Archive for the ‘sleep hygeine’ Category

10 Reasons That Sex Contributes to Good Health

June 1, 2014

On so many occasions many of my male and female patients have indicated that as they reach middle age, that sexual intimacy has taken a back seat and is less important than it was years ago. For this blog, I would like to illuminate 10 reasons to take the sex drive off the back shelf and put it on the front burner. Both you and your partner will be glad you did.
Sex not only feels good. It can also be good for you. Here’s what a healthy sex life can do for you.
1. Revs Up Your Immune System Humming
Sexually active people miss fewer days of work and make fewer visits to the doctor.
People who have sex have higher levels of what defends your body against germs, viruses, and other foreign substances. Researchers found that those men and women who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of the a certain antibody compared to those who had sex less often.
You should still do all the other things that make your immune system happy, such as:
Eat right.
Stay active.
Get enough sleep.
Keep up with your vaccinations.
Use a condom if you don’t know you and your partner’s STD status.
2. Boosts Your Libido
Having sex will make sex better and will improve your libido.
For women, having sex increases vaginal lubrication, blood flow to the pelvis, and elasticity of the vagina, all of which make sex feel better and help you crave more of it.
3. Improves Women’s Bladder Control
A strong pelvic floor is important for avoiding incontinence, involuntary loss of urine, something that will affect about 30% of women at some point in their lives.
Good sex is like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. When you have an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles, which strengthens them.
4. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Research suggests a link between sex and lower blood pressure. Numerous studies have reported that sexual intercourse lowered systolic blood pressure, the first or top number on your blood pressure test.
5. Counts as Exercise
Sex is a really great form of aerobic exercise. It won’t replace the treadmill, but it counts for a short cardio workout.
Sex uses about five calories per minute, four more calories than watching TV! It bumps up your heart rate.
So get busy! You may even want to clear your schedule to make time for it on a regular basis. Consistency or regular sex helps maximize the benefits.
6. Lowers Heart Attack Risk
A good sex life is good for your heart. Besides being a great way to raise your heart rate and provide you with a cardio workout more fun than spinning, sex helps keep your estrogen levels in women and testosterone levels in men in balance.
When either one of those is low you begin to get lots of problems, like osteoporosis and even heart disease.
Having sex more often may help. During one study, men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to die of heart disease than the less sexually active men who had sex rarely.
7. Lessens Pain
Before you reach for an aspirin, ibuprofen or a pain pill, try an orgasm.
An orgasm can block pain by releasing endorphins which are much more powerful than morphine. Orgasm releases endorphins that helps raise your pain threshold.
Stimulation without orgasm can also be effective. Vaginal stimulation can block chronic back and leg pain, and many women report that genital self-stimulation can reduce menstrual cramps, arthritic pain, and in some cases even headache.
8. Send Big “C” Out To Sea
Going for the sexual homerun or orgasm may help ward off prostate cancer.
The prestigious the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that men who ejaculated frequently (at least 21 times a month) were less likely to get prostate cancer.
You don’t need a partner to reap this benefit: Sexual intercourse, nocturnal emission, and masturbation were all part of the equation.
9. Improves Sleep
You may nod off more quickly after sex, and for good reason.
After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and sleepiness after sex.
10. Eases Stress
Being close to your partner can soothe stress and anxiety.
Even touching and hugging can release your body’s natural feel-good hormones. Sexual arousal releases a brain chemical that revs up your brain’s pleasure and reward system.
Sex and intimacy can boost your self-esteem and happiness, too,
Bottom Line: Who would have “thunk” that sex is good for you and can help keep you healthy and well. As my wise Jewish mother, St. Sara, would say, “It may not help but it voidn’t hoit!” Rest in peace St. Sara.

More zzzzzz’s May Protect Against the Big C-The Relationship Of Sleep and Prostate Cancer

January 22, 2014

You have all heard that it’s healthy to get 8 hours of sleep a day. Now you have another reason to make sure that you don’t cheat the sleep fairy. A good nights sleep well may help to protect men from deadly prostate cancer.
Scientists linked higher levels of the night-time hormone melatonin with a 75 per cent reduced risk of advanced disease.
Melatonin is produced in the dark at night. It plays a key role in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle and influences many other functions associated with the body’s 24-hour clock, or circadian rhythm.
Low levels of the hormone are typically associated with disrupted sleep. Men who reported taking medication for sleep problems, and difficulty falling and staying asleep, had significantly lower amounts of the melatonin marker.
Men whose melatonin marker levels were higher than the middle of the range were 75 per cent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than those with lower values.
Here are some suggestions for good sleep hygiene and getting a good nights sleep without resorting to medication:
Avoid napping during the day; it can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
Food can be disruptive right before sleep; stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
Make sure that the sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. The bed should be comfortable, the room should not be too hot or cold, or too bright.

Bottom Line: We do know that advanced age, family history of prostate cancer, and African American men have a greater risk of prostate cancer. Add to this list, disrupted sleep, lack of sleep, or sleep deficit can also be added to risk factors associated with prostate cancer. Make sure you get a good nights sleep and you may reduce your risk of prostate cancer. As my wonderful Jewish mother might say, “It may not help, but it voidn’t hoit!”

10 Reasons Why Sex Is Good For You

December 22, 2012

We all know that sex is fun and enjoyable, but how many know why good sex is good for your health and well-being? Let me share with you a few reasons to have sex with your partner.

1. Less Stress, Lower Blood Pressure
Having sex could lower your stress, and your blood pressure.
People who had had intercourse responded better to stress than those who abstained. The diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of your blood pressure) tends to be lower in people who live together and often have sex. Women who get lots of hugs from their partner tend to have better blood pressure.
2. Sex Boosts Immunity
Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. This might just be the perfect “vaccine” for the common cold!
3. Sex Burns Calories
Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions. Don’t want to run a mile? Try hopping in the sack for 30 minutes!
4. Sex Improves Heart Health
Having sex may be good for your heart. Men who had sex twice or more a week were half as likely to have a fatal heart attack than men who had sex less than once a month.
5. Better Self-Esteem
One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves. Great sex begins with self-esteem. … If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it. If you’re already feeling good about yourself, a great sex life may help you feel even better.
6. Deeper Intimacy
Having sex boosts levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps people bond and build trust. Women have higher oxytocin levels if they have more physical contact with their partner.
7. Sex is a pain relivier
Sex boosts your body’s painkillers, called endorphins. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, that may be why.
8. More Ejaculations May Make Prostate Cancer Less Likely
Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may lower the risk of getting prostate cancer later in life.
It is my observation after 30 years in practice that men who have chronic prostatitis do better if they have frequent ejaculations compared to men who are abstainers.
9. Stronger Pelvic Floor Muscles
For women, doing pelvic floor muscle exercises called Kegels may mean will enjoy more pleasure — and, as a perk, less chance of incontinence later in life.
10. More sex and less sleeping pills
The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep.
Bottom Line: Getting enough sleep has also been linked with a host of other health perks, such as a healthy weight and better blood pressure. If you are still looking for a reason to have more sex, tell your partner “Dr. Baum said it was a good idea!”

Lifestyle Changes For Preventing Cancer

April 7, 2012

Dr. David Agus, an oncologist at the University of Southern California, wrote a book, The End of Illness, which offers lifestyle changes that may help prevent cancer. This article will review ten of his suggestions.

1. Keep a predictable schedule. Try to eat, sleep and exercise about the same time every day including weekends. Regularity of sleep is more important than total hours slept.

2. Move frequently and avoid prolonged sitting. Sitting for long periods of time is linked to a higher risk of early death and many diseases. You should try to aim for one hour of moderate exercise a day. If you have a sedentary job you can lift small weights, 2.5 pounds, at your desk or while talking on the phone using a headset. You will learn the definition of multitasking when talking and exercising at the same time.

3. Stop using vitamins and supplements. Unless you have a documented vitamin deficiency or are pregnant, you can ditch the dozens of vitamins and supplements that so many Americans use every day. Many well controlled studies have pointed out that vitamins have no benefit and even may be harmful. For example, vitamin E raises the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent in healthy men. (Study from Journal of American Medical Association in 2011)

4. Get an annual flu shot. Getting the flu is a stress on the immune system. Getting a flu shot helps dampen the harsh immune response if you get the flu.

5. Discuss use of daily aspirin with your doctor. Low dose aspirin or one baby aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and even some cancers.

6. Wear comfortable shoes. High heel shoes contribute to poor posture and back pain. Also comfortable shoes will help you move and walk more and longer distances.

7. Conduct a medications inventory. At least once a year go over your medication list with your doctor and find out which ones may cause side effects or drug-drug interactions and which ones are no longer necessary. As a whole we are an over-medicated society and you can often decrease your medications with a discussion with your doctor.

8. Check out healthy lifestyle incentives. Your employer may reduce your health insurance premiums if you commit to a smoking cessation program. Some employers are paying some or all of the cost of a gym membership.

9. Look to your doctor as a partner. Ask your doctor what he\she is doing to stay current on the latest medical advances. Ask how many hours of continuing medical education they receive each year (minimum is 20 hours). Feel comfortable talking to your doctor about any topic. If you can’t, find a new doctor.

10. Keep your own medical records. Keep a copy of your lab tests, x-ray reports, and any hospital discharge summaries. Your physician will make this available to you at no cost. Now if you go to another doctor or are in another city and need medical care, you have that information available which will help provide continuity of medical care. Savvy patients are storing this data online which means less paper and instant access on a 24\7\365 basis.

Bottom Line: Very little can be done to change your genetic predisposition to cancer or to change the toxins in the air or water. But there’s a lot you can do with practicing healthy lifestyles, exercising regularly, and being proactive about your medical care by developing a partnership with your doctor.

Sleep Hygiene-How to Get a Good Night of Z’s

November 11, 2011

More than half of men and women over the age of 65 years complain of a sleep problem. Many middle age and older people sleep less, wake up multiple times a night, and end up not feeling rested in the morning. This article will discuss the common causes of sleep disorders and how to restore a good nights sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene.

Causes Sleep Problems
Several factors may contribute to the inability to sleep well as we get older. Some common causes include:
Probably the most common cause of sleep disorders is poor sleep habits which is often referred to as poor sleep hygeine. Examples include the consumption of alcohol and caffeine shortly before bedtime, increased wakeful time in bed, or late afternoon napping, can also affect a person’s ability to sleep. One of the causes that so many of us don’t recognize as a factor includes overstimulation with late-night activities such as television. The evening news is not meant to put you to sleep but to stimulate you and as a result you may experience insomnia.
There are medications, such as the use of diuretics or water pills that may impair a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep and may even stimulate wakefulness at night. There are also medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and depression that are frequently accompanied by difficulty with sleep. Finally there are sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndromes causing sleep problems.

Restoring Good Sleep Hygiene
Begin by having a fixed bedtime and an awakening time. The body “gets used” to falling asleep at a certain time, but only if this is relatively fixed. Even if you are retired or not working, this is an essential component of good sleep habits.

Avoid napping during the day. It is natural to feel sleepy at the end of the afternoon. Avoid the temptation to take a nap at this time as you will certainly have a problem getting to sleep at night. If you do take a late afternoon nap, limit the nap to 30-45 minutes or avoid going into a deep sleep where you start dreaming as this will certainly impair your ability to fall asleep a few hours after your nap.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime. Many people believe that alcohol helps them sleep. While alcohol has an immediate sleep-inducing effect, a few hours later as the alcohol levels in your blood start to fall, there is a stimulant or wake-up effect.

Exercise regularly, but not right before bed. Regular exercise, particularly in the afternoon, can help deepen sleep. Strenuous exercise within the 2 hours before bedtime, however, can decrease your ability to fall asleep.

Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated. If your bedroom is too cold or too hot, it can keep you awake. A cool (not cold) bedroom is often the most conducive to sleep.

Block out all distracting noise, and eliminate as much light as possible.
 Use blackout curtains to keep the room dark and avoid sunlight entering the room early in the morning.

The bed should be only for sex and sleep. Don’t use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room. Let your body associate the bed with sleeping and not working.

Try a light snack before bed. Warm milk and foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, such as bananas, may help you to sleep.

If possible, don’t take your worries to bed. Leave your worries about job, school, daily life, etc., behind when you go to bed.

Establish a pre-sleep ritual. Pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading, can help you sleep.
 Avoid thrillers or reading that may stimulate your brain making it difficult to get to sleep.

When all else fails, if you don’t fall asleep within 15-30 minutes, get up, go into another room, and read until sleepy. Most people wake up one or two times a night for various reasons. If you find that you get up in the middle of night and cannot get back to sleep within 15-20 minutes, then do not remain in the bed “trying hard” to sleep. Get out of bed. Leave the bedroom. Read, have a light snack, do some quiet activity, or take a bath. You will generally find that you can get back to sleep 20 minutes or so later.

Bottom Line: Good sleep is part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Practicing good hygiene is part of being able to get to sleep and staying asleep. If these simple measures don’t work, consider speaking to your doctor.