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Monthly Archives: July 2015

  • Report From a Sleep Guinea Pig

    If you are like most Americans, you probably feel that you’re not getting enough sleep, or that the quality of the sleep that you’re getting is lower than you’d like. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there are 70 million of us who have some kind of complaint about our sleep, and that’s become obvious by the rising number of prescription sleeping medications, over-the-counter sleep aids, and sleep-inducing devices that are available on the market. When you add the money spent on these items to the latest craze of using sleep trackers to tell exactly how long and how well you’ve slept, and it’s obvious that this is a hot issue. So it’s not surprising that people are starting to look more deeply into the effectiveness of sleep supplements, and one consumer recently took it upon himself to try out several different options. He approached the subject methodically and tracked his sleep quality using a Withings Aura, and went so far as to journal his pre-sleep activity and diet and to estimate the cost per dose of each treatment that he tried. To his credit, he not only made a point of not repeating the same treatment consecutively, but also repeated each supplement in order to confirm its impact on him and spent days between each supplement without taking anything in order to make sure that his system was clear of the previous option.

    Though he repeats throughout his recording of his experiment that his analysis is far from scientific and that everybody will respond differently, as well as that people should always check with their own physician before embarking on taking a supplement that might interact badly with a medication that they are currently taking, his results were very interesting, and definitely worth considering. Here is a summary of what he took:

    • Melatonin – a synthetic version of the hormone that our bodies make in response to light. It has been scientifically tested and proven effective in treating shift workers and those suffering from jet lag. Estimated cost per treatment is four cents.
    • Valerian Root – an herbal treatment that is widely available as a tea as well as powdered and taken in a capsule. Estimated cost per treatment is eight cents.
    • Chamomile – an herbal treatment that is widely available and popular as a tea. It is also available as a capsule. Estimated cost per treatment is ten cents.
    • Lemon balm – an herbal treatment that is part of the mint family and is most commonly available as a tea. Estimated cost per treatment is eighteen cents.
    • L-tryptophan – tryptophan may sound familiar to anybody who complains about sleepiness after Thanksgiving dinner, as there is a myth that turkey contains high levels of this amino acid. This is not true, but it is also known to facilitate the production of both serotonin and melatonin in the brain, working to boost mood and sleep. Estimated cost per treatment is forty-five cents.
    • Somnis – a supplement made up of L-tryptophan, melanonin and GABA, a chemical made in the brain that has been found to be instrumental in our ability to sleep. Estimated cost per treatment is thirty cents.
    • Serenity – a supplement made up of valerian root, passion flower extract, magnolia bark, jujube, chamomile, L0theanine, 5-HTP, melatonin and BioPerine, as well as vitamins. Estimated cost per treatment is $1.33.
    • Luna – a supplement made up of L-theanine, valerian root, chamomile, passion flower, lemon balm, hops flower, L-taurine, melatonin and magnesium. Estimated cost per treatment is seventy-three cents.


    The results from taking each of these options intermittently over a period of several weeks were interesting. The writer found that taking L-tryptophan provided him with the greatest results in terms of the number of hours that he slept, increasing his sleep quantity from an average of 6.85 hours per night to 7.53 per night, but he also felt that his sleep quality on those nights was reduced. For improvement in sleep quality he was most impressed with the effect that chamomile provided, and reported that the herbal remedy had actually made him sleep so soundly that he was difficult to rouse in the middle of the night. He also found that when he used chamomile he slept longer than he did on nights when he did not take a supplement at all, so his overall rating of chamomile was the highest among all of the single supplements that he took.

    He was also surprised to find that melatonin had the exact opposite impact that he had anticipated. Because melatonin is one of the only sleep supplements that has actually been scientifically tested and has research behind it, he had anticipated a positive experience, but instead he found that he was restless throughout the night, woke up repeatedly and experienced an undesirable grogginess the next day when he woke up.

    He also found that valerian was similarly unsatisfying, and reported that he not only had several mid-night awakenings but also experienced disturbing dreams and felt extremely fatigued the following morning. He also found the pills themselves unpleasant, with a bad odor. Out of all of the supplements that he took, the writer found the worst experience with lemon balm, which had a strong diuretic effect on him that resulted in him waking with the urgent need to go to the bathroom repeatedly.

    When examining the impact of the multi-ingredient supplements, he found that they worked better than most of the individual ingredients that he took, though Serenity and Luna were best in terms of quantity and Serenity was best in terms of quality. Overall, Serenity gave him much improved sleep, though he found it difficult to take because of its bad smell; it was also the most expensive option.

  • Can Video Games and Twitter Solve Insomnia Issues?

    That’s the question on the mind of sleep researchers at Lincoln University, who have noted the ways that people interact on various social networks and wonder whether a therapeutic technique could be created that would have the same impact. The scientists are hoping that by carefully investigating the ways that sites like Twitter and games like Candy Crush keep people engaged, they can provide improved access to cognitive behavioral therapy, the most effective form of therapy available for the treatment of insomnia.

    Continue reading
  • What Might You Be Sleeping On?

    If you’re considering buying a new mattress but have been holding off because you don’t feel like spending the money and it doesn’t seem that important to you, here are some things for you to consider. Getting a good night’s sleep is an integral component to your health. Not only does top quality and quantity sleep improve your ability to restore and repair muscles and refresh your ability to think clearly and learn and remember efficiently, but when you fail to get the sleep you need you are actually doing considerable harm, raising your risk of a bevy of chronic conditions that can have a negative impact on your life. Diabetes two, obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease, increased blood pressure – all of these health risks have been associated with sleep deprivation, and having an uncomfortable, unsupportive mattress can contribute to your inability to get a good night’s sleep.

    Thomasville Latex has just what you need

    The fact is that you should replace your mattress every several years, with the exact amount of time depending upon the original quality of the mattress and your level of discomfort. If you are waking up feeling achy and sore in the morning, that’s your cue that you need to get on the stick and get yourself over to a mattress showroom. If you need any more urging, you might want to consider the following things that might be in your older mattress and impacting the quality of your sleep. These just may be the items that end up pushing you over the purchasing edge!

    • Bed bugs – Bed bugs have become a national issue. They’ve always been with us, but according to a report issued by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) in collaboration with the University of Kentucky, the number of reported infestations has grown dramatically over the last dozen years or so, with the majority of the problem being reported in individual homes, followed by apartment buildings and condominiums. So what are bed bugs and what do they do? According to the NPMA, “Although bed bugs are not known to transmit disease to humans, their bites do leave itchy welts on human skin and can cause an allergic reaction in some people.” Not only that, even when you’ve had your home treated, there’s a good chance they’re going to come back, especially if they make the leap from your bed to your other upholstered furniture. If you suspect that there are bed bugs in your mattress, you are strongly advised to dispose of it appropriately, get your home treated, and purchase a new one.
    • Sweat, body oil, body fluids – You don’t have to think too hard about this one, especially if you’ve had your bed for more than ten years. Every night that you woke up in a sweat, your body fluids did more than soak your sheets – they went straight down into your mattress, where they’ve stayed. The same is true of any other bodily fluids, as well as all the millions of dead skin cells that you have shed every night throughout the years. They are embedded deep within the surface of your mattress, which might be causing you to have rashes, break outs, or even to give your mattress a bit of a smell. This is one of the reasons why it is always recommended that you purchase a new mattress rather than a used one.
    • Dust mites – Everybody has dust mites, there’s no escaping them, but your bed is a breeding ground for them, especially with all of the dead skin cells that you’ve shed (see above). When you combine all of that stuff that they love to eat with the fact that when you lay down and pull up the covers every night, you’re making things nice and warm and cozy for them, there’s no wonder why an older bed is their favorite place to be. If that isn’t enough to gross you out, then think about this – experts say that “dust mites feed on the skin cells your body sheds at night and their droppings are a major source of discomfort for allergy sufferers.” And according to a report on CNN, “As if the presence of microscopic eight-legged vermin weren’t gross enough, consider that it’s not the mites that cause some people to cough and sneeze. It’s their excrement.”
    • Mattress materials – Few people give thought to the materials that their mattress is made of, but perhaps you should, especially if you have allergies or sensitivities to chemicals. According to the website, “Since the mid-to-late ‘60s, more mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds that cause respiratory problems and skin irritation.” Though not every memory foam mattress is a problem, some are made with more care than others. As mattress manufacturers have become increasingly aware of the sensitivities and irritation they have limited the foam’s use to the interior of the mattress, keeping it away from the primary sleep surface to decrease the potential for irritation. If you have an older mattress, there is less likelihood that this care has been taken.
    • Chemicals and pesticides – Because mattresses are required to be flame retardant, many mattress manufacturers are utilizing a variety of materials that make them compliant, and some of these chemicals may be toxic or may create sensitivity in certain individuals. According to a report on, “This means that the manufacturers are dousing them with highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals, which do not have to be disclosed in any way. This is probably the most important piece of furniture you want to get right, as you are spending about one-third of your life on it.” The majority of mattresses that are being made with dangerous chemicals are coming from China, where American manufacturers are taking more care with the safety of their processes and materials
  • Back Pain Keeping You Up at Night? Here’s Help

    One of the number one issues that keep people from getting a good night’s sleep is the problem of chronic back pain, and this often debilitating condition is doing more than affecting our ability to sleep – according to a recent survey, it is also the cause of a good deal of absenteeism from work, and one of the top reasons that people go to see their doctor. By some estimates, roughly eighty percent of the American public will experience back pain at some point in their life, and that means that it is important to know the steps to take to protect yourself from the risk of injury, as well as what to do once you do start to feel pain. Continue reading

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