Does Everyone Need Eight Hours of Sleep?

Everyone wants to know—how much sleep to I really need? While everyone might not need exactly eight hours, the average adult does need seven to nine. Without that important time for the body to rest, recharge, and heal, mental and physical capacities start to suffer. The good news is there are many habits and behaviors that can be developed to increase both sleep quality and amount.

Sleep plays an important role in the learning process by helping with the acquisition and consolidation of memories. During sleep, the brain strengthens neural connections to consolidate and solidify memories. If a person enters a state of sleep deprivation, which occurs when they get six hours of sleep or less, the mind begins to wander, neurons cannot work efficiently, and the coordination of information and memories begins to slow.

Memories aren’t the only area of the brain affected by sleep loss. Without enough sleep, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, becomes over sensitive to negative thoughts and events. At the same time, activity goes down in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that applies logic and reasoning to emotions. Irritability, anger, and aggression become much more common as the number of sleep hours go down.

Other systems slow down and decrease their efficiency during sleep loss too. The immune system, in particular, takes a hit in a couple of different ways. First, the immune system goes to work healing and rejuvenating cells while you sleep. A shortened sleep period makes it hard for the body to reach a state of health and equilibrium.

Secondly, the process through which cells create energy is linked to the timing of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms control the sleep-wake cycle. If the circadian rhythms get disrupted, cell energy production is also disrupted resulting in fatigue. Less cell energy comes back to further disrupt the circadian rhythms, creating a vicious cycle of sleeplessness and fatigue that continue to feed one another.

To boost memory and learning, stabilize emotions, and increase energy levels, sleep has to be a priority.

 

Better Sleep Through Better Habits

Allergies can cause some issues that make getting a good night’s rest more challenging, but with consistent effort, better, more efficient sleep may only be a few good habits away. Allergens in the bedroom like dust, pet dander, and pollen present the biggest problems. Swollen airways and excess mucus can cause sleep apnea and other breathing-related sleep disorders.

Remove as many allergens from the bedroom as possible by:

  • Keeping windows closed when pollen counts are high
  • Regularly vacuuming mattresses
  • Using plastic casings for pillows and mattress
  • Washing sheets every week in water over 130 degrees and drying them in the dryer (not outside)
  • Buying allergy-free pillows

Healthy sleep habits can also improve sleep efficiency (the amount of time spent in bed versus actual time slept) and overall sleep hours. A few ways to get ahead on sleep include:

  • Getting Comfortable: A bedroom that’s kept completely dark with the temperature between 60 to 68 degrees creates optimal sleep conditions. Comfort may also come in the form of a therapeutic pillow, weighted blanket,  or breathable natural fiber sheets.
  • Be Consistent: A regular wake up time and bedtime help the body adjust the release of sleep hormones.
  • Avoid Stimulants and Electronics: Stimulants, like caffeine, block sleep hormones while electronics give off a blue light that suppresses them. Avoid both in the hours before bed.

While everyone might not need eight hours of sleep, everyone needs at least seven hours on a consistent basis. If it is a priority, both mind and body will function at their best.

 

Article provided by:

Tuck is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NBC News, NPR, Lifehacker, and Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.

Fall Allergies are on Their Way

It’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner!  Gone soon will be baseball, summer vacations, and barbeques.  We get to look forward to football, school, and tailgate parties…and fall allergies.

“Fall can arrive with bad allergy symptoms,” says Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Many people don’t realize if they spend time preparing now, they won’t get hit as hard with sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes when fall allergies descend with full force. It’s a matter of planning ahead for what you know is coming based on your past experiences.”

According to the ACAAI there are four main tips to use in the fall to avoid allergy symptoms:

  1. Mild temperatures along with rain can promote plant and pollen growth, while wind accompanying rainfall can stir pollen and mold into the air, heightening symptoms for fall allergy sufferers. Because fall allergies may start earlier and last longer, it’s important to begin taking your allergy medications at least two weeks before your symptoms normally start. And don’t stop your symptom-relieving medications until pollen counts have been down for about two weeks – usually after the first frost. If you are taking allergy drops, continue taking them year-round to help prevent the onset of allergy symptoms next fall.

 

  1. Once the leaves begin to fall they gather moisture and begin to mold. Mold is an allergen that thrives in fall. In addition to leaves, mold can be found anywhere there is water – including in your backyard, in a field of uncut grass and in clogged gutters. If you are allergic to mold, the key to reducing it is moisture control.

 

  1. If your child suddenly seems to have a constant runny nose, itchy eyes, a cough and sneezing, they could be dealing with allergens in their classroom. Kids can be allergic to dust in the classroom, or there might be pollen coming in through open windows. And don’t forget about mold – often found in bathrooms and locker rooms – as well as dander from pets that other kids may bring in on clothing and backpacks. If your child seems to have symptoms that came on around the time school started, make an appointment for allergy testing.

 

  1. Whether it’s ragweed, which is fall’s most prominent pollen, or another type, keeping pollen out of your life means fewer allergy symptoms. Some simple “housekeeping” tips can help. When you come in from outside, make sure pollen doesn’t come with you. Leave your shoes at the door and throw clothes in the washing machine. Shower and wash hair in the evening before bed so you’re not sleeping with pollen and getting it on your pillow and in your nose. Keep windows closed and run the A/C in both your home and your car. Monitor pollen and mold counts online so you can determine when it’s best to stay inside.

Sunscreen Benefits and Tips

This summer has turned out to be quite a hot one for most areas throughout the country. That summer sun that you think about all year is accompanied by a risk of harmful UV rays. These UV rays can cause short-term and long-term damage to your skin. These risks can include sunburn, signs of aging and increased risk of skin cancer. But yet, even with these risks people still seem to leave the sunscreen home, hoping to get a tan. This is not recommended.

You should apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, then wait for 10 to 20 minutes before getting dressed. It is also recommended to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, or after every water exposure or sweating even if they are labeled water-resistant. Studies show that SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97% of UV rays. An increase above SPF 50 only slightly increases the effectiveness. The most important thing is to keep wearing the sunscreen and reapplying.

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sun-protection-appropriate-sunscreen-use-2018062114114

Indiana’s Allergy Season Worse Than Usual This Year

Indiana is experiencing one of its worst allergy seasons in recent history all due to a delayed pollen release. Trees usually bloom and release pollen in stages around late February and early March. But this year the weather stayed cold long into April. According to Dr. Emma McCormack of Allergy and Asthma of Southern Indiana, “Every tree that pollinates in February was still playing catch-up in May.”

The trees and grasses pollinated until early June this year. Indiana actually had the highest pollen counts in the nation in the first week of June. Thankfully, now that it’s finally over people might start to see some relief from their allergy symptoms.

 

Red Meat Allergies Caused By Tick Bites Are On The Rise

We all know that a bite from a tick can be accompanied with many nasty diseases, but the bite from a Lone Star tick can come with a shocking side effect: a red meat allergy.

National Public Radio reported the story of Laura Stirling from Maryland, who last summer was walking her dog in the woods and then found a tick on her. A few weeks later, after she had an Italian pork sausage for dinner, she had a horrible reaction. The reaction occurred six hours later, which is usual with a food allergy.

She visited her doctor’s office and was informed to avoid all red meat and dairy products. She couldn’t believe it. She had been eating red meat and dairy all her life, but now she had to avoid it.

These types of tick bites are on the rise. Ten years ago there were only a few dozen cases, but now there have been 5000 reported cases in the United States. The range of the Lone Star tick has expanded from the Southeast up toward New York and Maine.

Dr. Scott Commins, an allergist and associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill believes that people can outgrow this allergic reaction if they avoid additional tick bites.

Source: www.npr.org

Allergy Drops- Patient Testimonial

Read the following patient testimonial about the benefits of allergy drops:

“I’ve had spring allergies for over 35 years. I am very surprised that allergy symptoms improved dramatically in less than 1 year. I have increased energy, sleep better, and am physically more comfortable with my spring allergies. I use only a few eye or allergy medications if needed.”

Thomas E., VT

Take the next steps to treat the cause of your allergies with allergy drops.  Allergy immunotherapy is a great investment in your health and well-being.

Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)/Allergy Drops

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is the latest, most convenient treatment option to treat allergies. SLIT is often referred to as allergy drops.  This treatment replaces the need for allergy shots by allowing you to self-administer the drops under your tongue once-daily.

Allergy drops reduce your need for weekly or monthly office visits that accompany out-dated allergy shots/injections.  Allergy drops can also improve long-term allergy control.  They may significantly reduce your need for prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications.

Ask your doctor about allergy drops today!

A Creative Alternative to Dying “Chicken” Eggs for Easter

Eggnots:

To dye or not to dye Ester eggs- that is the question!  I’ve always personally dreaded dying Easter eggs, although my children seem to have enjoyed it.  First of all, boiling eggs.  Yes- seems easy and straight-forward enough.  However, even with an egg timer, I’m constantly wondering if they are done enough.   I often boil the water too long, and an egg breaks, which creates a bit of a mess.  Then there’s the inevitable ‘oops’ as at least one egg rolls off the counter onto the floor.  Then, after the fun and the kids are long gone, the mess is cleaned up, and the eggs are safely put away in the refrigerator, the reality sets in.  I am going to be eating AND smelling boiled eggs for the next month!

 

Or- I can choose an alternative called eggnots.  Eggnots is a dyeable ceramic replacement for traditional Easter eggs.  This is a great alternative for vegan families and for kids with egg allergies.  I love the fact that they are ceramic, dyeable, and non-perishable.  They can be displayed proudly on the kitchen table as part of your Easter decor, instead of being tucked away in your refrigerator mere seconds after dying ‘real’ eggs.  I wish I would have come across this product years ago, before my children grew into teen/pre-teen non-believers of magical beings!

Some Patients are Receiving AUVI-Q for $0 Out-of-Pocket

I ran across a discussion in one of my allergy Facebook groups the other day in which members were discussing the AUVI-Q  epinephrine auto-injector.  (Most of us are more familiar with the brand Epi-Pen.)  The AUVI-Q is an alternate brand of epinephrine auto-injector used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in people who are at risk for or have a history of serious allergic reactions.

This brand boasts features such as a retractable needle, voice instructions, and a two-second countdown.  The most exciting part of the conversation is that people were talking about getting the auto-injector for $0 out-of-pocket. So- I thought I’d pass along the information here.  Please conduct your own research and talk to your prescriber for more information about which auto-injector is best for you.

An App to Help Find Allergens in School Lunches

Working for a company that treats food allergies, I’m always on the lookoutfor Facebook posts, allergy blogs, or practically anything related to allergies.

Nutrislice App

Today, I ran across a really cool app while reading my son’s school monthly newsletter.  Our school district has adopted the use of an app called Nutrislice.  I can digitally find the school menu for the month, and with a few clicks I’m able see a real picture of the food with a description, nutrition information, and allergen information.

For example, on Monday, my son will have the choice of a Classic Chicken Sandwich or a PB & Grape Jelly Uncrustable as a main item.  Good for him to be able to see the options, along with pictures.  Great for a mom who may be dealing with a child with food allergies.  I can tell that the chicken sandwich contains both wheat and soy, and the pb&j contains wheat, soy, and peanuts.  We can also see  the nutrition information for all of the sides, milk choices, and condiments.

For our family, this is a great tool to plan lunches for the week, and for my son to determine if school lunch really looks gross or not.  (OK- the turkey nachos don’t look appetizing, so I can’t blame him for not liking that choice!)

For food allergy families, this app could literally be a lifesaver!  Kudos to our school district for providing this app!