Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sleep & Sleep Deprivation: How to Catch More Zzzz

         Sleep Deprivation, also known as insomnia, is a universal dilemma. What is sleep deprivation? Sleep deprivation (insomnia) is the lack of sleep. According to statistics, we need an average of 5-8 hours of sleep and we need to spend 20% of sleep cycle in the REM stage to reduce lethargy. Lethargy usually occurs in the early or late afternoon, when you become drowsy or tired. Not only does sleep reduce lethargy, research has also demonstrated that adequate sleep can increase longevity. So how do we get the adequate sleep that we need?
          In order to understand why we need adequate sleep, we need to have a better understanding of the sleep cycle. Scientists, Doctors, and Psychologists study sleep and sleep patterns using a machine known as the Electrocardiogram (EEG). The EEG has identified 5 stages of sleep.

Stage 1: This stage of sleep initiates the drowsiness effect, which causes a person to drift in and out of sleep.
Stage 2: In this stage, eye movement diminishes. An EEG reveals slower and more rapid brain wave patterns. 
Stage 3: Delta waves are seen with an EEG. These delta waves are small and fast waves.
Stage 4: Delta waves dominate this stage of sleep.
Stage 5 or REM: At this time, REM (rapid eye movement) occurs. Physiologically, the individual has more rapid breathing, eye jerks, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure. Dreams, bed wetting and sleepwalking also may occur at this stage.

                Now that we have a better understanding of sleep patterns, the stages of sleep, and how the brain reacts during sleep, let's discuss the prerequisites for achieving better sleep.

1) Milk. Before going to bed, drink at least one glass of milk. When the stomach digest milk, milk produces a chemical that converts to melatonin. Melatonin is a natural chemical and a natural sedative that the body produces.  However, many individuals, do not produce enough melatonin to get enough sleep.
2) Take a warm bath. A warm bath cleanses and creates a soothing effect for the body. Lavender can also be added to bath water to produce a more soothing effect.
3) Clean sheets. Clean sheets create are more relaxing for the body, so sometimes changing the sheets is beneficial.
4) Decreased Activity. Only use the bed to sleep. Do not use the bed for reading, watching television, eating, etc. In other words, obeying this guideline will help your body to naturally recognise that when you do go to bed you are actually going to sleep.
5) Listening to Music or Water. Some music and the sound of water, such as waterfall, rainfall, or the sound of an ocean can create a more relaxing environment.
6) Activity. If you wake up in the middle of sleeping, get out of bed and move around. Do chores around the house, get a glass of milk, etc. This will decrease energy to where you feel more drowsy. Staying in bed will only cause you to dwell on not getting sleep.
7) Exercise. Although it's important to get out of bed if insomnia is an issue, do not exercise before going to sleep. Exercise increase endorphins. These endorphins produce an energizing effect that detour you from sleeping.
8) Noise. If noise is an issue, turn on a fan. A fan will block out most of the noise.
9) Room temperature. If you are unable to sleep because of the room temperature, change the thermostat to a more relaxing temperature.
10) Medication. If insomnia persists, speak to your Primary Care Physician (PCP) and ask for a sedative, such as melatonin, Trezadone, Ambien, etc. According to majority of my patients who have insomnia, Trazadone is an effective sleep medication.

              Although, some of these guidelines may not be sufficient for some individuals, everyone needs to determine the most effective ways to get adequate sleep. Adequate sleep is beneficial because a substantial amount of sleep reduces illnesses, increases frontal lobe activity, and increases our longevity. It is also extremely important to understand our body's anatomy and physiology and how the sleep stages benefit sleep. Overall, adults spend 50% of their time in stage 2 sleep, 20% in REM sleep, and 30% in the other stages of sleep. As we get older, we spend less time in REM sleep. Since the elderly do not get adequate REM sleep, they feel more lethargic. This explains why the elderly need to take more naps during the day. Therefore, sleep, it does the body good. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Existing Drug Problem in Ky

       After being in Mental Health for 11+ years and a Chemical Dependency Counselor for 3 years I am applaud that a physician, such as Rand Paul could suggest that Kentucky does not have a drug problem. I have witnessed and counseled individuals who are highly addicted to drugs. These individuals are as young as 11 years old through elderly adulthood. Approximately, 98% of these individuals have stated that they started smoking at the age of 9 or 10 years old. Since, they were not getting fulfilled from smoking cigarettes, they began using pot and other hard core drugs.This may not appear to be an issue for some individuals, but being a Counselor it is for me. I will demonstrate why this is an enormous issue for our beautiful State of Kentucky and why action needs to be taken to abolish this issue.
           First of all, how does drug use begin? I would compare drug use as I have to my patients much like a wheel on a bicycle. For instance, imagine the wheel on a bicycle turning in a circle. Drug use can be demonstrated such as this. The cycle begins when a person uses drugs for the first time. Then, the cycle continues when the person develops what is called the "liking effect". Next, the cycle continues to spin around when the "liking effect" develops into a "wanting effect". Then, this "wanting effect" develops into the "liking effect". This drug cycle just continues to spin around in a circle.

         Drug use can also be described much like riding a bicycle. For instance, a person takes their first puff of weed just like a person getting on a bicycle for the first time. Then you realize you like the effect it gives you. Next, you start wanting to use the drug again like a person wanting to ride their bike again. This liking leads to wanting, ect. It's once, again a continuous cycle until you either come to a steep hill in the road that brings you to a halt or you get caught by your parents, police, ect.
          What persuades these individuals to continue using? Individuals who are addicts continue using drugs because they have a small area in their brain that gives them that "liking effect". This area of the brain is called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a small area of the brain that controls a person's emotions, such as the "liking effect".
          The "liking effect" causes them to desire drugs more and more. My patients have stated that they first started smoking cigarettes, then they used marijuna, then they began experimenting with other drugs. This occurs because the effects of a particular drug wears off or they do not get the results they desire. They began using drugs such as Cocaine, Crank, Meth, and Heroine. Unfortunately, drug addiction is difficult to overcome, so these individuals are continuously needing therapy.
            There are several preventative measures to take to abolish this issue. For instance, educating our children as much as necessary about drug use. Another suggestion is to provide more supervision for children, such as after school activities. Furthermore, stricter policies and laws preventing drug distribution need to be mandated. Overall, children need stability, understanding and guidance to prevent them from experimenting with drugs. Without collaboration from parents, teachers, Counselors, Therapists, Social Workers, and Doctors this is not going to resolve itself. Therefore, we must be willing to take action.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Craddock Times: To Vote or Not to Vote:Why Bother?

Craddock Times: To Vote or Not to Vote:Why Bother?: " It is heart-breaking that numerous Americans do not utilize what our Forefathers fought so diligently to create ..."

To Vote or Not to Vote:Why Bother?

                It is heart-breaking that numerous Americans do not utilize what our Forefathers fought so diligently to create for us all: the beautifully crafted Constitution. We are all aware of the fact that embedded in this marvelous document are the Amendments and Bill of Rights. Although there are 27 Amendments total, the First Amendment (freedom of speech) is what I want to emphasize. This Amendment must have been significant to our Forefathers because it is the First Amendment. It is perplexing that this Amendment provides Americans with special privileges unlike numerous other countries, but Americans still do not invest in it.

              In order to find out why this Amendment has been neglected by numerous Americans, I decided to do some investigation. Being that I spend so many hours at my workplace, I decided to start here. I asked several people if they were registered to vote. They said "yes" that they were registered, however they did not vote. I asked them why not? Some of their responses were: they felt all politicians were the same, my vote does not count for much, and I'm just not into politics. All these responses truly disturbed me. The reasons being that I'm an advocate for voting, I believe you should use your rights that are so freely provided for you by The Constitution, and that I am proactive in assisting my political party in my spare time.


               For the individuals who stated that they did vote (including me), we realize that all these responses are not true. For instance, we realize that our voices need to be heard indirectly by voting. We also believe that every vote does count, so we flock to the polls on Election Day to cast our votes. We also get involved in voting because we believe that every politician is different. We also realize that in order to create a better America for us all, collaberation and voting are essential. 
              Overall, we all need to take pride in the accomplishments of our Forefathers by taking advantage of the Constitution. Our Forefathers created The Constitution so that America could become a more prosperous country. Furthermore, I believe that many of us do not realize how privileged we are in having so many rights. Many countries do not get to voice their opinions and they do not get to vote for who is elected into office. Just think, we could have politicians in office that we all agree were not suitable for leading our country if we were not given the right to vote. Therefore, we need to get involved in what we believe is right for our country by volunteering for political parties, canvassing, and encouraging voters to vote. If people are not willing to volunteer, then at least attempt to go to the polls on Election Day. Afterall, voting is similar to playing the lottery, if you do not vote than you have no chance of winning.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For Better or Worse: the WEG

           Many individuals are addicted to remote controls and DVRs. Afterall, isn't it gratifying to have the ability to fast forward through all the unwanted and annoying commercials? Think of  how gratifying it would be if we could use a remote control to fast forward through the steps of change. Afterall, let's face it, we all cringe when we hear the word "change".  For instance, when your boss tells you there's a new computer program that's being installed, which will take several weeks to learn. What do you find yourself doing? Cringing? When the policies at work are being altered.  Another cringe or moan? When our our favorite television show is canceled due to a special news report. Yet another moan or cringe? Although some of us may enjoy these changes, the majority of us do not. But what if change is for the better not the worst? That is what I believe is going to occur with the World Equestrian Games (WEG).
           The countdown is on, now that the WEG is coming to our beautiful city of Lexington, Ky. Since, the WEG is going create numerous changes for Lexington, what are some of us Lexingtonians doing? Some of us are cringing and voicing our opinions about the WEG while others of us are marking our calenders and cashing in the change from our piggy banks for tickets. Since, there is so much controversy regarding the WEG, I think it's important to take a moment to reflect on some of these opposing views.
           First of all, how will the WEG create more problems for our city? Many individuals believe that the city is going to become more congested and the city doesn't have the capacity to house that many individuals. However, the city officials have addressed this issue by creating better roads, such as the new and improved Ironworks Road. Another concern of some people is that the parking is going cause problems for individuals who live close to the WEG. However, city officials have decided to use shuttle buses to accommodate this situation. There is also, the issue of whether or not enough tickets have been or are being sold to this event. I believe this issue will be remedied once the games begin because more people will want to buy tickets after they realize how extraordinary this event is going to be. 
           Second, how will the WEG benefit our city? I believe that the benefits are going to far outweigh the problems. For instance, a diverse and numerous amount of individuals will be coming to Lexington to witness this event. Many of these individuals will consists of CEOs and Presidents of bigger, stronger businesses. I believe these CEOs and Presidents are going to arrive in this city, see the beauty of this city and they are going to realize how much they can profit by investing in businesses here in Lexington. What a  fabulous strategy to boost our economy! Being that there are so many individuals without employment, why not give it a try? I believe the WEG is also going to give the world a wake-up-call as to how extraordinary our "little city" really is. Perhaps, we will no longer have to be known as "hillbillies" or "hicks". Hopefully, the world will realize and acknowledge who we actually are: creative, intelligent, sophisticated individuals.
           No unfortunately, we do not have a remote control that can fast forward changes in life. We may also not be able to isolate ourselves from all changes that take place. However, we can try to remain optimistic, use our skills that we are blessed with, and use creative thinking to help us conquer changes. We also have to remind ourselves that not all changes are harmful. Some changes can create a better life for us all. Therefore, those of you who are not accepting of the WEG, think about how it can benefit us all. This is what we all need to attempt to do with the WEG.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Are Cowboys and Indians Creating a Violent America?

      Although, guns have been in our country for decades, violence has become a major issue. Guns were a major part of our Forefather's lives. In other words, they used guns for battles, survival and they created Amendment 2 of the Constitution, stating that  "we have the right to bear arms". We also socialize our boys to be more assertive, by encouraging boys to play with toy guns, play cowboys and indians, play with GI Joe's, and that "loosers never prosper" when it comes to sports. This has become an issue because neither our Forefathers nor parents of boys considered the long term effects of guns and violence. According to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) robberies have declined in the U.S. from 2008 to 2009 (-0.7 to -8.1). (Uniform Crime Report, 2009). The UCR is a national database that law enforcement uses to report crime in the U.S. However, we have more school shootings occurring, riots in bigger cities, and suicide rates have increased. Are television/films, poverty, breakdown of the family unit, race, and music to blame for this issue and if so what preventative measures can we take to correct this issue?
      This issue is going to be difficult to resolve when practically every television show and film glamorizes guns and violence to attract viewers.  However, our children are watching these violent films and television shows, such as cartoons, sitcom shows, and after school programs. Cops, NCIS, talk shows, the news, and numerous other television shows are also overloaded with violence. We want our children to be up-to-date on current events, which is great, but these children are watching violence on the evening news.  Television without violence would not be interesting at all ( Michael Moore, 2002). Afterall, how many people can honestly say that they would go watch a film or watch a  television show that does not have any violent content? Countries, such as Canada watch violent films and television shows, however, their crime rate is lower than ours (Michael Moore, 2002).
     It has been found that numerous individuals who have been victimized, blame the black population for the crimes. However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics gives the following statistics: 69.2 % of whites/Hispanics were arrested in the U.S. in 2008 and 28.3 % of blacks were arrested in the U.S. in 2008 (Bureau of Justice Statistics).  People are stereotyping blacks on television shows by accusing blacks of the crimes (Michael Moore, 2002). Another opposing view is that Canada has a lot of diversity in their country, but Canada has a lower crime rate than the U.S. (Michael Moore, 2002).
      We could blame poverty for the violent acts that are occurring in the U.S. However, crime is occurring more in suburbia than in inner city areas (Michael Moore, 2002). Furthermore, poverty is an issue in Canada; however, low income housing in Canada appears to be more posh in comparison to the U.S. Canada still remains less violent than the U.S. (Michael Moore, 2002).
       Crime can occur anywhere, there is not safe place (Michael Moore, 2002). I found this to be true after speaking to my brother recently about a break-in that occurred to him in New York. He stated that these individuals were brave enough to walk into his apartment while he was still home. He believed that they were searching for drug money. I also spoke to my ex- husband who stated that there were several robberies occurring in his neighborhood when he was younger. The neighborhood he resided in (Louisville, Ky) he felt was safe and had never had any problems before. Neither my brother nor ex-husband lived in poorer neighborhoods, but they lived in bigger cities.
      Parents want to blame music for violent acts, but other countries listen to violent music and they are not nearly as violent as the U.S. Many people in Littleton, Colorado accused the predators in the Columbine shootings of being violent because of the music they listened to. They all listened to Marylin Manson. Canada listens to violent music and they still have lower crime rate than we do here in the U.S. (Michael Moore, 2002). Therefore, music can not be the reason that the U.S. is more violent than other countries.
Breakdown of the Family Unit
      More divorces are occurring in the U.S., more singles are adopting children and more singles are having children, however, is this the reason that violence has increased in the U.S.? Personally speaking, I am a single parent and I have a son who will soon be 13 years old. He is not violent at all.  On the other hand, numerous children are staying at home alone for an extensive amount of time until their parent(s) get home. This could possibly become an issue because this gives children more free time and there is less discipline. For instance, An unsupervised 6 year old boy found a gun in his parents bedroom. He took this gun to his school the following day. He shot another 6 year old with the gun and killed her (Michael Moore, 2002).
      There are so many reasons why violence is a major issue in the U.S. more so than any other country. Whether the UCR wants to recognize violence as an issue or not, violence is becoming more prevalent in the U.S. The UCR may not be addressing this issue due to the fact that police enforcement does not report all data to the UCR, such as victimization surveys and Bureau of Justice Statistics (Wikipedia). We also need to take into account that the UCR data may be different this year due to the recession that is taking place in the U.S. For instance, there may be more robberies occurring since the U.S. in the mist of a recession. Furthermore, people may feel the need to commit robberies to provide for thier families. People may also become more hostile when it comes to being laid off at a job because they will have to draw unemployment or live without an income. Unfortunately, unemployment does not provide enough income for some individuals to provide for their families.
       The only real solution for this issue is to identify and advocate preventative measures that can help prevent violence. Some preventative measures to consider could be: provide more education classes for youth, create more after school programs for youth, enforce stricter laws to prevent violence, mandate for youth to participate in charity and volunteer work after school, address how we socialize our children, not be so harsh about winning every game of sports, and mandatory psychological exams for college applicants, and altering the Constitutional Rights. If the government will not alter the Constitutional rights, such as Amendment 2, then they should reinforce that parents keep their guns lock up so that young people do not have easy access to them. All of these preventative measures are going to take money, time , patience and community action. Otherwise, this issue is going to prevail and increasingly become more dangerous for us all.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Green Beans and Red Apples

      I will never forget my days as a young girl when I would travel to the country to spend time with my Nanny.  She was a little old woman, but she was quick with a fly swatter or a switch, which my younger brother learned early. Her hands were worn and blistered from her life as a farmer. These hands that were quick to discipline were the same hands that would welcome a stranger into her home. Anyone was welcome to make a visit to see her, but when it came time for her nap, she was sure to tell you it was getting late and you should be on your way. For, a woman like her needed a nap, so she could get up early to tend to her garden.  
      One could soon see that she was passionate about her garden for she would rise early in the morning before the sun made it's appearance. Red tomatoes, green beans, red grapes, granny smith apples, red delicious apples were her delight.  She would be in her garden from early in the morning hours until dawn. At dawn, she would go into the house and go straight to her bed to get a good night's rest for tomorrow was in just a few hours.
         When her fruits and vegetables were ripe she would go the market to sell them. She would sale what she could then return home to once again take care of her garden. The produce that she would not sale would be our next meal or she would give to friends and family. When it was time for dessert she would serve apple pie from the apples that she would grow in her garden.
         Occasionally, I would ride to market with her when my parents would need some time to themselves. We would ride in her truck with our windows down to catch a cool breeze. As we would ride, she would see a stranger walking by the road. She knew not a stranger for she would stop and ask them if they needed a ride.
         Although, I thought that my loved ones would never leave me, the day came that the Lord took her from me and the rest of my family. How I miss her apples, green beans, grapes, and tomatoes, but most of all, I will miss the times I spent with her as a young child and young adult. When I see an apple pie I will be sure to bless the Lord and thank her for the memories she left me with. May these memories always remain with me as I will share them with my son who never really knew her.