So you can’t sleep? You’re in good company (read: nearly everyone these days), but it’s still a lousy problem. Chronic sleep deprivation can make you depressed, anxious, prone to getting sick, at higher risk for cancer, and it makes you more likely to gain weight and develop diabetes and dementia. And of course it doesn’t feel good to be jolted awake by an alarm when your body is screaming: No! I haven’t gotten enough sleep yet.

Let’s try to solve this problem right here and now, in ten steps—because you’re tired, and that’s about all you can handle at the moment:

1. Get the phone out of the bedroom.

This is the single most effective change you can make. When we keep the phone on our bedside table, it’s the last thing we look at before bed. The blue light from the screen jacks up your circadian rhythm, and the activities of the phone (dings, pings, stressful work email, addictive social media apps, the emotional roller coaster of online dating, riveting Netflix shows, and the existential angst of geopolitical news) does not cultivate a state of mind conducive to sleep. I know what you’re gonna say: but it’s my alarm clock! Cool, we’ve got a solution. Go and pick out a lovely little analog alarm clock, and once it arrives, that’s the day you set up your charger outside of the bedroom and step into your new phone-free bedroom (and new life as a better sleeper).ADVERTISEMENT

2. Take magnesium.

I like magnesium glycinate for sleep.* Taking 400 to 600 milligrams at bedtime can be great for relaxing your mind and your muscles and helping you fall deep asleep.* Another good supplement to keep on hand is melatonin. I don’t have my patients take this regularly, but it’s a great tool for managing jet lag. Take it on an overnight flight (be sure to wear compression socks and walk around frequently), and take it at bedtime once you arrive at your destination.

3. Waking up in the middle of the night? Pay attention to your blood sugar.

Show of hands-—who here has difficulty staying asleep through the night? Do you wake up at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., jolted awake in a mild panic? This can have many underlying causes, from excessive stress to sleep apnea. But a common yet underappreciated cause is a dip in blood sugar. Because the modern American diet is built on a bedrock of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and—let’s be honest—red wine, most of us ride around on a blood sugar roller coaster: Voracious hunger leads us to consume sweet, instantly gratifying food, which gives us a sugar high that leads to a sugar crash, which triggers voracious hunger…and so on and so forth.

The thing is, we’re not immune to these sugar crashes in the middle of the night. And when they happen, it induces a stress response in your body. It’s like being hangry, only you’re asleep. Sleep hanger can jolt you awake and make you feel anxious, stressed, and wired.

Prevent sleep hanger by: a) transitioning your diet away from sugar and refined carbohydrates toward a Whole30 or paleo-template diet based on real food (meat, fish, eggs, poultry, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, fermented foods, healthy fats, and relying on starchy vegetables as your source of carbohydrate); b) take a spoonful of almond butter or coconut oil (not actually “pure poison”) right before bed, and take another in the middle of the night if you wake up.

4. Think about your caffeine consumption—yes, actually.

I know you’re inclined to skip this section because you’re like: Duh, I know caffeine can keep you awake, but it’s OK, I just have one or two innocent cups of coffee in the morning, and that coffee is part of my identity, so this is not gonna change.

The thing is, those innocent cups of coffee in the morning may still be contributing to your insomnia. Caffeine is slowly metabolized in the body, so even though you drink it in the morning, some of it is still buzzing around your brain at bedtime. It can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, and it can decrease the quality of your sleep.

You’re an open-minded, flexible person, committed to wellness and up for a challenge, right? If you struggle with any aspect of sleep, it is worth your while to gradually reduce caffeine and see how you sleep and feel once you’re down to zero caffeine. Zero caffeine?! Yes, zero caffeine. Some of us are sensitive. And anybody with sleep struggles has a pretty good chance of being one of those people. If anxiety is also your thing, the odds are even higher that you’re sensitive to caffeine and it’s affecting your sleep and your anxiety. Gradually decrease caffeine to zero over the course of a week or two, and behold how well you can sleep when caffeine isn’t messing with your brain.

5. Try an earlier bedtime.

I know I didn’t make any friends asking everyone to quit coffee, and now I’m just going to dig this hole deeper. You will sleep better if you go to bed earlier. The body likes to be in sync with the rhythms of the sun and moon. This used to be nearly unavoidable because the sun would set and things would get pretty dark, dangerous, and boring. Because of electricity, the modern evening is a high-voltage festival of light, from Instagram feeds to television shows.

Start to notice that your body experiences a wave of feeling tired approximately three hours after sunset. Shockingly, this is actually the appropriate bedtime, not midnight. Start to listen for your body’s tired signs around 10/10:30 p.m., and take that as a cue to brush your teeth and crawl into your cozy bed. This will prevent your body from getting “overtired,” when you release the stress hormone cortisol and hit a second wind of energy. When you try to push against cortisol to fall asleep, you toss and turn and your mind races. No fun. Prevent this by swooping yourself to bed at the sweet spot of tiredness, right around 10 p.m.

6. Be strategic about light.

Light is the primary cue for our circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). On the proverbial Savannah, this system was foolproof—after sunset, the only light you could see was fire and moonlight. Modern human life is an entirely different story—we spend our days sitting in windowless cubicle mazes, and then the evening is a Technicolor light show of phone, tablet, TV, and laptop screens, on a backdrop of overhead lighting and ambient light pollution outside our windows. Our body misses the cue that it’s nighttime and we should feel sleepy. Get strategic to create Savannah light conditions in modern life.

Here’s how: Get bright light during the day. Open your blinds as soon as you wake up, and be sure to spend at least some time every day outside in broad daylight.

And experience darkness at night. Dim the lights in your home after sunset, finish the night with a candlelit bath or by reading a paper book in bed by dim lighting. Set your phone on night shift mode and download f.lux on your computer to make the screens dimmer and less blue at night. If you’re going to work on the computer, watch TV, or look at the phone at night, consider wearing glasses to block the circadian-disrupting blue light.

As thoroughly discussed above, don’t bring the phone into the bedroom. In fact, try to get all electronics out of the bedroom. If your room isn’t completely dark once you’ve turned out the lights, wear an eye mask to sleep or consider getting blackout shades (this ends up being less of an ordeal than it sounds). Finally, if you wake up in the middle of the night, try not to let your eyes “see” any light. You can install an orange night light in the bathroom and do the squinting shuffle, keeping your eyes mostly closed when you go to pee.

7. Consider alcohol.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that alcohol disrupts sleep architecture. Though it can make it easier to fall asleep, it decreases the quality of sleep and makes it harder to sleep through the night. We also wake up feeling less refreshed the morning after we’ve been drinking. Bring consciousness to your choices around alcohol. If sleep is a sore point for you, it’s worth your while to limit alcohol to a drink or two a couple of nights of the week (or, hey, none at all?).

8. Try jujube.

Jujube is another supplement worth considering.* It’s a plant-based supplement with antioxidant properties that can also help with sleep, stress, anxiety and even digestive issues (i.e., all that ails us modern human people). It promotes sleep by modulating GABA and serotonin activity in the brain.* Just be sure to mention jujube to your doctor before starting it, since it can have interactions with other medications, and it can impact certain health conditions, such as diabetes.

9. Experiment with GABA.

Finally, GABA itself is a supplement worth considering.* While there’s no question that the neurotransmitter GABA has profound impacts on sleep, there is some debate about whether supplemental forms of GABA effectively cross the blood-brain-barrier—that is, do they really get to your brain and have an impact. High-quality GABA supplements attempt to address this by designing the GABA to cross into the brain.* There is some evidence that GABA supplements improve sleep, but it’s also possible that the supplements carry out their effect in other ways, such as impacting the gut microbiome to increase GABA.* Regardless, GABA is worth considering at doses around 100-200mg for insomnia after a conversation with your doctor about potential interactions.

10. Wind down.

We’ll wind down this article with a final note about winding down in the evening. Too many of us are trying to eke out every last drop of productivity from our days, closing the laptop seconds before brushing our teeth, answering a final work email from bed, attempting to go 60 to zero from work mode to trying to fall asleep. It doesn’t work. Think of it this way—your brain needs a little foreplay to fall asleep, and answering work emails or modeling something in Excel is not sexy.

Give yourself the gift of an hour, a half-hour, 10 minutes, even just five minutes—some amount of winding down before you hit the pillow. Good options include taking an Epsom salt bath by candlelight, reading a calming paper book in bed, journaling, doing a gratitude practice, or simply shutting down electronics, sitting in your living room, and listening to relaxing music you love. Bring intention to this. This will let your brain know it’s time to transition into a different mindset.

I hope these ten steps have opened your eyes to some ideas you haven’t heard before, and I hope these steps are approachable and attainable. If you put these changes into practice, you should begin to find it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/having-trouble-sleeping-cant-stay-asleep-consider-these-strategies?mbg_mcid=777:5fbbcc3cce2951679838d515:ot:5c22b3f39799ec3cc6aecb97:1&mbg_hash=57103be3843e0e1cb6615f5efa797221&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_v2_20201123

Why doctors aren’t recommending loading up on Listerine just yet.

coronavirus-mouthwash , Woman holding bottle with mouthwash for teeth care on white background

Back in June, interest started swirling around mouthwash and its potential effects on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The information then came from a meta-analysis published in the journal Function, which posed a theory: Based on mouthwash’s ability to disrupt or damage the outer layer of other enveloped viruses, or viruses that have a lipid membrane, that mouthwash could have a similar effect on SARS-CoV-2—possibly helping to reduce transmission.

Now, mouthwash is back in the news with a new pre-print (and thus, not yet peer-reviewed) study published on the BioRxiv server, analyzing the effect of common mouthwashes on SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory settings. And this time, researchers from Cardiff University in the UK have some evidence that mouthwash—three common mouthwashes, to be exact—can kill the coronavirus in as little as 30 seconds.

But here’s the thing: This research, thought it sounds promising, doesn’t mean a whole lot right now in terms of stopping the spread of COVID-19, and doctors definitely aren’t jumping on the bandwagon to start prescribing a daily rinse to lessen your chances of catching or transmitting the virus. Here’s everything you need to know about mouthwash and coronavirus—and why you shouldn’t start stocking up on Listerine.

Can mouthwash kill the coronavirus?

Technically, yes—some types of mouthwash with certain active ingredients have been shown to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, or outside of its normal biological context (aka, in a laboratory setting), albeit one that mimicked the conditions of the naso/oropharynx, or back of the throat. The researchers specifically tested seven different mouthwashes—Corsodyl, Dentyl Dual Action, Dentyl Fresh Protect, Listerine Cool Mint, Listerine Advanced Gum Treatment, SCD Max, and Videne—which “demonstrated a wide spectrum of inactivation ability,” meaning some were hits and some were misses.

According to study authors, the two Dentyl products containing cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), and the Listerine Advanced mouthwash containing ethyl lauroyl arginate (LAE) “eradicated the virus completely after a 30-second treatment.” Other mouthwashes, like Videne containing iodinated povidone, SCD Max, and Listerine Cool Mint containing a mix of ethanol and essential oils had just a moderate effect on the virus. But mouthwashes containing ethanol alone, or chlorhexidine (like Corsodyl) didn’t have an effect on the virus.

The information gathered from this study suggests that it could be beneficial to test the three mouthwashes effective in killing the coronavirus in vitro in an in vivo (or in a biologically accurate, possibly human) setting against a live virus load. This way, scientists can determine any potential effects of mouthwash on “reducing the risk of virus exposure within the clinical setting.”

Does that mean mouthwash can protect you from COVID-19?

As of right now, no; no one is claiming that what has happened in a lab setting can actually translate to real life—that’s why the study authors suggested in vivo testing. The World Health Organization (WHO) specifically has this to say on the topic: “Some brands of mouthwash can eliminate certain microbes for a few minutes in the saliva in your mouth. However, this does not mean they protect you from infection.” And even Listerine—one of the mouthwashes tested (and deemed effective) in the new study—says on its website that “Listerine mouthwash has not been tested against any strains of coronavirus.”

Experts aren’t really impressed with the mouthwash-COVID link just yet, either. “It’s interesting but this hasn’t been studied in real life,” William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Health.

“Mouthwash can kill lots of things,” adds Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It doesn’t translate into preventing infection.” In fact, Dr. Adalja tells Health that it’s not terribly hard to kill SARS-CoV-2, on a basic level. “[It’s] not a hearty virus,” he says, and there are “many substances that can deactivate it.”

Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, tells Health that he’s “kind of lukewarm” about the findings. “They’re just inactivating RNA in a lab setting as opposed to a real-life setting,” he says. “But, if you’re already infected, that horse has left the barn.” What he means here is that, once the virus is actually inside the human body, the damage is already underway, by way of replicating in the upper respiratory tract (the nose, sinuses, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs).

It’s also unclear whether this could be used to prevent infection, Dr. Russo says. “The virus can get into your eyes and nasal cavity, too. Once it gets into your cells, would mouthwash really work?” he says. “That remains uncertain.”

On the most basic level, Dr. Adalja cautions about people getting too excited about this. “It’s not like you can use the mouthwash, make out with someone, and the risk of contracting COVID-19 is zero,” he says.

Do we know how mouthwash could be used in the fight against COVID-19?

That’s where this gets especially tricky. “How would you even operationalize this? I don’t know that there’s a way,” Dr. Adalja says. Meaning, you’re probably not going to spend your entire day gargling mouthwash—and you shouldn’t, he says. “It’s also not clear if this would actually decrease infection,” Dr. Adalja says.

But Dr. Russo says there’s enough evidence to suggest mouthwash could do…something. And, he says, that it’s at least worth pursuing. “It would need to be studied in controlled, blinded studies to see if, say, people who regularly use mouthwash are less likely to get infected,” he says. Dr. Schaffner agrees. “It probably couldn’t hurt,” he says.

Overall, experts stress that you shouldn’t run out and load up on mouthwash. “These [findings] are all very preliminary,” Dr. Russo says.

Source: https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/does-mouthwash-kill-covid-19

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

Our sleep positioning plays a big role in the quality of sleep we get every night, and it goes without saying that greater-quality sleep equals greater quality of life. It turns out that certain positions—sleeping on your stomach, for example—can cause lots of neck and shoulder issues.

Another common culprit for neck and shoulder pain? Sleeping on your arm. Here, Nishi Bhopal, M.D., a psychiatrist specializing in sleep medicine, explains to mbg why sleeping on your arm can cause problems, and what to do about it.

The ergonomics of arm sleeping.

If you sleep on your side, you likely know this scenario all too well: You’ve been sleeping for hours with your arm wedged underneath your head. Maybe you wake up with a numb arm every once in a while, or a super stiff neck.

According to Bhopal, that’s no coincidence; “Sleeping on your arm can cause shoulder and neck pain by compressing the nerves in the shoulders and misalignment of the head and the spine,” she says. This can lead to that numb or tingling sensation in the arms and hands, and over time, she adds, it can also lead to tendinitis in the rotator cuff. (Ow.)

In particular, Bhopal notes those with a history of shoulder injuries or nerve impingement should definitely avoid sleeping with their arm under their head, especially on the side of the injury. ADVERTISEMENT

5 things to do if you’re an arm sleeper:

1. Get a better pillow.

Propping your head and pillow up on your arm is an indication your pillow isn’t supportive enough, whether it be too flat or just not firm enough. When we sleep on our sides, our pillow needs to completely fill the space between our head and shoulder, to keep everything in alignment. “Use a pillow that will support your neck and keep your head aligned with the spine,” Bhopal adds.

2. Try sleeping on your back.

If you can, it might be worth trying to sleep in another position, such as on your back, especially if you’re waking up with any pain, Bhopal says. This could even mean switching sides if you tend to prefer one side when you sleep.

3. Experiment with pillow placement.

Along with making sure the pillow under your head is supportive enough, you can also work with some strategic pillow placement to further support alignment. When on your side, “you can put a pillow between the knees to keep your hips aligned,” Bhopal says, “and hug a pillow in front of you to reduce the pressure on your shoulders.”

4. Stretch it out.

To offset some of the effects of arm sleeping, Bhopal says light shoulder rolls and neck stretches can help loosen things up. Just be sure to warm up first if you’re looking to stretch first thing in the morning. Our bodies are typically the most stiff when we first wake up, so Bhopal says it’s best to loosen up with a warm shower or some light exercise.

5. Set yourself up for deep and supportive sleep.

And lastly, to go the extra mile and ensure you wake up feeling your best, don’t let basic sleep hygiene fall by the wayside. Taking a sleep-supporting supplement like mbg’s magnesium+, setting the thermostat to the optimal sleep temp of 65 degrees, having regular sleep and wake times, and encouraging overall well-being through a healthy diet and exercise all contribute to a better night’s sleep (and morning).*

The bottom line.

If you sleep on your arm, it could be negatively affecting your neck, shoulders, and general sleep quality—but with a little adjusting and a sufficiently supportive pillow, you can get comfy without your arm under your pillow, and your neck will thank you for it.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-sleeping-on-your-arm-can-cause-pain-and-what-to-do-about-it?mbg_mcid=777:5fb85cc9ce295116bb4f675a:ot:5c22b3f39799ec3cc6aecb97:1&mbg_hash=57103be3843e0e1cb6615f5efa797221&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_v2_20201121

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