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28 Nov

What Are You Wearing? The History of Sleepwear

Pajamas! That’s the popular answer to the “What are you wearing?” question these days. Maybe because we’re at home more, or we just want to feel comfortable and cozy with all the stress in the world, but either way pajamas are definitely a trend in the fashion world. It’s become quite common to see families all dressed up in matching pajamas in holiday pictures on social media!

The purpose of wearing pajamas, or any other sleepwear, is to feel warm and relaxed so that we can get a good night’s sleep. We have so many choices when it comes to sleepwear, so let’s take a look at the history of how these styles came about.

The earliest descriptions of “night clothes” comes from the Middle Ages in Europe. Typically, this consists of a shapeless cloth, similar to a tunic, made of plain linen. Linen was often the fabric of choice because it could absorb perspiration and body oils, and could be boiled and bleached when wash day came around. Both the men’s nightshirt and the women’s “bed smock” looked the same, basically rectangular pieces of fabric simply sewn together.

Later more variety of fabrics were used, including cotton and flannel. The length of the shirt also varied from below the knee to the floor.  Buttons were added, and the design of nightshirts became more distinguishable between men and women. Collars were added for men and lace, ribbons and ruffles for women, but for both men and women this was still a one-piece shirt – no pants!

Women’s nightshirts turned into nightgowns in the early 1900s with embroidered necklines, and fancy sleeves. By 1909 the trend turned less practical and more beautiful as nightgowns turned into negligees made of satin and silk. In 1933 Diana Vreeland, the editor of Vogue Magazine at the time, had negligees made in Paris sent to her in New York. Her friend, Mary d’Erlanger, a socialite and trend-setter, wore one of the luxurious pink nightgowns to an event as a ball gown and started a new fad.

Pajamas are thought to have originated in ancient India. The word pajama comes from the Hindi words pae jama, meaning leg clothing. These are typically loose-fitting trousers with a drawstring, or now the more modern elastic, waistband. It’s likely that the British, having spent time in India, adopted this tradition in the 1800s. In England, they spell the word pyjamas. Originally, having separate clothes just for sleeping was quite a luxury, so pajamas were considered just for the wealthy. As time went on, more people started wearing pajamas to stay warm, as it was expensive to heat the home. Then the upper class upgraded their sleepwear with fancier, more expensive fabrics to set themselves apart.

By the 1920s pajamas were a definite fashion statement, worn by movie stars of the day. Designers like Coco Chanel made pajamas glamourous with lace and silk and long, flowing matching robes. The trend didn’t last long, though, as World War II had people thinking about being practical and thrifty. Pajama styles returned to their simple nature by the end of the war.

In 1934 It Happened One Night became the first film to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In the popular romantic comedy there is an iconic scene where Claudette Colbert wears Clark Gable’s tailored men’s pajamas. Of course, these pajamas went flying off the shelves of retailers all over the world! The style, a button-up shirt top with matching pants, has stood the test of time because it’s ideal for both men and women who want to look good and be comfortable while they sleep.

The 1950s brought more sleep style options for women, including “Baby Dolls” – pajama shorts with a loose top. By the mid 1980s sales of women’s pajamas outpaced sales of nightgowns. In 1977 Victoria’s Secret opened its first store in Palo Alto, California, offering women many more options in both lingerie and sleepwear. By the early 1990s the retailer had expanded to more than 350 stores nationwide, with sales of $1 billion. Now the company is still the largest lingerie retailer with more than 1000 stores. Perhaps their “secret” is in the many choices available to women.

When Marilyn Monroe was asked “What do you wear to bed?” she famously said: “Chanel Number Five.” Whether you get dressed, or undressed for sleep, make sure you get a great night’s sleep by sleeping on a supportive and comfortable mattress.

These days, “loungewear” is the term for clothing that can be worn to “lounge” or work at home. Yes, working and lounging are two different things. But the lines are blurred here… who hasn’t worn sweat pants with a suit shirt for a zoom conference call from home? Loungewear can be worn to yoga class, or to the grocery store, and it’s comfortable enough to sleep in. This ranges through anything from cute sweat suits, to knit pants called joggers, or leggings and a tee shirt. The options are numerous, and sales in this space are way up!

We tend to take it for granted that we have pajamas to change into when it’s time to go to bed. It’s a regular part of our nighttime routine, and helps us to get settled in for a good night’s rest. Yet there are many children for whom a pair of pajamas are just a dream. Whether they are homeless, or in foster care, many children live with uncertainty and without a stable environment. To help these kids, The Pajama Program was founded in 2001. This organization provides parents and caregivers with the resources and strategies they need to create and maintain a comforting bedtime routine for those in their care. The Pajama Program supplies inspiring storybooks and cozy pajamas to help parents and caregivers to connect with children at bedtime. We know that a good day begins with a good night’s sleep, and the Better Sleep Council has helped this cause by providing copies of “Freddy Bear’s Wakeful Winter” to The Pajama Program for distribution to the many caregivers they serve. For more information about The Pajama Program and how you can get involved, visit their website at PajamaProgram.org

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15 Nov

Cheer for Chia!

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant, a relative in the mint family. They’re whole-grain, gluten-free, and usually grown organically. They are thought to have originated with the Aztecs and the Mayas. “Chia” is actually the Maya word for “strength.” Chia seeds are being touted as a “super food” because they contain all kinds of important nutrients that are beneficial for the body and brain. Let’s look at why these tiny little seeds are good for us, and a some ways to incorporate them into our meals.

– Just one ounce of chia seeds (about 2 Tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 grams of which are omega-3s!), plus generous servings of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, and a good amount of zinc, potassium, and Vitamins B 1, 2, and 3. And all this for just 137 calories.

– In a one ounce serving (28 grams) chia seeds have 12 grams of carbs. But 11 of those grams are fiber, and not digested by the body. Just 1 gram is digestible carbs. Fiber is in the carb family, but because it doesn’t raise blood sugar or require insulin to dispose of it, fiber’s health effects are entirely different than carbs that come from starch or sugar.

– Chia seeds, with their highly soluble fiber content, expand in water – they can absorb 10-12 times their weight, expanding in the stomach and becoming gel-like. Because of this we feel more full and eat less. Fiber also helps with the good bacteria in the intestine, essential for good gut health.

– If you’re vegan, or concerned about getting enough protein in your diet, chia seeds definitely help as they contain 14% protein by weight, high compared to other plant foods.

– Because chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and omega-3s, they can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Of course, this is only possible when accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and diet.

– Chia seeds fit easily into any diet. They have a bland, neutral taste, so they don’t change the flavor of other foods. Unlike flax seeds, they don’t need to be ground up to be eaten. They can be sprinkled onto salads, veggies, cereal, yogurt or rice. They can also be used to thicken sauces, and many people use them as an egg substitute in baking recipes.

CHIA SEED PUDDING RECIPE

Serves 4

The basis for this recipe is the proportion of seeds to almond milk. for every 2 cups of liquid, use 1/2 cup of chia seeds. From there you can improvise and add whatever you like!

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk (or rice, oat, or coconut milk)

1/2 cup chia seeds

2-3 tablespoons sweetener: honey, sucanat, brown sugar, whatever you like (optional – if you are using sweetened milk you don’t need any sweetener)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

7-8 strands saffron, broken up

2 Tablespoons sliced almonds

Directions:

Put all the ingredients into a large jar, put the lid on tightly and shake it up vigorously. Make sure the chia seeds separate and there aren’t any visible lumps.

Refrigerate overnight.

CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING

2 cups almond milk (or substitute)

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 teaspoons cacao powder

2-3 Tablespoons sweetener

1/4 teaspoon ground dardamom

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour everything into a jar, and shake vigorously.

Refrigerate overnight.

Serves 4. Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate for a lovely presentation!

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04 Nov

Sleep Quotes and the Wisdom (or Not) Behind Them

Sleep is one thing we all have in common. No matter where you live, how old you are, or what language you speak, if you’re alive, then you sleep. Since we’ve all been doing this sleeping thing our whole lives, we might just have some thoughts to share on the subject. And if you happen to be a celebrity, these thoughts might be shared with the public. Let’s look at some of these famous quotes about sleep, and see if we’re getting good advice.

 

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  – Benjamin Franklin

 

Franklin was likely speaking from experience. His routine was that he would sleep from 10 pm to 5 am. Today, that’s the same routine for other successful people, including Jeff Bezos and Arianna Huffington. Ellen DeGeneres gets in her eight hours from 11pm to 7pm. However, Elon Musk and Barack Obama get to bed later, at 1 am, and then sleep until 7 am. So, can we thrive on less sleep?

 

There’s more than comes into play, including how people spend their daytime hours. Are you getting enough exercise and sunshine? Are you eating healthy foods? The quality of sleep you get it also very important. A study at John Hopkins University found that short but uninterrupted sleep is better than long hours of interrupted sleep. This is because interruption doesn’t allow the brain to go through all the sleep stages we need for energy and mental alertness. So, if you are getting that deep, uninterrupted sleep, even for fewer hours, and you are functioning optimally during that day maybe you don’t need as much sleep.

 

Research has shown that a good night’s sleep does make us smarter – or at least perform better on tests. A study at KU Leuven University in Belgium found higher test scores for students who slept seven hours each night during the exam period than those who got less sleep. The research accounted for differences in study habits, health and socioeconomic backgrounds.

 

Work eight hours and sleep eight hours and make sure that they are not the same hours. – T. Boone Pickens

Here’s a successful guy who believed in balance. Work, sleep, and then also live your life. Good advice. If you’re working too much and not giving the mind some downtime to rest before sleep, you’ll have a more difficult time getting to sleep, and probably not sleep as well.

 

I need nine hours of sleep because of all the activity I do. It doesn’t always happen, but I really try. – Ana Ivanovic

 

8 hours sleep is average – the ballpark for most of us. But some people need less, like Elon Musk, apparently! And some of us need more, like pro tennis player Ana Ivanovic. You don’t have to be an athlete, either – expending mental energy also requires a body-mind reset through sleep. If you find yourself yawning in the afternoon, or feeling like you need a nap, you might just need more sleep at night. When you’re getting enough quality nighttime sleep you shouldn’t need to take a nap. Young children and the elderly are exceptions, they usually need a nap in the day.

 

I don’t sleep enough, and it does… what is the opposite of wonders… horrors. It does horrors for my skin. – Kate McKinnon

I think my biggest tip – and I consider it a part of my beauty routine – is getting my sleep, without a doubt. I do a true eight hours. – Tracee Ellis Ross

 

There’s a reason why we call it “Beauty Sleep” and these actresses will tell you! It works both ways. Get good sleep and it shows on your face – your skin, your eyes, your smile. Or stay up too late missing those precious sleep hours and that will show up on your face, too. There’s only so much that make-up can do to hide the signs of lack of sleep. Who better than an actress to confirm this?

 

I drink a ton of water. And I never go to bed too full. – Chrissy Teigen

 

Chrissy Teigen has the right idea when it comes to eating. It’s best not to go to bed on a full stomach, because then your body is busy digesting instead of focusing on getting you into a sleep state. But it’s also not good to go to bed hungry either. Chrissy posts on her Instagram account about her “night eggs” that she swears by for sleep. She eats one lightly seasoned hard-boiled egg before bed, and it give her just enough protein to get her through the night without being hungry. But when it comes to water – it’s great to drink water during the day, but definitely limit your intake after 7 pm or your sleep will be interrupted when you need to get out of bed to visit the bathroom!

 

Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight. – Phyllis Diller

Make sure you never, never argue at night. You just lose a good night’s sleep and you can’t settle anything until morning anyway. -Rose Kennedy

 

I think we’ve all heard this from marriage and relationship experts: “Never go to bed angry.” Worst advice ever! What is the alternative? Like Phyllis Diller says, stay up and fight? I’m sure Phyllis was joking – how can anyone possibly sleep after getting all riled up in a heated argument? I think Rose Kennedy has a better idea. Never argue at night. Table the argument, go to sleep and figure it out in the morning. Chances are, after a good night’s sleep, the argument won’t seem so important anyway. You’ll be able to think more clearly and may even have dreamt up a solution to the problem!

 

Nothing makes you feel better than when you get into a hotel bed, and the sheets feel so good. Why shouldn’t you wake up like that every day? Spend money on your mattress and bedding because these things make a difference on your sleep and, ultimately, your happiness. -Bobby Berk

 

Bobby Berk is an interior designer and television host. He travels a lot for work, so he knows about staying in hotels. Many people experience a great night’s sleep when they stay in a hotel. And when they come home it’s just not the same. The difference? The mattress. Hotels are really good about getting fresh new mattresses all the time so that their guests are comfortable. So, Bobby is giving us really good advice. A new mattress is an investment in both our health and happiness. And of course, the bedding should feel good when you’re in bed, and look good enough to make you smile when you’re out of bed!

 

 

https://podcasts.hopkinsmedicine.org/2015/12/18/december-24-2015-interrupted-sleep/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/11/13/the-sleep-habits-of-highly-successful-people-infographic/#1459a7376d7f

 

https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/en/content/2014/for-better-marks-get-a-good-nights-sleep

 

 

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19 Oct

Circadian Rhythms and Blues

Nature has a rhythm. We see it in the way the seasons change, the way the tide comes in and out, and the way the sun rises and sets. It all just happens as it is supposed to. A circadian rhythm is the physiological processes of all living animals and plants within about a 24-hour cycle. This rhythm is created internally, but it can be modified by external factors such as temperature and sunlight. When we look at patterns of daily behavior, such as eating and sleeping, circadian rhythms are key.

 

Back in the days before electricity, staying in rhythm with nature’s cycle was the norm. People would wake up with the sun, work in the daylight, and go to bed sometime not too long after dark. It wasn’t that long ago that the few television channels we received signed off at midnight and there was no programming overnight. But now, we live in a 24/7 world. We do business with foreign countries by computer at all times of the day and night. We travel across oceans and time zones in a matter of hours. We don’t have to wait for stores to open, we can shop online anytime we want. And between the thousands of television and radio stations we have access to, along with internet options, we are never lacking in around-the-clock entertainment. Given all the amenities of life that we have access to it’s understandable how easily our own rhythms can get out of synch with nature.

 

Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old Science of Life from India, says that the mind and body operate most efficiently when we go to bed at the same time each night, 10 pm, and arise at the same time each morning, 6 am. According to Ayurveda, this is an essential practice for people to be in harmony with nature and to be their healthiest and happiest selves. Ayurveda advises that for people who need less sleep, that they get up earlier in the morning. And for those who need more sleep, that they go to bed earlier at night. Meal times are also planned for optimal digestion, with the largest meal of the day consumed around noon.

 

While this sounds like a healthy lifestyle choice, is it possible for everyone?

 

Modern science has identified “chronotypes” amongst people. While habits play a role in this, a person’s chronotype, or internal clock, is most influenced by genetics and can be difficult to change. There are morning birds, and night owls, and many others in between. We each have a chronotype that fits on a bell curve alongside everyone else’s. 30-50 percent of people fall in the middle of this curve, sleeping between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. About 40 percent of people have sleep cycles that fall about an hour or so down the sides of the curve, sleeping between 10 pm and 6 am, or between midnight and 8 am.

 

Then there are those who fall on the edges of the curve. Many teenagers tend to be in this category as their changing hormones can affect their chronotype. They prefer to stay up later, and wake up later, though this pattern shifts earlier as they age. Because both science and educators have recognized this, some schools are now starting a bit later to help their students to be more alert and productive during class times. With flex schedules, and more jobs available for nighttime workers, for some people it can be a benefit to be a night owl.

 

Having a sleep schedule that is outside the norm can be a problem, as society tends to reward early risers. The expression “the early bird catches the worm” dates back to the 1600s! For those who need to get to bed early and wake up early, it’s not so difficult to fit in. But those whose chronotype gives them the need to stay up late, and wake up late, often struggle conforming to the duties and expectations that come with a 9-5 job.

 

When a person’s body clock is out of sync with society’s clock scientists call it “social jet lag.” Social jet lag puts stress on the body and mind that can affect job performance and undermine health. Research from 2012 showed that those with social jet lag were more likely to be overweight, had a greater risk for depression, and were more likely to participate in risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking. It’s not the chronotype itself that causes these problems, it’s the mismatch between the chronotype and the daily schedule. In addition, if night owls are getting less sleep because they are getting up earlier, while not going to bed earlier, this ongoing sleep deficit can also create a risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

 

If night owls can’t change their work hours, there are ways that they can shift their internal clock to earlier in the day. However, this requires commitment, and can be difficult to maintain.

One way to shift is through a combination of bright light therapy and melatonin. Usually being out in the sun provides the natural light exposure necessary for our internal clock. But when working from an office all day, we don’t always get the sun we need. There are lamps that mimic the sun that can be helpful. Leaving the curtains open at night so that the morning sun streams in is a good strategy, as is going for an early morning walk or run. With light therapy you must stick to the same schedule every day of the week. If you sleep in on the weekend you can set-back all the progress you’ve made up to that point.

 

The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin at night when it is dark, but melatonin production varies from person to person. Taking a melatonin capsule 3-4 hours before the desired bedtime will help a night owl to feel sleepier earlier than they usually do. Think of this new routine with light therapy and melatonin as a sleep diet, and be diligent with it.

 

Another option to re-set the body clock is chronotherapy. Rather than trying to go to bed earlier than usual, night owls can try going to bed two hours later each night until they reach their desired bedtime. This process can be successful, but it takes about two weeks. Few people have such control over their schedules for that length of time to follow through with the plan.

 

Another strategy for groggy night owls is the midday coffee nap. When you feel tired, adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep, circulates throughout the body. When you fall asleep, adenosine levels drop. Caffeine competes with adenosine, preventing adenosine from being received by the brain. So, you feel less sleepy. It takes 20 minutes for caffeine to take effect. So, on your lunch break, quickly drink a half of a cup of coffee or so, then set your alarm for a 20-minute nap. This way the body doesn’t get into the deep sleep state. You can also just rest or meditate during that time if you prefer. At the end of the 20 minutes the caffeine starts to kick in, and you also have the energy boost from the quick nap or rest. Just make sure that you don’t consume caffeine any time past 2 pm or you’ll have a more difficult time getting to sleep at bedtime.

 

Whether you’re a night owl or a morning bird, or anything in between, make sure the sleep you get, whenever you get it, is on a comfortable and supportive mattress. This way you’ll wake up refreshed no matter what time it is!

More sleep tips at www.BetterSleep.org

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/circadian_rhythm.htm

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212003259

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2015/12/18/10450300/case-against-sleeping-in

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-nap

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011935/

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01 Oct

The Science of Relationships

Recently I was interviewed by a UK Magazine for an article about my take on the science behind relationships. The questions were interesting and thought-provoking – so I thought I’d share with you here:

SR: In terms of the science of attraction, what is it that attracts us to another person in the first place?

LC: In a word… karma. We have a kind of contract with certain people in this particular life – and we are compelled to fulfill it.

SR: How important is physical attraction in comparison to connecting emotionally and being on a similar intellectual level? What is the most important out of these three?

LC: Physical attraction opens that door so that you can connect in the other ways more quickly. But in terms of a relationship sustaining, if we’re talking about romantic relationships, you need all three equally.

 

SR: What is the key to a successful relationship? Is there some kind of formula?

LC: Kindness. Truthfulness. Some people say communication is key, but what good is communication if you’re not being truthful?

 

SR: What makes a happy relationship?

LC: Commitment. Knowing someone has got your back. Knowing you’re safe and can be yourself without fear that you will be abandoned.

 

SR: Are some of us naturally better at making relationships work than others?

LC: Our past has an impact on how we view relationships, and how we learn to be in relationships. So, some are lucky to have had positive experiences and role models which makes it easier for them. Others need to struggle to unlearn bad habits, or change thought processes that hold them back from being successful in relationships.

 

SR: How important is sex in human relationships?

LC: During procreation age, it is very important, it’s a way to communicate. We are naturally driven to create a family, a nest. Those instincts come out as wanting to have sex. But after that, sex as recreation is not important. It’s intimacy that is important, and we can get that in many other ways besides sex.

 

SR: Humans are one of the only species that evolved to have sex for pleasure rather than simply for reproductive purposes. Why do you think that is?

LC: That would be a question for an anthropologist! But from a spiritual perspective, we have these five senses, and we search for happiness through those senses, through our connection to the outside world. We’re looking in all the wrong places. True bliss is only found within, when we discover and experience our connection with the Divine.

 

SR: Which do you think is more natural for humans; monogamy or promiscuity? Why?

LC: More natural? Monogamy. Although many would argue differently. We are not animals. We are spiritual creatures living in this human body. To experience the spiritual it is far better for us to have that intimate experience with one person. To dive deep and learn about ourselves through our relationships.

 

SR: Unfaithfulness/infidelity – is it a conscious choice or something beyond our control? Does it have a place in society or does it do nothing but harm?

LC: It’s our ego out of control. We think it is fun, we use the excuse that we can’t help it, but it just shows spiritual and emotional immaturity.

 

SR: Do you think love and lust are separate, or are they linked?

LC: Love, true love, is seeing the divine in your partner. Lust is merely hormones and ego.

 

SR: What impact do you think social media is having on our ability to find, start and maintain healthy relationships?

LC: It is certainly helping us to find and start relationships. To maintain them that’s up to us. You can’t really maintain a relationship just via social media. I do think it is helping grandparents stay in better touch with grandkids, and help them to know what is going on in their lives, seeing their photos of all their activities and such. That’s a good thing. Reconnecting with old friends. But for genuine, healthy, intimate relationships you have to go beyond social media.

 

SR: Following on from the above question, online chat rooms and dating apps have changed the way we meet potential partners. Is this a good change or a bad one? How do you think this will change in the future?

LC: It’s good up to a point. It’s also bad. We don’t know who is genuine or not, or what their motives are for participating. I think it will change in that there will be more safeguards, more vetting involved – purely out of necessity.

 

SR: In the UK, statistics show that divorce rates are very high. Why do you think that is? Have we become a society of giving up rather than trying to fix things, or is it better to let go when you know something isn’t right?

LC: We’re living longer, that’s a part of it. It’s really difficult to sustain a marriage over a lifetime. People grow and change and drift apart. They’re not the same people as they were when they first got together. And also I think there’s this impulse in young people – they want a marriage and don’t see it as a lifelong commitment. That’s why we have all these “starter” marriages.

 

SR: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing relationships today?

LC: Distractions. We are so distracted by the internet, and work, and activities that we don’t focus enough on the person right in front of us, who needs and deserves our attention most of all.

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27 Jul

For the Love of Chocolate

You know those games where you have to name three things you need to have on a desert island? One of my three would have to be dark chocolate! I don’t think I’m alone in this – many people feel the same way. There’s just something about it. Well, science is on our side because this amazing gift from heaven that we call chocolate has been found to be heart-healthy. Yep, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology says just that.

 

Turns out, dark chocolate is choc-full of antioxidants that help to boost mood, improve concentration, get blood flow going, and even reduce inflammation. The study says that a single serving of dark chocolate has more prodyanidins than Americans usually get in a day, and these help to block the uptake of bad cholesterol. More good news: The antioxidants in chocolate last longer than they do in other foods. We know green tea is healthy, but the antioxidants degrade with its shelf life. Chocolate bars remain potent for about 4 years, and cocoa beans and powder are good for 75 years.

 

The darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. Darker chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa solids, which is where the antioxidants are. However, if the chocolate is highly processed, some of the benefits lessen. Dark chocolate also has a lower sugar content, and fewer calories than milk or white chocolate, which are typically mixed with either powdered or condensed milk.

 

Of course, remember to eat any food, even chocolate, in moderation. Too much of anything is not good, especially when you factor in the calories, sugar, milk and fat added into commercial products. The study recommends a 1-ounce bite a few times per week. Remember that you can also get heart healthy flavonoids with other foods such as apples, tea, citrus fruit, onions and berries.

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Ingredients

(serves 6-8)

  • 7 small sweet potatoes
  • ¾ cup almond milk, or other vegan milk substitute
  • 7 Tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
  • raw cocoa nibs for garnish

Directions

Bake the sweet potatoes until soft, then cool and remove the skin.

Place the rest of the ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor until smooth.

Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Serve in individual cups with a sprinkle of cocoa nibs over the top.

 

 

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25 Jun

Birthstones and Their Healing Properties

A birthstone is a gemstone that corresponds to the month of someone’s birth. It is thought to be lucky to wear your birthstone in jewelry in some way, to receive the energy of that stone. How did this tradition come about? Back in the first century Josephus, a Jewish historian, thought there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate, signifying the tribes of Israel, and the twelve months of the year and twelve signs of the zodiac.  Around the eight and ninth centuries, it was a trend to have twelve stones and wear one a month.

 

In modern times, jewelers got together and officially adopted a list of which birthstones belonged with each month, and the list has been added to and updated over the years. Just for fun, let’s take a look and see what our birthstones can do for us energetically!

 

Anyone can wear any of these stones anytime. However, if you wear your birthstone, it is supposed to be stronger for you than it would be for others. And if you wear a stone in the month it is associated with, it with be stronger during that month. You can also have stones on display in your home or on your altar. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or having too much energy, take a break from wearing the stone for a while.

 

January: Garnet

The garnet is a deep red stone. The name garnet comes from “seed” and it represents new beginnings, so it’s great to wear when you’re starting something new. Garnet goes with the first month of January, and also the first chakra, the root chakra. Garner can help release past attachments and family karma. It’s a good stone for grounding and stability. It is also said to keep you safe while traveling.

 

February: Amethyst

Amethyst comes in a range of purple colors, and also in green! Amethyst is most famous for its ability to clear negative energy. It is calming, bringing peace and serenity, and it can also help you tune in to your intuition. Amethyst is widely used in healing and energy work as it is gentle, yet powerfully effective.

 

March: Aquamarine

The light blue aquamarine got its name from the sea and it has been used to protect sailors from the harsh ocean. The cool blue stone is good for healing, and can calm anger in relationships. Blue is the color of the throat chakra, so aquamarine is a good stone to help when you want to speak clearly, and express yourself creatively. It is also said to bring confidence and courage.

 

April: Diamond

Diamonds are precious, and pricey. As an alternative, you can substitute a zircon or a Herkimer diamond, both clear stones. Diamonds amplify energy, meaning that when worn with another stone, it makes that stone even stronger. Diamonds symbolize purity and eternity, which may be why they are the favorite stone for engagement rings. Diamonds are also known to bring strength and vitality to the wearer.

 

May: Emerald

Emeralds are brilliant green, and associated with the heart chakra. It symbolizes love and the awakening of the heart, as well as fertility and rebirth. When we talk of fertility and rebirth, it can be the beginnings of an idea, and the creativity required to bring that idea to fruition. Emeralds are also known to make the wearer magnetic, so that you can attract a person, or anything that you want. Other green stones can be used as substitutes for an emerald.

 

June: Pearl

The luminous white sphere that we know as the pearl comes from the depths of the sea. The ancient Greeks believed that pearls were the hardened tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Pearls carry lunar energy, so they are calming and cooling. They are also thought to hold creative energy so they are great for artists. Pearls are also recommended for women who want to create a healthy cycle, or a healthy pregnancy.

 

July: Ruby

The ruby is a bright red color, and like the garner is connected to the root chakra. It has grounding energy, and it is also protective, warding off negative energy. The ruby is known to be healing for the body, especially for any condition which affects the blood. It’s good to wear a ruby when you feel like your energy has run out, or if you’re wanting to bring more passion into your life.

 

August: Peridot

The peridot is a light green stone, almost an apple green. Peridot is happy looking, and it is known to stimulate positive thoughts and mental clarity. Like the emerald, if is associated with the heart chakra, and can help heal the heart after a trauma, or after the breakup of a relationship. The peridot also can reduce fearful feelings, and encourage strength and courage. You can wear the peridot when you want to keep away fear and nightmares.

 

September: Sapphire

The sapphire gemstone is a clear royal blue color. True blue symbolizes loyalty, as well as wisdom and healing. Like the aquamarine, the blue color helps the throat chakra and all modes of communication. Wearing a sapphire helps you to speak your truth. The sapphire can also help you to see the truth, making you more sensitive and aware of the motives of people you’re dealing with. Lapis Lazuli is considered a good substitute for the sapphire.

 

October: Opal

Opals and their properties vary a bit depending on the color and their origin. If you want to wear an opal, it is best that you choose it yourself so you can tune into its energy and find one that is right for you. Opals are powerful, and symbolize confidence, love, healing, protection, strength and faithfulness. They also bring protection to the wearer and keep away negativity. Opals are said to help those seeking to overcome trauma or depression.

 

November: Topaz

The traditional topaz is a golden color, but you can find the topaz is many other colors as well. This is another stone that you need to choose yourself so that it goes with your vibe. The topaz is good to wear or have nearby when you’re starting to meditate because it helps to clear the mind and release thoughts. It’s also good for helping to improve concentration, so you can wear it when you are studying. Citrine is a good substitute for the topaz.

 

December: Turquoise

Turquoise is another happy and positive stone. It brings to the wearer relaxation for the mind as well as feelings of calm and peace. It is said that turquoise helps us to be more sensitive and intuitive. It is also a protective stone. Since it is blue, it is great for healing, cleansing, and releasing.

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02 Jun

Seven Simple Ways to Silence Snoring


If you snore, you might not even be aware that you’re making such a racket in your sleep – but if you sleep with a partner, they sure are! Where is all this noise coming from? It’s basically just noisy breathing that disturbs your sleep and that of your partner. The side effects of snoring include fragmented sleep, resulting in daytime drowsiness.

 

Snoring is a pretty common problem, affecting about 90 million adults in the United States. What causes it? The muscles of the throat relax when we sleep. The tongue falls back and the throat becomes narrow and soft. As we breath, the walls of the throat vibrate, and that’s when some people make that “snnnnnnooore” sound. Aging causes the throat muscles to relax, so older folks are more likely to snore than younger ones. Obesity also contributes to snoring since there is more fatty tissue in the neck area. Then there are also snoring risk factors to consider such the way the nose and throat are structured, how much alcohol you’ve had, and even your sleep position. And snoring could also be caused dry air, a cold, or an allergy.

 

If you are a chronic snoring offender, consult your physician to make sure you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea. Apnea is heavy snoring that requires medical attention when the throat’s walls collapse, causing a cessation of breathing.

 

Here are some simple home remedies that just might help to keep the peace in your household:

 

1) Use a humidifier. Air conditioners and heating units dry out indoor air, and the delicate tissue in the nose and throat are sensitive to this. A cool air humidifier helps to replace some of that moisture in the air, making it more comfortable and easier to breathe through the nose. You may add a few drops of essential oil to the humidifier unit to get added benefits. Peppermint, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus all help to open up the nasal passages naturally. If you’ve got a snoring dog, a humidifier will help that, too!

 

2) Take a steam. A hot steamy shower before bed helps to reduce nasal congestion so that you can breathe more easily. As an alternative, you can inhale steam by putting a bowl of boiled water on a table (add essential oil as an option here as well) and leaning over the bowl. Breathe in deeply. You may want to use a towel over your head to create a tent effect that directs the steam towards your face. Give it at least 5 to 10 minutes to see some results.

 

3) Lubricate the nasal passages. Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old Science of Life, recommends lubricating the nasal passages with sesame oil, or ghee. Ghee is also known as clarified butter. It is used in many Ayurvedic remedies for its medicinal properties. With clean hands, you can simply use your pinky finger to massage the inside of your nostrils with sesame oil or soft ghee. Close off one nostril at a time and breathe in the oil to moisturize further up the nose. Repeat before bed and upon awakening in the morning.

 

4) Lubricate the throat.

-Olive oil is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and can decrease the swelling in the respiratory passages. It also relieves soreness and reduces the vibration in the throat that causes snoring. Simply take a shot class full of olive oil all by itself (two to three sips), right before you go to bed.

-Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it coats the throat, reducing snoring vibrations. Mix one teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water, or a cup of chamomile or ginger tea and drink sometime between after-dinner and bedtime. Chamomile is famous as a muscle and nerve relaxant, which will help you to sleep comfortably. Ginger has the benefit of anti-bacterial effects.

 

5) Use Herbals.

-Peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties that can help open up the whole respiratory system. Take a drop or two of peppermint oil in a glass of warm water and gargle with it before bed.

-Cardamom has been used as a decongestant and an expectorant, so it can be helpful in opening up blocked nasal passages. You can chew up some cardamom pods, or mix about ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom in a cup of warm water and drink before bed.

-Nettle is helpful to relieve snoring caused by seasonal allergies as it has both anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Make a tea from about a Tablespoon of dried nettle and let it seep in boiling water for five minutes. You can drink this anytime to help relieve allergy symptoms.

-Turmeric is a mighty antibiotic and antiseptic. Interestingly, these properties are amplified when turmeric is mixed with milk. This also makes it an amazing immune system booster! Use 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric and mix into a cup of hot milk to make “Golden Milk,” an ancient Ayurvedic recipe. Sip about half an hour before bedtime.

 

6) Sleep on your side. Sleeping on the back can cause the tongue to move to the back of the throat and blocking some airflow, causing snoring. If you can sleep on your side instead, air flows more easily so there’s much less chance of snoring. For those who have trouble sleeping on their side, “Tennis Ball Therapy” was created.

 

TBT, as it is now known in scientific journals, is a popular snoring treatment designed to help train a person to sleep on their side. Typically, a tennis ball is taped, or attached in some way, to the snorer’s back, impeding them from rolling over onto their back. It doesn’t have to be a tennis ball, but that size seems to work for most people. For my friend Dave, when the tennis ball was ineffective, his wife resorted to duct-taping a soccer ball to the back of his shirt! Snoring prevention has gotten to be big business. Now, conveniently, there are sleep shirts you can get with the tennis ball pocket sewed into the back. Some companies make dedicated inflatable sleeping backpacks to get the job done.

 

7) Play the Didgeridoo. The Didgeridoo is traditional wind instrument from Australia. It has a unique sound, and it requires strong mouth, tongue and throat muscles to play. Practicing on this instrument builds up and tones those muscles so that you are less likely to snore. Any wind instrument will do, just make sure that your practicing doesn’t become more annoying to your partner than your snoring is!

Lots more sleep tips at: BetterSleep.org

 

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20 Apr

Lucid Dreaming

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

-Edgar Allan Poe

 

You’re asleep, dreaming away, and then you realize that you are in a dream. Has that ever happened to you? If so, then you have experienced lucid dreaming. It’s like the “dream within a dream” that Poe writes about.

 

Usually during the dream state, the dream is our reality. We aren’t conscious of the fact that we are dreaming. It is only after we wake up that we can understand we were in a dream and not in reality, sometimes to our great relief! Lucid dreaming is a state in which we are aware that we are dreaming while we are dreaming. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosophy, wrote about this in his treatise “On Dreams” sometime around 350 B.C. He says: often, when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.”

 

In 1899 Sigmund Freud in “The Interpretation of Dreams” gave credit to Aristotle as being the first to recognize that dreams “do not arise from supernatural manifestations but follow the laws of the human spirit.” In 1913 Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden coined the term “lucid dream” in his article “A Study of Dreams.”

 

Today researchers estimate that about 77 percent of people have experienced lucid dreaming one or more times. Since most dreaming takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, this is when lucid dreaming occurs as well. During the REM stage of sleep, most of the muscles in the body become paralyzed, so that we don’t hurt ourselves while acting out our dreams. But the eye muscles, still able to move, move rapidly. Good quality REM sleep helps improve memory, focus, and emotional regulation.

 

While it is usual to just wake up from a lucid dream, many lucid dreamers are adopting the practice of staying in the dream state and exploring the potential there. They can observe their dreams, think of them in the context of the waking world, and sometimes even control the direction of their dreams. For example, a lucid dreamer may choose to work on a challenging problem in the dream state. Before drifting off to sleep, they think of the problem for which they need a solution. In this way, they train the mind to move in the direction of their goal.

 

There are many applications to lucid dreaming that can be beneficial to a person’s life. Using lucid dreaming to help stop nightmares is called “lucid dreaming therapy.” This has also been helpful for people to overcome phobias. With this technique, the dreamer can consciously take on “superpowers” in the dream to fight back or escape from what they are afraid of, or even choose to wake up from the dream. Lucid dreaming techniques have also been used to treat depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

 

It takes time and practice to both learn and get good at lucid dreaming. If you’re up for it, here’s how you can get started:

 

1) Get good quality sleep. To have dreams, you need restful sleep, which includes as much REM as possible. Practice good sleep hygiene: keep the room cool, dark and quiet. Get to bed by 10 pm. Follow a calming bedtime routine – including no screen time at least one hour before bed. Make sure your mattress is in good condition. If it is older than 5-7 years you’re probably due for a new one. Remember that a mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep

 

2) Keep a dream journal. Many people can’t remember their dreams by the time they wake up. And as the day goes on, dream memories fade. Keep a notebook by your bed and as soon as you awaken, write down everything you can remember about your dreams. As an option, you could record a voice memo if this is easier. There are several dream journal apps for phones to keep track of your dreams as well.

 

3) Look for patterns and signs. Once you have a few dreams recorded, start looking for what images show up again and again. It might be people, or places, or themes. When you identify these signs, you’re more likely to be able to recognize when you are in a dream state.

 

4) Reality checks. Lucid dreaming experts say that we can get the brain used to the idea of noticing when we’re dreaming or not. This way we’re better able to do so while we’re sleeping. For example: While you’re awake, check the clock – look away – then look back at the clock. In the waking state, the time will stay the same. In the dream state, the time will likely change. Notice the waking state about 10 times a day, reminding yourself that you are awake.

 

5) The MILD technique. MILD stands for Mneumonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming. As you are falling asleep, repeat a phrase to yourself over and over again. For example: “I will know when I am dreaming.” By doing this you’re encouraging the brain to be aware as dreaming happens, and this increases the possibility of lucid dreams.

 

6) Go back to the dream. If you wake up from a dream, stay in bed and record the details in your journal. Then when you try to go back to sleep, focus your mind on returning to the same dream. Play it out as if you were aware of the dream until you fall asleep.

 

7) The WILD technique. WILD stands for Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming. When you wake up, instead of writing down the dream, keep your eyes closed and go right back to sleep. As you lie there, keep the mind focused and aware. Sometimes in this state, when the mind is awake and the body goes to sleep, you might become aware of “sleep paralysis.” If this makes you uneasy, remind yourself that this is temporary so that you can lucid dream, and that you are safe and comfortable. Salvador Dali, Benjamin Franklin, and Mary Shelley are known to have used this technique to help themselves dream up some of their greatest works.

 

8) Stay in the dream. Often beginning ludic dreamers get excited when they realize that they are in a dream that they wake themselves up. To stay in the dream, experts recommend that you distract the mind from the physical sensations of waking up. While in the dream you could rub your hands together, spin around, fall backwards, or continue doing what you were doing in the dream.

 

9) Video gaming. A recent study found that video gaming is associated with more ability to remember dreams. Video gamers are often immersed in a dream-like, fictional world where they have control over their movements and activities. Just make sure to stay off the screen 1 hour or more before bed to get a good night’s rest.

 

Like any skill, you need to practice and be patient as you work on lucid dreaming. The first step is just to relax and observe. Enjoy the process. Sweet dreams!

More sleep tips at : www.BetterSleep.org

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05 Mar

While You Were Sleeping: The Tale of the Tooth Fairy

As the legend goes, when a child loses a baby tooth, and then places it under their pillow, a sprite known as the “Tooth Fairy” comes along and swaps out that tooth for money while the child sleeps. As many children will tell you, this has happened to them. They put a fallen-out tooth under their pillow, go to sleep, and in the morning when they wake up they find money where they left the tooth. If you’re curious as to how this phenomenon came about, you’re come to the right place. We’ve done some investigative journalism to get to the root of the story!

 

Evidently, the tradition of disposing of children’s lost baby teeth goes way back to ancient cultures. In Medieval England superstition led people to burn the lost teeth. They were afraid that in the afterlife the person would go in search of those teeth if the teeth were still around somewhere. Others believed that if a witch ever got a hold of a tooth she would have power over the person it had belonged to. Elsewhere, children were taught to feed their teeth to animals in order to dispose of them. There were various other ways to get rid of the teeth, including throwing them into a fire, throwing them up to the sun or the sky, or hiding them in a tree. Some thought that burying their children’s baby teeth in the garden would help the permanent teeth to grow in.

 

Money in exchange for teeth started in Northern Europe with the tradition of “tand-fe” or “tooth fee,” paid to the child when they lost their first tooth. In the Norse culture, children’s teeth were said to bring good luck in battle, so the Vikings often paid children for their teeth. These Scandinavian warriors would string the teeth into a necklace to wear when fighting.

 

The legend of a mouse who would sneak into a child’s room at night to trade teeth for money became popular in Russia, Mexico, and many other countries. In Italy today, a little mouse named Topolino stands in for the Tooth Fairy. In Spain the mouse’s name is Raton Perez. In France and Belgium the same character is called “la petite souris” or “the little mouse.” The tale was passed down orally throughout the years starting as early as the 1800s. It is this mouse story that many scholars believe to be the origin of what we now know as the Tooth Fairy.

 

The Tooth Fairy herself is thought to be a very American tradition. In 1908 The Chicago Daily Tribune ran a “Household Hints” column by Lillian Brown. This is the author’s advice to parents: “Many a refractory child will allow a loose tooth to be removed if he knows about the Tooth Fairy. If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed the Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift. It is a nice plan for mothers to visit the 5-cent counter and lay in a supply of articles to be used on such occasions.”

 

Sometime around 1927 Esther Watkins Arnold wrote a short play for children that became the Tooth Fairy’s first appearance in a book. Then with the popularity of Disney’s cartoons for children, imaginations were kindled and the Tooth Fairy became a fixture in society. She is often portrayed as very “Tinkerbell”-like – small and delicate, with wings and a wand. This explains how she can get in and out of houses, and under pillows without being detected. It also explains how she can magically carry a coin or a tooth!

 

Now that we are out of the dark ages, what purpose does the Tooth Fairy serve? She actually plays an important role in our family systems. As Lillian Brown writes, believing that the Tooth Fairy will be coming may help alleviate a child’s fears about going to the dentist when a tooth needs to be pulled. They may have some discomfort for a bit, but there’s a happy ending with a nice reward in the morning. At the age when a child loses their “baby” teeth, having a little bit of money to call their own can also help with the transition into adulthood. Money is a symbol of responsibility, and a marker to allow a child to experience some responsibility.

 

The Tooth Fairy also helps to provide comfort to the parents during this transition time. Their child may be losing teeth, but the fantasy of the Tooth Fairy story keeps them reassured that it’s not all going too fast, that their child is still very much a child.

 

Today the Tooth Fairy is quite big business as well! In 2011 the Royal Canadian Mint started selling special coin sets featuring the Tooth Fairy. They also made Tooth Fairy quarters that were issued in 2011 and 2012. In gift shops and online you’ll find custom-made pillows with pockets for the lost-tooth occasion, little pewter boxes to keep teeth in, and several books and cartoons to explain the story. The cost of teeth that the Tooth Fairy pays for teeth has gone up with inflation as well. While you and I might have found some coins under the pillow, according to a survey by VISA, the current average cost of a tooth is currently about $3.70. Some parents report that the tooth fairy pays even more for molars.

 

The Tooth Fairy may just be helping all of us to sleep better at night.

 

Lissa Coffey is a spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, and the founder of CoffeyTalk.com. A lifestyle and wellness expert, she’s written several books and been featured on Today, Good Morning America, and several other national and local television shows.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooth_fairy

https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-europe/toothfairy-0010523

http://www.recess.ufl.edu/transcripts/2005/0823.shtml

 

 

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