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Author: Justin Mckibben
Enough sleep? Really, is there even such a thing? I swear I could take nap right now, but I guess I’m here to work and stuff…
Some say a well spent day brings happy sleep, others say there ain’t no rest for the wicked. Well it seems to be a fact of our society today that nobody gets ‘enough’ sleep… nobody. The search for enough sleep is now a collective obsession, something that we talk about throughout the day and beg for first thing every morning. Snooze button is the new life-support.
But while some of us try to get home earlier and lay down quicker, others are relying on downers and stimulants to regulate their rest, and that is so much more dangerous than it is effective.
Health Risks of Insomnia
Sleep deficiency has all types of negative impacts on the world. It causes various problems such as:
- Fatal road accidents
- Costly drain on the workforce
- Struggling students at school
- Substance abuse
The list goes on and on, and while other issues like ADHD, obesity, and bad skin used to be attributed to diet, new studies suggest they might be due to insomnia. A recent study determined that weight gain might have less to do with what we eat, and more with the time of the day we eat it, which can be controlled by our sleep patterns.
We have almost taught ourselves into a tired existence sustained with coffee, energy drinks and prescription medication, and the insanity of insomnia is changing our world.
Under-Over of Average American Sleep
According to some experts the average full sleep-cycle these days
ranges from 70 to 120 minutes,
not eight hours, while we train our kids to sleep for long period of time. When considering the fact we are taught as children to sleep on a specific schedule, it becomes apparent that sleep as we know it is actually a learned, social habit more so than an innate biological function.
Sleep averages and habits are different around the world depending on the culture.
- In many Asian countries, co-sleeping among family members is the norm.
- In New Guinea, it’s common for men to sleep in male sleeping quarters; women and children are on their own.
- Mediterranean countries have workdays, meals and bedtimes that start later than the average American.
The household has another influence on our sleep. There are various aspects of our family and home lives that contribute to the struggle today, such as:
- Larger number of people live alone.
- Multi-generational families sharing a home have become a norm.
- Separately sleeping couples are increasingly common.
Naps Not Drugs
As mentioned before, it has become too common these days that we rely on medications, prescription or otherwise, to help us get the sleep we so desperately need. As a society we are openly accepting a life-style where we pump ourselves full of uppers in the morning (how much do we love our coffee… yes, yes we do) and a lot of us winding down with downers at night to help us get to sleep.
But this isn’t making the problem any better. Just like we trained ourselves to sleep 8 hours instead of 2 separate sleep periods, and just like we have trained ourselves to sleep different times for different shifts or different cultures, we are training ourselves to be exhausted and artificially energized, which is doing some serious damage to our bodies. That is especially true for the drug user who takes a stimulant in the morning and an opiate in the evening with the excuse that sleep is only obtainable that way.
How do we change this in the search for enough sleep? Well one thing we should definitely take into consideration is something most of us have known about since we were infants… nap time! Some experts say that we had it right with the ancient way of dispersing our sleep throughout the day, giving ourselves time between tasks and activities to recharge. Some suggest that instead of relying on a chemical conditioning to inappropriate sleep patterns, maybe we should try and find a way to rest over selves throughout the course of a day. I’ll advocate for that.
So maybe next time you want to pop a pill or buy a jumbo-amplified can of liquid poison energy, maybe just take a nap. As a matter of fact, as I yawn while writing this, just put your head on the keyboard at work and drift awayyydfhghgdkjghd.
All jokes aside, getting a healthy sleep regiment for yourself is important to your mental and physical health, and while it is relevant to note that our culture and our careers take a toll, it is still possible to give yourself some breathing room and rest. In active addiction this can be next to impossible, and if you get any sleep it’s definitely not quality sleep, but cut yourself a break and get the rest time you need to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
There has been much mystery and misunderstanding shrouding the illness known as chronic fatigue syndrome, including whether or not this complicated set of sometimes varied symptoms was even an actual disease.
Well, as of recently, the disorder has a new definition and a new name: systemic exertion intolerance disorder, or SEID, for short.
Systemic exertion intolerance disease might not roll off the tongue, but the panel chose it very purposefully, says Dr. Lucinda Bateman, a panel member who runs a fatigue specialty clinic in Salt Lake City.
“For years, nobody has been able to come up with an alternate name. We struggled, but we tried to pack each word with meaning,” she said.
The condition, which for some sufferers can be debilitating, rendering people housebound or bedridden and unable to work or go to school, is thought to affect between 860,000 and 2.5 million Americans. But, because there is no specific test for SEID, there are many people out there who have it but have gone undiagnosed. Furthermore, healthcare professionals tend to view patients who present with symptoms of fatigue as merely complainers whose symptoms are psychological, not physical.
Now, a 15-member panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which is an independent government advisory body with a lot of influence, says otherwise. The panel released a report Tuesday that states the condition “is real,” admonishing clinicians that “It is not appropriate to dismiss these patients by saying ‘I am chronically fatigued, too.’”
These are the three main symptoms:
- Fatigue – that impacts your ability to do the social-, school-, or work-related things you used to do, which lasts for more than six months.
- Post-exertional malaise – total exhaustion after even minor physical or mental exertion; sometimes described as a “crash.”
- Unrefreshing sleep – you wake up after a full night’s sleep and still don’t feel rested.
According to the new report, two additional symptoms have been added to the criteria:
- “Brain Fog” – you experience signs of mild cognitive impairment regularly. For example, misplacing things like your car keys or forgetting about scheduled appointments or even plans you made to get-together with friends.
- Orthostatic intolerance — you experience these symptoms as a little bit worse when you’re standing upright, and the fatigue doesn’t improve until you’re lying down again.
Patient advocates are being cautiously optimistic. Jennie Spotila, a former attorney and SEID patient who writes a widely-read blog about the chronic fatigue, says, “I think the IOM panel got a lot of things right with the new criteria. They focused on the central feature of the disease, post-exertional malaise, and limited the required symptoms to a short list.”
Spotila applauded the new name for using the word “disease,” which conveys the severity of it more than calling it a disorder would, and for focusing on post-exertional malaise that many patients experience and is now being recognized as being associated with the disease. Spotila is cautious though, saying that “SEID will be controversial, especially for the advocates like myself who argued for use of the term myalgic encephalomyelitis. … I would like to see data that support SEID as a better name.”
If you are caught up in the struggle to balance two lives – one that is your “normal” life and the other your drug-addicted life, it can get very exhausting and stressful. It’s time to quit the charade and get the help you need so you can get back to living a normal, healthy, happy life. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Everyone experiences a bad night’s sleep from sleep from time to time, you know, those nights when you lie awake for hours trying desperately to go to sleep but can’t. And then you start worrying about how little sleep you’ll get if you fall asleep now or…now; and how awful you’re going to feel tomorrow.
In fact, one-third of the world’s population experience short-term sleeping difficulties. These usually last only a few weeks. But for an unlucky few, these sleep disturbances may last a lot longer and lead to a diagnosis of insomnia.
Insomnia is described as a person’s inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and/or else wakes up too early at least three times a week for at least three months.
Insomniacs experience persistent tiredness, low energy and difficulties with concentration, attention and memory. They may feel down, stressed or anxious, not only about getting a good night’s sleep but about their ability to do their daily activities.
How Do You Treat Insomnia?
If you are experiencing insomnia, a visit to your doctor might only result in getting a prescription for sleeping pills. But sleeping medications are just a Band-Aid, only providing short-term relief. Furthermore, they can be harmful and are often times highly addictive. For people in recovery from drugs, medications like Ambien are risky.
The good news is that there are other ways to treat insomnia, without the use of these powerful medications. Successful treatment of insomnia requires creating new, healthy sleep habits.
Here are 7 ways to treat insomnia.
#1. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
Maybe it’s drinking warm milk or a hot cup of tea, or maybe a hot shower and some yoga. Get in the habit of doing things that help you relax and get in sleep mode.
#2. Limit the use of smart devices before bed
Also, using your smart phone or tablet before bed can interrupt your circadian rhythms, which regulate your sleep cycle. Smart phones and even flat screen televisions emit blue light, which is basically translated as daylight by your body, thus your body thinks it’s time to stay up even though it’s now one in the morning and you’re trying to fall asleep.
#3. Keep work and sleep spaces separate
And refrain from using these devices in bed. If you mix your work space with your sleep space, that is, using your bed for both, when you try to fall asleep, your body gets mixed signals about what it’s supposed to be doing: working or sleeping.
#4. Don’t fight your insomnia
If you can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed, tossing and turning and getting more frustrated. Instead, get up and do a relaxing activity, such as reading a book. Go back to bed only when you feel sleepy again.
#5. Web-based treatment
Another credible alternative is web-based treatment. Research from Japan to America shows that, for some people, online insomnia treatment modules may be as effective as visiting a health professional in person. Online programs can help you to practice good sleep hygiene habits, change unhelpful sleeping patterns and reduce the worry that can contribute to insomnia, helping you to get a better night’s sleep.
#6. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise has a bunch of health benefits – too many to name here. But, when it comes to insomnia, getting into a regular exercise routine can help. Besides getting your body to work at its optimum level, it also basically tires you out come evening time.
#7. Talk to your therapist
If you’re still having trouble despite trying all of the things mentioned above, then consider talking to a therapist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to reduce sleeping difficulties by 50% on average, and reduces insomnia symptoms to a level where they are no longer considered clinically severe.
The way CBT works is that it re-trains people to view the bedroom as a place of sleeping instead of a place where they lie awake tossing and turning and worrying about not sleeping. CBT also helps people change their lifestyle and sleeping environment, learn relaxation skills and challenge the unhelpful worries and beliefs that contribute to insomnia.
Got a lot on your mind? Have become physically dependent on drugs, even sleeping pills, and are still suffering from insomnia. It’s hard falling asleep with the weight of the world on your shoulders. Once you admit that there’s a problem for which you need help, the rest is easy. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Between 1/3 and 1/2 of all Americans have some level of insomnia and complain of poor sleep, and many of them have opted to the quick fix and looked into sleeping pills to solve that problem. While these medications may be effective at ending your sleep problems, this solution should definitely be only considered short-term. It is important to make sure you understand everything you need to know about sleeping pills, because it is very possible to become addicted to sleeping pills. That includes knowing about sleeping pill side effects. Most sleeping pills are labeled as ‘sedative hypnotics’. That’s a specific class of drugs used to induce or maintain sleep. Sedative hypnotics include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and various hypnotics.
Benzodiazepines include anti-anxiety medications such as:
While these drugs may be useful short-term, all benzodiazepines are potentially addictive, so it is especially easy to become addiction to sleeping pills of this category.
Barbiturates is another drug credited to this sedative-hypnotic class. These medications depress the central nervous system and can cause sedation. Short or long-acting barbiturates can sometimes be prescribed as sedatives or sleeping pills, but more commonly these hypnotic drugs are limited to use as anesthesia. Side effects of prescription sleeping pills can include:
- Burning or tingling ligaments
- Changes in appetite
- Constipation and/or Diarrhea
- Dry mouth or throat
- Stomach pain or tenderness
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- Unusual dreams
If you have been relying on sleeping pills long enough, it is very possible you have become addicted to sleeping pills. While some may just feel like it becomes a habit that can be easily stopped but excuse it as a minor inconvenience, they are only ignoring a real problem and prolonging a possibly painful recovery. Being addicted to sleeping pills is a struggle, in every waking moment for most addicts. To help identify the problem, here are 9 signs you’re addicted to sleeping pills.
- You find it hard to cope without sleeping pills
Like any addiction, when the substance is removed the coping skills go right out the window. This is just as true with sleeping pills as with any other illicit narcotic.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms
There is a possibility of having serious physical withdrawal once you have stopped using sleeping pills. Like most drugs, a physical dependency on the chemical develops after a period of using long enough.
- You have an obsession for trying to obtain these drugs
It is no secret that when you are addicted to sleeping pills, like every other addiction, you will develop an obsession with getting more of the drug. Whether you excuse it with seeking out sleep, experiencing withdrawal, or just need it to feel OK.
- Increased tolerance to the drug
After using sleeping pills for long enough and becoming addicted to sleeping pills, your tolerance for the effects of the medication will increase. Your body will get used to the chemical reaction, and you will require more and more of the substance to get the desired effect.
- Loss of interest in hobbies
One of the most underestimated characteristics of any addiction is how it effects the things we are most passionate for. When you are addicted to sleeping pills, you lose interest in your hobbies and the things in life that make you happy. Your attention will focus on those pills, how to get more, and sleeping them off in between using.
- Deterioration of hygiene
Drug addicts tend to stop taking care of ourselves when we give all our focus to chasing and abusing drugs. Being addicted to sleeping pills also does real damage to hygiene and grooming.
- Defensiveness or denial
Drug addicts are notorious for not wanting to admit to our problems. We often fight back and become overly defensive or protective of our drug use, and can spend a decent amount of time in denial that there is even a problem. With those who are addicted to sleeping pills this may be especially true because they believe it is a necessity to get rest, and these pills are the only way to do so. This denial will hold them back from getting real help.
- Lack of Responsibility
Letting hygiene and hobbies fall apart is one thing, but letting everything that you are personally and socially responsible for suffer as a result of you being addicted to sleeping pills is a definite sign you need to seek help. When you are risking your job, your home, or especially your family over sleeping pills, it has crossed a line and getting help is vital.
- Inability to reduce dosage
When you are unable to stop taking as much as you have gotten used to, or even lower the dosage a little bit without suffering from painful and troubling withdrawals, than you need to seek medical help, and more specifically substance abuse treatment. This shows that you are physically as well as mentally addicted to sleeping pills and the physical dependence can be even more dangerous.
Newer medications help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. These sleep-inducing drugs are said to be non-habit forming. They work quickly to increase drowsiness and sleep. There are also more natural methods of sleep-aid that are available, and if you seek treatment for being addicted to sleeping pills you will most likely be educated on more health and sustainable alternatives. Sleep is an important part of life, but if you are addicted to sleeping pills, it might be time to wake up to the dangers your exposing yourself to. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
If you’re like me, you look forward to the weekends (or whatever your days off happen to be) with pleasant fantasies of sleeping in. Oh sweet, long sleep! But, without fail, you wake up the next morning – or afternoon – feeling rather unwell, instead of rested and renewed.
Your limbs feel weighed down and you have a slight (or not-so-slight) headache. The daylight filtering into your room seems extra painful to your senses and your brain is on lag, persuading you to just go back to sleep some more. Maybe then you’ll feel better. You do this over and over again, convinced that you need to “catch up” on lost sleep, despite feeling pretty crappy whenever you sleep in. If too little sleep is a problem, then why is getting extra sleep such a terrible solution?
In fact, oversleeping feels so much like a hangover that scientists call it sleep drunkenness. Unlike the profound neurological damage that alcohol causes however, your misguided attempts to replenish your sleep reserves still leave you feeling languid by confusing the part of your brain that controls your body’s daily cycle, regulated by a process known as circadian rhythms.
Your circadian ‘pacemaker,’ a group of cells in the hypothalamus (a small part of the brain that also controls hunger, thirst, and sweat) is what regulates your internal rhythms. Light signals received by the eyes tell the pacemaker when it’s morning, therefore sending out chemical messages to make sure that rest of the cells in your body are following the same clock.
Scientists believe that the circadian pacemaker evolved in order to tell the body’s cells how to regulate their energy on a daily basis.
So, just why is chronic oversleeping so bad for us?
Sleeping too much throws off that biological clock, this then tells the cells a different story than what is actually happening. And this incongruence causes a sensation of fatigue. Simply put: if you wake up at say 11AM, your cells started using their energy cycle a few hours earlier, at 7AM.
You’ve heard of jet lag, right? Well, this is basically the process that causes that phenomenon. But instead of having the benefit of traveling to foreign lands, you’re doing this to yourself in the same ol’ place you wake up every day.
The Detrimental Effects of Oversleeping
Besides feeling sluggish and drained before you even start your day off, you’re robbing yourself of vital self-healing processes that usually take place during sleep. In healthy sleep cycles, your body cycles between different sleep stages. Your bones, muscles, and other tissues do their repair work during the deep sleep cycle, which occurs before you enter REM (rapid eye movement). But, if you have poor sleep hygiene such as an uncomfortable bed, or your room is too hot or else too cold, your body will spend more time in light, superficial sleep. Because of that, you’ll feel the need to sleep longer. And thus the unhealthy cycle of oversleeping begins.
If you’re oversleeping on a regular basis, you could be setting yourself up for developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Harvard sponsored a massive Nurses Health Study, which found that people who slept 9 to 11 hours a night developed memory problems and were more likely to develop heart disease than people who slept a solid eight hours regularly. Likewise, people who get too little sleep – ‘undersleepers’ – are at an even bigger risk. And there are other studies that have linked oversleep to diabetes, obesity, and even early death.
The Problem of Chronic Oversleeping in Recovering Addicts
Although oversleeping is detrimental to all humans, it can be particularly problematic to recovering addicts. Besides those of us who make it a habit to oversleep as a way to catch up on lost sleep during our work week, people who work odd hours, have an uncomfortable sleep situation, or a sleeping disorder – an estimated 4% of the population also have a tendency to sleep too much, according to the Harvard Nurses Study.
I personally know a lot of people in recovery who work the graveyard shift, especially when it comes to jobs in treatment. Overnight techs, for example, need to make sure that they are compensating in a healthy way for their opposite sleep schedules.
Besides sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea, depression can also be causing you to sleep too much. In fact, oversleep can contribute to even more depression. But no matter what’s causing it, too much sleep is not good for your long term health. When you consider that PAWS can strike at any time, setting yourself for increased depression as well as the above mentioned health problems just isn’t supportive of people in recovery.
Doctors recommend using organic ways of regulating your sleep cycle, such as the use of black-out curtains and artificial lights, rather than medications or supplements. Another way to set yourself up for a healthy sleep pattern is to use an app like the University of Michigan’s Entrain, which helps you to reset your circadian clock by logging the amount and type of light you get throughout the day.
The best thing you can do is to practice good sleep hygiene which includes getting equal amounts of sleep on your weekends or off days as you do during your work week.
If you’ve had some time in recovery and have experienced a relapse, or if you’ve noticed that you find yourself becoming dependent on substances to sleep, wake up, or just feel normal, you might be experiencing a medical condition known as substance abuse. For others, it might be that you’ve developed an addiction, whether it’s to alcohol or other drugs. You are not alone and we can help. Call an Addiction Specialist directly today at toll-free 1-800-951-6135.