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HOW WEIGHTED BLANKETS CAN HELP WITH FIBROMYALGIA…

If you’ve ever woken up from sleep under a heavy blanket and throw then you will have had a taste of how weighted blankets work.

By applying gentle pressure, a weighted blanket actually mimics therapeutic massage known as deep pressure touch stimulation. This firm pressure relaxes the nervous system and “triggers a chain reaction in the body that releases an overall sense of calm and peace.” They consist of plastic pellets or ball bearings that make the blankets heavy with an average weight of around 7kg.

The good things that come out of using this blanket include reduced pain, better sleep, improved focus, and lower anxiety levels.

When used at night, a therapeutic weighted blanket creates a wonderful sense of comfort and well-being. This allows the user to unwind and relax faster and easier than they normally would, perfect for those who suffer from insomnia.

The benefits includes the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone which regulates your natural sleep cycle.

I am sure you will have heard of oxytocin, which is a neurotransmitter sometimes referred to as the “happiness hormone.” There are different ways to boost the body’s production of oxytocin but, Sense Calm writes that Dr. Timothy J. Legg at Medical News Today writes, “When people hug, the body releases the hormone oxytocin… The weighted blanket essentially imitates the warmth and security that a hug provides. Both the blanket and hug use a gentle, firm pressure that goes deep within the body giving a sense of repose that allows the body to relax.” 

 Fatigue is one of the most commonest and debilitating symptoms of Fibromyalgia, which often goes hand-in-hand with sleepless nights. Weighted Blankets can help you have restorative sleep and have a better night of quality sleep.

The Independent writes “Sensory weighted blankets and clothing are nothing new; therapists have used them for more than a decade to help people with autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. But the blankets only really hit the mainstream consumer market recently, when people started sharing how comforting they found them.”

The Sleep Advisors website lists this years 10 best weighted blankets reviewed and compared.

Deep sleep is well known for our bodies to heal, restore, and reduce pain sensitivity. There are so many reasons to get enough sleep.

Healthline lists a number of 10 reasons you need to have a good sleep pattern –

  1. Losing sleep can impair your body’s ability to fight off illness.
  2. Your chances of developing coronary heart disease or having a stroke are greatly increased with less sleep.
  3. Your cancer risk increases.
  4. You can’t think properly.
  5. You forget stuff.
  6. Your libido diminishes
  7. You gain weight
  8. Your risk of diabetes increases
  9. You’re accident prone.
  10. Your skin suffers.

Source: Applied Behaviour Analysis, Sensa Calm, Physcology Today Medical News Today, The Independent, The Sleep Advisors, Healthline

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HOW TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES….

 

 

It’s thought the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects around 2 million people in the UK and more than 12 million people across northern Europe. It can affect people of any age, including children.

We all lack energy from time to time but if it doesn’t improve then you should see your GP.

There are a number of conditions that can leave you feeling lethargic. Iron levels are one of the first things that can affect energy levels and cause tiredness.

An under-active thyroid is another cause of tiredness and the falling hormone levels that occur at the menopause.

Fatigue can also be a sign of diabetes.

If you are suffering from SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder) this can also cause fatigue. 

As well as the above, some medications can also cause lethargy, including beta blockers, some antihistamines, codeine-based painkillers and also some antidepressants. Also some sleeping tablets may help to get you through the night, some can cause daytime fatigue.

The main symptoms are – 

Key symptoms:

  • depression
  • sleep problems
  • lethargy
  • overeating
  • irritability
  • feeling down and unsociable

Of course, anxiety, stress and depression are also triggers for sapping energy levels. The best course of action is to go and visit your GP.

NHS Inform have ten tips on how to beat developing the winter blues – 

1. Keep active

Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues. Read more about walking to get fit.

2. Get outside

Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

3. Keep warm

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help. Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.

Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees).

4. Eat healthily

A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Read more about healthy eating.

5. See the light

Some people find light therapy effective for seasonal depression. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours a day.

Light boxes give out very bright light at least 10 times stronger than ordinary home and office lighting. They’re not available on the NHS and cost from around £29.99 or more.

“Some people find that using a dawn simulator [a bedside light, connected to an alarm clock, that mimics a sunrise and wakes you up gradually] as well as a light box can enhance the beneficial effect,” says Pavlovich.

One of the most obvious ways to treat SAD is to get outside in the daylight for at least 20 minutes a day but Light therapy is the most effective way of decreasing the symptoms. Also it is believed that eating foods rich in an amino acid called tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin in the brain.

6. Take up a new hobby

Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD, says Pavlovich. “It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on,” she adds.

7. See your friends and family

It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

8. Talk it through

Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms. See your GP for information on what’s available locally on the NHS and privately, or read this article on how to access talking treatments.

9. Join a support group

Think about joining a support group. Sharing your experience with others who know what it’s like to have SAD is very therapeutic and can make your symptoms more bearable.

SADA is the UK’s only registered charity dedicated to SAD. It costs £20 (£10 for concessions) to join, and you’ll receive an information pack, regular newsletters, discounts on products such as light boxes, and contacts for telephone support.

10. Seek help

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help.

Read more about how SAD is treated.

Its the sunlight that tells your brain to produce serotonin, which is needed to boost our mood and energy. Lack of it as autumn turns to winter causes an increase in the production of melatonin (which makes us sleepy) and a reduction in serotonin is what can cause depression.

Also they say that Australian research found that taking vitamin D supplements for only five days in late winter improved the mood of people with SAD. It can also prevent osteoporosis, support immunity and regulate weight. Of course the best way to get Vitamin D is through the effects of sunlight on bare skin. Amazingly they say that Vitamin D lasts for 60 days in the body so if you’ve been away for your annual holiday in the summer, it will mean your levels should be fine until November.

Other sources of Vitamin D can be found in oily fish and eggs, cheese and poultry.

Research also suggests that eating carb-rich foods helps the brain take up tryptophan. You can also find supplements and The Food Agency recommends taking 10mcg a day.

Source: NHS Inform  

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MINDBODY MEDICINE – LIVING PROOF STORIES OF HOPE…

My Osteopath send me this brilliant video link on Mindbody Medicine – Living Proof Stories of Hope which has been put together by some patients to help to better educate the general public but in particular the medical profession about how these conditions often need a different approach.

He was sure that I would find it interesting.

I found it quite mind blowing and I just wished I had shared it during Pain Awareness Month in September. Check out Mindbody Medicine- Living Proof Stories of Hope after you have read some information about it below.

The introduction is from Charli, a 24-year-old biochemistry student from London, who shares her moving story of recovery from over two years of chronic pain.  She describes the science behind the ‘mindbody’ approach to calming her nervous system, and her hopes that medical practitioners will start to bring the vital link between emotions and physical symptoms more into their practice.

It is their first in an anticipated series of short films which will profile a range of different chronic conditions and medically unexplained symptoms, primarily to help the medical profession better understand this approach to health.

Their aim is to illustrate how so often the root of these conditions actually lies in the brain, and that once this is understood and accepted by the patient, a resolution can be found through working on our emotions and thought patterns. 

Their website supports GPs and other medical professionals in the UK in their treatment of patients with persistent chronic pain or other chronic symptoms, including ‘Medically Unexplained Symptoms’ (MUS). It aims to increase medical professionals’ understanding of the role of the brain and the mind in these chronic conditions, and to introduce a range of low cost, easy-to-access, scientifically-evidenced educational and treatment resources.

The NHS UK website itself recognises that ‘medically unexplained symptoms are common, accounting for up to 45% of all GP appointments and half of all new visits to hospital clinics in the UK’. Such patients can often be a great source of frustration for GPs as the real cause is not yet widely understood and effective treatments are not taught within mainstream medicine.

The mindbody approach is easily integrated into day-to-day practice with patients, with the goal being to alleviate chronic symptoms, rather than just helping the patient manage them. Practitioners who are already incorporating this approach report that including an inquiry into possible psychosocial causes of chronic pain and MUS at the start of the diagnostic process is usually well accepted by patients as part of a “whole person” approach to their care.

They recognise that there are already a lot of high quality resources out there for individual patients to learn from, particularly in relation to pain-based conditions, and see no point in reinventing the wheel. It is our hope that by helping to educate and inform the health practitioners who are seeing these patients on a daily basis we will over time leverage a broader impact. Their long-term aim is to reduce the number of NHS patient visits relating to chronic pain and MUS in the UK, in turn freeing up time for our medical professionals to focus on those with acute needs.

The information in this website has been checked for accuracy by their medical advisory teamcomprised of health professionals operating in the UK and in the US.  

I will write further about the mindbody experience in another post as I think you need to see the video first to understand the technique.

Source: Mind Body Medicine