Can’t Sleep? Drug-Free Alternatives That Really Help

Insomnia is a widespread sleep problem among adults. Nearly 40 percent of men and women in the U.S. experience some symptoms of insomnia in a given year, and as many as 15 percent of adults struggle with chronic insomnia. Relaxation techniques are considered a standard form treatment for insomnia by sleep professionals, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. These techniques include:

    • Muscle relaxation exercises
    • Deep breathing exercises
    • Imagery and visualization

These effective therapeutic practices are inexpensive, drug-free, easy to learn and integrate into a daily routine, and can be very effective in improving sleep. Non-pharmaceutical sleep remedies are attractive to many people who don’t want to use medication to treat their insomnia and other sleep problems. This often leads people to seek other options in an area known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is defined by the National Institutes of Health as “a group of health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.” The NIH estimates that as many as 38 percent of adults in the United States use some form of CAM, most often in conjunction with conventional medicine rather than in place of it.

Despite its popularity, we don’t know a great deal about how people use relaxation techniques and CAM, including what health problems they’re being employed to treat. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine sought to remedy this by conducting this study to assess how people with insomnia use relaxation techniques and CAM to treat their sleep disorder. They found that while many adults with insomnia are using these therapies, only a small percentage of them are using them specifically to treat insomnia.

Researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey, a large-scale, in-person survey on a wide range of health issues conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control. The final study group included 23,358 adults.

Researchers in the current study investigated the prevalence of relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, muscle relaxation, biofeedback and guided imagery. They also examined the use of CAM, which they separated into four broad categories:

  • Alternative and mind-body medicine: including meditation, yoga, tai chi
  • Manipulative practices: including massage, chiropractic and osteopathic treatments
  • Other CAM practices: including acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy
  • Natural products: including non-vitamin and non-mineral supplements, particularly those used for insomnia treatment, such as melatonin and valerian

Researchers collected information about reasons for using relaxation and CAM, and whether people used these therapies specifically for insomnia. Finally, they asked whether people who used these treatments had informed their physicians about their use. They found that use of both relaxation and CAM techniques are common among people with insomnia — more common than in people without insomnia. However, the vast majority of people with insomnia who use these therapies are not using them specifically to treat their insomnia. Here are some of the details:

    • Eighteen percent of those included in the study had regular insomnia or difficulty sleeping in the past year. More women than men suffered from insomnia, as did older people, and those with lower education and income levels.
    • Of those people with insomnia, 22.9 percent used some type of relaxation therapy in the past year, compared to 11.2 percent of people without insomnia. Deep breathing exercises were the most common type of relaxation therapy used.
    • Fewer than one-fifth — only 19.1 percent — of people discussed their use of relaxation therapy with their primary physician.
    • Nearly 30 percent of those with insomnia reported using relaxation exercises for specific medical issues, but only a very small number — 30 individuals in total — reported using relaxation techniques to treat their insomnia. This was too small a figure for researchers to calculate a population-based estimate.
    • When it came to CAM, 45 percent of adults with insomnia used some form of complementary or alternative medicine in the past year, compared to 30.9 percent of those without insomnia.
    • Natural products were the most commonly used of the four categories, followed by manipulative practices. However, researchers found that use of natural products specifically for insomnia was very low.
    • Fifty-four percent of adults with insomnia used some form of CAM for specific health problems, but only 1.8 percent reported using CAM to treat insomnia.
    • In the case of both relaxation techniques and CAM, women were more likely than men to use these therapies, as were people with higher levels of education and income, and people who reported higher levels of physical activity.

There seems to be a real missed opportunity here, to improve insomnia by applying therapeutic techniques that people with this sleep disorder are already using. These broad categories of relaxation and CAM cover a wide range of treatment options. Not all of these techniques will be right for everyone. And further research is needed to fully evaluate the effectiveness of specific therapies. But there exist a number of relaxation and CAM therapies — including meditation and visualizationyoga and acupuncture — that have shown promising results in helping alleviate insomnia and other sleep problems.

Talking with your doctor is an important step in making the most of relaxation techniques and complementary or alternative therapies to improve insomnia. It’s disappointing to see that most people who are using these remedies are not discussing them with their physicians, according to this current research. Increasingly, conventional medical practitioners are open to, informed about and encouraging of techniques such as these. Don’t go it alone. Your “regular” doctor can be a valuable resource in making choices about “alternative” therapies for insomnia and other sleep problems.


Memorable Quotes From Imaginaerum ~ Nightwish


“I had hoped to hear the chords played again one day, without them I’m lost in this nothingness. If a song had to have a colour it would be a mixture of red and pink, forever afraid of vanishing, terrified of the silence that make it.” ~ Tom Whitman

How The Columbia Shuttle Disaster Changed Spacecraft Safety Forever

Jan. 16, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia launches on mission STS-107. (NASA)

Jan. 16, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia launches on mission STS-107. (NASA)

Ten years after the devastating Columbia space shuttle accident that took the  lives of seven astronauts, NASA is building a new spacecraft that will take  humans farther into space than ever before, and will incorporate the safety  lessons learned from the disaster that befell the agency Feb. 1, 2003.

That day, the shuttle Columbia was  returning from a 16-day trip to space devoted to science research. But what  began as a routine re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere ended disastrously as the  orbiter disintegrated about 200,000 feet over Texas.

Later analysis found that Columbia was doomed during its launch, when a small  bit of foam insulation broke off the shuttle’s external fuel tank and tore a  hole in the orbiter’s wing. That hole prevented Columbia from withstanding the  scorching heat of re-entry.

Afterward, the independent team that investigated the accident, called the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB),  found a number of factors, from the safety culture at NASA to the design of the  shuttle, that led to the disaster. [Photos: The Columbia Space Shuttle  Tragedy]

‘It’s especially important to us that were here during the Columbia  accident, because they were our friends, too.’- Dustin Gohmert, NASA crew survival engineering team lead


All of the lessons the agency learned were incorporated into every subsequent  flight NASA flew, and are now being used to inform the design of its  next-generation spaceship, Orion. That  vehicle is slated to carry people to asteroids, the moon and Mars sometime in  the mid-2020s.

“We’re hoping nothing ever goes wrong, but if it does, we’ve taken every  possible step to keep the crew safe and give them every possible fighting chance  they can have,” said Dustin Gohmert, NASA crew survival engineering team lead,  at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It’s especially important to us that were  here during the Columbia accident, because they were our friends, too.”

Race car seats and children’s seatbelts

The Columbia investigation exposed a number of flaws in the design of the  shuttle’s crew cabin, including its seats, seatbelts, spacesuits and life  support system. Each of these has been redesigned for Orion.

“The seats were one of the weaker links during the Columbia accident,” Gohmert  told “We wanted to make these seats formfitting so they had a true  fit to the body’s shape.”

NASA looked to the formfitting seats used in professional race vcars, which  provide even support to every part of the body, offering extreme cushioning and  shock absorption during a crash. Orion designers even fine-tuned the vibration  frequency of the seats to have different resonances than the internal organs of  a human body.

The engineers also redesigned the seatbelts, which were another issue during  Columbia’s flight. Here, they took inspiration from the belts on children’s car  seats, which are adjustable to fit a wide range of body sizes.

“We wanted an exact fit for every single person who could fit in the vehicle,  from females down to 4’10” and males up to 6’4″,” Gohmert said. “It was quite a  challenge.”

Suiting up

The astronaut spacesuits were also completely redesigned for Orion. The  Columbia investigation board found that the crewmembers didn’t have time to  configure their suits to protect against depressurization, which occurred  rapidly. In fact, some of the astronauts were not wearing their safety  gloves, and one didn’t even have a helmet on, because of how quickly the  accident took place. [Columbia Shuttle Disaster Explained  (Infographic)]

“In the case of Orion, the suits will instantaneously, and without any action  of the crew, inflate and protect from the loss of pressure,” Gohmert said.

The capsule life support system was also upgraded to provide a constant flow  of oxygen to the crew, even with their helmet visors up and locked, which wasn’t  possible in the shuttle.

Each of these changes addresses flaws exposed by the Columbia shuttle disaster.  Yet Gohmert said none of these upgrades alone would have made a difference  during the disaster.

“I caution against saying that any one thing we’ve corrected would have  protected against the outcome,” he said. “However, we examined all the lethal  events that occurred in Columbia and addressed each of them in the Orion. We’re  doing a whole lot of things to make it safer, and everything we’ve learned from  the shuttle accidents, from Russian space accidents, automobile accidents — we’ve taken lessons from all of them and tried to incorporate them into  Orion.”

Capsule vs. space plane

Perhaps the largest change from shuttle to Orion is the shift from a winged  space plane design to the cone-shaped capsule, which sits atop the rocket rather  than next to it.

“When we went to the capsule, we went from a side-mounted spacecraft to a  forward-mounted one,” said Julie Kramer White, Orion chief engineer. “Therefore,  it’s not exposed to debris environments, which was obviously a huge issue for  Columbia.”

This configuration also allows the crew compartment of the capsule to be  ejected from the top of the rocket stack in the case of an emergency on the  launch pad or during liftoff. Such an escape would not have been possible for  the crew cabin of the space shuttle.

Of course, the shuttle had capabilities that no capsule has — namely, the  ability to haul large, heavy cargos, such as the building blocks of the International Space Station,  inside its cargo bay, White pointed out.

Moreover, the culture of safety at NASA has changed for the better since the days of Columbia, Gohmert said.

“The reaction has been very positive around all of NASA in terms of giving us  the capacity to make these safety improvements,” he said. “Previously, it was  difficult to implement some of the safety features as we’d hoped. Now it really  is on the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

Intelligent vs Stupid


I believe this quote is very true.

Intelligent people are full of doubts because they look at things from several perspectives. This makes the situation they are dealing with more complicated and sophisticated. This lowers their courage and condfidence levels

On the other hand, stupid people see thinhs from one side only. They are ignorant about the other sides or points, thus, more courageous and confident.

The balance can be restored. Intelligent people need to work more on themselves, as intelligence is not enough sometimes.

Work on yourself! Believe in your capabilities, no matter what the world tells you.


Penne with Cauliflower


This is a simple, surprisingly delicious use of cauliflower.  Taste cauliflower and garlic mixture before adding the penne to adjust flavorings.


  • water
  • salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
  • 2  to 4 tablespoons flavorful black olives, pitted and halved Kalamata or oil-cured
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes
  • 5 anchovy filets, chopped finely
  • white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound penne, cooked according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta water


  1. Place cauliflower in a large saucepan, cover with water, add salt as desired and boil until very tender. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic, reduce heat to medium-low and and stir for a minute.  Add capers, olives, anchovies and pepper flakes and sauté until garlic another one to two minutes — don’t let garlic turn brown.
  3. Deglaze pan with splash of white wine.
  4. Add drained cauliflower to the skillet, and mash it with a fork, stirring it in with the garlic mixture. When cauliflower is sufficiently mashed (you’ll want some variation in texture), taste and add salt and pepper to taste. If mixture seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of pasta water until silken.
  5. Add penne and ¼ cup grated parmigiano to cauliflower mixture, toss.
  6. Serve in individual bowls topped with parsley and grated parmigiano.  Provide additional parmigiano and pepper flakes.

Thoughts, Tales, and Whatnot


photo credit

and you tell me
i’ve come too far
and soared too high
that I’m no longer
within your reach
but don’t you know
i’m still the girl
you held hands with?
despite my success,
i’m just the same as I was
and I’m never changing
who and what I am
and if you’re not seeing this,
then you’ve changed.

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