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Month: May 2018

Melatonin For Children? A Guide for Parents

Pediatricians  frequently recommend melatonin for children with sleep problems, or parents might try it themselves. However, the proper use of melatonin is frequently misunderstood. Here is a guide for parents and pediatricians to decide if a child should try it, and to understand how it should be used.

A common thread I find in children coming to Sleep Clinic is that many or all of them have been on melatonin at some point, or are taking it currently. Melatonin is an important tool in the treatment of sleep disorders in children, and because it is naturally derived, there is a widespread perception that it is safe. However, I have become concerned by the frequency of its use, especially in an unsupervised way.

Melatonin sales have doubled in the past ten years, increasing from $90 million in 2007 to $260 million in 2012. I worry that the widespread availability of melatonin has led to some parents using it as a shortcut to good sleep practices. An article in the Wall Street Journal (which also provided the sales figures above), quoted a father’s review on Amazon:

OK, yes, as parents my wife and I should do a better job starting the bedtime routine earlier, turning off the TV earlier, limiting sweets, etc., etc. Well, for whatever reason, this is not our strong

Can Ambien Side Effects Really Make You Racist and Crazy?

After Rosanne’s tweets today, a lot of people have, predictably, been sending me messages asking if it is ok to take Ambien.

I want to start by saying that the comments made by Rosanne Barr, comedienne or not, were flat out disgusting.

But that is not what I am here to talk to you about.

I want to talk about the example that was put forward recently by this “Tweet”. Today Mrs. Barr released a statement saying that she was “ under the influence of Ambien” and could not be held responsible for her tweet. To be very clear, Ambien is a serious but SAFE medication.

If you’ve been reading a while, you know I want to help everyone sleep better and that pharmaceuticals are not my favorite, but 95% of my patients show up using them when we first meet. These are medications that have been available for 20 years and are good drugs, generally, if taken as prescribed by your doctor, and are not mixed with Alcohol, etc. But when you look at the actual effects of Ambien on a person’s emotional state, mood, etc here is what we know. These medications reduce a person’s inhibitions. Just like alcohol, a person might say or do something that they normally may want to do, or say but do not. …

What is the “Ferber Method?”

“The Ferber Method” is probably the most widely recognizable strategy for getting a baby to sleep through the night, and with good reason. It works.

However, it has also met with no small amount of controversy from critics who say that allowing a child to cry, even for a short period of time, can cause elevated stress levels and hurt the bond between babies and parents. (Evidence points to the contrary, but that’s a debate for another time.)

Today, I’ll explain exactly what the Ferber method involves and how it differs in one essential way from the Sleep Sense Program.

Rather read than watch? Click here.

RhinoMed’s Mute to Be Stocked in 3,000 New Pharmacies Across United States

Australian nasal and respiratory technology company Rhinomed has entered into a new distribution agreement with, and received an initial order for stock from a new retailer. The retailer is one of America’s largest pharmacy retailers.

These purchase orders confirm that the company’s anti-snoring nasal dilator Mute will be stocked on the shelves of an additional 3,000 pharmacies across the United States. This agreement grows Rhinomed’s global store base to over 10,000 stores across three continents.

There are limitations under the order arrangements on the disclosure that Rhinomed can currently provide, but it can provide the following information:

  • Details regarding the identity of the retailer will be announced in line with stock appearing on shelf in the USA in July/August.
  • The company has now received the initial opening order of 6,000 units and expects more orders to follow.
  • Revenues from this new retail channel are not expected to impact the business until FY19 Q2 at the earliest.
  • The agreement has no fixed term and can be terminated by either party.
  • Pricing details remain confidential.

Rhinomed CEO Michael Johnson says in a release, “This is a critical step in our strategy of ensuring that our retail footprint increases in the significant American market. Rhinomed is continuing to demonstrate that Australian companies are not only great innovators but can also successfully commercialize innovation

Sleep Before You Drive

We all know that sleep is a universal need. It is essential to living. You can’t last long in this world without sleep. It will take its toll over time. If you see people looking haggard and stressed, they are also probably lacking in sleep. Sleeping restores your body to optimum health and gives you the energy you need to face a new day. Your attention and focus are heightened and you have no problem doing tasks but remember when you’re sleepy, you can barely steady yourself and finish what you are doing without making mistakes. Hence, you can’t just disregard the value of sleep especially if you do something that requires your undivided attention and focus, such as when driving or operating machinery.

You’ve probably seen your fair share of road accidents already. Some can be minor mishaps while others have claimed the lives of the driver and the passengers and even that of innocent bystanders. More often than not, simply getting that recommended eight hours sleep at night is enough to prevent such accidents from happening but at times it can be something the person behind the wheel has little control over. Conditions such as sleep apnea can put the driver and everyone in their way in serious harm. These people likely suffer from poor sleep and …

The Latest on Sleep and Gut Health

I’ve been having lots of conversations lately about sleep and gut health, with patients and with colleagues. (I recently talked with the UK’s The Guardian newspaper about the topic.) I wanted to bring some of these conversations back here, because there have been some significant new scientific developments in our understanding of the relationship between sleep and our microbiome. (You can check out some of my previous writing on the sleep-gut connection here.)

What’s the microbiome?

You’ve probably heard about the importance of “gut health” to your overall health and well-being. Your intestines are home to the largest concentration of micro-organisms that make up what scientists call the “microbiome.” This microbial world within us plays an important role in digestion—and a whole lot more.

The human microbiome is made up of trillions of tiny microbes. Many are bacteria, but there are also viruses, fungi, and protozoa. These microbial organisms live all throughout the body, but it’s the large microbial ecosystem in the intestines that has attracted the most attention, because of all we’re learning about its role in maintaining physical and mental health and function.

Here are some fast facts about the microbiome:

  • It’s often referred to as our “second brain.” Why? Our microbiome is home to a nervous system and about 100 million neurons. The nervous system

Biohacking Sleep and Chronotypes With Ben Greenfield

Biohacking is nothing new but does seem to be something that has become more popular. In our do-it-yourself world, where we can all learn cool things on the internet, try them at home and succeed (or at least not fail too badly), biohacking basically uses techniques and nutrition to achieve physical goals (sleeping better in this case), that normally might not happen.

I will warn you many of these techniques are EXTREME, and are fun to read about, but may be reserved for those who are a bit more adventurous. As always check with your physician before embarking on any significant changes in your routine or medical recommendations from a physician.

So what did Ben have to say? You can check out this 5000-word article here, but let me give you a few highlights from his article:

There is a genetic mutation that allows people to sleep less and still be alert ( but its rare).
Twin studies have uncovered the rare mutations that occur to the p.Tyr362His BHLHE41 gene appears to allow some people to tolerate shorter sleep durations and maintain normal alertness and limited signs of inflammation.
Sleeping on your side has a distinct advantage:
While asleep, relatively new research shows that toxins are flushed from the brain through lymphatic vessels in the brain, called glymphatics (interestingly, …