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Woman up at night

What Makes One A Morning Person Vs. A Night Person

Night people never get respect. Day people are productive. Night people are lazy. Day people have jobs and families and drive nice cars. Night people live with their parents. Day people eat well and see the doctor regularly. Night people miss the breakfast special and sleep through doctor’s appointments. If you are a night person and feel you have been judged unfairly, take heart. There are plenty of great night people out there who have done very well for themselves, and are now even living on their own! However, if you are wondering what you might have done to become the heathen that you are, here is some valuable insight.

Sleep Patterns
Each person has their own cicadian rhythm. Katherine Sharkey, MD, PhD, at Brown University says, ” The human clock is about 24 hours, thanks to earth’s 24- hour light-dark cycle. But some people have a slightly longer natural cycle and some are slightly shorter.” Those with a longer circadian rhythm tend to be night owls, while shorter circadian rhythms are more common in early risers. However, your circadian rhythm is not necessarily set for life. While school -age children tend to get up early, teenagers favor the night. Adults, on the other hand, usually transition back into being morning people.

Night Owls Vs. Morning People
Aside from having to hold down a day job, there are other problems a night person may encounter, According to Sharkey, “night owls tend to be more depressed, have a higher dependence on caffeine, and use alcohol more.” However, a recent study in Belgium found that night people are able to maintain more focus as the day goes on than their early rising counterparts. Of course, morning people get points for other reasons. “Larks generally sleep better, have more regular sleep patterns and have more flexible personalities,” explains Sharkey. A study from the university of Toronto shows that they also feel happier and healthier than late risers.

Different Brains
Researchers at Germany’s Aschen University found structural differences between people with different sleep tendencies. They found that night owls had a diminished integrity of white matter in the brain; white matter being the fatty tissue responsible for communication of nerve cells. Reduced white matter has been known to lead to depression and disruption of cognitive function. Other research has uncovered an “alarm clock” gene that starts the biological clock in the body after its nightly sleep and other studies using twins have shown genetic links to aspects of sleep.

What Can We Do?
If studies show that our likelihood of being a day or night person is genetic or biological, is there any hope of change for the wayward night owl? Studies show that limiting nocturnal exposure to light and increasing exposure to sunlight can help to modify sleep-wake patterns. It is also a good idea to be mindful about the consumption of alcohol before you sleep and to try and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Also, make sure you are sleeping in a dark room free of electronic gadgets for a peaceful rest.

If you are a night person, let us know how you feel! Does society need to become more flexible or do you need to start waking up earlier? Let us know what you think!

Woman de-cluttering

The Calm That Comes When You De-Clutter

When Madonna proclaimed herself “A Material Girl” in the 1984 song of the same name, she was surely not the first or last to claim a preference for excess. Men and women alike have been singing the praises of material possessions since time immemorial. In 1953, Marilyn Monroe paid tribute to jewelry with her performance of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” and, Little Wayne paid his salute to the Benjamins in his 2006 rap single “Make It Rain.”

However, despite the fact that the sentiment, “More is better” is often held as true, sometimes too much can be too much. Clutter is not only a symptom of stress, it can also be a cause of stress. If you are finding yourself getting lost in excess, here is some expert advice.

Why De-Clutter?
According to Peggy Caruso, life coach organization is the key to a less stressful life. However, the New York Times reports that those who suffer from depression, emotional trauma and chronic pain can find cleaning to be a daunting and almost impossible task. If you’re having an especially difficult time attacking the clutter in their home, Caruso suggests starting from the inside.

Steps To An Uncluttered You

1. Clear Your Mind
Because clutter is directly associated with high stress, Caruso suggests that a calm mind is the first step toward an organized home. The coach advises morning meditation as a way to focus your energy and keep you from procrastination.

2.Write Down Your Thoughts
A daily journal will help you to prioritize what needs to be done without distractions.

3.Cut Down On Social Media
Cyber clutter can exist! Negative feeds from people can crowd your life with unnecessary upset. Caruso advises removing the bad blood from your social media to keep energy positive.

4.Be Grateful
If you are thankful for what you already have, you will be less likely to want more. Keep down clutter by taking a moment each day to count your blessings; it will also help you forget your problems and get through the day more easily.

5.Make Appointments
While your making appointments for work, take some time to schedule one for yourself. You don’t necessarily have to make one to clean, set some time aside to do something you enjoy, like reading or taking a walk. You owe yourself a little downtime.

6. Decide
Deciding what to hold on to and what to get rid of can be difficult. Caruso advises that you ask yourself three questions when determining the value of an item:

  • Would you want to save this item if there were a fire?
  • Does the item serve a purpose?
  • Does the item make you happy?
  • The answers to these should help you tackle your de-cluttering process.

7. The One Year Rule
s a general guideline, if you haven’t touched it in the last year, you’re not likely to in the next year either. Even if you like those ridiculous shoes that don’t fit, it might be time to get rid of them.

8. Enlist the Family
While you’re doing something good, make yourself and example. De-cluttering with kids can be a valuable lesson in saving and sharing and may make the task more fun for you as well.

Is de-cluttering on your list for the New Year? Let us know how you de-clutter? Provide us with your valuable knowledge!

Woman with 80s double-hair bun style

Bring Back These Old School Trends

Throwback Thursday. The day when everything old is new again. Everyone loves to see pictures of other people before we knew them, before they were cool, or just before they realized that their hairstyle was out of style- especially when the other people are celebrities. Instagrammers can see anything from snaps of Gigi Hadid blowing out candles on her Lakers themed 11th birthday cake, or Taylor Swift at 12 going through her “braids phase.”

Why is it that people love pictures from the past? Research from the University of Southampton found that nostalgia “fostered social connectedness, which subsequently lifted self-esteem, which then heightened optimism.” So with the aim of increasing positivity, let’s look at some old school trends from the past that we want to see again.

School Supplies

The Mead Trapper Keeper
What ever happened to the Trapper Keeper, that loose-leaf notebook with the velcro closures? It held all your class notes, plus had some really cool laminated covers, from Superheroes to unicorns.

Multipoint Pencils
Remember the multi’ point or “push” pencils with the miniature pencil point cartridges? When the lead ran out, you just put the cartridge in the back of the pencil and the next one would slide out of the front. Of course, if you lost one of the points, it became a little difficult to work the pencil.

Rubber Cement
Rubber cement was alleged to stick together anything from wood to constructions paper by dipping the brush (attached to the lid, so you couldn’t lose it.) and applying it to anything you wanted to attach to anything else. Of course, that often meant gluing your fingers together in the process or just letting the product dry up and sort of stick to itself.

Fashion

Drop Crotch Pants
It seems like every boy band in the 80’s were wearing parachute pants, made out of that silky fabric that whistled when you walked. Well, the drop crotch is back and droopier than ever, as you may have noticed on the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber, often topped with athletic shorts to complete the fashion statement.

Power Suits
Sharp shoulders, loose pants and a whole lot of swag. In the 1980’s Men and women, from the likes of Don Johnson to Bianca Jagger and Grace Jones effortlessly sported these. Now we can see the power suits resurgence on the everyone from Selena Gomez to the lovely Georgia Jagger.

Crop Tops
Madonna was bearing her midriff way back when she was still a virgin! (or like one.) She’s still doing it today, along with fellow celebs Rhianna and Taylor Swift.

Fast Food

Wendy’s Super Bar
Who doesn’t love unrestricted access to nacho cheese sauce? Maybe not the freshest of fare, but we still miss the chocolate pudding.

The Macdonald’s Pizza
How bad can a pizza be? If you’re one of those who will not eat a pizza that was not made by an Italian, don’t even try to find out. Good-bye, McPizza!

The McDLT
The “hot -side cool- side burger was the first to acknowledge that warm lettuce and tomatoes may not be the tastiest option. Jason Alexander (a.k.a. George Costanza) was in the commercial; unfortunately, not even he could make it stick.

When it comes to nostalgic items that should, or shouldn’t make a comeback, we know we haven’t even cracked the surface. What items do you think should or shouldn’t come back? Let us know!

Women jogging on the beach

Yes, Women Can Be Fit

“I’m not flawless. I have unattractive feet. unruly hair and oversized calves, but I push this body to its absolute limit and it has never let me down.” These are the words of Ironman Chrissie Wellington. Chrissie’s sport of choice is one which entails completing a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km bike ride and a full marathon, consecutively executed. Athletes staggering toward the finish line is not a rarity in this challenge. Wellington won the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2007, on her first attempt, easily outperforming many top male athletes. Talk about endurance.

Although women may never be a physically powerful as men in general, recent studies show that women can exercise at the same intensity as men for a longer time. Read on for what these studies show and what this means for ladies.

Why is This Important?
Knowing the differences between the way women and men perform may be helpful in determining which sports are best for each gender. A new paper published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” journal reports that most studies on performance and activity are only done on men. However, the few that do involve women have shown that routines designed for men may not be well suited to women.

Men and Women Are Different
Sandra Hunter, PhD, associate professor of exercise science at Marquette University says, “The bottom line of training or rehab is that you have to fatigue a muscle in order to increase its strength. So if men and women fatigue differently, they should be treated differently.”

Research that women have more strength in their legs after cycling or running for a long time than men. Ladies can also hold isometric contractions (flexing a muscle, making a fist)for longer periods of time at maximum strength as their male counterparts. “We perform these types of subtle contractions all day long,” says Hunter. “They’re important for holding us up, for example, while we’re standing or sitting upright.”

Another reason for women’s increased endurance has to do with their metabolism. Women’s bodies burn fewer carbohydrates and more fat than men, which, as Hunter says, “sets them up to perform potentially for longer periods of time. But they have smaller hearts, smaller muscles and more body fat than men, so it can be hard for them to keep up with men in a sport like running, while in activities like swimming the differences are less important.” Hunter refers to Diana Nyad, “The first person to swim from Cuba to Florida was a woman.”

The Tougher Sex?
While it would be nice to claim it, there is still no hands down winner for the title of “The Tougher Sex,” but for now it is safe to say that women get more points when it comes to withstanding fatigue. However, it is a small victory for women in that they’re being recognized as a force in the athletic arena and that they’re specific concerns are being addressed. Thank you, Chrisse Wellington, et al.

So, what do you think? Does this give women the edge or are men still on top when it comes to sports? Let us know! And, if you’re a female athlete, let us know how you endure!

Woman receiving booster shot

Schedule These Boosters Now

“It might hurt a little but it’ll help a whole lot!” That’s the catchphrase from the “Sid the Science Kid Getting a Shot: You Can Do It!” video clip. The short is designed to make kids who dread getting their vaccinations an idea of what to expect. Of course, the goal of the clip is to make the child more comfortable. Does it work? Well, the needles still look pretty darn scary, but it may help you convince your kid that there is a likelihood of getting a nasal spritz instead of an injection. Also, the song is pretty catchy.

Although most of us associate the thought of vaccinations with cartoon character band- aids and lollipops, there are some important booster shots that adults should not go without. Here are some boosters that you should be thinking about scheduling so that you and your family can stay healthy throughout the year.

Tetanus
If you’ve got a hunky handyman working on a project around the house, you may want to get him a tetanus booster in case he gets a wound or cut. Men under the age of 59 are three times more prone to get tetanus because that have not had their booster shots. The TD vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria needs to be administered every ten years. Both tetanus and diphtheria are serious diseases that are caused by bacterial toxins. Be sure to get yourself immunized.

Chickenpox (varicella) Chickenpox can be serious if it develops after childhood. Adults who are not already immune should get this vaccination. The chickenpox vaccine requires two doses and is not recommend for pregnant women and individuals with immune system problems.

Hepatitis A
Adults who live in communities where outbreaks of hepatitis A are common, or who are planning to travel to foreign countries in South or Central America are advised to get this vaccine. Adults with risk factors like liver disease should also be vaccinated if they are not previously immune. Hepatitis A is a viral infection affecting the liver and is usually caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Influenza
While no one should go without the flu shot, they are espcially important for individuals with health conditions like heart, lung, or immune system disorders, or asthma, which can be complicated by the flu. Health care workers who work with people at risk for the flu and caregivers of children under 2 are also advised to get the vaccination, as rare pregnant women. The flu vaccine should be repeated each year because the strains of influenza changes each flu season. Healthy, people between 5 and 49 have the option of the nasal- spray vaccine along with the injection, so you’re in luck if your hate needles.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
People born after 1957 may need the MMR vaccination if they aren’t already immune. The vaccine is not for pregnant women or people with immune system disorders and Women should not become pregnant for 28 days after being vaccinated.

If you are at risk of contracting any of these diseases, you should get vaccinated pronto. But don’t worry, if Sid the Science Kid can do it, so can you! Let us know how your vaccinations went. Good luck and keep healthy.

Woman doing some exercise

Ideal Amount of Exercise

Humorist Dave Barry once said, “Albert Einstein discovered that a tiny amount of mass is equal to a huge amount of energy which is why you have to exercise for a week to work off the thigh fat from a single Snickers.” Although this may be a bit of comedic hyperbole, looking at the calorie burn exercise time ratio can be quite disheartening. For example, according to an infographic, a 490 calorie Big Mac will take the average women over an hour of weightlifting to burn. Wash it down with a soda and that’s about two hours of cardio. With those kinds of figures, you could spend the next few years in a never ending cycle of eating and exercising. So where do we draw the line? How do we decide how much exercise is enough and how much is too much? Here are some hard and fast guidelines that will help you find out the ideal amount of exercise for your body.

How Much Exercise Do I Need?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should be getting thirty minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. But the American College of Sports Medicine says that if you’re are doing a high intensity workout, you can cut that number down to 75 minutes a week with strength training and stretching 2 -3 days a week.

For Weight Loss
If you are looking to drop pounds, a study in JAMA Oncology found that 300 minutes of physical activity each week was the best way to obtain the greatest loss of weight and body fat. However, if that number seems a little out of reach to you, there may be other ways of achieving weight loss goals. Lisa Cadmus- Bertram, Ph., assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin explains, “… for most people, there is more room to cut calorie intake than to expend very large numbers of additional calories.” In other words, the key to success is burning more calories than you are taking in, so if you cut down on food intake, you may be able to avoid spending half a day at the gym.

To Tone Up
To add additional tone, incorporate resistance and strength training. This will help to build muscle and also increase the basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories your body will burn calories when it is resting. Also, try to engage in a variety of exercises to challenge your body in different ways.

For Longer Life
By engaging in the 150 minute minute of activity per week with 2 to 3 days of resistance training, you are not only ensuring a fit body, but you are also working to strengthen the lungs and heart, to avoid inflammation and to prevent insulin resistance from developing.

woman sleeping
For Better Sleep
A study of over 2,600 adults found that those who did their recommended amount of physical activity reported a 65% improvement in quality go sleep, were 68% less likely to have leg cramps at night and were 45% less likely to have difficulty focusing when they were tired as compared with individuals that did not get the recommended amount.

In short, aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week and double that if you want to see weight loss results, but in the end it is most important to balance your exercise with food intake and maintain a schedule that works for you. Let us know how you do it. Eat happy and be healthy!

Woman sleeping

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

Imagine going to sleep tonight and waking up on January 2nd. You’ve missed the turkey, the gifts, the outfits, the eating, the drinking, all of it. Perhaps, you are thinking, that would be great! You’ve saved yourself a ton of calories, had an excuse for not seeing in-laws, and still had a ton of gifts to open. But you probably would have liked to have a choice in the matter. For sufferers of Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) this is often not the case. Often referred to as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, KLS is a rare neurological disorder, most commonly characterized by long periods of sleep, causing individuals to lose large chunks of their lives and affecting the lives of those around them.

What is KLS?
In addition to excessive sleeping, symptoms of KLS can include a reduced understanding of circumstances and altered behavior on the part of the patient. While adolescents are most likely to be targets for the disorder, it can also strike adults and young children.

When a KLS episode sets in, the patient will experience hypersomnolence, a condition which will cause the patient to become increasingly drowsy and sleep for most of the time, waking only to eat and use the bathroom. These episodes can last days, weeks, or months, and preclude all normal daily activity, such as work and school and make self care impossible. In the time between the episodes, the sufferer may appear to be perfectly healthy with no physical or behavioral problems whatsoever. In total, the condition can last for 10 years or more.

Identification of KLS
Aside from excessive sleep, people with KLS will often seem childlike or “spacey.” He or she can become confused, lethargic, apathetic, and disoriented. The patient may claim that things look out of focus and will become hypersensitive to light and noise. Sometimes, those with the disorder will develop deep cravings for food. Hypersexuality is another reported symptom.

When KLS episodes are in effect, the patient will usually remain bedridden and appear uncommunicative when awake. Although most will not be able to carry out regular activities, not every sufferer is affected by the same symptoms.

It is possible for a person to go for weeks or even years without evidence of the symptoms, but the symptoms can return with out warning, The diagnosed can appear to be in perfect health one day, but there is always an underlying threat that he or she will fall into dysfunction the next. The diagnostic delay for KLS diagnosis is four years, which means it can take up four years for a patient to receive an accurate diagnosis and there is no medical test to definitively confirm the condition. However, if you believe you may be affected, there is a symptom checker developed by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.

KLS Symptom Checker
A KLS patient would have recurrent episodes of hypersomnia lasting 2-31 days and one or more of the following:

  • Cognitive abnormalities like confusion, unreality and hallucination
  • Odd behavior like aggression or irritability
  • Binge Eating
  • Hypersexuality.

While there is no definitive cure treatment for KLS, modafinil may shorten the episodes, but not the recurrence. Lithium and carbamazapine can be beneficial in treatment of some of the symptoms, but no medication has proven to be a consistently successful.

If you feel that you may be suffering from KLS, it is important to reach out to a professional. If you or a loved one has been affected by this condition, please feel free to start a conversation here. Awareness is critical to problem solving.

Woman stretching on the beach

The Connection Between Happiness and Health

Can happiness ever be unhealthy? When R and B artist Pherell Williams felt his song “Happy” needed a visual, he and his team created “24 Hours of Happy,” the world’s first all day music video. The groundbreaking project featured a cast of hundreds of Angelenos dancing to the song round the clock, with Pherell appearing at the top of each hour to lend his support. The New York Times referred to this as “punishment level glee.” Leave it to the Times to add a touch of cynicism to a celebration of bliss. While staying awake for 24 hours may take its toll, it is generally believed that happiness may be a major component in maintaining physical health. Not convinced? Read on!

Why You Should Be Happy
So what’s so great about being happy? A 2012 review of over 200 studies found a correlation between optimism and a lowered risk of heart disease. This is not to say that happiness directly prevents heart attacks, rather that happy people are more likely to maintain good habits, like exercising, eating well, and getting a good night’s sleep. However, some research seems to suggest that there are direct health benefits to a positive mental state. Studies published in the Psychological Bulletin show that optimism may help decrease levels of inflammation and a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that unhappy people 60 and older were more likely to develop disabilities, suggesting that merely being cheerful can lead to an improved physical state.

Genes and Environment
So, when it comes to happiness, is it nature or nurture? Research shows that identical twins have similar levels of happiness and that one twin’s happiness can be used to predicts the current and future happiness of the other with more accuracy than income and achievement. This would offer substantial evidence that genetics play a big role in happiness. However, if you were not lucky enough to hit the genetic jackpot, there are alternatives. Your environment can also have a lot of impact on your mental state.

Ways to Get Happy
Susan Albers, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic suggest practicing a technique she calls mindfulness, or being present in the moment. Activities like keeping a diary of gratitude or helping others are known to increase happiness and there are also smartphone apps available to help you monitor your moods.

Are you insanely happy or insanely healthy or just insane? If so, or if not, tell us how you manage to be all or none. We love to hear it.

Woman exercising on stairs

Switching Up Your Cardio Routine

In Dante’s Inferno, the Sixth Terrace of Purgatory is devoted to the gluttonous, or those who have spent their lives overindulging on food, drinks and comforts of the body. As punishment, they are starved in the presence of trees whose fruit they can never reach. Some would argue that a more apt punishment for these gluttons might be endless cardio. Many refer to cardio as the most monotonous form of exercise, comparing treadmills and stationary bikes to hamster wheels, yet few would ever argue its myriad of benefits. The American Heart Association suggests 40 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times weekly to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. So what can you do to switch up your cardio routine to keep things interesting?

Supersets
Supersets are great for combining weightlifting with cardio. Supersets usually consist of two or more exercises done in sequence with no rest in between. You might want to try, for example, a workout of 10 push ups, followed immediately with 10 squats, and then move onto shoulder presses, into bicep curls and ending with 10 trip extensions. You could consider his one set, and complete it three times, with a two to three minute rest in between. Certainly no hamster wheel there!

Cardio Rounds
Sure, you might get bored with the seemingly eternal sets on the elliptical, treadmill, and bike, but how about doing all three for a short amount of time, one after another? Pedal for a minute, run for a minute and use the elliptical for one minute. After five times, you should be anything but bored!

Stairs
Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator to earn some cardio points during the day. If you want an extra challenge, try taking them two at a time.

Take a Class
Sign up for a zumba, kickboxing, or hip-hop dance class. Muay Thai is a martial art from Thailand, similar to kickboxing and you can burn up to 1200 calories per class. Also, exercise in a group setting can raise motivation and improve performance while adding an element of camaraderie.

Do Cardio Between Sets
Try jumping rope or jogging between weight lifting sets or pilates routines to develop lean muscles and get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

Timed Exercise
Another way to switch things up is by using the clock. Pick an exercise and give yourself 30 seconds to perform as many reps as you possibly can. Have a friend time you for an added incentive. See if you can increase your reps weekly or lengthen the set for some real calorie burn.

Still bored? One would think not. Let us know how you get through your cardio. We always love to hear from you!

Woman with vitamin D capsule

Vitamin D and Lowered Cancer Risk

Cancer cells can seem downright evil. While normal cells act to benefit their host, cancer cells have their own devious plan and that plan is to stay alive and keep dividing. And when cancer cells divide, they mutate and tumors result. Normal cells are designed to commit suicide when they are damaged, but not cancer cells. Cancer cells continue to thrive and, multiply and produce. So what can a body do to fight these demonic cells? It must use every weapon at its disposal. One of the most powerful of these is Vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps the body to use phosphorous to make teeth and bones strong. While certain foods can be sources of Vitamin D, it is more commonly made when skin is exposed to sunshine. If you are looking for vitamin D from food sources, foods such as fish liver oil, eggs , and fatty fish, naturally contain the vitamin, while others, such as cereal, juices and milk, are fortified with vitamin D. It can also be obtained through supplements.

The Vitamin D Cancer Connection
Researchers are studying connections between vitamin D and lowered cancer risk based on early research that showed cancer rates to be lower among people living in the south, where levels of sunlight is high, as opposed to those living in northern areas. Because UV light from the sun is responsible for production of vitamin D, researchers speculated that the difference in vitamin D levels might account for the findings. According to a 2007 study, women experienced a 77 percent reduction in all cancers after being given enough Vitamin D to raise their serum levels to 40 mg/ml.

Breast Cancer and Vitamin D
Breast cancer has sometimes been referred to as “vitamin D deficiency syndrome.’ Dr. Cedric F. Garland of the University of California’s San Diego Moores cancer center is responsible for making the connection between cancer and vitamin D deficiency. If you don’t have enough vitamin D, the structure that makes up you epithelial cells comes apart and the cells begin to circulate and multiply. If this process becomes problematic, cancer can result. If breast cancer is in progress, vitamin D can slow cancer growth and allow your immune system to deal with them in smaller numbers.

Getting Your D
The best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. You should expose 40% of your body to the sun for about 20 minutes between 10 am and 2 pm, when the sun is stronger. If you are taking oral supplements, studies suggest adults get 8,000 IUs per day. However, keep in mind that oral vitamin D should be accompanied by vitamin K2 to prevent hardening of the arteries.

Let’s all try and up our defenses against cancer and get all the Vitamin D we can! Just say “no” to cancer and let us know your favorite ways of getting your Vitamin D!