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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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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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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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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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18 Jan

Defining Self Care

“Self-care” has become somewhat of a buzz word lately. So many people are talking about it, especially online. In most of the discussions, self-care is used to describe taking a bath, getting a massage, having some aromatherapy, and the like. It kind of comes off as prioritizing yourself, maybe to the point of being selfish. But let’s really unpack this, and understand what self-care really means.

 

This is my definition of self-care: Being responsible for your own happiness and well-being. We can’t “get” happiness from any outside source. That means we can’t buy it, and we can’t rely on anyone else to provide it for us, or give it to us. So, if we’re not happy or well, we can’t blame anyone or anything – the buck, so to speak, stops with ourselves. When we can understand that, then we can make more informed choices about what we do, and how we do it.

 

For example, let’s look at the three pillars of health in Ayurveda, and how this relates to self-care.

 

1) Food: Food is anything we “eat” through any of the senses. What do you put in your mouth, what do you smell, what do you touch, what do you watch, what are you listening to? If you’re stressed out, yet continue to watch violent television shows, or listen to argumentative talk shows on the car radio, you need to make different choices. If your digestion is poor, and you’re eating junk food late at night, you need to be doing something different. This is self-care – knowing how to take care of yourself body, mind, and spirit… and actually doing it. No one else can do it for you. You absolutely have control here – so we have to look at our habits, and stop being on auto-pilot.

 

2) Sleep: You’ve heard me talk about sleep for years as the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council. What could be easier than going to bed at a reasonable time? And yet, we don’t do it! We have every excuse to stay up later than we should. We’re on our screens way too late, we don’t invest in our sleep by making sure we have a new mattress and pillow. It’s like we see sleep as a chore, something more to fit into our busy day. Like a little kid, we don’t want to go to bed because we’re afraid we’ll be missing something! It’s time to change that mind-set and understand how important sleep is in every area of our lives. Self-care means being disciplined about your sleep schedule, and sleep hygiene so that sleep can actually work for you!

 

3) Activity: Activity is everything we do in our lives – work, exercise, relationships, our daily routine and habits. It’s not just what you’re doing, but also what you’re thinking about. Where is your attention focused? Self-care is also knowing our limits. Are you taking on too much? Are you being too active, is life too hectic? Or are you not active enough, is life too slow? There’s a beautiful “Goldilocks” amount of activity that’s unique to each of us, and “just right” for each one of us. Find yours and take care of yourself in this way. You might have to say no when you feel obligated or pressed to say yes, or say yes when you’re a bit uncomfortable jumping into something new. Tune into your intuition and do what is best for you.

 

Take good care!

Lots of love,

Lissa

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14 Jan

The Days of Our Lives

The great playwright William Shakespeare is often quoted as having said: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  Do you ever feel like life is just one big drama?  We all have our parts to play, and our lines to say, and our days continue like a series of scripted scenes.  Yet who is writing this script?  Are we automatically reacting to the cues we are given, or are we indeed creating our lives, and our relationships, as we go along?

 

Ayurveda is the Science of Life.  From this centuries old philosophy we can learn everything we need to know to help our relationships grow and flourish.  Life is all about relationships.  Because we are in this world, we have a relationship with everyone and everything else in this world.  Our most important relationship is with ourselves.  When we know who we are, when we understand our place in the world, then we see how we fit in, and how everyone else fits in as well.  This wisdom shows us our interconnectedness, and how we really are here to help each other in so many ways.

 

The ayurvedic concept of doshas, or mind/body types, gives us insight into our inherent nature.  Our dosha is like a fingerprint, individual to each one of us.  And yet, one of the doshas is typically dominant in our personality and physiology.  When we know our dosha, we are given some direction as to how to bring out our strengths and overcome our challenges.

 

Vata dosha is made up of air and space.  People who are dominant in Vata generally appear to be long and lean.  The skin in thin and dry, and you can often see the veins through the skin.  The Vata person tends to have cold hands and feet.  Vatas are quick thinkers; they are creative, flexible and spontaneous.  They have sparkling personalities and enjoy trying new things.  However, when they are out of balance, when too much Vata is present, then they become anxious.  People might see them as “flaky” or “air headed” because they have a hard time remembering things.  Vatas can be disorganized and easily distracted.  In nature, you can see Vata in a hummingbird, flitting quickly from one thing to the next.  The hummingbird exerts a lot of energy and gets worn out quickly.

 

Vata types often have a difficult time traveling.  Because there is so much movement, there becomes an excess of air and space, so Vata gets out of balance easily.  This shows up as anxiety, nervousness, and even nausea.  They might have a hard time getting to sleep, and become constipated.  The best thing that Vatas can do to stay in balance is Abhyanga, a warm oil self-massage.  Warm and oily is the opposite of cold and dry, so this is the perfect remedy.  Abhyanga can be done in the morning, before a shower, or at nighttime, before bed.  It’s also a good idea for Vatas to sip warm water with lemon throughout the day. Vatas need to eat warm, cooked foods, especially while traveling, because their digestion is sensitive.

 

Pitta dosha is made up of fire and water.  Pitta dominant people have an average build, and are more athletic.  Because fire is present, Pitta runs hot.  Pittas have warm hands, and often have some reddish qualities to their skin or hair.  They can have freckles, or can have grey hair or go bald at an early age.  Pittas are highly intelligent.  They make good business people because they are discerning and they have strong leadership skills.  However, when too much Pitta is present, they come off as critical and bossy, and an excess of fire brings out anger and impatience.  In nature, Pitta is represented in an eagle.  The eagle soars, thinks, and plans.  When it sees what it wants, it goes after it without hesitation, with determination and precision.

 

The hot months of summer are known as Pitta season.  Because of the heat, Pitta is more likely to get out of balance.  This can show up as anger, judgment, or irritability.  We want to cool down the fire without extinguishing it.  Cooling foods like cucumber and mint are very good during this time of year.  It is also important to protect the skin from the sun, and to shade the eyes, as Pitta eyes are very sensitive to light.

 

Kapha dosha is made up of earth and water.  Those with a dominance of kapha are bigger boned, and a bit heavier than average.  The skin is clear and moist, and the hair is thick and lustrous.  Kaphas also tend to have big eyes and full lips.  They are beautiful!  Kaphas are loving and loyal.  They make wonderful teachers, doctors, and parents.  Kaphas have an easy-going nature and are very patient.  When Kapha is out of balance they can lack motivation.  They can seem lazy, stubborn, and possessive.  In nature, we can see Kapha in a swan, gracefully taking its time gliding across the water.  The swan is relaxed and comfortable in its surroundings.

 

A Kapha imbalance can show up as weight gain, depression, or as allergies.  To keep Kapha in check, exercise is vital.  Kaphas need to exercise daily, to the point of sweating.  They also need to be around people – socialization helps them to be happy, they are energized and stimulated when surrounded by good friends and engaged in lively conversation.  When Kaphas feel the urge to sit on the couch and eat, they should really call up a friend and go for a walk.

 

We would never expect a hummingbird to behave like an eagle.  And yet, with our loved ones, we often find ourselves asking another person to change – to do something that is contrary to his or her nature.  Expecting a swan to suddenly get up and flit around the flowers is absurd – just as it is to want a Kapha person to get skinny and multi-task a dozen projects.

 

It takes all of the doshas to make the world function.  We each have qualities that enhance our life here on earth.  For example, in a business setting, it’s good to include each of the doshas on a team.  The Vatas will brainstorm and come up with the big ideas.  The Pittas will come up with a plan to manage the team so that the ideas can become a reality.  And the Kaphas will shore up morale, and make sure that the project is seen through to its fruition.  We can work with our strengths to create an environment that serves everyone and achieves the best possible outcomes for the company.

 

First, Ayurveda teaches us how to be the best that we can be by staying in balance.  When we are in balance we think clearly and make the best decisions for ourselves.  We are better in our relationships because we are confident in knowing who we are.  In our personal relationships, Ayurveda can teach us to love and accept people as they are.  We can strive to help them stay in balance, and to be their healthiest and happiest.

 

There is a natural order, and balance to the Universe.  That is often why we choose the partners we choose.  We help to balance each other out.  A Pitta person can help a Vata person to be organized.  A Vata person can help a Kapha person to lighten up and have more fun, just by being around.  A Kapha person can help a Pitta person to remember what is most important in life.  When we learn to love and accept our partners for who they are, to recognize their nature, then our relationships will thrive.  Ayurveda shows us the beauty and benefits that happen naturally when we release any unrealistic expectations and learn to love “as is” with an open heart.

 

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06 Jan

The Many Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is really the best thing we can do for our overall health – and all it takes is our commitment to actually do it. Seriously – you don’t need any special gear, or any special place, or any special time to do it. We just have to make the slightest bit of effort to sit still and be quiet. But yet – even though we know how great it is for us, somehow we find every excuse not to do it. What’s that about? Here’s hoping this list of just some of the amazing benefits will motivate us to carve out just a few minutes of time in our otherwise busy day to embrace the bliss of this beautiful practice. This is the best habit you could ever adopt!

 

– Meditation is a great antidote for stress. With our hectic schedules our nervous system runs high on adrenaline. Meditation gives us a time to pause and just chill. Meditation lowers levels of cortisol, the hormone that makes us feel stressed. With reduced cortisol we feel less anxious, less depressed and generally more calm.

 

– Meditation puts a smile on your face. When you meditate, serotonin is produced in your nerve cells. You feel a little more content, a little more centered, a little more comfortable in your own skin. And this good mood shows – you look better, too!

 

– Meditation helps with focus and concentration. With a calm mind you can handle tasks with aplomb. You can pay attention, and be more aware of what you are doing so you can do it well. This also helps to improve your memory, you remember what you did!

 

– Meditation is good for the body. Studies show that it lowers blood pressure, and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It can even boost your immunity, so you can stave off illnesses more easily.

 

– Meditation helps you to be more patient, and more present. When in a long line at the store, or stuck in traffic, you can approach the situation with a sense of “this too shall pass.”

 

– Meditation helps you to release negative emotions more quickly. Instead of hanging on to anger or upset, you can process the feelings and let them go more easily.

 

– Meditation helps you to manage pain. With less anxiety, you can tolerate pain better. You learn how to breathe through the pain with meditation so you feel it less acutely. Meditation teaches us to self-sooth.

 

– Meditators have an easier time falling asleep, and often sleep more soundly than most.

 

– Meditation can improve relationships. It’s easier to communicate when you are calm and can think clearly. It also teaches us to look at our thought patterns so when emotions arise we can identify and deal with them.

 

– Meditation helps us to connect with who we really are. That space of silence is where all the wisdom is, and we can download it where we give ourselves the opportunities to do so.

 

– Meditation is good for the brain. Research shows it can slow the aging process and even reverse brain aging.

 

– Meditation can rev up your metabolism. We feel better so we have more energy and move more. All this helps with weight loss, too.

 

– Meditation helps you to forgive and let go of past issues with people. You feel more peaceful and can see the bigger picture. It allows you to feel more empathy. It allows you to let in gratitude.

 

 

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