How to stop Sleep Talking: Causes, Myths and Management

Is sleep talking normal?After a long productive day, it is vital to relax. Some people believe the more they deny themselves any relaxing moment, the more productive they are. Unfortunately, overworking yourself is risky as the effects are far-reaching, both mentally and physically. For instance, draining yourself off the remaining energy can lead to health issues like depression, poor concentration, and lack of coordination. The best way to do so is to have uninterrupted sleep. Unfortunately, some people suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apneas, insomnia, sleep walking and sleep talking. Some of these conditions are manageable and are not harmful. Sleep talking in adults is not as common as in children. The following guide will focus more on how to stop sleep talking, its medications, and primary causes.

What Is Sleep Talking or somniloquy?

The scientific name for sleep talking is a sleep abnormality, whereby an individual talks unawares while sleeping. Talking in sleep is common, and most of the times it means nothing. In a more significant parasomnia, some people that sleepwalk may also sleep-talk. The primary concern is that sleepwalkers who are more active tend to be the ones to have higher chances of injuries. For some unknown reasons, some individuals will snooze comfortably, peacefully and quietly while others will speak gibberish words, sentences or entire speeches, whisper or shout, during an ongoing investigation, one cannot be arrested because courts have ruled talking in your sleep is inadmissible as evidence as it is not of a product of a conscious mind. To know more about sleep talking is the basic principle in learning how to stop sleep talking.

The Science behind Sleep Talking

As you fall asleep your brain’s reticular activating system (RAS), hands control to the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO) to enable you to sleep better through the five sleep stages. During this time is when most twitching occurs. You may have noticed at one time, a person eye is twitching. This is very normal and harmless process. Once you are asleep, the brain goes through 4 stages commonly known as REM and non-REM. (dreaming happens). This condition affects the speech senses of the mind, which are fully active during this time.

Sleep scientists claim that sleep talking is related to sleepwalking. In a study done, found out that about half of all children and sleep talking occurs in 5%. Thus you may get sleep talking in toddler faster than you can get a sleep talking in adults. It is more common between both men than women are although sleep researchers do not know the reason for it. Sleep talking lasts typically for about 30 seconds or more as the sleep talker utters a few words or more, which in most cases are not sensible. Moreover, sometimes sleep talking can occur between two sleepers. They do not recollect any of the conversations when they get up. It might be funny or offensive. Your words can relate to past or present events or experiences, but often it does not make sense.

A study over 2000 school children published in the journal brain and development found only 10 percent of children will sleep talk every night, but 50 % will do so once a year. By the age of 13 years, most sleep abnormalities start to decline although not soliloquy. If you sleep talker after age 25, National Sleep Foundation suggests that you should seek professional help.

Causes of Sleep Talking

Numerous reasons lead to sleep talking. Psychologists and sleep researchers prove that stress is the main causer of this condition. Many books, articles and other publications have diverse details. Here are some of the most common causes of sleep talking.

   Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

If you have PTSD, like for example after war, death or a fatal accident, it might lead to sleep talking. In this situation the brain works a lot when one is sleeping. It leads to fears, thrills and these are manifested in sleep talking. Doctors advice that is going for therapy and getting a medication can lessen this condition.

   Genetic

In most situations, if your parents were sleep talkers during childhood, it is likely they pass that gene to their children. In our family my dad was a sleep talker and sleep walker. This has been passed over to me. I am however awaiting to see if my children will be sleep walking.

   Sleep Disorders

Some sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, nightmares, plus more can add to the level of sleep talking. The brain is active when it is supposed to be asleep. To manage these disorders with these methods goes a long way in reducing or eliminating sleep talking.

   Alcohol

If a person indulges in liquor frequently, the more likely they are to sleep talk. Alcohol is a sedative but always affects the way we sleep. Alcohol prevents the normal shift from one sleep phase to the next. This leaves the brain stuck in an abnormal routine leading to sleep talking.

   Drugs

Sleep Deprivation because we live in a fast-paced world, most people voluntarily avoid sleeping. They work up to 16 hours continuously and affects their sleeping patterns. Our bodies and brain are created to take a break from working. If you deprive these two, then sleep problems occur like sleep talking.

   Medications

Some patients sleep talk because of a medication reaction. The medication majorly affecting the central nervous system work in different way in causing sleeping disorders and thus translating to sleep talking. Some prevent the normal shift in sleeping phases while others lead to other sleeping disorders like insomnia. Such medication include drugs used to treat depression or extreme pain just to mention a few.

   Mental Illness

Mental conditions like depression, anxiety and others interfere with sleep. These conditions affect the brain thus causing sleeping problems including sleep talking.

   Fever

Myths about Sleep talking

There are different myths about sleep talking and most of which, are not true. You should consult a professional for a definite and correct diagnosis in case you are experiencing sleep talking instances.

  1. You can sleep over the entire weekend

Most people believe that if you do not sleep much during the week whether because of parties or work otherwise, you can recover the sleep-debt with long weekend mornings. Sleep debt is too much exhaustion spread over too many days to the point a person requires more than a full day for recovery.

  1. If you work 9 to 5, you are safe

No evidence proves that if you work from 9 to 5, then one whole night of missed sleep will not affect your productivity. The reality is even one hour of sleep lost at night can increase the risk of heart defects, obesity, diabetes, and depression especially if you sleep less than eight hours a night.

  1. Die Younger If You Sleep More

Most who sleep more than eight hours a night usually die younger than those who do not. Studies have not shown any direct evidence for this, but long sleepers suffer from many ailments like depressions and sleep apnea, which cause death.

  1. Snooze Button Is A Clear Indicator

Snooze buttons on alarms help you wake up slowly. Studies show that even needing a snooze button shows that you are not getting enough sleep. You should have the energy to wake up as soon as the first alarm goes off. Those in a regular sleep-wake cycle should not need the snooze button nearly as much.

How to stop Sleep Talking

There are simple and easy ways to decrease instances of sleep talking in adults and children. You do not need to buy pricey gadgets to get a talk-free and disruption-free sleep. The more you take care of yourself and having a consistent sleep pattern, the better to alleviate sleep-talking issues. It is better to use tips that psychologists and sleep researchers approve.

  •  Invest in a fan white noise machine that is not only affordable but works excellently.

White noise machine helps in blotting out other noises and focusing on a preferred noise. This enables one to sleep comfortably with a person who talks while sleeping. This is quite essential if your partner is into sleep talking every night.

  • Good earplug

Use earplugs if your significant other causes too much interruption. The best ear plugs blot out most of the noise such that one can not hear the other person talking or snoring.

  • Healthy sleeping behaviors

You can achieve numerous benefits from practicing excellent and healthy sleep behaviors, as it leads to increased melatonin production that helps to regulate sleep cycles. An effective response is limiting caffeine. Avoid coffee and tea, which are stimulants that can keep you awake at night and possibly decrease the chances of sleep talking.

  • Avoiding screens before bedtime

When you feel sleepy, you should retire to bed immediately. The longer you force your mind and body to stay alert, the harder it will be to sleep peacefully. Many people nowadays, tend to carry their mobile phones and laptops in bed. This poor sleeping behavior keeps you awake more than your brain can process. Ensure you leave any gadgets away from your sleeping area. This is also a way of ensuring the real life issues do not eat into your sleeping time. This way you can stop sleep talking or minimize it.

  • Sleep-wake time

Another significance behavior is having and following through a regular sleeping pattern. If you go to bed at 9 pm every night, ensure the schedule does not change. For those who have irregular sleep-wake patterns, they have a stressful, uncomfortable and tiring sleep. Most sleep researchers suggest that sleeping at the same time each day reduces the chances of sleep talking and helps you feel more energetic when you wake up.

  • Guided Meditation

Meditation to stop sleep talking is the act of freeing your mind from stressful thoughts to achieve a peaceful and relaxing mind and body effect. There is a variety of guided meditation online, and one can purchase a cd. Most victims can attest to the benefits achieved after a few sessions of meditation. The activity has soothing sounds, a calming voice and give out a disruption-free type of ambiance that helps you sleep better afterward.

  • Acupressure

Acupressure declares that due to stagnation of energy in our pericardium a person tends to sleep talk. To treat sleep talking at p5 point (little above the top joint of index finger) both hands paste a spasm, which will ultimately solve the problem.

  • Medications to stop sleep talking

Seek medical advice from a professional to help you have a comfortable sleep and a high probability of zero sleep talking episodes.

In summary, sleep talking is not a death sentence, and it is often considered harmless. If you are victim of sleep walking, there is nothing to worry because you can always adopt a few approaches as listed above to learn how to stop sleep talking or even deal with your condition. It is advisable to seek professional medical help in case you discover the same problem after you are 25 years of age and above. Nevertheless, in most of the cases, the condition disappears as the growth development process continues. Also, invest in good sleeping gadgets like sleeping masks that offer total darkness, which is a functional element to achieve a peaceful sleep. Finally, make sure to have a stress-free lifestyle, as this is more beneficial to your general health.

Insomnia And Depression: How Can You Cope?

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Insomnia and depressionWhat comes to mind when you hear the phrase sleeping like a baby? Most of you automatically would say is having a stress-free, comfortable and peaceful night’s sleep. This is true, but unfortunately, some people have trouble sleeping. There are over 100 sleep disorders, and the most common ones are sleep apnea, sleep paralysis and insomnia. Researchers claim that insomnia and depression are closely related. In this article, we will focus on insomnia and depression more pointedly, the treatments involved, causes, the relationship between the two and ways to cope with the conditions.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia can be described as the difficulty or inability to fall or stay asleep. Most, if not, all victims have poor sleeping patterns generally known as the sleep-wake cycle. They experience low energy, fatigue, poor concentration, mood swings, lower productivity, and depression. The two types of insomnia are primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is when an individual has trouble falling asleep without any health issue like diabetes while secondary insomnia is when a person experiences sleep problems because of an underlying health problem like diabetes, asthma, body pains or even depression.

Symptoms of Insomnia

The main symptoms are sleepiness during the day, irritability, fatigue, poor concentration and low productivity at school or work. Do not confuse having a sad day or week as depression which usually leads to insomnia. There are many causes of insomnia; some of which include:

  • Lack of Vitamin D

Usually, light is supposed to wake you up in the morning and when it gets dark is supposed to help you go to sleep. This is all controlled by the circadian, and there are hormones involved. You have a clock in your brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus that is triggered by light and dark. When out in the sunlight, you get more vitamin D, which acts as an anti-depressant. Mostly, during winter months people get more depressed because of the lack of the sunlight. Darkness alleviates the chances of melatonin stimulation. Melatonin as a supplement creates some sense of tiredness, which helps you to sleep better.

  • Lack of Vitamin B1

Make sure you have Vitamin B1. The lack of this vital vitamin leads to excessive restlessness, nervousness, difficulty in winding down at night and excessive thinking. A person suffering from a gastric bypass affects the absorption of B1.

  • Deprivation of essential minerals

Minerals that help one sleep are magnesium, and potassium, as they calm and relax your nervous system. Vegetables are the primary sources of these minerals.

  • Pre-diabetic or diabetic problems

Having insulin resistance, which is a pre-diabetic problem can affect your ability to sleep. For instance, you find yourself waking up numerous times at night to go to the bathroom which disrupts a good night’s sleep. This type of insomnia and depression are mostly related.

  • Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia, which is condition resulting from low blood sugar occurs when an individual wakes up in the middle of the night for no reason. It results from a drop in blood sugars and the stimulation of adrenaline.

  • Digestion

Digestion affects your quality of sleep, especially at night. For instance, if you have dinner and sit in front of the TV and start snacking, by the time you retire to bed you are stuffed. Make sure you do not eat anything substantial.

  • Going outside

Going outside is an effective method when it comes to relaxing the adrenal gland, which is involved in stress and many other issues around sleep.

  • Medication and alcohol

Drugs, psychotropic substances and alcohol are some of the primary sources of insomnia. One thing about insomnia is that it varies on how long it lasts and how frequent it occurs. The short-term one can last only for a few days, and the long-term one can lead to extreme insomnia cases. The causes are not only physical but also psychological. An intense, stressful event like death, sleep deprivation, sleeping in a different bed in a noisy and hot room can increase the effects of this condition. Furthermore, some medicines that alter mood aid to keep your cholesterol levels under control but unfortunately can induce insomnia symptoms. In chronic insomnia cases, the causes are mainly extreme anxiety, body pains, and depression.

  •   Avoid stressful events

There are people in your lives that add more stress than it is necessary. Your health should come first above anything else. Therefore, you should try avoiding stressful events and people even if it means breaking off a relationship.

Ways to deal with Insomnia

You can adopt various ways to reduce the effects of insomnia and to have a better night’s sleep. Preventing or coping with insomnia always goes a long way in managing depression too. The methods below are practical, simple to follow and do not involve drastic changes.

   Treat the underlying cause

The first step is to pinpoint what is making you depressed and sleep-deprived. Ensure you eliminate all things that make you struggle to fall asleep like watching TV late in the night, using your laptop and mobile phones in bed, excessive bedroom heat and noise.

   Have a regular sleep pattern

You should try and sleep at the same time each day. If failing to do so, you have higher chances of insomnia and depression. You tend to wake up full of fatigue causing the rest of the day to be gloomy.

   Do not change your bedroom

Another way to keep insomnia at bay is to use your bedroom and same bed while resting at night. Most people suffering from insomnia claim to shift resting areas frequently and this leads to poor night’s sleep and alertness during the day.

   Avoid stimulants before bed

Never drink coffee and tea or eat chocolate just before you go to bed because they contain caffeine. Caffeine can cause insomnia, restlessness and nervousness, vomiting, stomach irritation, and anxiety. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid such diet at night.

   Engage in calming actions

Read a book to keep your mind free from distractions, anxieties, and overthinking, which are not suitable components of a restful sleep. There are several other ways of getting calm. They include listening to insomnia music, use of insomnia cure app, yoga, and many other relaxing routines.

What is depression?

Depression or depressive disorder is a more prolonged state of sadness than usual or a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression is the main cause of disability in the world. In the United States, close to 10% of adults and over 350 million people worldwide are affected or struggle with depression. However, because it is a mental illness, it can be a lot harder to understand. One primary source of confusion is the difference between having depression and just feeling depressed. Almost everyone has low moments occasionally.

When someone gets a poor grade, retrenchment, arguments, getting rained on, business losses can bring out the feeling of sadness. Sometimes there is no trigger at all. It just comes out from nowhere with zero warnings. Then when the unpleasant circumstances change, the bad feelings you had instantly disappear. Clinical depression is a medical disorder, and it is more difficult to treat it. It lingers for at least two consecutive weeks and significantly interferes with one’s ability to work, play or even show love to someone.

Symptoms of depression

Depression has different symptoms including low mood, loss of interest in things you usually enjoy, appetite changes, feeling worthless or excessively guilty, restlessness, poor concentration, recurring thoughts of suicide, loss of energy and the main is excess or too little sleep (insomnia). According to psychiatric guidelines, you are eligible for a diagnosis of depression, if you have at least five of the above symptoms.

Depression has both physical and behavioral manifestations. Some causes of depression include blunted circadian rhythm or changes in the REM and slow waves parts of your sleep cycle cause. The interaction between the environment and genes has been a close link to a state of distress, but neuroscientists have not found a definite cause. Due to the vague symptoms, it makes it harder for someone to know who is struggling with it and who is not. National Institute of Mental Health studies show it takes the average person with a mental illness over ten years to ask for help.

Depression Treatments

There are ways to treat or lessen the depression state a sufferer has. Medication and therapy complement each other to boost your brain chemicals. Some of the highly recommended depression treatment methods include:

  •  In extreme cases, an electro-convulsing therapy which is controlled seizure in the patient’s brain is quite useful.
  •  Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  •    Talk openly about the condition. Depression can be a nightmare if one is lonely. Discussing with friends, family members or a doctor can help mitigate the instances of getting depressive thoughts.
  • Using medication

Research shows asking someone about suicidal thoughts reduces their suicide risks and erode stigma. There are also several ways of managing depression including the following:

  • Being active and also exercising regularly. Exercises help to regulate the brain chemicals and thus helping to minimize the depressive thoughts. Exercises and being active also give an individual purpose in life thus reducing instances of depressive thoughts.
  • Depression can also be managed by setting achievable targets. Setting lofty targets can be stressful to an individual. Therefore setting targets that can be achieved and celebrating the wins can help to light up your moods.

Relationship between Sleep, Insomnia and Depression

There are high chances that a person suffering from depression will have insomnia. It is not a personality trait or a weakness, and a sufferer should not compare it like a broken arm. Depression is a chemical imbalance that is seen in depression which might also be contributing to insomnia. It is better to treat your depression before treating insomnia. The use of medications such as anti-depressants, talk therapy and having a good sleep behavior might help to cope with your condition. Most patients prefer seeing a psychologist because there is no use of medications.

To conclude, a healthy sleep pattern is significant in your lifestyle. Never self-diagnose yourself if you find yourself suddenly feeling sad. Remember that depression causes insomnia and seeking medication is the first step. Lastly, ensure you have a regular sleep pattern and avoid people or things that create stress in your life.

Top 10 REM and Non-REM Sleeping Disorders

REM and non-REM sleeping disorders

There are numerous sleeping disorders, and some are yet to be discovered. The main reason why people go into in-depth research, doctor’s appointments and spend quite a considerable amount of money is to find a long lasting and immediate solution. Sadly, some disorders do not have a remedy or a cause. In this article, we have in-depth, detailed information on sleep disorders, types, and treatments that could help lessen its effects.

What Is a Sleep Disorder?

Research and medical practitioners describe sleep disorders as any disturbance that affects an individual’s capability to either stay awake during the day or fall asleep at night. No specific age group has more chances of having sleep disorders because it affects all age groups from newborns. If you find yourself tossing and turning all through the night, or have trouble staying awake at daytime, it could be the sign of sleep problems. Studies suggest that almost 70 million Americans suffer from the above disorder and many are unaware of having one. The leading cause of this disorder is insufficient sleep. Any person who is not getting adequate sleep is at a higher risk of having this problem. Many studies have been done, and confirmed sleep is essential to our bodies, not only for physical but also for mental purposes.

5 Stages of Sleep

When we sleep, our bodies automatically go through a process that includes 5 stages of sleep. Stage 1-4 is known as Non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep and Stage 5 REM Sleep. Stage 5 generates more brain activity, and a high percentage of dreaming takes place here. The five stages cycle numerous times throughout the whole night and are essential to rejuvenate and restore your body’s energy. If at one time or another, you find that there is an interruption during sleep, it might lead to disastrous effects. Some of these include memory loss, fatigue, poor coordination and concentration, life-threatening incidences. Remember that exhaustion and tiredness can cause high-risk medical conditions like depression, heart disease, and obesity.

Types of Sleep Disorders

There are over 100 kinds of sleep disorders. The most common is insomnia, which is where people find it difficult to sleep at night. Let us look at the most common sleep disorders widely known, medication and see what causes them.

Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome

The condition is also referred to as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. This condition has little to zero prior symptoms, and anyone can fall victim. Post-mortems show that a higher percentage of the sufferers had previously unknown heart ailments. This disorder was first discovered in the early 1970″s among the Hmong people living in Laos. Medical practitioners noted that healthy Hmong men were dying during sleep at an alarming rate. Because of this, mythology known as dab tsuam came about and people had the belief of a jealous hag-like old woman would sit on the men’s chest at night to ensure breathing stops. The overwhelming feeling is what triggered genetic heart defects later causing their deaths.

Sleep Paralysis

A person wakes up during REM sleep to discover that their body is in paralysis. This also occurs as one is falling asleep. This process/ action can last from a few seconds to several minutes and is often leads to hallucinations and panic attacks. Stress, depression and lack of sleep have all been linked to sleep paralysis but, there is no definite cause of the condition.

The condition occurs in healthy people in addition to people with narcolepsy or hereditary genetic changes. The condition affects 5 percent of people regularly but up to 50 % of the people experience the episodes once in a while.

There is no sure way for prevention with recommendations of not sleeping in the supine position as the most recommended way of prevention. Also as in most other sleeping disorders, having a regular sleeping schedule helps a lot.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

This REM parasomnia prevents an individual’s muscles from paralyzing during sleep. This means that sufferers will act out physically their dreams. They can talk, kick, punch and even walk about as though they are wide awake. Some also punch through the wall at night and end up with broken bones. The disorder occurs more in men (approximately 90%) as compared to women but also occurring in the elderly more.

In 2008, a father of two believed he was fighting off an intruder while asleep. Thomas, unfortunately, strangled his wife to death. Due to his long history of REM disorder and many character references, he was acquitted of his wife’s murder. Your body cycles through REM every 60 to 90 minutes with most of it occurring later in sleep. Anti-depressants and alcohol are the top cause of this problem.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is very dangerous and causes people to stop the breathing cycle through the night, which might lead to death during sleep. Most of the research done on Americans show that approximately 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.

There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea and Central Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where the throat muscles relax, and the airways close while central sleep apnea is when the brain stops relaying messages to your breathing muscles, which cause the victim to forget to breathe.

There are numerous reasons why this disorder prevails. Some include high-blood pressure, smoking and excess weight. A recommendable treatment is the use of air pressure masks that help to regulate breathing. In addition, use of sedatives like Clonazepam and a high-dose of the hormone known as Melatonin can help decrease the effects of this disorder.

Exploding Head Syndrome

Exploding head syndrome is a condition where victims hear loud but imagined noises/sounds when they are on the verge of falling asleep or even waking up. Patients have described the sounds as sounding almost similar to doors slamming, bombs exploding or cars crashing. Muscle spasms and light flashes accompany some of the noises. The above condition is common, and 18% of individuals have an experience of it according to a research conducted by the European Sleep Research Society. What is certain is that the cause is a sudden neural action brought by sleep disruption like jet lag, voluntary lack of sleep or temporary insomnia.

Sexsomnia / Sleep sex

Sexomnia is a condition where patients engage in sexual activities like fondling and masturbation while entirely asleep, with no recollection of their actions and zero control over their body. There was a heated court case in the year 2014 when Mikael Halvarsson from Sweden who accidentally raped his roommate at that time. After character references, sleep studies and medical history the case was overturned as he was a victim of sexsomnia. One cannot fake this disorder as a study done at Case Medical Center in Cleveland because studies and medical history of the sufferer prove of its existence.

Narcolepsy

A person’s sleep-wake cycle is essential. If at any moment, disruptions come about, it can lead to unpleasant side-effects. Narcolepsy disrupts your brain’s capability of regulating the sleep-wake cycle. In some cases, someone experiences excessive sleeping at daytime, unnecessary disruptions during the night, poor concentration and memory loss problems. Furthermore, extreme narcoleptics are at a higher risk of sleep attacks because the unexpectedly fall asleep during mid-task. Also, other sufferers have cataplexy which is whereby strong emotions trigger loss of your muscle tone and leads to collapsion. Over 3 million individuals suffer from the above disorder.

Sleep-Related Eating Disorder

I know most of you have heard of people who love snacking at midnight which is commonly known as a midnight snack. Some people might confuse this disorder offers uncontrollable food cravings that make the affected to have no sense of control over their habits and never have a memory of even leaving their beds. The most common victims are middle-aged women. Junk foods and sugary snacks are the most binged-on items, but there are cases where people eat weird things like cat food, cigarette butts or salt sandwiches.

Kleine Levin Syndrome\Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

The above disorder affects teenage boys. A sufferer can sleep up to 23 hours in a day non-stop or even some sleep for days. When they wake up, they usually have increased sexual drives and hunger. One good thing about this disorder is that it occurs over a few years with a few months break in between the episodes. The cause is unknown until now although 2/3 of sufferers confirm they had viral infections before the disorder commenced. The symptoms reduce by the use of a mood stabilizer lithium.

Fatal Familial Insomnia

This disorder is one of the rarest affecting only 40 families globally. The sleeping disorder is caused by a rare genetic brain disease. The first process is struggling to sleep for a few months, weight loss and also panic attacks. Later on, as the disease progresses, victims fall into total physical and mental deterioration. The brain suddenly does not remember how to sleep which in some cases leads to death or comas. Carriers of these genes can pass the genes unknowingly to their offsprings because it manifests at child-bearing age.

Although there is no definite treatment for a sleeping behavior disorder, there are ways; one can reduce the chances of injuries. Some of these include moving the bed away from the window, moving lamps and other items away from the bed, working with your doctor to determine which type you have, medication reduces movement and extreme action. A patient should take it at the right time and prescribed amount. On the other hand, lifestyle changes can be a great way to deal with sleeping behavior disorder. Demanding lifestyle makes it harder for anyone to control the disorder. Ensure you reduce stress by doing friendly activities like cozying up on the couch, watching a movie, reading a book or even listening to soothing music. In addition, setting up and sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help.

Valerian root: A safe and effective herbal sleep aid?

Valerian root effectiveness and safety

Is Valerian root safe and effective sleeping aid?

Sleeplessness, stress and anxiety are major problems that many people in different parts of the world struggle to overcome. If you are in this category most probably, you have tried everything to get the quality of sleep you desire. With the sleeplessness becoming a common concern, there are different sleep aids that are brought into the market almost every day but do they all work? How can you know which is the best for your sleep? Normally, it is advisable to understand how a product works, its uses, as well as the expected sided effects before trying it. Herbal supplements for sleep aid have also found their way into the market. One such product is the valerian herbal supplement, which is now commonly used in combating stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Valerian is an all-natural remedy obtained from the roots of valerian plan and it is available different forms. How does it work to deal with insomnia, how effective and safe is valerian root?

For years, the valerian root has been incorporated in natural remedies. This can be traced back to the Romans and Greeks when the components of valerian plant were used in brewing medicinal tea. However, presently, valerian is available in dietary capsule or pill forms. In this article, we carry a comprehensive analysis of valerian root. Also we will explore its use in dealing with sleeplessness. Finally we will establish establish whether valerian root is safe and effective as a sleep aid?

How valerian root works

Valerian is an herb that is found in most parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. The roots are considered to have the medicinal elements. Although it is commonly used for combating insomnia, people with psychological stress and anxiety also use it. Understanding the principle behind the use of this plant can help you determine whether it is ideal for you. According to several clinical studies conducted to evaluate the efficient of valerian root in promoting sleep, it seemingly acts as a sedative to the brain. It stimulates the GABA receptor of the brain, which is considered a neurological gateway for the chemicals that induce sleep on an individual. The working of valerian is similar to how most other sleep aids containing benzodiazepines as well as those, which do not contain benzodiazepine, work in fighting lack of sleep. In spite of its popularity in combating insomnia, there is no concrete scientific proof on its neurological effects on the brain.

Use of valerian root as a sleep aid

Despite the fact that there are conflicting research on the use of valerian root as a sleep aid, a large number of the studies indicate that this product has the ability of reducing the amount time one takes to sleep significantly. Most studies show that taking valerian can reduce the fall-asleep time by between 15 and 20 minutes. In addition, it is considered a great supplement in the improvement of the quality of sleep.

Valerian sleep aid can be used in different forms including as valerian tea, pills or capsules, and tinctures. Though inconclusive, reports from the National Institute of Health have showed that the use of valerian, in any form, improves sleep latency and quality among people with mild insomnia.

While valerian can be great relief to your insomnia, it is important to ensure that you take it as expected. Do not just get the word from the internet that valerian root is good for combating sleeplessness and purge into it –it is important to consult a qualified practitioner and follow the dosage. It is only advisable swallow a whole piece of valerian capsule –do not open, break, chew, or crush it. In case you have a forthcoming surgery, it is recommendable to stop the intake of valerian root for about two weeks before the scheduled day of the surgery.

Effectiveness of Valerian root as a sleep aid

According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, valerian root is ‘generally safe’. In addition, a research carried out in Portugal comprising of trials going over a span of 10 years noted that Valerian root is well tolerated and safe though it has benign and infrequent side effects.

In an interview, Dr. Dick Middleton, the chairperson of the British Herbal Medical Association pointed out that valerian is useful as a reliever of anxiety commonly known to cause insomnia. He also added that there are researches that have been carried out, which highlight the usefulness of the herb in improving sleep quality. Just like any other medicine, the doctor noted that valerian can cause side effects. Nevertheless, Middleton was quick to interject that side effects resulting from the intake of Valerian are significantly mild and rare.

For better results and low cases of side effects, Dr. Dick advised that Valerian is best taken on a regular basis for a maximum of two or four weeks. While there are no cases of harm reported following prolonged use of Valerian, it is important to consult with a physician in case you do not see any signs of improvement after taking for the recommended period.

Valerian side effects

Even though Valerian root has been used for years to combat sleeplessness, a number of people experience diverse side effects. For example, the drugs.com and the National Institutes of Health pointed out the following as the common side effects experienced by people who take valerian root as a sleep aid:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea/stomach upset
  • Itchy skin
  • The opposite effect – insomnia, excitement, and restlessness
  • Daytime sleepiness (in cases of larger doses)

Things to consider

While there are numerous studies that advocate for the use of Valerian in combating sleeplessness but reducing the amount of time you need to fall asleep as well as enhance the quality of your sleep, it is important to note that most of these studies have focused majorly on one species of valerian plan –the Valeriana officinalis. In some studies, there have been contrasting results about the efficiency of valerian as a sleep aid, which calls for carefulness.

Here are a few aspects to consider before takin valerian supplement for your sleeplessness:

  • Lifestyle habits:

There are concerns that a majority of the reported cases of lack of sleep are associated with individuals’ lifestyle habits. For example, people who take much caffeine late in the day are likely to take much time before falling into sleep. In other cases, lack of regular exercise, poor sleep schedule may affect your ability to sleep easily. In addition, you can consider adopting the cognitive behavioral therapy where you do not worry about failing to sleep and focus on positive thoughts.

  • Research how the product works:

Most product claims might not be true, which calls for careful investigation to understand how the product works. It is not advisable to believe on everything the marketing team of the product tells you –read widely and use objective, evidence-based researches on the claims of the products. A good place to find such information is sites such as the National Institutes of Health among others.

  • Occurrence of side effects:

Despite the fact that valerian is considered fairly safe, it is not exempted from side effects like sleeplessness, stomach upsets, dizziness, or even headaches. In addition, it is not advisable to take valerian if you are pregnant, have liver disease, or give children under 3 years of age.

  • Interactions with other drugs:

Valerian has a probability of increasing the how other sleep aids function. There are concerns that it increases the sedative effect of drugs in the class of depressants like narcotics, benzodiazepines and alcohol. In addition, it can cause interference to some medications.

  • Visit a doctor:

Before you can start your valerian dose, it is important to get expertise opinion and advice. Talking to a qualified physician is necessary to get a glimpse of what to expect after you start taking valerian, or even in determining whether it is necessary for your case. A doctor’s opinion is most needed especially when you are taking other supplements or medication because there might be possible interactions with other drugs which can be dangerous.

Is valerian root the solution for your insomnia?

Many people tend to ignore their lack of sleep, or disturbed sleep conditions and instead subscribe to all sorts of sleep aids. Insomnia, if persistent, is an indication of a serious problem like a psychological or medical condition, or even poor sleeping habits. As such, if you are having continuous insomnia, it is advisable to visit a qualified doctor to help you establish the main cause of the insomnia as well as the possible treatment plan. In case you start taking valerian root, make sure that you observe for side effects as well as other reactions that may occur and speak to a doctor should you see some unexpected changes. Otherwise, if the past researches are something to go by, valerian root is a safe and effective herbal sleep aid. However, just like any other medications, there will be those occasional after effects that might not go as expected but make sure that you do not assume anything. Seek medical interpretation as soon as you start experiencing any side effects after taking this herbal sleep aid.

How Much Melatonin Can You Take To Sleep Optimally

How Much Melatonin Can You Take To Sleep

Melatonin is an excellent sleeping supplement for insomnia. However, how much melatonin can you take every night? Does melatonin have a dosage? If one takes an overdose of melatonin, what happens? And does melatonin as a sleeping aid have any side effects?

How much melatonin can I take?

Melatonin as a sleeping supplement should be taken at least half (½) an hour before going to bed. The right dose is 0.3 to 5 mg tablet or capsule either alone in a combination every night. However, the lesser the amount of melatonin that is taken for insomnia the better for you. In most cases, melatonin is sold as an anti-oxidant.

In some supplements like in Lunar Sleep aid, it is used in combination with other supplements for optimal sleep. The combination of several supplements enables the product to use less amounts of melatonin and other supplements but leveraging on the combination for better effects.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin: How Much melatonin can I take?

How Much melatonin can you take?

Melatonin is a normal body hormone produced in the pineal gland. This gland which is positioned adjacently to the top of the middle of the human brain. It is normally pea sized. The hormone is very useful in regulating sleep-wakefulness cycle.

The brain therefore produces more melatonin during night time to enable the person to have optimal sleep. The gland produces melatonin depending on the amount of light we get every day. In this regard, the body start producing elevated levels of the hormone as the sun is setting and the amount reduces significantly once the sun rises. The amount of melatonin produced is also regulated by the body sleep-wake clock.

The melatonin used for treatment of insomnia is either derived from the amount produced by pineal gland or is synthetically made. Melatonin for the purpose of treatment is available in liquid, tablet, lozenges, creams and sublingual form. The melatonin supplements are used to increase the levels of the hormone in the blood for good sleep. The question is always, how much melatonin can you take to sleep well.

How long should I take melatonin for?

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body. It is recommended for short term purposes. All studies have not found a reason why it should not be used in the long term. However, as in other sleeping supplements, long term use is not recommended.

At low doses of 0.3 mg to 2 mg, the hormone can be used for periods of up to 9 months. However, dependency on the drug for us to get sleep should never be ruled out. This is a situation where we only get a good sleep if we take melatonin supplements.

Increase in doses especially for other causes of lack of sleep means that the medication should be taken for a lesser time. For doses up to 12 mg, melatonin is recommended for short term use. The recommended period is up to 4 weeks.

Melatonin is excellent for most sleep disorders where one cannot get to sleep well. However in jet lag or work shift changes melatonin helps but not as effectively as in other sleeping disorders. It offers excellent results in delayed sleep phase syndrome, most cases of insomnia and in other mental problems leading to lack/ loss of sleep.

For the right use and how much melatonin can you take, I recommend that you see your doctor. A sleep physician always assesses the sleeping problem and also tests the amount of melatonin in the body to be able to recommend the right amount of melatonin for you to use.

Melatonin is however not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers not unless the benefits outweigh the potential effects to the baby. The hormone can be taken by these two cohorts only when advised by the doctor.

Can one overdose on melatonin? Can melatonin overdose kill?

There are side effects associated with an overdose of melatonin. However, with melatonin being a normal body hormone, there is no limit to the amount of melatonin above which an overdose occurs. This means that there is no approved safe dose for all people.

Melatonin however, should not be given to children without a prescription. This is because doses ranging even from 1 to 5 mg of melatonin can cause complications in children including seizures.

The common side effects of an overdose as quoted commonly include having a hangover feeling, hypothermia, drowsiness during the day and lower than normal libido. These side effects therefore means that the safe limit should be adhered to and a lower dose is recommended in most people.

Other effects seen in people who have overdosed on melatonin include:

  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety, depression and general irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Joint pains
  • Tremor
  • Lethargy
  • Eye problems
  • Liver problems
  • Speech Impediment
  • Psychotic Thought Patterns

Forms in which melatonin is presented

Melatonin is available in several forms. It can be taken as a liquid, tablet, capsule or even sublingual. The different forms have different advantages and disadvantages:

Liquid melatonin

Liquid melatonin is available in the market today for faster onset of the sleep effects. The liquid has the following pros:

  • Is easily consumed as compared to the tablets or capsules.
  • Is absorbed faster to the blood stream hence reducing the time span between uptake and onset of the effects. This is because it is absorbed by the mouth mucosa thus travelling in a few minutes (3-10 minutes) to the brain.
  • It offers a soothing effect during uptake as compared to tablets or capsules.
  • Only a small amount of the liquid is required to offer the relief from insomnia. Only 1 to 4 drops of the 1mg dosage is taken.

Disadvantages

  • It has more side effects because it is absorbed faster. This causes an abrupt increase of the hormone in the body hence increasing the likelihood of side effects.
  • It does not remain in the body for long since it is fully absorbed very fast. This fast absorption leads to faster elimination from the body too.

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The tablet/ capsule melatonin

This is the most common form of melatonin sold in the market today. The form has its advantages including:

  • It is the most preferred method of drugs uptake.
  • Its effects lasts for longer once they start.
  • They are portable.

Disadvantages of tablet/ capsule melatonin

  • Its effects takes longer to set in. This is because it takes 20 to 30 minutes for the capsule or tablet to be digested. It means that the melatonin is absorbed from the stomach onwards in the gut/ GIT.
  • To limit the amount of melatonin taken is a bit hard as a capsule or tablet is harder to consume in smaller quantities (it is not possible to break the capsule into smaller sizes).

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Melatonin is also available in sublingual form.

 Why should I take melatonin instead of the sleeping pills?

There are several reasons for you to use melatonin or melatonin natural supplements rather than use sleeping pills. These include:

  • Melatonin is non-addictive whereas the sleeping pills are very addictive leaving the users needing an increased dose of sleeping pills in order to sleep.
  • It is a natural supplement.
  • Melatonin acts by boosting the levels of melatonin produced by the body.
  • It does not have many associated side effects.

Why should I prefer sleeping pills as compared to using melatonin supplements?

  • Melatonin should sparingly be taken during the day to ensure you do not destabilize the normal body sleeping clock the sleep cycle. Sleeping pills can however be taken during the day.
  • Sleeping pills can be taken a few minutes before sleep whereas for maximum benefits of melatonin supplements, they have to be taken at least 30 minutes before sleeping.

Other uses of melatonin in the body

Melatonin is very effective in helping all people get relief from insomnia and other sleep deficiency disorders. It gives people sleep when taken at least 30 minutes before sleep.

In addition to treatment of insomnia and other sleep deficiency disorders, melatonin is very useful in the following body disorders:

  • Melatonin helps in the growth of bones.
  • It helps in menopause associated irregular sleep patterns
  • Alzheimer’s disease induced sleeping disorders
  • Bipolar disorder associated sleeping problems
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Useful in managing chemotherapy and radiotherapy effects in people with cancer.
  • Depression and stress associated sleeping disorders
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Can melatonin be used in infants; what is the dose for infants and adults?

Melatonin in ChildrenAs prescribed to me by my physician and after consulting several sleep medicine doctors, melatonin should be taken in the least possible dose as possible. Taking the supplement at least half an hour before sleep to enable it to be absorbed and regulated in the body works well.

The dose however can be increased gradually to the level that offers good sleep. However a dose above 10 mg is never recommended although it is generally safe up to 30mg. The uptake of high doses of melatonin can disrupt the circadian rhythm hence making it harder to sleep.

The general problems treated with melatonin and their doses are as found below:

  • To help you fall asleep a dose of between 0.3 to 10 mg should be taken starting with the lowest dose possible.
  • For older adults treatment of insomnia a dose of 0.1 to 5 mg is generally enough to relieve the insomnia.
  • In people experiencing jet lag a dose of between 0.1 to 8 mg should be taken as proximal as possible to bed time.
  • For periodic limb movement induced sleeplessness or restless leg syndrome a dose of 3 mg should be used.

In children and infants the medication should only be taken as guided by the physician.

What are the side effects of melatonin supplements?

Melatonin is generally safe to use because it is produced normally in the body by the pineal glands. This means at the right dosage, melatonin is well tolerated. However some side effects especially with taking of high doses have been found.

The side effects associated melatonin vary from person to person. These side effects are majorly similar to the effects of overdose. It has also been associated with hypotension (lower blood pressure) and reduced estrogen production. Abdominal cramps are also seen in some individuals as well as sleep terrors. In addition some people have reported allergic reactions.

What drugs and other substances should not be taken with melatonin?

Melatonin has interactions with other drugs and substances. Drug interactions are when a drug is taken it amplifies or minimizes the effects of another drug hence either reducing the effectiveness or making it hazardous. That reaction varies from drug to drug and melatonin reacts with a few drugs.

Can you take melatonin with caffeine or alcohol?

Melatonin should not be taken with alcohol or caffeine. These two substances interfere with the sleep-wake cycle and thus reduce the normal production of melatonin in the body.

Can you take melatonin with birth control pills?

Birth control pills interact with melatonin production and thus their uptake simultaneously may cause the body to produce excess melatonin. The increased melatonin production and the supplements taken lead to having elevated levels of melatonin. This level might even be harmful.

Can you take melatonin with blood thinners?

Anti-coagulants such as warfarin if taken with melatonin can increase the risk of bleeding. Melatonin is also a blood thinner and incase of bleeding or bruises the effects are amplified.

Melatonin and other sedatives

Taking melatonin and other sedatives can cause excessive sleepiness. The sedatives including clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam and others may lead you feeling groggy, disoriented and even confused.

Melatonin and corticosteroids

Melatonin should be avoided if an individual takes corticosteroids used for rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. The immunosuppressants taken for these conditions are contraindicated with melatonin. Sleeping well and adequately boosts the immune system and this reacts negatively to melatonin which works by reducing the immune responses. Therefore it is not recommended to take immunosuppressants with melatonin.

Other drugs that interact with melatonin include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Apirin
  • Diabetes medication including insulin
  • Drugs for narcotic pain
  • Stomach drugs including Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Zofran (ondansetron)
  • Hypertension or hypotension drugs.
  • Heart medications
  • Antipsychotics

In conclusion here is a summary guide for the uptake of melatonin in pregnant women, infants children, adults and older people.

  1. Melatonin should only be taken by pregnant women or lactating women if the benefits far outweigh the possible effects. This should be guided by a physician and checks should be done regularly to ascertain the health of the baby.
  2. How much melatonin can you take? Lower doses of melatonin should be taken and increase in dosage should be monitored to avoid side effects or overdose.
  3. The drug should be used in the short term where possible and up to 9 months of the medication can be taken if low doses are taken.
  4. Melatonin overdose is possible with general body problems. The uptake of high doses can interfere with the circadian sleep rhythm thus leading to dependency.
  5. Children and infants in most cases can not tolerate the drugs and if needed their doses should be as low as possible.
  6.  Melatonin interacts with several drugs and thus should be taken with caution or avoided all together when one is taking other medication. 
  7. Alcohol and caffeine affect the efficiency of melatonin and should be avoided when the supplements are taken.
  8. Melatonin can be used together with other supplements to provide a better quality sleep.