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Valerian for Anxiousness and Sleep

calm sleep Mar 26, 2020

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 posts first.

Valerian Benefits | Valerian and Anxiety

Valerian has been called “natural Valium.” It is not as effective as the prescription drugs, but it is also safer and non-addicting, and it may offer benefit for both anxiety and sleep. The plant contains some of the calming amino acids, like arginine and GABA, and it is believed to work via GABA and serotonin receptors.21 There was an older study combining valerian with St. John’s wort, and comparing that combination to the drug Valium for treatment of anxiety. The natural remedies actually came out on top.22

Valerian Dosage & Use*

I usually recommend valerian for sleep support, though sometimes for anxiousness. Calm Nights is a good option, take up to 3 or 4 times daily. If it's...

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Nourish Your Brain for Better Sleep

foundations sleep Mar 19, 2020

Nourish Your Brain for Better Sleep

What you eat--and when!--can have a significant impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This may be more obvious for things like coffee and energy drinks, but there are other food items and the timing of when you eat them that may be helpful or detrimental to your sleep. 

The nourishment steps and food list below can help you refine your diet so that it supports your sleep. Pair these resources with The Resilient Diet and you'll have nourishment that fuels a good night's sleep.

Three Nourishing Steps to Support Your Sleep

Use the three steps below to change your food habits and improve your sleep. Don't feel obligated to put all of them into action immediately. Go step by step, take some time, and put each into action with confidence and commitment. You can do it!

First: Timing Is Everything

While eating balanced and nutritious meals throughout the day will support your sleep, it's not just the content of...

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Sleep, Resilience, and Mental Health

foundations sleep Mar 05, 2020
 

Good Sleep Is Non-Negotiable

Your sleep, mood, and brain function are intimately related. Scientific studies tell us that our emotional states affect sleep and that sleep affects emotions. The good news is that you can create better sleep with fairly simple strategies.

How Well Do You Sleep?

Think about how you would honestly answer the following questions:

  1. How many hours do you sleep each night?
  2. How well do you sleep at night? Do you feel rested after you've slept a full night?

Did you know that your answers to these questions are intimately connected to your mood and brain function? Difficulty sleeping is sometimes the first symptom of a mood disorder; 15-20% of people diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression (1). Getting your sleep right is one of the best things you can do if you have a mood disorder. Studies show that improving insomnia boosts the chances of recovering from depression by a remarkable 50%! 

Recent studies have also...

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ADHD & Sleep: Using Melatonin to Reset Circadian Rhythm (Part 3)

calm focus kids sleep Sep 03, 2019

 Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

[Read Part 1 of this series for more on melatonin and its relationship with ADHD.]

First: Is Melatonin Safe? 

I've found melatonin to be quite helpful for kids and teens with ADHD for both sleep onset and sleep maintenance issues. However, some concerns have popped up about kids and teens using melatonin for long periods of time (more than 6 months) or at high-doses. However, little has been substantiated through research studies. 

A recent systematic review of 13 RCTs assessed the safety and efficacy of melatonin for pediatric patients with ND disorders (e.g, ADHD and Autism). Studies included a total of 632 children who took either regular melatonin or controlled release melatonin. The review found that:

  • Kids who took the melatonin fell asleep faster and slept longer compared to those given a placebo pill (Abdelgadir).
  • No major side effect concerns were apparent in any of the studies.

Second: How Should You Use...

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

calm focus kids sleep Aug 29, 2019

 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 kids 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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Restorative Yoga Poses to Support Calm, Focus, and Sleep


By, Elly Hollenhorst

200-Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher

Practice this 5-pose restorative yoga sequence to find calm, connect inwards, and refocus. This sequence can be practiced anytime; upon waking, during your lunch break, or before bed.

Props

  • A yoga mat or other comfortable surface.
  • Pillow or blanket(s).

Instructions

  1. Once you are comfortable in each posture, close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  2. Remain as still and unmoving as possible.
  3. Let gravity do the work. Do not pull your body into the positions.*
  4. Rest in each pose for 1-5 minutes resulting in a 5-25 minute practice, depending on how much time you have available. It is helpful to use a timer.

*If a posture feels painful, find another position to better suit your body's needs.

Child's Pose

Spread your knees as wide as the mat, bring your big toes to touch. Reach your arms out far in front of you. Rest your forehead on the mat. Let gravity guide your hips towards your heals.

Optional: You can bring a...

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What is Adrenal Fatigue?

calm joy sleep Apr 03, 2019

By Henry Emmons, MD

Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

Perhaps you feel unmotivated, have less interest in things, feel weakness, or an unrelenting achiness in your muscles. Maybe you want to sleep too much, or simply wake feeling unrested. Your mood might be sad or down, or perhaps it’s just flat. But your biggest concern? The one that never seems to go away? It’s this feeling of profound fatigue.

How is Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosed?

The Mainstream Medicine Approach

Adrenal fatigue is not a term accepted by mainstream medicine. Trying to care for symptoms like those above will usually start with routine blood tests that look for adrenal insufficiency (known as Addison’s disease). The result will likely be normal. Most doctors will then look for other causes of the fatigue, doing routine blood tests to rule out things like low iron, low hemoglobin, or a thyroid problem. After this series, symptoms will usually be attributed to untreated...

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What You Need to Know About Caffeine

calm focus joy sleep Mar 13, 2019

By Henry Emmons, MD

“Life is short. Stay awake for it.” Caribou Coffee nailed it with that promotional tagline. It’s funny, memorable and a widely shared sentiment. If we want to get the most out of life, if we don’t want to miss anything, caffeine offers a safe, legal and increasingly pleasurable way to feel more enlivened.

I have nothing against caffeine. In fact, I personally love it. I’ve given it up several times over my life, thinking it might have negative health effects on me. But each time I’ve come back to it, finally accepting that I just plain enjoy it. I like the effect it has on me, the flavor, the ritual and the communal nature of sharing a cup of coffee with someone.

I believe that the research on the health effects from caffeine come out mostly on the side of it having an overall positive impact on health. It’s a legal stimulant. It can temporarily improve energy, focus, even mood. So long as it is not used in excess, it...

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