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.

When you should harvest your vegetables from your garden

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There’s nothing better than growing your own vegetable garden. You spend a lot of time all summer taking care of your garden in order to get the most out of it. That’s why it’s important to know when it’s the right time to begin harvesting. This not only depends on when your crops are ripe, but also the length of your growing season.

Below is a list of garden vegetables ,along with the best time for picking each kind.

  • Asparagus: When spears are 6-8 inches tall and as thick as your pinky finger, snap them off at ground level and new ones will begin to grow. Stop harvesting about 4-6 weeks after the initial harvest.

  • Beans: Pick before the seeds start to bulge. They should snap in half easily.

  • Beets: These are ready as soon as you see the top of the beet above the soil line. You can leave them in the ground longer if you prefer larger-sized beets. Also, you can harvest the green tops and eat them as well.

  • Cabbage: When the head of the cabbage is solid all the way through when squeezed, it is fully matured and ready to pick.

  • Carrots: These are harder to judge, but can be picked when the carrot shows at the soil line and you can see the diameter of the carrot. They can be left in the ground longer once matured, and a light frost is said to sweeten the carrot.

  • Cauliflower: Similar to broccoli, when the head looks full and the curds of the head are smooth. They typically will not be the same size as ones found at the supermarket.

  • Corn: Once the silk turns dry and brown, the kernels should exude a milky substance when pricked.

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  • Cucumber: Check daily and harvest while they’re young. Timing and length will vary, but the cucumber should be firm and smooth. Over-ripe cucumbers can be bitter even before they start to turn yellow.

  • Eggplant: Slightly immature eggplants taste best. They should be firm and shiny. Cut the eggplant rather than pulling from the plant.

  • Garlic: Garlic tops will start to fall over and begin to turn brown when the bulbs are ready to be picked. Try to dig them up rather than pulling them, and allow them to dry before storing. It’s best to brush off the dirt instead of washing them.10584099_797756826923284_5225641105503497678_n

  • Kale: Kale should be deep green, with a firm texture. The flavor is best in cooler weather.

  • Lettuce (Head): Harvest once the head feels full and firm. Hot weather will cause them to go to seed quicker rather than filling out.

  • Lettuce (Leaf): Harvest the outer leaves once the plant reaches about 4 inches in height. Allow the younger leaves to grow, and repeat for most of the summer season.

  • Onions: Once the tops have ripened and fallen over you can dig up the onion, allow the onion to dry completely before storing.

  • Peas: These are best to be tasted to determine when to pick. If a sweeter pea is preferred, it is best to pick before the pea pods get too large and full.

  • Potatoes: “New” potatoes can be harvested when the tops start to flower. For full-sized potatoes, wait until the tops dry up and turn brown, then dig around the perimeter of the potato to avoid slicing it.

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  • Pumpkins: As soon as pumpkins have turned to the expected color and the vines are starting to wilt away, they can be picked. As soon as a pumpkin is cut from the vine it stops turning orange.

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  • Radishes: These mature rather quickly. As soon as you see radish pop out above the soil line is the best time to pick. Don’t leave them in the ground too long, as they will become tough and go to seed.

  • Squash (Winter): Similar to pumpkins, these can be cut from the vine as soon as they turn to the expected color.

  • Tomatoes: When a tomato has reached its color and is slightly soft to the touch, gently twist and pull from the vine.

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Now that all the hard work and harvesting are done, it’s time to enjoy the end results. There are many different ways to enjoy your harvest. Depending on how good a season it is, one way to enjoy your harvest in the winter months is to freeze certain vegetables or do some canning. Making spaghetti sauce or salsa is a great way to use up all those extra tomatoes and peppers. Happy Harvesting!

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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.

Summer Solstice is Here

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Today is the longest day of the year meaning it is the Summer Solstice. So let’s celebrate the start of summer with some interesting Summer Solstice facts:

  1. Solstice comes from the latin words sol, meaning sun, and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still.  Today the sun reaches the northernmost position as it can be seen from earth. At this moment, its zenith does not move north or south as during most days of the year, but it stands still above the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses direction and starts moving south again.
  2. The Summer Solstice happens when the tilt of the earth’s axis is more inclined towards the sun, directly above the Tropic of Cancer.
  3. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the Summer Solstice can occur between June 20th and June 22nd.
  4. It occurs at the same time across the world. Technically, the Summer Solstice occurs the exact instant the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer. Today that is at 22:34 UTC.
  5. Today the sun rose at 5:39 am and will set at 8:33 pm giving us 14 hours, 53 minutes and 52 seconds of daylight.
  6. Many think that since it is summer in the northern hemisphere, the earth is closest to the sun during the Summer Solstice. But it is the opposite — the earth is technically the farthest from the sun during this time of the year.The Artic Circle will have 24 hours of daylight today.
  7. This will be the first Summer Solstice with a full moon in decades. The full moon — also known as the Strawberry Moon — will coincide with the Summer Solstice. This is the first time these two events have occurred on the same day since 1967 and will not happen again until 2062.