Monthly Archives: June 2016

Tips to Get More Sleep

The frenetic pace of modern day life ignites stress hormones that keep us in a state of perpetual arousal. Here’s how to cut down on common stressors to get more shut-eye.
Manage the Electronics
Few of us can survive for more than 30 minutes without being hooked up to a cell or BlackBerry at the very least. But the technological innovations that were supposed to give us more leisure time have instead made it easier for us to work all the time.

The issue is that by their very nature, they create stress by forcing what Rockefeller University’s Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., calls “a wholly artificial sense of urgency” on us. The minute your cellphone rings, you tense. And if your phone rings often, you never get to un-tense. That makes it difficult to wind down at night and get to sleep.

The thing is, we don’t have to do without our electronics to cut stress. All we have to do is control them. Answer e-mail three times a day instead of every 30 minutes, and turn off the instant notification feature. Moreover, turn off your cell after 6:00 p.m.

Don’t Stay Late at Work
The prevailing thought is that you have to stay late to get the job done, says Margaret Moline, Ph.D., former head of the sleep disorders centre at Weill Cornell Medical College in White Plains, New York. But working right up until bedtime is bound to disrupt your sleep. So go home at a reasonable hour. The truth is that it’s better to go home and go to sleep, then come back and do more work in the morning. Studies show that after a good night’s sleep, your increased ability to concentrate means that you can work faster—and more accurately.

Don’t Check Your E-mail
At least, not before bed. Researchers at Stanford University have found that the light from your monitor right before bed is enough to reset your whole wake/sleep cycle—and postpone the onset of sleepiness by three hours.

Centre Yourself
Take time to get in touch with yourself, your feelings, your dreams, and the way you want to live a good, healthy life.

Prioritize Sleep
Sometimes it seems as though our culture has begun to view the need for sleep as a sign of weakness. It’s the new macho—and women are buying into it big-time. But your body was genetically programmed to spend one-third of its life asleep and to sleep in specific cycles of light sleep, deep sleep, and active-brain sleep. Each cycle takes 90 minutes, and each has a specific assignment that affects thinking, memory, growth, your immune system, and even your weight. Trying to tuck anything that important into an hour here and an hour there just won’t get the job done.

Begin the Day in Gratitude
Take 10 minutes every morning to sit down, close your eyes, and give thanks for every one of the blessings in your life. Name each one and hold it in your thoughts. The sense of gratitude you’ll experience will set a serene tone for the entire day—and reduce a day’s worth of stress hormones that can trigger insomnia that night.

Strike a Balance
Toning down a tightly wired nervous system will encourage a balanced sleep/wake cycle. Think about tai chi, meditation, prayer, biofeedback, yoga—any daily activity that allows you to cultivate a peaceful centre and a sense of balance.

Deal with Sleep Saboteurs
Pain, allergies, breathing difficulties, premenstrual hormone warp, shift work, cancer, depression, aging parents, kids—there are a thousand things that can interfere with sleep. If any of these factors pertain to you check with your doctor, then follow the experts’ tips to get yourself a good night’s sleep.

Resign from Sipping with Supper
You really need to limit alcohol to an afternoon libation, not an after-dinner or before-bed nightcap. Despite its reputation, alcohol sipped at these later times keeps you in the lighter, less restorative stages of sleep in which you’re likely to wake if the dog so much as turns over in his bed.

Keep a Worry Book
“Put a ‘worry book’ beside your bed,” suggests UCLA’s Dr. Yan-Go. When you wake and start worrying, jot down everything you’re worrying about and any strategies you’ve thought of that will solve the problems to which they’re related. Then close the book, put it on your nightstand, turn out the light, and go back to sleep. Your worries will be waiting for you in the morning.

Forget The 11 O’clock News
Given the fact that most late-night newscasts tend to feature murder, mayhem, and man’s inhumanity to man, these are bound to turn on every arousal mechanism your body owns. No way are you going to drift into a peaceful sleep after 30 to 60 minutes of watching violence and disturbing stories. So ditch the late news. Watch it in the morning when that shot of adrenalin it triggers will help you fight rush-hour traffic.

Some Health Benefits of Apples

Will an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Perhaps not, but there’s certainly a whack of research supporting the many health benefits of apples.

1. Apples might help stave off Alzheimer’s disease

The health benefits of apples include the potential to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Apples contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells from degeneration in rats and might do the same in humans. Dr. Ramani Soundararajan from Dalhousie Medical School and Dr. Vasantha Rupasinghe at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College found that the flavonoids in Red Delicious apples had strong neuroprotective effects.
2. Apples can help prevent high blood pressure

There is overwhelming evidence that one-third of all cancer cases and half the incidences of cardiovascular disease and hypertension can be attributed to diet. Because apples are high in potassium, a mineral that helps control blood pressure, they can help reduce the risk of stroke.
3. Apples can protect your heart

University of California-Davis researchers found that apples and apple juice may help slow the oxidation process that is involved in the build up of plaque that leads to heart disease. Participants added only two apples or 12 ounces of apple juice to their diet daily and positive effects were evident after only six weeks.
4. Apples can help reduce cholesterol

A medium apple provides five grams of fibre—more than most cereals. They’re also packed with pectin, a soluble fibre that reduces cholesterol. Pectin prevents cholesterol from building up in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
5. Apples can help reduce cholesterol

A medium apple provides five grams of fibre—more than most cereals. They’re also packed with pectin, a soluble fibre that reduces cholesterol. Pectin prevents cholesterol from building up in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
6. Apples can help reduce cholesterol

A medium apple provides five grams of fibre—more than most cereals. They’re also packed with pectin, a soluble fibre that reduces cholesterol. Pectin prevents cholesterol from building up in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
7. Apples provide bone protection

Researchers believe that a flavonoid called phloridzin—found only in apples—may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and may also increase bone density. Boron, another ingredient in apples, also strengthens bones.

Some Habits of Confident People

How to build confidence and self-esteem

1. A fear of failure can increase your self-doubt. Louisa Jewell, the president of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, says the best way to ramp up your confidence levels is to do the thing at which you’re afraid of failing. That way, it becomes less daunting.

2. Some people are wary of success—with achievement come unknowns. To counteract this, Jewell suggests focusing on the tangible and visualizing success and its upsides.

3. Compassion is a necessary pillar of confidence and self-esteem, Jewell says. Make sure you cut yourself some slack in the event that you make mistakes, and remember that setbacks are part of being human.

4. If you boost your confidence, you’ll accomplish more, says Stanford University professor Albert Bandura. Self-assured individuals, he explains, view difficult tasks “as challenges to be mastered, rather than as threats to be avoided.”

5. To help achieve a confident mindset, Bandura recommends putting yourself in a good mood: stress and bad vibes result in what is called “negative self-efficacy.”

6. Bruce Hunt, a Toronto public speaking expert who teaches confidence, says a supportive social circle can provide the positive reinforcement integral to building self-esteem. In short, make—and keep—nice friends.

7. Consider finding role models who share your gender, age, race or professional background. Being able to see those mentors “do what we want to do makes us think maybe we can achieve it, too,” Jewell explains.

8. In certain situations, knowing what others expect can boost confidence, says Hunt. So don’t be afraid to ask your boss or your colleagues what you should be aiming for to achieve your goal.

9. Take it one step at a time and create deadlines to reach personal confidence milestones. If, for instance, you are trying to become a poised public speaker, gradually address larger groups for longer periods over time.

10. If you needed another excuse to haul yourself to the gym, a 2013 article in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health described how being active can increase confidence and lead to more ease in relating to peers.

11. It’s okay to be cocky. A collection of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found subjects who were overly confident in their abilities to complete tasks were more respected and more likely to be perceived as competent.

12. But be careful not to tip over into self-satisfaction. The upside of a mild lack of confidence is that we keep pushing ourselves to improve, “to push the envelope,” says Jewell.