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  • CPAP Crisis Creates Chaos for Apnea Victims and Snorers!

    Original Article | The People’s Pharmacy

    Do you know someone who snores and/or stops breathing temporarily? They could have sleep apnea. Why is there a CPAP crisis? Who is at fault?

    According to the AMA“About 30 million people in the United States have sleep apnea, but only 6 million are diagnosed with the condition.” People with sleep apnea may stop breathing many times during the night. These episodes can last a few seconds or as long as a minute or two. They can occur dozens of times an hour. There is a CPAP crisis going on because many patients are having a hard time getting safe CPAP devices. Disclaimer: we do not know who made the CPAP device in the photo. The illustration is not intended as criticism.

    What’s It Like To Suffer Sleep Apnea?

    I have tried holding my breath while timing it with my smart phone stopwatch. It starts to get uncomfortable around 25 seconds and I have to take a breath around 30 seconds. I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to go longer than that.

    Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by the collapse of muscles in the throat. This can block the airway. The result is reduced oxygenation of the circulating blood.

    Patients with OSA often suffer from daytime sleepiness and brain fog. That makes them more prone to accidents. They are also more likely to develop hypertension, strokes, irregular heart rhythms or heart attacks.

    Symptoms can include noisy snoring interrupted by gasping or gagging sounds. For a bed partner, this can be scary and/or annoying. It’s hard to sleep when the person nearby is “sawing wood” and intermittently gasping for air. People with OSA may also complain about frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom to pee, morning headaches, daytime irritability and “cotton mouth” upon awakening.

    Treating OSA and the CPAP Crisis:

    To treat sleep apnea, doctors prescribe machines that pump air in a continuous stream that can help keep the airways open. They are called CPAP devices, for continuous positive airway pressure. Some people find the devices noisy and uncomfortable. You have to wear a kind of face mask that pushes air into the throat and lungs.

    Others find the devices improve the quality of their lives. Here is just one of the hundreds of messages we have received on our website:

    Jerry reports that CPAP made a difference:

    “Sleep apnea is a medical condition that can cause frequent nighttime urination. After being diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea, I was treated using CPAP therapy.

    “The very first night after getting my CPAP machine I slept for a full 7 hours. Before treatment, I was waking and passing large amounts of urine every 1-2 hours. My blood pressure went from high to normal, and my heart rate during exercise dropped by 20 heartbeats.”

    The CPAP Crisis Is Creating Chaos:

    Needless to say, people with serious sleep apnea rely on these machines and are well aware that their lives depend on them. Just imagine the panic they might feel if their machines were no longer available.

    That has happened to far too many patients over the last year, as the company that dominates the industry, Philips Respironics, fumbled a recall of faulty CPAP devices.

    Here is what one reader wrote us about the CPAP crisis:

    “My husband has sleep apnea, so he has used a CPAP for over 12 years. Recently his machine stopped working. When he contacted his supplier, he was told his machine had been recalled and he would have to wait for a replacement. They advised him to contact the manufacturer, Philips.

    “He called Philips, and after following the instructions to restart the machine, was told it was not working. That was July 11. We had just gotten home from the ER where we both tested positive for COVID and received infusions. So he has been without his CPAP since then.

    Anxiety interferes with sleep:

    “He is very aware of the dangers of not using the CPAP machine and has been sleeping very uncomfortably since then. I have been anxious as well, just listening to his snoring. Here’s hoping he does not stop breathing, as he used to do before getting the CPAP.

    “I have heard that it can take up to a year to get a replacement. Surely, he is not alone in this situation. What is a person with sleep apnea supposed to do? A person at his pulmonologist’s office said they are currently diagnosing new patients with severe sleep apnea. These patients are being placed on waiting lists.

    “To my mind, this situation is similar to not having baby formula available. Apparently, there are currently just two companies in the USA who manufacture CPAP devices. What can patients do without this important appliance? Doctors warn that using the machine every night is of critical importance. What can be done to help so many people in need?

    “I am hoping that sleep apnea patients can soon get the machines they desperately need for a good safe night’s sleep.”

    How Has the FDA Fumbled the CPAP Crisis?

    Our reader is right to compare the situation with CPAP machines to the baby formula shortage. Both result from the FDA’s inadequate oversight. In our opinion, the FDA has fumbled a few too many oversight responsibilities.

    That’s not just our opinion. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine, July 26, 2021 reviewed the FDA’s oversight of MAUDE (Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience). The agency relies on device manufacturers, distributors, physicians, patients, hospitals and other health care facilities to submit reports of problems. Unfortunately, the FDA only pays attention to deaths, rather than all serious complaints.

    The analysis in JAMA Internal Medicine points out that:

    “For the overall sample, the percentage of reports with deaths that were not classified as deaths was 23%, suggesting that approximately 31,552 reports in our sample had deaths that were classified in other categories.”

    If the FDA ignores serious complaints and overlooks deaths with misleading codes, it risks leaving flawed medical devices on the market long past their “use by” date. You can read more about the agency’s fumbling and bumbling at this link.

    What Went Wrong With CPAP Machines”

    On July 29, 2021, the FDA issued an announcement about problems with Philips Respironics BiPap and CPAP machines.

    On May 19, 2022 the agency updated its warning:

    “Philips Respironics (Philips) voluntarily recalled certain ventilators, bi-level positive airway pressure (also known as Bilevel PAP, BiPAP, or BPAP) machines, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines in June 2021 due to potential health risks. The polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam used in these medical devices to lessen sound and vibration can break down. If the foam breaks down, black pieces of foam, or certain chemicals that are not visible, could be breathed in or swallowed by the person using the device.”

    The Washington Post reported on July 29, 2022 that:

    “Today, those machines are at the heart of one of the biggest medical device debacles in decades.”

    “If inhaled or swallowed, the emissions could cause headaches, asthma, lung problems and even cancer, the company warned in launching a massive recall. The Food and Drug Administration classified the recall as the most serious type, saying “use of these devices may cause serious injuries or deaths.”

    According to the Washington Post, millions of patients have been left in limbo while they wait for their devices to be repaired or replaced.

    “In May, the FDA announced it had received 21,000 reports, including 124 deaths, concerning the breakdown of the polyester-based polyurethane foam in sleep apnea machines and ventilators during the past year — a sharp increase from 30 the previous decade.”

    How long has the maker of CPAP machines known there was a problem? Why didn’t the FDA discover this problem on its own? What should it do about the CPAP crisis?

    Some Recommendations from The People’s Pharmacy:

    Here are some of our suggestions:

    • 1) The president should invoke the Defense Production Act to increase the manufacture of chips specifically for these medical devices.
    • 2) Philips Respironics should prioritize delivering CPAP machines to people who are most vulnerable. The company should also communicate directly to every patient.
    • 3) The FDA should be more proactive regarding critical medical devices so that a life-threatening shortage of this sort never happens again.

    What Do You Think?

    We would love to read your thoughts about the CPAP crisis in the comment section below. Do you know someone who snores and has obstructive sleep apnea? Have they ever used a CPAP machine? Has their device been recalled? What are they doing now?

    If you think this article has merit, please send it to friends and family. We suspect that someone you know snores, has a sleep apnea and/or has a CPAP-type machine. They (and their health care providers) may not know about the problems with these devices. It’s super easy to share. Just scroll to the top of the page and click on the icons for email, Twitter and Facebook.

    While you are at it, please encourage your contacts to sign up for our free online newsletter. You may have noticed that Google accepts a lot of drug and device ads. Is it any wonder that articles like this disappear almost without a trace? The only way your acquaintances can read our independent voice is to subscribe to our newsletter at this link. Thank you for supporting our work!

    Contact us TODAY! Our oral devices can help.







  • Air Filters in the Bedroom and Airway Resistance

    Posted by Lisa Spear | Original Post Apr 12, 2020 

    Using a bedroom air filter that traps fine particles of pollution with diameters smaller than 2.5 micrometers can significantly improve breathing in asthmatic children, a new study in JAMA Pediatrics found.

    The research documents that physiological improvements occur in the childrens’ airways when air filters are in use, and it suggests that with consistent use, the filters may help prevent, not just alleviate, asthmatic flare-ups.

    While using the filters daily for two weeks, children in the study experienced decreased airway resistance and lung inflammation and increased airway elasticity, among other benefits.

    Air Purifier and Sleep

    “Pharmaceutical companies have spent large amounts to develop drugs that can work on lower airways, but they are very expensive. Our results show that using an air purifier to reduce the exposure of lower airways to pollutants could help asthmatic children breathe easier without those costly drugs,” Junfeng Zhang, professor of global and environmental health at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, says in a statement.

    “This warrants a clinical trial to confirm findings,” he says.

    Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is a ubiquitous air pollutant originating from fossil fuel emissions, wildfires and other biomass burning, industrial sources, and gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Thirty times smaller in diameter than a human hair, the particles are easily inhaled and can penetrate deep into the small, or lower, airways where they can trigger or exacerbate asthma symptoms. Inhalers don’t help, since they are only designed to open upper airways, according to the researchers.

    The scientists conducted the double-blind crossover study in a Shanghai suburb during a period of moderately high PM2.5 pollution in 2017. They gave 43 children with mild to moderate asthma two air filters to use in their bedrooms. One was a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter capable of removing PM2.5; the other was a sham filter. Each filter was used for two weeks in random order with a two-week interval in between. Neither the children nor their families knew which filter was which.

    Results showed that PM2.5 concentrations inside the children’s bedrooms were a third to two-thirds lower when the real air filters were in use than when the sham ones were being used, Michael H. Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, says in a statement.

    This drop coincided with significant improvements in how easily air flowed in and out of the children’s small airways and lungs, Bergin says. These improvements included a 24% average reduction in total airway resistance, a 43.5% average reduction in small airway resistance, a 73.1% average increase in airway elasticity, and a 27.6% average reduction in exhaled nitric oxide, a biomarker of lung inflammation.

    Although the benefits lasted only as long as the real air filters were in use, “it’s probable that if children use the filters on an ongoing daily basis they will see continued benefits,” Zhang says.

    If clinical trials confirm the new study’s findings, the filters could serve as a practical preventive measure for asthma management in polluted outdoor or indoor environments worldwide, he says. They could also be lifesavers in areas near wildfires.

    “Look at the high PM2.5 pollution levels that occurred in San Francisco last year as a result of smoke from the California wildfires, and at the air-quality problems happening this year from the bushfires in Australia,” he says. “People should really consider using one of these devices during wildfires.”

  • Can Oily Fish, Cherries or Milk Help You Sleep? Here’s What the Evidence Shows

    James BrownAston University and Duane MellorAston University

    Original Article | Posted by Lisa Spear | Dec 17, 2021 | Sleep & the Body

    Almost one-in-five British people report they don’t get enough sleep each night. The problem is so bad that in total the UK public are losing around a night’s worth of shut-eye each week.

    There are a lot of popular beliefs about foods and drinks helping people get a good night’s rest, but many of them are not based on scientific evidence. Here’s what we know.

    Chemistry of food and sleep

    Our diet has an influence upon sleep patterns by affecting the sleep hormone melatonin. For example, foods rich in the essential amino acid tryptophan are commonly cited as helping sleep, as tryptophan helps produce melatonin. Additionally, some vitamins and minerals may help sleep, such as vitamin Dmagnesium and zinc.

    Oily fish: Evidence suggests the more oily fish, such as salmon or herring, you eat the better you sleep. Oily fish contain healthy fats such as omega-3 oils which have been shown to improve sleep in children and are involved in serotonin release. Serotonin, a brain chemical linked to mood, also regulates the sleep-wake cycle which may also explain how eating oily fish can help.

    Tart cherries: A number of studies have looked at consumption of tart cherries, usually in the form of a drink, and sleep. Evidence suggests that tart cherries improves sleep in older adults, probably due to their ability to increase melatonin levels. And tart cherries are also rich in nutrients, including magnesium, which also may improve your sleep.

    Kiwi fruit: The evidence for kiwi fruit helping you sleep is mixed. One study suggested four weeks of kiwi fruit consumption improved multiple sleep measures, while another, admittedly in sufferers of insomnia, found no effect. Based on these findings it is not clear yet that eating kiwi fruit will benefit sleep for most people.

    Oysters: In 1888 W F Nelsom wrote “He who sups on oysters is wont on that night to sleep placidly…”. There is some evidence to back up this statement, with zinc-rich foods, including oysters, being reported to benefit sleep. However, on balance eating oysters before bedtime is unlikely to be beneficial to your night’s sleep.

    Alcohol and other drinks

    Alcohol causes brain activity to slow down and has sedative effects that can induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness> But consuming alcohol is actually linked to poor sleep quality and duration. Although drinking alcohol may cause more rapid sleep onset, this can affect the different stages of sleep, decreasing overall sleep quality. If you want a good night’s sleep, avoiding alcohol is sound advice. But are there any non-alcoholic drinks that might help?

    Warm milk: Research conducted in the 1970s suggested that a glass of warm milk before bed could improve sleep quality. This research was performed in a very small group however, and little research has been done since. Drinking milk does increase melatonin levels which could help. But there isn’t enough evidence to support the claim that a glass of warm milk definitely makes you nod off.

    Bone broth: Bone broth commonly crops up in online articles as a food that can aid sleep. This may be due its high content of the amino acid glycine. Glycine has been shown to improve sleep in rodents and humans, possibly by lowering body temperature. There are however no studies specifically looking at bone broth consumption and sleep.

    Herbal teas: The range of herbal teas aimed at the sleep market has grown and grown. Evidence for valerian, a common ingredient, to aid sleep is inconclusive. Decaffeinated green tea has been reported to improve sleep quality, which might be linked to the relaxing qualities of L-theanine, an amino acid it contains, but in general, avoiding caffeinated teas is a wise choice. If you like herbal teas, then they can be part of a relaxing pre-bedtime routine – but they are unlikely to improve your sleep quality.

    A bedtime routine

    Having a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep are important. These include keeping to the same time to head off to bed, making your bedroom free of disruptions and having a relaxing pre-sleep routine. But many of the foods that have claimed benefits for sleep have little or no evidence behind them, to the point there are no legally recognized health claims for food assisting sleep approved in the UK or Europe.

    If any one of these things helps you to sleep well, there’s no reason to stop. But just remember the other basics of a good nights sleep too, including relaxing before bed and avoiding too much blue light from electronic devices.

    James Brown, Associate Professor in Biology and Biomedical Science, Aston University and Duane Mellor, Lead for Evidence-Based Medicine and Nutrition, Aston Medical School, Aston University

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

  • All the best sleep products we tested in 2021

    We thought to jumpstart the New Year we would share this exhaustive list of fantastic sleep aids. We stumbled across this article from CNN and found it shareworthy.

    CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or office chairs — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

    Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

    This year, we tested dozens of sleep-related products — from bedding to alarm clocks — to find the best products you need to get the rest you need.

    Bedding

    Down comforters

    Shutterstock

    Best down comforter overall: Brooklinen Down Comforter (starting at $159; brooklinen.com)

    Have you ever wished you could sleep on the clouds? Well, the Brooklinen Down Comforter is the closest thing to that. From the moment we took it out of the packaging, we had a hunch that this would be a favorite. And we were right.

    The comforter comes in three different weight options: lightweight, all-season and ultra warm. We tested the all-season comforter, and despite it being the middle of winter with temperatures dropping indoors and out, we found it to perfectly balance snuggly warmth with breathability. Though on the heavier end of the spectrum (it boasts a 700 fill power and baffle box design), we never found the comforter to trap too much heat or cause nighttime sweating. The comforter, with its 100% cotton sateen shell, was one of the softest we tested — and the one we kept coming back to cuddle into most nights.

    Best down comforter for warmth: The Company Store Legends Hotel Alberta Down Comforter (starting at $299; thecompanystore.com)

    When it comes to warmth and coziness, the Legends Hotel Alberta Down Comforter from The Company Store is unrivaled.

    Full disclosure: This comforter is for truly frosty climates, or especially cold sleepers. Though available in three different weights — light, medium and extra, all of which sport a baffle box construction — we tested and recommend the extra warmth option (which has a 650 fill power). While our main tester, who tends to sleep hot, found this lofty comforter slightly too heavy to sleep with throughout the night, a cold-sleeping family member absolutely loved the warmth the Legends Hotel Alberta Down Comforter provided.

    Best down-alternative comforter: Buffy Cloud Comforter (starting at $109.65; buffy.co)

    The Buffy Cloud Comforter was like no other comforter we tested. This down-alternative comforter was by far the best alternative version we tested — and the only one we’d recommend, as the other down alternatives we tested lacked in both quality of construction and comfort.

    Although this was a new type of material for us — as we typically sleep with a down comforter in our nontesting days — we thought the fabric was very soft and lightweight but still heavy enough to keep us warm throughout the night. The comforter was also very quiet, emitting no crinkling sounds when shifting sleeping positions.

    • Read more from our testing of comforters here.

    Flannel sheets

    L.L.Bean

    Best overall flannel sheets: Garnet Hill Hemstitched Supima Flannel Bedding ($197 for a queen set; garnethill.com)

    Luxurious without feeling overly thick or too weighty, Garnet Hill offers a delectably comfortable flannel sheet at a mid-to-high end price point, starting at $197 for a queen set (which includes two pillowcases, a fitted sheet and a flat sheet). These flannels come in lots of varieties of color and size, and instill confidence you’re getting a quality product that’ll last for years to come.

    Best lighter-weight option: West Elm Organic Flannel Solid Sheet Set ($170 for a queen set; westelm.com)

    Very close to our overall favorite because it is both supremely cozy and the most lightweight of all the sets we tested is West Elm’s organic flannel sheet, which starts at $170 for a queen set. These sheets didn’t come out on top because they’re available in only two colors and cannot be ordered a la carte like Garnet Hill’s sheets.

    Best cold-weather sheets: L.L.Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet Set ($119 for a queen set; llbean.com)

    If you’re sleeping in really cold weather and you want to feel positively bundled, L.L.Bean makes a weighty flannel sheet for you — at a competitive price point for the level of craftsmanship therein at $119 for a queen set.

    Best bargain: Pinzon Signature Cotton Heavyweight Velvet Flannel Sheet Set ($70.99 for a queen set; amazon.com)

    Also delivering an excellent and very warm night of sleep, Pinzon by Amazon turns out a substantial flannel sheet at just $70.99 for a queen set. That’s half the price of some of the other higher-end brands, but you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing quality.

    • Read more from our testing of flannel sheets here.

    Linen sheets

    iStock

    Best linen sheets overall: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

    Making the bed with these sheets was effortless. We’ve struggled with tight-fitting cotton sheets before, wondering why bed-making must be truly laborious. The Parachute linens were roomy but not baggy. They fit the bed comfortably, like a lovingly worn-in linen button-down. On the summer night we first tested these, the sheets were soft but also firm. If this sounds uncomfortable, it was the converse: cool, light and luxurious. Our first mental note was that we felt like we were sleeping on a cloud.

    Runner-up linen sheets: Citizenry (starting at $230; the-citizenry.com)

    These are a sturdier, thicker option than some of the ones we tested, and thus feel like they’ll transition well into colder weather. Without an air conditioner unit blasting directly onto us in the heat of summer, these sheets almost felt heavy — so they wouldn’t be our first recommendation for hot sleepers. In a more temperature-controlled room, though, they felt so cozy we didn’t want to leave the bed.

    After even the first washing, these beauties softened significantly, rendering them even more snuggly.

    Softest linen sheets: Brooklinen (starting at $269; brooklinen.com)

    These sheets are the definition of soft. So comfortable. So enveloping. So melty. (They’re crafted from 100% French and Belgian linen, made in Portugal, and Oeko-Tex-certified for chemical safety.) We sort of dissolved into them in a very pleasing way. They felt like they had been washed and rewashed dozens of times, already achieving that texture, and from a sleeping experience alone, they were our favorite.

    Best affordable linen sheets: Amazon Simple&Opulence 100% Washed Linen Sheet Set (starting at $114; amazon.com)

    For less than $150, this is a very satisfying set of linens. While the sheets were slightly less luxurious-feeling and special than some of the other sets with special details or touches, these rank as high-quality, durable bedding more than worth their weight.

    • Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

    Duvet covers

    Boll & Branch

    Best duvet cover overall: Casper Sateen Duvet Cover (starting at $99; casper.com)

    Hands down, the Casper Sateen Duvet Cover was the best duvet cover we tested. From the moment we took it out of the bag, we knew this one would be a winner. Between the zipper closure at the bottom to the hidden holes on the corners to more easily attach the cover to the duvet, the design of this duvet cover blew the others we tested out of the water — all for a middle-of-the-road price tag.

    Best duvet cover for warmth: L.L.Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Comforter Cover (starting at $64.95; llbean.com)

    For the colder months, or for those looking to outfit their cozy cabin, the L.L.Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Comforter Cover will give you the utmost softest feel while adding some warmth, as it was made from the thickest material we tested. And at less than $100 for a king-size cover, its quality and comfort surpass the price.

    Best luxury duvet cover: Boll & Branch Signature Eyelet Duvet Cover Set (starting at $358; bollandbranch.com)

    Want something a little more than plain Jane when it comes to design? If so, the Boll & Branch Signature Eyelet Duvet Cover is the perfect middle ground: It’s elegant but adds some design elements with borders. A full overlay also covers the bottom buttons, completing the design border. The quality is superb, with all stitching, ties and buttons fully secure. Note that this duvet cover isn’t cheap — in fact, it’s the most expensive of all we tested — but it’s one of the few luxury brands that also includes shams, making it easy to ensure that your bedding will match.

    Best affordable duvet cover: Mellanni Microfiber (starting at $27; amazon.com)

    If you love walking into a hotel room and getting comfy on those sleek-looking beds, you’ll love the Mellanni Microfiber Duvet Cover. With hidden button covers and matching shams and pillows, this comfortable duvet cover will lend an elegant vibe to your bedroom — at just around $30 in total for a five-piece set, an absolute steal in our book.

    • Read more from our testing of duvet covers here.

    Silk pillowcases

    Amazon

    Best silk pillowcase overall: Fishers Finery 25mm 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase ($49.99; amazon.com)

    Fishers Finery — made from the finest silk available — felt luxuriously silky, fit our pillows perfectly, offered beautiful nights of sleep and were easy to wash and dry both by hand and in the machine.

    Best affordable silk pillowcase: MYK Silk Natural Silk Pillowcase with Cotton Underside ($23.99; amazon.com)

    The MYK Silk Natural Silk Pillowcase, featuring lovely silk on one side and white cotton on the other, offered a good fit, restful sleep and for about half the price of the Fishers Finery option — though it’s notably less luxurious-feeling.

    Best luxury silk pillowcase: Lunya Washable Silk Pillowcase ($74; lunya.co)

    We couldn’t get enough sleeps on the Lunya Washable Silk Pillowcase. Also a silk on one side, cotton on the other option, Lunya’s silk surface case was the most lavish to the touch, and design details made it feel significantly elevated.

    • Read more from our testing of silk pillowcases here.

    Alarm clocks

    Kai Burkhardt/CNN

    Best alarm clock overall: Jall Wooden Digital Alarm Clock ($25; amazon.com)

    The Jall Wooden Digital Alarm Clock looks great and has everything you need in an alarm clock. It’s simple to set, read, and use, and can wake you dependably with multiple alarms.

    Runner-up: DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock ($18.99; amazon.com)

    An easy-to-use alarm clock without any bells and whistles to get in the way, the DreamSky is simple, durable, and highly readable, and will get you out of bed in the morning with a loud beep that isn’t too startling.

    Best sunrise alarm clock (and best with radio): Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520 ($99.99; amazon.com)

    Able to wake you gently with lights that gradually brighten to mimic the dawn, the Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520 is a great sunrise alarm clock and one of the best all-around alarm clocks we tested, with intuitive programming, a wide range of alarm tones and a radio.

    Best alarm clock for heavy sleepers: Sonic Bomb Dual Extra-Loud Alarm Clock With Bed Shaker ($32.07, originally $52.95; amazon.com)

    With the most intense, abrasive sound of any alarm we tested, a strobe light, and a vibrating puck that you place under your pillow, the Sonic Bomb can awaken even the heaviest sleepers

    • Read more from our testing of alarm clocks here.

    White noise machines

    Benjamin Levin/CNN

    Best sound machine overall: Sound+Sleep Mini ($65.63; amazon.com)

    The Sound+Sleep Mini contains 48 different sounds, like rain, brooks, fans, ocean sounds, white noise, and many more. The other devices we tested feature some of these soundscapes, but the Mini is one of the only one that has them all. .

    The upgrade pick: Hatch Restore ($129.99; amazon.com)

    While our overall pick is a classic sound machine, the Hatch Restore resides packs extra features like a large color-changing light on the front, a digital clock display and routines to help you wind down and fall asleep easier.

    • Read more from our testing of white noise machines here.

    Sleep mask

    Amazon

    Best sleep mask overall: Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask ($9.98; amazon.com)

    Let’s get right to our favorite thing about this mask: the adjustable nose wire. Similar to the nose wire in the masks that we have become all too familiar with in the last year, the Mavogel’s nose wire lets you get the perfect light-blocking, lock-in-place fit. Many masks had a slight crack of light around the nose bridge. This mask, though, formed the best seal around the edges, blocking out more light than any other mask we tested.

    • Read more from our testing of sleep masks here.

  • How To Wind Down for Better Sleep—Especially if You’re an Introvert

    Original Post | Erica Sloan・December 15, 2021

    Picture the pinnacle of social exhaustion: Perhaps, you’ve just spent four hours at a work holiday party, meeting the humans behind a bunch of Zoom squares IRL for the first time. Or, maybe you had a day of reconnecting with family members you haven’t seen in two, time-blurred pandemic years. It would seem that hitting the hay would be the most obvious solution—but once you get into bed, your body seems to say, Not so fast. For introverts, in particular, the draining nature of being social can leave you, paradoxically, chasing sleep.

    In general, that counterproductive scenario springs from the difference between feeling fatigued and feeling tired, says psychologist and behavioral sleep-medicine specialist Shelby Harris, PsyD, DBSM, author of The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia. While the former reflects a total drain of energy (which tends to happen for an introvert after a social event), the latter is more about physical sleepiness, which is that drowsy feeling that allows you to drift off to dreamland.

    “For introverts, socializing tends to overstimulate the brain and body, leading some to feel irritable, indecisive, or on edge.” —behavioral sleep-medicine specialist Shelby Harris, PsyD

    “For introverts, socializing tends to overstimulate the brain and body, leading some to feel irritable, indecisive, or on edge, or even to get physical symptoms, like a headache or muscle aches,” says Dr. Harris. “While all of that can be extremely exhausting, it doesn’t necessarily lead to feeling sleepy.” By contrast, a social event can actually flood the brain with uppers like dopamine, adrenaline, and cortisol, which, for an introvert, tend to be perceived negatively, says Mike Dow, PsyD, psychotherapist at Field Trip Health, a psychedelic-assisted therapy practice. In fact, these neurotransmitters can keep you reeling long after an event wraps up (cue: the introvert hangover).RELATED STORIESHow To Make Waking Up in the Dark Suck Less, According to…Not an Early Bird or Night Owl? Science Suggests There May Be…

    Trying to get to sleep in that state can require a whole lot more than simply getting into bed; after all, the process of falling asleep is nothing like an on-off switch, biologically, says Dr. Harris. For an introvert, especially, easing your mind into sleep mode is best done with a calming pre-bed ritual. Below, the experts share tips for socially exhausted introverts who want nothing more than to get a good night’s sleep.

    It’s especially hard for introverts to sleep after a highly social experience, but these 5 tips can help

    1. Create a container for your thoughts.

    “Introverts are internal processors,” says psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength. “They often take inputs from conversations and process them later, which can mean mulling over what someone said, replaying or continuing a conversation, coming up with a better comeback, and the like.”https://556d592cd02b0abe412f5bc25f63d090.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

    Journaling can help put a pause to that spiral by providing a space for you to essentially unload all of your thoughts, and, if you’d like, feel free to return to them later—ideally at a time when you’re not trying desperately to get catch precious zzz’s.

    2. Talk back to negative self-talk.

    In re-assessing a social event (as introverts are wont to do), you may find that certain percolating thoughts devolve into negative or anxious ones. For example, it’s easy to start over-evaluating and hyper-personalizing, says Dr. Dow. “Maybe you start thinking, ‘Was Cindy looking at me weird? I must have done something wrong.’ And as the night goes on, the thoughts can turn more catastrophic in nature, leading to something like, ‘If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I’m going to botch this presentation tomorrow, and if that happens, I could get fired,’ and so on,” he says.https://556d592cd02b0abe412f5bc25f63d090.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

    In that case, he suggests employing one of the classic strategies of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is to reconsider thoughts and feelings not as facts but merely as information, which you can choose to disregard. “Access the best parts of yourself to talk back to those inner voices,” he says.

    3. Write in a gratitude journal.

    Taking time to remember all the things for which you’re grateful—whether they include highlights from the social activity of the day, or something else entirely—can also help you forgo the kind of thought-spiraling that tends to ward off sleep.https://556d592cd02b0abe412f5bc25f63d090.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

    “Because introverts are natural problem-solvers, they can get stuck in focusing on what’s not working,” says Dr. Helgoe. “But a gratitude list can help you balance that problem orientation by reminding you of what is working.” And that, in and of itself, can be incredibly soothing.

    4. Practice some non-screen-based relaxation.

    While it’s tempting to scroll through Instagram or scan emails in bed to occupy a restless mind, that level of mental stimulation, combined with the melatonin-suppressing blue light, is a recipe for wakefulness. Instead, do anything non-screen-related that feels calming and relaxing, whether that’s reading, knitting, listening to music, or even coloring or doing a simple crossword or jigsaw puzzle, says Dr. Harris. (You can also practice mindfulness meditation, but because this can be challenging to really sink into with an overactive mind, Dr. Harris says it’ll be most beneficial for someone who already has a daytime meditation practice.

    If you’re really at a loss for where to start, try connecting with each of the five senses, says Dr. Dow: “Soothe your sense of touch with a bath, your sense of smell with a lavender candle, your sense of sight with dimmed lighting, your sense of hearing with calming music or a meditation track, and your sense of taste with a nighttime tea.”

    5. And if you’re tossing and turning, get out of bed.

    Trying to make sleep happen often keeps it from, well, happening. So, instead of remaining in bed and trying to will yourself asleep, get up, walk into another room, and return to whatever wind-down exercise you were doing beforehand in dim lighting, says Dr. Harris: “Simply changing what you’re doing and where you’re doing it can often help stop an overactive mind in its tracks.”

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  • 7 Midnight Snacks That RDs Say Can Help Lull You Back To Sleep

    Original Post | Well + Good Food and Nutrition

    We’ve all had those nights where we inexplicably wake up in the middle of the night with a grumbling belly. Maybe it was that HIIT workout you braved for the first time, your marathon of meetings-slash-evening-errands that left you with little time to eat an adequate dinner, or maybe you were just dreaming about delicious pasta (the best type of reverie).

    While you could certainly go forth and eat gobs of Nutella straight from the jar—convenience and tastiness are both extremely key, after all—you don’t need to be an registered dietitian to conclude that the sugar content isn’t exactly a recipe for sound sleep the rest of the night. “High fat and high sugar foods like ice cream and cookies are a double whammy of not helping you sleep well, because fat takes a long time to digest,” says Dawn Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. “Giving your gut foods that are difficult to digest distracts your body from sleep, and then sugar causes spikes and crashes of blood sugar and those will interrupt sleep, too.”

    Blatner also suggests avoiding alcohol since, even though your nightcap can make you feel sleepy, it will disrupt your sleep cycle later in the night and lead to lower quality sleep. Caffeinated teas or too much of anything liquid should also be consumed in moderation, she adds, as having to use the bathroom can keep you awake.

    So what should you eat if you’re in the mood for a mid-snooze nosh? Read on for these RD-approved suggestions for healthy midnight snacks that will help you get right back to your REM cycle.

    7 healthy midnight snacks that will help lull you back to sleep

    1. Tart Cherries

    Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s internal clock and sleep-wake cycle,” says Blatner. If you can’t find tart cherries at the supermarket, she suggests opting for tart cherry concentrate, which is the super-charged version of tart cherry juice with two tablespoons packing in the equivalent of a whopping 60-plus cherries. Instead of guzzling it (remember that sugar and excessive amounts of liquid can keep you awake), create yourself a little ‘natural’ jello shot before bed. “All you do is mix two tablespoons of tart cherry concentrate with a tablespoon of chia seeds and chill it in the fridge. Try topping it with greek yogurt to combat the tartness,” Blatner says.RELATED STORIES‘I’m a Registered Dietitian, and This Is the One Food I Always…Why Snacking on Hemp Seeds Can Help You Sleep More Soundly

    2. Pumpkin Seeds

    “Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, and studies have found that magnesium improves insomnia and sleep efficiency,” says Blatner. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are other good sources of magnesium that all make for ideal healthy midnight snacks.

    3. Cottage Cheese

    Cottage cheese contains the amino acid L-tryptophan. “Tryptophan plays a role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s associated with healthy sleep,” says Blatner. “Research has found people who ate cottage cheese about 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed experienced better metabolic health, muscle quality, and overall health than people who didn’t.”https://79dbc014217aa09ddae4500b65493fc3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

    We know it’s no cheesy mozzarella pizza or ricotta cheesecake, but you can optimize your enjoyment of cottage cheese with a sprinkle of cinnamon (which has its own sleep benefits). “You can also try topping it with tahini or sunflower seed butter, which both contain tryptophan as well,” says Blatner.

    4. Warm Milk

    New research suggests that the casein protein in cow’s milk interacts with trypsin, a digestive enzyme in the stomach, to produce a sleep-enhancing peptide complex called CTH, or casein tryptic hydrolysate,” says Blatner. “The added vitamin D in milk may also play a role in maintaining healthful sleep.”

    5. Kiwi

    Research suggests that the antioxidants and natural serotonin in kiwis can improve both sleep quality and quantity,” says Blatner. Kiwis are naturally sweet and delicious as-is, but you can jazz them up by lightly dipping them in dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate has magnesium, a helpful sleep mineral, but it also has a little caffeine, so go easy on it.”

    6. Banana with Peanut Butter

    “Foods that contain unsaturated fats, like peanut butter, can help improve serotonin levels and boost satiety to keep you feeling satisfied and full during sleep,” says Carissa Galloway, RDN, a nutrition consultant at Premier Protein. “Eating bananas with peanut butter can also be helpful before bed, as bananas contain magnesium which, as mentioned, help support good sleep.” The combination of bananas plus peanut butter makes for one of the most delicious healthy midnight snacks out there.

    7. Chamomile Tea

    “There are numerous studies that support the benefits of chamomile tea in promoting a healthy nighttime routine,” says Galloway. Chamomile tea contains flavonoids, which are compounds found in certain foods, including one called apigenin. “Apigenin connects with receptors in our brains to help reduce insomnia and promote a state of steady sleep.”

    So when you find yourself wide awake in the wee hours, sip a cup of chamomile tea with a splash of steamed almond milk, or have a batch of Blatner’s chamomile cookies on hand.

    All that said, bear in mind that more important than what you eat before bed, is the amount. “Having a large amount of any food will take too much effort for your body to digest instead of resting,” says Blatner. A light nosh of one of the foods recommended here, on the other hand, will send you right into the sweetest of dreams.