Is it OK to listen to TV, music or tapes while falling asleep?
I have been using books on tape or CDs to help me fall asleep for years. The only problem I've found is that the book has to have just the right level of stimulation - not so difficult that I have to work to follow the thread, but not so exciting that it keeps me awake.
Sonia Ancoli-Israel, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, said that "falling asleep to a tape or the TV is not a bad thing if it helps you relax and fall asleep. The only time it becomes a problem is if, later in the night, you wake up from the noise of the TV or tape clicking off. The key is to do whatever you find relaxing."
Dr. Lawrence Epstein, re gional medical director of the Sleep HealthCenters in Newton, Mass. disagreed, saying such habits could make it more difficult to fall asleep. Instead, he said, you should teach yourself to quiet down as bedtime approaches, go through the rituals - brush your teeth, get into your paja mas - and "Then, go to bed and turn off the lights."
If you get too dependent (as I probably am) on a book lulling you to sleep, you can end up like a child who is used to being rock ed to sleep, then can't get to sleep without it, he said.
The other thing I have no ticed is that I often incor porate bits of the stories I listen to into my dreams. The experts said this poses no problem. But it sure does make for some weird dreams.
What causes canker sores and what can you do about them?
Canker sores are extreme ly common and often pain ful, but rarely associated with serious disease, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Technically called "aphthous stomatitis," canker sores are little ulcers that occur inside the mouth on movable structures such as the tongue and lining of the cheeks and lips.
Nobody knows what causes them, though allergies to foods such as nuts or tomatoes, or a bacterium found in the mouth, may be triggers. Unlike fever blisters (cold sores), which occur in the gums or near the outside of the mouth and are caused by the herpes simplex virus, canker sores are not triggered by viruses or bacteria.
They can be caused by dental procedures or other irritation in the mouth or by stress. In women, they may occur at certain phases of the menstrual cycle.
"Although some people worry that canker sores may be a sign of oral cancer, true canker sores are not linked to cancer," said Dr. Donna Mager, a dentist at the Forsyth Institute in Boston.
Canker sores usually heal within about two weeks. But if you have a mouth sore that doesn't heal, you should see a dentist, because it may not be a canker sore but a look-alike problem associated Crohn's disease, celiac disease or even oral cancer, said Dr. Timothy F. Meiller, a professor at the University of Maryland Dental School.
To relieve the pain of canker sores, the American Academy of Family Physi cians suggests ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You can also try topical, over-the-counter remedies such as Anbesol, Orajel or Ora base. For really stubborn canker sores, prescription steroids may be required.
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