Sleeping Pills Raise Risk of Dying and Cancer

Do you or any of your friends take sleeping pills?  If so, you’re in good company.  About 6-10% of Americans use sleeping pills for better snoozing, and that number is on the rise these days.


A recent study conducted in the United States found that those who use sleeping pills were 4.6 times more likely to die within a 2.5 year time frame.  The study estimated that sleeping pills may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 excess deaths in the United States alone in 2010.  Note:  This information establishes an association, not a cause, but it raises a major health concern. sleeping pills, sleeping pills and death, sleeping pills and cancer,

She Comes For Us In The Night

So we’ve been having this sleep problem at our house over the past six months.  At some point in the middle of the night, Savanna pads into our room and appears at my side of the bed.  She’s like a fuzzy little ghost-I never hear her coming into our room-and she rubs my arm and waits until I pull her into the bed, where she sleeps between Mike an I until morning.  The fact that she  “packs up” before leaving her room because she arrives with her pillow, blanket, and a stuffed animal in hand is something that I find hilarious. She knows how to time her arrival meticulously well, right around the time I enter the deepest sleep ever slept.  So I just toss her over at some point in the night-sometimes I remember it and sometimes I don’t-and then the crazy part happens:  she turns into a giant.   Continue reading “She Comes For Us In The Night” »

How to Sleep Better Tonight

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep?  Or worse yet, you wake up in the middle of the night and just lay there for hours?  I remember having this problem after my daughter was born.  Though I was terribly exhausted and desperate for sleep, I would lay there for hours unable to fall asleep!  I occasionally have early morning awakenings, usually when I have a lot going on during the week.  Nowadays, I have a few tricks in my pocket to fix the problem. Continue reading “How to Sleep Better Tonight” »

How to Reverse the Brain Changes Caused By Chronic Stress

What causes you stress?  Your health? Bills? Work? Family?  Chronic stress puts serious wear and tear on our bodies over time, but did you know that chronic stress can change your brain?  Thanks to research in this area, we’re learning more and more about the ways in which this happens.  The good news is this:  we can reverse all of these negative brain changes with exercise.

Below are a list of conclusions drawn from research on this topic.  In bold italics, I have added the counterpart conclusion from research on exercise and the brain.  Just a few more reasons to exercise this morning. Continue reading “How to Reverse the Brain Changes Caused By Chronic Stress” »

13 Reasons to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Whenever we go out to dinner, I can’t help but notice that the sweetener packets still consist of all three colors:  pink, blue, yellow. Here are my top 13 reasons you should avoid all of them.

1. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) can deplete your serotonin levels via phenylalanine, an amino acid. Serotonin helps you stay happy and satiated and when depleted, we feel anxious, irritable, sad, and sleepless.  We also tend to crave carbohydrates.   Unless you want to feel pissed off and fat at the same time, avoid aspartame. Continue reading “13 Reasons to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners” »

How to Be Happy

I am reposting this article from Thanksgiving because this topic is so important.  So many people use antidepressant medications before learning about the power of our behaviors to create healthy, happy moods.  If you haven’t read this yet, enjoy-if you have, it’s worth the read again.  Ciao!

I was talking with one of my girlfriends yesterday, and she told me that most of her friends use antidepressant or anxiety medications.  I was amazed to hear that one of her friends uses both Cymbalta and Adderall, and is trying to discontinue using her Cymbalta.  Yikes.  We all know someone who uses this type of medication, but how many people really understand how these work and what we can do on our own to create similar changes in mood related neurotransmitters?

Continue reading “How to Be Happy” »

How to Sleep Better

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep?  Or worse yet, you wake up in the middle of the night and just lay there for hours?  Maybe you wake up early in the morning and can’t fall back to sleep (if so, cut out alcohol before bed time).  Here are some simple ways that you can change your behaviors and add some nutrients to improve your sleep.

Chronic stress can create nutritional deficits, which can cause and perpetuate sleep problems.  For example, Vitamin B12 deficits are associated with problems falling and staying asleep because this vitamin plays an important role in converting serotonin to melatonin.   Continue reading “How to Sleep Better” »

How to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s February.  This is the exact time of year when many people start to feel the winter blues.   The holiday season has come and gone, and Spring isn’t quite here yet.  Do you feel a little “blah” or even down?  Do you find yourself reaching for the chips, or craving carbs during the winter?  Do you sleep more or feel tired more often?

You are not alone, my friend.  I’ve been there, as have most of us who live in areas with seasonal changes.  You can fix this with a few simple, daily steps this winter.

During the winter time, our days get much shorter and we get less sunlight.  This is the time of year when most people’s Vitamin D3 levels reach it’s lowest levels of the year.  Since Vitamin D3 is closely related to serotonin production, this means that some people begin to feel down, anxious, or just plain terrible.

Here are some easy things that you can do to put a little more color in your Winter and bring Spring a little closer!
Continue reading “How to Beat the Winter Blues” »

Mood, Neurotransmitters, and How to Change Your Chemistry

We hear about neurotransmitters and SSRIs on a daily basis, but what are they, exactly?

Here is a great metaphor for understanding neurotransmitters and mood.  Think of a light switch and a dimmer.  You turn the dimmer up to turn up the light intensity, and vice versa to decrease it.  The light represents neurotransmission (the messaging route) while the dimmer feature is the neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger like serotonin).  Neurotransmission is to the light what neurotransmitters are to the dimmer.
Continue reading “Mood, Neurotransmitters, and How to Change Your Chemistry” »

Cortisol, Running, and Weight Loss

Did you know that long distance running increases cortisol levels?  You’ve heard of cortisol, the stress related hormone that causes your body to hang onto unwanted fat pounds, right?  And you know that those pounds usually hang out in the worst of places-your stomach area.  How frightening, but there is a way that you can curtail the effects of cortisol.

Continue reading “Cortisol, Running, and Weight Loss” »