Unhealthy sleep patterns increase the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and depression. They have been linked to traffic accidents, occupational hazards and reduced productivity. Factors contributing to poor sleep hygiene include 24-hour access to media and technology, unconventional work schedules, and medical issues such as chronic pain or obstructive sleep apnea.
Healthy sleep is vital to good health and emotional well-being:
- You fall asleep easily.
- You regularly sleep 7 to 9 hours in a 24 hour period (sometimes including a nap) without long periods of wakefulness.
- Upon waking, you feel refreshed and alert.
During sleep, our brains are active and our bodies replenish themselves. There are five stages of sleep: stage 1 is light sleep; in stage 2 the brain waves are slower; stages 3 and 4 are deep sleep; and stage 5 is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, when breathing and heart rate increase, blood pressure rises, and we dream. This cycle takes 90 to 110 minutes and repeats three to five times a night for healthy sleep. Most adults experience occasional insomnia, due to stress or worry or excitement, but if you are frequently unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, or if you suspect that your sleep insufficiency is related to a medical issue (e.g., if you snore loudly or stop breathing regularly in your sleep,) your doctor may order a sleep study or other tests to determine a course of treatment. If you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious and you just can’t quiet your thinking, here are some things you can do to promote relaxation and restful sleep.
- Diet: Refrain from heavy meals, alcohol and caffeine two to three hours before bedtime.
- Environment and Light: Turn off TVs, computers and other electronic devices that give off light. An exception may be made for atmospheric sound machines or soft, soothing background music that can mask environmental noise and promote relaxation.
- Adult coloring books, journaling and creative writing provide opportunities to relax and engage in satisfying and creative activities.
- Tai chi, also called movement meditation, has been found to be effective in achieving a relaxed state prior to sleep. See http://www.examiner.com/article/what-physical-meditation-is-and-how-to-do-it and http://www.ezsleepsolutions.com/articles/tai-chi-qigong-for-insomnia-by-matthew-rochford/
- The “8 Minute Yoga Workout for Sleep” that can be done on your bed! See http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/yoga/poses/yoga-routine-before-sleep/
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation can relieve tension. See http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/progressive-muscle-relaxation-topic-overview
- “The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise” may not put you to sleep in 60 seconds, but it really does promote relaxation and a calm feeling.
- See: http://www.medicaldaily.com/life-hack-sleep-4-7-8-breathing-exercise-will-supposedly-put-you-sleep-just-60-332122
What are your favorite tips for improving the quality of your sleep? Leave us a comment or share a link to some online resources, and help everyone train healthy sleeping habits for improved wellness.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Bad breath
- Muscle cramps
- Fever and chills
- Food cravings (for salt and high carbohydrate foods)
Drinking too much water can also have a compounding negative health effect for your body. Over hydration may seem less of a health concern, but it can be a problem for individuals who are dieting, and using water as an alternative to healthy snacks and meals. The general rule is to not drink more than one liter per hour of water (or other hydrating beverages) to avoid placing additional stress on kidneys and other vital organs.
Symptoms of over hydration include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion or disorientation
An important fact to remember is that, while hydration does aid as an appetite suppressant, over hydration can lead to a dangerous drop in normal electrolytes (sodium level) called hyponatremia in the body, which if left untreated, can cause seizures, muscle weakness, unconsciousness and coma.
How much is enough?
In an average climate (non arid) and for normal, daily activities, the average male requires 13 cups of plain water for health and wellness, or approximately three liters per day. The average healthy adult woman requires nine cups of plain water, or roughly 2.2 liters per day for adequate intake (AI), according to the Institute of Medicine.
Tips to Make Daily Hydration Easy
Consider purchasing new, non-plastic reusable water containers (glass or medical grade aluminum) for work, at home and for the gym. Having an ample supply of safe water containers is not only better for the environment, it is convenient for people with busy schedules. Hydrate on-the-go while driving to work, watching television and especially when exerting yourself, as your body displaces fluid volume faster when engaged in aerobic exercise.
There are several free apps that you can download to your smart phone to help you train healthy hydration into your day. Improve your personal health and wellness by starting a healthy new habit of routine hydration. Individuals with health concerns should also consult regularly with their family physician to monitor unique hydration needs.
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How The Immune System Works
When something is wrong with your body, you can just feel it. There are many messages that your body sends through a variety of different symptoms to let you know that the immune system is not running at an optimal level. Your immune system is constructed of a network of complex cells, tissues and major organs that work in unison to provide protection from bacterial or viral infection.
There are two types of white blood cells at work every minute within your body to seek out and destroy antigens and other threats to health. Leukocytes are stored in the thymus, bone marrow and the spleen. These white blood cells exist in two forms; the phagocytes and the lymphocytes. The Phagocytes are aggressive cells that find and eradicate any bacteria or virus that enters the body. The soldiers of the immune system literally chew up and destroy foreign organisms. The second type of white blood cell are lymphocytes, which act as a learning and memory center for the immune system. These remarkable cells remember the markers of viruses and bacteria, which help trigger an earlier response next time your body is exposed to invading organisms. The two pronged approach of the white blood cells are critical to the healthy functioning of your immune system, and are essential to remove infection (thereby reducing the length of time you are sick) and recognize the pattern of bacteria and virus to prevent future infections.
The Sweet Dilemma
Craving sweets is one way that your body compensates for a lack of energy. As the days get shorter and the weather changes in the fall, naturally we begin to crave higher carbohydrate foods. How we eat changes as a result with less fruits and vegetables, and more potatoes, thick creamy soups, bread and rich gravy saturated meats. There is nothing wrong with healthy comfort food options incorporated into a balanced diet, but overloading on carbohydrates can create other problems for your health.
Did you know that a large amount of carbohydrate (sugar) can impede the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria for up to five hours after consuming something sweet and sugary? Every time you load up on sweets, consider that you are disabling the efficiency of your immune system for hours afterward, leaving you susceptible to viral or bacterial infection and moderate your intake, particularly during the cold and flu season.
Dehydration and Health
In the summer it seems habitually easier to remember to drink a sufficient amount of water; after all, the hot weather inspires us to stay hydrated. But the truth of the matter is that your body requires the same level of hydration throughout the year, regardless of the season. Trading fresh water for other hot beverages like hot chocolate, tea or coffee contribute to dehydration. When you feel tired, do you reach for a retail energy drink? They are generally loaded with salt which contributes to further dehydration. Your cells need water, and dehydration directly impacts the ability of white blood cells to function, making you more susceptible to viral and bacterial infection.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Immune System
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Reduce high carbohydrate meals and snacks (and replace them with high fiber and protein options for more sustained energy without the ‘carb crash’).
- Exercise regularly.
- Ensure you are drinking an adequate amount of fresh water daily. Remember that by the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
- Wash your hands frequently and use antibacterial wipes or gels to reduce your viral or bacterial load on hands and your chance of infection.
- Get sufficient rest. Naps are not just for kids (you are allowed to have one too).
- Ensure you take a quality daily multivitamin and probiotic to fill in the gaps between your dietary nutrition and what your body needs daily for healthy functioning.
There are a number of contributing factors that increase your risk for developing hypertension (high blood pressure), but lifestyle is by far the strongest influence. What you eat, how often you exercise and your habits either support healthy blood pressure or contribute to elevated hypertension. We’ll talk about some of the causes and what you (with the supervision of your family doctor) can do to manage it.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Essential hypertension can be an inherited problem where mostly men experience non-lifestyle related high blood pressure. Individuals who are black have twice the risk of essential hypertension than white peers in similar age groups. Black women over the age of 65 develop a higher incidence of hypertension than men. Lifestyle or chronic hypertension is related to diet, fitness, weight and age as well as ethnic background. Two numbers are provided to measure hypertension; the first being the systolic and the second the diastolic. The universal ranges for blood pressure are:
- Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
- Prehypertension is measured at 120-139/80-89
- Stage 1 of hypertension is: 140-159/90-99
- Stage 2 of hypertension is: 160/100+
- High blood pressure for seniors over 60 years of age is: 150+/90+
Changes that Support Healthy Blood Pressure
It should be noted that hypertension is a serious health concern that requires the ongoing medical supervision of a trained physician. In addition to supervision by a medical doctor, there are some known lifestyle changes proven to support the regulation of healthy blood pressure.
- Reduce Sodium Intake
- Reduce Caffeine
- Manage Stress Levels
- Exercise More Often
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
- Check Blood Pressure Regularly
- Reduce High Fat Foods
A consultation with a wellness practitioner can help identify individual lifestyle habits and routines that may be contributing to hypertension. Working in conjunction with a family doctor and medication, most individuals can restore their body to a healthy blood pressure. Remember that healthy changes maintained over time result in better health and wellness. Persistence is the key (making the changes stick for the long term) and a positive outlook that makes your personal health and wellness a priority.
It might seem a little far-fetched until you consider that the human body holds an incredible ability to heal itself from within. Every day your body is exposed to toxins in the air, in the water we drink and in the food we eat. It is also bombarded by prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) medications and cosmetic chemicals that we use every day. When it comes to cellular health and the natural environment around us, it really is a battle to stay healthy every day of your life. Continue reading “Glutathione: The Key to Aging with Health and Vitality” »