Tag Archives: insomnia

Could Holiday Meals be Alleviating your Sleep Problems?

Author: Nick Ryan

With the holiday season upon us, chances are you have already begun to make plans to spend extra time with family, exchange gifts, or take some time off from work. Though different, all of these activities tend to have one thing in common: food. You might be tempted to write these meals off as an unnecessary splurge and something that you’ll regret in the coming weeks, but could these holiday feasts actually be helping your sleep?

An article published in the scientific journal ‘Nutritional Neuroscience’ seems to point towards the answer being yes. Researchers Craig Hudson, et al. published their findings over the amino acid tryptophan, which can be found in many of the common foods that we consume (this is the infamous compound responsible for making you tired after eating turkey). After completing a study over tryptophan’s effects on insomnia, the researchers concluded that “protein rich in tryptophan can relieve insomnia provided it is combined with a high glycemic index carbohydrate.” (Hudson).

In laymen’s terms, this means that if you are an individual who suffers from insomnia, eating foods high in tryptophan (such as poultry or other common foods) in conjunction with a carbohydrate, may actually help to relieve you of your sleep problems. The researchers even went as far as stating that “Protein source tryptophan is comparable to pharmaceutical grade tryptophan for the treatment of insomnia” (Hudson).

This is a very interesting study, and I would highly recommend reading the full publication, found here:


-Nick Ryan


Craig Hudson, Susan Patricia Hudson, Tracy Hecht & Joan MacKenzie (2005) Protein source tryptophan versus pharmaceutical grade tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for chronic insomnia, Nutritional Neuroscience, 8:2, 121-127, DOI: 10.1080/10284150500069561

Weighted Therapy

I have been doing a lot of research into different solutions to help my fall asleep fast and stay asleep longer. While I do enjoy the benefits of melatonin, I do not want to develop a dependency on it despite it being a safe over the counter drug. I have had a few acquaintances mentioned that they have a weighted blanket and has changed their sleeping game for the better, I thought it would be worth my time to look into how it can help me.

Insomnia: the inability to sleep. It is estimated that over 40 million people suffer from insomnia, ya girl being on of them. However, using a weighted blanket might be the answer. According to researchers, deep touch pressure stimulation (essentially, a gentle pressure –that provided by a weighted blanket) releases serotonin, the chemical that regulates sleep. The weighted blanket is supposed to help improve your quality of sleep as well – that’s a major plus, right?
Reducing anxiety and stress: It seems that deep touch pressure stimulation therapy is also good for helping to alleviate the stress and anxiety that you feel at times. The blanket acts as if there is actually someone around hugging you. I am a firm believer that hugs make the world go round, so I love a good hug. It really can make a difference in your mood when you are feeling like the world is collapsing. It seems that this therapy has proven to be effective for those who also suffer from ADHD. The pressure from the blanket is thought to help ADHD sufferers concentrate a little better on the task that they are preforming.
RLS and Fibromyalgia Pain: Doctors recommend compression socks for their patients who suffer from restless leg syndrome because the compression is supposed to lessen the frequency of the tingly feeling that RLS encompasses. However, their patient often complain about the uncomfortable feeling that they feel due to the compression socks. Please enter your weight blanket; it will provide the same effective as the compression socks, with maximum comfort. The constant pressure from the blanket provides relief without the constriction that you may feel from the socks. I know that RLS and Fibromyalgia are two completely different illnesses, but the weighted blankets provides the same benefits for those who suffer from either illnesses.
Now, my favorite benefit provided by the use of the weighted blanket is not human related at all – it’s a wonderful solutions for our favorite furry friends. I know that cats are particular when it comes to cuddling and other furry things, so this may not be a good idea for them, but if you know me, you know that I am partial to dogs, so this is truly who it is meant for. My furry friend is among the majority that do not take well to sirens (police or ambulances) or fireworks. While I enjoy every moment that I can spend cuddling with dog, I hate that he’s frightened by these things. The weighted blanket works for dogs as it does for humans; so just like us, when having a panic or stress attach, the weighted therapy makes things seem better, it provides a sense of calm and comfort to our fur babies.

Of course, there are numerous other benefits to using a weighted blanket. You can find more information here and even purchase one should you want to benefit from its use as well:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

Insomnia, in simple terms, can be defined as not being able to sleep. The medical definition, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is “difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even with a person has the chance to do so.”

Insomnia is a major problem facing many Americans today. About one in four women show signs of insomnia, and one in seven adults suffer from long- term (chronic) insomnia. There are some who rely on natural sleep remedies such as a diffuser with calming scents to induce sleep, and others rely on prescription medications to help them fall asleep and stay asleep. And then there are some that try an alternative form of ‘therapy’ – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia or CBT-I for short.

CBT-I, according to the National Institute of Health, “is a safe and effective means of managing chronic insomnia and its effects.” The way CBT-I works is similar to seeing a therapist. You go in and speak with a clinician and go through a number of assessments. You will keep a sleep diary, it should track if/when you have trouble falling asleep; how many time you wake up throughout the night; and when you get into bed to actually go to sleep and when you wake up to begin your day, which you will reference through the sessions with the clinician. Essentially, you are retraining your brain on how and when to sleep.

The first step in CBT-I is known as Sleep Restriction Therapy. This occurs within the first six weeks of CBT-I. You will you utilize your sleep diary throughout this period discussing your results with your clinician. Based on the research that I found, one clinician told his patient not to go to sleep until midnight despite that patient having to wake up early everyday during the work week. The patient reported that she was getting less sleep than before she started CBT-I, however by the end of the sixth week she was finally able to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night.

Other parts of the CBT-I process are known as Stimulus Control Instructions and Sleep Hygiene Education. “Stimulus Control Instructions are created by looking at the patient’s sleep habits and pinpointing different actions that may be prohibiting sleep,” says the National Sleep Foundation. The answer for this is quite simple – no eating or watching TV in the bedroom. Anything other then sleep should not take place in the bedroom. If you find yourself wide awake and unable to sleep, it is advised that you leave your bedroom – this will help train your mind and body. Sleep Hygiene Education involves learning about the do’s and do not’s of sleep like sleeping in cool, dark room is the most ideal thing to do, and avoid caffeine, alcohol or heavy meals near bedtime.

There is much more to CBT-I then what we have discussed today. It is a long process, but with some time and continued effort, I think the results will be very promising.

%d bloggers like this: