Spring Forward with OMI!

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Here are 8 tips from the National Sleep Foundation to help you reset your sleep schedule.

 

  1. Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day.
  2. Use bright light to help manage your “body clock.”
  3. Use your bedroom only for sleep.
  4. Select a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  5. Create a sleep environment that is quiet, dark, and cool.
  6. Clear your head before bed.
  7. Exercise regularly.
  8. If you can’t sleep, do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

 

Check out their article “Daylight Savings – Great Time to Reset Your Sleep Habits” here >>

 

And don’t forget to set your clocks one hour ahead before resting your head Saturday night!

Fall Into Sleep with the End of Daylight Savings Time

Darker days are upon us.

 

This Halloween night we will all be setting our clocks back an hour to end Daylight Savings Time, which adds an extra hour to the weekend!

I look forward to this change every year. It ushers in fall, winter, and the holiday season. I also love thinking about how I will decide to spend that extra hour of weekend time. I fantasize about being extra productive, as if that one hour is going to allow me to finally check off my whole weekend to-do list without batting an eye.

Sleeping in always wins. It takes me some time to get used to waking up weekday mornings when it is still dark outside. Taking back that extra hour of sleep this weekend will feel good, knowing I will have quite a few dark mornings in my near future.

So go ahead and do the same. Enjoy that extra hour to relax and recharge!

Make Time for Tea Time To Benefit Your Mind & Body

‘Tis the season for tea! Shorter days and cooler temperatures get me thinking of ways to stay warm and healthy. Getting cozy with a cup of tea has many potential health benefits, including better sleep and decreased risk for illness, and some types have even been shown to aid in weight loss.

So which types of tea pack the most punch when it comes to health benefits? How do you get the most from your tea?

Green Tea

Green Tea

Green tea has been touted as having the most health benefits of all the tea varieties. The extended fermentation process for green tea boosts the levels of polyphenols, which are the beneficial antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties and help regulate blood-sugar levels in the body. Green tea has also been shown to lower risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Black Tea

Black Tea

Black tea is the most commonly used tea in the world. It also has the most caffeine. This tea has high concentrations of theaflavins and thearubigins, two amazing antioxidants that have been linked to lower levels of cholesterol.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has a delicious, rich flavor that is attributed to its shorter fermentation period. Oolong activates an enzyme that dissolves triglycerides, a form of dietary fat stored in fat cells, which may aid in weight loss.

White Tea

White tea is harvested when it is young, which provides a milder taste and less caffeine. According to an article on organicfacts.net, white tea has many benefits, including antibacterial properties, which can boost your immune system and maintain good oral health. It has also been shown to decrease the risk for cancer and heart disease, decrease the symptomatic effects of diabetes, and aid in weight loss.

Herbal Tea

Blooming Tea
Blooming Tea

Herbal tea is technically not tea, but a blend of dried herbs, fruit, and flowers. This tea is usually caffeine-free or only has trace amounts of caffeine. These teas have varying benefits depending on the blend. Lavender, bergamot, and chamomile teas can aid in falling and staying asleep. Hibiscus tea has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus Tea

Follow these helpful tips to get the most out of your tea:

  1. Use fresh, loose-leaf tea and a tea ball to brew. The fresher the tea, the better the flavor. The tea leaves also need space to bloom in order to maximize the release of antioxidants. If you prefer to use tea bags, use a pyramid-shaped bag. That shape provides more space than traditional tea bags.
  1. Use spring or filtered water. The chlorine, metals, and minerals in regular tap water can affect the taste of the tea and decrease its health benefits.
  1. Do not add milk. Milk decreases polyphenol levels in tea because the polyphenols will bind with the milk proteins.
  1. Do not buy bottled teas. They lose 20% of the catechins (antioxidants) during the bottling process.
  1. Add citrus to your tea instead of sugar. Doing so will flavor your tea and give it a boost of antioxidants. Adding refined sugar will cancel out the benefits of drinking the tea.
  1. Drink at least 4 cups per day to maximize the benefits.

Now go enjoy a healthy and cozy fall and winter with a nice, warm cup of tea!

Check out the following articles for further information about all the great benefits of adding tea to your daily diet!

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health

http://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/healthy-eating/types-of-tea

http://www.greatist.com/health/tea-benefits-tips

 

Easy Ways to Improve Sleep

Many people have trouble falling and staying asleep at night. Here are some great tips on how to change up your bedtime routine to improve your quality of sleep.

Create a Sleep Routine and Stick To It

Your body works better on a schedule. If you are going to bed and waking up at different times each day and the amount of sleep you are getting varies, your body will not work efficiently. Set a time to go to bed and a time to wake up each morning. If you stick to your sleep schedule, your body will naturally fall into it. It will be easier to fall asleep at night and you will wake up feeling rested in the morning.

All Naps Are Not Created Equal

According to the National Sleep Foundation website, taking a short “power nap” increases your energy level and alertness. Longer naps can cause you to feel groggy when you first wake up, postponing the benefits of a midday nap. The exception is if you take naps in 90-minute increments. A full sleep cycle is 90 minutes. If you have the time, a 90-minute nap can increase memory and creativity while avoiding the groggy period following medium-length naps.

Prepare for Sleep

Have you ever wondered why it is easier to fall asleep in the dark than when your bedroom is lit up by lamplight or sunlight? Your body produces melatonin, a hormone that helps your body fall asleep. When you create a dark, comfortable sleep environment, your brain will queue your body to begin producing melatonin. Preparing for sleep by dimming light and stopping the use of electronics an hour or so before bedtime will let your body know that it is time to slow down and prepare for sleep. It is also important to make sure your bed is comfortable and supportive and that your bedroom is quiet, uncluttered, and at a comfortable temperature.

Staying Asleep

It is also important to limit all light in your bedroom, including lit-up alarm-clock faces and red and blue lights on electronics and phone screens. Any amount of bright light, especially LED, white, and blue light, can disrupt the production of melatonin and your quality of sleep. If you prefer some light, limit it to soft, yellow light.

Limit Sugar and Alcohol Before Bed

Refined sugar before bed can inhibit your ability to fall asleep easily, and alcohol can reduce your quality of sleep. Foods high in refined sugar cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a steep decline in blood-sugar levels later. The increase in blood sugar can make it hard to fall asleep. The decline in blood-sugar levels while you are asleep is one of the main causes of waking during the night.

Similarly, though a glass of red wine before bed can help you fall asleep, it can cause you to wake more often during the night. According to an April 2013 study conducted by the London Sleep Centre-Neuropsychiatry, “…alcohol increases slow-wave ‘deep’ sleep during the first half of the night, but then increases sleep disruptions in the second half of the night.” If you feel hungry before bed, try a sweet low-sugar snack like berries instead.

No TV Time

Falling asleep while watching television is a popular habit in many households. According to a 2014 consumer survey conducted by LG Electronics USA, 61% of Americans fall asleep with the television on. Watching television is more distracting than relaxing.   Television keeps your body awake and hinders the body functions that promote sleep. Most often, television stimulates the mind and body, and does not help to slow breathing or relax muscles.

Now that you have some good tips for a better sleep…Happy Dreaming!

Four Vitamins and Minerals for a Good Night’s Sleep

Our whole lives, we have been told by parents, doctors, teachers, the media, and even our government that it is very important to incorporate foods into our diets that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals support our bodies’ functions by increasing the efficiency of our bodies’ systems. Sleep is one of our most important functions because it allows us to rest, renew, and detoxify during the night. A good, deep rest also supports cell regeneration.

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Some vitamins and minerals that support sleep are Vitamin D, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and potassium.

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Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to cause daytime sleepiness. As our modern lives get busier, we are getting outside less than previous generations. Less time outside means we are getting less exposure to the sun, and therefore, not producing enough Vitamin D.

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You can easily and naturally increase your Vitamin D by spending a bit more time outside, though it takes 2-3 months of regular sun exposure to build up the Vitamin D your body needs. Other options include adding fortified cereal or milk to your diet or taking a Vitamin D supplement.

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Magnesium and Vitamin B6 are important minerals our bodies need for a good night’s rest. Both nutrients are imperative to the production of melatonin, a hormone produced by our bodies to help us feel sleepy. Magnesium deficiency can lead to insomnia. Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, beans and various nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Salmon, halibut, and tuna are good sources of Vitamin B6.

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Potassium has been shown to help people stay asleep and have a deeper, more restful sleep. Though we think of bananas as a potassium-rich option, winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and yogurt provide more potassium per serving.

Making sure you are getting enough of these four vitamins and minerals will help you fall asleep faster and sleep better and longer.

Check out the following articles for more information on the benefits of adding these vitamins and minerals to your daily diet.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3501666/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/10686624/Vitamin-D-could-it-stop-modern-diseases.html

http://www.newswise.com/articles/scientists-identify-second-sleep-gene

Sleep and Exercise: A Reciprocal Relationship

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Many people feel that they get a better night’s sleep after a day of physical activity. It makes sense: The more active you are during the day, the easier it may be for you to relax and fall asleep at night. Interestingly enough, sleep may have as much of an effect on exercise as exercise has on sleep. Also, people who regularly sleep well may experience these effects very differently than people who have chronic sleep problems.

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According to a study published in the Mental Health and Physical Activity journal, a nationally representative group of participants reported a 65% improvement in sleep quality and daytime alertness when they exercised for at least 150 minutes per week. Aerobic activities seem to be best for sleep, as they increase the levels of oxygen that reach your bloodstream. The exact reasons behind exercise helping with sleep are unknown, but there are some theories from the National Sleep Foundation. One is that your body becomes heated during a workout, and the post-workout drop in temperature may promote sleep. Another reason could be that physical activity decreases anxiety, arousal, and symptoms of depression, which may contribute toward sleep problems. By keeping active during the day, it may be easier to deal with stress, and with less stress comes a deeper and more restful sleep.

Sleep also maximizes the benefits derived from exercise. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the body performs vital activities during sleep, such as providing an opportunity to recover from being used during the day. Restorative functions almost exclusively take place while asleep, such as muscle growth, protein synthesis, and tissue repair. Alternately, when humans are deprived of sleep it can cause health problems by modifying levels of hormones involved in metabolism, appetite, and stress response. If your body has not had a chance to recover and restore itself, you will not be as fit for activities the following day.

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Most studies that look at the correlation between exercise and sleep do not use subjects with existing sleep issues. For people who do not have chronic sleep problems, the relationship between exercise and sleep is not as complicated. For people with insomnia, the relationship between sleep and exercise can become a vicious cycle, the lack of one hindering the other and vise versa. Insomnia can come in many different forms: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking during the night, non-restorative sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

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A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine takes a closer look at a previous study on physical exertion and sleep. It concentrated on sedentary older women with insomnia. They were randomly directed to either remain inactive or begin doing cardiovascular exercises for 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week for 16 weeks. After the 16 weeks, the active group was sleeping much more soundly than they had been at the start of the study. They were sleeping for 45 minutes to an hour longer each night, were waking up less frequently, and were more energized during the day.

What was most interesting though, was the fact that the active participants did not experience immediate results. They did not notice an improvement in sleep the night following a day of physical exertion. In fact, they instead noticed diminished corporeal performance after a night of poor sleep. People with insomnia tend to experience extreme arousal of their stress system. Random single bursts of exercise will not help overcome this arousal, and may even aggravate it. In order to help with insomnia, an exercise routine needs to be implemented and maintained. Eventually the regular activity will start to silence a person’s stress response, and sleep will come more readily.

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The process is very gradual, and does not offer immediate gratification. This makes it harder to implement into daily life, because it takes regular exercise several months to show significant and consistent changes in sleep behavior for those with insomnia. And when you are tired, it is hard to motivate yourself to be active, and your workout suffers. Once sleep and activeness become a normal routine, each will benefit the other.

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As a whole, sleep and exercise are mutually beneficial, and both help maintain overall health. For people who do not experience regular problems with sleep, these benefits can be reaped almost immediately after implementing regular workouts and sleep routines. For those with insomnia or other sleep issues, it may be a bit harder to find the initial energy and endurance to begin this lifestyle change. Either way, the conclusion of these studies is that regular sleep and exercise should be incorporated into everyone’s lives, and as a pair, they can improve your health!

Why Do Teens Nowadays Get Less Sleep Than Previous Generations?

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Teens of this generation are generally getting less sleep than those of previous generations. What could be the reasoning behind this trend?

According to a study performed at Uni Research Health in Norway, the culprit could be the hours a day teens spend using electronic devices. The study was based on data gathered from 10,000 16- to 19-year-old boys and girls, who were asked about their daily quantity of screen time as well as their sleeping habits.

The findings were that those who used an electronic device for over four hours a day had a 49% higher risk of taking longer than an hour to fall asleep. Those who exceeded two hours of screen viewing per day were more likely to toss and turn before falling into a deep sleep. Teens who used multiple devices throughout the day were more likely to get less than five hours of sleep per night.

The reasoning behind this might be linked to the screen light, which may impact sleep hormone production. It could also be related to the social communication aspect, such as anticipating a response from a friend.

An easy way to fix this problem would be to treat electronic devices like any other stimulant (such as caffeine) and limit their use before bedtime and just in general. If the devices are not used while in bed, the body and mind won’t associate the bedroom with wakefulness, and could thus obtain better sleep.

For more information about how electronic devices impact teen sleep, read this article by Bill Briggs from NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/zombieland-tech-wrecking-sleep-scores-teens-study-n298901