Immune support against viral infection.

The concern about the Coronavirus outbreak is valid as the infection seems more dangerous than a winter flu season. People who smoke or have a chronic lung condition, or are elderly or have other chronic conditions, or who are obese, may be at increased risk of having a more severe case of Coronavirus.

*This blogpost is continued in a longer podcast / transcript, Fear and Immunity.

Symptoms can be non-noticeable or similar to a cold or mild flu. Digestive symptoms might occur in addition to lung symptoms, dry, non-productive cough, and chest pain, hot and cold feverish chills, and extreme tiredness. Smoking increases risk of lung symptoms developing into pneumonia. Recovery seems to take longer than for a cold or flu with some people needing hospital care for weeks with a ventilator for breathing. (World/national Coronavirus Statistics) Approximately 2-14 days from exposure to symptom onset, gradually developing symptoms with a cough and chest discomfort, fever, and shortness of breath/difficulty breathing being common symptoms. (Graphic by Robert Roy Britt)

Some people may be infectious without having developed symptoms yet, or at all possibly for the 20-29 year old age bracket based on South Korea’s more extensive testing of their population. (graphic-South Korea & Italy rates of COVID-19)

People seem to be most contagious before symptom onset and in the first week of illness. (link) Twenty days infectious is average and generally is reduced by the time coughing symptoms are over. Thirtyseven days infectious is the longest measured. (Zhou et al., 2020) Wearing a face mask while infectious might help protect others but is generally not recommended as necessary for people who are not sick. A Public Service video about reducing rate of infection by hand washing, staying home, focusing on not infecting others while we don’t know who might be contagious but not showing symptoms yet. (@thejuicemedia)

Contagion risk also seems worse than the flu or a cold as the virus can survive on surfaces longer than average, possibly a week or more. Respiratory droplets may be the usual route of infection however there also may be a risk of infection from an infected person’s bowel movement. Thorough hand washing with soap and plenty of water is more likely to disrupt the cell membrane of virus and remove them physically than depending on hand sanitizers which are designed for bacteria not virus.

Alcohol in the hand sanitizer may also be drying to the skin which also can increase risk of open sores which can allow infection to enter the body more easily. Moisturize with a hand lotion while the skin is still damp to seal in some of the water. Hand lotions don’t replace moisture, they add to an oily coating on the skin that helps prevent moisture loss.

Strengthening Immune Function – food and nutrients, rest, and water, cut down on sweets, increase positive thinking & stress coping habits.

*Nutrition is not a guarantee of not becoming infected with something but it can increase the likelihood of not becoming infected or not developing as severe symptoms, as seen in the Ebola outbreak (see embedded link) and with research on vitamin D and respiratory infection rate (see video link).

  • Sugar and high fructose corn syrup generally reduce immune health and may provide simple calories that support infectious microbes more than our own health. (Defeating the Coronavirus with Immunity & Hydrotherapy, Dr. Eddie Ramirez, Youtube)
  • Sleep helps the body recover and cope with healing or fighting infection.
  • Water is essential for the body to be able to have a thin protective layer of mucous in which white blood cells can more easily find and remove infected cells.
  • Positive feelings of hope and love are more likely to support health than fear and anxiety. Doris Day’s attitude in the song lyric may be more helpful, “Whatever will be, will be, que sera sera,” along with common sense health habits.
  • Vitamin C and/or zinc lozenges may be soothing for the throat and help immune function. Elderberry is also rich in antioxidants and may also be available in immune supporting lozenges.
An orange peeled so the white pith remains.
The orange zest layer of the orange peel can be trimmed to leave the white pith to be eaten with the sweet orange wedge. The white membrane is a source of nobiletin.
  • The white pithy membrane of an orange peel has beneficial phytonutrients and is also fairly mild like the inner peel of a pomegranate. Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to trim off just the outer layer of orange zest and then the sweetness of the orange sections will taste okay along with the white membrane.
    • The orange peel pith contains a phytonutrient, nobiletin, that may help with weigh loss too. (Orange Juice Molecule May ‘Drastically’ Reduce Obesity, Arterial Placque, slashgear.com)
    • Nobiletin is a chemical that promotes our circadian cycles and may be protective against metabolic syndrome. Genetic studies on animals suggest that differences in the CLOCK circadian protein can cause symptoms of metabolic syndrome – obesity, high blood lipids and blood sugar, low insulin levels, fatty liver, and respiratory uncoupling. (He, et al, 2016) Respiratory uncoupling changes the way mitochondria produce energy and if the changes continue for long may lead to worse dysfunction of the mitochondria which may lead to cancer (Seyfried, et al, 2014), or other chronic health problems. (Ruiz-Ramirez, et al., 2016) Research with nobiletin as a cancer treatment suggests that it stops cancer growth by deactivating cancerous genes. (plantmedicines.org)
    • Orange peel extract has also been studied for use against Coronavirus and it helped reduce replication of the virus. (Ulasli, et al., 2014)
    • Chen Pi, dried tangerine peel, is a traditional Chinese medicinal product sold as an anti-viral and digestive support. (alibaba.com/Chen Pi) Improving bioaccessibility of nobiletin with peanut protein nanoparticle encapsulation, for anti-cancer potential as a medication: (Ning, et al., 2019) Chen Pi is traditionally used as a digestive aid and for respiratory conditions that involve too much thick mucous. Chen Pi is thought to help thin the mucous and promote a more productive cough. (esgreen.com/Chen Pi)
  • Other immune supporting nutrients that may help against a Coronavirus infection include Nrf2 promoting sulfarophane and resveratrol. Elderberry is a good source of anthocyanins and other antioxidant phenols, blueberries and black beans would also be rich sources. Zinc and selenium are minerals with antioxidant function. (selenium sources) Having adequate Vitamin A and D is essential for immune function. NAC and lipoic acid are antioxidants. Nrf2 pathways increase our own internal production of antioxidants. (Other foods: Nrf2 Promoting Foods)
  • Both high dose vitamin C and zinc are listed as potential therapeutics for treatment of patients with COVID-19 and Chloroquine, the anti-malarial that was found helpful for treatment of the infection in China, is a zinc ionophore. (14) Zinc ionophores help with autophagy and apoptosis – the killing and engulfing of infected cells by white blood cells. (15)

Cytokine Storm Syndrome & Vitamin C Infusion, — webinar for medical professionals.

An over-reaction of the immune system called Cytokine Storm Syndrome or sepsis shock can be the cause of death from COVID-19 infection rather than the breathing problems and pneumonia symptoms. Some people may be more genetically at risk of having the inflammatory over-production of cytokines. (Cytokine Storm Syndrome/genetics) They are involved in killing infected cells but an excess can cause organ failure and lead to death. Intravenous Vitamin C Infusion can be safe and nontoxic for treating sepsis shock (Fowler 2014) and may improve survival rates (ScienceDaily) and is a strategy that was used in Wuhan, China for COVID-19 patients. (Video update by Dr. Cheng) (Clinical Trial/Peng) (Protocol used in China for Vitamin C Infusion IV treatment) A free webinar for medical professionals is being offered March 26 regarding Intravenous Vitamin C Infusion for COVID-19 treatment, see this for registration information. The webinar is now available as a video that can be viewed at any time, see the website: isom.ca. The Vitamin C Infusion technique is being used for COVID19 patients in a large hospital chain in New York, based on the improved survival rate seen in Shanghai China, (NYPost)

Patients from Wuhan with COVID-19 who were in the ICU had more cytokines, (“IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα.”, (Huang, et al, 2020)), than patients who weren’t sick enough to be admitted to the ICU. Other possible guidance to check for cytokine storm besides the cytokine levels is C-Reactive Protein and serum ferritin levels. (Teachey 2016) The medication Anakinra may be treatment. (comment)

From a nutrition care perspective – the Nrf2 promoting foods also tend to inhibit the inflammatory NfKb pathway which leads to increased production of TNFalpha and other cytokines.

Chloroquine phosphate, 500 mg BID, was used as a treatment in China per a comment on a medical site. (Detailed document with specific recommendations, may be helpful medication as a preventive or treatment.) It is an anti-malarial drug. and the virus seems to be interfering with heme in red blood cells, a little similar to malaria taking over red blood cells. ( Dr’s summary; and his ref list) Artemisinin is an extract of the herb woodruff that is used to treat malaria. It is available as an herbal supplement. (nobelprizemedicine/pdf)

With a new strain of virus we are learning how to treat it and how it spreads and being brand new, no one has immunity against it. Being a coronavirus puts it in the same group as colds and flus which can mutate slightly and we can catch the illness more than once.

The COVID-19 may also be able to be infectious to people who already recovered. (LATimes) The cases of reinfection may also be the same infection in the patient seeming to get better and then relapsing again.

Prevention is safest. Wash hands and surfaces thoroughly and regularly. Soap, water, and scrubbing physically helps break down virus membranes and remove the virus from skin and other surfaces. Hand sanitizer is not more effective than thoroughly washing with soap and water. antibacterial ingredients are designed against bacteria, not virus.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

“Supplements thought to be useful in the prevention of coronavirus infection include NAC, elderberry, spirulina, beta-glucan, glucosamine, selenium, zinc, lipoic acid, sulforaphane, resveratrol, vitamin D, Bifidobacterium bifidum strain probiotics and sporebiotics. ”

– Dr. Joseph Mercola (Essential Nutrition to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus) *

Origins – not a bat in China, genetically traced to the US around Aug/Oct 2019.

*That link includes some speculation about origins of the current Coronavirus strain – supporting the immune system and reducing infection rate and severity of disease is necessary whether the strain was from bats in the wild or a lab or from a lab manipulation of a strain from bats – saving lives needs to be a goal now.

(statement from Robert Kennedy Jr) “He [Taiwan Virologist] demonstrated that only the US has all the five known strains of the virus (while Wuhan and most of China have only one, as do Taiwan and South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, Singapore, and England, Belgium and Germany), constituting a thesis that the haplotypes in other nations may have originated in the US. Korea and Taiwan have a different haplotype of the virus than China, perhaps more infective but much less deadly, which would account for a death rate only 1/3 that of China. [*so infection rates from South Korea may not be represent the risk for all ares] Neither Iran nor Italy were included in the above tests, but both countries have now deciphered the locally prevalent genome and have declared them of different varieties from those in China, which means they did not originate in China but were of necessity introduced from another source. It is worth noting that the variety in Italy has approximately the same fatality rate as that of China, three times as great as other nations, while the haplotype in Iran appears to be the deadliest with a fatality rate of between 10% and 25%. (7) (8) (9)” (globalresearch.ca) (news stories). (transcript of a video) There seems to be at least two strains, more information is needed to understand the significance of that (abcnews.com).

Reference List – incomplete, see links within the blogpost also.

  1. Protocol used in China for Vitamin C Infusion treatment for COVID19 , translated from Chinese on Google Translate – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f21o4uqO0QmrF8e1d8JKMhE6NU7k8im5bVKqwROreTc/edit?usp=sharing
  1. Vitamin C for the Treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19), free webinar scheduled for March 19, 2019, International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine, https://isom.ca/vitamin-c-coronavirus/
  2. Wen-Bin Yu, Guang-Da Tang, Li Zhang, Richard T. Corlett. Decoding the evolution and transmissions of the novel pneumonia coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) using whole genomic data. https://www.dropbox.com/s/se41lvl8esbr40l/202002.00033v2.pdf?dl=0 
  3. Xiaolu Tang, Changcheng Wu, Xiang Li, Yuhe Song, Xinmin Yao, Xinkai Wu, Yuange Duan, Hong Zhang, Yirong Wang, Zhaohui Qian, Jie Cui, Jian Lu, On the origin and continuing evolution of SARS-CoV-2, National Science Review, , nwaa036, https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwaa036 https://academic.oup.com/nsr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nwaa036/5775463?searchresult=1
  4. Jon Cohen, Wuhan seafood market may not be source of novel virus spreading globally. ScienceMag.org,  Jan. 26, 2020, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/wuhan-seafood-market-may-not-be-source-novel-virus-spreading-globally
  5. Other links until I complete this list are in the post Immune Support Against Viral Infection, https://transcendingsquare.com/2020/03/12/immune-support-against-viral-infection/
  6. The ASCO Post Staff, Pulmonary Pathology of Early COVID-19 Pneumonia Identified Retrospectively in Two Patients With Lung Cancer, ascopost.com, March 5, 2020 https://ascopost.com/news/march-2020/pulmonary-pathology-of-early-covid-19-pneumonia-identified-retrospectively-in-two-patients-with-lung-cancer/
  7. Chloroquine guidance for COVID19, as preventive or treatment of infection, https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTi-g18ftNZUMRAj2SwRPodtscFio7bJ7GdNgbJAGbdfF67WuRJB3ZsidgpidB2eocFHAVjIL-7deJ7/pub
  8. expert reaction to reports that the French Health Minister recommended use of paracetamol for fever from COVID-19 rather than ibuprofen or cortisone, March 16, 2020 https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-reports-that-the-french-health-minister-recommended-use-of-paracetamol-for-fever-from-covid-19-rather-than-ibuprofen-or-cortisone/
  9. Fehr AR, Perlman S. Coronaviruses: an itoverview of their replication and pathogenesis. Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1282:1–23. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-2438-7_1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4369385/
  10. Roujian Lu, Xiang Zhao, Juan Li, et al.,  Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. January 29, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30251-8 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/genomic-characterization-of-2019-nCoV-Lancet-1-29-2020.pdf 
  11. Diagnostic detection of Wuhan coronavirus 2019 by real-time RTPCR. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/wuhan-virus-assay-v1991527e5122341d99287a1b17c111902.pdf 
  12.   http://www.aabb.org/advocacy/regulatorygovernment/Documents/Impact-of-2019-Novel-Coronavirus-on-Blood-Donation.pdf
  13. Sy Mukherjee, China’s high smoking rate may be exacerbating the coronavirus outbreak,  Feb. 19, 2020, Forbes.com, https://www.google.com/amp/s/fortune.com/2020/02/19/coronavirus-china-smoking-rate-men/amp/
  14. COVID-19 Science Report: Therapeutics, NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, March 12, 2020, https://sph.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-Science-Report-Therapeutics-13-Mar.pdf
  15. Xue J, Moyer A, Peng B, Wu J, Hannafon BN, Ding W-Q (2014) Chloroquine Is a Zinc Ionophore. PLoS ONE 9(10): e109180. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0109180 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0109180

Migraines, TRP channels and cinnamon

Cinnamon, may help people with diabetes have better blood sugar control, (about 1/2 teaspoon per day which is quite a bit, try it stirred into hot breakfast cereal perhaps), however for people with a tendency to have migraines it may be a cause or become a cause if eaten regularly. Migraines can become more sensitized to things after long term use or certain chemicals can be triggers possibly due to overactivity of TRP ion channels. 

Cinnamon contains the phytonutrient cinnamaldehyde which can activate TRPA1 channels.  Environmental chemicals may also be irritants that can cause migraines due to activation of TRPA1 channels; including “environmental irritants and industry pollutants, such as acetaldehyde, formalin,(formaldehyde), hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorite, isocyanates, ozone, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet light, and acrolein (a highly reactive α,β-unsatured aldehyde present in tear gas, cigarette smoke, smoke from burning vegetation, and vehicle exhaust) [3745]” (1) Older computer monitors may emit ultraviolet light but not modern laptops or smartphones. They do emit bluelight which may inhibit sleep. (2)

In the last post I mentioned that wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evening for any screen time. It has been found helpful to prevent sleep difficulties to wear them during the three hours prior to trying to go to sleep. The blue light blocking glasses are not needed for use throughout the day however. Eyestrain from a long day working with a light screen may cause dry itchy eyes and eyedrops for moisture and taking occasional breaks may help prevent that problem. Read more: (4).

The tip about keeping gel packs in the freezer for use as a cold compress for the forehead that I mentioned for insomnia in the last post is something that I have found helpful in the past for migraines. I tried it recently for insomnia after learning in the course about sleep and neurobiology that a “biothermal device” had been found helpful in sleep lab studies for patients with insomnia. (Sleep, Neurobiology, Medicine and Societycoursera.org)

The drawing suggested they had an electric blanket type compress size cooling device that laid over the forehead and slightly over the ear area, so a little bigger than a gel pack designed for sprained ankles. However a gel pack for sprained ankles is already at stores and electric cooling biothermal devices are not yet available to my knowledge. The point – my trial use with a freezer gel pack for insomnia was very helpful at slowing my thoughts and helping my body reach a relaxed state fairly quickly. I didn’t immediately go to sleep but it did seem to help. I’ve tried it several times now and one night got another out of the freezer when I was awake but sleepy in the middle of the night. 

Throughout the history of science discoveries there have been many researchers who try things for themselves or discover things because of their own health issues or a patient with a unique problem. Migraines are very painful and medication can be expensive and may lead to rebound headaches when used too often – if migraines last three days and you have one twice a week than how helpful can four migraine pills a month be? Proper references for citing other’s work is important and the gel pack idea is one I tried based on the biothermal device idea. A different research team found a cooling plastic cap helpful for insomnia, which also sounds like it is based on some sort of cooling electric blanket effect. (gizmodo) Pain hurts and insomnia can increase risks for hypertension, diabetes, epileptic seizures, and also migraines.

Cinnamon, tasty, but not for me, it causes migraines for me. Read labels if you suspect it might be a migraine trigger, it may be added to herbal tea in addition to baked goods or breakfast cereals. Food triggers for migraines generally cause symptoms for me the next day or within 8-12 hours or so. Chemical irritants such as ozone, formaldehyde, or pollutants in cigarette smoke that are inhaled may cause migraines sooner, within a few hours or less sometimes for me. Additional information here: Tips for Avoiding Migraine Triggers, WebMD, getting adequate sleep is one of the tips.

Regarding TRPA1 channels and trigeminal pain sensing neurons – lots more to read later: trigeminal pain sensing neurons TRPA1 channels Substance P .

History note: Substance P was one of the first neuropeptides/ brain proteins discovered and it was initially purified in powder form and so was called Substance P for powder. (Neuropeptide Substance P and the Immune Response)

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Benemei S, De Cesaris F, Fusi C, Rossi E, Lupi C, Geppetti P. TRPA1 and other TRP channels in migraine. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2013;14(1):71. doi:10.1186/1129-2377-14-71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3844362/
  2. Dustin Eves, Do Computer Screens Emit UV Light? techwalla.com, https://www.techwalla.com/articles/do-computer-screens-emit-uv-light
  3. Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work? 2018, nymag.com,     http://nymag.com/strategist/article/blue-light-blocking-glasses-work.html
  4. Tips for Avoiding Migraine Triggers, WebMD,   https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/avoiding-migraine-triggers#1

Sleep and health

The sleep/wake cycle impacts health in many ways. The hormone melatonin has become more familiar as it now more available over the counter as a supplement that may help with sleep. It may help with getting to sleep – but timing – when it is taken, and how much – not an excess, are important factors, and it may not help with staying asleep. Sleep and wake are very complex processes within the brain and body, with many chemical signals causing activation or inhibition of different areas of the brain which then signal activation or inhibition of body functions. Reviewing all of them is beyond the scope of this post – including just the summary points is my goal.

  • Insomnia seems to be a hyperarousal of the system, both the brain and body remain more metabolically active than within normal sleep causing difficulties falling asleep and then leaving the person lest rested after sleeping because it was never reaching deeper relaxation of the brain’s activity levels. The hyperarousal tends to continue during the day so the person with insomnia may be irritable and not able to concentrate as well but may not feel tired or sleepy as might be expected after missing that many hours of sleep. The risk with ongoing insomnia though is the person is in need of deeper sleep and accidents may be more likely to occur in physical activity or in oversight of details in mental activity, especially when there are multiple demands on attention.
  • The wake/sleep cycle is essential for health for many reasons but the overall point is that different functions of metabolism occur when awake than during sleep, and both are important to overall health. Repair and detoxification, roughly, are the focus of the sleep hours and energy use and activity and learning/creating new connections between brain and nerve cells are the focus of wake hours.
    • Sleep and wake have different specialized genes and proteins for metabolism – what gets made or what gets cleaned up and reused or excreted/detoxified. Wakefulness activates genes that are used in active metabolism, using sugar for energy, and sleep activates genes that are important for using fats for building cell membranes or myelin sheaths around nerve cell connections.
    • Chronic sleeplessness can cause insulin resistance and lead to increased risk for diabetes or metabolic syndrome, whether the sleeplessness was due to inadequate hours of sleep because of a busy schedule, or due to poor sleep quality because of insomnia or other health problems or overuse of caffeine or stimulating lights late at night. More about insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is available in a TEDmed video talk about obesity and insulin resistance. A doctor suggests that the approach medical research has taken in looking at obesity as a cause of insulin resistance may be wrong – insulin resistance may lead to obesity. Peter Attia-What If We’re Wrong About Diabetes?, TEDmed.
    • Hypertension, high blood pressure, is also a risk of chronic sleep problems.
    • Add up the problems of reduced myelin sheath production, blood sugar and blood pressure problems, and it is easy to see that long term risks of poor sleep quality may include dementia whether typical forgetfulness type due to loss of connections between brain cells or the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer’s dementia.

Solutions vary depending on the type of sleep problem however general tips for an ideal sleep setting include:

  • A cool room temperature – the body temperature is at its lowest during sleep.
  • Complete darkness – for the pineal gland to make melatonin the use of a light blocking eye mask on long airplane rides may help provide deeper sleep. In the home setting or when traveling cover alarm clock lights or other digital lights during the night and close curtains. Complete light blocking curtains are ideal.
  • Stop using digital screen devices about a half hour to an hour before intended time to try to sleep. Additional tips about electric light: Digital screens are a very bright type of light and blue lens glasses are available for eye protection for anyone who spends many hours per day using laptops or smartphones. The light settings on the device may also offer a dimmer evening setting which may help reduce eyestrain.*
  • Avoid coffee or other caffeine containing stimulants for about four to six hours prior to intended time to try to sleep.
  • Have a regular time to go to sleep and wake up each day. The average person does need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night and teenagers and toddlers ideally may need 10 hours of sleep for best cognitive performance and physical health.  Lack of sleep for adults seems to negatively affect reasoning and verbal performance more than short term memory. (3)
  • Avoid high fat, hard to digest meals or snacks in the hours prior to intending to try to sleep.
  • A cool compress on the forehead or over the eyes or on top of the head may help relax sooner if insomnia and racing thoughts are a problem or feeling hot and jittery. Reusable gel packs designed for sprained ankles or other sore muscles can be kept in the freezer and then wrapped in a few layers of thin fabric to protect the skin from being overly chilled. The gel pack will eventually lose its coolness but use on the forehead may help slow down the metabolic activity of the brain, which then helps slow down signals to the body to be jittery – 20 to 30 minutes with a cool gel pack may help reach a more relaxed state before the pack is warm. Having several in the freezer could allow you to rotate the warm one with a chilled one if reawakening in the middle of the night is a problem. **
  • If reawakening in the middle of the night is a problem but you are still sleepy, try not to use any bright lights while visiting the bathroom or kitchen, etc. If wide awake, then it is recommended to just get up and do something for a while until feeling sleepy again rather than tossing and turning in bed and getting more anxious or jittery.
  • If reawakening in the middle of the night is consistently happening around 4:00 am then low serotonin levels may be a problem.  (University Health News) Taking the precursor to serotonin, 5HTP or the herbal St John’s Wort, may help provide your body with serotonin.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for sleep issues has been found to be as or more effective than sleep promoting medications while they are in use, and more effective at long term benefits even after the therapy or medication is no longer in use. Anxiety may be an issue but habits can also affect insomnia, naps and early bed times may disrupt sleep and staying awake during the day, and ideally getting some bright sunshine or full spectrum light during wake hours can help with the body’s 24 hour metabolic patterns. (CBT-I, National Sleep Foundation)

*Modern laptops or smartphones emit bluelight which may inhibit sleep. (1) Wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evening for any screen time may help reduce the effect. It has been found helpful to prevent sleep difficulties to wear them during the three hours prior to trying to go to sleep. The blue light blocking glasses are not needed for use throughout the day however. Eyestrain from a long day working with a light screen may cause dry itchy eyes and eyedrops for moisture and taking occasional breaks may help prevent that problem. Read more: (2).

**The tip about keeping gel packs in the freezer for use as a cold compress for the forehead that I mentioned for insomnia in a previous post (about the glymphatic system within the brain and its potential role in prevention of Alzheimer’s disease), is something that I have found helpful in the past for migraines. I tried it recently for insomnia after learning in the course about sleep and neurobiology that a “biothermal device” had been found helpful in sleep lab studies for patients with insomnia. (Sleep, Neurobiology, Medicine and Societycoursera.org)

The drawing suggested they had an electric blanket type compress size cooling device that laid over the forehead and slightly over the ear area, so a little bigger than a gel pack designed for sprained ankles. However a gel pack for sprained ankles is already at stores and electric cooling biothermal devices are not yet available to my knowledge. The point – my trial use with a freezer gel pack for insomnia was very helpful at slowing my thoughts and helping my body reach a relaxed state fairly quickly. I didn’t immediately go to sleep but it did seem to help. I’ve tried it several times now and one night got another out of the freezer when I was awake but sleepy in the middle of the night. 

Environmental cues and genetic differences can effect sleep patterns. (Sleep, Neurobiology, Medicine and Society, coursera.org) (How Nature and Nurture Shape the Sleeping Brainnature.com)

There is more on this topic however this is an overview of the importance of sleep.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Dustin Eves, Do Computer Screens Emit UV Light? techwalla.com, https://www.techwalla.com/articles/do-computer-screens-emit-uv-light
  2. Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work? 2018, nymag.com,     http://nymag.com/strategist/article/blue-light-blocking-glasses-work.html
  3. Conor J Wild, Emily S Nichols, Michael E Battista, Bobby Stojanoski, Adrian M Owen; Dissociable effects of self-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities, Sleep, , zsy182, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy182