Close your eyes, go to sleep . . . For many Americans dealing with sleep problems, the lullaby’s advice is easier said than done. Women’s Health and Marie Claire take up the issue in their October editions, though in different ways. Women’s Health gives an hour-by-hour breakdown of what happens physically when you toss and turn all night. According to the magazine, cells spend the body’s waking hours producing a sleep-promoting chemical called adenosine. That, along with other substances such as melatonin, makes you drowsy and signals “bedtime” at night. Ideally, you should drift off and sleep through the night, burning off the adenosine and waking up refreshed. But many people lie in bed and take inventory of their day or write mental to-do lists, which revs up the body, making it harder to sleep. The resulting frustration, boredom and light exposure (from a smartphone, computer or the TV) just make matters worse. By the time the alarm goes off, your head is foggy and you might feel more grouchy than usual. The magazine recommends deep breathing and powering down electronics an hour before bed. Some people turn to prescription sleep aids such as Ambien when sleepless nights become more common than restful ones. Marie Claire says that the popular drug has some serious, sometimes bizarre side effects: sleepwalking, sleep-eating, sleep-shopping and, terrifyingly, sleep-driving. The magazine says that it is difficult to predict who might be at risk for these effects, which are often accompanied by amnesia, but that in more than 1,000 reports of sleepwalking, traffic accidents and impaired driving, Ambien or its generic formulation, zolpidem, is listed as the likely cause.
Danielle Cook Navidi’s son Fabian received a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 11 years old. After he went through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, blood transfusions and, eventually, remission, Navidi, who is director of a cancer nutrition program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, says she “began to rebuild the tired, worn, depressed body of my young cancer survivor.” She experimented with foods that would be nutritious and palatable, since many cancer patients deal with impaired taste buds, weakness, pain, fatigue, dehydration, mouth and throat sores, weight loss and a damaged digestive system. The resulting recipes are gathered in “Happily Hungry: Smart Recipies for Kids with Cancer.” It features recipes for smoothies and other soothing and nutritious foods and beverages, and includes food suggestions to treat side effects of treatment, such as nausea and compromised immune function. For more information about the “Cooking for Cancer” program at MedStar Georgetown, call 202-342-2400.