AMBIEN ADDICTION AND TREATMENT
What is Ambien
Ambien is one of the brand names for zolpidem, along with Edluar, Zolpimist, and Intermezzo. It is a prescription drug used to temporarily treat insomnia and is one of the top-selling insomnia drugs in the United States. Ambien is available in two forms: Ambien, a quick-release tablet that helps initiate sleep, and Ambien CR, an extended-release form that also helps maintain sleep.
Ambien was developed to help treat insomnia short-term, with the same efficacy as benzodiazepines but as a seemingly less addictive alternative. However, Ambien’s addictiveness comes not from a physical dependency to the drug, but from the sudden dependency on the drug to sleep. From just some short-term abuse, user can find themselves with a real inability to fall asleep without higher and higher doses.
Street names for Ambien include:
- Zombie pills
How Does Ambien Affect the Brain?
Working as a sedative-hypnotic, Ambien activates the neurotransmitter, GABA. GABA slows down brain and central nervous system activity, and results in a strong sedative effect. This helps put insomnia sufferers to sleep quickly and effectively.
Is Ambien Addictive
Although created to have the same medical effect as benzodiazepines, and reportedly without the same addictive properties, users are still at risk of developing an addiction.
If taken exactly as prescribed, for a very brief period, Ambien is relatively safe. However, with long-term use, there is a potential for abuse and addiction. Once the user takes Ambien for longer than prescribed by their physician, they will need higher doses to feel the same effects. Eventually, they will be unable to sleep without using Ambien.
Ambien dependence can form in as little as two weeks. Because it is a prescription drug, there is a misconception that Ambien is safe. However, it is becoming clearer that Ambien is just as addictive as benzodiazepines. As with many other types of sleeping pills, Ambien can be very addictive.
Signs of Ambien Addiction
It can be hard to tell if a person is abusing Ambien, especially if they have a legitimate prescription from their doctor.
Here are some warning signs of Ambien addiction to look out for:
- Taking Ambien in a way other than prescribed, such as crushing and snorting pills
- Taking Ambien that was prescribed to someone else
- Repeatedly taking larger and more frequent doses than prescribed
- Appearing overly sleepy or tired during the day
- Frequently requesting refills on the prescription or finding a new doctor to get a new prescription
- Lying about Ambien use
- Noticeable changes in behaviour like isolating oneself from family and friends
- Spending large amounts of money on Ambien, or unexplained spending
- Experiencing cravings for Ambien
- Engaging in dangerous situations without any memory of them later
- Taking the drug in conjunction with other mind-altering substances
Taking Ambien without a prescription or in any way that is not directed by a doctor is considered abuse. Even taking a slightly higher dose than recommended, to help with sleep, is abuse. Once someone builds up a tolerance to Ambien, they need higher doses to fall asleep. This strengthens their dependence on the drug and causes individuals to up their doses without any medical guidance.
Side-Effects of Ambien Addiction
Ambien is supposed to be taken right before bed, but people abusing this sleeping pill will take it at any time of day. When not used as a sleep aid, Ambien produces calming effects and feelings of euphoria.
As a potent central nervous system depressant, Ambien, in large doses, can slow a user’s breathing and heart rate to a point where respiratory failure occurs. This could result in a fatal overdose. An unusually slow heartbeat or breathing is a strong indication that the user is in trouble.
One SAMHSA study showed that in 2010 alone, there were 20, 793 visits to the emergency department of hospitals throughout America due to Ambien overdose.
Some additional side-effects of Ambien include:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Memory loss
- Mood and behavioural changes
- Rare allergic reactions
- Trouble breathing
If your doctor has prescribed Ambien, it is because they have judged that the benefit is greater than the risk of side-effects. Many people using Ambien do not experience any serious side-effects. Unpleasant and dangerous side-effects of Ambien use are usually only seen in cases of abuse or addiction.
Ambien and Alcohol
There are many prescriptions and illicit drugs that have adverse reactions when taken with Ambien. However, alcohol is the substance most commonly abused alongside Ambien. People who consume alcohol and Ambien together are more likely to end up in intensive care.
When mixed together, alcohol and Ambien can enhance each other’s intoxicating effects to result in the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impaired cognition
- Loss of physical coordination
- Impaired judgment
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Depressed breathing
- Sleep apnea
Combining Ambien and alcohol can also have more dangerous effects as a result of reckless behaviour, and the loss of coordination that results from this combination. Users are more likely to be involved in accidents or hurt themselves losing consciousness.
Ambien Addiction Treatment
In order to recover from Ambien addiction, the user needs to fight physical and psychological dependence. The first step in any treatment for recovery from addiction is medical detox. This is then followed by a range of therapy types, often to treat any co-occurring mental health disorders and to ensure a minimized risk of relapse.
To stand the greatest chances of success in recovery, the user should receive treatment as an inpatient at a registered rehab centre. The centre will provide the support and environment the patient needs to undergo detox safely and receive the therapy they require to make a full recovery.
Detox from Ambien
To begin Ambien addiction treatment, the patient will need to undergo a medically assisted detox. This usually involves tapering down dosage of the drug until it is stopped entirely. Ambien detox should only be done in an inpatient rehab facility, to prevent the risk of relapse caused by uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Ambien withdrawal can cause unpleasant symptoms as the brain tries to function normally once again. As with any drug abuse, the withdrawal effects are usually opposite to its effects when used.
Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal begin within 48 hours of the last dose and includes:
- Uncontrollable crying
- Flushing of the skin
- Stomach cramps
- Seizures (rare)
Stopping Ambien abruptly will lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms. This is why inpatient medical detox is recommended, to ensure that the user is weaned off Ambien in a measured and safe way.
Ambien Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal symptoms usually lessen or disappear within 1-2 weeks. The most acute withdrawal symptoms kick in within the first 3-5 days, while the psychological withdrawal symptoms last up to two weeks. In rare cases, symptoms can occur months after stopping Ambien use.
Ambien withdrawal symptoms vary for each individual due to several factors and includes:
- The length of Ambien abuse
- The dosage
- Whether or not the Ambien was the extended-release version
- If the individual took other drugs in addition to Ambien
Medication for Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
A doctor may prescribe psychiatric treatments for depression or anxiety related to Ambien withdrawal, but there are also a few drugs that treat symptoms caused as a direct result of Ambien withdrawal. In some cases, anti-seizure medication is given to reduce the risk of seizures.
Those experiencing severe anxiety or suicidal thoughts are likely to receive short-term prescriptions for mood-stabilizing medications.
Therapies Used in Ambien Addiction Treatment
After completing detox, therapeutic treatment will commence. The right treatment centre will create a tailored plan for the patient’s individual needs. Talk therapy will be provided, as well as group, and even family therapy.
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): A common type of individual psychotherapy that helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are likely to use drugs.
- Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT): Another type of one-on-one psychotherapy that helps individuals learn new skills and strategies for coping with life outside of addiction. The goal of this therapy is to create positive and impactful change.
- Family therapy: Used to help families support the recovery of the patient, as well as to help heal the damage caused by addiction within the family unit.
- Group therapy: Programs such as Narcotics Anonymous are used to provide ongoing support for the patient, in a supportive environment. Group therapy sessions will usually be ongoing, in order to prevent relapse and to foster a sense of community with likeminded people.
Recovery from Ambien Addiction
Inpatient rehab at a specialized treatment centre will ensure the patient has the biggest chance of success. Rehab will be cantered on a strict routine, including therapy and other types of treatment.
It is crucial that the right treatment centre, offering a personalized treatment plan, is provided to the addict. One where the individual’s unique needs are addressed, and the nuances of their addiction are taken into account.
Kidneys! Yes, Your kidneys?
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs on either side of our spine, below our ribs and behind our belly. Each kidney is about 4 or 5 inches long, roughly the size of a large fist. The kidneys’ job is to filter our blood. They remove wastes, control the body’s fluid balance, and keep the right levels of electrolytes. All of the blood in our body passes through them about 40 times a day.
Each of our kidneys has around a million tiny filters called nephrons. You could have only 10% of your kidneys working, and not likely notice any symptoms or problems. If blood stops flowing into a kidney, part, or all of it could die. That can lead to kidney failure.
The incidence of CKD (chronic kidney disease) in Nigeria has been shown by various studies to range between 1.6 and 12.4%. Statistics have further shown that 30 million Nigerians are suffering from kidney disease and currently, patients pay as high as N150, 000 for three sessions of dialysis every week and about N5 million annually; costs of transplant vary from hospitals but ranges between N2m. In Nigeria, kidney failure remains a death sentence if not detected early and managed appropriately.
Most people know that the primary function of the kidneys is to eliminate waste products from the body by flushing them out with urine. However, did we all know that there are other fabulous functions our kidneys do like?
Controlling acid-base balance: The acids and bases in the human body are always in a state of delicate equilibrium reflected by a parameter known as ph. To maintain the healthy range, the kidneys excrete acids and bases when there’s an excess of them or retain these compounds when the body is lacking them.
Controlling water balance: The kidneys are one of the body’s main ways to maintain a stable water balance. By regulating the volume of urine, they produce, the kidneys adapt to one’s hydration level. When you drink a lot, the kidneys produce more urine, and the opposite happens when you are dehydrated.
Maintaining electrolyte balance: The kidneys filter some electrolytes from the blood, return part of them into circulation, and excrete excess electrolytes into the urine. The levels of electrolytes like sodium and phosphate are largely dependent on the health of one’s kidneys.
Removing toxins and waste products from the body: The kidneys filter out water-soluble waste products and toxins, flushing them out of the body with urine. That’s precisely why kidney failure quickly leads to severe intoxication, as the body’s waste products build up and impair its functions.
Controlling blood pressure: The kidneys produce an enzyme called renin. Renin converts the angiotensinogen produced in the liver into angiotensin I, which is later converted in the lungs into angiotensin II. Angiotensin II constricts the blood vessels and increases blood pressure as a result. On the other hand, when one’s blood pressure is too high, the kidneys produce more urine to reduce the volume of liquid circulating in the body and somewhat compensate for the high blood pressure.
Producing the hormone erythropoietin: The kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin. The main function of this hormone is to help the body create more red blood cells (erythrocytes), which are essential for the transport of oxygen throughout all the tissues and organs.
Activating vitamin D: The kidneys transform calcifediol into calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D. Calcitriol circulates in the blood and plays a vital role in regulating calcium and phosphate balance in the body, which is essential for healthy bone growth.
What causes chronic kidney disease?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): happens when 85-90% of our kidney gets damaged and becomes functionally impaired. CKD is caused by a variety of conditions that gradually affect the kidney’s functions over a few to several years.
The conditions that cause chronic kidney disease include:
- Diabetes (common cause)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Inflammation of the kidney’s structural units
- Polycystic kidney disease (multiple cysts or fluid-containing sacs in the kidney that occur by birth)
- Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract by conditions, such as
- Pyelonephritis (bacterial infection of the kidney)
- Abusing the Salt-shaker
- Eating Processed Foods
- Not Drinking Enough Water
- Missing Out on Sleep
- Eating Too Much Meat
- Eating Too Many Foods High in Sugar
- Lighting Up (smoking)
- Drinking Alcohol in Excess
- Sitting for long periods
- Painkiller consumption over a long time
What are the signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease?
Patients with CKD stages 1-3 generally do not have symptoms. Typically, signs and symptoms start appearing during the last stages of 4-5 (GFR < 30). These include:
How is chronic kidney disease diagnosed?
The doctor will take your complete medical history along with your family history, such as if anyone in your family has or had diabetes, whether you are on any medications (that can cause kidney damage), and so on. They will perform a thorough physical examination to see if you have any signs or symptoms of CKD.
A few tests will help your doctor confirm the diagnosis of CKD. These are:
Can You Live Without Your Kidneys?
Because our kidneys are so important, one cannot live without them. But it is possible to live a perfectly healthy life with only one working kidney.
Reasons for Having One Kidney
Again, most people are born with two working kidneys. But sometimes, just one kidney works. And some people are born with only one kidney.
The reasons for this may vary and can include:
- Renal agenesis — a condition where someone is born with only one kidney.
- Kidney dysplasia — a condition where someone is born with two kidneys but only one of them works.
- Kidney removal — certain diseases may require you to have one of your kidneys removed.
- Living-donor kidney transplant — you can donate one of your kidneys to a person who needs a kidney transplant.
Importance of water to our Kidneys
Keep your kidneys healthy by being “water-wise.” This means drinking the right amount of water. A common misconception is that everyone should drink eight glasses of water per day, but since everyone is different, daily water needs will vary by person. How much water you need is based on differences in age, climate, exercise intensity, as well as states of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and illness.
About 60-70% of our body weight is made up of water, and every part of our body needs it to function properly. We have said earlier that, water helps the kidneys remove wastes from your blood in the form of urine. Water also helps keep our blood vessels open so that blood can travel freely to our kidneys and deliver essential nutrients to them. But if we become dehydrated, then it is more difficult for this delivery system to work.
Mild dehydration can make one feel tired and can impair normal bodily functions. Severe dehydration can lead to kidney damage, so it is important to drink enough when we work or exercise very hard and especially in warm and humid weather.
Tips to make sure we are drinking enough water and to help keep our kidneys healthy:
Eight is great, but not set in stone. There is no hard and fast rule that everyone needs 8 glasses of water a day. This is just a general recommendation based on the fact that we continually lose water from our bodies, and that we need adequate water intake to survive and optimal amounts to thrive.
Less is more if you have kidney failure (a.k.a. end-stage kidney disease). When the kidneys fail, people don’t excrete enough water, if any at all. For those who are receiving dialysis treatment, water must be greatly restricted.
It’s possible to drink too much water. Though it is not very common for this to happen in the average person, endurance athletes like marathoners may drink large amounts of water and thereby dilute the sodium level in their blood, resulting in a dangerous condition called hyponatremia.
Your urine can reveal a lot. For the average person, “water-wise” means drinking enough water or other healthy fluids, such as unsweetened juice or low-fat milk to quench thirst and to keep your urine light yellow or colourless. When your urine is dark yellow, this indicates that you are dehydrated. You should be making about 1.5 litres of urine daily (about 6 cups).
Water helps prevent kidney stones and UTIs. Kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are two common medical conditions that can hurt the kidneys, and for which good hydration is essential. Kidney stones form less easily when there is sufficient water available to prevent stone-forming crystals from sticking together. Water helps dissolve the antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections, making them more effective. Drinking enough water also helps produce more urine, which helps to flush out infection-causing bacteria.
Beware of pills and procedures. Drinking extra water with certain medications or before and after procedures with contrast dye may help prevent kidney damage. Read medication labels and ask questions before undergoing medical procedures involving contrast dyes. Always consult with your healthcare provider first though, especially if you are on a fluid restriction.
Can chronic kidney disease be cured?
There is no cure for CKD. However, treatments and an appropriate diet (low-protein, low-salt) can help manage its signs and symptoms. They can help you halt the progression of CKD to a certain extent.
Medications given to treat the complications of CKD can help you make feel better.
Treatments for Kidney Treatments
- Antibiotics: Kidney infections caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics. Often, cultures of the blood or urine can help guide the choice of antibiotic therapy.
- Nephrostomy: A tube (catheter) is placed through the skin into the kidney. Urine then drains directly from the kidney, bypassing any blockages in urine flow.
- Lithotripsy: Some kidney stones may be shattered into small pieces that can pass in the urine. Most often, lithotripsy is done by a machine that projects ultrasound shock waves through the body.
- Nephrectomy: Surgery to remove a kidney. Nephrectomy is performed for kidney cancer or severe kidney damage.
- Haemodialysis: A person with complete kidney failure is connected to a dialysis machine, which filters the blood and returns it to the body. Haemodialysis is typically done 3 days per week in people with ESRD.
- Peritoneal dialysis: Placing large amounts of a special fluid in the abdomen through a catheter allows the body to filter the blood using the natural membrane lining the abdomen. After a while, the fluid with the waste is drained and discarded.
- Dialysis: Dialysis is a procedure in which a machine placed outside of your body takes the role of a kidney. This procedure needs to be performed at least three times a week.
- Kidney transplant: Transplanting a kidney into a person with ESRD can restore kidney function. A kidney may be transplanted from a living donor, or a recently deceased organ donor.
Courtesy: Rays of Hope Support Initiative. WebMD, Florida Kidney Physicians, National Kidney Foundation, Et’al
Sleep is something we all require. It improves our mental and physical health, and it is as important as eating, drinking, and breathing. However, some of us just do not get enough of it. Sleep even boosts our immune system, helping us fight off viruses, and prevent us from falling unwell such as hypertension, diabetes as much.
One of the greatest culprits of not getting enough sleep- our kids, and when our kids refuse to sleep, we suffer for it too. Kept up by the kids wanting a late night, resulting in us not getting what we need either.
Parents are tired enough as it is, we all deserve a good night’s rest. So, how can you get your kids to sleep, especially if they’re the type who want to stay up and play? We have all the answers for you, right here. So, keep on reading and learn the secrets to a successful bedtime.
Signs Your Kid Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep
When we are young, everything is exciting and there is so much we want to do, however, it is not unheard of for kids to suffer from sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
There are some signs you can pick up on that will tell you if your kid is not getting the sleep they need. In fact, a lack of adequate sleep can sometimes mimic the symptoms of ADHD, so keep an eye out and watch how they act during the day, including how they follow conversations and if they’re drowsy or sleep during a car ride.
Cranky And Irritable
We get it, and kids do too. If your kid is cranky or irritable, the likelihood is that they are tired and are not getting enough sleep. We get this way when we don’t get enough sleep, so it is not surprising that kids do too.
Having Trouble Concentrating At School
Our minds are affected by how much we sleep, and if we do not get what we need, our brains suffer. This means concentration suffers. If your kid seems to be struggling to concentrate in school, they probably are not sleeping enough. If their teacher tells you they are struggling to concentrate, looking at their bedtime routine should be your first port of call.
Sleep & Healthy Mind: A Connection
Sleep is very important for all people. It keeps us alert and aware, and helps our bodies and brains function properly. If you are tired, it is hard to concentrate and focus, and your mind can drift, you become more forgetful, and you may find that you are moody.
It is no different for kids, and during this time in their lives, it is imperative that their minds are raring and ready to take in all the information they need as they learn in school, and as they develop.
Sleep Is Extremely Important For Kids
Sleep is essential for kids. It plays a large part in their development. Good sleep helps young minds stay alert and paying attention, however, it also plays a large part in their happiness too. Sleep will also affect their cognitive performance and development, their mood, resilience, vocabulary development, and their memory. During childhood, they need to retain all the information they will learn in school.
In infancy, sleep will also affect their growth.
Similarly, we all know that kids can catch illnesses off each other easily, and getting enough sleep helps to increase their immune system so that potential colds’ and flu don’t have as big of an impact.
Essential Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle
Getting enough rest is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep keeps our immune systems working and our minds healthy, whatever age we are. Our bodies need rest and recuperation to function properly each day, both physically and mentally. If we do not get the necessary amount of rest, we are more susceptible to falling sick, feeling lethargic, and not being able to concentrate properly.
As adults, this means we can suffer from colds and the flu more, and we can make mistakes at work or even while on the road too. For children, this can mean falling unwell is more likely, and they will suffer from a lack of concentration in school, which, especially at a young age, can be detrimental to their education in the long term.
Studies Have Shown That Kids That Have Enough Sleep Have Improved Attention And Behaviour
There have been studies done that show that children who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behaviour, learning capabilities, memory retention, and overall mental and physical health.
Adults, or children, if you do not get enough sleep this can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression. Think of how you feel if you do not get an adequate amount of sleep, you are cranky and your mood often plummets, and you become more sensitive, this is why.
For children, this can lead to issues, especially at school. If a child is cranky and depressed due to a lack of sleep, this can lead to issues, not only in their education but also in socializing.
Adequate sleep also has ties to digestion and metabolism. The better sleep you get, the overall healthier your body is. A lack of sleep can therefore be linked to obesity.
As we sleep, the brain rejuvenates and prepares for the day ahead, so good sleep will help a child to concentrate and stay focused in school, benefiting their learning in the long term. A good amount of sleep also makes us feel happy as we have more energy, therefore improving behaviour as well.
Recommended Amount Of Sleep
As adults, we should have between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. In fact, studies suggest that our sleep patterns in early life can contribute to a later dementia risk. Both insufficient sleep and sleeping for longer than we should have been linked with a greater risk of developing dementia. This as well as other things, as noted above, are why sleep is so important.
However, how much sleep your child should have depends on their age, as the older they get, the less sleep they need.
It Depends On Your Child’s Age
As an infant, meaning from 4 months until a year old, the child should have 12 to 16 hours of sleep including naps.
As your child grows, from ages 1 to 2, they require 11 to 14 hours of sleep, including naps. Then as a young child from 3 to 5 years old, they need 10 to 13 hours of sleep, including naps.
Then as your child becomes older, and is learning more, from ages 6 to 12, they require 9 to 12 hours of sleep, and finally in their teen years, 13 to 18, they require 8 to 12 hours of sleep.
Tips To Sleep Better
Whether we are an adult or a child, sometimes getting to sleep can be difficult. For those who live busy lives, getting to sleep can feel like an impossible task, and if you, or your child, have insomnia, it can be even harder.
Here are some tips that should help to make falling asleep a little less challenging. Trying to do all of these should help you not only fall asleep but stay asleep at night.
Set A Regular Bedtime Routine
As an adult or child, our bodies work like timers, they get used to habit and habits can be used to your advantage.
Children love routine, and it gives their lives order and consistency. Studies show that setting up a good and consistent bedtime routine improves sleep in children who have moderate sleep issues. Routine can help teach your child to be sleepy, much like reading in bed can often help adults drift off to dreamland.
Think about a routine such as brushing teeth, putting PJ’s on, having some water to drink, or a glass of warm milk, or even a non-caffeinated hot chocolate to help them relax. A bedtime routine should be relaxing and calming. Reading to your child or providing them with books for bedtime can also be a great addition to a nighttime routine, if reading sends us to sleep, it can certainly do the same for them too.
The environment in which your child sleeps will also have an impact, a dark and quiet space is ideal. If your child’s bedroom has a large window, try blackout curtains to provide extra darkness. If they do not like total darkness, then a night light can be suitable.
Ensure the noise level is low also, not just in the bedroom, but in the whole house. Once a child has gone to bed, this is not the time to put on a loud movie, start a serious conversation, have an argument, or start rearranging the furniture.
Quietness and darkness will help the body’s natural sleep instincts take over and help your child get to sleep better. These conditions should be consistent to aid them in staying asleep as well.
Similarly, ensure the conditions are right. Everyone sleeps better in a room that is cool but not cold, cool air coming in to assist with breathing clearly and maintaining our body temperature. However, ensure they are dressed adequately for bed, considering most young children will kick the covers off them in their sleep and cannot cover themselves.
Relax Before Bedtime
It is always a good idea to try and get your child to relax before they go to bed. Older children may find it easiest to wind down before bed with a good book, some gentle music, or even breathing exercises. However, if your child takes more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, they may need a longer wind-down time, and some extra bedtime routine before you turn the lights out to sleep.
Sipping warm and calming drinks such as hot cocoa, warm milk, or even herbal teas can be very relaxing and help you feel cosy before bedtime. Baths are also relaxing, helping to release those tense muscles and relax the body for sleep.
Electronic devices including phones, tablets, and televisions should be turned off for an hour or so before bed to help induce sleepiness that will aid in getting to sleep faster. While some phone and tablet games are great for relaxing the mind, blue lights keep you awake. More on this later.
Reading is one of the most popular techniques to help aid in sleep. So, a killer combo is a warm drink and a good book. For older kids, this is a great idea to help them wind down and get to sleep easier.
Regular Sleep And Wake Up Times
We have already spoken about routine, and this falls into that category as well. Regular wake and sleep times will assist in helping the body clock get you to sleep. Everyone has a body clock, and each person will have something known as circadian rhythm, this is the body’s clock that initiates sleep. The traditional body clock revolves around natural instinct, making us tired at sunset and wake at sunrise.
However, not everyone is the same, this is where the concept of night owls and early birds comes from. This circadian rhythm is built throughout our lives, and as adults revolves around our work lives. For children, their circadian rhythm means that they need to have regular sleep and wake up times, just like we do, in order to have a healthy sleep-wake lifestyle.
While plenty of adults may not adhere to this due to working lives, it is imperative for children to have this. Try to get your child accustomed to a set bedtime that applies to both weekdays and weekends so that they have a consistent sleep schedule. Doing so will ensure they get enough sleep, and they do not feel the need to ‘catch-up’ on sleep, as this can mess up their body clock.
Keep Older Children’s Nap Time Short
Following on from this, while younger children are likely to have naps throughout the day to get as much sleep as they need, in older children, this is not necessary. It is best to keep older children from having fewer or shorter naps. This will prevent them from disrupting their circadian rhythm and not feeling tired when it is bedtime.
Typically, children should no longer be taking regular naps by the time they are 5 years old. Typically, they will stop napping between ages 3 and 5. However, if your child is over 5 years old, and they are still napping during the daytime, try to keep it to 20 minutes and no later than the early afternoon. Long and late naps make it harder to fall asleep at night, and this will then result in it messing up their bedtime routine.
Ensure Your Child Feels Safe At Night
Sometimes children may feel scared at night when it is dark. If they are scared of going to bed or being in the darkness, then be sure to praise them and reward them for bravery relating to this.
Always avoid scary TV shows, films, and games close to bedtime. If your child does suffer with any bedtime fears, then you can always resort to using a night light to help them feel safe.
Similarly, ensure that their regular environment feels safe to them. If they feel anxious at night, this can cause sleeplessness and insomnia. This means that ensuring there are no problems at home that may make the child feel uneasy or unsafe. If the child does not seem to be sleeping well or complains of feeling anxious or nervous at night, try to find out why and resolve the issue to help them get better sleep and feel safe and secure.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure
Blue light is the light we get from electronic devices, TV’s, computers, tablets, and mobile phones. This type of light reminds our brain of daytime and can make the brain reluctant to go to sleep as it fools it into thinking that it is day, making us more awake.
You can get special glasses that filter out this type of light, which can help to combat the effects of blue light exposure before bedtime. There are also apps that filter this blue light, they will shift the colour tone of a screen towards warmer wavelengths on the spectrum of light, which will lessen the effects that blue light has on our brains.
A good idea is to stop the use of electronic devices around bedtime, at least an hour before bed, to stop the light from screens from having this effect.
Some lightbulbs may also emit a light that keeps us awake. If you can acquire colour-changing bulbs, red is ideal, as it does not suppress melatonin production and therefore helps us to feel tired. Yellow and orange are similar. Warmer colours are more useful as reading lights and night lights, helping our bodies naturally feel more tired.
Avoid The Clock
So many people have a bad habit of worrying about bedtime. Thinking of how much sleep they will get if they fall asleep now, or now… or now. This clock watching can actually prevent you from falling asleep and will end up making you anxious about how much sleep you will get. Adult or child, this can be a problem.
If your child is clock-watching at night, perhaps suggest moving it to a different spot where it cannot be seen from bed to prevent this.
We are all guilty of clock-watching at some point, especially when we have to do something special or different the next day, perhaps a school trip, a play, a concert, or another event. The adrenaline is pumping, and we watch the clock and worry about how much sleep we will get. Removing the ability to watch the clock will help your child sleep easier, so they are not thinking about time.
Eat At The Same Time
Just like sleep, having an eating schedule tunes your body clock. Many people will have breakfast in the morning, lunch around noon, and dinner in the early evening. Spacing out these meals. Keeping a regular eating schedule for your child will help their body adapt to this, and eating at a reasonable time aids in sleep.
If your child feels too hungry or too full before bed, which can make them alert or uncomfortable, thus making falling asleep much harder. A healthy breakfast for your child in the morning will help their body clock jump into action at the right time and give them the energy to start the day. Lunch at a good time will assist in keeping them awake, and a nutritious meal for dinner will give them the energy and sustenance for the rest of the day, preventing hunger around bedtime.
However, do not let them eat too close to bedtime. No food should be consumed for an hour and a half to two hours before bed, this is to prevent digestion from impacting sleep. You should always check any ingredients in your child’s food or snacks, keeping a close eye on things such as caffeine, red dye, and sugar. Meaning sodas, juices, and chocolate are things to steer clear of in the run-up to bedtime.
Get Plenty Of Natural Light
It is also important that your child gets as much natural light during the day as possible, especially in the mornings. Bright light suppresses melatonin, which helps your child feel awake, alert and energetic during the day, and sleepy toward bedtime.
If you have ever worked from home or had a few days cooped up indoors, you will probably have experienced this in action. When we stay indoors a lot, we do not get the vitamin D we need to feel energetic and awake (hence why some people will take vitamin D supplements) this makes us feel more lethargic during the day and more awake at night as our bodies have not had the natural melatonin production process.
Ensuring that your child gets plenty of natural light exposure in the mornings and daytime will ensure their natural body clock does exactly what it is supposed to.
Work As A Team
Parenting is about teamwork. Always ensure that you discuss and agree on sleep strategies for your child with your partner to work as a unit to ensure it works. Otherwise, you cannot expect the child to learn, change their behaviour, or even comply.
If you decide to start a new sleep routine for your child, let them be part of the team and discuss it with them, especially if they are old enough to understand it. Plan it out and talk to them through it. If the child is young, you can always use imagery to explain the routine to them.
Communication is key in any relationship, even parent and child, and this kind of communication and teamwork is where plans and routines work best.
While most people will think of coffee straight away at the mention of caffeine, it is in more foods and drinks than you may think. Caffeine is in energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate, and sodas. These things should all be avoided as bedtime approaches, keeping them at bay in the late afternoon and evening. It is recommended to cut off the consumption of caffeine at a minimum of 6 hours before bedtime. So, if your child goes to bed at 8pm, then no more caffeine should be consumed after 2pm.
Always check food and beverages for caffeine in their contents, even a tiny bit of chocolate can have a massive impact on sleep if consumed too close to bedtime.
Remember: Always Try Your Best
It is not always easy to try and get your kid into bed. Some kids just do not want to go to bed, and sometimes activities will make them wired. If your child has been part of a Christmas play or been at a friend’s house, they may be excited and full of energy.
Bedtime routines can help to calm them and give them things and activities that their brain will associate with sleep. It can be hard to find that thing that will help your child sleep better, but there are many things to try out. Just try your best, and remember, if it doesn’t work this time, don’t beat yourself up about it, keep trying, and you will get there.
Kids Will Always Ask A Last Request Before Bed
Do not forget, kids will always ask for one thing before they go to bed, be it a hug and snuggles with their parents or pet, some water to drink, a trip to the bathroom, or just one more book.
This is normal. Think of your own bedtime routine, you know what you want and need to do before bed, the child knows too. If they need to go to the bathroom, do not stop them, as it can make them uncomfortable and cause even more issues if they try to sleep on a full bladder, or if they are thirsty.
Some children will find reading to be relaxing, and they may ask for one more book because that first one didn’t quite do the trick, however, knowing the difference between an excuse to stay awake, and a child genuinely asking for help falling asleep, is a thin line.
Do Your Best To Try And Stop Requests Before Bedtime
If you can, try to incorporate these requests into your child’s bedtime routine. Perhaps start off with PJ’s and some warm milk, some hugs from the family, then brushing teeth and using the bathroom, a drink of water then climbing into bed and reading a good book to finish off. But, let your child know once they are in bed, they must stay in bed. (Of course, needing the toilet during the night is an exception to avoid accidents. If you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.)
Don’t Give Up Or React To Your Child’s Behaviour
However, not every child will only get up if they need the bathroom, sometimes they just want to stay up. Do not give in or react to their behaviour. Simply take their hand and take them back to bed. Do not get into a debate, argument, or give into requests, as this means you’re giving them extra attention and a delayed bedtime.
Never fall for the ‘just this once’ line, as it will often become more than once, and you can destroy the routine you have built just by allowing it ‘just this one time’.
The most difficult part from this is understanding where the line is between genuine sincere requests like needing to use the bathroom, and excuses to stay awake. While toilet requests can seem like an excuse, it is wise to know that if they do genuinely need to use the restroom, and they are denied this it can create issues. Holding your bladder for too long can weaken the muscles and cause urinary incontinence and holding your bladder for too long can also create urinary tract infections– especially in girls. Try to find the difference between excuses and genuine requests and needs.
Getting your kid to go to bed is no easy feat, but it is doable. Being a parent is tough enough without being tired all the time because your kid won’t go to bed. Forging a good bedtime routine is the cornerstone of getting your child to go to sleep and have a decent circadian rhythm that means bedtime stays the same.
If your child has a designated bedtime, then you will find more time for yourself and have time to rest and recuperate as well. Bedtime routines can be as simple as managing eating habits, restricting caffeine and blue lights, reading, and having a cosy warm beverage before bed.
Different things work for different people, so do not be afraid to work with your child to forge the perfect routine for you all.
HOW TO MANAGE HIGH CHOLESTEROL
Cholesterol is made by the liver. It is a waxy substance that the body uses to build cells, among other processes. It is a type of fat also called a lipid. It travels through the bloodstream in tiny molecules wrapped inside proteins. These packages are called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) is one of the main types of lipoproteins in the blood. The other main type is high-density lipoproteins (HDL). A third type of lipid, called a triglyceride, also circulates in the blood. The body still needs a little cholesterol for healthy digestion and to make vitamin D and certain hormones.
Eating too many foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats may increase the risk of developing high cholesterol. Other lifestyle factors can also contribute to high cholesterol. These factors include inactivity and smoking. The genetics can also affect ones chances of developing high cholesterol. If the parents have high cholesterol, the offspring are at higher risk of having it too.
In most cases, high cholesterol is a “silent” problem. It typically doesn’t cause any symptoms. Many people don’t even realize they have high cholesterol until they develop serious complications, such as a heart attack or stroke.
If left untreated, high cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in the arteries. Over time, this plaque can narrow your arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can result in many life-threatening complications, such as: stroke, heart attack, angina (chest pain), high blood pressure, peripheral vascular disease, chronic kidney disease. High cholesterol can also create a bile imbalance, raising your risk of gallstones.
A cholesterol screening test is collectively reffered to as the Lipid Profile and is normally done in the morning before taking breakfast. Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per decilitre (dL) of blood. Ideal results for most adults are:
Total Cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL (the lower the number, the better)
LDL: 70 to 130 mg/dL (the lower the number, the better)
HDL: more than 40 to 60 mg/dL (the higher the number, the better)
triglycerides: 10 to 150 mg/dL (the lower the number, the better)
Following dietary guidelines, there are no specific recommended limits for the amount of cholesterol one consumes from food. But it’s still important to pay attention to the food that one eats in order to keep the body’s cholesterol levels in a healthy range.
Doctors now recommend that one limits the amount of harmful saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars in the diet. You should also keep an eye on your cholesterol intake since foods that are high in cholesterol also tend to be high in saturated fats.
Cholesterol itself is only found in animal-based foods, including meat, dairy products, seafood, egg yolks, butter. Shrimp is high in cholesterol but very low in saturated fat.
Cholesterol-free foods…. There’s no cholesterol in foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts. These are also all part of a healthy well-balanced diet.
Foods that are high in saturated fats and should be limited include: red meat and pork, baked goods, such as cakes and cookies, cheese, pizza, ice cream, processed meats, such as sausages, fried foods.
Foods containing unhealthy trans fats, which should be avoided, include fried foods, packaged foods with “hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list baked goods, such as cakes, pies, and cookies, margarine, microwave popcorn, frosting.
Foods that contain healthy unsaturated fats, which you should eat, include olive, peanut, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils, avocados, most nuts, but especially walnuts, most seeds.
Cholesterol medications: In some cases, your doctor might prescribe medications to help lower your cholesterol levels. Statins are the most commonly prescribed medications for high cholesterol. They block the liver from producing more cholesterol.
Genetic risk factors for high cholesterol can’t be controlled. However, lifestyle factors can be managed.
To lower your risk of developing high cholesterol:
Eat a nutritious diet that’s low in cholesterol and animal fats, and high in fibre like oat bran, found in oatmeal and whole oats.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
Maintain a healthy weight.
In conclusion, Pay attention to the saturated and trans fats on the food labels, as well as added sugars. The less of these one consumes, the better. No more than 10 per cent of one daily calorie should come from either saturated fats or added sugars. Don’t worry about eating enough cholesterol. The body makes enough whether or not one consumes it. Eat healthier, unsaturated fats. Try replacing butter with extra virgin olive oil in cooking, Eat lean cuts of meat, and snack nuts and seeds instead of French fries or processed snack foods.