Tired woman at her work desk

What’s Causing Your Daytime Fatigue?

Do you often find it difficult to stay awake and concentrate during the day?

If so, you could be suffering from daytime fatigue, which is often linked to another medical problem.

Here are nine different causes of daytime fatigue, as well as tips on what you can do about them.

Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is a condition that refers to either:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • An excessive amount of time spent sleeping

If you have hypersomnia, you will likely find yourself falling asleep at random points during the day, even while you are talking or driving.

Hypersomnia is extremely common, affecting around 40% of people at some point in their lives. 

What causes hypersomnia?

Here are a few of the most common causes of the condition: 

  • Sleep disorders, which will be explained in more detail below
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A head injury
  • Being overweight
  • Genetics
  • Depression and anxiety

So, if you have hypersomnia, what can you do about it?

You should first have this confirmed by your doctor, who will also be able to prescribe different drugs to help treat the condition.

You can also try to identify the cause of your hypersomnia, and then work to reverse this. For example, if it is caused by being overweight, losing weight can help, while changing your sleeping habits so that you get more sleep will prevent sleep deprivation from causing your hypersomnia.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is extremely common, and simply refers to a person not getting enough sleep

How much sleep is enough?

Experts recommend between seven to nine hours of sleep each night, although this does vary between individuals, and also changes with age.

While missing out on a couple of hours once in a while will not cause any harm, experiencing frequent bouts of sleep deprivation can definitely lead to daytime fatigue.

How can you overcome this?

The obvious answer would be…

Get more sleep!

Here are a few tips to help you to get more quality sleep:

  • Set a regular schedule – a regular sleep schedule will help to train your body clock into feeling tired at the same time each evening, while waking itself up at the same time each morning. Make sure that you stick to this schedule, even on the weekends
  • Stay away from caffeine or alcohol from late afternoon onwardsboth of these can hugely impact your sleep, as well as its quality
  • Don’t keep blue light-emitting electronics in your bedroomthe blue light that comes from the screens of these devices keeps your body awake for longer
  • Avoid daytime nappingeven if you feel tired during the day, avoid the temptation to nap, as this will only prevent you from falling asleep at the optimum time that night
  • Work out in the morningsyou may think that exercising would help you to fall asleep, but this actually raises the heart rate and triggers the release of adrenaline into your body, both of which will keep you awake. However, exercise done in the mornings, or even the afternoons, can actually help you to sleep better at night
  • Avoid eating two hours before bedthis sets your digestive system in motion, which can keep you awake

Infographic on how to get better sleep

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders cause you to frequently wake up during the night, which then interferes with the quality of your sleep, leading to you feeling chronically fatigued each day.

These are some of the most common sleep disorders:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea – the most common sleep disorder, affecting more than 20 million adults in the USA alone. This disorder consists of a blockage in the airways, meaning that the brain wakes itself up to send a signal to the respiratory system to continue functioning normally. This usually causes a person to stop breathing for about 10 to 20 seconds, and can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, without a person even realizing it
  • Narcolepsythis is an autoimmune disorder in which the brain is not able to properly control its sleep and wake cycles. This means that you experience the REM stage of sleep, which is when you are sleeping the deepest, at random points during the day
  • Restless Leg Syndromethis neurological disorder causes a person to feel an uncomfortable sensation in their legs, which leads to them moving their legs around to relieve this. Since this makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep, as well as stay asleep, the result is daytime fatigue

Treatments vary for each sleep disorder, and in some cases, especially for restless leg syndrome, these disorders can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. This makes it important to see a doctor if you think that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. 

Depression

Depression is much more common than you would think…

Around 300 million people around the world, including 16.2 million adults in the USA, have depression. It is also believed that around 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lives. 

What does this have to do with daytime fatigue?

Research shows that people with depression are much more likely to experience daytime fatigue. Not only that, but people who already have daytime fatigue are much more likely to end up depressed.

As you can see, this results in a vicious circle that can be difficult to break out of.

When it comes to treating depression…

There are many treatment options out there, depending on the severity of your depression. This is something that only a professional can advise you on, so make sure that you speak to a doctor if you think that you may be depressed.

Too Much Caffeine

Coffee is commonly drunk to help people stay awake and alert, but, sometimes, it can have the opposite effect.

Woman holding a cup of espresso

While a cup or two won’t do any harm, drinking too much caffeine can lead to:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • A jittery feeling
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

What happens once the caffeine wears off?

You end up “crashing”, resulting in you feeling completely fatigued.

What can you do about this?

Well, let’s begin by what you shouldn’t do…

Drinking even more coffee in order to overcome this would be the worst way to deal with the problem.  

Instead, try to cut back on the amount of caffeine you drink.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to completely cut caffeine out of your life, because this will only leave you with withdrawal symptoms.

Try slowly weaning yourself off the coffee, as well as any other caffeinated drinks. Replace these with water or other drinks, so that you are consuming less caffeine each day.

A Poor Diet

The food that you eat fuels your body, so it only makes sense that your body will feel weak and tired if it is not being fed with the right nutrients.

Let’s begin with the most important meal of the day…

Breakfast!

So many people out there skip breakfast, not realizing just how crucial this meal is.

Why is it so important?

Because the food that you eat for breakfast helps to wake your body up, giving your metabolism a kick start for the day. Without breakfast, your energy levels will be lacking from the start of the day.

If you don’t have time for breakfast, or are simply too tired early in the mornings…

Try putting a small grab-and-go morning snack together the night before, and then slowly build up your new breakfast habit to encompass larger and more filling meals.

Now on to the rest of the food you eat…

Try to avoid large and heavy meals during the day, as these can often leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.

Make sure that your diet is a balanced one, featuring plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, nuts and seeds. 

Why is this important?

Because if you eat processed, high-sugar foods instead, this causes a spike in your blood sugar levels. Once this drops back down, it leaves you feeling fatigued and low.

Premenstrual Syndrome

PMS manifests differently in every single woman out there.

For many, daytime fatigue is one of the symptoms, and this is actually extremely common.

Your body produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps it to regulate its sleep cycles. During your premenstrual phase, as well as your menstrual phase, melatonin levels fluctuate, often decreasing. This then keeps you up at night, making you feel fatigued during the day.

Not only that, but the hormonal changes during your premenstrual phase can lead to an increase in the amount of deep sleep that you experience. However, this occurs during the day as well as the night, causing you to feel tired and sluggish.

Dehydration

Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated?

This is a condition that affects millions of people, even though it is so easily prevented.

How does this relate to daytime fatigue?

Because research shows that dehydration is the number one cause of midday fatigue.

How does dehydration cause this?

Due to the way in which a lack of water causes your blood pressure to drop. This then leads to headaches, fatigue and a loss of concentration. 

How much water should you be drinking each day?

This varies, not only depending on your weight but also your activity levels through the day. A good amount to aim for would be around two liters a day, but don’t forget that you will also be getting a small chunk of this from the food that you eat, especially if your diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Infographic on daily water intake

Can’t seem to drink enough water during the day?

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Mix up a pitcher of fruit-infused water to give your water some extra flavor
  • Try to drink a full cup of water before every meal
  • Download an app to help you to track how much water you are drinking, as well as setting alarms to remind you to drink some water
  • If you are drinking a sugar-filled drink, try diluting this down with some water
  • Install a water filter, as this can help your water to taste better
  • Mae sure that you drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume

Remember…

If you are feeling thirsty, then this means that you are already dehydrated.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

More and more people are experiencing a sedentary lifestyle these days, and this is actually a common cause behind daytime fatigue.

How are the two connected?

Well, the lack of physical activity leads to your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems de-conditioning, while also depressing your mood. Both of these can then result in daytime fatigue.

There is so much research out there that backs up the way in which exercise is able to help reverse daytime fatigue, making this something well worth trying.

Hate the idea of exercise?

Physical activity doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours in the gym.

If you really think about it, you are guaranteed to be able to find some form of physical activity that appeals to you. Whether this may be a dance class, a group dog walk, a visit to the beach, a gardening session, or even blasting some music at home and dancing around the house, any activity that gets you up and moving regularly can help you to feel less fatigued during the day.

Daytime fatigue is extremely common, but so frustrating to deal with due to the way in which it impacts everyday life. In order to overcome your daytime fatigue, spend some time working out the cause of it, as treating the root issue will be the most effective way to deal with the problem.

Young woman laughing

Daily Habits for a Happier Life

Many people believe that happiness is something that happens by chance, but this is not necessarily true…

Instead, think of happiness as a life skill, something that you can work on and develop to ensure that you are feeling consistently happy each day.

Wondering how to do this?

It’s easy. All you need to do is adopt each of these habits into your daily life…

Meditate Daily 

For someone who has not bought into the idea of meditation, the thought of doing this on a daily basis can seem pointless.

However, meditation has been proven to have so many different health benefits, from increasing focus and concentration to improving memory. In addition to all of this, meditation on a regular basis can permanently rewire the brain to increase happiness levels. 

benefits of meditation infographic

Meditation is not something that has to take much time either…

When just starting out, all you need to commit to is a couple of minutes of meditation a day. Even if you are extremely eager to get started, it is always best to begin small, so that you can turn this into a habit that you will stick to.

Pick a time of the day to set aside for meditation, and find a quiet spot somewhere. Sit down comfortably, and then do the following:

  • Focus on your breath as you breathe in, following this through your nostrils, throat, lungs and stomach
  • Do the same as you breathe out, counting your breaths if this helps
  • If you find that your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath
  • Repeat this process for a couple of minutes

It does not matter if your eyes are open or closed, so long as you do this process each and every day. After a week, you can increase your two minutes of meditation to five minutes, and keep doing this in five minute intervals each week.

It will take about a month for this to become a habit, after which time you will likely also notice the benefits that this brief daily meditation is bringing to your mind and body. 

Keep Busy, But Don’t Rush Yourself

There is an incredibly fine line between staying busy and feeling rushed, but it is this balance that can really make a huge difference to how happy you feel.

Research has shown that feeling rushed will inevitably lead to stress, and therefore unhappiness, while having too much free time results in boredom and dissatisfaction

On the other hand, being productive can really boost your happiness, but you need to do this at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Are you someone that often takes on more than you can handle?

The best way to handle this is to stop and think each time an opportunity or project comes your way. Unless you are really and truly excited and passionate about it, you need to learn how to say no.

Exercise

Do you do some form of physical activity each day?

If your answer is no, this is a habit that can really help with your happiness.

How?

Because exercise triggers the release of certain proteins and endorphins in the brain, all of which will make you feel happier. 

Exercise also helps to boost productivity, which will help with the point mentioned above about keeping busy.

Couple running together in the park

Think you do not have the time to exercise each day?

Here are a few ways in which you can easily incorporate more exercise into your everyday life:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Do some window shopping, but at a fast stroll
  • Stand more, whether this may be on public transport or while watching television
  • Do a ten minute long squat each day, or start with a shorter time and build this up each day
  • Install a pull-up bar onto a door frame in your house, and then do one or two reps each time you pass underneath it 

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

In order to really be happy, you need to be able to challenge yourself, and succeed at those challenges. Taking risks and embracing change is so important, even though it may seem frightening at the time.

Don’t like the idea of having to step out of your comfort zone each day?

This does not need to be anything crazy, like jumping out of a plane…

Instead, just try to do something small that you have never done before, whether this may be eating a new ingredient, styling your hair in a different way, or taking a new route to work.

Improve Your Diet

Your diet has a direct impact on your mood, and, even if you already eat quite healthily, the majority of people out there could likely easily make a few changes to improve their diet.

On a daily basis, you should be eating at regular intervals, as this helps to keep your mood stable, and make sure that you do not skip meals.

There are certain foods out there that have been proven to boost the mood, such as:

  • Protein – including eggs, seafood, poultry and tofu
  • Vitamin D obtained through sun exposure, but also comes from egg yolks and soy milk
  • Vitamin B-12 and Folate comes from broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, cottage cheese, lean beef and salmon
  • Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and oats

On the other hand, there are certain foods that can really throw your mood off, making it much more of a challenge for you to feel happy. The main culprit here is sugar, as well as refined white starches. While sugar may give you a short burst of energy, this will soon drop back down, leaving you feeling even crankier than before. 

So, how do you implement all of this on a daily basis?

It’s easy…

Small changes are the key here, as you do not need to completely overhaul your entire diet overnight.

Instead, aim to improve a small part of your diet each day in a way that you would not have normally done. This could be anything from adding one less spoonful of sugar to your morning coffee to incorporating some extra leafy greens in your dinner to swapping your white bread for a wholegrain version. 

Be Appreciative

Whether showing appreciation for someone else, or for yourself or what you have, being appreciative has been proven to significantly increase happiness levels, with some studies even showing that it can boost this by up to 25%

The idea of being more appreciative may seem easy in theory, but how do you actually go about doing this on a daily basis?

Simply verbally expressing appreciation for someone, whether this may be for something that they have done or just an aspect of their personality, is a great way to start. Alternatively, try writing a handwritten thank you note to somebody each day, but make sure that you are only sending this with sincere appreciation in mind.

Wake Up Earlier

When you first start working on implementing this habit, the earlier starts to your day will likely not immediately make you feel happy, but this is something that will develop quite quickly.

Waking up earlier will help to keep you feeling invigorated and energized throughout the day. It also gives you extra time in your day, which can help with productivity, which also then results in happiness. 

Woman stretching in bed, waking up

To top it all off…

Early starts mean that you are likely to start going to bed earlier, and will be able to maintain a much healthier sleep routine.

Just like with changing your diet, this is not something that you need to get drastic about.

Instead, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you usually would, and give yourself a few days to a week to get used to this change. Once your body has adapted, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier again, and keep repeating this process until you have begun to naturally rise at a time that suits you.

Learn Something New

Human beings have a core need for psychological well-being, and a natural desire to learn new things and progress in life.

There are numerous studies out there that suggest that education can directly increase happiness, thanks to the way in which the mind is being challenged. 

Don’t want to go back to school?

Fortunately, you do not need to, as there are so many other ways in which you can learn new things. Here are a few ideas:

  • Arrange a skills swap with friends
  • Ask a keen gardener to teach you how to develop your green thumb
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Sign up for a free online course
  • Think of a skill or activity you would like to do, and use the power of the internet to teach it to yourself

Of course, there is no denying that learning new skills can often cause stress…

However, research suggests that while the actual learning process can sometimes feel stressful, your overall levels of happiness and satisfaction will be higher when you look back on your day and all that you have learned.

Give Yourself a Treat

Research shows that in order to be truly happy overall, you need to have plenty of small positive experiences along the way. The frequency of these experiences is actually more important than the intensity, which is why treating yourself on a daily basis can really help to boost your happiness levels.

Wondering what to treat yourself with?

Everything from breakfast in bed to purchasing gourmet coffee beans rather than instant to setting aside some time each day where you can curl up with a good book. 

Spend Money on Experiences, Rather than Material Goods

There are quite a few studies out there that show that experiential purchases, meaning spending money on experiences, makes people far happier than buying material goods.

Why?

For a few different reasons:

  • Material goods get old quickly, while experiences can be shared throughout a lifetime
  • Experiences get recalled and revisited frequently, boosting happiness
  • Experiences are much more unique in nature
  • Experiences tend to be social, and humans are social animals

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Do you remember constantly comparing yourself to other people when you were in your teenage years?

Hopefully, this is not something that you do quite as much now, since comparing yourself to others can really minimize happiness.

If you catch yourself making comparisons to others…

Turn this around and instead compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself. Think about your qualities that have improved over the years, as these are much healthier comparisons to be making.

Keep a Journal

If you have never kept a journal before, the thought of starting one can seem a little daunting…

However, a journal is a great way to help your mind to process the events that are happening in your life, building up your awareness and increasing your clarity.

Young woman writing in journal outdoors in a field

Even if you only manage to jot down a few lines a day, this can really help in the long run.

The easiest way to get started with this is by grabbing a pen and a piece of paper, but there are also journaling apps that you can download. These will send you notifications each day to remind you to write, which is always helpful when you are first trying to build a habit.

Not sure what to write about?

Just about anything will do! Start by writing down the events of the day, or even what you have eaten. You can also jot down your goals and dreams, as well as any worries or fears that you may have, as just the act of writing these down will help you to work your way through them.

Taking proactive steps to be happy means that you are much more likely to experience consistent happiness in your life, and it makes happiness more of a sure thing, rather than you just waiting and hoping for it to appear. Each of these daily habits are so easy to incorporate into your life, so have another read through the list and then pick a few that you can begin to implement right now.

Woman with headphones on the bed

Add Pink Noise To Your Bedroom Routine

Let’s face it, everything is better in pink. If there are two cupcakes, one with white icing and one with pink, which one do you pick? Hostess snowballs? Definitely better in pink. If your Mom bought you and your sister notebooks, she had better have made sure both or neither were pink. Party dresses? Don’t even go there.

If you are familiar with white noise, you know it to be that pleasant buzzing that often occurs when the radio loses reception. It is often used in healthcare to block out noise caused by hearing impairments or as a sleep aid, but did you know about pink noise? Although it may sound like the latest psychedelic rock movement, pink noise is more accurately the latest proposed solution to sleep interruption. And, according to a recent study, it may actually help to improve memory as well.

Sound Stimulation and Sleep
According to recent research done at Northwestern University, when gentle sound stimulation is synced up to the rhythm of brain waves, it can not only lead to a better sleep in older adults, but can also improve their ability to remember specific words.

Why Deep Sleep Is important
Memory loss typically occurs throughout the process of aging; so does the gradual decrease in deep sleep. Scientists suspect a connection. Because deep sleep is a critical component in the consolidation of memory, it is believed that a reduction in one may be responsible for a reduction in the other. Therefore, scientists believe that using sound stimulation to induce deep sleep may be the solution to memory loss.

During deep sleep, brainwave production is reduced to a rate of one per second, quite a bit slower than the 10 oscillations that happen during the seconds when one is awake. Giovanni Santstasi, co-author of the study was able to create an algorithm capable of transmitting audio during the rising of slow wave oscillations, to boost the synchronization of neural activity.

Woman sleeping

The Study
The study was comprised of 13 individuals aged 60 and up recruited from Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. It targeted individuals suffering from low levels of sleep and memory loss.

The aim of the study was to monitor brain waves in individuals using a breakthrough audio system that can lock in audio stimulation at the moment when specific neuron communication occurs during deep sleep.

Participants were exposed to a night of acoustic stimulation followed by a night of false stimulation. The two stimulations were identical, except for the fact that the individuals did not hear noise in the false stimulation. Upon awakening, the subjects were given memory tests, with another set given the following morning.

Results
The study found that while memory recall ability rose by a couple of percentage points following the false stimulation, those who listened to the pink noise showed a vast increase in memory recall. In fact, those who were subjected to the acoustic stimulation showed three times as much improvement as their counterparts. These finding suggest that slow wave sleep can indeed have a significant impact on memory.

What Does This Mean?
For those suffering memory loss, the new is good. It suggests that there might be a way to safely improve memory without the use of expensive, side effect inducing medicine. “Pink noise” may offer a completely safe and simple alternative.

What do you think about the latest findings? Is pink the new white? Let us know!

Woman can't sleep

Don't Let Stress Disrupt Your Sleep

Sleep and stress, they may just cancel each other out. How can we expect our nervous systems to shut down when we’re a bundle of nerves? We need sleep. It keeps us healthy, it keeps us sane, it keeps us focused, it keeps our weight down. By that logic, lack of sleep is going to turn us into sick, obese, insane people with attention deficits. That certainly is not going to relax you. So what do you do to keep stress from disrupting your sleep? Read on for a few ideas.

Stress and Sleep
Not only does stress prevent sleep, it decreases its quality. In fact, according to a “Stress in America” survey, 42 % of adults report a low or fair quality sleep when affected by stress. To make matters worth, stress may not only deprive you of a good night’s sleep, it may have a more lasting effect. Recent research published in the SLEEP journal reveals that individuals who suffer from chronic stress are more susceptible to insomnia, with each stressor increasing the risk of insomnia by 19 percent.

Woman clutching head

Stress and Your Brain
Not only does stress interfere with the quality of sleep and increase the risk of insomnia, it also places the nervous system in a physical state inconsistent with sleep. When you sleep, your body switches from the active sympathetic nervous system to the more relaxed parasympathetic nervous system. When the body experiences high stress levels, the parasympathetic nervous system fails to kick in, keeping your brain in a state of hyperactivity, according to David Spiegel MD.

As if it isn’t enough that stress causes lack of sleep, it turns out lack of sleep can cause more stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly three quarters of adults credit sleep problems with a general increase of anxiety in their daily lives.

What Can You Do?
Wondering how you can prevent high stress from robbing you of precious sleep? Here are a few ideas:

Lavender
Studies show that lavender can be a very relaxing component of insomnia relief.

Woman doing yoga

Relaxation Techniques
There are a number of techniques that may be helpful in decreasing stress. Yoga poses, mediation, and progressive relaxation are all examples of methods of relaxation that may make sleep come more readily.

Stop Distracting Thoughts
Research shows that you can clear your mind of distressing thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper and literally throwing the paper away. Skeptical? Worth a try!

Deep Breaths
The rhythm of inhalation and exhalation activates the body’s natural parasympathetic system. Try taking a few deep breaths in and out before hitting the sack.

See A Specialist
If all else fails, consider seeing a professional. He or she may be able to provide insights or recommend techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to address sleeplessness.

How do you prevent stress from disrupting your nightly sleep? Let us know.

Woman sleeping soundly

Suggestions For Distraction-Free Sleep

So you’ve just gotten back from partying for 6 days in the desert and, boy, are you tired. You are going to sleep, but this will not be a regular sleep; this will be an epic sleep. You are going to sleep like the dead and pity the person or thing that dares to interrupt you. But a sleep like this will take careful planning. You need to make sure this sleep is totally free of distractions. If you can just stay awake a few more minutes, you should do the following to ensure your sleep is the blissful one you are anticipating.

Turn Off Electronics
In order to fall asleep, your body increases sleep hormone levels as it gets darker outside. In turn, your body begins to associate darkness with sleep. Exposure to light from electronics, like laptops and cell phones, inhibit the formation of these hormones. For a good night’s sleep, turn off all brightly screened electronic devises at least on hour prior to turning in.

Studies show that people who play computer games more than seven hours per week do not sleep as well as those who refrain from such activity. Also, social media outlets can raise stress and anxiety levels.

Cool Off
Heat can be a major sleep distraction. The best combination for a good night’s sleep is a cool room and hot skin. Set the thermostat to 65 or lower to induce sleepiness and prevent night sweats.

Woman sleeping with book

Keep It Dark
Bright lights are not conducive to good sleep. They trick the body into thinking it is daytime, and prevent sleep hormones from forming. Turn off night lights, overheads, and table lamps. Close your blinds and consider investing in light blocking curtain for extra relaxation.

If you chose to read or write before turning in, try a small book light as opposed to a desktop or overhead light source. if you own a bright clock, check out the dimmer option to lower brightness and face it away from you to avoid obsessive time checks.

Reduce Unwanted Noise
White noise generators are available, as are recordings of natural sounds. These rhythmic sounds can drown out noises which can interfere with sleep. You may also want to listen to some soft music. You can do an online search to find specific pieces of music recommended to aid sleep. Experiment with different types until you find which works best for you. It may be classical or modern ambient.

Use earplugs to keep out background noises and annoying sounds, like car alarms or barking dogs.

Woman with headphones

Avoid falling asleep with head phones on, as they may become uncomfortable. Play music with a self timer, so you don’t need to worry about shutting it off after a certain time.

Take A Supplement
Herbal and mineral supplements have been used as sleep aids since time immemorial. Try taking 600 mg of calcium with 200mg magnesium as a sleep aid.

Hops are also great for helping with insomnia and relieving anxiety. 30 -120 mg should send you off to sleep nicely.

Wild lettuce tablets can also help to reduce sleep anxiety. Take a recommended 30-120 mg nightly.

L-theanine is a another supplement know to improve not only quality of sleep, but also alertness upon waking. Green tea also contains trace amounts of the amino acid.

Valerian roots supplements are another cure for insomnia. Two hundred to eight hundred mg whole help you fall asleep quickly and easily.

How do you keep your sleep distraction-free? Let us know how you keep your bedroom a sanctuary.

Couple enjoying the green outdoors

Setting Personal Goals For Healthy Living

Being unhealthy is not just a part of your life; it’s a part of your identity. And now you’ve decided to make the change. But you’re uneasy. What are your buddies going to think when you beg off a trip to the bar in order to go to the gym? What are they going to say when you pass on the midnight donut run? When you get the spinach pizza instead of the meat lovers?

Setting personal health goals can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to a less than Jack Lalanne approved lifestyle, but it can be done. Here are some tips on doing just that.

To-Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutritionist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating–all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure you’re surrounded by people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Food

Improve Your Diet
Its all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big X’s on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day-to-day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Woman sleeping

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives, MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health. We love to hear it!

Woman with insomnia

Foods That Fight Insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, you may look back nostalgically on Thanksgiving nights falling asleep in front of the TV with the taste of sweet potato casserole still lingering on your tongue. While it’s easy to understand how the concept of self-induced food coma may seem tempting to the sleep deprived, it may not be the best health option, and there is only so much leftover turkey one can take.

However, that is not to say there is not a link between eating and sleeping. There is scientific proof that certain foods are more conducive to sleep than others. But before you establish running credit at the deli counter, you may want to know your options.

Walnuts
No only do walnuts contain heart-healthy fats, they also have been found to contain melatonin, a bodily hormone that plays a role in regulating sleep cycle. Dr. Erin Palinski Wade, RD, CDE says, “Try snacking on a small handful about 20 minutes before bed to help you relax and reach a deeper state of restful sleep.”

Walnuts

Bananas
In addition to having high levels of serotonin and melatonin, bananas are also packed with magnesium. Magnesium promotes sleep by decreasing levels of cortisol in the body, a hormone know to interrupt sleep patterns. Although eating the fruit itself has its calming benefits, most of the sleep-inducing power is in the peel. The daring may consider sprinkling banana peels with cinnamon to make them more palatable.

Tart Cherry Juice
A study published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology tracked the effectiveness of tart cherry juice, which contains melatonin, on older adult insomniacs. The participants who were given 8 oz of tart cherry juice twice a day slept an average of 87 minutes longer each night than those who received a placebo. Nutritionist Kayleen St. John, RD, explains, “Other study data has shown a significant elevation in melatonin in groups consuming cherry juice.”

Basil
Palinski Wade says, ” The plant contains sedative properties, which can help you fall and stay asleep. And as a bonus, it not only helps promote sleep, but is great for reducing indigestion,” a further sleep interrupter. She continues, “Research on this shows the sedative properties come mostly form the hydroalcoholic extract and essential oil of O. basilicum.” She points out that liquid basil extracts are available at the market and can “be used to flavor food, as a supplement, or as an essential oil.

Basil

Milk
It seems the common beliefs about the sleep-promoting abilities of milk are not without merit. “Milk may control melatonin production since it is a great source of calcium, ” Palinski-Wade explains. “Milk is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which has a calming effect on the body.”

Vitamin B6
According to Mary Hartley, RD, ” When we fall asleep, levels of serotonin rise and adrenaline levels fall. Serotonin, the relaxing hormone, is partly made from the amino acid, tryptophan, which is activated by Vitamin B6.” Fortunately, B6 can be found in a wide variety of foods, such as potatoes, fortified breakfast cereal, chicken, fish, peanut butter, fish, bananas, and several vegetables, so deficiencies are uncommon.

Do you go to the fridge when insomnia strikes? Tell us about it. And let us know how the cinnamon banana peels turned out!

Woman exercising

Get A Handle On Your Health

When it comes to health, are you a Felix or an Oscar? Maybe you remember an episode of the original Odd Couple where the two protagonists order room service. Oscar, the wild man, typically orders a rare steak with a baked potato and fried onions, while the mild-mannered Felix opts for sand dabs, cottage cheese, and weak tea. Where do you fall in? Are you the one drinking a smoothie and wielding a yoga mat headed for the nearest gym, or the one at the donut shop peering out from your stained napkin.

If you are the Oscar, you might be noticing a proliferance of healthy people out there and you may even be starting to feel that you are in danger of being run over by the relentless human race. But, buck up, you too can get a handle on your health by taking some simple steps.

To Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, its always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutririonist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating – all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgement. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure your surrounded with people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big Xes on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day to day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend.

Improve Your Diet
It’s all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives. MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health in the New Year. We love to hear it!

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 sleeping in low-lit room

Fight Fatigue With Power Naps

If you have ever seen the Seinfeld episode entitled “The Nap,” you may know that no one knows the power of a good nap quite like George Constanza. When a glass window in his office prevents him from daytime slumber, George asks Jerry’s contractor to trick out the area underneath his desk with all the creature comforts required for a stress-free, uninterrupted nap, including a shelf for his alarm clock and a cup holder. Although this set up predictably backfires on George, one cannot fault him for his dogged pursuit of a good nap. Napping is a great way to fight fatigue and stay on top of things and research finds that they can also effectively reduce stress and risk of heart disease.

Naps Combat Sleep Deprivation
Sara C. Mednick, author of “Take A Nap! Change Your Life” says, “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping. You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.” You also want to consider the length of your nap and the role it plays in its effect on the brain. A 20 minute nap, also referred to as the stage 2 nap, is recommended for remaining alert and sharpening motor learning skills like playing an instrument or typing. Longer naps help aid memory and improve creativity. Thirty to sixty minute naps-slow-wave sleep- enhance skills dealing with decision making and memorization of vocabulary or directions. REM sleep, which usually comes after 60 to 90 minutes of napping, helps the brain to form connections and solve creative problems.

Naps or Coffee
Who needs naps when you’ve got caffeine, right? Well, maybe not. Though a cup of java may improve alertness, caffeine can decrease your memory’s performance making you more likely to make mistakes and leave you cranky and unfocused.

Napping Tips
You may not put George Costanza- like strategy in planning your daily nap, but there are some tips to make the experience a little more beneficial.

Consistency
Schedule your naps. The best time for most people is in the middle of the day, between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m.

Speed
If you are not lucky enough to have a built in space for your alarm clock in your napping area, you can set your cell phone alarm clock to wake you up in 30 minutes or less. This will ensure you don’t wake up groggy.

Darkness
If you can’t nap in a dark room, you may want to wear an eye mask. Blocking light out will help you fall asleep more quickly.

Warmth
Body temperature drops when you sleep, so make sure you have a blanket handy if a snooze is on the agenda.

If you are a proud napper, we would love to hear all about your experiences. What is your favorite place to nap and what are your suggestions for a great nap? Let us know!