The Exact Time You Should Go To Bed

By Melissa Walker at Yahoo Health

While everyone's sleep needs are a little bit different, there is a simple trick to help you figure out your perfect bedtime. 

Blackout blinds, white-noise machines, prescription medication - we'll try a lot of tricks to get a full night's sleep. Studies show that sleep is critical for our moods, our minds, and our overall health, and we just plain feel better after a good rest. But how do we know if we've gotten that ever-elusive "right amount" of sleep? It turns out that there's a science to doing it well.

"There is absolutely a right time to go to bed," says Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist and author ofGood Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. That right time is unique to each individual Breus tells Yahoo Health, but there's a formula that will help you figure out your own magic hour.

"The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, and the average human has five of those sleep cycles per night," explains Breus. That means we all need around 7.5 hours of shuteye - he says the 8-hour advice touted everywhere is a myth. (While 7.5 is a good center gauge for most people, everyone's sleep needs are slightly different, with some people needing more or less sleep than others.) 

So how to get your 7.5 in? "Work backward from your wake-up time," says Breus. "That's socially determined by when you have to get up to get to work, get the kids ready, all those external factors." So if you have to get up by 6:30 a.m., count back 7.5 hours and recognize that your bedtime should be 11 p.m.

"Follow that bedtime for 10 days in a row," says Breus, "and you'll begin, quite naturally, to wake up a few minutes before your alarm clock sounds." It's key, he stresses, to be consistent - that's how the human circadian system functions best. "Sleeping in on the weekends causes your system to shift and makes you want to go to bed later and wake up later," he says. That's one reason why Monday mornings can feel so difficult - Breus calls that bedraggled feeling "social jet lag."

But what about people who say they can't fall asleep at 11 p.m., for example? "It's all about the wake-up time," insists Breus. "I don't care if you can't fall asleep at 11 p.m. initially. If you are consistent about getting up at 6:30 a.m. every morning, your body will adjust."

Here are three easy things you can do to improve your zzs: 

1. Set a nighttime alarm. If you have to go to bed at 11 p.m., set your alarm for 10:30 p.m. and it'll remind you to get ready for bed so you'll meet your nocturnal deadline. If you're consistent about waking time, a morning alarm will become unnecessary, says Breus.

2. If you work with a computer all day, try f.lux. It's a program that makes the brightness of your screen adapt to the time - warm at night, and brighter, like sun, during the day. It's especially great for late-night work, because if you check your computer at midnight, you don't want to be looking at a bright screen. (You can use the app for your phone too.)

3. As soon as possible after you wake up, get into the sunshine. Whether that means reading the newspaper out on the patio or standing by a window as you sip your coffee for 15 minutes, soaking up a bit of sunshine will reset your circadian clock and help your body's natural sleeping-waking rhythm.

Can a Common Spice Treat Depression?

by Donald McGee

If you find yourself grappling with depression, you are—for better or worse—not alone. However, if you do suffer from depression, you do feel alone.

Healthline reports that, as of 2012, diagnoses of depression are growing at an alarming rate and, as if depression alone weren’t enough, states that report high rates of depression also report accompanying physical manifestations of stress with greater obesity rates and incidences of heart disease.

Perhaps you have tried talking with a therapist or counselor, which is an effective way to tackle this often desperation-inducing condition, but it often works even better when you treat the chemical side of the issue. Doctors often prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) such as Fluoxentine, Sertraline and Citalopram, and they are often effective but they sometimes come with side effects that may complicate treatment, at the very least.

Another option you might consider is looking into natural treatments for depression. You might even ask your physician or psychiatric professional what experience and information they have regarding natural approaches to treating depression.

Some of the most common treatments include St. John’s Wort, 5HTP, SAMe, L-Theanine, Vitamin D3, B-vitamins and Fish Oil.

Treatment with Turmeric

Lurking in your spice rack is a potentially powerful component of your depression treatment. Something as delightful and delectable as turmeric that adds the beautiful yellow color to your curry dishes and mustard can actually become an integral part of your wellness. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for a wide range of conditions, illnesses and disorders for more than 4,000 years and in China from 700 A.D.

Curcumin and Neurogenesis

Curcumin, which is turmeric’s active ingredient, has been tested on animals and has shown effective improvement over depression in the animals.According to Dr. Weil, curcumin spurs nerve growth in the frontal cortex and hippocampal portions of the brain. One line of thinking attributes depression to damage to the hippocampal neurons, so anything that serves to repair that area might serve as the secret weapon against depression. Along with high impact exercise, bright light and learning, Curcumin has the potential to increase neurogenesis to decrease the negative effects of depression, if not the depression itself.

Curcumin and Turmeric Increase Serotonin and Dopamine in the Brain

Similar to the benefits of SSRIs, turmeric and curcumin increase serotonin levels, which help regulate sleep, learning, memory and mood. To a lesser degree, curcumin increases the level of dopamine in the brain, which controls emotional responses to situations and movement.

Turmeric On Its Own for Treating Depression?

While turmeric is effective in conjunction with SSRIs, it is not yet certain whether you could eschew your antidepressant prescription quite yet. Your doctor might have more information about the synergistic effects of taking turmeric or curcumin as a complement to your SSRI prescription or any other medication you might take to help with depression.