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The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between stressors. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds. The body’s autonomic nervous system has a built-in stress response that causes physiological changes to allow the body to combat stressful situations. This stress response, also known as the “fight or flight response”, is activated in case of an emergency. However, this response can become chronically activated during prolonged periods of stress. Prolonged activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body – both physical and emotional.(2)
Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress – a negative stress reaction. Distress can disturb the body’s internal balance or equilibrium, leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, an upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, sexual dysfunction, and problems sleeping. Emotional problems can also result from distress. These problems include depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Stress is linked to 6 of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.(3)
Stress also becomes harmful when people engage in the compulsive use of substances or behaviors to try to relieve their stress. These substances or behaviors include food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, and the Internet. Rather than relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances and compulsive behaviors tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems. The distressed person becomes trapped in a vicious circle.
It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level. The bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will be never be more hours in the day for all you errands, and your career or family responsibility will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control that you might think. In fact, managing stress is all about taking charge of your thoughts, your emotion, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationship, relaxation, and fun plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. (4)
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather that the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.
Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.
Healthy ways to relax and recharge
Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.
Health benefits of ashwagandha (1,2,3)
Ashwagandha has been used for over 3000 years, thus from its mere traditional usage, it has evolved to the modern capsule supplement where people can get it easily, anywhere. Though there are many health benefits of ashwagandha, but some of it does not have a conclusive study finding.
The available scientific data support the conclusion that Ashwagandha is a regenerative tonic, due to its multiple pharmacological actions like anti-stress, neuroprotective, antitumor, anti-arthritic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It is useful for different types of diseases like Parkinson, dementia, memory loss, stress induced diseases, malignoma and others.
Ashwagandha and neurodegenerative disease (4, 1,2)
Neurodegenarative disease usually cause by cognitive impairment. Disease such as Alzhemier, Parkinson and Huntington are found to improve after the usage of ashwagandha, in the sense that it slows, stops, reverse, or removes neutritic athropy. It is also said can be used at any stage of the disease, even before a person has been diagnosed in the state of mild forgetfulness.
Ashwagandha and mental health (4,5)
Ashwagandha induced a calming anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect that was comparable to the drug Lorazepam in all three standard tests, anxiety tests (the elevated plus-maze), social interaction and the feeding latency in an unfamiliar environment. Moreover, both Ashwagandha and Lorazepam, reduced rat brain levels of tribulin, an (marker of level of anxiety).
Ashwagandha also exhibited an antidepressant effect, comparable with that induced by imipramine, in two standard tests, the forced swim-induced ‘behavioural despair’ and ‘learned helplessness’ tests. The investigations support the use of Ashwagandha as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of anxiety and depression.
Another study that was conducted using prospective, randomized controlled double-blind method found that, the group that was given ashwagandha root extract exhibit a significant reduction in hormone cortisol level (stress hormone) as compared to the group that receive placebo.
Ashwagandha and arthritis (4,1)
Ashwagandha is considered an analgesic since it has the ability to relieve pain. Ashwagandha acts on the nervous system to prevent pain signals from being sent. It is also thought to have some anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, some research has shown it to be effective in treating arthritis.
There is certain habit that should be cultivated if you are experiencing poor sleeping habit before you opt to take medication or any remedies. You should consider practicing good sleeping hygiene such as go to bed at the same time every night and be consistent with it. Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature. Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphone, from the bedroom. Avoid large heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime, regularly exercise during the day is able to make one fall asleep easily at night.
How can all these habits help in getting good quality sleep? (3)
The behavior during the day and before bedtime have a major impact on sleep. Either it can promote healthy sleep or contribute to sleeplessness.
The daily routines include what we consume, the medication that we take, how we schedule our days and how do we spend our evening can significantly affect the quality of sleep. Sometimes, for a person who is experiencing trouble sleeping, it takes only slight adjustment in their daily routines, or in some cases they are require to write a two weeks diary to help them to understand their routines that affect their sleep quality.
Why good quality sleep is important? (3,4)
Insufficient sleep has major health consequences in adults, adolescents, and young children. Strong evidence exists that adult who have insufficient sleep has develop numerous health complications including incidence of chronic disease. Those who have short sleep duration, that is less than 7 hours per night and have poor sleep quality are associated with cardiovascular morbidity and metabolic disorders such as glucose intolerance, which also will lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Individuals who experience shorter sleep duration are at 1.48 times greater risk of developing and dying of coronary heart disease than those who have sufficient sleep and 1.15 times more likely to have a stroke.
Adults who sleep less than 7 hours per night also have greater difficulty in concentrating, remembering, and performing daily activities than those who sleep 7 to 9 hours per night.
When it comes to children, those who experiencing shorter sleep duration are more likely to become obese than those who do not. Insufficient sleep also affects immunologic function and development of mood disorders and is associated with depression; deficits in cognition, memory, and learning; and reduced quality of life.
One major consequence of insufficient sleep is daytime sleepiness, which reduces alertness and causes slow reaction time, leading to occupational and medical errors, workplace injuries, impaired driving, and motor vehicle accidents. In 2009, almost 5% of adults in 12 United States reported that during the previous 30 days they had nodded off or fallen asleep driving. In 2005, drowsy driving contributed to 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 15,000 deaths.
What need to be done? (4)
As medical practitioners be it doctors, nurses, pharmacist, nutritionist, etc one must consider the sleeping factor in advising for lifestyle modification. One must as well ensure that patient or customers is well informed regarding medication or supplement that they are taking which will induce symptoms that hinder them from sleeping such as tachycardia (irregular heart zate) etc thus they need to adjust the timing for medication consumption, sleeping time and daily activities. One must as well consider sleep factor in finding diagnosis or underlying cause for one’s health condition.
At this point, public as well must be reminded that sleep is a very essential factor in maintaining health especially for disease like hypertension. Thera are various factors that can hinder sleep or can cause trouble sleeping thus adjustment in the lifestyle sometimes need to be made for the improvement of life quality.
Sleep is always less likely linked with chronic diseases, since many people think that it is something that is not related. However, sleep disturbance might cause by symptoms of chronic diseases or the other way round, where, sleep disorder can eventually lead to chronic diseases. That is to describe on how tight the cycle between sleep and chronic diseases (1).
Chronic disease is the kind of disease that last for long time such as Diabetes and Cardiovascular diseases. It usually cannot be cured thus need to manage (1,2).
Among reasons contribute to sleep disorder among chronic disease individuals are due to fatigue and pain that they experience in their daily life. This condition makes them experience difficulty to fall asleep at night and sleepy throughout the day. Sleep disturbance at night among individuals with chronic diseases also can be attributed to the depression or anxiety that they experience with regards to their disease or not. In some cases, certain medication that is consume by individuals with chronic disease will sometimes trigger condition that makes them unable to fall asleep (1,2).
Sleep, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
Diabetes and sleep problems often go hand in hand. Diabetes can cause sleep loss, not sleeping well can cause diabetes due to frequently eating at night which will then lead to obesity and various underlying factors (3,4).
Individuals with diabetes who experiencing spike up of blood sugar, will not have good quality sleep since, the kidney is trying hard to excrete the sugar by urinating, so individuals with spike up blood sugar level, usually will experience getting up and going to the bathroom all night long (3,4). Thus, the only solution to this is, to control blood glucose level, eat well during the day and you will eventually experience a good night sleep at night.
Touching on the not sleeping well can cause diabetes due to frequently eating at night, this is due to finding of the study confirming that, people who get less sleep tend to be heavier than those who sleep well, since being overweight is the risk factor for the development of diabetes (3,4).
Obese individuals also experiencing sleep apnoea, a condition of sleep disorder which indicated by loud snoring and paused breathing when you sleep. The culprit behind this may be the weight gained, which cause fat to deposit around the upper airway that obstruct breathing (3,4).
There are many effective treatments for sleep apnoea. These include lifestyle changes such as weight loss for mild cases and devices to open-up blocked airways for more significant cases (3,4).
As for sleep and cardiovascular diseases when we sleep our blood pressure goes down. This makes our body and mind relax and be calm. However, for individuals with sleep problems, their blood pressure level will stay higher in the long time since it does not get the chance to rest down, thus the condition of prolonged high blood pressure can lead to various heart disease problem such as stroke (5).
Also, with sleep apnea, it affects how much oxygen your body gets while you sleep thus increasing risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Sleep is as important as eating. It acts as the reset button to the whole-body function. It allows body system to realign, grow and slow down before it kick-starts another day. Thus, do yourself a favour today by achieving enough quality sleep.
But, if you already having trouble sleeping, find out ways on improving it either by managing your underlying health condition that hinder you from getting good sleep, or follow some sleeping hygiene technique in order to train you body and mind to fall asleep. It is not a one-day job, it requires many days, weeks and perhaps months, but if you are consistent it will surely have a fruitful result. Happy sleeping and live your life to the fullest.
Megalive for better life!
What is making you stress might not make others stress and vice versa. When it comes to stress there are just no standard parameters to measure. Since the amount of stress that perceive by individuals differ from one another though it is stemming from the same source of stress (1,2,3).
Stress induce multiple body reactions, such as in our brain, nervous system, endocrine system (hormone), and immune system. Research called it ‘hyperarousal’ where it is a state when our body in the stress state. Which in another words our brain perceives the condition as on alert (1,2,4).
The signs of hyperarousal state include you cannot shut down your busy mind. Your mind seems to have no shut down button. It keeps going over and over your stress, worries, and frustrations contemplating from various angles. Which is also one of the reasons that hinder you from getting enough quality sleep. Secondly, when you are experiencing muscle tense for no reasons. It can be aches in areas such as neck, shoulder, or constant headache. Thirdly, is when you are experiencing heart race. This is particularly associated with the hormone cortisol (a stress hormone). This will then result in the condition where your body and brain are wide awake thus the condition is not conducive for you to fall asleep thus explain individuals who is stress experience sleep disturbance. (1)
It is unfair to discuss in the area that stress cause sleep disturbance only without noting that, there are condition which will makes individuals who experience stress sleep excessively as well. It is somewhat mystery to experts as well, though it is hypothesized due to different kind of stress that experience by individuals and again different coping mechanism developed by individuals in adapting to different stressors (3).
What to do (4)?
Fortunately, there are habits in which if you cultivate it diligently, it will train your mind to ease the stress and helps you to sleep. First, practice relaxation exercise such as progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing technique before turning in for the night. This technique can help you to unwind. It will help your body and mind to dial down the stress. It is also wise to actually have a relaxing pre-sleep rituals, such as change to your comfortable clothing for sleep, dim your bedroom light, be in the comfortable situation, take a warm bath or drink a cup of warm water or milk, avoid caffeinated drinks like soda, tea and coffee in the late afternoon, slowly nesting yourself.
Of course, this is not tips that will work for everybody, anyhow you just got to trial and error. You just got to give it a try and adjust it accordingly so that it will suit your condition better.
Lastly, if you have anything in your mind that is stressing you out, think of it as that is just the phase that you have to endure. Whatever situation that you are in, you know it better than anyone else, since you have the key to get yourself out of that condition. You are the master control of it, soon you will be out of this, think of positive thoughts and try to talk to someone you trust. If you think your condition is worsening its maybe a sign for you to seek medical help.
Sleep disorder is a group of condition that affects individuals’ ability to fall asleep on daily basis, in another word it is a disruption to sleep pattern. It is a wide spectrum of diseases, it refers to the alteration in the sleep quality, quantity, and pattern. It could be due to stress or it is an underlying problem to diseases. This condition can also persist in long term or short term. The recommended sleeping hour for normal adults are about 6-8 hours, whilst for children the sleeping hours is even longer (e.g: newborn up to 16 hours), however as for elderly usually it is shorter which is only about 4-5 hours of sleep.
Cause of sleep disorder?
Common cause of sleep disorders includes work in the shift hour, physical problems such as difficulty in breathing, frequent urination at night, pain (e.g: arthritis). It can also be due to psychological or psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, and stress. Another condition that can lead to sleep disorder or sleep disruption includes drugs and alcohol abuse, or if individuals is exposed to environment that is not suitable for sleeping.
The interruptions or alterations in sleeping quality, quantity and pattern can affect body more than we think of, since sleep primary functions is to provide rest and restoring body’s energy levels.
Currently the problem with regards to sleeping has increase tremendously. If this condition prolonged individuals should quickly seek help from medical professionals.
Signs for sleep disorder?
The signs for sleep disorder is when individuals consistently taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, waking up several times in the middle of the night and remain awake for hours, easily irritate during the day (even after seven to eight hours of sleep at night), frequent and/or long nap during the day, difficult to concentrate at work or school, waking up too early in the morning, loud snoring while asleep, require stimulant such as caffeine to keep you awake during the day, sometimes certain people even experience irresistible urge to move legs, or a tingling or crawling feeling in the legs, particularly at bedtime.
Common sleep disorder is insomnia, it includes symptoms like, feeling not fresh in the morning even after you have sleep for 7 – 8 hours, waking up too early in the morning, and trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as a first-line treatment for chronic insomnia in adults. Apart from this, sleep hygiene training is also recommended and should be introduce to individuals with insomnia. Sometimes, there are behaviour that interfere with difficulty in sleep thus by cultivating healthy sleeping habits it can help you to change some of these disruptive behaviours.
Apart from insomnia, sleep apnea is also one of the common sleep disorders. It is defined as interrupted sleep caused by periodic gasping or snorting noises, or the momentary suspension of breathing. A deviated septum or polyps in the sinuses can cause difficult breathing during sleep. Individuals with sleep apnea usually unable to get enough oxygen while sleeping thus causing sleep disturbance.
Other known sleep disorder includes, narcolepsy, a condition when a person cannot control when they fall asleep and they will have episodes of unwanted sleep. Circadian rhythm sleep disorder is a condition in which a person has trouble aligning their body natural inclination for sleep with the rising and setting of sun. Klein-Levin syndrome a.k.a sleeping beauty syndrome, a condition in which a person will sleep for period of two or more days at a time.
Sleeping pills usually lose its effect after a while because body gets used to the medicine, thus explain why it can only be used for short duration. There is also common side effect from taking sleeping pills such as drowsiness, dizziness, lack of co-ordination and slurred speech
Natural Sleep Inducers, melatonin in Malaysia? (3)
Which is why for some people before they opt for sleeping pills, they prefer to try natural remedies to induce sleep. In Malaysia it is not common, and it is based upon prescription to obtain melatonin. However, in U.S melatonin is one of the common over the counter (OTC) medicine where people can just purchase to improve their sleep quality.
Milk and sleep? (4)
Among range of products of natural remedies where people can look for when it comes to sleep aid are, it is advisable to drink warm milk before sleep to induce sleep. The science behind it is due to tryptophan and melatonin compound in milk. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in a variety of protein-containing foods. It plays an important role in the production of the neurotransmitter known as serotonin. Serotonin boosts mood, promotes relaxation, and functions as a precursor in the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, is released by your brain. It helps regulate your circadian rhythm and prepare your body for entering a sleep cycle. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that a single glass of milk contains enough tryptophan or melatonin to significantly influence your body’s natural production of melatonin or to independently treat a disordered sleeping pattern. The same thing goes to the temperature of milk and how does it affect sleep, it is just that warm liquids have calming effect on the nervous system and may be more effective for lulling you into sleep than cold drinks. However, result depends on the individual. According to studies, any bedtime ritual can actually improve sleeping quality, since it helps body to slow down and relax, it gives signal to body to shut down.
Valerian and sleep? (3,5)
Apart from this, valerian is usually use for centuries in helping individuals to sleep better. It is an herbal medicine made from the root of the plant. It has been noted to act as sedative, according to study, valerian can be helpful in treating insomnia and improving sleep quality. Although more research is needed to establish this, but studies show that taking valerian can reduce the amount it takes to fall asleep by about 15 to 20 minutes. Doses of 400-900 mg of valerian extract taken up to 2 hours before bed seem to work best. Continuous use for several days, even up to four weeks, may be needed before an effect is noticeable. Some studies show that valerian can help improve sleep when combined with other herbs, including hops and lemon balm. Taking valerian might also improve the sleep quality of people who are withdrawing from the use of sleeping pills. However, some research suggests that valerian does not relieve insomnia as fast as “sleeping pills.”
Chamomile and sleep? (3,6)
Chamomile is a gentle herb that has calming effect. It promotes relaxation and sleep. Although there is no standard dosage of chamomile, it can be used in several ways such as use dried chamomile flowers to make tea, steep prepared tea bags sold at your local grocery store, inhale or apply diluted chamomile essential oil to your skin. Herbal essential oil can be used in order to induce calm environment and prepare your body to sleep. It can be cultivated partly as sleeping ritual, so your body will adapt to it in such a way that its going to make you feel sleepy.
Most of the non-medication kind of remedies such as milk, valerian, chamomile, and valerian, usually give slower effect as compared to medicated sleeping pills. However, it can be used to treat mild insomnia and withdrawal symptoms from medicated sleeping pills, since medicated sleeping pills cannot be taken in the long run. Thus, both medicated and non-medicated has its own pro and cons, you may consult pharmacist or doctors to better suit your situation in choosing for sleeping pills or natural sleep remedies in order to improve your sleep quality.