Weekly Newsletter

Sleep health + hi-bear-nating tips

Here’s the lastest health news on how nightmares, periods, carbohydrates, Covid-19 and more can affect rest.
A dreamy outdoor photograph of a field and trees in autumn with speckled sunlight blurring part of the view.

We’ve just seen the end of the National Park Service’s Fat Bear Week, where bears are celebrated for their hunting + foraging success before they bear down for a long winter’s rest.

Maybe you’re also affected by autumn’s waning sunlight. Maybe you’re not. Either way, this week’s newsletter digs into how nightmares, periods, carbs, yoga, Covid-19 + more affect our nightly zzz’s. So cuddle up + cave your way into…

  • The Checkup: easing sickness + sleep
  • Counting Sleep: dreams + periods + carbs
  • Healthcare: strike + Covid sleep + the law

The Checkup

Don't wake me up!

A color photograph from the inside of a camping tent, with the flap open showing a woodland picture outside and the legs of someone layout out on a sleeping bag within.

Experts in Scientific American warn against waking someone from a nightmare. Why?

Nightmares happen during our REM state when areas of the brain responsible for memory are altered. Unless the dream is so scary that it jolts us awake, we probably won’t remember it if we rise naturally.

Night terrors happen outside of REM. But don’t wake a thrashing loved one then, either. They’ll be disoriented and remember the dream, whereas they’re more likely to forget it if they pass back into REM + awaken on their own. As uninterrupted sleep is vital for those looking to improve their health, time may just be the best way to keep daytiem disturbance at bay.

PTSD sleep disorder nightmares are different. So if you struggle with PTSD + sleep, read the article for specifics + tips.

Period insomnia?

Portrait of a white woman with red hair wearing a sweater and red hat, looking into the camera as they stand outside in front of bare trees.

Self reports that over 50% of menstruating people struggle with fatigue + sleep during their periods.

Hormones are partly to blame. When estrogen drops before a period, serotonin dips, too. This alters mood + energy, throwing sleep cycles out of whack.

Pain + heavy flows can also interrupt sleep routines. And periods can disrupt iron levels, anxiety + depression—which affect our rest.

Staying physically active during your period can help relieve some of these imbalances. But for those with regularly disturbing periods, physicians often prescribe hormonal birth control to help ease big symptom swings. Could it help you?

Check out Dr. B's online birth control care.

Carb load before bed?

Overhead photograph of a low table with plates and dishes of autumn foods, and several hands putting utensils into the dishes.

As reported in Well + Good, eating a high-carb meal won’t only help you run a marathon. It may help you sleep better, too.

One study found that people who eat a high-fiber Mediterranean diet of complex carbs (like fruits, veggies and legumes) have generally healthy sleep habits. Another shows that people who eat complex carbs have less insomnia + better sleep than those who eat simple, processed carbs.

This doesn’t mean you should carb load before bed. But a well-rounded meal balancing protein, fat and carbs at least three hours before bed may help you drift to dreamland. Yum.

Healthcare 411

The largest healthcare strike in history is over — for now (CNN).

75,000+ Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers struck for three days last week. As of Saturday, union leaders and Kaiser representatives have not made a permanent deal regarding wage increases + fixes to detrimental staffing shortages. Union leaders will give a 10-day warning before starting a longer, larger strike if an agreement is not made after negotiations continue on Thursday.

Covid can disrupt your sleep (NY Times).

Covid-19 can disrupt sleep during acute illness + for weeks (or months) after. An inflamed hypothalamus may be to blame—it can halt REM sleep when affected. Symptoms + the psychological toll of the virus can play a part, too. Read the article for some ways physicians can provide patients relief.

And if you're struggling with an acute infection, check out Dr. B's same-day online Covid treatment.

Why health care experts are so concerned about fishing boats (Politico).

Conservative groups aim to clip the power of the FDA, CDC + HHS by taking seemingly unrelated cases to the Supreme Court. They claim these agencies have overreached their power. But health experts + advocates argue the restraint would directly harm access to abortions + preventative care for low-income, older and disabled people.

Sign up for the free Dr. B newsletter for a weekly report on the latest in healthcare + research-based advice for staying healthy and mentally well.

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