Adults and children alike are spending more time awake late at night to study, work, or have fun. All those late nights may be slowly killing us. More than 20 years of research shows us that sleep is vitally important to physical and mental health.
Most of what we know about sleep and health comes from studies of what happens to the mind and body when we don't sleep enough, or at all. In animal and human studies, living without sleep for even a few months resulted in death. Sleeping fewer than 8 hours a night on a regular basis is associated with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, depression, colds and flu, and obesity.
While We Are Sleeping…
Sleep affects brain chemistry and has an important role in the functioning of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. During sleep we develop and reinforce neural pathways involved in memory, learning, and emotion. New research suggests sleep helps flush toxins from the brain.
While we are sleeping, the body manufactures hormones that repair damage caused by stress and the environment in which we work and play. Growth hormone cleanses the liver, builds muscle, breaks down fat, and helps normalize blood sugar. We also produce hormones that help fight infections. If we aren’t getting sufficient sleep, we get sick more often and take longer to recover. Lack of sleep increases inflammation, which is has been linked to heart disease and stroke.
Skimping on shut-eye is linked with obesity in adults and children. Lack of sleep interferes with the levels of ghrelin and leptin, metabolic hormones that signal when you’re hungry and when you’re full.
The amount of sleep you need varies based on age, activity level, quality of sleep, and genetics (e.g., some of us really are night owls). Infants typically require 14-15 hours of sleep per 24-hour period; young children about 12 hours; teens about 9 hours, and most adults 7-9 hours. A general rule of thumb for determining your sleep requirement: If you do not wake feeling refreshed, you may not be getting enough sleep.
Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep
In the sack for sleep and sex only. If you don’t feel sleepy, leave the room and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy. Then, go back to bed.
Set a sleep schedule. This includes a soothing pre-sleep routine, such as a warm bath, reading or gentle yoga. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day. This entrains your body rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep. If you need a nap, get it in before 5:00 PM; limit to 20 minutes.
Surround yourself with cave-like ambiance. A sleeping space should be quiet, dark, and cool (between 60-72 degrees F). If you do shift-work, use blackout shades or an eye mask. Remove electronic devices, computers and TVs from your room. Research shows that use of digital devices within an hour of bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality.
Let the light in early and exercise regularly. Natural light helps regulate hormones that promote ideal sleep-wake patterns. Open the curtains as early as possible and get outdoors during the day. Also, exercise during the day or early evening makes it easier to fall asleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained.
Eat a Light, Last Meal of the Day. A light dinner eaten 2-3 hours before sleep is ideal. A full stomach interferes with sleep as the body works at digestion. Steer clear of spicy or fatty foods that can cause heartburn. If you need a bedtime snack, combine a carbohydrate and protein, such as almond butter on toast, Greek yogurt with sugar-free granola, or cheese and crackers. Avoid products containing caffeine, sugar or nicotine as their effects can last several hours.
It's that time of year when we are starting to think about holiday gifts! The weather is cooler and it's beautiful walking by twinkling lights in the city's trees on my way to the metro after work. I love this time of year and it's starting to feel festive around my home as well. I put up decorations over the weekend and have started to think about holiday shopping. Here in this blog post, I've put together a list of some of my favorite healthy gift ideas. Happy Holidays!
Thrive Market Membership - Thrive Market is on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. This online grocer offers all the non-GMO foods and healthy products you love at 25-50% below retail prices—all shipped right to your front door.
Organic Indoor Herb Garden Kit - This kit includes everything you need to grow basil, cilantro, chives and parsley from organic and non-GMO seeds.
Vitamix Blender - There are plenty of options for making healthy foods with a Vitamix. Think of chunky salsas, thick vegetable soups, green smoothies, and lots more.
Berkey Water Filter - I love my Berkey water filter. It's a staple in my kitchen and I use it for everything, including water for cooking and even for filling my little dog's water bowl. These water filters are top notch and last a long time too.
Laptop EMF Protecting Pad - Think of this as a safety block between your laptop and your body, designed to block RF, WiFi, and bluetooth. It helps to cool your laptop and reduce body's heat exposure.
Himalayan Salt Lamp - I was gifted one of these last year and I really enjoy mine. Each is handcrafted and unique. It has a soft light inside and emits negative ions that can purify the air and help relieve stress.
Gratitude Journal - You can keep a daily record of life's blessings with this journal. It's filled with a year's worth of insightful prompts and inspiring quotes.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses - These glasses can be used when looking at screens to help absorb blue light emitted from laptops, computers, iPads, and phones.
Glass Water Bottle - These glass bottles have a protective sleeve, which is great for taking water on-the-go. There's no leaching from plastics or metals and it has a wide-mouth so that it's easy to add ice cubes or a lemon slice. It's dishwasher safe as well.
Glass Meal Prep Storage Containers - These containers can be used to prepare healthy meals in advance or to store leftovers.
PlanetBox Lunch Box - This lunch box can be for kids and adults alike! It helps to make packing healthy lunches easy and fun. It's eco-friendly and also made of non-toxic and recycled materials - safe from lead, PVC, phthalates, and BPA. Kids may like that it comes with a set of magnets to decorate.
VitaClay Multicooker - This is a rice-cooker and slow-cooker. However, what sets it apart from other products is that it has an unglazed clay pot to intensify flavor. It also does not have any aluminum, lead or a chemical coating, which can be found in other slow cookers.
Book by Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth - This book is enlightening and uplifting. It's also one of my favorites, as well as Oprah's. It has inspired millions to discover the freedom and joy of a life lived “in the now.”
... and here's a gift idea for our furry friends:
Organic Cotton Pet Collar - This collar uses organic cotton and is hand-crafted in California. Take a look at the sizing guide - for dogs and cats!
Oven roasted turkey, corn bread stuffing, green bean casserole, and sweet potato pie. November is a very delicious time of year. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a lot of holiday parties to look forward to, it can be easy to gain weight this time of year. Not to mention that most of our holiday comfort food is full of extra fats, sugars, salts and food allergens that we tend to crave. Below are 5 tricks, plus a bonus tip, to get your holiday fix without the holiday pounds that go along with it.
1. Keep It Small. When facing a feast, banquet, or buffet table, choose the smallest plate size possible. This will keep your portion sizes smaller. Scan the table for fruits and veggies first, the raw kind without added sugars, fats, and other ingredients. Try a large helping of these healthier foods. Then scan for your lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, or fish. With the room you have left, indulge in a small portion of one or two of your favorite go-weak-in-the-knees dishes. Try eating these last so that you get to savor the flavor after your appetite has been mostly satiated.
Each day, Americans toss out enough food to fill the Rose Bowl stadium! As much as 40% of edible food in the United States goes uneaten. That’s a drain on your wallet of between $28-$43 a month.
All that uneaten, but perfectly good food doesn’t just lay waste to your budget, it rots in landfills and pollutes the planet. While your virtual self is looking for spare change in that mountain of food trash, we’ve got good news: With a little mindfulness, there are easy ways to reduce your food-print and put money back in your pocket!
Net-Zero Your Fridge. Before you restock, make sure it’s emptied of all edible food. If you really must stick to a shopping schedule, try freezing, canning or preserving foods.
Befriend Your Freezer. Most frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. Freeze leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad.
FIFO Your Meals. Plan and cook meals using the “First In, First Out” rule. Place the most recently bought items toward the back so older items, in the front, are used first.
Love Leftovers. Look for recipes that will help you get creative with using leftovers.
Shop Smarter. Plan your shopping and avoid impulse buys. If you have no idea how much food your family wastes in a month, do what restaurants do to manage profit and loss: keep a log of what you buy and what you throw away.
There's no doubt about it: what we eat, and how much we eat, has a direct impact on our physical health. But did you know that those same choices also influence mood, mental alertness, memory, and emotional well being? Food can act as medicine, have a neutral effect, or it can be a poison to the body and mind.
When food acts as poison, it creates inflammation, which alters the body's balance of nutrients, hormones, and neurotransmitters. This directly affects your body's ability to manage and heal from stress or illness.
While some body-mind effects are due to naturally occurring nutrient content in food, much is due to hidden additives. Below, are four common culprits. If you're experiencing symptoms that interfere with your quality of living, you can talk with a naturopathic doctor about the role these or other foods may play in your health.
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