Monday, January 30, 2006

Meditation Resource

I've found a site that has a really good e-book on meditation and mindfulness (online and free). The address is If you are interested in meditation, this looks like a great resource. Mindfulness is a wonderful meditation technique where you keep the mind completely absorbed by your current situation and activity. You focus your thoughts entirely on the sensations, movements, and emotions evoked in your current state. This book looks like a good place to start if you are interested in this area of meditation.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Flickr badges

Hi Everyone,

I have just added a new flickr badge on this page (It's the little photo program you can see on the right hand side of this page). The other day I was surfing, saw one of these badges, and decided to find out what they're all about.

Flickr is an online photo sharing site. You can upload your photos and view them on the site whenever you like. You can also decide who can and cannot see your photos. I haven't had time to find out everything about it, but from what I've seen so far, I really like it. I've only uploaded a few photos, but in a few days I plan on updating my profile and adding more pictures. You can click on the flickr program to get to their site and create your own page and/or flickr badge. If you don't feel like joining, you still might like checking out the other members' public photos.

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Stress and Sleep

I've noticed that in the last few posts, a lot of questions have been posed by readers of this blog. Questions are always welcome, and I try my best to look through the postings, and give answers whenever I can. Sometimes, however, I don't feel I have the proper information, or I'm not qualified to give advice on a subject. I would encourage all the readers of this blog to look through the previous posts and see if there is something they may be able to answer. In your search, you may find some information or ideas that could be helpful for your own situation.

Thanks, and keep on blogging!!!

Flash Altman

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sleep and Relaxation Tips

I was recently discussing the subject of anxiety, stress, and sleep problems with a couple of my friends. All three of us had struggled with these issues and had experienced nervous breakdowns, stress leaves from work, anxiety medication and/or sleeping pills.

Today we are all living without medication, and have found our own unique ways of successfully dealing with stress and anxiety.

Our conversation made me think of how different each of us is. My friends and I all discovered methods to reduce stress and anxiety, and all three of us ultimately found success using a different routine. This shouldn't be too surprising, seeing that my friends and I all have different occupations, hobbies, family situations, body types, fitness levels, personalities, etc. Some found that intense physical exertion was helpful, where others found success with lighter aerobic exercise. Meditation and aromatherapy was seen by some as a cure, and to others as boring and pointless.

Unfortunately, the literature on stress and sleep disorders generally offers the same advice for everyone, and rarely points out that there are no blanket remedies. If you don't realize that stress and sleep remedies are individualistic, and may work better for some than for others, you may cause yourself a lot of frustration and (ironically) stress.

I’ve found most of the stress and sleep disorder remedy advice I've read on websites and in books to be helpful. At the same time, people should realize that only a small number of these tips may actually work for them.

My advice would be to try a variety of exercises and methods for sleep and anxiety. If you find something works, stick with it, but if it is not helping, move on and try something else. Don’t get frustrated if the first few methods you try don’t work for you. Remember, you are unique, and many of the stress and sleep tips you find may not be for you. Keep on searching and trying different methods, you’ll eventually come across a system that will work for you.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

How to Stop Taking Sleeping Pills and Stay Sane

by: Wendy Owen

Over a million people worldwide rely on some form of prescription sleep medication. Many of these could sleep well or better without it. The trouble is these drugs are so habit forming, they don’t know how to stop taking them. They can’t get off the merry-go-round.

The thing that keeps us taking these drugs is fear. Fear of withdrawal, fear of never having a good night’s sleep again.

Indeed there will be some withdrawal when you stop taking prescribed sleep medication. This is called “Drug Withdrawal Insomnia”.

If you are an occasional user of sleeping pills, you will be able to achieve this quite easily. For those who depend on medication every night, expect a certain amount of discomfort especially at the beginning.

I would recommend any heavily addicted sleep medication user to consult their doctor while coming off the drug. Also it’s important to do this GRADUALLY. Suddenly stopping any medication isn’t recommended and may cause physical or emotional problems.

What to expect

You may have trouble sleeping for about 1 to 3 weeks, very rarely this may last longer. You may be pleasantly surprised if you have no rebound insomnia, however be prepared for it and know how to deal with it.

Just be patient and know that it is temporary. Your sleep will improve after this stage. Don’t lie awake worrying about how tired you are going to feel the next day. At least you won’t have the “hung over” feeling that sleeping pills gave you.

You may find you are dreaming more. This is because your REM sleep has been suppressed over time and your body is now compensating for this. This will lessen over time.

You may experience some physical symptoms of drug withdrawal such as anxiety, shaky hands, muscle tension and dizziness. Just accept that these will pass and don’t be alarmed.

There’s no need to throw away your sleep medication when you’ve decided to stop taking it. Just keep it in the bedroom as an “insurance policy”. That will stop any feelings of panic when you are having a bad night. Tell yourself, “I’ll take if I need it”. This may be enough to help you relax and sleep without taking it.

Keep a sleep diary. If possible start this before cutting down on your medication. You should gradually notice an improvement in your sleep as the weeks progress. This will help to build confidence in your ability to fall asleep on your own.

While going through this withdrawal, don’t forget to practice good sleep habits as follows:

No caffeine after lunch
Wind down gradually before bed
No TV in the bedroom
Read in bed only if this helps you sleep
Practice relaxation exercises.
Above all persevere and look forward to healthy sleep without drugs.

About The Author
Wendy Owen is a health researcher and author.
Want to know how to cure insomnia and achieve healthy sleep? Visit your resource for good sleep advice and articles. Sign on for our newsletter and receive 2 books absolutely free!

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Sleep Deprivation and the Elderly

My grandmother used to be up at the crack of dawn—not because she had to, but because her body clock had shifted to a different time frame with increasing age. My step-mother used to complain that after Dad retired, he woke up every morning before six. The connection seems inevitable—older people do not need as much sleep as younger folks do. While changes in sleep patterns may explain this situation to some extent, they do not address a fundamental problem–lack of sleep is not only unhealthy but potentially dangerous to the senior population.

a)The body chronically deprived of sleep is a walking time bomb. Consider some of these statistics from the National Sleep Research Project.

b)Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood-alcohol level of 0.05%.

c)Research estimates that fatigue is involved in one in 6 road accidents. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep deprivation played a role.

d)As well, sleep compromises the immune system; it decreases your resistance to infections. A study at San Diego’s Veteran Medical Center discovered that reducing a person’s nightly normal sleep time by half decreases the activity of T-cells—the cells that destroy bacteria, viruses and tumor cells.

e)Young adults who are sleep deprived may be increasing their risk for diseases that accompany old age.

f)A recent study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that sleep deprivation in older adults can lead to earlier death. The study involved tests that measured EEG sleep assessments. Results showed that those with low percentages of REM sleep were at the greatest risk. REM is an active period of sleep characterized by interval brain activity and rapid bursts of eye movement. REM is the brain wave stage of dreaming sleep (the theta stage) that is characterized by increased creativity, memory, healing and integrative emotional experience (what is usually called the “Ah-ha!” moment of insight and connection). There is no doubt that REM sleep contributes to the development of human imagination and consciousness.
There are, however measures that one can adopt to promote restful sleep. Like anything else, proper sleep can be encouraged through the maintenance of familiar and soothing routines— a ritual that is sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene.”

1.Exercise: An exercise routine (30-40 minutes) four to five times as week is excellent not only for sleep promotion, but for cardiovascular health, weight maintenance, osteoporosis and diabetes as well. It’s like killing 5 birds with one stone! Both aerobic and resistance training can increase energy expenditure and lean body mass. As well, exercise is a natural mood enhancer because repetitive movement helps the body release its natural store of endorphins—the good feeling hormone.

2.Alpha and Theta-Wave CDs and relaxation music: Listening to soothing music or CD’s that help entrain your brainwave activities can definitely help you access Alpha and Theta brainwave states more readily. New technology is providing us with more accessible ways to tap into our subconscious mind and allow us to mould our behavior and emotions inside out.

3.Reduced liquids: Cut down on liquids in the evening as this will prevent frequent bathroom visits that interrupt sleep.

4.Reduced caffeine: Do not consume caffeinated products after 2 in the afternoon. Double check your medication as well; some drugs also disturb sleep. Anti-depressants, for example, can disturb normal sleep patterns and some barbiturates suppress REM sleep which can be harmful over a long period. Decongestants can also act as stimulants and beta blockers are known to cause insomnia.

5.Turn digital clocks away from your line of vision. Studies show that even the tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be strong enough to disrupt a sleep cycle. The digital light turns off a “neural switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

6.Hot Bath: Researchers who studied female insomniacs (aged 60-70) found that those who had a hot bath before sleep spent more time in deep, slow brainwave sleep.

7.Avoid heavy, late meals that sit heavily in your stomach.

8.A glass of hot milk just before bedtime will also give your brain the amino acid tryptophan which the body converts to sleep-inducing chemicals.

9.Consult a doctor or dentist if you have a problem with sleep apnea, which can be controlled by a simple plastic appliance that fits in the mouth.

10.Last but not least, for those who are sleepless because of unresolved issues or problems—learn to make amends where changes can be made and lean to walk away (mentally and perhaps physically) when things cannot be changed. Pray and place everything in the hands of the Universe. Know that you are more than your problems.

About the AuthorMary Desaulniers, London,Ontario Canada
More Details about sleeping disorders here. A runner for 27 years, retired schoolteacher and writer, Mary is now doing what she has always done--being engaged in what she loves--running, weight training,writing,helping people reclaim their bodies by seeing that weight is just matter that needs to be processed. Nutrition, exercise, positive vision and purposeful engagement are the tools used to turn this matter into creative selves. You can subscribe to Mary's newsletter by contacting a body well-nourished is a mind well-served~

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