Health Promotion Newsletter Issue No.6

24 May

It’s finally spring! and here to stay with us for a while. The flowers and plants start to grow around this time of the year. We hope you enjoy the nice weather and really make the best of the changes around you.

A few days away will be our annual “CelebrAsian” fundraising banquet. If you or any one that you know would like to purchase last minute tickets for the event, please contact your support staff.

• The April 25th workshop on Naturopathic medicine: Truly I hope that all those who attended the workshop gained some knowledge on how to take care of their health. Thanks to Dr. Huff, N.M.D. for his knowledgeable presentation. I personally want to thank all the volunteers and my colleagues for their support to the success of the workshop.

• I am very excited to see the upcoming may 10th workshop, presented by Dr. Darrell Tan, NMD, a specialist for the immune deficiency clinic at Toronto General Hospital. He will present the overall view of HIV/AIDS from present to future. Invitations will be sent shortly and spaces will be limited. Kindly RSVP as soon as you get your invitation to confirm your attendance.

• I understand there have been a few concerns raised in regard to insomnia arising from the change of climate and time. Please find the following of the finding that will help you on how to improve on your quality of sleep.

Kenneth Poon – Health Promotion Worker

download healthnews_issue06 (.pdf file)


Make your room as dark as possible. Dark enough that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Turn alarm clock lights way from you. When light hits your skin, it disrupts circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and as a result, hinders the production of melatonin.

Use low lighting in your bedroom. Avoid using overhead lights and lamps with high-wattage bulbs

Be aware of electromagnetic fields in your bedroom. They disrupt the pineal gland and production of melatonin and serotonin. EMFs are emitted through digital alarm clocks and other electrical devices, if you use them, leave them three feet away

Turn off the TV.

Use your bed for sleeping and sex only.

Creating bedroom “Zen”. Removing clutter, work, calendars etc, if you can, think about painting the room to earthy tones or making it your relaxing place, use lavender essential oils, or peppermint

Choose comfortable, soothing bedding.

Avoid using a loud alarm clock. Waking up suddenly to the blaring wail of an alarm clock can be a shock to your body; you’ll also find you’ll feel groggier when you are roused in the middle of a sleep cycle, if you get enough sleep on a regular basis, an alarm clock will not be necessary, if you do use an alarm, you should wake just before it goes of. You can use a sunrise alarm, an alarm clock with natural light build in that simulates a sunrise, OR an alarm that gradually gets louder, or soothing classical music.

If you go to the bathroom during the night, keep the lights off. Brief exposure to light can shut down the melatonin production, if you really need a light, get a flashlight, or a nightlight

Think about a comfortable mattress.


• Establish regular sleeping hours
try to get up each morning and go to bed every night at roughly the same time. Over sleeping can be as bad as sleep deprivation, how you feel each day is an indication of how much sleep is right for you

• Sleep nude (or as close to it as possible)
wearing tight clothing (bras, underwear, girdles) will increase your body temperature and interfere with melatonin release while you sleep – you can also try a loose t-shirt and shorts, or a nightgown

• Get to bed by 11p.m.
stress glands, the adrenals, recharge or recover between 11p.m and 1 a.m, going to bed before 11p.m is optimal for rebuilding your adrenal reserves, start by going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night until you reach this goal

• Sleep 7-9 hours a night
consistently needing more than 9 hours of sleep every night warrants a visit to your doctor for further investigation, as this may indicate, hypothyroidism, depression or a deficiency of folic acid, vitamin B12, or some people just need more sleep than others, if you can wake with an alarm and feel rested, you’re probably getting the right amount of sleep for you

• See the light first thing in the morning
daylight and morning sounds are key signals that help waken your brain. Turning on lights or opening the blinds is the proper way to reset your body clock and ensure that your melatonin levels drop back to “awake” mode until the evening. Also the exposure to morning light is one of the easiest ways to get a boost of energy

• Keep household lighting dim from dinnertime until you go to sleep
believe it or not, this simple step not only prepares your body and hormones for sleep, but it also helps your digestion


Avoid stimulating activities before bed, such as watching TV or using the computer

computer use in the evening raises dopamine and noradrenalin, our brain-stimulating hormones that should be higher during the daytime. In the evening you need do engage in activities that make you more serotonin dominant, such as reading or meditation
 choose relaxing reading materials that have nothing to do with work!
Stop all your work-related activities at least 2 hours before bed

Develop a calming bedtime routine

breaking bad habits often requires making good ones
reading something spiritual or listening to soft music can become cues for your mind to relax
choose nighttime reading very carefully, try to make sure that it isn’t emotionally charged material, unless it makes you feel good and helps take your mind off stress

If you cannot sleep, get out of bed and do something else until you feel the urge to sleep

tossing and turning in bed will only make you feel frustrated
try getting up for a while but keep the lights low and TV and computer off, also staring at the clock ill make you feel worse, so turn it around

Make a to-do list or try writing in a journal

if you have problems sleeping because you feel that you have one million things to do then write everything down! Emptying those thoughts onto paper, but knowing that they are somewhere you may access them when you are ready may create relief

Exercise at the right time

exercising fewer than 3 hours before bedtime may be too stimulating and can impede your ability to fall asleep
yoga and strength training are exceptions to this rule because they are less stimulating than cardiovascular exercise
working out 3 to 6 hours before bed – this can help maximize the benefits of exercise on sleep, since the body actually increases deep sleep to compensate for the physical stress of your workout
exercise also promotes healthy sleep patterns because of its positive effect on body temperature (after a workout, our body gradually cools down, which naturally makes us feel sleepy)
to relax muscles and trigger the sleep response after exercise, try a hot bath with Epsom salts
soak in water as hot as you can stand with 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts for at least 20 minutes. Place a cold towel around your neck if you feel too warm while in the bath

Exercise your mind too

try Sudoku or a daily crossword
people who are mentally stimulated during the day feel a need to sleep in order to maintain their performance

Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed

your body will naturally cool down after a hot bath or shower, making you feel sleepier
take a hot bath/shower about 2 hours before bedtime, keeping the water hot for at least 25 minutes to stimulate the drop in body temperature that makes you feel tired
you can also add Epsom salts to a bath to detox the body and relax your muscles
infrared sauna is a great option for detox and aiding sleep

Avoid napping

if you are getting enough sleep in the night, you shouldn’t feel the need to sleep in the day
if you need a nap? 30 minutes max

Avoid caffeine at any time of the day

caffeine may be metabolized at different rates in different people
a dose of caffeine usually takes 15 to 30 minutes to take effect and lasts for 4 to 5 hours. In some people it may last much longer, making usage in the afternoon a bad idea
if you must have it, have it in the morning
caffeine may also negatively affect the natural release cycle of cortisone, which is generally highest in the morning and lowest in the evening
cortisol release rises slightly at 2am and 4am, and then hits its peak around 6am. If this pattern is disrupted, you may awaken at these times and find you are unable to fall back asleep

Avoid bedtime snacks that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates

breads, cereals, muffins, cookies, or other baked goods prompt short-term spike in blood sugar, followed by a sugar crash later on
blood sugar drop = adrenalin, glucagons, cortisol and growth hormone release to regulate blood glucose levels – all of these stimulate the brain, making you become more awake
try to avoid eating for at least 2 hours before going to bed and if you do need to eat go for protein-rich (source of tryptophan that will be converted to serotonin and melatonin), high-fiber snacks like a few almonds and half an apple, sugar from the fruit may help the tryptophan reach your brain and take effect more readily

Try to avoid fluids in the 2 hours before bedtime

avoiding the drinks may help you avoid the washroom at night

Go easy on the alcohol

the body metabolizes alcohol as you sleep, which can result in sleep interruption
it appears to affect brain chemicals that influence sleep
shortens total sleep time, prevents you from failing into deeper stages of sleep (where you do most of your healing!)
one ounce or more within 2 hours of bedtime may disrupt sleep

Complete your meditation or visualizations in the evening

helps to calm the mind, relax your muscles and allow restful sleep to ensue


01 We must assess the cause of the sleep disorder: Some causes include, stress, cancer, HIV/AIDs, stroke, hyperthyroidism, renal disease, gastroesophageal reflux, psychiatric disorders, headaches, panic attacks, medications, drug use, excess caffeine and pain.

02 Regularly apply good sleep hygiene practices outlined above.

03 Regulate and support the nervous system, circadian rhythm, and the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

The HPA Axis is often hyper-aroused in those suffering from insomnia. It is part of our neuroendocrine system that governs our reactions to stress, regulates temperature, digestion, immune system function, and emotions among others. Withania somnifera is an excellent herb that can assist in reducing mental tension and revitalize the body and mind.

Regular exercise and physical activity also helps to balance the function of the HPA axis. It promotes relaxation and raises core body temperature. A Cochrane review found that in a trial involving a sample of 43 elderly participants with insomnia, exercise improved their ability to fall and stay asleep, the quality of the sleep and the total sleep time.

04 Address external stressors appropriately (e.g. job, relationships)

download healthnews_issue06 (.pdf file)

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