of action

L-theanine’s main mechanism of action is to increase the levels of inhibitory neurotransmitters and block the production of excitatory neurotransmitters. 

Because L-theanine is a glutamic acid analog, it is very similar to the neurotransmitter glutamate. This chemical resemblance means it is able to bind directly to postsynaptic receptors, inhibiting the binding of glutamate. It also binds to the glutamate transporter to prevent the reuptake of glutamate. 

This process results in an increased level of brain inhibitory transmitter GABA and increases dopamine levels. Anti-stress effects are felt due to the inhibition of excitatory neurotransmitters. 

Where is L-Theanine naturally found?

Where is L-Theanine naturally found
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The most common source of L-theanine is green tea. In fact, L-theanine makes up about 50% of the total amino acids in green tea. It is said that up to 3.1% of the dry weight of green tea is from this amino acid. 

However, L-theanine content varies according to specific types of green tea. Younger green tea plants also tend to have a higher amount of this amino acid. 

Because L-theanine is highly water-soluble, nearly all of it dissolves in water when tea is prepared. It is also believed that this amino acid is responsible for the slight savory umami flavor that is very unique to green tea. 

L-theanine foods

L-theanine can also be found in:

  • Black and white tea leaves but at a lower content than green tea leaves. 
  • Xerocomus badius, a brown, edible, porous mushroom species which is also known as bay bolete. Bay bolete can be found in Europe and North America. 
  • C. japonica and C. sasanqua, small shrubs that are sometimes used to make tea. 

L-Theanine benefits 

While L-theanine is not an essential amino acid that our body needs, it offers tons of great benefits. 

Stress and anxiety relief

Stress and anxiety relief
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L-theanine in tea is anxiolytic. It helps to reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation and stress without sedative effects. A hot cup of tea can help you keep calm while still being attentive. 

Studies show that L-theanine can significantly reduce stress and anxiety in people who are experiencing stressful situations. It can also be helpful with anxiety for people who are living with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder

Increases cognitive function

Increases cognitive function
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A 2016 study found that L-theanine can improve brain function. It helps with attention, reaction time, memory, and learning. 

Hormones like cortisol and corticosterone are produced by our bodies when we are under stress. These hormones can inhibit brain activity, affect memory formation and learning. L-theanine counters this by lowering stress hormone levels and fostering a sense of calm. 

L-theanine is sometimes used with caffeine to enhance alertness, focus, and cognitive skills. It is said that the combination of L-theanine and caffeine can improve one’s ability to process visual information and number skills. 

In a study investigating this combination effect, young adults who were given 97mg of L-theanine and 40mg of caffeine had significantly improved accuracy during task switching. They also reported increase alertness and reduce tiredness. The researchers concluded that the combination of L-theanine and caffeine can help to increase focused attention for demanding cognitive tasks. 

Improves sleep

L-theanine helps people to fall asleep quicker during bedtime because it fosters relaxation and calmness. It also improves sleep quality as it lowers stress and anxiety levels. This is important as deep sleep itself has many health benefits. 

A 2018 study in which participants who were struggling with a generalized anxiety disorder reported better sleep quality after taking 450 to 900mg of L-theanine every day for 8 weeks

Increases immunity

L-theanine can also boost the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties that help the body in fighting off illnesses. 

Research shows that L-theanine can help with upper respiratory tract infections and in preventing the flu. Studies also show that it can help reduce inflammation in the intestinal tract although more research is needed in this area. 

Anti-tumor effects

Studies have suggested that people who drink tea regularly have a lower risk of cancer. In fact, another study conducted in China found that women who drank green tea had 32% lesser chances of developing pancreatic cancer compared to no tea drinkers. 

It is also said that L-theanine is able to enhance the anti-tumor effect of certain chemotherapy drugs. While more studies are needed, this promising finding suggests that L-theanine will be able to improve chemotherapy’s effectiveness to fight cancer. 

Blood pressure management

A 2012 study found that L-theanine was effective in reducing increased blood pressure due to having to complete specific mental tasks. 

High BP is known to cause health issues like heart attack and strokes. L-theanine helps reduce high blood pressure during stressful situations by reducing stress. Lowering stress and increasing relaxation can decrease heart rate and thus, lower blood pressure. 

Helps with relaxation

There is evidence that suggests that L-theanine in green and black tea can help people relax by reducing their resting heart rate. This is why in some cultures a cup of tea is often offered during stressful situations. 

Weight loss

weight loss
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L-theanine in green tea creates a savory ‘umami’ flavor that can help reduce appetite. As such, having some green tea instead of a snack can result in weight loss.  

Additionally, the anti-anxiety and sleep-promoting properties of L-theanine can also help in weight management. Getting proper sleep and being well-rested instead of stressed is important when it comes to healthy eating and avoiding weight gain. 

L-Theanine and sleep

L-Theanine and sleep
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

As mentioned above, L-theanine can be a great help for those who are suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia. Here’s how L-theanine promotes relaxation and sleep:

  • L-theanine boosts calming brain chemicals such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters regulate our mood, emotions, appetite, energy, alertness as well as sleep. Increased levels of these chemicals in our brains help us to relax and sleep. 
  • L-theanine reduces ‘excitatory’ brain chemicals and chemicals that are linked to stress and anxiety. This results in calm and relaxation. 
  • L-theanine enhances alpha brain waves which are related to ‘wakeful relaxation’ and is present during REM sleep

Because L-theanine is generally safe, and supplementation does not cause drowsiness, dependence, or lead to adverse side effects, it is often used as a natural sleep supplement to improve sleep quality and promote relaxation

How long does L-theanine take to work?

Ingestion of L-theanine doses between 50 to 200mg can usually be felt within 30 to 40 minutes of consumption. As such, taking L-theanine supplements about an hour before bedtime will help you to wind down and relax as you prepare to go to bed. 

How long does L-theanine stay in your system?

The calming effects of a 50 to 200 mg dose of L-theanine can last 8 to 10 hours after consumption. This is perfect for a solid night’s sleep. 

Is L-Theanine safe? 

The Food and Drug Administration classifies L-theanine as ‘generally recognized as safe’. This means that L-theanine is for the most part a safe supplement or additive when it is used according to the suggested dose on labels and packaging. 

L-Theanine side effects and risks

While L-theanine is usually well tolerated by healthy adults and the side effects are very minimal, the following groups of people should check with their doctor before using supplements that contain L-theanine:

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Young children
  • People who have low blood pressure

Besides this, another point to note is that both green and black tea contain caffeine. Consuming large amounts of tea can result in nausea, stomach upset, and irritability due to over-caffeinating. 

L-Theanine interactions

Although side effects are few, L-theanine may interact with certain medications and supplements. Effects of the interactions include increased or decreased sleepiness, and reducing the effectiveness of medication and supplements that are being consumed. 

Do check with your doctor before taking L-theanine if you are on any of these medications or supplements: 

  • High blood pressure medications
  • High blood pressure supplements
  • Supplements that contain caffeine
  • Stimulants, like those that are used to treat ADHD. 

L-Theanine dosage

While it is unlikely to overdose on this supplement, it is recommended that users begin with the smallest suggested dose. You can slowly increase the dose as required.

For sleep and stress, 50 mg to 400 mg is recommended. This supplement is often available in 200mg tablets. 

Conclusion

L-theanine is an amino acid that offers numerous health benefits, including relaxation, stress relief, and improved sleep quality. If you are having issues sleeping, Rilax is a natural, safe and effective sleep supplement that contains L-theanine, giving your body the healthy and restorative sleep that it needs. 

*Note: Rilax sleep supplement results may vary from individual to individual.

BadSleepMakeYouSick3CategoriesBlog

Covid Insomnia: Is It Keeping You From Getting Quality Sleep?

Sleep disorders are not new. In fact, many people suffering from sleep deprivation already had a health issue before the Covid-19 pandemic took place. 

However, as the pandemic continues to increase anxiety levels in daily lives, more and more people are reporting sleep issues than ever before. 

This increase in sleep problems is so alarming that sleep experts have coined this phenomenon ‘Coronasomnia’. 

What is Covid Insomnia or Coronasomnia? 

Coronasomia or Covid insomnia is a phenomenon characterized by increased sleep issues as well as symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

While stress and anxiety are often linked to insomnia, coronosomnia symptoms are considered as the ones that started or intensified during the global pandemic. 

In many cases, Covid-19 insomnia is directly linked to financial and emotional stress, uncertainty, and isolation due to this public health crisis. 

Symptoms of Coronasomnia

Various studies have shown increased rates of sleep disorders such as insomnia during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sleeping patterns have also changed, with people sleeping less at night and napping more during the day. Sleep quality has also been affected when people go to bed later and wake up later. 

symptoms of coronasomnia

Covid insomnia symptoms include:

  • Insomnia symptoms, such as having great difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Delayed sleep schedules in which people go to bed and wake up later than normal.
  • Increased stress levels.
  • Increased anxiety and depression.
  • Increased daytime sleepiness.
  • Sleep deprivation symptoms such as feeling tired, moody, irritable, and unable to concentrate. 

 

Causes of Coronasomnia

To effectively deal with an issue, we must first determine its causes. Here are some common causes of Covid insomnia. 

Increased stress

Increased stress is one of the main causes of coronasomnia. Major stressful life events, such as the coronavirus pandemic can increase cortisol, the stress hormone that has the opposite function of melatonin, the sleep hormone. 

Under normal circumstances, cortisol levels rise in the early morning to energize your body for the day. Cortisol levels lower in the evening and melatonin levels rise to prepare you for bedtime. Stress disrupts this process, with cortisol levels remaining elevated even though it is time to sleep. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced many stressors to our lives, including having to stay at home, increased work responsibilities, and parenting duties. 

Together with the uncertainties of this season, it is not surprising that the pandemic has played a role in the increase of sleep disorders, such as insomnia. 

Loss of routine

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, lockdowns and social distancing guidelines have been implemented in many communities. 

As such, many people had their daily routines affected. Normal activities that served as time markers in our regular routine were suddenly gone. These changes make it harder to regulate the circadian rhythm, disrupting sleep and reducing sleep quality. 

Increased media consumption

Coronasomnia can also be caused by increased media consumption.  Frequently checking the news is related to higher levels of anxiety

As people want to keep up with the latest information on Covid-19, they spend more time watching TV or scrolling through social media to stay abreast with the latest updates on the pandemic. 

Increased screen time

Increased media consumption also leads to increased screen time. Exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin and elevates cortisol making it hard to fall asleep, and leading to more stress and anxiety. 

Additionally, having to stay at home also means that adults (and kids) are more likely to binge-watch shows to fill their time or to take their minds off the pandemic. 

Who is at risk of Coronasomnia? 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine discovered recently that 60% of people said they struggled with falling and staying asleep because of the Covid-19 pandemic

While Coronsaomnia is a condition that can affect anyone, no matter what the age, there are certain groups of people who have an increased risk of developing it, including:

  • Frontliners
  • Essential workers
  • Unpaid caregivers
  • Young adults
  • Women
  • People of colour
  • Covid-19 patients

How to beat Coronasomnia?

While we cannot control the pandemic, we can take steps to promote our physical and emotional well-being. 

Here are some things that you can do to ensure that you still get good, restorative sleep even in the midst of uncertainty. 

Improve sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to the habits you have when it comes to sleeping. Improving your sleep hygiene will help to ensure that you get good quality sleep when your head hits the pillow at night. 

Following are some strategies that you can try to promote sleep hygiene. 

  • Have a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends although it may be tempting to sleep in! Make sure that you have seven to nine hours of sleep per night. 
  • Keep your room dark and quiet when you are going to bed. Having lights on will disrupt your sleep. Your bedroom should be cool so that you can stay comfortable throughout the night. 
  • Clear your bedroom of things that may increase your stress levels such as work documents. Avoid working in the bedroom so that your brain associates the bedroom with rest and relaxation.
  • During your waking hours, get your daily dose of sunlight. Our circadian rhythms are regulated by light so spending time outside or near a window can help get you on a regular sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, sunlight is also a good source of Vitamin D. 
  • Limit caffeine intake as it can stay in your system up to 6 hours after consumption. As such, try to have your last cup at least 6 hours before you go to bed
  • Minimize alcohol consumption. While it can work as a sedative, alcohol can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Drinking alcohol can result in sleep being less restorative and may even cause you to wake up early. 
  • Dinner should not be eaten too late as it can cause stomach upset and disturbed sleep. 
  • Stop using mobile phones and other devices that emit blue light a minimum of one hour before bedtime. Blue light can disrupt sleep quality. 

Establish daily routines

Daily routines provide cues for when to eat, work, stay alert and wind down. They provide ‘time markers’ and give us a sense of control that can help to reduce stress. 

However, having to stay home for long periods of time due to the coronavirus can disrupt our usual routines. 

Establishing a daily routine will help to fight against coronasomia. Clear times to eat, work, take breaks, exercise, and work can help your body to regulate and reinforce the sleep-wake cycle. A clear separation between work and sleep time is needed to ensure a good night’s rest. 

Additionally, a bedtime routine can also help send signals to your brain that it is time to sleep. Unwind with the same set of activities every night. For example, a bath, some light reading, and listening to soothing music can help you to relax as you head for bed. 

Reduce stress and anxiety

A large part of covid insomnia is due to the stress and anxiety that the pandemic brings. 

Unemployment, changes in work schedules, dealing with kids and work during the lockdown as well as other uncertainties all take a toll on emotional health. 

Here are some things you can do to relieve stress and coronavirus anxiety.

Exercise daily

Studies show that exercising daily promotes restful sleep

It is also an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, exercise also helps you to maintain a healthy weight range. Just remember not to exercise too near bedtime as it’s an activity that energizes your body. 

Journaling 

Putting our thoughts on paper can help process emotions, reframe negative feelings and replace them with positive thoughts and emotions. Journaling can help ease stress and anxiety by clearing our overloaded minds of stressful information. 

Meditation

Meditation can also help to ease stress and anxiety. It can help us to stay calm and relax, promoting a good night’s rest. 

Take a break from Covid-19 news

Sensational news on the pandemic can create unnecessary stress and anxiety. To avoid this, take a break from watching the news or scrolling through social media. Have a fixed time every day to catch up on the latest news if you must. 

For example, only allow yourself half an hour before dinner to catch up on the day’s news.

Focus on positive Covid-19 developments, such as the rollout of vaccines. Additionally, only trust reliable news sources so that you are not affected by misinformation.

Safe sleep supplements

GoodSleepNaturally1

Natural and safe sleep supplements can also help you get some good quality sleep. Rilax is a natural sleep supplement that promotes relaxation and reestablishes your circadian rhythm to help you get the healthy and restorative sleep that your body needs. 

 

Conclusion

Coronasomnia is not to be taken lightly. 

If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep due to stress and anxiety from the pandemic, do take the above steps to promote restorative sleep. 

Long-term sleep deprivation can result in more complicated health including heart issues and stroke. As such, it is best for both your physical and mental health to ensure that you get enough sleep every night. 

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Sleep Disorders: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Ever have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night? 

Or do you wake up feeling exhausted and feel sleepy even before half the day has gone by? 

You may have a sleep disorder if you find yourself facing these problems frequently. 

Here’s all you need to know about the types of sleep disorders, symptoms as well as treatments that are available. 

What are sleep disorders? 

Sleep disorders refer to conditions that impact one’s ability to get good quality, restorative sleep

While many people experience difficulty sleeping once in a while, those who suffer from sleep disorders have regular issues that leave them feeling exhausted when they wake up. 

Trouble sleeping at night can result in daytime lethargy. It can be a debilitating experience that takes a serious toll on mental and physical health. It can lead to weight gain, memory problems, relationship issues, and even car and workplace accidents. 

According to the American Sleep Association (AMA), as many as 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S experience sleep disorders. As such, it is important to identify the causes of sleep disorders to ensure your good health and quality of life. 

Sleep disorder symptoms

Although symptoms differ according to the type and severity of the sleeping disorder, general symptoms include: 

  • Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep
  • Feeling fatigued or exhausted in the daytime
  • Wanting to sleep or take naps in the daytime
  • Unusual breathing patterns
  • Unusual movement when sleeping
  • Feeling irritable and anxious
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Impaired work performance 
  • Depression
  • Weight gain

While sleep disorders need to be diagnosed by your doctors, here are some questions that you can ask yourself. The more you answer yes, to them, the more likely it is that you are dealing with a sleep disorder:

  • Do you have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, reading or when watching TV?
  • Do you feel irritable and/or anxious? 
  • Do you often feel sleepy during the day? 
  • Do you have trouble concentrating? 
  • Do you feel tired or fall asleep when driving? 
  • Do you have trouble regulating your emotions? 
  • Do you feel like taking a nap almost every day? 
  • Are your reactions slow? 
  • Do others tell you that you look tired? 
  • Do you need caffeine to get and keep yourself going? 

Types of sleep disorders

There are many types of sleep disorders. While each has specific symptoms, the inability to get a good night’s rest often results in fatigue and tiredness during the day. Here are some of the most common sleep disorders. 

Insomnia

Insomnia Sleeping disorder

Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. There are two types of insomnia – transient insomnia and chronic insomnia. 

Transient or short-term insomnia is usually due to a stressful life event such as the loss of a loved one. It can also be caused by jet lag or shift work. People who have transient insomnia often find themselves experiencing disturbed sleep and are unable to relax. 

People who experience chronic insomnia experience difficulties falling and staying asleep at least 3 days per week for at least one month. Sleep is not restorative and they often feel exhausted during the daytime. 

Chronic intermittent insomnia is characterized by a few nights of good sleep followed by many nights of sleeping issues. 

Sleep apnea

People who have sleep apnea experience pauses in breathing when they are asleep. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes the body to take in less oxygen, resulting in the individual waking up frequently at night.  

There are two types of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. 

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when airflow stops because the airway is obstructed or too narrow. 

Central sleep apnea occurs when there is an issue with the connection between the brain and muscles that control breathing. 

People with sleep apnea may not remember waking up at night. 

However, they wake up feeling exhausted and may feel irritable and depressed. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect that you or your loved one is suffering from sleep apnea as this serious sleep disorder is potentially life-threatening. 

Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a disorder in which there is an overwhelming urge to move your legs (and sometimes arms) at night, although they can occur during the day as well. The need to move is often accompanied by tingling, aching, creeping, or uncomfortable sensations. The exact cause of RLS is unknown. 

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are caused by interruptions to our internal biological clock based on the light that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Our brain releases melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy when there is less light. 

In contrast, our brain tells us that it is time to wake up when the sun rises. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders include:

Jet lag

Jet lag is caused by temporary disruptions to the circadian rhythm when you travel across time zones. People with jet lag experience daytime sleepiness, insomnia, headaches, and sometimes stomach issues as well. 

Jet lag symptoms are usually more pronounced after long flights. However, it is usually gone once your body adjusts to the new time zone. 

Shift work sleep disorder

Shift work can mess up your biological clock. Many people who work at night, early morning, or on rotating shifts find themselves having a hard time adjusting to changes in their sleep schedule. 

Shift workers often have a negative impact on sleep quality, resulting in sleep deprivation and sleepiness. This can reduce productivity and safety at the workplace. 

The negative impact of shift work can be reduced by:

  • Regulating the sleep-wake cycles by increasing light exposure during work (even though it is nighttime) and minimizing light exposure when it’s sleeping time. Blackout shades or curtains can be used to block daylight from entering the bedroom. 
  • Request a shift that is later, rather than earlier when changing shifts. It is usually easier to adjust forward in time rather than going backwards. 
  • Minimize the frequency of shift changes, although this can be difficult if you’re not in charge of work schedules. 
  • Taking melatonin or natural sleep supplements. Rilax is a natural sleep supplement that contains Lactium, a bioactive peptide extracted from the milk of Holstein cows in France, and L-Theanine, an amino acid extracted from green tea leaves. 

It helps promote relaxation, re-establish the circadian rhythm, and results in one waking up refreshed. 

Delayed sleep phase disorder

Delayed sleep phase disorder occurs when there is a significant delay in a person’s biological clock. People who struggle with this disorder are not able to sleep earlier than 2 to 6 am, even when they try to do so. 

This causes them to go to sleep and wake up later than other people, making it difficult for them to keep to normal hours. For example, they find it extremely difficult to keep a 9 to 5 job or get to morning classes. 

Interestingly, people who have delayed sleep phase disorder do fall into a regular sleep schedule when they are allowed to keep their own hours. 

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy sleeping disorder

People who suffer from narcolepsy experience excessive, uncontrollable sleepiness in the daytime and may fall asleep without warning. 

‘Sleep attacks’ can occur anytime. 

For example, it is possible for narcoleptics to fall asleep in the middle of talking or driving. 

Narcolepsy is caused by brain dysfunction and can also cause sleep paralysis, where an individual finds that they are unable to physically move right after waking up. 

Parasomnias

Paramonias are a group of sleep disorders that are characterized by abnormal behaviors or movement during or just before falling asleep. They are more common in children, although adults do experience them as well. 

Common parasomnias include:

  • Teeth grinding 
  • Jaw clenching
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep talking
  • Nightmares / night terrors
  • Bedwetting
  • Groaning

What causes sleep disorders?

There are many causes of sleep disorders, including stress, anxiety, circadian rhythm changes, and underlying health issues. 

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can make it difficult for one to fall and stay asleep. The negative impact on sleep quality can in turn cause even more stress and anxiety because you’re tired, having trouble concentrating, and worried about not getting enough rest. 

Allergies and respiratory issues

Colds, allergies, and respiratory infections can cause difficulty in breathing, especially at night. The inability to breathe properly can make it very difficult to fall and stay asleep. 

Circadian rhythm disruptions

Disruptions to the circadian rhythm can make it hard to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, resulting in insomnia. This leads to excessive daytime sleepiness, exhaustion, irritability, and lowers work performance. 

Chronic pain

Chronic pain can be an underlying cause of sleep disorders such as insomnia. People who suffer from chronic pain may find it difficult to fall asleep. Pain may also cause people to wake up multiple times at night. Common causes of chronic pain include arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, inflammatory bowel disease, and migraines. 

Underlying medical issues

Sometimes, an underlying medical issue can be the cause of sleep disorders. As such, it is important to have a medical practitioner properly diagnose sleep issues to rule out any underlying medical issues. If it is indeed so, dealing with the issue will resolve the sleep disorder. 

Sleep disorder treatments

While treatments for sleep issues vary according to the type of disorder, it usually includes medical and lifestyle changes. 

GoodSleepNaturally1

Medical treatments

Medical treatments for sleep disorders include:

  • Natural sleep supplements
  • Sleeping pills
  • Medication for underlying health issues 
  • Cold or allergy medications
  • Breathing devices
  • Surgery
  • Dental guard for teeth grinding

Lifestyle changes

In addition to medical treatments, lifestyle changes can also work to improve sleep quality. 

Adjustments that you can consider include: 

  • Having a regular sleep schedule in which you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day including weekends. 
  • Limit caffeine intake especially from the afternoon onwards as caffeine can stay in your system for up to six hours.
  • Exercising to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Have a balanced diet.
  • Decreasing the use of alcohol and tobacco.
  • Eating smaller meals before bedtime.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Avoid watching TV and using devices that emit blue light before bedtime.

Conclusion

Sleep is important to your health and well-being. The inability to get good quality sleep can hinder you from living a full, good quality life. 

If you suspect that you have a sleep disorder, contact your doctor as soon as you can. 

Follow our blog on “How to improve deep, restorative sleep?” for more information. 

Stay asleepCategoriesBlog

How To Get More Deep Sleep?

While good nutrition and exercise are strongly associated with physical and mental wellbeing, we often neglect the importance of good sleep. Our body requires quality deep sleep in order to feel refreshed in the morning. 

Read on to learn more about deep sleep and how you can improve this stage of your sleep cycle. 

How much deep sleep do you need? 

deep sleep
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

It is recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep at night. Although restorative functions occur in all stages of the sleep cycle, deep sleep and REM sleep are the most important for restorative sleep

Restorative sleep is vital for better body and mind health. It helps improve learning, decision making, productivity and memory. It also helps to increase creativity, energy, alertness and productivity. 

Of the seven to nine hours, average sleep cycles show that 20 to 25 % of it is REM sleep. While there is no official consensus on how much REM sleep one should get, this seems to be a healthy amount of deep sleep. 

Deep sleep should take up 10 to 25%, or 1 to 2 hours of an average 8 hour sleep duration at night. 

As for light sleep, there is no minimum amount that you should get. In any case, it is almost impossible to avoid light sleep as it is the default stage when you nod off. 

Basic anatomy of sleep

Let us start by understanding the basic anatomy of sleep. Our brain plays a large role when it comes to the sleep-wake cycle. 

The hypothalamus, located deep inside the brain is a peanut sized structure that is the control center for sleep and arousal. 

In the hypothalamus is a cluster of thousands of cells referred to as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN’s role in sleep is to receive information on light exposure from our eyes to help control our circadian rhythms. 

Our brain stem, which is located at the base of the brain includes the medulla, midbrain and pons. It communicates with the hypothalamus on sleep-wake cycles. The brain stem is also important in regulating REM sleep as it signals muscles to relax during this stage of the sleep cycles to ensure that we do not act out our dreams. 

Other parts of the brain, such as the thalamus and amygdala are also essential during REM sleep. The thalamus sends information such as images and sounds that make up our dreams to the cerebral cortex while the amygdala helps to process emotions. 

The pineal gland, which is located within the two hemispheres of the brain also receives signals from the SCN. When the light goes down, the pineal gland produces the hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps to establish our circadian rhythm and encourages sleep. 

Stages of sleep

There are a total of 5 stages in the sleep cycle. 

Stage 1

Stage 1 of sleep occurs when you move from being awake to being asleep. It is a light, non-REM sleep. During this stage, your body starts to relax. Your heartbeat, respiration, eye movements and brain waves start to slow down. Stage 1 lasts just for a few minutes. 

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the sleep cycle is still a part of light sleep, but you are sleeping a little steadier at this stage. Your body continues to relax, and your core temperature drops. Your eye movements stop and your brain waves are slow although there may still be small bursts of activity in this stage. Stage 2 sleep should account for about 45 to 55% of the sleep cycle.  

Stage 3 and 4

Stage 3 and 4 is when you get deep sleep, which is also known as ‘slow wave sleep’ or ‘delta sleep’. During these stages, your muscles are extremely relaxed, while your heartbeat, breathing and brain waves are at their slowest. You are most difficult to waken during this time in your sleep cycle. 

Tissues growth and repair, as well as cellular energy is restored during Stage 4 sleep. 

Deep sleep is longer during the first half of the night, becoming shorter and shorter in the following sleep cycles. 

REM Sleep

You move from non REM sleep to REM sleep about 90 minutes from when you first fell asleep. During REM sleep, your eyes move rapidly from side to side. Your heart rate, breathing and brain activity increases to near waking levels. 

Because you are most likely to dream during this stage, your arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed during the REM stage to ensure that you do not physically act out your dreams while you sleep. 

Benefits of deep sleep

The deep sleep stages are very important in the sleep cycle as it offers numerous health benefits. 

1. Boosts learning and memory consolidation

Deep sleep promotes glucose metabolism which helps with both short term and long term memory as well as overall learning. 

2. Growth and cell regeneration 

Our pituitary gland releases growth hormones during the deep sleep stage. This is also the time when our bodies repair muscles and tissues, thereby relaxing them. 

An increased flow of Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) into our bodies also occurs during deep sleep. CSF clears beta-amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease, from our brain. 

There is also an increased blood supply to muscles during deep sleep, which helps to strengthen and repair our muscles. 

3. Strengthens the immune system

Deep sleep strengthens our immune system, helping us to fight infections, inflammation and illnesses. 

4. Energy restoration

Deep sleep helps us to conserve energy and allows us to wake up feeling fresh and restored. This may be due to an increase in adenosine triphosphate in cells during deep sleep. 

What happens when you don’t get enough deep sleep? 

Poor sleep quality can have a negative effect on your physical as well as mental wellbeing. 

health issues
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Consider the following consequences of too little deep sleep or long term chronic insomnia: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Memory loss, Dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired growth in children
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Risk of routine infections such as the common cold

Visible symptoms when not getting deep sleep

While the cumulative health and mental toll may take time to show, you may not be getting enough deep sleep if you have the following noticeable symptoms:

needing caffeine
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  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Frequent yawning
  • Daytime fatigue or reduced productivity
  • Easily irritable
  • Moodiness
  • Red eyes/eye bags/dark circles around the eyes
  • Needing caffeine
  • Unable to focus

What causes lack of deep sleep? 

It’s important to find out why you’re waking up feeling tired and being fatigued throughout the day. Here are some reasons for lack of deep sleep:

Stress and anxiety

Sleeping issues are frequently connected to stress and anxiety. 

Ruminative thoughts, excess worry and fear can make it hard for one to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. Lack of deep sleep due to stressful lives and worries can in turn, worsen anxiety, causing a negative cycle of anxiety disorders and sleeplessness. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated anxiety issues, leading to many people experiencing sleep problems. Lockdowns, job losses, isolation and dealing with sickness during this uncertain time has caused many to lose sleep. 

Anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems. Excess worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety, spurring a negative cycle involving insomnia and anxiety disorders.

Circadian rhythm disorders

Our natural sleep rhythm is usually driven by our internal ‘clock’ which encourages us to sleep at night. Circadian rhythm disorders occur when there are abnormalities or disruptions to this ‘clock’. 

Jet lag, shift work, delayed sleep phase syndrome and advanced sleep phase syndrome can all cause circadian rhythm disorders. 

Delayed sleep phase syndrome occurs when you fall asleep and wake up too late, while advanced sleep phase syndrome refers to when you fall asleep and wake up too early. 

Insomnia

People who have insomnia may have issues falling asleep and staying asleep. They may wake up frequently during the night, causing interruptions to deep sleep. Insomnia can be caused by anxiety, depression, stress,  jet lag and poor sleeping habits. 

There is also a link between insomnia and Covid-19.

Snoring

Snoring occurs when the air you inhale rattles over the relaxed tissues of your throat, producing noise. 

While many adults who snore have no issues with sleep, snoring can be a problem because of the noise that it causes. It may even cause sleepless nights for your partner if he or she is a light sleeper. Snoring can also be a symptom of sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper airway becomes partially or completely blocked when one is sleeping. 

This causes breathing interruptions which cause the person to wake up. It certainly can be a disturbance to deep sleep and cause daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.

Restless legs syndrome

In restless legs syndrome, people move their legs with rhythmic or cyclic movements when they are asleep. This can cause brief awakenings during sleep, thus, interrupt deep sleep. 

Old age

Older people may have trouble with deep sleep. Sleep apnea is not unusual for those who are older. 

Lifestyle

Your lifestyle can also be a factor affecting your sleep. Caffeine and alcohol intake can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. 

Illness and medication

People with heart or lung issues may find it difficult to sleep because they are not able to breathe properly when they lie down. Certain drugs can also make it difficult to sleep. 

Sleep study tests

If you’re having sleep issues, your doctor may recommend polysomnography, which is a comprehensive sleep test used to diagnose sleep disorders. 

This test records several aspects of your sleep, including brain waves, heart rate, breathing, blood oxygen levels, and eye and leg movements. 

Because you will be required to sleep during this test, it is usually carried out at night at a hospital or a sleep clinic. Once you are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, polysomnography can be used to adjust your treatment plan so that it is most effective. 

Sleep studies can also be carried out at home. For example, home sleep apnea tests that employ a limited number of sensors can be used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. It is best however, to visit your physician if you suspect a sleep disorder. 

How to improve deep sleep (tips)?

Here are some tips to help you get more deep sleep: 

1. Have a consistent sleep schedule

A consistent bedtime and wake time is one of the best ways that enable you to get more deep sleep per night. Establish a sleep schedule around your average bedtime. 

2. Increase total sleep

Your body needs to pass stage 1 and 2 of the sleep cycle before reaching deep sleep. If you are getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night, Increasing your total sleep time to 7 to 9 hours will help you to get more deep sleep

3. Have a relaxing bedtime routine

Take a warm shower, some light reading or meditating before bed can help you to sleep better. Ensure that your sleep environment is dark and relaxed. Electronic devices should not be used an hour before bedtime as the blue light that they eliminate can disrupt sleep. 

4. Be careful with caffeine

Most people probably know that caffeine can have a negative effect on sleep. However, do you know that caffeine can stay in our system for up to 6 hours after consumption? 

Caffeine can cause you to spend more time in Stage 1 and 2 sleep and decrease the hours you spend in deep sleep. To give yourself better chances of a solid sleep, take note of the time that you need to stop caffeine intake. 

5. Sleep supplements

Sleep supplements can help you to relax, fall asleep easier and have better slow wave and REM sleep. Rilax is a natural, safe and effective sleep supplement that can help you get the restorative deep sleep that your body needs. 

Natural ingredients in Rilax include Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate (Lactium) and L-Theanine (Suntheanine). Extracted from the milk of Holstein cows in France, Lactium is a bioactive peptide that promotes slow delta brain waves and improves sleep quality. 

Suntheanine is a natural amino acid that can be found in green tea leaves. It is a natural sleeping aid that increases alpha brain waves, thus, reduces anxiety, improves sleep quality and enhances general wellbeing. Both these ingredients are recognized as safe by the FDA. 

6. Pink noise

Pink noise is random low frequency noises that can help improve deep sleep and even lead to better memory retention. A fan or an air purifier for their background noise as well as temperature control and purified air. There are also sound machines that feature pink noise that help you sleep. 

7. Exercise

Studies have shown that regular exercise helps with sleep quality. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can help reduce stress and help you to feel good. Do keep in mind not to do strenuous exercise too close to bedtime as this can energize you and encroach on your bedtime routine. 

Certain forms of Yoga as well as meditation are also known to improve overall sleep quality in people. 

8. Hypnosis

If you are really having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, audio recordings with hypnotic suggestions promoting sleep may help your sleep quality. Ensure that you turn it off just before you drift off to set a timer to do the job. You don’t want the sounds to disrupt your sleep once you’ve nodded off. 

Conclusion 

Slow wave sleep, or deep sleep, is important for our bodies. Lack of it can result in grave health consequences. 

As such, it is recommended that you have enough rest each night. Do get professional help if you find that you are still fatigued and tired all the time even after doing all that you can to improve your sleep quality. 

Covid 19CategoriesBlog

Coronavirus and Anxiety: How To Cope With It?

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought shock, confusion, fear, anxiety, stress, and worry in everyday lives. While vaccines are being rolled out, the end of the pandemic still seems far away. The constant worry has put many on edge, increasing mental health issues.

Is the coronavirus pandemic affecting our mental health? 

Coronavirus
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It’s frightening to be in the midst of a global health crisis. Many places have been under lockdown, and now, a year into the pandemic, some are trying to reopen with safety measures in place. Many people across the world have also lost jobs and loved ones. 

The uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 means that we do not know what the future holds. We are still unsure how long the pandemic will last and how exactly we are impacted. 

Not knowing whether things will continue to get worse and having to deal with sudden changes can get incredibly overwhelming. It is easy to get anxious and panicky with all the unknowns that we need to face. 

Indeed, the pandemic has increased people’s anxiety. However, there are several things you can do to manage Covid-19 pandemic anxiety and fears.

Common reactions to Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has far-reaching implications. 

It’s not unusual for people to experience a wide range of feelings and thoughts in the face of significant changes and uncertainties. Disturbing new updates, together with worries about health and safety can take a physical and mental toll. 

Covid19 anxiety
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Common reactions to Covid-19 include:

  • Feeling anxious, fearful, or worried
  • Feeling stressed and overwhelmed
  • Feeling sad, and tearful
  • Feeling frustrated, irritable, or angry
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling disconnected from other people
  • Feeling apprehensive about going out to public spaces
  • Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, digestive issues, fatigue
  • Having trouble concentrating or sleeping resulting in insomnia
  • Having trouble relaxing

Coronavirus anxiety symptoms 

In addition to being a health crisis, Covid-19 has also brought about mental health issues.  Some anxiety symptoms can be short term, such as:

  • Rapid heartbeat/ palpitations
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Shaking and sweating
  • Difficulty swallowing

Symptoms of anxiety from the Covid-19 pandemic can also include:

  • Rumination
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Helplessness
  • Over focusing on the news
  • Avoidance by hiding from what is going on
  • Feeling tense, irritable, or impatient
  • Pacing or spacing out
  • Feeling like you’re on a spinning wheel
  • Inability to perform activities of daily life

Mental and psychological effect of Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic can also have long-term mental health and psychological effects. Constantly being on high alert and experiencing fear and worry, as well as sudden disruptions can have far-reaching consequences. 

It can precipitate post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and panic attacks, depression, substance abuse, and even obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

depression
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A study conducted in July 2020 identified symptoms such as avoidance, compulsively checking for symptoms of infection, worrying, threat monitoring, and inability to leave the house because of Covid-19 fears as part of Covid-19 anxiety syndrome

Those who experienced these symptoms were also more likely to suffer from anxiety, post-traumatic stress, general stress, and suicide ideation. 

Dealing with the Covid-19 related news

It’s important to stay informed about what is happening, especially in your community so that you can take the necessary precautions to stay safe. 

However, checking the news obsessively can have an adverse effect. Misinformation about what’s going on and sensational coronavirus news will only feed your fears and worries. 

Here’s how you can deal with Covid-19 news:

  • Stick with trustworthy news sources on the pandemic. 
  • Avoid checking for updates too often. Constantly checking for news on Covid-19 can fuel anxiety.
  • If you want to avoid the media totally, ask a reliable friend or family member to share important updates with you.
  • Limit media consumption to 30 minutes each day if you are dealing with anxiety. 
  • Verify the information that you receive before sharing it with others. Misinformation can cause anxiety and unnecessary panic. 

How to stay calm during the coronavirus pandemic?

With such uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic, feelings of anxiety and fear may crop up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s what you can do to stay calm. 

1. Focus on the things that you can control

We can’t control how long the pandemic will last or what is going on in our communities. You can, however, take steps to reduce your personal risk of catching the virus. 

2. Look for the positive

Seek out news that talks about the improvements in the pandemic, such as the vaccine rollouts and decrease in risk of death due to better treatment options. Be mindful of the social media and news reports that trigger anxiousness. 

3. Plan what you can

With the many changes happening – school and workplace closures, self-quarantine, social distancing – it’s natural to feel concerned about the situation. You can stay calm by planning what you can do. Plan your day or week by making a list of things that you want to complete.

4. Maintain a routine

As much as possible, maintain a routine. Knowing what comes next in the day will help you to focus and concentrate on the tasks at hand. 

5. Stay connected with friends and family

While social distancing helps keep us safe from the virus, it comes with its own risks. Isolation and loneliness can contribute to anxiety and depression. Staying in touch with loved ones via video chat or apps such as Zoom can help ease anxiety. You can also use this time to reconnect with old friends. 

Do be aware of what you are talking about. Take breaks from talking about Covid-19 and simply enjoy good company. 

6. Talk to a trusted person

If you’re feeling particularly anxious or worried, talking to someone you trust can help you calm down. Having a support system and staying connected can also help keep loneliness and depression at bay

7. Take care of yourself

Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, meditation, and other self-care techniques can help to manage stress. 

Exercising can help relieve stress and anxiety. 

Regular sleep and wake routine can also help if you’re having insomnia due to Covid-19 worries

8. Get into an exercise routine

A healthy body is a route to a healthy mind. Studies have proven that physical activity can have a positive impact on our psychological function. Many fitness instructors are now providing online fitness classes which you can join for a fee. There are also plenty of exercise videos available on YouTube that you can easily follow.

9. Meditate

There can not be a better time than this to get into a daily meditation practice. Meditation can ease anxiety and help you focus. If you’re new to meditation, here are some guided meditation videos that are available online:

10. Continue to practice safety measures

Wearing face masks, gloves and using hand sanitiser when you are out and about can help ease fears and worries about catching the virus. 

11. Take things slow

Allow yourself time to adjust to the ‘new normal’. 

If your community is returning to normalcy, allow yourself to ease back into ‘life before Covid’ at a pace you are comfortable with. 

12. Participate in virtual hobby/fun activities to keep your mind engaged 

If you’re stuck at home, virtual hobbies and activities can help to keep your mind off the pandemic. Here are some places that you can visit virtually:

Virtual Museum visits: 

Virtual Zoos and Aquarium visits

Virtual Theme Park visits

Check out other virtual resources like virtual libraries, cooking lessons, etc. 

13. Help others who are in need

It’s easy to get caught up in our own concerns during these times. 

However, focusing on others who are in need can shift our perspective and be good for our own mental health. Reaching out to those who need a hand can give you a sense of control and purpose for your life. 

14. Get professional help

If you find yourself unable to cope, get professional help. Your doctor may be able to recommend certain natural sleep supplements that can help you get a good night’s rest. 

Helping children deal with Covid-19 anxiety

Children are not immune to anxiety and worries brought about by the pandemic. Here’s how you can help them deal with it. 

help children
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  • Structure and Routine

Structures and routines are helpful for both parents and children. In fact, children thrive with a planned routine. Knowing what comes next will help them keep their minds off the pandemic. Alternately, an unstructured day can result in children being bored and fretful. 

You can include time for chores, schoolwork, play, and exercise in your children’s daily schedules. Many children around the globe are attending virtual classes. Ensure that you monitor your child’s involvement within these sessions to keep a tab on his daily learning. 

There are also various options to enroll your child in virtual hobby classes like music, art, foreign languages, etc which will help in creating a more fulfilling schedule for them.

Older children can have access to the internet to keep in touch with their friends via video chats or social media. If possible, include outdoor activities in their schedule. 

  • Focus on being in the moment

Children can feel stress, fear, and anxiety from the pandemic too. 

Encourage them to focus on being in the moment. 

Reminding them to do the things they can to take care of themselves, such as staying indoors, washing hands, and keeping clean can help take their minds off things that they cannot change. 

While kids are limited in their options outdoors, use this opportunity to engage with them, build friendlier connections, and create more fun moments together.

  • Stay calm

Children (even babies) can sense it when parents are stressed or anxious. Thus, find a way to ground yourself so that your kids do not pick up your worries. Model calmness and try your best not to share your worries with your children. 

  • Stay positive

Look for things to be positive about even if things are going haywire. As you stay positive and point out the good things that are happening, your children will be less anxious as well. Focus their attention on the positive things that are happening, rather than the uncertainties of the pandemic. 

  • Inculcate healthy habits in kids

Get your kids to develop healthy habits. While going out may not be an option for you, there are plenty of physical play-based exercises that you can do with your kids to get them moving. Exercise will help kids release stress, anxiety as well as pent-up energy. 

It’s also a good time to teach children about cleanliness and hygiene. For children who seem edgy, you can try teaching them meditation techniques to help them calm down. 

Conclusion

There is nothing to be ashamed of if you’re feeling stressed and anxious because of the pandemic. It’s important to take care of both your mental and physical health. 

Do seek professional help if you find that you are unable to cope with this season. 

Having certain levels of anxiety during the pandemic is normal, but remember that there are ways to beat it too!

covid mental health teaserCategoriesBlog

Covid-19 and Insomnia: Tips to Overcome Sleep Issues During the Pandemic

Adults on average need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Persistent lack of sleep, or insomnia can lead to a significant decrease in quality of life. It limits your focus and daily productivity, affects your mood and can lead to relationship problems. 

Although insomnia is not uncommon, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many, causing a spike in sleep-related issues.

Can Covid-19 cause insomnia? 

Insomnia
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The pandemic undoubtedly has taken a toll on mental health, preventing many from getting a good night’s rest. Sleep medication prescriptions in the US increased by 14.8% during the first few weeks of the 2020 lockdown

In fact, insomnia caused by the pandemic has become so widespread that it’s been dubbed as ‘coronasomnia’. 

Sleep-related issues due to coronavirus anxiety (in anticipation)

Coronavirus anxiety has a negative impact on mental and physical health. It can result in many physical symptoms, including sleep-related issues. 

Many people around the globe live in constant fear of contracting the infection. And various others have disturbed daily schedules while caring for their loved ones who’ve already been infected. 

Signs and symptoms of insomnia due to coronavirus anxiety include:

  • Having difficulty falling asleep
  • Having difficulty staying asleep during the night
  • Having difficulty sleeping long enough
  • Having difficulty waking up refreshed
  • Light shallow sleep/ failure to get deep sleep
  • Feeling stressed out and anxious
  • Sleeplessness due to shift work and changes in schedule

Insomnia while having Covid-19 infection

Some Covid-19 patients and survivors with long-term symptoms have reported experiencing insomnia. However, insomnia is not usually listed as a primary Covid-19 symptom. 

It is rather a secondary problem, where other symptoms such as breathlessness, dry cough, and fever make sleeping difficult. Other accompanying issues like increased heartbeat, body pain, etc can also lead to disturbed sleep. Fear of being sick with Covid can also put the body on high alert and make it hard to sleep. 

Insomnia after recovering from Covid-19

There are many who report a change in their sleeping patterns after recovering from Covid-19. Some  reasons that have been attributed to it include:

  • Being in a hospital setting can disrupt natural sleep cycles. Hospitals are busy and noisy places, and there may be a lack of natural daylight in hospital rooms. Additionally, medications can also have an impact on your sleep. 
  • If you had a distressing experience when you were sick, these fears can replay in your mind, making it hard to sleep. 
  • Anxiety and worry as a result of being sick from Covid can also jeopardize your sleep. 
  • Extreme weakness or persistent cough, even after you’ve recovered from Covid and finally tested negative may disrupt sleep.

Why is sleep important during the Covid 19 pandemic? 

Sleep has always been an essential biological process. 

sleep is important
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High-quality sleep improves our well-being and as such, is worthy of our attention especially during this pandemic when many things are out of our control. 

Here are some reasons why you should make sure that you get good, solid rest:

Reasons for insomnia and sleep disorders during the Covid-19 pandemic

Insomnia is not a new condition. However, the pandemic has multiplied the challenges that come with it. 

The economic, mental and emotional consequences of the pandemic can be extremely stressful, especially for those who have lost their loved ones, their jobs, are in isolation or have had to adapt to new routines and environments. 

These challenges are a threat to good sleep even for those who previously did not have sleep issues. 

Broken routines

To combat the coronavirus pandemic, many changes and regulations have been put in place. Social distancing, quarantines, school closures, working from home, and limited travel have caused profound changes to schedules and routines for everyone. 

It is not easy to adjust to new routines and without time ‘anchors’ such as arriving at the office or picking kids up from school, it can be hard to keep track of time. 

Having to stay home may reduce light-based cues for our sleep and wake cycle, interrupting our circadian rhythm and causing insomnia. This is especially true for homes with low levels of natural light. 

Sleep issues can also be caused by oversleeping. Staying home and not working because of the pandemic can tempt you to sleep during the wrong hours. 

However, oversleeping can cause you to feel groggy, lethargic, moody and unfocused for the rest of the day. Falling asleep at night and getting up on time the next day will thus be much harder. 

Anxiety and worry

The Covid-19 pandemic comes with a whole lot of uncertainties. Many are worried about catching the coronavirus and are anxious about going out. Many are also concerned about their family who is older and in high-risk groups. 

With economic activity stalling, a large number of people have lost their jobs and are worried about their income, and are anxious over how to make ends meet. 

Not knowing how long lockdowns will last, how to manage to stay home and whether the healthcare system will crumble can also bring anxiety and worry. This anxiety often disrupts sleep and causes many to suffer from insomnia. 

Depression and isolation

The pandemic lockdowns to keep everyone safe trade social contact for isolation. Being alone for long periods of time can take a toll and result in depression. The isolation is even worse for those who have lost loved ones due to the coronavirus. 

One study shows that depression rates are 3 times higher during the pandemic and another showed that depression rates spiked with the onset of Covid-19 due to the lack of sleep and increased consumption of alcohol and tobacco

The uncertainty and worries of the pandemic can weigh us down and in turn, disrupt normal sleep patterns. 

Greater work and family stress

As a result of the coronavirus, many families are having to stay home to keep safe. Working from home while managing a household of children and cooking every meal can be indeed stressful for parents. 

The situation for those who have lost their jobs while still having to provide for their family is even worse. This stress and worry can be a great threat to getting solid rest. 

Increased screen time

Staying at home can mean an increase in screen time. While the internet has enabled us to work remotely, it also means having multiple Zoom meetings or conference calls and staring at the computer screen to get the work done. The extra screen time can also come from binge-watching Netflix or just checking the news or social media on your phone. 

Being on the phone, or other digital devices constantly means extra exposure to blue light. As blue light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that helps us to sleep, this can have a negative effect on sleep.

Chronic stress

The continuous stress of having to live through the pandemic can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues and sleep problems. 

In fact, stress-related fatigue is not uncommon in those who are stressed out over the current situation. 

Being constantly worried will reduce your energy, motivation as well as concentration. It can also cause disrupted sleep, leaving you tired when you wake in the morning. 

Tips to help you overcome insomnia due to Covid 19

Although getting a good night’s rest can be challenging during these uncertain times, there are some steps that you can take to promote better sleep. 

It might take some time for you to adapt to these changes so don’t get discouraged if you do not see an immediate improvement in your sleep quality.

1. Get into a routine

Establishing a schedule and getting yourself into a routine can help you to avoid major changes in your daily sleep times. Ensure that you have a consistent wake-up time, wind-down time and bedtime.

Wake-up time should be fixed. It might be tempting to hit the snooze button in the morning but try your best to get your day started as soon as the alarm rings. Wind-down time can help you get ready for bed. You can do something relaxing that will get you ready for bed. Similar to wake-up time, bedtime should also be fixed. Turn off the light and try to fall asleep at the same time every night. 

Besides this, getting showered and dressed for the day, setting aside specific time for work and exercise as well as incorporating consistent meal times can also help with establishing a daily routine. 

2. Your bed is for sleep

Experts recommend that your bed should only be used for sleep. Working from home doesn’t mean working from bed. Avoid bringing your laptop into bed for work or to watch movies. 

Clean sheets on a made-up bed with fluffy pillows can help make your bed inviting for rest. If you find it hard to fall asleep, don’t stress yourself out by tossing and turning in bed. Get up and do something relaxing in a low-light environment. Once you feel more relaxed, head back to bed and try falling asleep. 

3. Spend time in natural light

Light is important when it comes to sleep regulation. Because our body’s circadian rhythm takes cues from natural daylight and is positively affected by it, it’s good to spend some time outdoors if you can. 

If you can’t go outside, open windows so that there is some daylight in your home. It’s also a good opportunity to let some fresh air circulate in your home. 

4. Be mindful of screen time

Electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones produce blue light, which can disrupt sleeping patterns. It’s best to avoid these devices at least one hour before bedtime. If you must use your devices before bedtime, adjust your screen settings or use special apps to help reduce blue light and its effects. 

5. Napping schedules

It can be tempting to take a nap when you are home the whole day. However, you may find yourself having difficulty going to bed at night if you nod off in the afternoon. If you must nap, consider having a napping schedule. Ensure that your naps are intentional and no longer than 20 minutes. 

6. Get some exercise

Regular daily activity doesn’t just help you to stay fit. It also reduces stress and helps our bodies to regulate sleep. However, try getting the exercise in a few hours before bedtime so that it does not have a reverse effect. 

If going outdoors or to the gym is not an option for you during this pandemic, there are plenty of resources online that can help you stay active. In fact, many fitness classes now have live-stream classes that you can join. Choose one that suits you and get moving. 

7. Have a healthy diet

A healthy diet helps to promote good sleep. While it’s tempting to snack on sugary and fatty foods when staying home, it is important to aim for a nutritious, well-balanced diet. If you must snack, choose healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts. 

Additionally, monitor your intake of alcohol and caffeine as they can disrupt both the quality and quantity of your sleep. 

8. Use relaxation techniques

The coronavirus pandemic can cause both anxiety and stress and disrupt our sleep. Deep breathing, stretching, meditation, and calming music can help us to relax and get better sleep.

Another strategy that can help prevent sleep disorders during these times is keeping yourself from being overwhelmed by news related to Covid-19. You can try bookmarking trusted and reliable news sites and limit your time spent reading corona-related news. 

9. Use natural and safe sleep supplements

Natural sleep supplements can improve sleep quality and promote relaxation so that your body is able to wind down and get some much-needed restorative sleep. Dietary supplements can help fight insomnia by reestablishing your circadian rhythm, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed. 

Conclusion

Insomnia due to Covid-19 can lead to numerous health issues. While many people try to self-medicate by taking over-the-counter sleeping pills or having that extra glass of wine, sleep is incredibly important and insomnia should not be taken lightly. 

Rilax, is a natural, effective and safe sleep supplement that promotes relaxation and helps you get the quality sleep that your body needs.