By now we have all heard about the importance of sleeping in a completely dark room. Melatonin, the hormone that tells us to sleep, is very light sensitive. Even a single candle has the effect of reducing the amount of melatonin that is released. And our eyes are especially sensitive to light-anyone who has tried to nap outside on a sunny day can attest to that.
For those of us that live in the city with the prevalence of street lights and neighbours who insist of keeping their porch lights on 24/7, achieving a completely dark room requires some effort.
Many of you may have tried the light blocking curtains or shades, but if you are like me, after a long, cold winter I love to sleep with the windows open and feel a gentle breeze. Not possible with heavy curtains.
So I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be easier to darken my eyes with a sleep mask of sorts, rather than try to darken my entire room. And so began my quest for the perfect sleep mask.
I began my research like most of us do these days, on the internet. There, I found all kinds of sleep masks, but the one I ended up buying was recommended by pilots who fly transatlantic flights. These pilots constantly change time zones and need to sleep at odd times during the day, so a sleep mask that works is critical.
The sleep mask they recommend is called a concave sleep mask because it has concave eye pockets which allows you to blink without your eyelashes touching the sleep mask and disturbing your sleep. Most of the standard sleep masks don’t have this feature and can be irritating to the eyes since they put direct pressure on the eyelid. Plus, this mask is made of foam so it’s lightweight and comfortable to wear. And with it’s adjustable strap, you are able to get a perfect fit so it stays in place.
Concave Sleep Mask
I was sold. I ordered one and have been sleeping like a baby ever since.
Now if I could just get the raccoons to go to sleep. all would be well.
We’re celebrating World Health Day today (even though it’s not until April 7th), and this year the focus of the World Health Organization is high blood pressure.
Did you know that sleep can affect your blood pressure? Bet you didn’t!
We’ve said it before; many of us just don’t prioritize sleep as an important part of healthy living. Getting a good night’s sleep is often sacrificed when we get busy. Whether it’s an early start to the day, an evening out with friends, a sick child or spouse, or even a favourite TV show, many of us find it difficult to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep.
So now there is another reason to make sleep a priority, it’s good for your heart. When you sleep, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure drops, for a significant period of time. This lowers the stress on your body, and allows you to wake-up better able to manage any new stress.
Sleeping for less than the recommended 7-8 hours can lead to sleep deprivation, which keeps your body in a state of alert. Your body then increases production of stress hormones and cortisol to help you stay awake. This then raises your blood pressure which is a significant factor for a heart attack or stroke.
So please keep your heart in mind the next time you think of skipping that extra hour of sleep. Your heart will thank you.
Find yourself dozing off during the day? Struggling to get out of bed in the morning? It could be that you’re simply not getting enough quality sleep. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful for getting a good night’s sleep.
- Get active. Regular exercise may help reset your internal clock for a healthier sleep/wake pattern. You can try something as simple as going for a walk after dinner, or some yoga. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time between exercise and bedtime to recover.
- Unplug. Turn off the TV and any other electronic devices before you get into bed. Avoid the late-night news or any violent shows that might be unsettling. The blue lights from computer monitors, smartphones and any other electric devices can also disturb sleep/wake cycles.
- Drink up. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soda before bedtime. Instead, opt for some warm milk. Not only is it delicious and soothing, but the tryptophan in milk will help you feel sleepy.
- De-stress. If you find you can’t shut your brain off when your head hits the pillow, you’ll never get the rest you need. Make a list of what needs to get done the next day, before you go to bed. This will clear your mind and allows you to “turn off” and fall asleep.
- Take time. Give yourself an hour to get ready for bed. Develop a soothing routine that lets your body know it’s time to get some shut-eye. Dim the lights, take a warm bath and turn down the thermostat.
- An extra step. If you’re still struggling to get fall asleep or stay asleep, after trying these tips consider a non-prescription sleep aid like femMED SLEEP. It’s a combination of herbs which are specially formulated to help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer.
Developing healthy sleeping habits is just as important for your long term health as eating well and exercising, something many of us don’t realize. Sleep is the time that our bodies use to recharge and rebuild. A good night’s sleep will help you stay mentally alert during the day, improve your memory and even lower stress. Try these tips and you’ll be amazed how at much better you’ll feel, both mentally and physically.
In October, I set the ambitious goal to overhaul my lifestyle and start making healthy choices. I decided to go big and signed up for the Toronto Tough Mudder in May 2013. I wanted to have a goal that would keep me motivated throughout the year. I was inspired when I went last year to support my friends who ran the course. They too, had made the decision to make their health a priority and their results were inspiring. I was able to see exactly how their motivation paid off and allowed them to accomplish their goals.
The event is a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces to tests your speed, stamina and strength. What I liked most about this event, is the emphasis on completing the course and supporting those around you, even if they aren’t on your team. Unlike a standard 5k run or marathon, improving your time and performance is not the overall goal. The goal is to test your abilities, get healthy, have fun, meet new people and enjoy the experience. There is even a BBQ with live music, for participants and spectators at the finish line.
In order to meet the demanding physical requirements for the event, I knew I was going to need support. This is where working with my teammates came in handy. We ran together regularly to help build stamina and took advantage of the outdoors to help with strength training. For example, it was easy to use the monkey bars in the local playground to practice pull-ups and chin-ups. Running up and down an outdoor staircase helped work our gluts and hamstrings. We also incorporated push-ups, squats and crunches helping us create a full body workout. They only items we needed to bring with us were a timer and plenty of water.
Having a goal and a support system has been essential to my success. Not only do I feel better, but I have lost weight and made new friends. The Tough Mudder is now only two months away and I can’t wait to cross that finish line.