Back-to-school sleep tips

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Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.

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  1. First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.

  1. About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.

  1. Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

  1. Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.

  2. Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.

  1. Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.

  1. Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety. 13717923_10205279444144540_1107853922_o.jpg

    These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.

How to keep your pets safe during hot summer days.

As we go through the summer months with rising temperatures, it can be uncomfortable and dangerous to not only people, but our pets too. As pet owners, we need to be aware of these dangers and how to keep our pets cool and comfortable.

Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safe and comfortable in the summer heat.

  1. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Temperatures inside a vehicle rise rapidly. For example, on an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. This will cause organ damage and even death for any pet.

  2. Limit exercise on hot days. On really hot days, limit your pet to early-morning or evening-hour exercises. Also, be especially careful with pets that have light-colored ears, since they are more susceptible to skin cancer. Pets with short noses, who typically have difficulty breathing, may also have a lot of difficulty in extreme heat. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pets’ paws, so walk them on grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your pet hydrated. 

  1. A fan isn’t enough. Pets respond to heat differently than humans do. Dogs sweat through their feet, and fans don’t have the same effect on dogs that they do on people.

  2. Give them plenty of shade and water. Make sure your pet has protection from the heat and sun, and plenty of fresh cold water. During heat waves, add ice to water to keep it cooler longer. You may think that a just because a doghouse provides shade it can keep your dog cool enough, but it doesn’t. There isn’t enough air flow in a typical doghouse to keep a pet cool.

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  3. Take your dog swimming. If your dog enjoys water, this can be a great way for him to cool off and get some exercise. If you don’t live by water, you can use a kiddie pool in a shaded area. FullSizeRender.jpg

  4. Watch for signs of heat stroke.  Warning signs to look for include, heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep-red or purple tongue, seizures, and unconsciousness.

Certain animals are more prone to heat stroke than others including, Senior pets and very young animals, overweight pets, pets that don’t get a lot of exercise or that have heart and respiratory issues.

Certain breeds of dogs, like boxers, pugs, and shih tzus, have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

If you think your pet is experiencing heat-stroke symptoms, move your pet into the shade or to an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest. Give your pet fresh, cold water or ice cubes to lick and call your veterinarian.

For more information, check out the Humane Society’s website for tips to keep pets safe in the heat. Let’s work together to keep all pets safe this summer.

Fall Into Beauty: Four Natural DIY Beauty Recipes

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Fall is near. The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler, and that lovely crisp, spicy aroma of autumn is all around. Many people like to use this season to get outside to hike, garden, or explore a pumpkin patch or two. Others enjoy preparing their home and wardrobe for the shorter days and cooler nights. Still others use fall as a time to slow down, cozy up with a hot drink and a good book, and store their energy for the winter months ahead.

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I think fall is a great time to reevaluate your beauty regimen. You can get outside and work up a rosy-cheeked glow with a nice hike through the mountains or woods or do a few sun salutations on a crisp and sunny afternoon. There are so many natural ingredients that are available and in season from September to November. Why not use some of them to whip up a deliciously smelling pumpkin-spice body mask, toning coffee scrub, cranberry-apple facial mask, or pomegranate lip balm?

Anti-Aging Pumpkin-Spice Body Mask

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 Pumpkins have some great skin-nourishing nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and zinc, all of which have skin-healing and anti-aging properties. Cinnamon acts as a natural exfoliant and antiseptic, while honey provides soothing and healing benefits.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin or one small pumpkin, cooked and mashed
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ tsp. olive or jojoba oil

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Apply to your body and face, avoiding the eye area.
  3. Wrap your body, excluding your face, with plastic wrap or, for a more natural option, reusable beeswax cloth – the pumpkin enzymes are most active when moist.
  4. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes, then unwrap and rinse it off in the tub with warm water. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Toning Coffee Scrub

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Coffee is not traditionally considered a fall crop, though one of the harvests is from November to December. One of the best things about the cooler temperatures is the reintroduction of hot beverages into my daily routine, coffee being one of my favorites. Its rich aroma makes it the perfect ingredient for a cozy morning indoors.

The caffeine in coffee soothes inflammation, evening skin tone, and dehydrates fat cells, reducing cellulite. It contains antioxidants that attack and eliminate free radicals that cause premature aging of the skin, and has been shown to reduce the growth of skin-cancer cells. With this list of skin benefits, I just couldn’t exclude it. I found the following recipe on the blog Gimme Some Oven.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons finely-ground coffee (I used recycled grounds)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used melted coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
  • (optional) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Stir all ingredients together until combined. Store in a sealed jar for up to 2 months.

Renewing Cranberry-Apple Facial Mask

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Cranberries and apples are two of the best-known fall fruits. Cranberries have many skin-nourishing antioxidants, such as Vitamins C, B3, and B5, which work to stimulate cell renewal and combat wrinkles, redness, and uneven skin tone. The enzymes in cranberries, along with their acidic nature, also act as a natural toner. In this recipe that I found on communitytable.com, the apple cider vinegar acts as a toner to keep your skin ph-balanced and clear of blemishes. The aloe juice will balance out the acids of the cranberries and vinegar, so this recipe is safe for all skin types.

By Cecilia Wong, founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare

Ingredients

4–5 whole cranberries
1 tsp raw honey
2 drops apple cider vinegar (I recommend the organic, undistilled version to receive all benefits)
A dash freshly ground cinnamon
2–3 drops aloe juice

Directions

Crush the cranberries. Mix all ingredients together. Apply for 15 minutes to face and rinse with tepid water. Follow with moisturizer.

Moisturizing Pomegranate Lip Balm

An_opened_pomegranatePomegranates are my favorite fall fruit. They are tart and sweet, and have a wonderful fruity aroma. They have many of the same beneficial qualities as cranberries. The juice and the oil are also great moisturizers.

By: Dr. Axe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. bees wax
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 7 drops pomegranate oil
  • lip balm tins or lip balm tubes

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium low heat melt beeswax, coconut oil, and olive oil. Use chopstick or other small, long stick to stir.
  2. Remove from heat and add honey and pomegranate oil. Whisk well with chopstick and try to distribute oil throughout the mixture.
  3. Pour quickly into tins or jars. Let cool on counter until hard.

Now that you have a few fun fall beauty recipes, you can be sure that your skin will be ready for the crisp, cool air of autumn!

Benefits of a Cool Sleeping Environment

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Recent studies have found a correlation between cooler sleeping environments and metabolic health, relating to the volume of “brown fat” that is stored in a person’s body.

“Brown fat” is one of two types of fat found in mammals, along with the more common “white fat.” An abundance of brown fat is found in newborns and hibernating mammals, generating body heat for those who do not shiver.

Research has shown that this type of fat is metabolically active, unlike white fat. It takes sugar out of the bloodstream to burn calories and maintain the body’s core temperature.

It was previously thought that adults didn’t have brown fat stores in their bodies, but recent studies have detected small amounts stored in their necks and upper backs.

In a new study, five healthy male adults volunteered to sleep in climate-controlled rooms over the course of four months. Their blood-sugar and insulin levels were tracked throughout, along with their caloric expenditures. At the end of each month, they measured the amount of brown fat found in their bodies.

After four weeks of sleeping in cooler temperatures (66º F), the volume of brown fat had almost doubled, and improved insulin sensitivity was also seen.

By sleeping in a cooler room, adults could over time add to their stores of brown fat and lessen their risk for diabetes and other metabolic health problems.

To learn more, read this article: “Let’s Cool It in the Bedroom” by Gretchen Reynolds from the New York Times.

10 Tips to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep

It is well known that babies are the cause of many sleepless nights for new parents. It is important for babies to get their rest, but it is important for parents as well. Without a good night’s sleep, parents are not as alert or focused as they need to be in order to attend to the demands of a new child. Here are 10 tips to help your infant fall asleep:

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Teach your baby the difference between day and night. During the day it is light out, there are activities and noises, and everyone interacts with each other. During the night it is dark out, quiet, and everything is still. When bedtime is approaching, dim the lights and speak softly to let your baby know that you are transitioning into night and it is time to sleep.

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Set up a routine or schedule that you and the baby follow when you are getting ready for bed. It can be as simple as a bath, followed by a feeding, and finally a lullaby. Whatever it is, follow the same routine every night and the baby will naturally start to respond to the schedule.

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Increase the frequency of feedings when it is getting closer to bed time. The baby will sleep better and longer with a full belly! It also helps to give babies a soft massage to sooth them after eating and help them transition into sleep.

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As with adults, exercise is a great way for your baby to sleep well. Since infants are limited when it comes to activities, exercise can consist of laying on their bellies and kicking their arms and legs or crawling (depending on age).

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Hold your baby close to you and gently rock him or her back and forth. This will help nurture the parent/child bond while helping the baby fall asleep. Another similar method is to purchase a baby swing, which they can actually stay in while napping instead of moving them once they fall asleep.

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White noise can be very effective and soothing for a baby. People use a variety of softer sounds, varying from chirping birds to rushing water to the simple whir of a fan, as long as it is not loud enough to wake the baby.

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One of the harder tips for parents to follow is to not respond to every cry or noise that the baby makes. Wait a minute to see if the crying persists, because sometimes they are just fussy and will fall asleep on their own. If the babies need something, they will continue to cry for more than a minute. You can end up interrupting their sleep when you check on them, when otherwise they would have fallen back to sleep unaided.

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Pretend to be asleep while laying down with your baby. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, imitating sleep patterns. The baby will pick up on this and begin to doze off as well. Who knows, maybe you will catch a nap in the process!

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Keep the baby’s room cooler at night than you do during the day. With the use of a fan or air purifier, you can keep the room cooler while also creating white noise.

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The final tip is to give the baby a conducive sleeping environment. Babies tend to feel safer in a semi-enclosed area such as a crib or bassinet. Click on the link below to check out OMI’s Innerspring and Latex Crib Mattresses and give your baby the healthiest and safest sleeping surface possible.

http://www.omimattress.com/Children.php

What Causes Us to Yawn?

Conventionally we think of yawning as a mechanism for getting oxygen to our brains when we’re running low. However, research and testing shows that the brain is not found to be lacking in oxygen prior to a yawn. So if your brain is not responding to low levels of oxygen during a yawn, what is the reason for this odd but natural action? And why do yawns seem to be contagious?

The following video sheds some light on the most recent theories and evidence.

Try to contain your yawning while watching it!