8 Holiday Sleep Tips So You Don’t Become the Grinch!

 

The holidays can be full of magic, family fun, delicious foods and more but they can also be full of stress, guests and interruptions of your regular schedule. Here are some ways to ensure the holidays are enjoyable and you get all the zzz’s you need to bring joy this season!

  1. Get ahead of the holidays

This time of year is always hectic. There are many things that need doing, from decorating for the holidays to baking to shopping for presents, preparing for guests, and more. Many of us put these jobs off until the last minute, which makes for a stressful holiday. It is no fun to be running around on the eve of the holiday looking for the last-minute gifts you forgot to order or grocery shopping on the day of a big dinner.

To avoid stress and sleep deprivation, get a jump start on your holiday planning. Make a list of things that need to be done and begin to make a timeline for when the tasks need to be done. If after writing your to-do list you still feel overwhelmed, ask for help!

  1. Don’t overload yourself

The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones and enjoying each other’s company. What better way to make your holiday less stressful than to recruit your family to help you prepare for the holidays? Plan a shopping trip or a baking day to help bring fun to tasks that can feel overwhelming. If you are hosting a dinner, ask family members to bring a dish to help minimize the amount you need to prepare.

  1. Don’t stop exercising

Active retired couple playing in the snow

Routine exercise is one of the greatest promoters of good, quality sleep. While it is tempting to take some time off during the holidays, don’t do it! It’s not only good for the body, it is great for the mind as well. Exercise is a great tool to help eliminate stress. You can always adapt your exercise routine around the holidays. If you have company staying, try picking activities that they can be included in, such as walks or outings. If you have young children, get outside and enjoy the outdoors, build a snowman, go snowshoeing or skiing, etc.

  1. Don’t overdo the snacking, especially at night.

All the yummy foods and desserts make an appearance this time of year, and the temptation to indulge can be a constant battle. It is ok to have some treats here and there, but stuffing yourself right before bed can cause your body to have to work harder to break down all that food while you are asleep. When your body has to focus more energy on processing those gingerbread cookies, it takes away from repairing and refreshing itself during sleep. Also late-night snacking can increase acid reflux, which can make falling asleep and staying asleep that much more difficult.

So what foods are best for nighttime snacking? Shredded wheat cereal with milk, or crackers and cheese, make great snacks. Complex carbs, milk and cheese are great at promoting sleep.

  1. Don’t drink too much

Drunken Gingerbread cookie man in a Christmas cocktail

Be aware of those tempting eggnog and peppermint specialty drinks this holiday.

While alcohol can induce drowsiness and help you fall asleep more quickly it can also disturb your rest and lessen the quality of your sleep. Alcohol decreases the amount of REM sleep, which is when dreaming occurs and learning and when memories are stored.

  1. Keep your regular sleep schedule

It is easy to stay up later than normal, catching up with old friends, attending Christmas parties, wrapping presents, etc. but those late nights can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. It is important to keep your regular sleep schedule, but if disruptions are unavoidable, try to limit them to no more than an hour off your regular schedule. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood and behavior changes, so if you don’t want to become Scrooge, make sure that sleep is a priority.

If you are traveling across time zones, it can be harder to keep your regular schedule. Try to maintain as close to a regular sleep schedule as possible, especially on “mini vacations,” so it won’t affect you in the long run.

  1. Turn off that technology

Mom with child reading book and relaxing by the fire place some cold evening, winter weekends, cozy scene

To promote restful sleep, it is best to have a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off tablets, phones, computers, etc. at least an hour before bed to allow your brain to “power down.”

Electronic devices emit a light similar to that of daylight. Our brains get tricked by this light, as it associates it with daylight, which can delay the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Be sure to not let the holidays rob you of that sweet, deep slumber you not only crave, but need to make it through to the new 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.

A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:

CUCUMBER-JALAPEÑO MARGARITA

Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec

DIRECTIONS

Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.

RAINBOW SALSA

Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

TEQUILA-MUSTARD-GLAZED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad

INGREDIENTS

Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

10 Things We Could Do If We Didn’t Sleep In

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It is 6:23 am and the alarm clock is going off again. You hit that snooze button for the 3rd time. Every extra 10 minutes of sleep feels like heaven in the morning, but is it the best use of time? Are we really getting more rest in those few extra minutes?

Instead of hitting the snooze button, there are many things we can accomplish to get a better start to our day. Here is a list of just 10 things that we could do if we didn’t squeeze in those extra minutes.

  1. Make your bedbed-1158267_960_720
  2. Enjoy your morning shower
  3. Eat a full healthy breakfast6283315247_8548ab4826_o_d
  4. Answer important emails
  5. Check the weather
  6. Pack a tasty and nutritious lunch7890484144_14045908c5_o_d
  7. Double check you have everything and are not forgetting essential items
  8. Take your time and enjoy your cup of coffee or tea, or treat yourself to a cup from your favorite coffee shop art-heart-caffeine-coffee
  9. Get to work on time
  10. Enjoy not being stressed and rushed

Start your day off right and don’t hit that snooze button. Have the peace of mind that you have everything accomplished in the morning so you can focus on the tasks of the day.

Enjoy a Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Feast

Celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with fun and delicious dinner and dessert!

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

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Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 12-ounce bottle stout beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 14-16-ounce package smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 8 small sage leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper; bring to boiling. Add sausage and green beans. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add apples. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples are just tender. Transfer to a platter.

3. Add sausage to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add to platter; cover. Drain fat from skillet.

4. Carefully add remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam); stir to scrape up browned bits. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return sausage and green beans to skillet to coat in glaze. Fold in apples. Return to serving platter. Sprinkle with sage.

Potato Rolls

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Total Time: Prep: 25 min. + rising

Bake: 15 min.

Yields: 24 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, shortening, potatoes, egg, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down and divide in half. Divide each half into 36 pieces; shape into balls. Place three balls each into greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

4. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm.

Chocolate Stout Shake

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Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/8 cup chocolate stout beer or stout beer
  • 1/4 cup prepared chocolate fudge ice cream topping
  • 1/4 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 purchased chocolate-and-nut-covered pretzel rods (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small saucepan, heat beer and chocolate topping until warm and combined. Cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine ice cream and milk, half at a time. Cover and blend until combined. Divide ice cream mixture among 4 glasses. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, if desired, serve with chocolate-covered pretzel rods.

Delicious Bedtime Infusion!

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Many of us like to have a little bite to eat before bed, but you could be causing yourself to have a restless night if you don’t pick the right snacks. Try to avoid sweets that will raise your blood sugar, because you don’t need a burst of energy while you’re sleeping. Instead, try this wonderful recipe for Sleepy Time Brew, which is packed with ingredients that will encourage a tranquil night’s sleep!

10 Foods That Help You Sleep

There are so many different methods for falling asleep, from counting sheep to meditating. If you are looking for a delicious alternative to those methods here are some great suggestions for tasty snacks that you can have before bed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

1. Cheese and Crackers

house_calls_enCheese is a protein-rich food that provides sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carbohydrates in crackers assist the tryptophan in reaching your brain helping you fall asleep more quickly. Compare cheddar cheese to turkey and you will find that cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey!

2. Almonds

5081954872_021e68ccb7_zThese delicious and crunchy nuts contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Eating a tablespoon of almond butter or a handful of almonds before bed may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

3. Walnuts

walnut-328091_640Another nut that helps you catch your zzz’s are walnuts. Walnuts are a good source of melatonin, helping your body respond to stress and allowing you to relax.

4. Bananas

Banana_bunchBananas are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also offer a vast amount of magnesium and potassium that both help to relax muscles and ease pain such as a charley horse.

5. Cereal and Milk

3599466415_f2df29705c_bMilk also contains tryptophan. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep cycles. While the carbohydrates in cereal make the tryptophan more available to the brain.

6. Cherries

cherries-390932_640Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock.

7. Decaffeinated Green Tea

8151509619_f434aca966_bGreen tea contains theanine, an amino acid that helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

8. Hummus

Hummus_from_The_NileChickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan, but also folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, (especially in older people) and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock. So spread that hummus on a slice of bread for your pre-bed treat!

9. Pumpkin Seeds

1414256_20140128070420Pumpkin seeds are another snack that are packed with a variety of nutrients and tryptophan.

10. Lemon Balm Tea

peppermint-tea-1109_640Tea made from the herb lemon balm contains naturally occurring oils with terpenes, organic compounds that promote relaxation and better sleep.

So grab a snack and catch your zzz’s!