Thursday, 31 July 2014

How People Ruin Their Sleep

Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and a good night’s rest is achievable for most people, most evenings, but unfortunately many people are ruining sleep by developing some bad habits.



The mind and body will function best when it responds to a sleep schedule. One of the easiest ways to ruin sleep is by going to bed and waking up at different times during the week. This disturbs the natural sleep cycle and makes it difficult for the body and mind to know when to sleep. Going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time each day and night for as little as three weeks, can reset the cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at bedtime.

Being stressed and worrying about problems is another way people ruin their sleep. Dealing with problems as they happen is a good way to reduce stress. Talking to a trusted friend or loved one about problems can often put problems into perspective and enable a solution to be found.  Having a notepad and pencil next to the bed is another effective way of dealing with issues that arise when trying to sleep. Making a note of worries and committing to dealing with them the following day, rather than at bedtime, is a good solution.

Exercising close to bedtime is another way to ruin sleep. The body needs to be physically tired to sleep, but exercising before bed can wake up the body and mind and make it difficult to fall asleep.
A heavy meal before bedtime is bound to ruin sleep. The body needs time to digest food before lying down, eating before bed can lead to a night of tossing and turning. A light snack before bed may be fine, but it’s best to enjoy larger meals earlier in the evening.

Many people who don’t sleep well turn to caffeine and sugar during the day to keep them awake. The problem with this is these substances can stay in the system for long periods of time and interfere with sleep. If a person is having trouble sleeping, these substances should be consumed earlier in the day or eliminated altogether. Alcohol can have the opposite effect and encourage sleep at bedtime.  However, this is a temporary solution, as it contributes to unrest and early morning waking.

Eliminating these bad habits can encourage a good night’s sleep. However, if symptoms persist, a medical professional should be consulted.

Pic source: KB's Room

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Tips to get a Better Night's Sleep

A good night’s sleep can lift spirits and boost energy levels, but it’s not always achievable. Thoughts of work commitments, important meetings and daily life can keep individuals tossing and turning for most of the night. Daily life must go on, but there are several simple adjustments that can be made in order to get a better night’s sleep. 




If worries are keeping an individual up at night, talking about them with a trusted friend during the day can go a long way to easing the mind and often solving the problem. Recording feelings and worries in a journal, is another handy way to sort through problems during the day rather them taking them to bed at night.  Keeping a notepad next to the bed is an excellent idea. Noting down problems to tackle the next day rather than worrying about them all night, can ease the mind and encourage sleep. 

Another pointer is to ensure the bedroom is a quiet, dark, comfortable place to be. A room with clutter, piles of laundry and unfinished paperwork is not a room to sleep in. Keep the room a comfortable temperature and remove distractions such as the television and computer so the mind knows this is a room of rest and relaxation, not stress and sleeplessness. 

Engaging in some form of physical activity such as walking, can release stress and tire the body. An individual with a tired body and relaxed mind is much more likely to sleep well at night than a stressed out one. However, exercise too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect and is not the best idea. 

Food and drink consumed before bed time can have a big influence on the length and quality of sleep. Caffeinated beverages, cigarettes and sugary drinks are not a good idea close to bedtime, as it’s difficult to sleep if the mind and body are over stimulated.  Having a large meal before bed may take a while to digest and therefore interfere with sleep. Alcohol may encourage sleep initially, but it can lead to a restless night and early morning waking. 

A happy person is usually a well rested person. Engaging in some form of enjoyable activity during the day can reduce worries and put situations and problems in perspective. Socialising with family and friends is an excellent way to achieve this. Leaving the work at the office and the chores at home and heading out for a night of fun can do wonders.  

Preparing the sleep environment, tiring the body and ensuring the mind is not over stimulated are helpful pointers on getting a better night’s sleep, However, is sleep problems persist, consult a medical professional. 

Pic source: KB's Room 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Five Ways to Ruin Your Sleep

Sleep is important for all human beings; unfortunately, many people aren’t getting enough of it. In most cases, it’s not because people aren’t tired, it’s due to poor sleep habits. The human body cannot sleep on demand, it needs to be physically tired, relaxed and prepared for sleep. Having a great night’s sleep, can be as simple as avoiding the five practices which ruin your sleep.



Human bodies are designed to sleep to a cycle, when this cycle is broken; the mind becomes confused and finds it difficult to sleep. To establish a sleep cycle, an individual needs to go to bed and wake up as close to the same time each day as possible. This will ensure the mind knows when bed time is approaching. If there have been a few late nights during the week, it’s still advisable to get up at the same time and perhaps catch up on lost sleep by going to bed a little earlier one evening.

Exercise is a great way to physically tire the body and prepare it for sleep. However, any exercise is best done earlier in the day and not too close to bedtime. Exercise gives a boost of energy, which may take time to reduce before sleeping.

Eating large meals and consuming stimulants before bedtime can ruin sleep. Meals take a little while to digest properly and it’s hard to sleep while this is happening. Larger meals should be eaten earlier in the day and it’s preferable to have a light snack in the evening. Stimulants consumed before sleep such as cigarettes, sugary drinks and caffeinated beverages, stimulant the mind, making it difficult to fall asleep. Alcohol may relax an individual enough to fall asleep, but tends to encourage a restless night’s sleep and early morning waking.

Taking worries to bed is a great way to ruin your sleep. Working through problems during the day by sharing with a trusted friend, a work colleague or family member is much more preferable than tossing and turning during the night with worry. Keeping a notebook by the bed to record worries is a good idea. Write them down and forget about them until the morning. Also, writing concerns and feelings in a journal is a handy way of removing worries from the mind and sorting through them.

A distracted mind is less likely to fall asleep than a relaxed mind. Clutter, noisy pets, work from the office and television are distractions that need to be removed from the bedroom because they can ruin your sleep. The bedroom should be a peaceful sanctuary.

A good night’s sleep is possible for most people. Eliminating these five practices which ruin sleep can lead to a more satisfying, restful sleep but if symptoms persist, contact a medical professional.    
Pic source: KB's Room

Monday, 28 July 2014

How to Sleep Better

Sleep is an important part of life for everyone. Lack of sleep may cause irritability, moodiness and lack of concentration for even the simplest of tasks. Here are some guidelines on how to improve the quality and length of sleep.



Healthy bodies thrive on a sleep routine. Going to bed and rising at a regular time each day will programme the body to sleep and be awake at certain times. Even after a late night it is important to get out of bed at the usual time the next day.

Exercise is a great way to physically tire the body. Aerobic exercise is better but going for a brisk walk for 30 minutes or more each day will encourage sleep in the evening too. Don’t leave the exercise until too late in the day as this will energise the body and mind, making it more difficult to wind down for bedtime.

Avoid stimulants in the evening such as coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. These substances wake up the mind and interfere with sleep patterns.

Heavy meals late in the evening will sit in the stomach and cause sleep difficulties. Eating three or four hours before bedtime is a better idea. It’s also not a good idea to be hungry before bed, so a light snack in the evening may be a good idea.

Avoid napping at all times. A nap may recharge but it will also make it harder to fall asleep later on.
Start a bedtime ritual so mind and body know it’s time for sleep. Perhaps try reading a book or taking a hot bath or shower.

Don’t try too hard to fall asleep. If sleep isn’t happening within half an hour, get up and do something relaxing for a little while before returning to bed.

Listen to soothing music. Having a recording which shuts off after 30 minutes is a wonderful idea.
Place a few drops of lavender essential oil on pillows and sheets. Lavender is a natural relaxant and encourages sleep.

Drink a relaxing herbal tea in the evening. Chamomile tea is an excellent remedy for sleep problems. Don’t drink it just before retiring to bed as this may have you up in the night for the bathroom.

Using the bedroom for non sleep activities does not promote a good night’s sleep.  Don’t use the bedroom for catching up on work or watching TV.

Following these simple tips can encourage a better night’s sleep. If symptoms persist, consult a medical professional.

Pic source: KB's Room

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Quick Moroccan Menu Ideas

Moroccan cuisine is a huge part of Moroccan culture. Derived from a blend of Arab, Middle Eastern, Berber, Moorish, African and Mediterranean influences, Moroccan menus consist of a wide range of dishes, from simple raw salads to exotic formal lamb dishes. Read on to discover quick Moroccan menu ideas that can be easily prepared at home.



The main meal of the day in Moroccan cuisine is served at midday, unless the holy month of Ramadan is being observed. A variety of ingredients are incorporated into Moroccan dishes, apart from pork and alcohol which are prohibited per Muslin restrictions. A typical meal begins with salads and side dishes and all meals are served with bread. Main meals often consist of vegetarian, fish, lamb, chicken, fish or beef dishes. Meals are eaten with the hands and by using bread as a utensil. A mint tea is served to complete the meal.

Salade Mechouia -  Moroccan tomato and roasted pepper salad

This fresh salad is a popular side dish and can also be served on a sandwich with a grilled meat. It’s a quick dish, preparation and cooking time can take as little as 20 minutes. Simply peel, seed and chop tomatoes, add toasted peppers and vinaigrette and serve. Onions and parsley are a tasty addition to the dish.

Moroccan grilled lamb chops

Lamb is a common ingredient in Moroccan dishes and a lamb chop dish is a simple, delicious addition to any menu. The lamb chops are washed and drained. The chops are coated with a mixture of herbs, spices, lemon juice and olive oil and refrigerated overnight to marinate. The chops are lightly grilled and served warm and tender.

Cauliflower with Moroccan spices

Vegetable dishes are common in Moroccan cuisine. Cauliflower is easy to prepare and absorbs the flavours of the spices it is paired with, making it a perfect vegetable to combine with Moroccan spices. The cauliflower is cut into small florets, washed and drained. Spices are mixed with the cauliflower and set aside. The cauliflower is added to sauteed onions and garlic, combined with preserved lemon, olives and water and brought to a simmer. The mixture is covered and cooked for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. The cover is then removed so the liquids can reduce down.

Mint tea

Tea is an important part of Moroccan culture, is served many times during the day and is offered to visitors as a common courtesy. It is prepared by steeping green tea with mint leaves.      
Many Moroccan dishes are named after the versatile tagine. A tagine is a ceramic or clay pot which can be used to cook or serve an array of different dishes. The bottom on the tagine is a circular, wide shallow dish which is topped off with a rounded cone or dome. Dishes of meat, chicken or fish are typically stewed in the tagine with vegetables or fruit. A tagine is a delicious addition to a menu and is usually easy to prepare, but it does take a considerable amount of time to cook.  

Moroccan dishes are delicious, nutritious and can be prepared with simple ingredients, making them a perfect quick meal or family feast.

Pic source: KB and Whitesnake

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

5 Ways to Disrupt Your Sleep

Many people try to live life on as little sleep as possible, wondering why they feel lacking in energy and stressed. Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, while a person sleeps; the body repairs itself and replenishes energy levels.  Sleep shouldn’t be looked at as a burden, but a gift. So how do you give yourself the gift of sleep?

Exercise is a good place to start. The human body needs to be physically tired in order to sleep. As little exercise as a 30 minute walk per day can tire the body and lead to a more restful night’s sleep.



There is a better chance of getting a good night’s rest if the mind is relaxed. An individual who goes to bed stressed and processing the worries of the day is unlikely to fall asleep quickly. Relaxing the mind is a process that begins earlier in the day. Practicing some form of relaxation such as yoga, deep breathing or listening to soothing music can ease the tensions of the day. If stress and worry persist during the day, talking to a friend or writing down feelings in a journal, can reduce worries before bedtime. If worries still plague the mind at bedtime, writing them down on a pad and committing to tackling them the next day will be more productive than tossing and turning all night.

A bedroom which is cluttered and uncomfortable is not conducive to a good night’s rest. Removing unpaid bills, unfinished work and unfolded laundry from the bedroom will make the room more appealing and a less stressful place to be. Ensuring the room is a comfortable temperature and as dark as possible will create a better place to sleep in.  

An individual will sleep better at night with a regular bedtime routine in place. Soaking in a warm bath, reading a book, listening to relaxing music or taking a hot shower before bed, will inform the mind that it is almost time to sleep. Engaging in activities which stimulate the mind such as watching television or playing computer games can do the opposite so it’s best to avoid stimulating activities close to bedtime.

Bedtime shouldn’t be a time to dread it’s a time to rest and prepare mind and body for the next day. Exercising, taking steps to relax the mind and practicing a bedtime routine are simple ways to give yourself the gift of sleep. However, if sleeplessness persists, a medical professional should be consulted.

Pic source: KB's Room

Friday, 18 July 2014

How to Fall Asleep Quickly

Studies show that a healthy adult falls asleep within 10-15 minutes, so why do so many struggle to fall asleep fast? Falling asleep should come naturally, but many factors can contribute to staring at the ceiling until the early hours. Fortunately, by using a little common sense and developing a few easy habits, falling asleep quickly is achievable for most people.



To fall asleep quickly, the body and mind should to be tired and relaxed. One of the best ways to tire the body is through physical activity. A 30 minute walk each day is ideal for this purpose. However, it’s important to remember that exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect by stimulating the mind and body.

An individual, who takes worries to bed, is unlikely to fall asleep quickly. Problems and stresses should be worked through during the day if possible. This can be achieved by taking to a friend or working through feelings in a journal. If worries still persist at bedtime, it’s a good idea to write them down and commit to reassessing them the following day.  

Many individuals, who have trouble falling asleep quickly, tend to consume stimulating substances close to bedtime. Caffeinated drinks, large meals and cigarettes should be avoided later in the day as they stimulate the body and mind and interfere with falling asleep.

Human bodies work to a sleep schedule, but individuals who find it hard to fall asleep quickly have probably messed up their schedule. The best way to get a sleep schedule back on track is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day or night. Even after a late night, it’s important to wake up at the usual time so the schedule stays intact. This way, the mind gets into the habit of falling asleep quickly at the same time each night.

An individual is not likely to fall asleep quickly if the body and mind is tense. Practicing some form of relaxation each day is a fun way to relax and unwind. This can involve just about anything as long as the activity relaxes the individual. Different people relax in different ways so it’s important to try several activities until one suits.

Falling asleep fast should be achievable for most people, most of the time. Obviously, there will be times due to stress and illness when this is not possible, but if symptoms persist, a medical professional should be consulted.

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

Thursday, 17 July 2014

5 Ways to Ruin a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep is important for everyone, so why are so many people ruining a good night of rest? The simple fact is, many individuals are forming habits which are interfering with sleep without realising it. Read on to discover five easy ways to ruin a good night’s rest.



An individual’s diet can easily ruin a good night’s rest. Substances such as caffeine and cigarettes are stimulants which can interfere with sleep. Individuals experiencing sleep difficulties should reduced or eliminate these substances. Eating large meals close to bedtime should also be avoided.
A large meal can take several hours for the body to digest and having a full stomach can lead to tossing and turning while attempting to sleep. Alcohol can cause an individual to drop off to sleep, but it can also encourage early morning waking so this should be avoided or consumed earlier in the evening.

Many people today don’t move around enough because of sedentary jobs, but the body needs to be physically tired to sleep. Experts recommend that exercising for as little as 30 minutes each day can encourage a good night’s sleep and the good news is, it doesn’t have to be done in one hit. Small blocks of exercise such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator, walking the dog and parking further away from an intended destination and walking the rest of the way, quickly add up to 30 minutes per day.

A person will not sleep well if their sleep schedule is disturbed on a regular basis. The mind and body will sleep easier if programmed to go to sleep and rise at approximately the same time each day and evening. Keeping this schedule can retrain an individual to fall asleep at a regular time in as little as three weeks.

A great way to ruin a good night’s sleep is by trying to sleep in a messy environment. The bedroom should be a sanctuary. Removing clutter, keeping the bedroom temperature a little cooler than the rest of the home and having the room as dark as possible are good ways to encourage a better night’s sleep.

Pic source:  Karen and Steve Boddey

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

How to Improve Sleep Patterns

Sleeping is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep restores and repairs body and mind, but if an individual isn’t getting enough good quality sleep, it can have a negative impact on mind and body function. Waking to an alarm clock, not feeling refreshed upon waking, taking a long time to get out of bed and feeling sluggish during the day are signs an individual may not be sleeping well. Although some factors which contribute to a bad night’s sleep may not be controlled, there are a few simple ways to improve sleep habits and encourage better sleep patterns.



Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day and night, is one of the easiest ways to establish a healthy sleep pattern. This schedule forms a habit in the mind, making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up the following day. Sleeping in and staying up late on the weekends should be avoided as this confuses the sleep cycle.

Substances consumed during the day can interrupt sleep patterns.  Many individuals who have sleep problems use alcohol to encourage sleep. Alcohol can assist in falling asleep, but it also interferes with quality of sleep and encourages early morning waking. Cigarettes and caffeine can also disturb sleep patterns as they stimulate mind and body. Heavy meals can interfere with sleep patterns as they take several hours to digest. These substances should be reduced or eliminated to improve sleep patterns.

Establishing a night time ritual is another way to improve sleep patterns. Taking part in a relaxing activity such as reading, listening to soothing music, cleaning and moisturising the face or soaking in a warm bath before heading to bed, establishes a habit which informs the mind and body it’s time to prepare for sleep.

The sleep environment can play a huge role in the disruption of sleep patterns. The mind is programmed to wake when light is present and sleep when it’s dark. Therefore, keeping the bedroom as dark as possible and shutting down light sources can improve sleep patterns. It’s also a good idea to ensure the bedroom temperature is a little cooler than other rooms in the house to compensate for use of bedclothes and blankets. Create a bedroom sanctuary.

Following these simple tips can improve sleep patterns and encourage a good night’s sleep. However, if sleep issues continue, a medical professional should be referred to.

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

How to Develop a Regular Sleep Schedule

Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It contributes to a better immune system, ensures the mind is alert and the body has plenty of energy for the day ahead. So why are some people tossing and turning all night rather than getting a good night’s sleep? This could be for a number of reasons, but one of the best ways to get a restful sleep is to develop a sleep schedule.

Human minds and bodies are programmed to sleep to a schedule; if this schedule is interrupted on a regular basis, an individual may find it difficult to sleep when tired as the mind has been reprogrammed to sleep at different times.  Luckily, this can be rectified by the individual going to bed and waking at the same time each morning and night. Sleeping in on the weekends will probably leave a person feeling groggy rather than refreshed, that’s why it’s important to wake at the regular time each day even after a late night.  In most cases, this new habit can be established in as little as three weeks.

When developing a sleep schedule, it’s important to keep in mind that certain stimulants may interfere with a good night’s sleep. If a person has gone to bed after drinking a huge cup of coffee, it’s unlikely they will fall asleep quickly. Therefore, avoiding stimulants such as coffee and cigarettes close to bedtime is a good idea. Eating a large meal before bed can lead to heartburn. This interferes with sleep as the body needs time to digest the food before bedtime. Alcohol can leave individuals sleepy, but can also encourage early morning waking so drinking too much before bed can interfere with a regular sleep schedule.

A bedtime ritual is another great way to encourage a good night’s rest and should be part of a successful sleep schedule.  A relaxing activity such as taking a warm bath, reading or listening to relaxing music, when preformed on a regular basis before bed, will inform the mind and body that it is almost time for sleep. Individuals should be wary of computer activities and television as part of a bedtime ritual, as these activities can stimulate rather than relax the mind.

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

Monday, 14 July 2014

Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep

Most adults struggle with sleepless nights at some stage but when a bad night’s sleep becomes a habit, it can begin to affect daily life. Bad sleeping habits can lead to anxiety and depression. Here are some ways to get a better night's sleep.

Establish a sleep pattern

As it’s possible to form bad habits, it’s also possible to develop good sleeping habits. The body and mind naturally want to form a sleep pattern but there are certain circumstances which affect this pattern and make it difficult to stick to a healthy sleep cycle. The key is to retrain the mind and body to get back into the habit of regular sleep. 

It’s important to go to bed and get out of bed as close to the same time as possible each day. This will condition the body and mind to know when it’s time to wind down and when it’s time to wake up. It’s a good idea, even after a late night, to get out of bed at the same time each day to encourage this. Developing a bedtime ritual will also help with this. Engaging is a relaxing activity before bed like reading, having a hot shower, soaking in a warm bath or listening to music, will help prepare the body for sleep. 

Exercise

Exercising will encourage a better night’s sleep. It doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise; a short 30 minute walk can be enough to make the body physically tired. It’s not a good idea to exercise later in the day, as this will have the opposite effect by invigorating mind and body. Exercising is also a great way to relieve stress and stress is another reason some people find it difficult to sleep at night. 

Prepare the bedroom for sleep

The bedroom should be a sanctuary. Using it for sex and sleep only, will make it a welcoming place for sleep. Therefore, don’t watch TV or work late at night in the bedroom.  Don’t encourage pets or children to sleep in the bed. Having their own place to sleep when appropriate is better for all concerned. If a partner's snoring is a problem, sleeping in another room (even just for a couple of nights) will help.

Following these suggestions can lead to a better night’s sleep, but if lack of sleep is a persistent problem, it’s a good idea to consult a health professional.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Bedtime Rituals to Improve Sleep

The human body needs regular sleep to survive; unfortunately many people today aren’t getting enough of it. One of the problems with today’s busy and varied work schedules is that the human body clock is being disrupted, disturbing the sleep cycle. Individuals fall asleep faster and can have a more restful sleep by incorporating bedtime rituals. Bedtime rituals performed on a regular basis, can inform the body and mind that it is time to prepare for sleep.



During the day

Exercising during the day is a good way to physically tire the body and can lead to a better night’s sleep. Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day may achieve this. Exercising before bed is not wise as it can have the opposite affect and wake up the body.

Eating a big meal before bed can lead to tossing and turning during the night as the body tries to digest food. Eating the main meal for lunch rather than dinner is a better option. Or perhaps leaving 3-4 hours after a large meal before retiring for the evening.  

Consuming too many stimulants such as alcohol, coffee and cigarettes can interrupt and disturb sleep, especially if taken later on in the evening. Consider herbal teas or a cup of warm milk as alternatives.

Don’t take worries or work to bed. Write down worries or unfinished work and forget about it until the next day,

Going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day, even after a late night, can assist in restarting a sleep habit.

Participating in some form of daily relaxation practice such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing promotes a good night’s sleep.

Before bed

Turn off the TV, computer and mobile phone before settling down to a sleep ritual. Rituals can consist of many different pastimes; any activity which relaxes mind and body can be part of the ritual. Try different things until you find something that works. Just remember, it may take a little while to start working, it’s taken time to get out of the habit or sleeping at a regular time so it may take time to reset the pattern.

Taking a hot shower or bath in essential oils is a wonderful way to relax and melt away the worries and stresses of the day. Perhaps reading a book or listening to relaxing music will set the tone for a restful sleep.

Being more relaxed, taking care of worries, being more physically active and developing bedtime rituals are great ways to improve sleep but if symptoms persist, it may be a good idea to seek advice from a medical professional.

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

Monday, 7 July 2014

How to Establish a Sleep Routine

Human bodies need a certain amount of regular sleep to survive but many people today just aren’t getting enough. Lack of sleep can lead to health problems such as anxiety, depression and mood swings. Most people suffer from sleep problems at some stage during life but when lack of sleep begins to interfere with daily life, work, school and relationships, changes need to be made.

Lack of sleep can be caused by many things; bad diet, lack of physical exercise, stress and illness, to name a few. If individuals don’t get enough sleep over a period of time, the body gets into the habit of not sleeping. Therefore, establishing a sleep routine can encourage the mind and body to prepare for a better night’s sleep.

Preparing a sleep routine begins during the day. Waking at a similar time each day, even after a late night, and going to bed at the same time each night for a regular period of time, will form a sleep habit. This ensures the body and mind knows when it’s time to sleep.

Many people have the mistaken belief that you prepare for sleep at night but if the day is filled with junk food, little down time, stimulants and stress, it’s unlikely that turning the light out and going to sleep quickly is an option. Bodies need to be exercised and minds need to be calmed before sleep can happen.

Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day is a healthy way to physically tire the body and a tired body will sleep better at night. Avoid coffee, sugary drinks, cigarettes and heavy meals close to bedtime. These will stimulate the mind and body and can lead to a restless night’s sleep. Alcohol may encourage sleep but can lead to waking in the early hours of the morning.  If these substances must be indulged in, have them earlier rather than later in the day.



All work and no play can lead to sleepless nights. Take some time during the day to relax by eating lunch in the park, going for a walk, spending time with friends or reading a book. Having down time during the day is important, as little as 10 minutes will make a difference but take more time if possible. Remember, relaxation during the day will aide sleep at night and should become another part of the sleep routine.

Another essential part of establishing a sleep routine is winding down at the end of the day. Working on unfinished reports, marking homework, talking on the phone, watching TV and working on the computer is not winding down. These activities are in fact more stimulating than one would imagine. Turn off the television and the computer and do something relaxing before retiring for bed. Take a hot bath or shower, read a book, listen to relaxing music, cuddle a pet or loved one. Taking part in these activities on a regular basis before bed, inform the body and mind that it is time to relax and prepare for sleep.

Using these techniques to establish a sleep routine can lead to wonderful, restful sleep but if problems persist, contact a medical professional.

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Five Ways People Ruin Their Sleep

Human bodies require a certain amount of restful sleep each night to successfully repair and rejuvenate. So why are so many people not getting enough good quality sleep? In many cases, it’s as simple as indulging in a few bad habits. The following are five ways people end up ruining their sleep.



Sleep schedules

As with other important habits in life, sleep needs to be scheduled. Going to bed and waking up at various times each day and night, places the sleep schedule out of whack and confuses mind and body. If an individual goes to bed and wakes at approximately the same time each day and night, the schedule can fall back into place in as little as three weeks. This will encourage a more restful night’s sleep.

Sleep partners

Another cause of a ruined night’s sleep is interference and noise from others. If a sleep partner snores, this can lead to the other individual tossing and turning during the night. Pets and small children sharing the bed, can also lead to a restless night’s sleep. Ensuring all pets and children sleep in their own beds most of the time and occasionally moving to another room for an uninterrupted night of sleep free of the sound of snoring can do wonders.

Exercise

Exercise is important for overall health and to ensure the body is tired and ready for sleep. If the mind is tired but the body isn’t, this can ruin sleep. Exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can encourage a better night’s sleep. Exercising before bed can do the opposite, so it’s best to exercise earlier in the day.

A bedroom sanctuary 

Temperature, clutter and environment can ruin a good night’s sleep. The bedroom should be a sanctuary, a place to rest and rejuvenate, not a place to be uncomfortable and stressed. It’s hard to fall asleep if bills and unfolded laundry are in sight so remove clutter to another room. The temperature in the bedroom should be different from the rest of the house and comfortable for sleeping. Bright lights from alarm clocks and appliances should be turned off or moved out of sight.

Stimulants

Drinking a cup of coffee before bed is an easy way to ruin sleep. Caffeine stimulates the mind and body and should be reduced or avoided in order to have a restful sleep. Individuals  have different tolerances to caffeine and as little as one cup can lead to a restless night’s sleep for some. Cigarettes and large meals can also stimulate the body and ruin sleep so it’s best to eliminate or reduce them before bedtime.

There are many ways to ruin a good night’s sleep, but sticking to a sleep schedule, assessing sleep partners, taking some exercise, using the bedroom as a sanctuary and avoiding stimulants, are five ways to get sleep patterns back on track. However, if sleep problems persist, a medical professional should be consulted.

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

Common Spices Used in Vietnamese Cooking

Vietnamese dishes use a combination of ingredients to balance the 5 important elements of taste; salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. Spices are commonly used to achieve this blend of flavor. Garlic and ginger are popular choices in Vietnamese cooking, but many other common spices are also used.



Garlic is so versatile that it can accompany many of the main ingredients used in Vietnamese cuisine. Meat, fish and vegetables can be seasoned with garlic and if the dishes are stir-fried or grilled, the aromatic smell of garlic adds to the smell and flavor of the dish. Raw garlic can be added to a salad or incorporated into a dipping sauce. When using garlic in a stir-fry, it can be sliced thinly or crushed and fried before the remaining ingredients are added. Garlic is best crushed before being combined with other ingredients when used as part of a marinade.

Ginger is another popular choice in Vietnamese cooking. It can be used fresh in a chicken stir-fry, to marinate beef or seafood or incorporated into a tasty noodle dish or broth. Ginger can be stored in the freezer and grated into dishes as needed. Ginger also provides many health benefits when used in cooking, which is an added bonus.

Vietnam produces Saigon cinnamon and it is a frequent addition to many dishes. It is mainly used for its fragrant bark, an important ingredient of the broth used to make the popular pho noodle soup.

Kaffir limes are versatile as the juice and the leaves can be used in Vietnamese cooking. The lime leaves are mainly used with chicken to add fragrance to the dish and the juice can be added to sauces to add a citrus flavor.

Vietnam produces peppercorns which are large and flavorful. When opened, they show a yellow color and release a citrus aroma, they can also add heat to a dish. Peppercorns can be added to fish dishes, incorporated into a marinade or stir-fry or sprinkled over salads.

Lemongrass provides a zesty lemon flavor and aroma to dishes. It is used mainly in fried or grilled dishes or to season broth or soups such as canh.

Chili can be used to add heat and color to dipping sauces and marinades. It can be used fresh, dried or stored in the freezer to be used at a later date.

Shallot is a common spice in Vietnamese cooking. It can be used in most dishes, including stir-fry, salads, grilled dishes, stews and broths. Shallots should be finely chopped and fried before any other ingredients are added to a stir-fry. They can be fried or raw when added to a salad, grilled before being added to a soup or broth and in most other instances the shallot is crushed before it is incorporated with other ingredients. Shallots should be used quickly when fresh or they tend to loose flavor. They can also be frozen to be used at a later date.

The common spices used in Vietnamese cooking, provide delicious flavors and when combined with fresh ingredients, offer some of the healthiest cuisine in the world.  

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

Friday, 4 July 2014

Create a Bedroom Sanctuary for a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but many people aren’t getting enough good quality sleep. People expect to lie down and go to sleep straight away, but the body and mind need to be prepared for sleep before this can happen. Following these easy tips can create the perfect setting for a good night’s sleep. 



Preparations for a good sleep begin early in the day. The body must be physically tired before it can sleep. Experts recommend taking part in some form of exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 times a week, for general health purposes and this is also a good guide for preparing the body for sleep later in the day. It’s important to remember that exercising too close to bedtime could have the opposite effect by energising the body and mind and interfering with falling asleep.

The body and mind sleep to a cycle. If an individual’s sleep cycle has been broken by irregular sleeping times, it can be difficult for the individual to fall asleep. This can be remedied by going to bed and waking at approximately the same time each day and night. Resetting the sleep cycle in this way can take as little as three weeks.

The body and mind will fall asleep more easily if it is prepared for sleep before going to bed. This can be achieved by developing a sleep routine. This routine can be as simple as taking a hot shower, listening to relaxing music or reading a soothing book before going to bed. It’s a way of informing the mind that it’s time to prepare for sleep. Activities such as watching TV, playing computer games or using the computer, can have the opposite effect so it’s a good idea to avoid these activities too close to bedtime.

An individual will sleep better if the bedroom setting is comfortable and uncluttered. Removing any items from the room which don’t involve sleeping or evoke feelings of calm is a good place to start. The bed, bedding and pillows should be clean and comfortable. The room needs to be a comfortable temperature and as dark as possible. Alarm clocks and other light sources can disrupt sleep so they should be removed or turned away from the bed.

A good night’s sleep is possible for most people, most of the time, but if sleep problems persist, a medical professional should be consulted.

Pic source: Karen and Steve Boddey

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