Sweet Dreams

Having a good night's sleep takes more than just a bedtime.

Category: Sleep (page 1 of 7)

34 Healthy Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

When it comes to breakfast, the options are endless. Pancakes or waffles? Bacon and eggs? Muffin, followed by a pastry? So why limit chowing down on delicious breakfast foods to the morning hours? Here are 34 healthier snack options to keep filling those breakfast food cravings all month long.

Better Breakfast Snacks

1. Avocado Toast With Egg

Sometimes, simple is just better. In this recipe, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, lightly toasted, topped with smashed avocado and a sprinkling of salt and pepper makes for a flavorful and rich base. Top that with two sunny-side-up eggs for a healthy dose of protein, and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast. Stack ’em in a tupperware container for easy transport or cook the yolks a bit more and make the whole thing into a sandwich.

2. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Smoothies are a perfect on-the-go snack any time of day. Blend 1 frozen banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup almond milk, and a few ice cubes. If this is a morning snack, keep it in a tight-sealing container and throw it in a gym or work bag. For an afternoon boost, prep it the night before and freeze, remove in the morning, and it will be thawed and ready to enjoy after lunch. Tip: Add a scoop of your favorite chocolate or vanilla protein for an extra protein boost.

3. Zapped Scrambled Eggs With Veggies

Yes, it’s possible to make really good scrambled eggs in the microwave. And it’s easy! Beat 2 eggs, throw in a microwave-safe container, add 1 handful of your favorite veggies (cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves work well), and a sprinkle of cheese. Zap the mixture for 30 seconds, stir, and cook another 30 seconds, or until eggs are solid. Throw a top on the container to eat later, or store the raw mixture in a fridge until ready to heat and eat.

4. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

One of the easiest, healthiest, and tastiest breakfasts out there is a classic fruit and yogurt parfait. The best part? It can be made with any toppings you like. Try choosing fruits that are in season for the most flavorful options. (Try our stone fruit salad for summer, and opt for apples come fall).

5. Breakfast Burrito

Who doesn’t love a burrito? Breakfast burritos are a great, easy snack to keep on hand. Scramble 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup black beans, 2 tablespoons salsa, and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese, and wrap in 1 small whole-wheat tortilla. Make a bunch, wrap in foil, and keep in the freezer for whenever the craving hits. Protein from the eggs and black beans keep you fuller longer, and the spicy salsa keeps things interesting.

6. Healthy Morning Glory Muffins

An oat-based muffin packed with healthy carrots and zucchini, lightly sweetened with raisins and just a pinch of sugar makes a perfect breakfast or snack. Use a mini-muffin tin for smaller portions, and eliminate or cut back on the brown sugar or choose a healthier substitute to cut back on sugar.

7. Breakfast Quinoa Bites

Here’s a new way to enjoy quinoa: make mini quinoa breakfast quiches! In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, 2 eggs, 1 cup your favorite veggies (spinach or zucchini work well), 1 cup shredded cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Portion into a lightly-greased mini muffin tin, and bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. These are easy to bring along and delicious to enjoy warm or cold.

8. Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie

Here’s a simple and delicious smoothie recipe for the morning rush. Blend 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup frozen fruit (banana and berries work very well) with 1/2 cup liquid (milk, juice, coconut water—whatever you like). Freeze overnight and thaw throughout the day to enjoy in the afternoon, or blend up in the morning.

9. Leftovers n’ Egg

Stuck with last night’s leftovers? Place a scoop of leftover roasted veggies, potatoes, or meat in a container, top with a cracked egg, and heat in the microwave until the egg white is cooked through, 30 to 45 seconds. (Or prep in the oven.) Feeling fancy? Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

10. Fruity Breakfast Quinoa

Cooking quinoa in milk (cow, soy, or almond) and adding some sweet spices and fruit makes for a great substitute for classic hot breakfast cereals. Plus, it’s high in protein and essential amino acids like lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Simply cook quinoa according to package instructions, but substitute milk for water, and add some cinnamon or nutmeg instead of salt and pepper. Top with fresh berries and chopped roasted nuts.

11. Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Take a classic baked loaf and make it into oatmeal with this recipe! Adding shredded zucchini to oatmeal is a great way to fit in an extra serving of veggies. Throw on a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans for some added crunch.

12. Quinoa Fruit Salad

Spice up a plain old fruit cup with a scoop of quinoa. Toss the whole shebang around until the quinoa is evenly distributed through the fruit. Add a scoop of plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey for a little extra body.

13. Oatmeal Squares

Oatmeal is a great option for a hearty snack or breakfast, but what’s the best way to make it into a more convenient and portable snack?Bake it into squares!

This article was originally published by Greatist. You can view the rest of the post here

Are You Sleeping Too Much?

You’re groggy, dizzy even. You can’t see straight and you sure as hell can’t keep your eyes (or your mind) focused on the screen in front of you. And you’re pretty sure your boss has noticed.

You want to assure her that you’re not drunk and you got enough sleep. In fact, you got more than enough. Could that be the problem?

The rumor: Sleeping too much is just as bad as not sleeping enough

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We’ve all heard how important it is to get enough rest, even though most of us don’t. Everything from obesity to cardiovascular disease to a weakened immune system have been attributed to a lack of sleep. The average person spends about 33% of his or her life sleeping.

So how much is too much? What if you just slept 2% more? What about 7%? Can oversleeping be as bad for our health as sleep deprivation? And if it is, why?

The verdict: Oversleeping can hurt your health

According to WebMD, the amount of sleep a person needs “depends on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits.”

Even though the average recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours, certain times in your life call for more.

According to Russell Sanna, executive director of the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, people need more sleep than usual when they’re recovering from illness, major surgery or a radical time-zone change.

However, just because you can sleep for 12 hours on a daily basis doesn’t mean you should. According to Dr. Lisa Shives, director of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois, grogginess from oversleeping is known as “sleep drunkenness.” Occasional oversleeping doesn’t pose serious health risks, but if you’re consistently sleeping too much and waking up groggy, you may want to consult a physician.

Prolonged daytime sleepiness or nighttime sleep is associated with a disorder known as hypersomnia. Instead of simply feeling tired, those with hypersomnia nap repeatedly throughout the day, usually at inappropriate times (such as at work or even in mid-conversation).

Hypersomniacs don’t feel refreshed after they sleep, and often wake up feeling disoriented. Symptoms include anxiety, restlessness, loss of appetite and memory problems, as well as dysfunction in social settings. What causes it? Per WebMD, studies show it can be the result of “another sleep disorder… dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system… drug or alcohol abuse… (or) injury to the central nervous system.” It can also be caused by certain medications — or medicine withdrawal.

Oversleeping has been associated with thyroid disease, kidney and liver disease, depression and dementia. But don’t think you can catch a few winks and assume your health isn’t at risk because you were up before noon. People who get too much and too little sleep have a higher mortality rate. So don’t stay up late and set an alarm, OK?

This article was originally posted by CNN, you can read the full post here.

7 Tips on How to Nap Like a Pro

Countless adults are short on sleep, and naps are a great way to make up for some of those lost winks – not that you shouldn’t focus on getting better quality sleep at night!

Unfortunately, for many of us, napping is no longer as easy as passing out on a mat on the classroom floor between recess and arts and crafts.

Follow these expert tips in order to make the most out of your naps, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready, instead of groggy and unsure which galaxy you’re in.

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1. Keep Your Naps Under Half an Hour

Generally, the best way to feel well-rested and get some of your energy back is to take a nap that’s between 20 and 30 minutes long[1]. Any longer, and you’ll start to head into sleep cycles that can make you feel extremely groggy if you interrupt them, undoing all of the work of your nap.

2. Take a 90-Minute Nap

On the other hand, if you’re really sleep deprived and have time to commit to a longer nap, set your alarm for an hour and a half. Most people’s sleep cycles restart every 90 minutes or so, meaning that you’ll get the benefits of deeper sleep, but you’ll still wake up fresh, rather than disoriented or wanting to sleep for the rest of the day.

3. Don’t Discount Short Rests

Even if you don’t really have time for a nap, finding a quiet spot to shut your eyes for five or even ten minutes can help you to rejuvenate. You don’t even have to fall entirely asleep during that short period of time – you’ll still feel more alert.

4. Have Some Coffee Before Your Nap

Napping is better than coffee for actually restoring energy, rather than just masking a problem, but caffeine can help some people feel more alert after a nap. If you struggle to wake up once you’ve gotten some shut-eye, try having a cup of coffee before your half-hour nap. The caffeine should take some time to kick in, so you’ll still be able to sleep, but by the time you wake up it will be coursing through your body and telling you to wake up.

5. Give Yourself a 4pm Cut Off

The middle of the afternoon is generally the best time for naps, since your body will be in something of a post-lunch lull, or possibly suffering from work-induced exhaustion after concentrating all morning. That said, napping too late can interfere with your sleep, so make sure you finish your nap sometime between 3pm and 4pm.

6. Don’t Nap if You Can’t Nap

Napping isn’t for everyone. If you find that regardless of length and time of day, napping interferes with your sleep at night or leaves you feeling worse rather than better, don’t push it. Instead, find ways to perk yourself up throughout the day that don’t involve sleeping, like healthy snacks or light exercise.

7. Take a Stroll Outside Instead

If you don’t have time to nap, can’t nap where you work, or find that napping makes you more tired or interferes with your nighttime sleeping, taking a brisk walk outside might help to boost your energy levels. Getting into the sunlight will boost your core temperature and prevent your body from making sleep-inducing melatonin.

This article was originally published by Daily Health Post. You can read the original post here.

The Smell of Sleep: How to Use Aromatherapy At Bedtime

Although the idea of using aromatherapy might seem a little off base, research has started to support the concept in recent years based on scientific findings.

Difficulty with sleeping has become one of the most pervasive complaints in modern society besides weight gain, so studies have begun to search for new ways to help people achieve deep, restful slumber.

Since there is currently a trend of favoring all things natural and organic, aromatherapy has become a popular alternative to taking an Ambien. Used properly, aromatherapy can provide you with better quality sleep and even reduce the effects of insomnia.

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Practical Suggestions

We all know that certain aromas are more relaxing. Aromatherapy harnesses the power of these relaxing scents in order to help you sleep more deeply. Researchers report that scents like lavender and vanilla are the most effective aromas for sleep.

Practitioners of aromatherapy for improving sleep recommend choosing options full of natural, plant-based products. Options for aromatherapy products range from scented mattresses to simple sprays for your pillow. Whichever option you choose, consider carefully as you select your scent. Although you may be inclined to simply go with lavender, blended scents can often create an aroma that is more powerful for encouraging sleep.

The beauty of using aromatherapy as a sleeping aid is that it doesn’t just immediately knock you out. Aromatherapy can be incorporated into a calming routine in order to create a mood of relaxation. Try combining aromatherapy with a warm bath, a cup of chamomile tea, or half an hour of reading a book in order to prepare yourself for sleep.

However you incorporate aromatherapy into your bedtime routine, remember that it should be used in order to fix the source of insomnia or disturbed sleep.

Remedies like an Ambien are designed to treat the symptoms, but aromatherapy is intended to help you relax and sleep deeply without any unnatural sleep aids. This might mean that it isn’t as immediately effective as a pill, but in the long run it will help you to develop a normal sleep routine.

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What Researchers Say

Lavender in particular is gaining respect among academics that study the science of sleep. For instance, a study at Wesleyan University discovered that lavender could be used to improve the quality of sleep for young men and women [1]. The individuals involved in the study sniffed either lavender or distilled water each night before sleeping. The people who smelled lavender enjoyed an increase in their slow-wave sleep, which meant that they slept more deeply and woke up the next morning with more energy.

Another study placed sleepers in rooms scented with lavender and then switched to no aroma the next night. The sleepers reported that the quality of their sleep was 20% better when they slept in the lavender-scented rooms [2]. Yet another study discovered that lavender was effective in helping dementia patients to deal with anxiety and disturbed sleep patterns [3].

If you choose to incorporate lavender aromas into your bedtime routine, the lavender will also allow your heart rate and blood pressure to slow so that you can easily enter the parasympathetic state that is most conducive to deep sleep [4]. Sweet dreams!

 

This article was originally published by Daily Health Post, you can read the original post here.

9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster

If you feel wide awake when your head hits the pillow at night, you’re not alone. Approximately 60 million Americans report having experienced insomnia in any given year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Even worse, 40 million Americans suffer from long-term sleep disorders.

Missing sleep is nothing to yawn about. “Chronic sleep deprivation has lots of negative consequences,” says Sonia Ancoli-Israel, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She notes that the health risks associated with missed zzz’s can include poor cognitive function, problems with attention and concentration, dementia and an increased risk of heart disease.

Why every night of sleep matters

Are you getting enough shut-eye? Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, according to Dr. Ancoli-Israel. “People are so busy in their everyday lives and something has to give. They give up on sleep rather than something else,” she says.

Even if you don’t suffer from insomnia, odds are you’ve experienced nights when you’ve tossed and turned, wondering why you can’t drift off. “Everyone has a bad night now and then,” says Dr. Ancoli-Israel. But if you get tense and worried about not being able to sleep, your frustrated mindset could make it even harder to relax into slumber the following nights.

The consequences of missing even a few hours of sleep can be serious. Research shows that short-term sleep deprivation can cause you to crave high carbohydrate and high sugar foods. It can even make it harder to choose healthy options when grocery shopping. Plus, one sobering study revealed that drowsy drivers who had been awake for 18 hours were just as impaired as drivers who had been drinking.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help ensure you’ll actually pass out once your head hits the pillow.

1. Do a 60-minute wind-down.

If you’re moving at full-speed all day, it can be tough to suddenly switch yourself “off” at night. “We are assaulted by information all the time and it’s really up to us to create routines that help separate the buzzing of the brain from our sleep routines,” says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, founder of NYC Sleep Doctor and author of The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby (and You). She recommends giving your mind and body a full hour to wind down from work (or happy hour) before you try to fall asleep.

2. Take a warm bath or shower.

Spending time in a steamy shower could be beneficial even if you don’t need to rinse off. Dr. Kennedy points out that your body temperature drops rapidly once you exit the shower. Research shows that this decrease in temperature can trigger a sleepy feeling because your heart rate, digestion and other metabolic processes slow down. This can make it easier for your brain and body to power down, too.

3. Put on socks.

Showering isn’t the only trick in the book. When it comes to optimizing your temperature for sleep, the ideal balance is a cooler core and warmer extremities, says Professor Ancoli-Israel. One study revealed that wearing socks dilates your blood vessels and can help blood flow, leading to a more optimal temperature for snoozing.

4. Try the 4-7-8 exercise.

We’ve all been there: No matter how many times you flip over, you just can’t seem to find that sweet spot that will let you slip into slumber. But instead of trying to find the perfect position, concentrate on finding the perfect way to breathe.

By deliberately changing the pattern of your inhales and exhales, you can change your heart rate and blood pressure, two systems linked to sleepiness. Many relaxation specialists recommend inhaling through your nose, focusing on filling your chest and lungs (for about three to four seconds) and then exhaling slowly through your mouth for double the time you were inhaling. Another method, known as the “4-7-8 exercise,” involves inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds.

5. Don’t get in bed until you actually feel sleepy.

Trying to score some extra zzz’s by going to bed at 8 p.m. is a recipe for disaster. “If you aren’t sleepy, your body won’t settle down,” says Dr. Kennedy. And according to Professor Ancoli-Israel, your sleep will actually be worse the longer you stay in bed. “Eight hours of sleep is more efficient than nine to 10 hours in bed,” she says.

6. Practice calming techniques during the day, not at night.

Relaxation techniques like visualization or progressive muscle relaxation can help you unwind. But don’t wait until it’s dark outside to try these for the first time. “You don’t want to do it the first time when you’re anxious,” Dr. Kennedy says. “You want to start really getting the skill down when it’s easy for you, then try it in more difficult situations.” If you’re using an app to guide you, try to practice until you don’t have to bring your device into the bedroom with you (because that can mess up sleep, too).

Need suggestions? We’ve got our iTunes stocked with wacky wind chimes from Dreaming with Jeff, produced by actor Jeff Bridges, and iSleep Easy, an app with a variety of guided meditations.

7. Get out of bed.

Lying in bed and worrying about your inability to fall asleep will not help. “The second you start feeling tense, go into another room until you start feeling sleepy,” says Professor Ancoli-Israel. You want to condition your brain to associate the bed with sleeping and nothing else, she explains.

Feeling frustrated “creates a stress response where the body creates adrenaline,” says Dr. Kennedy. To combat this harmful feedback loop, divert your attention by reading, doing crossword puzzles, knitting, drinking tea, folding laundry or organizing closets until you start to feel drowsy. “It doesn’t matter, as long as it is relaxing to you,” she says.

8. Hide your clock.

Repeat after us: “I must stop staring at my clock.” You could be waking yourself up even more, says Professor Ancoli-Israel. When you’re constantly checking the time, you’re putting pressure on yourself and creating a more stressful environment. Plus, Dr. Kennedy points out that your phone can suck you back into daytime stressors with every text, email or app notification. If you need to use your alarm clock or phone to ensure you rise on time, put it under the bed or in a drawer so you aren’t tempted to glance at it every five minutes.

9. Vent on paper.

If racing thoughts keep you up, consider jotting down what’s on your mind before you head to bed. Processing your feelings (good and bad!) can help you relax into a sleepier state of mind. “When you’re thinking through that stuff and you’re laying down, it can become circular,” says Dr. Kennedy.

By writing things down or making a list of tomorrow’s to-dos, you’ll tame any bouncing thoughts and turn them into a more linear narrative. Instead of endlessly worrying about the next day’s workload, you’ll have already plotted out how you’ll get everything accomplished before you hit the hay.

This article was originally published by CNN. See the original article here

Anyone Who Has Trouble Sleeping Will Understand This Comic

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This article was originally published by Buzzfeed. See the original article here.

Protein Powder Post-Workout — Are You Doing It Right?

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After pressing, curling, sprinting, and crunching, the next logical step for many is shaking (and no, we don’t mean with a Shake Weight). Protein shakes, bars, and gels are marketed to be essential for an effective workout. But are these packaged and powdered foods really necessary for recovery, or do the whole-foods alternatives have them beat?

The Power Of Protein
Downing protein after a workout is often just part of our routine, and for good reason. Consuming protein has been shown to speed up recovery time and increase strength before the next gym session. The magic results from amino acids (tiny parts of proteins), which act as building blocks for muscle. After pumping iron, eating (or drinking) foods high in proteinsupplies the body with amino acids to start repairing the damaged tissue (mainly muscles). Protein shakes offer one method of getting in some muscle-building nutrients after a workout. But are they really more effective than high-protein foods such as chicken or eggs?

Pitting powder against whole foods, research indicates that the supplements may have a slight advantage. The quick source of amino acids increased the fractional synthesis rate of muscle (a fancy term for rate of muscle building) more than just a regular meal. In addition to adding size, protein supplements prove to be effective at increasing workout performance. One study using whey protein found that supplementation did increase hypertrophy (read: muscle size) and strength in participants. A similar study showed that individuals chugging protein could jump higher following a training program than their shake-less counterparts could.

Just remember: All powders are not created equal. Certain varieties are hydrolyzed (a fancy term meaning “partially broken down”), which means they can be absorbed faster into the muscle — hence quicker recovery.

Size also matters. Don’t look to shake up an entire jug. It appears that 20 grams of protein taken within two hours after exercise is the most effective amount to maximally promote muscle growth. A heavier dose likely won’t produce any major added benefit and may present potential complications in those with kidney problems.

Feel The Pow(d)er: Your Action Plan
Getting in protein after a workout looks to be a definite way to develop an Arnold-worthy physique, but the form and variety may come down to personal preference. Whole-food sources can provide all of the building blocks necessary for a full recovery, but lugging a turkey sandwich in a lunchbox isn’t nearly as fun as it was in grade school. Also, some gym-goers might find it hard to force down food after exercise. The reason: During exercise, blood makes its way from the stomach to the working muscles, making it hard to digest whole foods right away.

Protein powder isn’t for everyone, and it certainly doesn’t replace whole food. While supplements can provide a convenient post-workout fix, whole foods should comprise the bulk of any diet. Plus, the most widely used supplement variety, whey protein, may not be appropriate for lactose-intolerant folks or those living a vegan lifestyle — although vegan-friendly varieties like hemp, soy, and brown rice are now available. The key is finding the most convenient (and enjoyable) method for you — and leaving the hard work for the weight room floor.

This article was originally published by Refinery29. See the original article here.

Why You Talk in Your Sleep

Sleep talking can be embarrassing and even disrupt other sleepers, but most people don’t even realize they’re doing it.

We got this email from a viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,
My roommate tells me that I talk a lot in my sleep, but I don’t know why. What does it mean? And what can I do to stop talking in the middle of the night?
Thanks,
John

Research shows that sleep talking is harmless and completely normal, particularly in males and children. But for more on how to stop yourself from sleep talking, we checked in with an expert.

“Stress, sleep deprivation, fevers, or alcohol can especially trigger sleep talking. Sometimes your words can relate to past events or experiences, but most often it makes no sense at all,” said Dr. Shelby Harris, Psy.D, director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. “The good news is that it usually only lasts for a short period of time.”

This article was originally published by Fox News. See the original article here.

 

17 Foods That Can Help You Live Longer

The world’s oldest person, 116-year old Susannah Mushatt Jones, enjoys a hearty meal of bacon, eggs and grits most mornings. The breakfast sounds delicious, but unless Jones has upended decades of nutritional science, it is unlikely the secret to her long and healthy life.

Eggs and grits aside, there are foods that, if eaten routinely enough, may help extend a person’s life. Science has found that antioxidants, for one, can combat age-related illnesses like heart disease and some cancers. Nature has supplied us with a galaxy’s worth of these molecules in the form of delicious, whole foods foods like berries, garlic and many others. Check out the list below to discover what foods researchers have associated with living long and prospering. Then get a huge bowl, whip up a few, dig in and #LiveYourBestLife.

See the entire list of foods on Huffington Post

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Have Big Dreams

 

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