Are You Feeling Suicidal?

Feeling Suicidal

How to Deal with Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings and Overcome the Pain

You’re not alone; many of us have had suicidal thoughts at some point in our lives. Feeling suicidal is not a character defect, and it doesn’t mean that you are crazy, or weak, or flawed. It only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. This pain seems overwhelming and permanent at the moment. But with time and support, you can overcome your problems and the pain and suicidal feelings will pass.

I’m having suicidal thoughts, what do I need to know?

No matter how much pain you’re experiencing right now, you’re not alone. Some of the finest, most admired, needed, and talented people have been where you are now. Many of us have thought about taking our own lives when we’ve felt overwhelmed by depression and devoid of all hope. But the pain of depression can be treated and hope can be renewed. No matter what your situation, there are people who need you, places where you can make a difference, and experiences that can remind you that life is worth living. It takes real courage to face death and step back from the brink. You can use that courage to face life, to learn coping skills for overcoming depression, and for finding the strength to keep going. Remember:

  1. Your emotions are not fixed – they are constantly changing. How you feel today may not be the same as how you felt yesterday or how you’ll feel tomorrow or next week.
  2. Your absense would create grief and anguish in the lives of friends and loved ones.
  3. There are many things you can still accomplish in your life.
  4. There are sights, sounds, and experiences in life that have the ability to delight and lift you – and that you would miss.
  5. Your ability to experience pleasurable emotions is equal to your ability to experience distressing emotions.

Why do I feel suicidal?

Many kinds of emotional pain can lead to thoughts of suicide. The reasons for this pain are unique to each one of us, and the ability to cope with the pain differs from person to person. We are all different. There are, however, some common causes that may lead us to experience suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Why suicide can seem like the only option

If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it is not that other solutions don’t exist, but rather that you are currently unable to see them. The intense emotional pain that you’re experiencing right now can distort your thinking so it becomes harder to see possible solutions to problems, or to connect with those who can offer support. Therapists, counselors, friends or loved ones can help you to see solutions that otherwise may not be apparent to you. Give them a chance to help.

A suicidal crisis is almost always temporary

Although it might seem as if your pain and unhappiness will never end, it is important to realize that crises are usually temporary. Solutions are often found, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur. Remember: suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Give yourself the time necessary for things to change and the pain to subside.

Even problems that seem hopeless have solutions

Mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are all treatable with changes in lifestyle, therapy, and medication. Most people who seek help can improve their situation and recover. Even if you have received treatment for a disorder before, or if you’ve already made attempts to solve your problems, know that it’s often necessary to try different approaches before finding the right solution or combination of solutions. When medication is prescribed, for example, finding the right dosage often requires an ongoing process of adjustment. Don’t give up before you’ve found the solution that works for you. Virtually all problems can be treated or resolved.

Take these immediate actions

Step #1: Promise not to do anything right now

Even though you’re in a lot of pain right now, give yourself some distance between thoughts and action. Make a promise to yourself: “I will wait 24 hours and won’t do anything drastic during that time.” Or, wait a week.

Thoughts and actions are two different things—your suicidal thoughts do not have to become a reality. There’s is no deadline, no one’s pushing you to act on these thoughts immediately. Wait. Wait and put some distance between your suicidal thoughts and suicidal action.

Step #2: Avoid drugs and alcohol

Suicidal thoughts can become even stronger if you have taken drugs or alcohol. It is important to not use nonprescription drugs or alcohol when you feel hopeless or are thinking about suicide.

Step #3: Make your home safe

Remove things you could use to hurt yourself, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If you are unable to do so, go to a place where you can feel safe. If you are thinking of taking an overdose, give your medicines to someone who can return them to you one day at a time as you need them.

Step #4: Don’t keep these suicidal feelings to yourself

Many of us have found that the first step to coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings is to share them with someone we trust. It may be a family member, friend, therapist, member of the clergy, teacher, family doctor, coach, or an experienced counselor at the end of a helpline. Find someone you trust and let them know how bad things are. Don’t let fear, shame, or embarrassment prevent you from seeking help. And if the first person you reach out to doesn’t seem to understand, try someone else. Just talking about how you got to this point in your life can release a lot of the pressure that’s building up and help you find a way to cope.

Step #5: Take hope – people DO get through this

Even people who feel as badly as you are feeling now manage to survive these feelings. Take hope in this. There is a very good chance that you are going to live through these feelings, no matter how much self-loathing, hopelessness, or isolation you are currently experiencing. Just give yourself the time needed and don’t try to go it alone.

Reaching out for help

Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, there are many people who want to support you during this difficult time. Reach out to someone. Do it now. If you promised yourself 24 hours or a week in step #1 above, use that time to tell someone what’s going on with you. Talk to someone who won’t try to argue about how you feel, judge you, or tell you to just “snap out of it.” Find someone who will simply listen and be there for you.

It doesn’t matter who it is, as long as it’s someone you trust and who is likely to listen with compassion and acceptance.

How to talk to someone about your suicidal thoughts

Even when you’ve decided who you can trust to talk to, admitting your suicidal thoughts to another person can be difficult.

  • Tell the person exactly what you are telling yourself. If you have a suicide plan, explain it to them.
  • Phrases such as, ‘I can’t take it anymore’ or ‘I’m done’ are vague and do not illustrate how serious things really are. Tell the person you trust that you are thinking about suicide.
  • If it is too difficult for you to talk about, try writing it down and handing a note to the person you trust. Or send them an email or text and sit with them while they read it.

How to cope with suicidal thoughts

Remember that while it may seem as if these suicidal thoughts and feelings will never end, this is never a permanent condition. You WILL feel better again. In the meantime, there are some ways to help cope with your suicidal thoughts and feelings.

If You Have Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings

Things to do:
  • Talk with someone every day, preferably face to face. Though you feel like withdrawing, ask trusted friends and acquaintances to spend time with you. Or continue to call a crisis helpline and talk about your feelings.
  • Make a safety plan. Develop a set of steps that you can follow during a suicidal crisis. It should include contact numbers for your doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.
  • Make a written schedule for yourself every day and stick to it, no matter what. Keep a regular routine as much as possible, even when your feelings seem out of control.
  • Get out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Exercise as vigorously as is safe for you. To get the most benefit, aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. But you can start small. Three 10-minute bursts of activity can have a positive effect on mood.
  • Make time for things that bring you joy. Even if very few things bring you pleasure at the moment, force yourself to do the things you used to enjoy.
  • Remember your personal goals. You may have always wanted to travel to a particular place, read a specific book, own a pet, move to another place, learn a new hobby, volunteer, go back to school, or start a family. Write your personal goals down.
Things to avoid:
  • Being alone. Solitude can make suicidal thoughts even worse. Visit a friend, or family member, or pick up the phone and call a crisis helpline.
  • Alcohol and drugs. Drugs and alcohol can increase depression, hamper your problem-solving ability, and can make you act impulsively.
  • Doing things that make you feel worse. Listening to sad music, looking at certain photographs, reading old letters, or visiting a loved one’s grave can all increase negative feelings.
  • Thinking about suicide and other negative thoughts. Try not to become preoccupied with suicidal thoughts as this can make them even stronger. Don’t think and rethink negative thoughts. Find a distraction. Giving yourself a break from suicidal thoughts can help, even if it’s for a short time.

Recovering from suicidal thoughts

Even if your suicidal thoughts and feelings have subsided, get help for yourself. Experiencing that sort of emotional pain is itself a traumatizing experience. Finding a support group or therapist can be very helpful in decreasing the chances that you will feel suicidal again in the future. 

5 steps to recovery

  1. Identify triggers or situations that lead to feelings of despair or generate suicidal thoughts, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Find ways to avoid these places, people, or situations.
  2. Take care of yourself. Eat right, don’t skip meals, and get plenty of sleep. Exercise is also key: it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.
  3. Build your support network. Surround yourself with positive influences and people who make you feel good about yourself. The more you’re invested in other people and your community, the more you have to lose—which will help you stay positive and on the recovery track.
  4. Develop new activities and interests. Find new hobbies, volunteer activities, or work that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. When you’re doing things you find fulfilling, you’ll feel better about yourself and feelings of despair are less likely to return.
  5. Learn to deal with stress in a healthy way. Find healthy ways to keep your stress levels in check, including exercising, meditating, using sensory strategies to relax, practicing simple breathing exercises, and challenging self-defeating thoughts.

What if you still don’t feel understood?

Contact the psychiatrist immediately.

Depression – Medications Play a Key Role in Recovery

Depresssion Medications Recovery
What is antidepressants and mood elevators?

Depression – caused by the imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Therefore, medications play a key role in recovery. Thus, antidepressant or mood elevator, prescribed to patients with depression to alleviate their symptoms. Antidepressant medicine not only used for the treatment of depression. Additionally, also prescribed in other psychiatric conditions. These include anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), dysthymia (mild chronic depression), etc,.

The use of antidepressants is on the rise. Although, antidepressants do not cure depression, they relieve the symptoms. Andipressants come in various types. The first medication to try may not benefit. However, one must consult their doctor and find the right choice of medication/s for their condition.

Antidepressant adherence

Non-adherence to antidepressants – one of the causes of major negative consequences on health. Nonetheless, it also majorly contributes to the under treatment of anxiety and depression in maximum cases in the population. Consequently, a set of reasons why people do not comply with their therapy or treatment must be explored. Firstly, forgetting to take the medicine. Secondly, other factors that contribute to non-adherence of antidepressants include –

  1. Fear of addiction
  2. High cost of medications
  3. Fear of drug-induced sexual dysfunction
  4. Delayed onset of action of the medication
  5. Poor instructions and protocols by the doctor
  6. Fear of side effects
Benefits of Adherence

Nevertheless, adherence to the medication with proper guidance from the doctor will decrease the symptoms of depression. Thus, leading them get back to their normal life. Also, under-treatment of depression at times fatal. However, if the depression escalates, suicidal tendencies can follow. Inspite of and apart from these, suddenly stopping the medications – associated with withdrawal symptoms which can get fatal in severe cases.

Indeed, in recent times – depression – a common problem and the reason for the rise of fatalities that it causes. Thus, the importance to consult a doctor to get the condition’s diagnosis and get on the right treatment. Also, of equal importance to adhere to their therapy and abide by the guidelines.

Depression – Types and Symptoms

Depression is frequently confused with natural and circumstantial feelings of grief or sadness. However, depression is not merely a weakness. It is not something to be taken lightly. Indeed, it is quite a serious issue and can last for long periods of time. Accordingly, there are different types of depression and they could present with more than a couple of symptoms.

In fact, depression does not merely involve feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. To summarize, it is much more terrible and has a negative effect on your day-to-day functioning.

Further, there are many different types of depression. These are:

  1. Firstly, Major depression
  2. Secondly, Bipolar depression
  3. Thirdly, Psychotic depression
  4. Fourthly, Chronic depression (even dysthymia)
  5. Fifthly, Seasonal depression
  6. Sixthly, Substance-induced depression
  7. Seventhly, Postpartum depression
  8. Eighthly, Double depression
  9. Ninthly, Treatment-resistant depression
  10. Tenthly, Secondary depression
  11. Finally, Masked depression
Symptoms

First off, signs and symptoms of clinical depression vary. Secondly, they depend largely on how severe, how long lasting and how often they come into play. In addition, there are individual differences. Therefore, while some experience a few signs of depression, others experience more. Hereunder, is a list of symptoms that might indicate that you may be suffering from depression and that you might want to consult a psychiatrist:

  1. Firstly, Being sad for most parts of the day, especially in the morning
  2. Secondly, Feeling like blaming yourself unnecessarily or feeling worthless almost every day
  3. Thirdly, More inclined towards being negative
  4. Fourthly, Sleep Difficulties i.e. Loss of sleep or Excessive sleep
  5. Fifthly, Regular contemplations of death or suicide
  6. Sixthly, Significant weight gain or weight loss
  7. Seventhly, Appetite loss or overeating
  8. Eighthly, Feelings of high fatigue and low energy levels almost every day
  9. Ninthly, Inability to make decisions or impaired focus and difficulty concentrating
  10. Tenthly, Lack of interest in almost all daily activities or hobbies, including sexual activity
  11. Eleventhly, Irritability and restlessness
  12. Twelthly, Cramps, headaches and digestive problems which persist even with treatment
Causes

Although, the exact cause of depression is not yet determined, depression is supposedly caused by a combination of a number of factors:

  1. Biological differences
  2. Hormonal imbalances
  3. Brain chemistry
  4. Inherited traits or genetic disorders.
  5. Social and Psychological factors.
  6. Also, Co-morbid or Chronic Medical conditions.

And finally, 7. Treatments with certain Medications.

Memory Loss with Age

Memory Loss Age Aging

With age, most body organs begin to deteriorate in their function. Therefore, memory loss with age is not uncommon. Nonetheless, this happens to the brain too. Thereby, it reduces the overall speed of functioning of most organs. While slowing of bodily movement is visible, the internal organs functioning also slows down. However, this is not that obvious.

Memory loss or dementia is one of the main manifestations of this degeneration of the brain.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The associated symptoms includes reduced reasoning abilities and cognitive defects. Although, it is seen only in the elderly, not all elderly people will have Alzheimer’s. Consequently, the overall quality of life of the affected person is reduced. Thus, there is difficulty with remembering things that were recently learned. It is a progressive disease and as it gets more severe, a full-time caretaker may be required.

Causes: 

In fact, the brain cells are affected by protein masses known as plaques and tangles. Thus, these hamper the way communication between the brain cells happens. Consequently, these also affect nutrition from reaching all parts of the brain. However, this leads to shrinking of the brain, eventually leading to memory loss and other problems. In addition, there is also a strong genetic linkage, as most people with Alzheimer’s have the lipoprotein A gene.

Symptoms: 

Though memory loss with age is the most common symptom, there are other symptoms:

  1. Being confused about places, people, and times
  2. Inability to find the right words during conversations
  3. Regular objects are misplaced
  4. Becoming irritable, (in someone who was not so previously)
  5. Mood swings
  6. Personality changes
  7. Inability to organize thoughts
  8. Not able to make the right decisions
  9. Repetitive talks and actions
  10. Forgetfulness (not something the person always does)
  11. Difficulty with numbers (again, not something calculations
  12. Difficulty managing everyday tasks and minor problems
  13. Suspicion of others (like immediate family members and friends)
Risk factors: 

While age is definitely a risk factor, the fact that not all aged people develop Alzheimer’s is to be borne in mind. Nevertheless, other risk factors include the history of stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and poor lifestyle choices.

Diagnosis: 

Whereas, there is no definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s, symptoms can indicate disease. In addition, brain scans and neuropsychological function testing are useful ways to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment: 

Hence, treatment is aimed at two things reducing the rate of disease progression and treat (or reverse) symptoms if possible.

  1. Medical Treatments

Cholinesterase inhibitors improve cellular communication in the brain and also manage depression and agitation. Donepezil and Memantine is used to slow the pace of disease progression.  Consult your psychiatrist to learn more about these remedies.

2. Therapeutic Measures

In people with the disease, small changes are useful to help them with the symptoms. These include keeping essential things like keys and wallet in the same place, keep a daily diary to help them remember things, keep pictures of friends and family within visible distance.

Consult an expert to find out what is your best fit.

You are also welcome to contact us.

Depressed Women Vaginismus

Depressed Women Vaginismus

Depressed Woman Vaginismus comes to mind. It is not only the cyclical changes in physiological and psychological terms that women have to endure and become resilient. Women also need to change to external circumstances.  Hence, they are probably designed to be flexible enough for change.  However, depression can get the better of even the so called toughest woman. Good news is that it is something that can be treated to the fullest degree. Among the various symptoms of depression that are easily modified with medications sexual symptoms are rarely discussed. However, one symptom rarely discussed is that of sexual problems or disinterest due especially to physical causes resulting in depression.  

A specific sexual disturbance especially during the initiation of first sexual contact or encounter is that of dyspareunia. The female version of which is vaginismus, which could possible be more common in depressed women. There are various successful vaginismus treatments that do not require interventions. These include medications, surgical operations, psychotherapeutic measures, nor any other complex interventional procedures.


Vaginismus is treatable and the success rates are quite high. 


Among the most effective treatment approaches are a combination of pelvic floor control exercises very commonly known as kegel exercises. This along with insertion or dilation training using objects that are specific to the sexual treatment procedures is helpful. Resulting in pain elimination techniques using psychotherapeutic measures like exposure and response prevention are helpful. Likewise, transition steps with incremental tolerance to pain and enjoyment of the act are taught. Also, exercises designed to help women identify, express and resolve any contributing emotional components are helpful. They either are from the past experiences or from ill-informed sexual learning experiences which are mostly hearsay.

Treatment

Women can do their treatments at the comfort of their homes. Thus, allowing a woman to work at her own pace in privacy, or in cooperation with her health care provider. The sexual pain, tightness and penetration difficulties that are due to vaginismus in depressed women are completely treatable. In addition, they fully overcome any remaining pain or discomfort, over the course of time.

Women experiencing pain or tightness during sexual activities can expect great benefit. However, if pain is associated with penile penetration problems including unconsummated relationships, they can expect high degree of resolution of vaginismus. This is true even in depressed women. This would allow for full pain free and adequate intercourse to the satisfaction of both partners.

Vaginismus treatment in depressed women and exercises follow a manageable, step-by-step process ~
Step 1 –

Understanding Vaginismus. Step 1 provides an overview of vaginismus and how symptoms can arise from it. Symptoms include sexual pain, tightness, burning sensations or penetration difficulties may result from it. Women start their sexual endeavor with this approach. The women become proactive about their sexual health. This is because an understanding vaginismus is fundamental to the process of overcoming it. Topics also include how to obtain a solid diagnosis, treatment methods, relationship issues, pelvic/relaxation techniques, conditioned responses and muscle memories.

Step 2 –

Sexual History Review & Treatment Strategies. A balanced approach helps women review and analyze their history. Exercises help identify and evaluate any events, emotions, or triggers contributing to vaginismus sexual pain or penetration problems. Checklists and detailed exercises map out a woman’s sexual history and pelvic pain events, working toward appropriate treatment strategies. Emotional reviews help detail any negative events, feelings, or memories that may collectively contribute to involuntary pelvic responses. Topics also include blocked or hidden memories. In addition, how to move forward when there have been traumatic events in a woman’s past.

Step 3 –

Sexual Pain Anatomy. Women often lack complete information about their body’s sexual anatomy, function, and the causes of pelvic pain and penetration problems. Confusion regarding problems with inner vaginal areas and vaginal muscles frequently lead to misdiagnosis and frustration. Step 3 educates about these sexual body parts with emphasis on their role in sexual pain and penetration issues. Topics include how to distinguish what kind of pain or discomfort is normal with first-time or ongoing sex. Also, what physical changes take place during arousal to orgasm cycles in the context of sexual pain or penetration problems. In this step, explanations about the Anatomy areas such as the hymen and inner vulva. These areas are demystified (for example there are six diagrams of hymen varieties to help distinguish hymen problems).

Step 4 –

Vaginal Tightness & The Role Of Pelvic Floor Muscles. Female sexual pain and penetration difficulties typically involve some degree of involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor. This step focuses on the role of pelvic floor muscles, especially the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group. This explains in great detail how triggering the PC once continues their involuntary tightness. This continues with increasing attempts at intercourse. Effective vaginismus treatment focuses on retraining the pelvic floor to eliminate involuntary muscle reactions that produce tightness or pain. Learning how to identify, selectively control, exercise and retrain the pelvic muscles is a trick. This is to reduce pain and alleviate penetration tightness and difficulties is an important step in vaginismus treatment.

Step 5 –

Insertion Techniques. Allowing initial entry without pain, for women with painful penetration is the purpose of this technique. In this step, women practice pubococcygeus (PC) muscle control techniques. Women allow the entry of a small object (cotton swab, tampon, or finger) into their vagina. Thus, gradually working completely under their control and pace. The step helps in any previous closure of the entrance to the vagina and prevention of penetration by involuntary muscle contractions. Women begin to take full control over their pelvic floor. They subsequently learn how to flex and relax the pelvic floor at will, eliminating unwanted tightness and allowing entry.

Step 6 –

Graduated Vaginal Insertions However, when used properly, vaginal dilators are effective tools to further help eliminate pelvic tightness due to vaginismus. Also, dilators provide a substitute means to trigger pelvic muscle reactions. Thus, the effective dilator exercises in Step 6 teach women certain techniques. However, these include how to override involuntary contractions, relaxing the pelvic floor so it responds correctly to sexual penetration. Subsequently, graduated vaginal insertion exercises allow women to comfortably transition. Hence,this is to set the stage where they are ready for intercourse without pain or discomfort.

Step 7 –

Sensate Focus & Techniques For Couples To Reduce Pelvic Floor Tension. Helping with the transition to pain-free intercourse, this step explains sensate focus techniques. This is for couples to use to reduce pelvic floor tension and increase intimacy. Couples begin to work together during this step as exercises teach how to successfully practice sensate focus (controlled sensual touch). In addition, they prepare for pain-free intercourse using techniques from earlier steps. The exercises build trust and understanding. In addition, they assist in the process to adjust to controlled intercourse without pain.

Step 8 –

Pre-Intercourse Readiness Exercises Finalizing preparations for couples to transition to fully pain-free intercourse, this step completes pre-intercourse readiness. Couples review and practice techniques that eliminate pelvic floor tension and prepare to transition to full intercourse. Preparing ahead of time is the key to this step. This is to manage, control and eliminate pain or penetration difficulties. Hence, the exercises assist with the final transition to pain-free intercourse.

Step 9

Making The Transition To Intercourse. Step 9 explains the techniques used to eliminate pain and penetration difficulties while transitioning to normal intercourse. This section includes many troubleshooting topics of great use. Examples include, such as positions to use to maximize control and minimize pain, tips to ensure more comfortable intercourse, etc.

Step 10

Full Pain-Free Intercourse & Pleasure Restoration. The final step toward overcoming vaginismus includes penis entry with movement and freedom from any pain or tightness. To educate, build sexual trust and intimacy are the goals of Step 10. They help complete the transition to full sexual intercourse free of pain. Couples can begin to enjoy pleasure with intercourse, initiate family planning, and move forward to live life free from vaginismus.

CONSULT THE SEXUAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST FOR BEST RESULTS

Sexual Intercourse or… simply Sex

Sexual Intercourse or Simply Sex

When a man and a woman have sexual intercourse or simply sex – where a man’s penis enters the woman’s vagina – it is called vaginal sex. Find out more about what it is, why people do it and how to do it safely. Sleep Hygiene has a lot to do with Sexual Health.

Should I have vaginal sex?

Deciding whether to have sex is a very personal thing and there is no rule to say whether you ‘should’. The main things to consider are whether it feels right, and whether you and your partner are both sure. 

Vaginal sexual intercourse or simply sex, usually starts when a man and a woman are getting sexually excited from kissing, stroking, caressing, rubbing and touching each other. You’ll often know you’re getting aroused (which means your body is preparing itself for sexual intercourse) from certain physical signs:

  • for women, the vagina (the sexual opening between the legs) begins to moisten
  • men get an erection, which means their penis will get bigger and harden.
The importance of foreplay

Try not to rush things. The best approach is to enjoy each other’s bodies and make sure you’re relaxed with one another – this is called ‘foreplay’ and it’s an equally important part of sex as intercourse itself. It’s also perfectly ok not to go any further than this stage. Many couples enjoy having foreplay for a long time before they move on to having vaginal sex.

If you are both ready to have vaginal sex, it’s important that foreplay lasts for long enough. If the woman is not sexually excited enough, then her vagina will not become lubricated and it will be difficult for the man’s penis to enter.

How does vaginal sex work?

When you are both aroused and ready to have sex it helps if one of you uses your hand to guide the penis into the vagina. Take your time, and don’t worry if it takes a few goes to guide it in properly – this is very normal, especially when you are both getting used to each other’s bodies.

Once the penis is inside, you can move your bodies so that the penis pushes into the vagina and then pulls partly out again. Do what comes naturally and feels good – being slow and gentle is a good idea to start with as you can both make sure one another is comfortable.

What about different positions?

One common position involves the woman lying down, with the man lying or sitting on top (also called the ‘missionary position’). Alternatively, the woman can be on top – or you can both lie on your sides. It is probably easiest to choose one of these positions if you are having sexual intercourse for the first time. As you get to know each other’s bodies better you can experiment with different positions that work for you both.

After a while you might find certain movements, positions and ways of touching that lead to one or both of you having an orgasm. This is also called ‘coming’ or ‘climaxing’. Don’t be too concerned if this doesn’t happen straight away or at all. It takes time to get to know what works for you sexually. And for your partner as well. And sex can be enjoyable whether you climax or not.

Will it hurt – and will the woman bleed?

It can take a bit of time to get used to the sensation of sex. And, some women can find it a little uncomfortable or painful at first. Taking things slowly and using a good water-based lubrication can help.

If it’s a woman’s first time having sex she may bleed a little. This is generally nothing to worry about. Since, it’s a sign that her hymen (a very thin piece of skin that partially covers the entrance to the vagina) has broken. Sometimes, a woman’s hymen will have been broken through activities. For example, horse riding or through using tampons. So, not all virgins bleed the first time they have sex.

If you continue to bleed everytime you have sex then it’s a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional. This is for reassurance and to check it’s nothing to worry about.

Being safe and sure

Knowing how sex works can help you to feel more relaxed and ready to have sex. However, being clued up about contraception and protection is just as important. If you aren’t, you will put yourself (and your partner) at risk. This includes unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

There are many STIs that you can get through unprotected vaginal sex. These are chlamydia, herpes or HIV and it can happen as a result of just having sex once. Using condoms is the only way to be sure that you’re both properly protected is to always.

If you’ve had unprotected sex make sure you seek healthcare advice as soon as possible. This is to access emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and perhaps post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection. 

Talking to your partner about protection before you start having sex will help things go more smoothly. This can be embarrassing, but it’s an important part of having sex. Additionally, if you find it difficult to discuss then it is a sign you aren’t ready to start having sex yet. That’s fine. However, remember that there are lots of ways to enjoy being together and to explore your sexual feelings until the time is right.

Sexual Problems – How Does It Affect You

Sexual Problems How Does It Affect You

Both men and women can suffer from sexual dysfunction or sexual problems. In common man’s parlance it is a problem that prevents you from experiencing sexual satisfaction. If you are experiencing sexual dysfunction in any part of the sexual response cycle, you are not alone. This traditionally includes excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Research suggests that 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men report some degree of sexual dysfunction or difficulty.

It also remains a topic that many people are hesitant to discuss and resolve worldwide. Read on to know more on sexual dysfunction. This is so that you can understand it and seek treatment for it. Moreover, this is because treatment options are available and extremely helpful.

Types of sexual dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction is classified into four categories:

  1. Desire disorders: This is a generalized lack of sexual desire or interest in sex
  2. Arousal disorders: Inability to become physically aroused during sexual activity
  3. Orgasm disorders: A delay or absence of orgasm
  4. Pain disorders: Pain during intercourse
Symptoms of sexual dysfunction 

In men:

  1. Erectile dysfunction – An inability to achieve or maintain an erection for penetrative sexual intercourse
  2. Retarded ejaculation – An absent or delayed ejaculation despite sexual stimulation
  3. Early or premature ejaculation – Inability to control ejaculation

In women:

  1. Inadequate vaginal lubrication before or during sex
  2. Inability to relax the vaginal muscles for sexual intercourse to happen
  3. Lack of interest in or desire for sex. An inability to become aroused or pain during intercourse are also classified as sexual dysfunction.
Causes of sexual dysfunction
  1. ​Physical causes – A number of medical conditions can cause problems with sexual function. They include diabetes, heart and neurological problems , hormonal imbalances, kidney or liver failure, and alcoholism and drug abuse. Antidepressant use can also affect sexual function
  2. Psychological causes. – Stress and anxiety, sexual performance anxiety, relationship problems, depression. These are some of the psychological causes responsible for sexual disorders. Feelings of not being good enough and the effects of a past sexual trauma also come into play.
Diagnosis of sexual dysfunction

Subsequently, the doctor will begin with a history. This includes talking about symptoms, followed by a physical exam to rule out medical problems.

However, a major part of diagnosis is psychological. Therefore, the doctor will evaluate your attitude about sex, as well as other contributing factors. Hence, these may include fear, anxiety, past sexual abuse, relationship problems, medications, alcohol or drug abuse, etc. In conclusion, this is to understand the underlying cause of the problem.

Treatment

In fact, most types of sexual dysfunction can be treated by addressing the underlying physical or psychological problems. In addition, other common ways to treat sexual dysfunction are:

  1. By changing a medication which may be causing sexual dysfunction. If you have a sexual dysfunction due to hormone deficiencies, you may benefit from hormone shots, pills, or creams. Men can use Viagra or Cialis for erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis.
  2. Mechanical aids – Penile implants or vacuum devices can be used in men to maintain an erection. Vacuum devices are used in women too. In addition, there are dilators to help women who have an extremely narrow vaginal opening.
  3. Sex therapy – Marriage counselors and therapists help couples resolve their relationship issues that may be causing sexual dysfunction.
  4. Behavioral therapy – This helps you to seek insight into your behaviour which may be causing sexual dysfunction and address it.
  5. Psychotherapy. This type of therapy can help you resolve prior sexual trauma. Also, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, fear, or guilt, and poor body image.

In conclusion, if you have questions and are suffering from any of the above kindly click to read more here. Also, feel free to contact the expert to have your problem/s solved.

How to Increase Sexual Energy for MEN

Sex Men Energy Kegel Exercises

How to Increase Sexual Energy for Men

What are Kegels?
Firstly, a Kegel is an exercise specifically designed to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.  This can help you improve erection angle, improve erection quality, give more intense orgasms, indirectly enlarge your penis, cure incontinence, and much more !!! Hence, this is on of the most important ways on how to Increase Sexual Energy for Men.

Kegel History:
Firstly, Kegels were invented by Dr. Arnold Kegel, an Obstetrician, in the 1940s. Although, developed for women, it became clear keels are also great for male sexual health !!!

Find your PC (pubococcygeus) muscle:
While urinating, contract your muscles so you either slow or stop the flow of urine.  Indeed, those are your pelvic floor muscles !!!

4 Simple Steps:
1. Contract
2. Hold
3. Release
4. Repeat

Multi-Orgasmic Men?
YES !  However, with strong pelvic floor muscles and practice, men CAN become multi-orgasmic !!!

Don’t just Kegel
In addition, combine your Kegel with other penis exercises like jells and stretches, to maximize your results !!!

TIP ~

Firstly, have your partner do Kegel too.  In fact, you’ll both enjoy a harder erection and a tighter vagina !!!

In addition, within the framework of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene, addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life. However, UN agencies claim sexual and reproductive health includes physical, as well as psychological well-being vis-a-vis sexuality.

Therefore, reproductive health implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safer sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Therefore, one interpretation of this implies that men and women ought to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of birth control.

Also, access to appropriate health care services of sexual, reproductive medicine and implementation of health education programs to stress the importance of women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth could provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.

Indeed, individuals do face inequalities in reproductive health services. However, inequalities vary based on socioeconomic status, education level, age, ethnicity, religion, and resources available in their environment.

Finally, it is possible for example, that low income individuals lack the resources for appropriate health services and the knowledge to know what is appropriate for maintaining reproductive health.

Migraine We Do Magic

Yes!!! That’s right.If you have migraine we do magic to relieve it  

Firstly, a migraine headache is characterized by a severe headache usually affecting one side of the head. In addition, there are other symptoms along with headaches like nausea/vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound. Nevertheless, some patients experience neurological phenomena like changes in vision, temporary loss of sensation and altered sensation, a phenomenon known as an aura (flashes of light, zigzag patterns, bright spots, tingling in the arms and the legs). A migraine headache can last for 2 to 3 days. Migraine ? We do magic!!

Symptoms

The symptoms depend on the stage of a migraine attack. The stages of a migraine attack can be: 

  1. Prodrome, Aura, Headache or attack, and Postdrome. 
  2. Prodrome: One to two days prior to the migraine attack, patient may experience; 
  • Mood swings. 
  • Cravings for food. 
  • Increased yawning. 
  • Stiff neck. 
  • Constipation and frequent thirst and urination. 

In case of an aura (during or before a migraine), there may be visual, motor, speech, and sensory illusions and disturbances such as, 

  • Loss of vision. 
  • A strange sensation of needles pricking an arm or a leg. 
  • One side of the body becomes weak and numb. 
  • There are visual illusions such as the appearance of flashes of light, zigzag patterns, bright spots. 
  • There is a problem in hearing and speaking. 
  • However, in some cases, there may be a hemiplegic migraine (the limb becomes weak). 
During a Migraine Attack (lasts for 4 to 72 hours), there may be 
  1. A throbbing pain on either one or both sides of the head 
  2. Blurred vision, light-headedness. 
  3. Nausea and vomiting 
  4. Sensitivity to light and sound 
  5. Sensitivity to touch and smell (though rare) 

Finally, in Post-drome (after a migraine), there can be 

  1. Mood swings. 
  2. A person may be sensitive to light and sound. 
  3. Dizziness and weakness 
  4. Confusion 
  5. Extreme fatigue 

Indeed, an amalgamation of environmental and genetic factors may be responsible for a migraine. Therefore, triggers varies for each patient: 

  1. Stress and extreme physical exertion 
  2. Obesity 
  3. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks and beverages 
  4. Salty and processed foods 
  5. Altered sleeping habits 
  6. Hormonal alterations in women (Constant fluctuation in the level of estrogen) 
  7. Oral contraceptives and certain vasodilators (nitroglycerin) 
  8. Preservatives like MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) and Aspartame (sweetener) 
  9. Sunshine, certain odors, travel, etc can trigger a migraine. 
Treatment and Prevention: 
  1. Medicines under supervision to abort an attack of a migraine and special drugs to stop attacks as well as to prevent a migraine from recurring, also known as maintenance therapy
  2. Finally, Lifestyle changes are helpful to decrease attacks: 
  • Avoid your trigger for a migraine. 
  • Follow regular sleep-wake cycle. 
  • Regular exercise, meditation. 
  • Avoidance of alcohol, caffeine-containing beverages. 

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions! Yes… Migraine We do Magic

Grief Loss and Bereavement

Grief Loss Bereavement

Can Expressing Yourself Help You Cope With Grief Loss and Bereavement?

Medication is absolutely necessary to relieve yourself of the pain and grief.

True or false?

1. Which of the following can be a symptom of grief?

Anger 

Fear

Physical symptoms 

All of the above

Answer – All of the above

It is normal to be angry over the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, severe illness or other common reasons that cause grief. You might consider it imperative to blame somebody for your loss. Fear is also a common symptom, for you can have a lot of insecurities or fears if you have lost a loved one and are coping with it. Grief loss and bereavement can also come with its share of physical symptoms like nausea, fatigue, vomiting, backaches, weight gain, etc.

2. Which of the following is the first stage of grief?

Denial & shock

Anger

Depression

Bargaining

Answer – Denial & shock

This stage helps to protect the individual from going through the intensity of his loss. It may be useful when the person is preparing to take action (For e.g.: arrangements for a funeral in case of a death of a loved one). Numbness is also a very common reaction at this stage. Over time, as the person realizes the impact of the loss, denial and numbness will subside.

3. Expressing your feelings in a tangible way can help to cope with grief

Answer – True

You should try writing about your feelings down in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a poem or a letter saying things you could never say. You can also make an album on the life of the person you’ve lost and celebrate the person’s life, or join any social cause or some organization which that person had been a part of.

4. You will be able to cope with grief faster if you ignore it

Answer – False

Trying to ignore your pain or preventing it from resurfacing can only make matters worse over time. Grieving or mourning in the face of a loss is very natural and one of the healthier ways of coping with grief. You should never ignore the wounds your loss has left you with. Acknowledging them and accepting the pain you are feeling will help you in overcoming your grief and moving on in life.

5. Medication is absolutely necessary to relieve yourself of the pain and grief

Answer – False

Though medications are prescribed in a few cases, grieving and mourning will always be the most honest ways to deal with your loss. Accepting the pain and moving towards it to embrace that as a part of your reality will work wonders for you in overcoming your grief.

Grief is not an illness which should be cured with medicines. Sympathy from your loved ones, compassion and a clear understanding of your loss also helps. However, when the symptoms are intense or are prolonged, You should consider visiting a psychiatrist at the earliest. This is especially true if you or your loved one’s day to day routine has been affected significantly and you have noticed that you/they have been taking a longer time than expected to heal emotionally. Not having moved on and gotten on with daily activities is a sure sign of needing clinical help.

Insomnia and Sleep Difficulties

Can it affect your Emotions?

Insomnia Sleep Difficulties

Firstly, there is a distinct relationship between sleeping disorders and your emotional health. In fact, both influence each other. However, insomnia and sleep difficulties, are common sleeping disorders, is generally caused due to stress and tension.

In fact, depression and anxiety also account for insomnia. Indeed, it has been proven by research. In fact, people who experience sleeplessness or cases of insomnia are at a higher risk of depression and similar psychiatric disorders.

In fact, insomnia and sleep difficulties are an important factor which cause depression, and many people affected by it commit suicide. However, researchers have found dysfunctional activity in the area of the brain where emotions are processed and regulated. In fact, among people with insomnia, their study explains the mechanism by which insomnia affects and influences emotions. In addition, in people, this leads to depression and other disorders.

The ways in which insomnia and sleep difficulties affect your emotions:

In fact, there is a clear difference in the brain activities of people with insomnia. However, this is when compared with normal people who get good sleep. In fact, there is usually a great difference between the activities of the amygdala. Indeed, these are neurons in the temporal lobe of the brain. Thus, the amygdala is very important in regulation and processing of emotions.

Signs and symptoms
  1. Insomnia disrupts the ability of the brain to process negative emotions.
  2. Nevertheless, insomnia causes neural change and problems with regulating emotions.
  3. Insomnia disables the ability of judging or sensing any kind of emotion by looking at the face of a person. However, it is difficult to judge emotions such as anger and sadness in people suffering from insomnia. This impairment occurs more in women.
  4. Insomnia and similar sleeping disorders affect our inhibition and disrupt our impulse control mechanism. An insomniac person is likely to develop increased impulsiveness to negative stimulus.
  5. People suffering from insomnia develop a perception towards negative stuff and perceive most things in a negative way. However, rather than looking at the bright side which a normal person tends to do. Insomniacs are characterises by a negative mood and are pessimism.
  6. A sleep deprived or insomniac patient shows greater activity around the limbic area of the brain. Emotional regulation and processing undertakes in the limbic area.
  7. A person suffering from insomnia develops a cranky personality. The patient is in an irritable mood. The slightest and pettiest of circumstances triggers him. However, insomnia characterizes other symptoms. Examples include, swinging moods, high temper and general fatigue, which result due to lack of sleep.

Insomnia is a sleeping disorder which directly affects a person’s emotions and the processing and regulation of emotions. There is a direct and important link between insomnia and emotional disorders.  Indeed, if you believe you have insomnia or sleep difficulties then it may be best to contact our psychiatrist. Click HERE for the best advice that we can offer for you.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene

What is sleep hygiene? 

Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. 

Why is it important to practice good sleep hygiene? 

Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from practicing good sleep habits. 

How can I improve my sleep hygiene? 

One of the most important sleep hygiene practices is to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed, not too little or too excessive. Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. However, there are recommendations that can provide guidance on  how much sleep you need generally. Other good sleep hygiene practices include: 

LIMITING DAYTIME NAPS
  • Limiting daytime  naps to 30 minutes .  Napping does not make up for inadequate nighttime sleep. However, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.  
AVOIDING STIMULANTS
  • Avoiding stimulants such as  caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.  And when it comes to alcohol, moderation is key 4. While alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.    
EXERCISE
  • Exercising to promote good quality sleep.  As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality.  For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. However, the effect of intense nighttime exercise on sleep differs from person to person, so find out what works best for you.   
FOOD HABITS
  • Steering clear of  food that can be disruptive right before sleep.   Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, it can lead to painful heartburn that disrupts sleep. 
THE SLEEP-WAKE CYCLE
  • Ensuring adequate exposure to natural light.  This is particularly important for individuals who may not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle .
A BEDTIME ROUTINE
  • Establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine. A regular nightly routine helps the body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches. When possible, try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.
SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
  • Making sure that the sleep environment is pleasant. Mattress and pillows should be comfortable. The bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees – for optimal sleep. Bright light from lamps, cell phone and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, so turn those light off or adjust them when possible. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.

What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?

Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if you’re taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revising your bedtime habits. Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning.

Contact your psychiatrist to find the right kind of therapy for YOU either counseling or medications or a combination or both for good sleep hygiene.

Natural Secrets for a Refreshing Sleep

Natural Secrets Refreshing Sleep
Natural Sleep Secrets Tailored to Your Nightly Needs

Natural Secrets for a refreshing sleep sounds elusive. Sound slumber results in increased energy and productivity, improved heart and immune system health, a better mood, even a longer life. And hey, you just feel so much better after a satisfying 8 hours of rest. But chances are, you’re not getting it. Sleep issues are epidemic among women today,

Plan.

Not surprisingly, women tend to get less sleep than men do overall. Even if you don’t have children, levels of sleep-promoting estrogen sink regularly during menstruation and then permanently in menopause. And symptoms related to both—cramps, headaches, hot flashes, and night sweats—also disrupt slumber.

But experts agree that these biological facts don’t mean that sleep deprivation has to be your destiny. Feeling tired should never be considered normal. Yet there are no stock sleep solutions, either: Finding out what works for you takes some trial and error, but it’s well worth it. Sleep is a basic biological necessity—just like eating—and it has an impact on every aspect of your health and your life. Here are the natural secrets for a refreshing sleep.

Try these 20 ideas to find the sleep formula that works best for you.
Set a Sleep Schedule

If you do only one thing to improve your sleep, this is it: Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning—even on weekends. A regular sleep routine keeps your biological clock steady so you rest better. Exposure to a regular pattern of light and dark helps, so stay in sync by opening the blinds or going outside right after you wake up. 

Keep a Sleep Diary

To help you understand how your habits affect your rest, track your sleep every day for at least 2 weeks. Write down not only what’s obviously sleep related—what time you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how many times you wake up during the night, how you feel in the morning—but also factors like what you ate close to bedtime and what exercise you got. Comparing your daily activities with your nightly sleep patterns can show you where you need to make changes.

Stop Smoking

Reason number 1,001: Nicotine is a stimulant, so it prevents you from falling asleep. Plus, many smokers experience withdrawal pangs at night. Smokers are 4 times more likely not to feel as well rested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers, studies show, and smoking exacerbates sleep apnea and other breathing disorders, which can also stop you from getting a good night’s rest. Don’t worry that quitting will keep you up nights too: That effect passes in about 3 nights.

Review Your Medications

Beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure) may cause insomnia; so can SSRIs (a class of antidepressants that includes Prozac and Zoloft). And that’s just the beginning. Write down every drug and supplement you take, and have your doctor evaluate how they may be affecting your sleep.

Exercise, But Not Right Before Bedtime

Working out—especially cardio—improves the length and quality of your sleep. That said, 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise keeps your body temperature elevated for about 4 hours, inhibiting sleep. When your body begins to cool down, however, it signals your brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin, so then you’ll get drowsy.

Cut Caffeine After 2 p.m.

That means coffee, tea, and cola. Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for about 8 hours, so if you have a cappuccino after dinner, come bedtime, it’ll either prevent your brain from entering deep sleep or stop you from falling asleep altogether.

Write Down Your Woes

“The number one sleep complaint I hear? ‘I can’t turn off my mind,'” – To quiet that wakeful worrying, every night jot down your top concerns—say, I have to call my insurer to dispute that denied claim, which will take forever, and how can I spend all that time on the phone when work is so busy? Then write down the steps you can take to solve the problem—I’m going to look up the numbers before breakfast, refuse to stay on hold for more than three minutes, and send e-mails tomorrow night if I can’t get through—or even I can’t do anything about this tonight, so I’ll worry about it tomorrow. Once your concerns are converted into some kind of action plan, you’ll rest easier. Are You Nice To You?

Take Time to Wind Down

“Sleep is not an on-off switch,”. “It’s more like slowly easing your foot off the gas.” Give your body time to transition from your active day to bedtime drowsiness by setting a timer for an hour before bed and divvying up the time as follows:

First 20 minutes: Prep for tomorrow (pack your bag, set out your clothes).

Next 20: Take care of personal hygiene (brush your teeth, moisturize your face).

Last 20: Relax in bed, reading with a small, low-wattage book light or practicing deep breathing.

Sip Milk, Not a Martini

A few hours after drinking, alcohol levels in your blood start to drop, which signals your body to wake up. It takes an average person about an hour to metabolize one drink, so if you have two glasses of wine with dinner, finish your last sip at least 2 hours before bed.

Snack on Cheese and Crackers

The ideal nighttime nosh combines carbohydrates and either calcium or a protein that contains the amino acid tryptophan—studies show that both of these combos boost serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical that helps you feel calm. Enjoy your snack about an hour before bedtime so that the amino acids have time to reach your brain.

Some good choices:

  • One piece of whole grain toast with a slice of low-fat cheese or turkey
  • A banana with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
  • Whole grain cereal and fat-free milk
  • Fruit and low-fat yogurt
Listen to a Bedtime Story

Load a familiar audiobook on your iPod—one that you know well, so it doesn’t engage you but distracts your attention until you drift off to sleep. Relaxing music works well, too.

Stay Cool…

Experts usually recommend setting your bedroom thermostat between 65° and 75°F—a good guideline, but pay attention to how you actually feel under the covers. Slipping between cool sheets helps trigger a drop in your body temperature. That shift signals the body to produce melatonin, which induces sleep. That’s why it’s also a good idea to take a warm bath or hot shower before going to bed: Both temporarily raise your body temperature, after which it gradually lowers in the cooler air, cueing your body to feel sleepy. But for optimal rest, once you’ve settled in to bed, you shouldn’t feel cold or hot—but just right.

…Especially if You’re Menopausal

During menopause, 75 percent of women suffer from hot flashes, and just over 20% have night sweats or hot flashes that trouble their sleep. Consider turning on a fan or the AC to cool and circulate the air. Just go low gradually: Your body loses some ability to regulate its temperature during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, so overchilling your environment—down to 60°F, for instance—will backfire.

Spray a Sleep-Inducing Scent

Certain smells, such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang, activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain, which leads to relaxation and helps you sleep more soundly. Mix a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle and give your pillowcase a spritz.

Turn on the White Noise

Sound machines designed to help you sleep produce a low-level soothing noise. These can help you tune out barking dogs, the TV downstairs, or any other disturbances so you can fall asleep and stay asleep.

Eliminate Sneaky Light Sources

“Light is a powerful signal to your brain to be awake:. Even the glow from your laptop, iPad, smart phone, or any other electronics on your nightstand may pass through your closed eyelids and retinas into your hypothalamus—the part of your brain that controls sleep. This delays your brain’s release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Thus, the darker your room is, the more soundly you’ll sleep.

Consider Kicking Out Furry Bedmates

Cats can be active in the late-night and early morning hours, and dogs may scratch, sniff, and snore you awake. More than half of people who sleep with their pets say the animals disturb their slumber, according to a survey from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. 

Check Your Pillow Position

The perfect prop for your head will keep your spine and neck in a straight line to avoid tension or cramps that can prevent you from falling asleep. Ask your spouse to check the alignment of your head and neck when you’re in your starting sleep position. If your neck is flexed back or raised, get a pillow that lets you sleep in a better-aligned position. And if you’re a stomach sleeper, consider using either no pillow or a very flat one to help keep your neck and spine straight. 

Breathe Deeply

This technique helps reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, releases endorphins, and relaxes your body, priming you for sleep. Inhale for 5 seconds, pause for 3, then exhale to a count of 5. Start with 8 repetitions; gradually increase to 15. To see if you’re doing it right, buy a bottle of children’s bubbles, breathe in through your belly, and blow through the wand. The smooth and steady breath that you use to blow a bubble successfully should be what you strive for when you’re trying to get to sleep.

Stay Put If You Wake Up

“The textbook advice is that if you can’t fall back asleep in fifteen minutes, get out of bed,”  “But I ask my patients, ‘How do you feel in bed?’ If they’re not fretting or anxious, I tell them to stay there, in the dark, and do some deep breathing or visualization.” But if lying in bed pushes your stress buttons, get up and do something quiet and relaxing (in dim light), such as gentle yoga or massaging your feet until you feel sleepy again.