ADHD & Sleep: The Whole Family Approach to Reset Circadian Rhythm (Part 2)

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Good [and bad] Sleep Is Contagious 

Creating a culture of healthy sleep in a household requires a “whole family” behavioral approach to sleep. That means you'll need everyone in your home to opt-in to healthy sleep hygiene practices.

  • Sleep hygiene refers to sleep practices (I call them routines and rituals) that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.
  • Sleep routines and rituals are done at the same time and sequence each night as a way of winding down and giving your mind and body time and cues to move into a more calm and quiet mode to ease the transition into sleep.

No matter if your family consists of just you, twelve cats, or lots of humans, you'll want to consider all the beings and environmental influences that can be optimized for sleep. Short-term assists like melatonin can be helpful, but it's really the establishment of healthy sleep practices that bring the lasting benefits. 

Some of the...

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ADHD & Sleep: Problems with Melatonin & Circadian Rhythm (Part 1)

calm focus sleep Aug 27, 2019

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

The Connection Between ADHD and Sleep 

Many of the same brain regions that regulate sleep and arousal also control attention. You've likely felt that firsthand when trying to focus on a task after a rough night of [no] sleep. It's a losing battle.

The relationship between ADHD and sleep is becoming more clear as new research has identified that:

  • Between 55 and 75% of kids and adults with ADHD also suffer from sleep related issues.
  • Even just a little sleep deprivation can lead to mental fog, inefficiencies, and can mimic the symptoms of ADHD.
  • The symptoms of insomnia and ADHD may be related to the dysregulation of the 24-hour clock (AKA your circadian rhythm). 

Though not always done in usual care, it's vital that sleep issues are explored in any child, teen, or adult with complaints of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity. If you're a patient or parent who can relate, don't be shy to bring up the topic of sleep with your...

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New Report on Electronic Media and SleepĀ 

sleep Aug 20, 2019

 

 Tim Culbert, MD and Henry Emmons MD

 

The debate continues to rage as to whether cell phones, computers and other electronic devices are essential to our daily functioning or whether we should seriously consider eliminating these devices as much as possible due to the problems that excessive utilization of these gadgets can lead to. A new report just released from the Common Sense Media organization, titled The New Normal: Parents, Teens, Screens, and Sleep in the United States, details these troubling trends. As we always say at Natural Mental Health, “sleep is the foundation of good mental health.” We may be creating a generation of sleep-deprived teens, kids and parents and our favorite technologies may be a big part of the problem!

Benefits of Using Electronics

On one hand, there are smartphone apps that teach great skills such as mindfulness meditation and encourage physical fitness practices. In schools, many students are loaned a computer or...

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NAC Supplements for Anxiousness

calm Aug 13, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., You've read Part 1 of this series and the introductory article about balancing GABA and glutamate, right? If not, head to those articles first.

NAC Benefits | NAC and Anxiety

NAC is short for n-acetylcysteine. You may have never heard of it before, but it has been used for years in emergency rooms for patients who are at risk for liver damage from something they have ingested (e.g., too much acetominophen). It protects the liver for the same reason it protects the brain: it works as a powerful antioxidant, boosting levels of the body’s own primary antioxidant—glutathione.

As researchers have realized the connection between glutamate/GABA balance and anxiety conditions, they have begun experimenting with NAC. Recently it has been used with one of the most complex anxiety illnesses—the spectrum of compulsive disorders (including OCD). Remarkably, researchers found that this...

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Inositol for Anxiousness

calm Aug 08, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

ps: You've read Part 1 of this series and the introductory article about balancing GABA and glutamate, right? If not, head to those posts first.

pps: some of these natural therapies are not ideal for all types of anxiety. Visit our Calm Section to learn your anxiety subtype and tailor your approach.

 

Inositol Benefits | Inositol and Anxiety

Inositol is often classified as a B-vitamin, though technically it is not a vitamin since the body can produce it. Taken as a supplement, it has long been known to reduce general anxiety, panic and OCD symptoms. Researchers found inositol to be just as effective as a popular antidepressant for panic disorder, and participants tolerated it well even at massive doses up to 18 grams per day.17

Inositol Dosage & Use*

Inositol is often recommended at a dose of about 1-2 g daily, though in studies it has been used at much higher doses. 

Inositol Side...

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Taurine Supplements for Anxiousness

calm Aug 06, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., You've read Part 1 of this series and the introductory article about balancing GABA and glutamate, right? If not, head to those articles first.

Taurine and Anxiety | Taurine Benefits

Taurine is an amino acid that increases glycine and GABA to calm the brain (AKA ease anxiety).15 It also protects the brain by reducing the harmful effects of excess glutamate.16 I consider taurine when I see someone with mood instability along with anxiety, but it may also be helpful for anxiety alone. 

You may already be familiar with taurine, as it's often added to energy drinks (e.g., Red Bull). Manufacturers seem to consider it the drinkable solution for periods of extreme exertion, when taurine levels can become depleted. I don’t recommend replenishing it through energy drinks though. There are better ways to use taurine to calm your brain.

Taurine Dosage & Use*

Taurine is...

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Protect Yourself: Rebalance Cortisol

calm Jul 23, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, head there first.  

Take the Sting out of Cortisol

Do you long for a stress-free life? Do you wish that your stress hormones would go away and not come back? Actually, you wouldn’t want either of these, any more than you would want a life without pain.

No one wants to be in pain all the time, but to be unable to feel pain at all creates a nightmare of its own. Likewise, if you were unable to mount a stress response, if your body suddenly became unable to produce the stress hormones, your physiology would collapse.

Stress is not the problem. It is unremitting stress and a constantly elevated level of cortisol that create the problems and the consequences can be severe.

The effects of constantly elevated cortisol may include:5

  • Weight gain.
  • Insulin resistance or even type 2 diabetes.
  • Elevated blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Memory problems,...
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5-HTP for Anxiousness

calm Jul 18, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

ps: Be sure to read Part 1 of this series! 

pps: some of these natural therapies are not ideal for all types of anxiety. Visit our Calm Section to learn your anxiety subtype and tailor your approach.

 

5-HTP Benefits | 5-HTP and Anxiety

5-HTP is the best studied of the “precursor strategies.” That's a strategy where you try to increase production of a neurotransmitter by adding more of the raw materials. 5-HTP is similar to tryptophan (the amino acid that gets converted into serotonin)—5-HTP is the intermediate step in that process. Both are effective ways to boost serotonin levels, but tryptophan is more sedating so I usually reserve that for sleep problems. 5-HTP can also help sleep, but may be used during the daytime as well because it is not usually sedating. Considerable research has shown that 5-HTP can reduce anxiety, both general and panic, as well as improve...

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Soothe Yourself: Boost Serotonin

calm joy Jul 16, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, head there first. 

Soothe Yourself: Boost Serotonin

Nearly everyone feels better when their serotonin levels are optimal. It has such a wide array of functions, involved with everything from sleep to appetite to impulse control to sexual desire. It's the brain chemical that helps soothe you when you feel stressed or threatened, and it offers considerable protection to the brain against the damaging effects of cortisol. 

Serotonin’s broad benefits may explain why Prozac and the other SSRI’s took the world by storm in the 1990’s. It took a while for the shortcomings of these medications to become clear—problems such as agitation, numbing of emotions and sexual feelings, weight gain, insomnia, fatigue. The SSRI’s are not the cure-all that they initially appeared to be. The problem remains: millions of people are...

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Reward Yourself: Increase Dopamine

calm joy Jul 09, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, head there first.

Dopamine 101 & How to Raise It When Deficient

The effects of dopamine are more complex than those of norepinephrine, at least in regards to anxiety. In some ways, they have a similar function.

Both dopamine and norepinephrine:

  • Tend to be energizing and aid in mental focus and concentration.
  • Can aggravate anxiety when levels are way too high.

However, dopamine has some beneficial effects against anxiety.

Dopamine can:

  • Improve motivation and the experience of pleasure.
  • Enhance microcirculation in parts of the brain.3

Unless dopamine becomes really excessive, your anxiety may improve if you gently boost your dopamine levels.

How do you know if dopamine is deficient?

Low dopamine symptom include:

  • Feel apathetic and fatigued.
  • Difficulty losing weight.
  • Feel unmotivated (as with exercise).
  • Low sex drive.
  • General difficulty getting pleasure...
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