11 posts from May, 2018

Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Posted May 25th, 2018 by

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night.

Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals.

Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders

Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help:

  • Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later).
  • Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep
  • Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music
  • Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime. If you can it might be a good idea trying to make sure that none of these devices are in your bedroom. If you’ve just brought yourself something like a new corner TV stand so that you can watch your favourite TV show in bed, then it might be a good idea to see if you can move that into another room. It all depends on whether or not you want to have that better night’s sleep.
  • Skip the book: “I don’t read in bed (that was a hard habit to break — I LOVE reading in bed),” says one member. Beds should be kept for sex and sleep, not reading, watching TV or looking at your phone.

Make your space suit you

  • Research shows the perfect sleep temps are somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your preference. A room that’s too hot or too cold can keep you up at night.
  • Keeping the room as dark as possible helps. Try black out curtains or an eye mask.
  • Invest in a good mattress. Understandably, mattresses aren’t cheap, but the more money you are willing to put into your mattress, the better nights sleep you can expect to get. After months of searching, we recently bought a queen mattress and it, as well as the Nectar mattress, rank as the best beds for back pain.
  • Turn that neon alarm clock toward the wall so you don’t know what time it is. Ticking off the minutes can lead to more anxiety about how you’re not sleeping. Suffering from anxiety before bed is not going to help you get to sleep quicker. If this is something that you struggle with then it might be a good idea that you start using something like a CBD product to help you have a better night’s sleep. If this is something that interests you, then you can click here for more information.
  • Some folks swear by white noise machines (with sounds from nature, like frogs or rain). Find the right white noise that works for your, even a fan or air purifier can help.

Long before lights out: Tips to keep in mind throughout your day

It’s not only about what you do right before you hit the hay — see how other actions throughout your day can help (or hurt) your sleep quality at night.

Exercise

Yoga or other types of relaxation exercises, like mindfulness meditation can make falling asleep easier, but some members go for something more rigorous..

  • “Another thing that helps is getting pretty serious exercise (1 hour of heart rate at or above 130, for me at least) five or six days a week,” says a member. “That’s not possible for everyone, but it definitely helps me.”
  • “I made the mistake of going for a run too late in the evening,” says a member. It only served to rev her up. Now she plans exercise well before bedtime.
  • Scheduling your exercise outdoors during the day can help some people. Sunlight helps establish your body’s sleep and wake cycles.

Eating and drinking

Drinking alcohol, which you might think will help put you out, actually has the opposite effect, and after a late night cocktail you can find yourself tossing and turning at 3 a.m.. Here are a few more pointers on food and drink from members

  • One member says skipping caffeine including coffee, tea and chocolate after 12:00 p.m. works best for her.
  • Eating meals at regular times also helps your sleep. “None of this dinner at 10 p.m. stuff, which can keep you up,” says a member.
  • “I know some folks who have had luck with Valerian extract, others who have tried kratom capsules, and others who use L-Theanine, putting several drops on a sugar cube,” says another member. (Be sure to check with your doctor before trying Valerian or any other herbal remedy.)

Write it down

  • “When I write by hand in my journal every night, it is easier for me to just ‘word vomit.’ Of course, I can’t read anything I write afterwards, so it’s more an exercise of getting the feelings of the day out so I can go to sleep,” says another member.
  • “Writing is part of my bedtime routine, and includes my ‘gratitudes’ for the day, which I also find helps me wake up with a positive attitude in the morning,” a member explains.
  • You may find it helpful to go one step beyond just setting aside worry time (mentioned above) and writing it down or talking to a friend before settling in for the night.

Interested in joining the conversation about bedtime habits and sleep? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe.

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Probiotics for MS? The latest research

Posted May 23rd, 2018 by

Wondering if a probiotic could help treat your MS? With 10 forum threads on the topic, you’re not the only one. From conflicting information online to recommendations from friends and new research making headlines, separating fact from fiction can be tricky. Here’s a recap of the latest research on probiotics and MS from our in-house team of health professionals.

Let’s start with the basics: What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms (usually bacteria or yeast) that may be able to help prevent and treat some illnesses and encourage a healthy digestive tract and immune system. They’re often referred to as “gut-friendly” bacteria.

  • Where can you get them? Probiotics are often in supplements or foods (like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, etc.) that are prepared by bacterial fermentation.
  • A couple probiotic bacteria that have been shown to have health benefits include: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Within those groups are many different species and strains. Many probiotic supplements (broad-spectrum or multi-probiotics) combine different species together in the same supplement.
  • Gut flora (microbiota) consists of hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Probiotics may help improve the way your gut flora performs. Probiotics can benefit both men and women equally, so it is definitely worthwhile trying them.
Why is gut health important for MS?
  • Your gut does more than digest food — it plays an essential role in the immune system. This is why it’s essential that you visit a place such as The Hills Gastroenterology in Sydney, when you have an issue with your gut, such as, digestion.
  • There are both anti-inflammatory microbes and microbes that cause inflammation by adding stress to the immune system. When your gut bacteria is out of balance, it can have a negative impact on your health.
  • Some research shows, an MS gut may have more pro-inflammatory bacteria like Methanobrevibacter and Akkermansiaas and less anti-inflammatory bacteria like Butyricimonas.
  • Newer research shows there may be a link between gut flora and the progression of MS.
The latest research on probiotics for MS
  • While there have been studies in mice models and bacteria, there are only two clinical trials that have studied the effects of probiotics in patients with MS.
  • pilot study tested 22 patient fecal samples before and after administering VSL3 (a probiotic mixture with 8 strains of lactic acid–producing bacteria including: L. plantarum, L. delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus and L. acidophilus) for markers of inflammation which has been associated with the progression of MS.
    • Results: There was an increased anti-inflammatory effect in the cells after administration of probiotic.
  • randomized controlled trial treated 60 patients with a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus fermentum.
    • Results: The study demonstrated that the use of probiotic capsule for 12 weeks among patients with MS had favorable effects on EDSS (Expanded Disability Status Scale), mental health, and inflammatory factors.
    • Based on the results, the difference in EDSS levels between treatment and placebo was statistically significant, however, was not clinically significant (meaning, we need more evidence).
The bottom line:

Should you start taking a probiotic? The jury’s still out. Based on the two trials and the other non-patient studies, there seems to be a link between gut flora and the progression of MS. However, at this time there isn’t enough data or clinical benefit to support the use of probiotics for MS.

Considering taking a probiotic to treat your MS? Be sure to talk to your doctor.

Have you tried taking a probiotic to treat your MS? Join PatientsLikeMe and share your experience with the community.

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