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Does Your Sleep Attack Without Warning?

Chronic sleep disorders can be paralyzing, depending on their severity. Narcolepsy is one of the most damaging sleep disorders because it strikes without warning, sending you into a sudden state of sleep. This sleep disorder can begin younger than 10 years of age, on into your 30s. It’s rare for it to show up in your 40s or later.

A narcoleptic person can’t stay awake for any long period of time – even if they’ve had plenty of sleep the night before. It’s difficult to enjoy your personal life, let alone manage your professional responsibilities at work.

Narcolepsy sometimes gets misdiagnosed as everyday depression, fainting, or seizures. There’s no known cure, but there are ways to manage this particular sleep disorder and lessen the symptoms you experience.

You’ll know if you have narcolepsy if you find you’re abnormally sleepy during the daytime, but not the usual sleepyhead syndrome many people feel. A narcoleptic individual will feel an uncontrolled need to sleep, and they’ll nod off without warning for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a half hour or more.

It can be humiliating to fall asleep when it’s not the right time or place, and many who suffer from narcolepsy enroll in counseling to help them cope with the sleep disorder and how it affects their life with friends, family, and co-workers.

Another sign that will emerge will be cataplexy, when you lose control of your muscles. You might slur your speech or hang your head, or even fall when your legs give out from beneath you. This symptom can occur daily – or only once or twice a year.

Narcolepsy’s symptoms don’t end there, unfortunately. Some people are paralyzed right before or after their sudden sleeping spells – they can’t move or talk – which is very frightening to you and anyone else watching it happen.

Some people also hallucinate if they have narcolepsy because they fall into a fast REM sleep. They’re half awake and half dreaming, which can be scary depending on what type of dream you’re having at that moment in time.

Lapse of memory can occur with narcolepsy, too. You might be carrying on with your tasks as usual, but unknowingly you’ve had a sleep episode, so you forget what you just did. You wake up and see that you’ve accomplished something (usually not as well as you would if you were fully awake) and you know it’s due to the narcolepsy.

No one really knows what causes narcolepsy, but scientists believe it may be genetics coupled with uncommon brain chemicals that respond to triggers in your environment. They think narcoleptics may have imbalances in the chemicals that regulate sleep, such as a low level of hypocretin, which tells you when to wake up – and stay awake.

If you think you may have narcolepsy, then your doctor will conduct a series of tests to find out if it’s true. You’ll fill out a standard sleep questionnaire and may enroll in an overnight sleep study where they place electrodes on your scalp to monitor your sleep cycles.

It’s important not to ignore this sleep disorder because it can have potentially harmful consequences. Aside from affecting your personal and professional relationships, narcoleptics run the risk of wrecking their cards while driving or causing a fire in their home, such as when they fall asleep in the middle of cooking with hot oil and grease.

If you’re found to have narcolepsy, then you have several treatment options to consider. Everyday stimulants may not be enough to keep you awake, so your doctor might prescribe something stronger, like Provigil.

Antidepressants are often prescribed because they suppress REM sleep and aid in the elimination of cataplexy, paralysis, and hallucinations. Or, your doctr may have you start taking sodium oxybate, which does the same thing antidepressants do, but also helps with nighttime sleep.

You also have to be very cautious about making lifestyle changes that can help you control this disorder. Make sure you read labels on medications to see if they cause drowsiness. Simple things, such as making a schedule that includes naps, exercising, and avoiding substances like nicotine and alcohol can curb the effects of narcolepsy.

Don’t feel like narcolepsy has to control your life. Talk to others about what you’re going through and adhere to a safe routine that ensures you won’t harm yourself (or others) if a sudden sleep attack should occur.

De-Stressing Before a Snooze

If you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, and would like to begin treating it, one way is to create a relaxing routine that might help your body recognize it’s time to sleep.

For certain disorders, such as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) or Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS), relaxation might not be the answer – but for some, de-stressing before a snooze could prove to be the right medicine.

Think about what relaxes you. Is it a warm bath? Reading in a chair? A cup of steaming hot herbal tea? There are a number of self-help stress techniques to consider and finding the right one may take some time.

The investment will be well worth it, because it may mean better sleep that results in less fatigue, drowsiness, or any of the other symptoms associated with sleep deprivation. Once you discover the right technique for you, try to integrate it into your daily routine.

If it’s a cup of herbal tea, try to drink a cup about 30 minutes before you’re ready for bed. The tea should not only relax you due to its herbal properties, but also because it’s now part of a routine.

If you can stick to a particular schedule, then your body will hopefully adjust to it so that when you take your nightly cup of tea, your body’s internal clock will know that it’s just about time to power down for the day.

As for the many other de-stressing techniques that might help you, consider reading a favorite book, taking a warm bath, or meditating. Meditation can help relax you, as well as provide you with focus for your slumber.

Meditation techniques come in various forms, but the underlining aspect of the method is that it helps you channel your thoughts. Through meditation, you get an uninterrupted line of concentration that shuts out distractions that could be hindering your sleep process.

Related to meditation is self-hypnosis, which can take the form of repeating words or suggestions in your mind, over and again. This repetition may help lull you into slumber. Visualization, which is engaging in another type of mental journey without outside distraction, is another way to try to relax yourself prior to sleep.

These de-stressing techniques can help you slow the body’s processes down, helping to create a bridge between your waking and sleeping moments. Easing into sleep can only be helpful if it works on a consistent basis. Keeping a sleep diary can help you stay on task.

When you begin your battle to defy a sleep disorder, just remember that you shouldn’t expect to fall asleep right away. If you know ahead of time that it may take a little time to find the right solution, it will lessen the frustration you feel in your quest for sleep.

The Danger of Sleep Deprivation

Not getting enough sleep can have a definite impact on your life. Whether it’s from insomnia, sleep apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), or another sleep disorder, the danger of sleep deprivation is undeniable, manifesting in both minor and major ways and creating problems for your work, school, and day-to-day activities.

Your body requires a certain amount of sleep in order to function properly and if it doesn’t get enough, it will naturally try to find ways to reconcile the problem. For many, a solution isn’t always easy to find.

Many people don’t even recognize they have a problem to begin with, failing to note the subtle symptoms and then, not taking the time to investigate the possible causes. If your body doesn’t get a sufficient amount of sleep, the effects can begin with fatigue and overall drowsiness.

You may feel tired during the day, which could ultimately impact your physical and mental health. For older people, sleep deprivation typically means that restorative sleep is lacking so their bodies aren’t recharging properly for the next day. This pattern accumulates until it becomes a true medical condition that requires attention.

Another physical effect that a lack of sleep can result in is weight change – in particular, weight gain. One of the benefits of quality sleep is that your hormone levels are regulated.

But if you suffer from sleep deprivation, then your hormone levels grow to be imbalanced and as a result, some of your psychological processes – such as appetite – also change. You may feel hungry when you’re not – or in some cases, not full when you are.

Chronic sleeplessness can also lead to depression, irritability, and impatience. Unfortunately, emotional frustration is one symptom that people may feel they don’t need to address.

Some may even fail to see how their mood swings and emotional outbursts or breakdowns are linked to sleep, choosing to assign the blame elsewhere and focusing attention away from the real cause: a lack of sleep.

The dangers of sleep deprivation to one’s physical and emotional well-being range from slurred speech and anger to a slow breakdown of the body’s immune system, making you susceptible to injury, the common cold, and more.

Have you ever driven your car while drowsy? The inherent danger is obvious. And while it may be a dramatic example, it’s also one that’s all too common – a powerful illustration of how important it is to get enough sleep.

Proper sleep is a vital component to being healthy and it needs to be treated with the same concern and care that your other healthcare issues receive. The consequences of ignoring your sleep deprivation could be harmful to yourself or another person, depending on the circumstances.

5 Habits of Sleep Pros

At times, it can seem like everyone on Earth is getting plenty of sleep – but you. Some people have what it takes to drink two cups of coffee and still go in their room for a nice little nap, while you struggle to nod off after 48 hours of sleep deprivation – how do they do it?

Sleep pros know there are five habits they have that you might not. This is the competitive edge they use to get plenty of rest each night. If your sleep deprivation isn’t due to a medical condition, try implementing these tactics into your everyday routine to see if it helps you get your Zs.

Sleep Pro Habit #1: Stick to a Schedule! If you’re trying to go to bed at 8 PM one night and 2 AM the next, your poor body can’t get on a steady cycle of sleep. It needs a routine so that it can differentiate between daytime tasks and nighttime rest.

Sleep pros who get in bed at the same time each night and wake up on schedule each morning program their bodies to relax, like a science! If you want to include naps in your schedule, make sure they’re at the same time each day, too. Just be aware that naps can impede your nighttime sleep if they’re too long.

Sleep Pro Habit #2: Just Say “No” to Stimulants! You might recognize you have trouble sleeping, but don’t even think that 24-ounce Coca Cola you had at 9 PM could be the cause.

Caffeine, as well as other stimulants like electronic gadgets (video games, Television, and the Internet) can all contribute to your sleeplessness. Avoid products like alcohol, tobacco, chocolate, and sodas during the evening hours – save them for the daytime when you’re telling your body it’s okay to be alert and awake.

Sleep Pro Habit #3: Move Your Body Toward Sleep! Exercise may be the medicine you need to engage in a deep slumber tonight. Insomnia occurs less frequently in those who exercise on a regular basis for at least 20-30 minutes a day.

You don’t want to exercise near bedtime, but in the morning or afternoon instead. Studies have shown that many sedentary individuals who suffered from insomnia found their sleep disorder disappeared once they began an exercise regimen.

When you exercise, you’re relieving tension and increasing your body’s production of endorphins. You don’t have to exercise vigorously – a moderate walk is enough to aid you in your quest for sleep.

Sleep Pro Habit #4: No Napping! Just as eating in between meals ruins your appetite, napping between deep sleep can prevent many sleep disorder sufferers from being able to fall asleep and get a full night’s rest.

For some, a nap is just the medicine they need to re-energize for the day, but if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, a nap may cause more harm than good. Even though in the beginning you may feel extremely sleepy, try to save your slumber for the middle of the night and not for a mid-day luxury.

Sleep Pro Habit #5: Don’t Go Back for Seconds! It’s a Thanksgiving ritual for many – stuff yourself so full you have no choice but to waddle down the hall and flop into bed for a nap.

But eating too much – especially near bedtime – can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. Being overly stuffed with food can make sleeping uncomfortable, and if you’re one of the unlucky ones to suffer from indigestion, it can be a painful experience, too. Instead, eat just enough to quell your hunger and go to bed satisfied, but not distressed.

Not every sleep pro solution will work for everyone. The key is to find what works for you. Make lifestyle changes, keep records of your sleep quality, and seek out help from your doctor if signs and symptoms worsen.

5 Essentials for a Good Sleep Environment

Anxiety, stress, jet lag, a medical condition – all could be causes of a sleep disorder or impairment. While treatment of such problems will vary from person to person, a good sleep environment is never a bad idea.

By creating such an environment, it could prove the necessary first step on your road to a better night’s sleep (and all the positive effects that come with it). Here are five essentials to keep in mind when creating your own “good sleep environment.”

1. Keep the Bedroom a Place of Rest: These days, many of us have notebook computers, wireless Internet, and other mobile devices that make it possible for us to transform any room into an office.

But if you suffer from a sleep disorder, make sure you keep your bedroom a bedroom – a place of rest away from work and play. Don’t allow the bedroom to become an office, a playroom, or a TV room. Those who suffer from sleep disorders need to eliminate all distractions in the form of noise, light, or activity.

2. Ideal Temperature: When creating a good sleep environment, you need to make sure you minimize any discomfort. Being too cold or too hot can disrupt a comfortable sleep and once disrupted (for a person with a sleep disorder) it may be difficult to get back into a deep slumber.

Keeping the room at a constant, ideal temperature will help you get and stay asleep. While it’s debatable as to what the best temperature is, it can be agreed upon that anything about 75 degrees Fahrenheit is too warm and anything below 54 degrees, too cold.

Try a median between 60–70 degrees (65) as a compromise, but the deciding factor should be you personally and what you find to be “ideal.” If you keep kicking the covers off or shivering yourself awake, adjust the temperature until it’s just right – and make note of what that number is for you.

3. Comfortable Bed: One symptom of a sleep disorder or impairment is tossing and turning during the night, and one reason you may be restless is because your mattress is uncomfortable.

As with most anything in life, what’s “right” for you (and your back, your posture, your comfort) is specific to your body. However, research has shown that supple mattresses may be more conducive to a good night’s rest versus a firmer one.

Definitely avoid sleeping on a lumpy mattress if it can be helped. A new mattress may be in order if you’ve outgrown your current one, either in size or comfort. If you have a spouse who prefers a different type of mattress, consider getting the type of bed where each of you set the mattress to your perfect number.

4. Keep the Clock Out of Sight: If you can, try to keep your clock out of sight. Set your alarm and then put it somewhere else or turn it away from you – out of your general view. For instance, instead of having the clock on the nightstand, put it on the dresser in the far corner.

If a clock is visible, you may find yourself staring at it or waking up periodically to look at it. If you’re making an effort to create a good sleep environment, it means that you’re aware of an impairment.

If you’re trying to break the cycle of sleeplessness, then it’s important that you don’t focus on time. Seeing how early it is or how little time has passed, can only lead to frustration.

5. No Lights: Remember that a dark bedroom can help your body “know” it’s time for rest. Light triggers a lot in us and is associated with our waking hours. To help the body adjust to a regular sleep cycle, make an effort to distinguish between daytime and bedtime.

When it’s time to sleep, keep light sources to a minimum, including when you get up to go to the bathroom. As with a TV, computer, or video game, you’ll want to avoid anything that can stimulate your brain or body out of rest. Even if your eyes are closed, light in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep.

If these steps are taken, in addition to noise reduction and a few other considerations, such as making a separate sleeping area for pets (that are used to sleeping with you) – then you should be on your way to eliminating some of the factors that may have been contributing to your persistent sleep problems.

What Goes Into an Emergency Preparedness Kit for Short Term Disasters?

 

Emergencies can be classified as either short or long term. You may deal with short-term emergencies – such as losing power for a day or having a health emergency. These usually pass fairly quickly.

But when something causes a short term emergency, unless you’re prepared, you could find yourself in a bind, putting yourself and your loved ones at risk.

Weather emergencies such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards are the top four causes of short term disasters that people are forced to deal with. These disasters create situations where you can end up without any lights, heat or air conditioners.

Without electricity, you won’t have a way to keep your food supply from spoiling. If the disaster causes a rush on grocery store supplies, there will be empty shelves, leaving you without a way to get food.

Without electricity, you can lose the ability to call out for help for health reasons or if there’s looting and the battery on your cell phone dies. The time to plan for a disaster is right now – while you have electricity – while you have the food you need and the means to get ready for what might come your way.

Prepare yourself now, but have an emergency preparedness kit. In that kit, you need water for every member of your family and enough food to last everyone for at least a week.

You’ll need a way to keep warm – especially if the disaster is during the colder months. Use thermal blankets and waterproof sleeping bags. Have battery powered or solar powered gadgets that can charge cell phones.

Have flashlights and radios on hand that run on batteries and keep extra batteries ready. Or, invest in the hand crack variety. Make sure you have a first aid kit that includes face masks and all prescription medications. Prepare your kit with infant and pet needs, too.

Keep antibacterial wipes with the kit and seal your personal ID copies in with the kit. In case your originals are destroyed in the disaster, you’ll have a backup copy that will save you from a future hassle.

You’ll need matches, a hand held can opener and a multi-tool as well as a whistle. A whistle can be heard over long distances and will make it easier to locate you. Keep all of your supplies together in an air-tight waterproof container and store the container somewhere that the temperature doesn’t vary.

There are places that offer readymade disaster kits – and some people choose to buy those. If you pick that option, don’t forget to add copies of your important paperwork since a readymade kit won’t come with that.

Survival Guides for Any Situation

 

When you have the knowledge that you need, you can weather short-term and long-term disasters. But without knowing how to survive, you lessen your odds of making it through.

Survival guides share the knowledge that can help you to survive no matter what your location is – and knowing and preparing for the different ways to survive in any territory will provide you the skills you need.

Surviving an emergency situation isn’t the same in a desert as it is in an urban setting. There’s also a big difference between surviving in the woods versus surviving a catastrophic weather event.

But wherever you happen to be, always remember the first rule. Don’t panic. Panic can lead you to make foolish decisions that will hamper your chances of making it through. Regardless of your situation, food, water and shelter should be your focus.

With a survival guide for any situation, you’ll learn that whenever you’re traveling through a desert area, always have emergency supplies. No one ever expects a vehicle to break down or to get lost in the desert, but it happens.

You should have a hat to cover your head, water, a mirror, and matches on hand. Matches are necessary because the temperatures in the desert drop at night. Not only that, but you can use matches to burn tires or other items to signal for help.

You should have a flashlight, a first aid kit and a blanket with you. Remember too, not to wander away from your vehicle – it’ll be harder for search teams to find you. But don’t sit in your vehicle because the temperatures inside can get too hot.

Urban survival is different in that people aren’t conditioned for the break down of societal rules following a disaster. Urban survival can quickly break down to simply food, shelter and staying alive.

Survival guides that discuss urban survival always mention food storage, a means to cook the food, a water filter or purification tablets and facial masks to protect against contaminants.

Wilderness survival is different from desert and urban survival in that the location can offer special challenges depending on the area. You’ll need a waterproof backpack packed with the following items: first aid kit, food bars, matches, a compass, a knife, string, water purification tablets and a parachute cloth or one man tent. You can use the string to tie to trees, drape the parachute cloth over it and create instant shelter.

Disaster survival guides will cover how to survive in any area for specific length of times (short-term and long-term). You’ll learn the supplies that you’ll need to have on hand and the guides can give you the self-confidence to survive any situation.

Survival Supplies You Should Be Storing Long-Term

 

Surviving long-term after a disaster will depend on how well you prepared before the disaster struck. You need to gather what you need to survive right now. You can store the items in a cool, dry place and have it on hand for when it’s needed.

There are four important things you have to remember when preparing for long-term survival. Those four things are: the need for shelter to be safe from the elements, first aid, food and water and the ability to protect yourself from people or animals that would attempt to harm you.

Long-term supplies to set aside for safety from the elements should be tents for each member of the family if you’re going to use single man tents, sleeping bags, thermal blankets and ponchos.

Safety from the elements also includes the ability to keep warm if necessary. You’ll need an axe for cutting wood for fires, a way to start a fire – such as waterproof matches or a lighter, gloves and a multi tool.

For first aid survival, you’ll need a first aid kit that includes insect repellent, personal hygiene items and field dressings. You’ll need tweezers, scissors and a surgical kit. You may not know how to close a large wound, but in case you have to save a life, you should know this information. You can keep a how-to guide on hand with your supplies. Make sure you have supplies that will treat teeth or eye problems too.

You should be able to protect yourself and your family from harm. Some people choose to arm themselves with guns and ammunition. If you choose to do that, make sure you store the ammunition in a waterproof box.

In the event that long-term survival is needed, your food supply should already be on hand. You’ll want foods that can store for years without the possibility of spoil. Start with your basic foods – like sugar, coffee, powered milk and staples like flour and salt.

Foods that will keep stored for many years are peanut butter, beans and rice. Canned foods are an excellent choice to have on hand as long as you have a handheld can opener. An electric one won’t do you much good if the power is out!

Store up canned foods like chili, fruits, soups and meats like tuna, salmon, and chicken. Trail mix, beef jerky and powdered juices can all be safely stored for years. If you prepare now, you can make homemade canned items like fruits and vegetables that can last until they’re needed.

When you’re storing foods that are in packages, you’ll need to put those down into a container to keep them safe from insects or mice. You can buy bulk supplies of MREs (meals ready to eat) that can feed an entire family for a year or longer.

Have communication sources like a cell phone and a battery operated CB radio. You’ll want to get LED flashlights and lanterns, waterproof bags for clothing and you’ll want to have a way to clean your clothes. Store a laundry board and a five gallon bucket with some laundry soap and bleach.

Because stress can build quickly in a long-term survival event, store games and other stress busters with your supplies, especially if you have children.

What Is the Best Survival Gear for a Family to Have?

 

Natural disasters and man-made disasters are occurring with more frequency than ever. So it makes sense to make sure that your family is prepared for any event. Preparation gear should always be in place before any disaster strikes.

You’ll want to gather your items and have them packaged and ready so that when the time comes, you can easily put your hands on what you need. Hopefully, you won’t experience disasters – but being prepared with the right equipment can help your family survive.

The equipment that your family should have can be packed (before it’s needed) into a sturdy backpack. You should make sure that the backpack is waterproof so that it protects the contents from getting damaged by inclement weather.

In the backpack, you should put enough gear to take care of each member of your family. If you have a larger family, you’ll need to prepare more than one backpack.

Inside the backpack, you’ll want to have a change of clothing for each family member. Food should be included in your survival gear. When packing food, obviously, you don’t want to pack foods that will spoil quickly.

Pack things like high protein food bars and other foods that have a lot of calories (minimum 2,000 calories) and can take the place of a meal. Water for every member of the family should be packed and ready.

But since bottled water can take up a lot of space and become heavy and awkward to carry, look for water that’s specifically made for survival gear that’s packaged in lightweight boxes. This purified water is packaged in a way that it can be safely stored in a wide variety of temperatures.

Protection is a must during a survival situation. You may want to arm yourselves with weapons, depending on the situation. For natural protection, you’ll need a solar powered radio so that you can listen to emergency broadcasts. You’ll want protection from the elements and protection against extreme weather.

You’ll need thermal blankets. Some survival experts suggest buying thermal blankets in packets of several at a time, and adding ponchos and emergency or tube tents. You’ll also want light sticks in the event that electricity isn’t available. You’ll need a functional knife such as a multi-tool Army knife on hand in case you need to cut rope for a tent or for other purposes.

Family members that take prescription medication should have their medication included in your survival gear backpack. You should have at least a two-week supply of any prescription medication put aside for survival situations. A first aid kit with medication such as medicine for headaches, bug bites and supplies for treating and bandaging cuts and wounds should also be included in your backpack.

 

The Best Way to Hone Your Survival Skills

 

Human beings have a strong will to survive, but that will can easily get beaten down when faced with overwhelming situations. A situation is only overwhelming when there’s a lack of knowledge or skill. When you know what do to because you’ve already planned ahead of time, you can act on instinct rather than react in a panic.

Fire drills are practiced in schools (and should be in your home, too) so that everyone will know what he or she is supposed to do. When you perform a task often enough, you can do it automatically without thinking about it when an emergency hits.

Test yourself by conducting drills by going camping on the weekends and only bring your survival bag. Camp in inclement weather so you’ll be prepared to handle that, but remember to let someone know the area where you’re going to go camping.

Practice often so you’ll know what to do in the event of weather disasters, health emergencies and threats to your safety. Practice using the first aid kit, treating a wound, an unconscious person, practice setting a broken bone, treating a burn, etc. Practice what to do if you’re unable to call for help and you’re wounded.

It’s important because the best way to survive is to practice what you’re going to do in any worst case scenario. You might not live in an area prone to tornadoes, but that doesn’t mean one won’t happen-be prepared for the unexpected.

Number one, prepare yourself mentally. If you allow the situation to overwhelm you or to make you fall into the trap of self-pity, your survival odds drop. The first step to take is to assess your situation and realize that you need three things – shelter, food and water. Of the three, find shelter first, a water supply second and food last.

Of course, practice is easy when you’re already prepared for survival. You should have a stockpile of food and necessities already gathered in your emergency pantry for your survival.

You should have staples in large quantities. Have water jugs filled and ready in your emergency pantry. Besides food, have batteries, flashlights and a camp stove put back as well.

But you should also get survival guides and study those so that you’ll know what to do if you have to get your food source from the land. For example, some people advocate eating plants, but certain plants will not only upset your stomach, they’ll kill you. What you want to do is to hope the worst case scenario never takes place – but you want to be prepared for it if it does.

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