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3 simple ways to get more restful sleep Even people without insomnia can have trouble getting a good night's rest. Many things can interfere with restorative sleep — crazy work schedules, anxiety, trouble putting down the smartphone, even what you eat and drink. The following three simple steps can help you sleep When you wake up in the morning, are you refreshed and ready to go, or groggy and grumpy? For many people, the second scenario is all too common. Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night's rest describes the latest in sleep research, including information about the numerous health conditions and medications that can interfere with normal sleep, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat sleep disorders. Most importantly, you’ll learn what you can do to get the sleep you need for optimal health, safety, and well-being. 1. Cut down on caffeine Caffeine drinkers may find it harder to fall asleep than people who don't drink caffeine. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. That may be because caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep by increasing the need to urinate during the night. People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can endure for many hours. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, irritability, and extreme fatigue, it may be easier to cut back gradually rather than to go cold turkey. Those who can't or don't want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive. 2. Stop smoking or chewing tobacco Nicotine is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause insomnia. This potent drug makes it harder to fall asleep because it speeds your heart rate, raises blood pressure, and stimulates fast brainwave activity that indicates wakefulness. In people addicted to nicotine, a few hours without it is enough to induce withdrawal symptoms; the craving can even wake a smoker at night. People who kick the habit fall asleep more quickly and wake less often during the night. Sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue may occur during the initial withdrawal from nicotine, but even during this period, many former users report improvements in sleep. If you continue to use tobacco, avoid smoking or chewing it for at least one to two hours before bedtime. 3. Limit alcohol intake Alcohol depresses the nervous system, so a nightcap may seem to help some people fall asleep. However, alcohol suppresses REM sleep, and the soporific effects disappear after a few hours. Drinkers have frequent awakenings and sometimes frightening dreams. Alcohol may be responsible for up to 10% of chronic insomnia cases. Also, alcohol can worsen snoring and other sleep breathing problems, sometimes to a dangerous extent. Even one drink can make a sleep-deprived person drowsy. In an automobile, the combination significantly increases a person's chance of having an accident. You can also improve the amount and quality of your sleep by getting regular physical activity and creating and sticking to a regular sleep schedule and routine. Many people find that crossing several time zones makes their internal clocks go haywire. In addition to experiencing headaches, stomach upset, and difficulty concentrating, they may also suffer from fitful sleep. But there's no need to waste time riding out the effects of jet lag. Try these jet lag remedies the next time you travel. When you're traveling shorter distances If your destination is just one or two time zones away, it may be possible to wake up, eat, and sleep on your regular home schedule. At your destination, schedule appointments and activities for times when you would be alert at home. When you're traveling longer distances Gradually switch before the trip. For several days before you leave, move mealtimes and bedtime incrementally closer to the schedule of your destination. Even a partial switch may help. During the flight, drink plenty of fluids, but not caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol promote dehydration, which worsens the symptoms of jet lag. They can also disturb sleep. Switch your bedtime as rapidly as possible upon arrival. Don't turn in until it's bedtime in the new time zone. Use the sun to help you readjust. If you need to wake up earlier in the new setting (you've flown west to east), get out in the early morning sun. If you need to wake up later (you've flown east to west), expose yourself to late afternoon sunlight. If you're traveling on short notice or you're facing an especially stubborn case of jet lag, ask your doctor about a specially timed dose of melatonin or ramelteon, which can help shift your circadian rhythms. If all else fails, a short course of an over-the-counter or prescription sleep aid may do the trick.
  • 2018-03-01T16:14:26

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Gene editing can help treat congenital disease before birth Updated Oct 09, 2018 | 20:02 IST | IANSPrenatal treatment could open a door to disease prevention, for HT1 and potentially for other congenital disorders. Representational image Photo Credit: ThinkstockRepresentational Image New York: In a first, a team of scientists have performed prenatal gene editing to prevent a lethal metabolic disorder in laboratory mice, offering the potential to treat human congenital diseases before birth. The study led by research from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania used both CRISPR-Cas9 and base editor 3 (BE3) gene-editing tools and reduced cholesterol levels in healthy mice treated in utero by targeting a gene that regulates those levels. They also used prenatal gene editing to improve liver function and prevent neonatal death in a subgroup of mice that had been engineered with a mutation causing the lethal liver disease hereditary tyrosinemia type 1 (HT1). Advertising Advertising HT1 in humans usually appears during infancy, and it is often treatable with a medicine called nitisinone and a strict diet. However, when treatments fail, patients are at risk of liver failure or liver cancer. Prenatal treatment could open a door to disease prevention, for HT1 and potentially for other congenital disorders. "Our ultimate goal is to translate the approach used in these proof-of-concept studies to treat severe diseases diagnosed early in pregnancy, " said William H. Peranteau, a paediatric and foetal surgeon at CHOP. "We hope to broaden this strategy to intervene prenatally in congenital diseases that currently have no effective treatment for most patients, and result in death or severe complications in infants, " he added. In the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, the team used BE3, joined it with a modified CRISPR-associated protein 9. After birth, the mice carried stable amounts of edited liver cells for up to three months after the prenatal treatment, with no evidence of unwanted, off-target editing at other DNA sites. In the subgroup of the mice bio-engineered to model HT1, BE3 improved liver function and preserved survival. However, "a significant amount of work needs to be done before prenatal gene editing can be translated to the clinic, including investigations into more clinically relevant delivery mechanisms and ensuring the safety of this approach", said Peranteau. He added: "Nonetheless, we are excited about the potential of this approach to treat genetic diseases of the liver and other organs for which few therapeutic options exist."
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