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How Sleep Can Revitalize Your Body and Mind

Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com has done it again with another informative article!  Check it out here.

sleep

Image courtesy of Pixabay

When we lose out on restful sleep, our bodies tend to age before their time. If you’re tired or feeling run down and a bit haggard, it might be due to lack of proper rest. After all, nothing replenishes us the way a good night’s slumber does.

 

Why Sleep Keeps Us Youthful

How do you feel after a night of no sleep? Is your thinking slowed and your energy nonexistent, and do you notice new lines beneath your eyes? If so, you’re not alone, as poor sleep can make us feel and look older than we are. Our cortisol levels shoot up, our brains can’t properly restore themselves, and we look as haggard as we feel. Your mind and body both need this time to reset themselves and flush out toxins, which helps us stay healthy and energetic. Unfortunately, trying to force ourselves to slumber through sheer will alone seldom works. Instead, we need to be proactive about our patterns to change our sleep habits.

 

Transform Your Bedroom

If your room is uncomfortable, stressful, or too stimulating, you may not be sleeping as well as you could. If you have a television where you can watch from bed, a lumpy mattress, or curtains that let in every stream of light, then it’s definitely time for a change. Have good bedding, including both linens and your mattress, and add blackout curtains to extend your rests. Every change adds up, so transform your bedroom into a paradise today.

 

Best Sleep Position

Sleeping on your back is the best way to avoid the development of premature wrinkles, but there are options for side sleepers to overcome this problem. Adding a body pillow to take some of your weight, or using a silk pillowcase, can greatly cut down the strain your skin experiences at night. Supplements, meanwhile, can provide vitamins and collagen that our skin needs to stay youthful, which allows us to continue side sleeping without fear. Even a good moisturizer can go a long way to helping your skin fill in lines created from the pull of a pillow.

 

Banishing Tech

Many of us use smartphones into the late hours, but that can deprive us of restful sleep. The light from our phones and tablets signals to our brains that it is daytime, and thereby prevents us from beginning the sleep process. It can be hard to put your phone down at a certain time each night, as tech addiction is very real in today’s society, but we must learn how. Start by removing notifications from your phone, taking off tempting apps and cutting back in increments. All in all, do what you can to eliminate your tech usage before bed.

 

Eat for Good Rest

What we eat can impact the quality of our rest. When we eat poorly or consume foods that cause indigestion, our sleep is interrupted, and we may wake throughout the night. Even drinking coffee in the afternoon can negatively influence how well we slumber. To give yourself the boost you need, reach for healthy carbs over empty ones, and don’t overeat before bed. Cherries, milk, and poultry are also good options to ease you into a refreshingly restful night.

 

Keep a Routine

When you go to bed at different hours, and when you wake up irregularly too, you’re setting your body up for failure. It has no ability to learn when it should get sleepy or when it will awaken. That’s why setting a nighttime routine and sticking to it even when you don’t work the next day is beneficial. By teaching your body to rest at a specific hour, you give yourself a higher possibility of falling asleep when you lie down.

 

To keep your complexion flawless and to have more energy during the day, get the sleep your body craves. It may take some training, and you may need to rearrange your bedroom, but you can get more rest. Each and every one of us deserves a good night of slumber.

 

Lose Weight Through Wellness

Photo via Pixabay

Here’s another informative article by Sheila Olson
just in time for the new year!  fitsheila.com

Drastic diets and torturous exercise classes don’t work for long-term weight loss, and these days, we know why. In part, this is because depriving ourselves of things we love is not healthy or sustainable. Instead, we should all try to approach weight loss through wellness-focusedactions and self-care. Here’s how to do that.

Exercise

The best kind of exercise is the one you actually do. This means that finding an exercise routine that’s both fun and convenient is crucial for long-term weight loss.

A home gym can be a great way to do this -check out this guide by HomeAdvisor to figure out the best exercise equipment for you and where to place it. If exercise is enjoyable and accessible, you have no excuse to avoid it. If you do still find yourself skipping workouts, try asking yourself these questions to find out why.

Sleep

Sleep is what allows your mind and body to relax, refresh, and prepare for a new day. What few people know is that a lack of good sleep can also lead to weight gain by messing with your hormones and stress levels.

Set up a nightly “good sleep” routine. It should be soothing and relaxing, making your body and mind feel ready for rest. You should also avoid digital screens in the hours leading up to your bedtime, as these may be negatively impacting your sleep.

Food

Weight loss happens in the kitchen, not the gym. Ourbodies aren’t that effective at burning off calories we consume, so it’s unrealistic to expect exercise to do all the work when our diet remains unchanged.

However, we also need to remember that food is wonderful and useful. It is not the enemy. We have learned to classify certain foods as “good” or “bad,” but this creates an unhealthy relationship with nutrition. This article by Well and Good has some great tips for getting rid of this mindset and finding balance in our diets.

Many of us tend to forget the importance of health, both physical and mental, when trying to lose weight. By focusing onhealthy habits rather than the numbers on a scale, we shift our attention to our internal well-being rather than external appearance. In the proces, weight loss becomes a consequence of a healthy lifestyle rather than the driving reason for having one.

How To Keep Cool At Night

The one part about summer which I never miss is the endless string of hot nights which keep me tossing and turning. In an effort to keep the ambient temperature as comfortable as possible while I slumber, I have tried many different methods to cool down, and some still do the trick quite nicely. Thankfully, the mercury should start dropping soon, and the blazing hot nights will abate.

Here’s what has worked nicely for me in my quest for a cool sleeping environment:

1. Central A/C is always set for a certain temperature. We have it set at 77 degrees because at 78 degrees or higher, the entire household (there are four of us) bakes like incubating baby chicks.

2. The ceiling fan in my bedroom is always on. There’s nothing I can do about the fan placement, and often lament the fact that the fan is positioned over the foot of my bed instead of over my head, but the bedroom is huge. If I owned the place I live in, I would install three ceiling fans in line so that I could stay cool in bed, sitting in front of the television, or sitting at my desk on the other side of the room.

3. I have two sleek tabletop fans on my nightstands which are wonderful on hot nights. They have a slim profile, and are relatively quiet.

4. I always use 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, which have more of a tendency to stay cool than sheets which are a lower thread count or made of synthetic materials.

5. I have a cooling mattress pad on my mattress. The brand I have, PureCare Frio 11 Inch Cooling Mattress Protector, is acceptable but not great.

Frio Cooling Mattress Pad

Several other bloggers have recommended the Slumber Cloud Nacreous Mattress Pad which is available at slumbercloud.com, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it does a better job of cooling than the Frio.

6. When I was dealing with the worst of my perimenopausal nights sweats, I would place an ice cold gel pack between my shoulder blades and sleep on my back so that I could maximize the surface area which came into contact with the pack. After two summers of using gel packs on a nightly basis, I am thrilled that I haven’t had to resort to such craziness this summer.

7. On the hottest summer nights, I will take a tepid shower before retiring. The shower ritual cools core body temperature and primes the body for more restful sleep.

8. I will often kick a foot or an entire leg out from under the covers to cool down. This has been scientifically proven to decrease core body temperature. Some researchers even recommend that people sleep with their feet completely unencumbered by socks or bedding.

What did NOT work for me was a bed fan. I had seen the BedJet Climate Comfort Cooling Fan and was intrigued by it, but the steep price ($300 and up) caused me to lose interest quickly. When I learned that there was a Brookstone version of the bed fan, and that it was $99, I quickly purchased it, only to be so disappointed by the performance that I returned it. Even with the lightweight sheets I have on the bed and a simple coverlet (no blanket, no heavy comforter), and with the fan cranked up to the maximum setting, the device spewed out just enough air power to keep the toes of one foot cool.

I am intrigued by the Breezy Buddy fan-cooled pillow and wish I had known about this product when I was in the throes of hormonal night sweats. However, I no longer need such a device.

If you are looking for ways to cool down your bedroom, you might want to try a few of the suggestions I have discussed here. Here’s to a restful and cool night’s sleep!

Tired Body, Active Brain

Improve-Your-Sleep-806x393

Original post can be found at:

http://xactmind.com/xc/articles/tired-body-active-brain/

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Where Is The Off Switch?

Have you ever been so wound up with thoughts or concerns that your brain refused to allow you to fall into blissful sleep? As long as your emotions are influenced by excessive amounts of stress, the pressure will continue to spark anxiety which will continue to rob you of sleep, even if your body is completely wiped out. A vicious cycle of insomnia not only prevents the body from getting the restorative sleep it needs, it can contribute to depression or panic disorder.

People are so busy these days that it can be a challenge to check off everything on to-do lists, so it is rather common to see folks working right up until bedtime. However, if you are having problems turning off your thoughts at night, you must break this habit and allow yourself to calm your mind in preparation for sleep. That means you need to avoid activities like housework, checking emails, paying bills, or any other activity which keeps your mind active, for at least an hour before your usual bedtime.

Anxiety and Sleep

What fuels the mind and makes it work overtime in the majority of cases is anxiety. The bed is supposed to be a place for sleep, yet many individuals lie in bed with thoughts spilling over, and are unable to get the thoughts to cease because they provoke anxiety. The chances of solving any problems while trying to fall asleep are slim, so the constant worrying only serves to interrupt much-needed sleep. Honestly, how often have you been able to solve an issue you were worried about, after you crawled in bed? Your mind will be better equipped to solve any issues which plague you if you shut off your thoughts and allow the restorative benefits of sleep to take over.

Go To Paradise

Try redirecting your thoughts by practicing guided imagery. While lying in bed, close your eyes and imagine a beautiful place, such as a tropical paradise. Breathe slowly and evenly, while imagining hearing the waves crash on the beach, and feeling the sand and the warmth of the sun. You can even play ambient sounds of the ocean to help you visualize the scene. This relaxation technique can be extremely effective in not only shutting off the endless chatter in your brain, but also in getting you to fall asleep.

If you are concerned that ideas or concerns will pop into your head in the middle of the night, keep a notebook and a pen next to your bed. Once you write something down, put the notebook away and let it go. Remember that it really can wait until tomorrow.

Melatonin

Originally published on RxGirl on Thursday, 19 June 2014

http://www.rxmuscle.com/rx-girl-articles/11102-melatonin.html
Sleep-girl
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain which regulates the wake-sleep cycle. Production is turned on later in the evening when lights are turned off for bedtime. However, there are a number of poor habits which people commonly engage in which interfere with the body’s production of melatonin, with harmful results such as impaired immune response, increased rate of cellular aging, and increasing the risk of cancer formation.

Basically, those late nights you spend watching TV or reading are interfering with optimal health. As soon as a light is turned on at night, you send a signal to your brain that it is daytime. Production of melatonin ceases and does not resume when you turn the light off either.

Shorter wavelengths (red, orange, yellow) of light are less detrimental than white or blue light and should be used in the evening. I love the salt lamp I have in my bedroom and try to use that light as my sole illumination in the bedroom as much as possible at night.

Why is it so important to preserve the body’s natural production of melatonin? Because melatonin is a potent antioxidant and excellent for reducing inflammation throughout the body, including the brain.

Implement the following guidelines to optimize the body’s production of melatonin:

1. Try to get daily bright sun exposure. Production of melatonin approximates the contrast between bright sun exposure during the day and complete darkness in the evening.

SuprachiasmaticNucleus

2. Turn off your computer and TV at least one hour before going to bed. Both computers and televisions emit blue light which interferes with the body’s normal production of melatonin.

3. Sleep without any lights on. The darker your room is while you sleep, the better chance you have of allowing your body to produce melatonin without interruption.

4. Drop the thermostat to 60 to 70 degrees.

If you think your melatonin levels are low or you have lab work demonstrating low melatonin, and you also suffer from insomnia, you might want to supplement with melatonin tablets. Beware of the dosage, and keep it at 0.5 to 3 milligrams maximum dosage each night. At higher doses, melatonin can have hypnotic effects on some individuals, and on others, a paradoxical hyperaware state may manifest.

On a personal note, I had lab work early this year which demonstrated low melatonin, but I wasn’t suffering from insomnia. A colleague insisted I supplement with 3 milligrams of melatonin per night, which resulted in anxiety and a completely sleepless night for all of the nights I took melatonin.

Another caution: If you are trying to get pregnant, you must avoid taking melatonin supplements because they interfere with fertility.

Replace That Mattress

mattress
The Better Sleep Council states that mattresses should be replaced every 5 to 7 years, and that the springs in most mattresses will lose their function in that span of time. What is interesting, though, is that other tests on mattresses which are conducted by independent companies have found that many mattresses hold up 8, 9 even 10 years after purchase. So what is the rule of thumb with mattress replacement?

The main factor in determining when to replace a mattress is sleep quality. Since we spend (or should spend) one-third of our lives sleeping, it is imperative to have a mattress which imparts comfortable sleep. So if you have a mattress which is 5 or more years old, you might want to assess whether the quality of your sleep has diminished recently, if you awaken with back pain, or if you are tossing and turning to get comfortable in bed.

My personal story is that I have been sleeping on the same mattress for almost 9 years now, and though it has a 3 inch pillowtop and used to feel like a cloud, I am noticing that I cannot find a comfortable spot on my mattress. As a result, I have decided to ring in the new year with a new mattress, provided I can scrape up the money to buy one. The other tricky thing will be to find one which I love, and which I can afford. Some mattresses go for several thousand dollars, which is far beyond what I can even hope to afford.

Keep in mind that many mattress stores have no interest financing so that you can make your purchase without paying anything for months on end. It may be time to schedule a visit with your spouse or significant other to a mattress store to find a mattress which will improve the quality of your slumber.