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Seasonal Affective Disorder – Understand The Cause And Cure The Symptoms Naturally
SAD, also known as “seasonal affective disorder,” is systemic in nature, and this condition can affect 5-25% of the US population.
Symptoms can range from a relatively mild form of the subtype, which affects more people and is commonly known as the “winter blues”, to clinical depression of the “I can’t getting out of bed” which affects a smaller portion of the population. However, both disappear as soon as daylight hours begin to increase in the spring. SAD appears to affect more women, 70-80% of all sufferers, for unknown reasons, than men or children. Symptoms in men, however, can be more severe.
The whole phenomenon of seasonal affective disorder has not always been recognized as a medical condition. The term was first recognized and appeared in 1985. Onset of the disease can usually begin as early as late summer or early fall and can last until mid to late spring. About 6-7% of the population, or more than 10 million, report experiencing the extreme symptoms of SAD, such as clinical depression, cravings and overeating for refined carbohydrates, excessive sleep, increased sensitivity to pain, social withdrawal, significant weight gain (such as up to 40 pounds per season), lack of motivation, loss of interest in things or people one normally enjoys, or perverse sadness.
Regardless of your gender or age, however, the first step to finding the root cause of the problem that may be causing your winter woes is to recognize any variation in symptoms you may be experiencing. The milder symptoms are, for the most part, a bit reduced compared to some of those mentioned above, and maybe even a few others not mentioned here. In the end, you simply don’t have to dread the shorter days and longer nights each fall and winter season. You can become proactive in reversing your symptoms once you begin to understand how.
The root cause of SAD, which you may or may not be aware of, has a relatively natural and simple treatment. Direct skin contact and eye exposure to sunlight is the curative response. Unfiltered sunlight is the only way to directly benefit from this, as sunlight filtered through glass will provide very little, if any, noticeable benefit.
Symptoms of depression that coincide with shorter daylight hours can certainly be a problem for many people living in the northern hemisphere. And, the farther you live from the equator, the less time your body has in the sun to produce large amounts of vitamin D through your skin. In the regions of the far north, the duration of exposure to the sun is rather short, at only 3 to 4 months per year.
For those of you who live further north and are feeling sluggish, you are most likely experiencing your body’s inability to properly regulate the hormone melatonin. The hormone melatonin is produced by the pineal gland. Basically, this hormone is produced during darkness to help induce drowsiness, allowing you to sleep.
On the other hand, exposing yourself to more unfiltered sunlight during the day helps regulate an alertness hormone called serotonin. When an adequate amount of this natural chemical neurotransmitter is produced, it promotes feelings of alertness and optimal emotional well-being.
A helpful tip worth mentioning here, this light needs to pass through your eyes as well as your skin. When you’re outside on a sunny day, pull out the contacts, put your glasses aside and, for heaven’s sake, take those stylish sunglasses off for a little while. Even if you can’t see very well without your prescription glasses, give yourself at least 30 minutes, or more if you can, to help your body regulate its levels of serotonin production.
Vitamin D, which is more accurately described as a hormone, is made through your skin upon contact of bare skin with ultraviolet rays from the sun. This has also been found to dramatically increase serotonin levels in the brain.
So what if exposing yourself to more sun is next to impossible because of where you live or what you do for a living?
There are several different strategies you can use to better control the symptoms of this temporary negative seasonal condition in a natural way. These helpful tips can really make antidepressants unnecessary.
Overall, the main technique has already been mentioned. Even on a mild, sunny winter’s day, get rid of your clothes when you get the chance and expose as much skin as you comfortably can. Tanning beds are another option, however, be careful not to overdo it. Investing in a bright light box, which you can build yourself if you’re a good DIYer, works for many. Turn any room in your home into a bright one by installing the right light fixtures and getting the necessary special light bulbs.
In combination with light therapy, you can also use daily dietary nutritional measures and lifestyle changes to ensure you are exercising enough and maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. Here is a helpful list of tips diet and lifestyle tips to try.
1. Avoid eating too many refined carbs (eating too much can actually make you feel worse).
2. You can try having your vitamin D levels checked occasionally. Talk to your doctor.
3. Take a high-quality omega-3 fish oil supplement
4. Try supplementing with a vitamin D-3 tablet (as cholecalciferol).
5.Get plenty of adequate physical exercise. Walking for 30 minutes a day or more is very beneficial in fighting depression.
Prior to all of these measures, please consider the implications of being chronically dehydrated. Are you guilty of not providing your body with sufficient pure water intake? Prefer to drink something other than water? When you don’t supply yourself with enough of your body’s favorite drink, it will rob you of your true energy.
In Dr. Batmanghelidj MD’s self-help medical manual titled “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water”, page 56 has this to say about stress and depression. “The pathology that is perceived to be associated with ‘stresses’ – fear, anxiety, insecurity, persistent emotional and marital problems – and the onset of depression are the results of water deficiency to the point that the need for water of the brain tissue is The brain uses electrical energy which is generated by the entrainment of water from the energy-generating pumps.With dehydration, the level of energy generation in the brain is diminished”.
You can consider increasing your water intake to be energizing in itself. Simple water is the perfect fluid solvent to carry all your nutritional supplements with, making the most of their potential and maximum benefits. After all, wasn’t that why you invested your time, knowledge, and money to begin with?
May this helpful information sustain you until the warmth of spring and summer arrives in your neighborhood. At that time, step outside and expose your skin and eyes to this wonderfully healthy, bright, white sunlight for vitality, all season long!
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