Aging Is Officially A Disease

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

The search for eternal life isn’t new, but how far we’ve come from the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth and the hidden valley of Shangri-La, is truly a sign of the times. Today, the crossroads meet between the natural tendency to find an easy way out, and the seductive promise of profits. The quest is on for how to put longevity in a pill.

CLASSIFYING AGE AS A DISEASE MEANS INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL COVER TREATMENT. THE FDA JUST PAVED THE WAY.

Two years ago, investigators convinced the FDA to green light a human lifespan study of Metformin, a drug currently used as first-line treatment for blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes, and off-label for polycystic ovary syndrome, weight control and cancer prevention. If successful, Metformin will be the first drug to be FDA-approved for the indication of aging, but it won’t be the last. With a potential audience of 7½ billion people worldwide, pharmaceutical companies will race to fund clinical trials for discovery of new, more expensive drugs.

High levels of blood sugar and insulin are important factors in degenerative disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and aging. Metformin lowers blood sugar, which in turn, lowers insulin levels and insulin resistance. The drug intrigues researchers because its protective effect on aging goes beyond the power to control sugar and insulin.

EVERYTHING METFORMIN CAN AND MIGHT DO FOR HEALTHY AGING CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH LIFESTYLE CHOICES.

The TAME Study (Targeting Aging With Metformin) began in 2016, aiming to enroll 3,000 seniors, ages 70 - 80, and study them for 5 - 7 years. Study subjects can have or be at risk for any or all of 3 common aging conditions: cancer, heart disease, and dementia. The question is whether Metformin can delay or prevent cancer, heart disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes and death in non-diabetics. If it does, the obvious next step is to test it for use in much younger people.

Clues about Metformin's role in anti-aging come from studies of fruit flies, roundworms and mice. Most of the credit goes to an enzyme few people have heard of, AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase). AMPK regulates how cells process energy, which, when working well, helps prevent all of the chronic diseases associated with aging, and aging itself. The goal is to activate AMPK to gain its benefits and live a healthier, longer life.

AMPK Benefits For Healthspan And Lifespan:
  • Increases metabolism
  • Burns fat and sugar / Weight loss                
  • Improves body composition
  • Increases blood flow
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Cell detoxification and renewal

IS METFORMIN THE ANTI-AGING MIRACLE DRUG RESEARCHERS HOPE FOR, OR WILL IT GO THE WAY OF OTHER FDA "MIRACLES" BEFORE IT? FEN-PHEN, VIOXX, MERIDIA, BAYCOL AND DES ARE JUST A FEW THAT COME TO MIND.

There is good reason for skepticism:

    ~Aging is a chronic, inflammatory process that leads to a loss of structure and function, impairing both healthspan and lifespan. Aging is best addressed with health and longevity promoting strategies, not disease prevention.


    ~Aging is multifactorial. Elements that benefit or harm longevity work together in synergy. The magic bullet approach, focusing on one aspect of disease, works for simple problems like treating a strep throat with penicillin, but disappoints for complex chronic disorders and aging. It has failed over and over, but investigators refuse to let it go.


    ~Every drug has side effects and risks that must be weighed against its benefits. Metformin carries a black box warning for the rare, but real, risk of developing lactic acidosis, a potentially fatal build up of lactate in the blood, especially for anyone with reduced kidney function. More common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and drowsiness. Let's don't forget the "inactive ingredients" that act as toxic counterweights to any drug benefits. Metformin's inactives include titanium dioxide, polyethylene glycols and synthetic black iron oxides, among others.


    ~Metformin may promote Alzheimer's Disease. Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer's, so researchers assume drugs that treat diabetes will prevent dementia. Unfortunately, studies link long term Metformin use to a greater risk of developing AD and worsening its progression. One study proposed this occurs because the drug increases production of beta-amyloid, a protein universally recognized as a hallmark of Alzheimer's.


    ~Metformin may accelerate existing cancer and cancer-related mortality by promoting AMPK-induced cellular uptake of glucose, which effectively feeds the tumors cells. Aspirin, a more widely used drug than Metformin, also activates AMPK and may be a safer choice if going the drug route.

    Generally, when something sounds too good to be true, it is. Activating AMPK promotes longevity, but isolating one strategy from the context in which it normally occurs is like a game of Jenga: disrupt the delicate balance and the whole thing falls apart.

    There is a better way.

    NATURAL ANTI-AGING APPROACHES EXIST AND HAVE BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY VALIDATED. THEY TAKE COMMITMENT AND THEY'RE NOT EASY, BUT THEY AVOID THE INEVITABLE DOWNSIDE OF CHRONIC DRUG USE. THEY ACTIVATE AMPK AND ITS INTERRELATED SYSTEMS.

    Calorie restriction is the most successful method of slowing and reversing markers of aging. The idea is to lower calorie intake a moderate amount to induce a healthy level of stress that strengthens cells and organs, but not so much as to cause malnutrition. The ongoing CALERIE study is monitoring healthy individuals committed to a 25% reduction in caloric intake. So far, results are promising.

    Intermittent fasting (also known as "time-restricted feeding") is an alternative to calorie restriction. Confining eating to an 8 to 12 hour daily window reduces inflammation and free radical damage, and has been shown to fight dementia, cancer and promote longevity.

    Exercise uses up energy, which activates AMPK. High intensity, short interval exertion is especially effective. Muscle contraction during both aerobics and weight training stimulates AMPK and increases insulin sensitivity.

    Cold water immersion after exercise enhances AMPK and cellular renewal. Going from the sauna into the plunge pool, or taking an ice cold shower after a workout are easy ways to practice cold shock.

    Healthy eating habits activate AMPK. Go for a well rounded diet of unprocessed, organic, highly colorful foods including:

    • turmeric
    • legumes
    • green tea
    • red wine
    • blueberries
    • EVOO

    Get good sleep. Impaired quality and/or quantity of sleep is incompatible with long term health. For example, obstructive sleep apnea is related to a 20% reduction in life expectancy, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, earlier than average age of onset of memory disorders and cognitive impairment. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, activates AMPK and cellular rejuvenation, protecting against cardiovascular and other sleep deprivation related disorders.

    Acupuncture is effective in treating obesity and improving cognitive function. It upregulates AMPK in the hippocampus, the brain center for short term memory and ground zero for the development of Alzheimer's Disease.

    These and other natural anti-aging strategies are consistently practiced in Blue Zones, unrelated regions around the globe where the most long-lived people are found. Drugs and "longevity genes" are not the reason this Guinness World Record-worthy group boasts a large number of centenarians. Their way of life is the secret sauce for extending healthspan and lifespan.

    Whatever your age, it's never too late for a healthy system reboot. Start now by adopting a lifestyle game plan that promotes healthy longevity.

    Next stop, Methuselah.

    Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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      Don't Fear The Reaper: Lessons From The Epigenetic Clock

      Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

      Epigenetics is the study of how lifestyle, environment and other factors can flip the switch on genes, allowing them either to express or be silenced. To model this effect and quantify healthy aging, researchers use the epigenetic clock, which predicts chronologic age by measuring DNA-based markers of biologic age. When epigenetic markers predict a chronologic age that’s higher than true age, the DNA is said to be "age accelerated." Age acceleration increases the risk of chronic diseases and shortens lifespan. The epigenetic age of centenarians, as a group, is lower than their chronologic age by almost nine years, making them superstars of successful aging.

      The Horvath Clock is a highly accurate tool for measuring how well epigenetics is working. It predicts life expectancy and has been applied to multiple tissues and organs to develop strategies to optimize healthy aging. It links age acceleration to the development of cancer, immune disorders, obesity and Alzheimer’s Disease. Stress, by producing steroid hormones, is an epigenetic factor that makes the clock tick faster.

      Epigenetics debunks the genes-are-destiny dogma and can be used to shape a healthy aging action plan. For example, menopause, which is known to accelerate epigenetic aging, is commonly characterized by weight gain, sleep disturbance and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. The action plan for menopause should include regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and 6 - 8 hours of daily sleep, all of which are modifiable epigenetic factors. The trick is to harness the benefits of robust behaviors, lifestyle and environmental inputs that drive epigenetics to lower biologic age, protect health and promote wellness.

      Some people look great for their age, others are mistaken for someone much older. Some people “feel” their age, others don’t. Why not act to beat the clock?

      Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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      3 Common Aging Myths

      Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

      Guest Blog by Steven Carney

      Almost daily, we hear media outlets repeat myths about aging, health and disease. And often, these aging myths are based on old studies, assumptions and unproven beliefs. Sadly, many adults have adopted these myths as well.

       

      These media stories simply assume that age itself automatically brings a decline in health and vitality (as opposed to daily lifestyle and health practices). It’s believed that aging is a cause health problems and disease. As you will soon see, these are largely false beliefs. Here are 3 common myths about aging, health and chronic disease:

      1. It’s normal to gain weight with age

      This is an important myth to address first because it’s so pervasive. Many people assume that adding a few pounds a year after age 35 or 40 is inevitable. It’s not! Consistent weight gain reflects an unhealthy, unbalanced lifestyle, including key areas like nutrition, a lack of activity, chronic stress, poor sleep, etc. Gaining pounds reflects a lifestyle that is not aligned with an individual’s physical and emotional needs.

      What’s more, excess weight can increase the risk for a whole range of health conditions and chronic diseases. That extra weight, especially at the waistline and abdominal area (visceral fat), is metabolically active. Those fat cells want more food, and they also pump out inflammatory chemicals (cytokines). They also increase insulin resistance (insulin is less effective at moving glucose to cells, keeping blood sugar high), and alter a range of critical hormonal balances, from insulin to estrogen.

      For women, these problems increase the risk for a host of diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (especially breast cancer). The risks are similar for men, with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and hormonal changes that are less masculine.

      Although age can bring a gradual decrease in various hormones starting in the 30s, it’s mostly because people don’t keep their hormones at a more youthful level. Without adjusting an individual’s lifestyle with age, those hormonal imbalances can increase over many years. Unfortunately, too many adults don’t make the right adjustments to their diets, activity and other lifestyle habits until they are overweight and develop bad screening tests or symptoms.

      Put simply, unhealthy lifestyle choices are the primary driver for weight gain and other chronic health problems. And the biggest offenders are processed junk/fast foods that are so pervasive now. Many have added sugar, refined-carbs and cheap, highly processed veggie oils (omega-6 veggie oils, which increase inflammation), and a list of additives and preservatives.

      Sugar and refined carbs (bread, rolls, pasta, donuts, cookies, cake, candy, etc.) will digest quickly because they lack fiber and micro-nutrients like vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Sugar and refined carbs will often reach the bloodstream in under an hour, causing blood sugar spikes and triggering the release of insulin to lower those toxic levels of glucose.

      High glucose also raises triglycerides, triggers inflammation, and small, dense LDL particles (think atherosclerosis). They also cause significant swings in energy and mood. For many adults, this becomes a daily pattern of ups and downs: Sugar and refined carbs cause more cravings because they increase neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which drop with the release of insulin.

       When glucose levels drop, people feel tired and crave another quick fix: more carbs. It’s a vicious cycle of cravings and withdrawal as your energy jumps and crashes! Sugar is toxic in the amounts many people consume daily. Sugar is destructive to stable energy, hormones, brain function, inflammation and long-term health!

      To manage better glucose levels, reach for more whole, healthy foods and snacks, such nuts/seeds, veggies, greens, whole, unprocessed fruits, lean proteins (chicken and fish), healthy fats (olive or coconut oil), and switch to tea, water or coffee instead of sodas of juice. Add a quality, bioavailable, multi-vitamin/mineral and you’ll be doing yourself a big favor (did you know that you need vitamins and minerals to properly digest and metabolize food and boost energy levels?). Add additional supplements as needed. By making better choices, you will start to drop excess weight and boost energy!

      1. It’s normal to be less active with age

      Another myth! As I mentioned above, an unhealthy diet will often add extra pounds, cause serious hormonal imbalances, inflammation and bring down energy levels. Unhealthy nutrition will have you feeling more listless and tired. You’ll be less active, adding another cycle to declining health. Excess weight also brings additional stress on knees, hips and other joints, increasing inflammation and pain.

      And when you are less active, your muscles lose tone and your body gets progressively weaker. Key organs like the heart and lungs become less efficient (can you walk a mile briskly? Can you jog a mile?). Your tissues have gradually less oxygen and nutrients, affecting your entire metabolism and health down to a cellular level! As your muscles lose tone and size, they become more permeated with fat cells. Without enough activity, muscles and joints will lose flexibility. You’ll become weaker and more prone to losing your balance, falling or getting injured. And don’t forget, inactivity also weakens your bones (yes, they know when they are not being challenged)!

      Experts have claimed that with age, you will lose about 1% of your muscle mass each year. But that loss is largely due to people not maintaining their strength and stamina. Aging doesn’t cause muscle loss by itself. That 1% may not sound like much but in 5 years, it’s a 5% loss. Because muscles are a big part of your metabolic engine, a 5% loss will also contribute to weight gain if you continue eating all those refined carbs, junk foods and sugar.

      Research has shown that a healthy diet, plus good activity 4-5 days a week can activate hundreds of genes that keep you healthy. Conversely, an unhealthy diet and inactivity activates numerous disease genes (for heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc.)! So improving your lifestyle with a combination of healthier nutrition (more simple, unprocessed foods), and fun activity will have a profound influence on keeping you healthy and disease free!

      I usually recommend starting with diet, making a few changes or substitutions to help stabilize blood sugar by choosing healthy alternatives (an open-faced sandwich will cut half the bread, use lettuce wraps instead of tortillas). These changes tend to drop some excess pounds and boost energy in a week or two. That way, energy returns and it will be easier to start a walking or activity program! I recommend that you build on activities you already like (walking, gardening, yard work, etc.), so it’s pretty easy!

      1. It’s normal to have chronic health problems with age

      Another myth! I mentioned inflammation in the previous sections (excess abdominal fat drives it, as do junk foods high in sugar, refined carbs and cheap, omega-6 veggie oils). It turns out that inflammation is now a contributor to, and a driver of nearly every common health problem and disease people develop over time, including:

      • Heart disease/atherosclerosis
      • Cancer
      • Stroke
      • Alzheimer’s
      • Diabetes
      • Arthritis
      • MS/autoimmune disorders

       All of those chronic problems are related and they’re all tied to unhealthy eating, inactivity, smoking and other unhealthy lifestyle habits. Those bad habits drive weight gain and low-grade, systemic inflammation, along with hormonal imbalances. These are not changes you can always feel, but they are destructive to health. And if you are female, guess what? These unhealthy lifestyle habits will increase the hormonal changes you may be noticing, whereas healthy habits and better nutrition can help minimize the changes that occur around menopause.

      The truth is that most health problems we assume are cause by age are largely driven by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Many health experts agree that about 80% of all chronic disease is caused by lifestyle! That’s why taking drugs for conditions like hypertension, cholesterol, blood sugar and pain never cures the problem (but will cost you money, bring unwanted side-effects and erode your quality of life).

      There is a whole field called epigenetics, which is the study of how genes are activated or silenced by the environment and lifestyle (an average meal can trigger thousands of genes for digestion, absorption, metabolism, organ and cellular repair, etc.). Epigenetics is relatively new and many people don’t know much about it, including many doctors and dietitians. But when you make unhealthy lifestyle choices, you turn off health-promoting genes and you activate disease genes. So understanding epigenetics is important for maximizing healthy aging and preventing disease.

      Remember, you have the power to change your health and take a few steps to initiate those changes! You can start to make better choices today, and begin the journey to improved health. You can choose to live a long, healthy life, largely free of the common aches, pains, and chronic conditions many adults and medical practitioners think are age related when they are not!

       

      About Steven Carney: Due to a serious childhood illness, I’ve had a passion for health and wellness for decades. I’ve researched and written numerous articles about nutrition, fitness, alternative health, prevention and aging for Articlebase, Self Growth and other sites since 2011. My own blog (www.endsicknessnow.com) now has over 130 articles with thousands of source links. I love helping clients improve their lives and health through a mix of coaching, support and encouragement (I’m certified through 4 coaching programs). 

      Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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      Should I Get Gene Tested For Alzheimer's Disease?

      Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

      The fear of developing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is reasonable, given that in recent years its incidence has exploded to epidemic levels. Right now, over 50 million worldwide, including 5+ million in the U.S. are afflicted, and the number is projected to rise to 130+ million in the next thirty years. The disease guarantees a slow-burn destruction of intellect, emotion and self-sufficiency, and no effective treatment exists to slow or stop it. That’s the dismal backdrop on which the FDA recently authorized 23andMe, a Bay Area startup, to market at-home testing for late-onset AD, the most common form of the disorder. It’s simple enough. Order the kit, fill out a detailed questionnaire online, spit in a test-tube, send back the sample and wait 6 - 8 weeks for email notification to login for results, AKA how your fate is sealed. Direct-to-consumer marketing allows 23andMe to eliminate the middleman, typically a doctor or genetic counselor.

      You might be tempted to take the test the next time the car keys go missing, especially if AD is in the family. How do you decide whether or not it’s worth it? The “Simple Health Test Decision Tree” offers an easy, logical framework for organizing this difficult choice. Generally speaking, if test results won’t trigger a meaningful response, or if the available response is unacceptably risky, why take it? If testing offers an action with tolerable risk, then testing is the way to go.
      Alzheimer’s is a serious worry for me because my mom had it and I’m a lot like her, but when I consider what 23andMe offers, I think taking the test makes no sense. Here is some info to help decide if it’s for you:

      What is the home kit actually testing?

      23andMe tests for three variants of ApoE, a uniquely human gene which encodes a protein that carries cholesterol and other lipids in the bloodstream. Biologic offspring receive one copy of ApoE from mom and one from dad, a total complement of two for each person. ApoE4, carried by 15% of Caucasians, is the variant linked to late-onset AD. Often called the “Alzheimer gene,” ApoE4 expresses in a dose-related way such that carrying one copy raises the Alzheimer’s risk three fold, while carrying two copies raises it twelve fold. ApoE3, the most commonly carried variant, has no effect on AD, and ApoE2, the rarest, is neuro-protective, actually lowering the risk of dementia in those of European ancestry. A few million years back in evolution, all humans carried two copies of ApoE4; it’s only in the last 300,000 years that E3 and E2 evolved to become the predominant versions.
      Will taking the test change anything? No.
      • Having the gene does not mean you will get AD: ApoE4 is not a reliable marker for any one individual’s risk of developing of AD. Population studies show the relationship between ApoE4 and AD to be, at best, a loose association. Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest incidence of AD in the world, yet it is home to populations with some of the highest worldwide rates for carrying ApoE4, as high as 30% in Nigerians and 50% among the Khoi-San. The absence of a gene-disease link applies here even for those carrying two copies of the gene. Populations on other continents, including Asia, Europe and North America show similar findings. It’s also the case that for those who carry the gene but make it past 80 years old without AD, the risk for the disease drops back down to average.
      • Not having the gene does not mean you won’t get AD: There is no one gene linked to the development of AD. It’s a complex disorder related to over thirty genetic “loci of interest” currently identified and under study. Not carrying ApoE4 isn’t a guarantee that you don’t carry any of the other AD-associated genes. There are no commercially available tests for non-ApoE4 genes involved in AD.

      Are there any risks if I decide to take the test? Yes.

      • Willingly say good by to privacy: ApoE is one of a panel of ten genes that 23andMe tests at the impossibly low price of $100. Sequencing DNA on the cheap means the company must have other ways of making money. The 23andMe co-founder and CEO modeled her company after Google, founded by her ex-husband Sergei Brin. Like Google, whose value comes from selling the enormous amount of information it collects, observers believe that the true mission of 23andMe is to amass a vast genetic database, courtesy of trusting customers, that can be sold. Expect advertising blocks on internet pages you visit to be populated by companies offering goods and services tailored to your genomics. Genentech is one of the companies that made a deal worth tens of millions for access to the 23andMe database.
      • Unwillingly say goodbye to privacy: Hackers access big data for sale, blackmail, or just the fun of disruption. Researchers and health, life, drug and biotech companies are also interested.
      • Testing for things you didn’t agree to: The saliva sample contains all of your DNA, not just the 10 genes found in the test panel. The potential for misuse of the sample is a concern.
      • There is no legal obligation, and likely no interest, for the company to protect the genetic information of family members: Blood relatives share many genes in common, making your personal gene pool a back door into the DNA of others in your family. By sharing your genomics, you share information about relatives, without their explicit consent. 23andMe is under no obligation to protect their privacy.
      • Consider the effect on your emotions: You can’t un-ring the information bell, so if you are found to carry ApoE4, consider the ongoing stress that can cause, which in and of itself is a risk factor for the development of AD. On the other hand, negative results for the harmful variant might encourage risky behavior that comes from a false sense of security, promoting actions that are known to increase risk, including consumption of a high fat, high sugar diet, inactivity, and poor sleep patterns.

      Are there any more accurate testing alternatives? Yes.

      PET scanning to measure the accumulation of amyloid plaques (PET-Amyloid scan) or the level of insulin resistance (FDG-PET/CT) in the brain are highly sensitive biomarkers, able to predict the development of AD decades before symptoms appear, and also help differentiate AD from other forms of dementia. These tests cost thousands of dollars and may not be covered by insurance. Reliable, inexpensive, 10 - 15 minute tests with high predictive value include SAGE, a written test with 80% early detection accuracy, and the Smell Identification Test, which involves identifying forty odors, also predicts AD before symptoms are obvious.

      Final Thoughts?

      In the end, none of these tests are truly necessary. Anyone with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and should act accordingly, by adopting lifestyle, behavioral and environmental strategies that help prevent the disease. Scientific evidence shows that AD begins many decades before symptoms are apparent, making it never too soon to proactively take steps to promote brain health and general wellness. Genes are not destiny; time and treasure are best spent on actions that make a difference.

      Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.
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      The Epidemic That's Killing Us Softly

      Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

      Faceplant into the spaghetti at dinner? Cranky, clumsy, can’t focus? Those the least of the problems for anyone suffering sleep deprivation. Solid research from around the globe finds that during sleep we actively flush out brain toxins, regulate hormones, repair and regenerate damaged cells, and strengthen the immune system. Impaired quality or quantity of sleep is scientifically related to an increase risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, depression, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, immune suppression and cancer. The senior author of a recent comprehensive review of Sleep And Human Aging offered this wake up call, “Nearly every disease killing us later in life has a causal link to lack of sleep.” Ebola may strike fear in your heart, but sleeplessness is the real threat.


      Adults need an average of 7 - 8 hours of quality sleep every day. These steps help channel the inner night owl:

      1. Starting at least two hours before bedtime:
          ▪    Finish eating dinner
          ▪    No vigorous exercise
          ▪    No stimulants (caffeine, smoking)
          ▪    Dim the lights
          ▪    Limit alcohol

      Foods rich in tryptophan and/or vitamin B6, both building blocks for melatonin, the sleep hormone, are good choices for the last meal of the day. Options include elk, poultry, fish, seafood, chickpeas, hummus, eggs, beans, lentils, quinoa and walnuts. A small amount of carbs push tryptophan into the brain, where it’s needed. Dairy, leafy green vegetables and other calcium-rich foods guide the brain processing of tryptophan. Almonds, rich in magnesium, and tart cherry juice, a natural source of melatonin, also help.  Remember that caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola drinks and some pain killers. Alcohol may help with falling asleep, but once it wears off, sleep is more likely to be disrupted.

      2. Keep the bedroom cool, dark, quiet, clean:
          ▪    Lower the bedroom temperature to a sleep-promoting 65ºF (18ºC)
          ▪    Block out all light with black-out curtains or sleep mask
          ▪    Cancel all noise with ear plugs or white noise machine, such as a fan
          ▪    Populate the bedroom with large leaf plants which filter indoor pollution + allergens
          ▪    Ban electronics

      Hunter-gatherers matched the body’s daily rhythms to natural light, but in modern times, the sun has lots of competition. Artificial light confuses the sleep-wake cycle, interfering with both the quality and quantity of nightly shuteye. Blue light, emitted by electronics (computer, tablet, smartphone, TV, digital display alarm clock/radio), LED and fluorescent lighting, suppresses melatonin more than any other form of light.

      3. Create a routine:
          •    Go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekend
          •    Get natural light first thing in the morning
          •    Exercise daily

      Routine allows the sleep-wake cycle to operate at peak performance. Bedtime no later than 11pm helps prevent a surge in cortisol, a wake-up hormone. As soon as the alarm goes off in the morning, distinguish the bedroom as a sanctuary of sleep by throwing open the curtains. Natural light signals it’s time for melatonin production to quiet down. Make room for sleep-promoting exercise during the day, and if you have to nap, keep it short and no later than at 3 pm.

      4. What about sleeping pills?
      Sedatives offer sedation, a quick fix, not the quality, restorative sleep needed for health. Long term use of sleeping pills is risky and stopping them can lead to rebound insomnia, an inability to sleep that’s even worse than the original problem. At best, sleeping pills should only be used short term. Try natural sleep remedies instead:
          ▪    Acupuncture
          ▪    Aromatherapy: put 1 drop of organic lavender oil on a cotton ball, leave at bedside
          ▪    Tart cherry juice, ½ cup shortly before bedtime
          ▪    Chamomile or passion flower tea, 1 cup before bedtime

      5. Any other tips?
          ▪    Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex: it’s not a home office or movie theater
          ▪    Meditate to reduce sleep-interfering stress
          ▪    Take a hot bath before bedtime. Body temperature drops when you get out, inducing drowsiness
          ▪    Avoid drugs that interfere with sleep, including SSRI anti-depressants, beta-blockers, antihistamines
          ▪    Rule out sleep-disturbing medical conditions: sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, etc

      It turns out “get some sleep” is great advice. Your health and wellness depend on it.

      Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.
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