In this article, we are talking about sleep. Facts and a new sleep exercise. REMINDER: This article is not a substitute for the sound medical advice of your primary care provider. Did you know that at least 25% of all American adults suffer from insomnia? The true cost of the lack of sleep is as follows (according to The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center):
- Direct costs of sleepiness and lost productivity on the job is estimated between $16-$20 BN (USD) annually.
- Drowsy drivers account for at least 125,000 to 150,000 crash incidents reported by police annually in the U.S. alone.
- At least 45-50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders- and at least 75% of these go undiagnosed.
Sleep is very important. Though the body and mind have monitoring and defense mechanisms to keep the body aware of surroundings during sleep, the true purpose of sleep is to reboot the brain and heal from tiredness, stress or even small injuries. If you’re anxious, overcaffeinated, stressed out it can and is very difficult to get the sleep you need and deserve, especially when you are dead tired.
There is a sleep exercise that has been reported to help. The 4-7-8 Method, formulated by one Andrew Weil M.D.. Dr. Weil is a pioneer in integrated medicine using holistic healing methods. The 4-7-8 Method is as follows:
- Breathe out. Assume a comfortable position in your bed (or anywhere), Breathe out slowly, puckering your lips as if you’re about to whistle, making a soft “whoosh” sound.
- Inhale and count to four. After exhaling, close your mouth, inhale and count to four (a slow count- thousand-one, thousand-two, and so on)
- Hold your breath and count to seven. As much as possible, hold your breath until you reach a seven count. If you can’t reach that… try a four or five-count- but build it up to the seven count.
- Exhale and count to eight. Exhale. Pucker up and exhale again, this time to an eight-count.
NOTE: Remember to use your nose to inhale and exhale out of the mouth. Keep the ratio at 4-7-8 while doing this exercise. Don’t worry if you can’t get 4-7-8 the first few times. Keep at it until you achieve 4-7-8. This relaxes the body and makes it much easier to fall asleep.
This technique and others like it are “natural tranquilizers”.
As always, consult your primary care provider before starting this or any other health maintainence regimen.
About Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. http:// www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART2043/AbcAndrew-Weil-MD.html
Breathing: Three Exercises. http://drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html
Is depression different amongst humans, whether they be male, female or nonbinary? In so many words, yes. As far as symptom patterns tend to play out, they will usually fall in line with the two major genders. For women, the symptoms are more readily visible (i.e. crying, overeating) as for men, the symptoms are more subdued (i.e. working to excess, drinking/abusing drugs, working out to excess). In any case, the symptoms of depression may in fact hit men harder due to lifestyle choices and extracurricular activities.
Here are the top 5 signs of depression for men:
- Self-medication (abuse of controlled substances, abuse of alcohol and abuse of medications)
- Escapism (working more, working out to excess, retreating into more ‘childlike’ pastimes such as video gaming, LARP, etc)
- Risk-taking becoming a regular part of life (reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol)
- Becoming controlling, violent and/or abusive
Studies show that women are 3X as likely than men to be diagnosed with depression than men are and are at least 2X as likely to seek treatment for it. Here is a list of the top 7 causes/triggers for depression in women:
- Puberty (biological and social fallout from it- not fitting in, body image, etc)
- Premenstrual difficulty
- Postpartum depression
- Trials and tribulations of life itself
- Accompanying conditions of depression (anxiety, substance abuse and/or eating disorders)
Why the differences?
Obviously with traditional gender roles for the main two genders being as they are, women are afforded more avenues to get help and to communicate their feelings. Men are taught to “man up”, to be “strong” and to shun help. For men, them seeking help is often a result of not being able to function correctly (in some cases not at all) as the symptoms of depression interfere with life itself.
What to do about it
Whether you’re male, female, nonbinary or anywhere within the gender spectrum, the treatment for depression is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Please know that it will take some research, patience and working with your mental health provider to develop the action plan to defeat depression. You and your mental health provider will have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work moving forward. As for the side effects of the medication(s), most of the side effects will go away on their own, usually within the first 3-6 weeks of taking them. As always, listen to your body and alert your mental health provider in lieu of any complications.
Gorman, J.M. “Gender Differences in depression and response to psychotropic medication”. Gender medicine 3.2 (2006): 93-109
Winkler, Dietmar et al. “Gender-specific symptoms of depression and anger attacks”. The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender 3.1 (March 2006): 19-24
“Male Depression: Understanding the Issues”. Mayo Clinic (2013)
“Depression In Women: Understanding the Gender Gap”. Mayo Clinic (2016