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If You Want to Lose Weight, Here's Why You Should Try Matcha

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Matcha-36942038

Thank You for visiting www.judgeweightloss.com. This is the spot for all of your fitness, workout, healthy lifestyle, supplement, and just general get healthy information. Enjoy

Ready to take your morning caffeine habit to the next level? It may be time to replace your loose leaves or cup of coffee with matcha. A powdered form of steamed and dried green tea leaves that has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries, matcha tastes like a grassier, brighter version of the regular stuff. Think of it as the “healthy espresso of green tea,” say David Mandelbaum and Jessica Lloyd, owners of matcha purveyor Panatea. So just how healthy is the green powder? A study found that one serving of matcha has 137 times more disease-fighting polyphenols, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), than a brewed mug of conventional China Green Tips — the equivalent of up to 10 cups of regular green tea! With such an antioxidant punch, it’s no wonder that matcha just may be the new superfood. Read on for why it could just be a miracle in a mug.

Weight-loss concentrate: EGCG has been shown in some lab studies to boost metabolism, and other research has shown that EGCG may help stop the growth of new fat cells. While more studies are still needed to confirm results in humans, add to this the fact that drinking green tea instead of sugary drinks can help you save calories, and opting for a healthy matcha-based drink (like this lower-calorie version of Starbucks’s green tea latte) may just be a wise weight-loss decision.

Disease-fighter: The concentrated levels of antioxidants in matcha are hard to beat, especially considering catechins in green tea have been shown to have cancer-preventing as well as immunity-boosting effects, including helping prevent high-risk health workers from catching the flu.

Daily detox: Matcha may just help keep your body functioning in tip-top shape; a lab study in rats with type 2 diabetes found that a daily dose of matcha provided a protective effect on their liver and kidney systems. Other research has found that green tea drinkers had a 33 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes by helping reduce blood glucose levels — the more green tea they drank, the lower the risk.

Jitter-free energy: A serving of matcha has less caffeine than an espresso, but its nutrient makeup just may give you more energy. Because the tea leaves used to make matcha are protected from sunlight before being harvested and steamed, the leaves retain much of their natural chlorophyll (which is why matcha is so green), a substance that has been shown to help boost energy. Plus, green tea is an excellent source of the mind-calming amino acid L-theanine, which means you may just feel more awake and alert without the late-afternoon caffeine crash.

When buying matcha, be sure and check each product so you know you’re buying high-quality tea with the most health benefits. “The more vibrantly green the matcha is, the higher the chlorophyll and amino acid content,” David and Jessica advise. Also, check labels and watch out for additives and sugars, which some matcha products contain. For the perfect cup, David and Jessica recommend heating water until near boiling (180°F) and whisking in matcha powder in a “M” or “W” motion.

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If You Want to Lose Weight, Here's Why You Should Try Matcha

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Matcha-36942038

Thank You for visiting www.judgeweightloss.com. This is the spot for all of your fitness, workout, healthy lifestyle, supplement, and just general get healthy information. Enjoy

Ready to take your morning caffeine habit to the next level? It may be time to replace your loose leaves or cup of coffee with matcha. A powdered form of steamed and dried green tea leaves that has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries, matcha tastes like a grassier, brighter version of the regular stuff. Think of it as the “healthy espresso of green tea,” say David Mandelbaum and Jessica Lloyd, owners of matcha purveyor Panatea. So just how healthy is the green powder? A study found that one serving of matcha has 137 times more disease-fighting polyphenols, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), than a brewed mug of conventional China Green Tips — the equivalent of up to 10 cups of regular green tea! With such an antioxidant punch, it’s no wonder that matcha just may be the new superfood. Read on for why it could just be a miracle in a mug.

Weight-loss concentrate: EGCG has been shown in some lab studies to boost metabolism, and other research has shown that EGCG may help stop the growth of new fat cells. While more studies are still needed to confirm results in humans, add to this the fact that drinking green tea instead of sugary drinks can help you save calories, and opting for a healthy matcha-based drink (like this lower-calorie version of Starbucks’s green tea latte) may just be a wise weight-loss decision.

Disease-fighter: The concentrated levels of antioxidants in matcha are hard to beat, especially considering catechins in green tea have been shown to have cancer-preventing as well as immunity-boosting effects, including helping prevent high-risk health workers from catching the flu.

Daily detox: Matcha may just help keep your body functioning in tip-top shape; a lab study in rats with type 2 diabetes found that a daily dose of matcha provided a protective effect on their liver and kidney systems. Other research has found that green tea drinkers had a 33 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes by helping reduce blood glucose levels — the more green tea they drank, the lower the risk.

Jitter-free energy: A serving of matcha has less caffeine than an espresso, but its nutrient makeup just may give you more energy. Because the tea leaves used to make matcha are protected from sunlight before being harvested and steamed, the leaves retain much of their natural chlorophyll (which is why matcha is so green), a substance that has been shown to help boost energy. Plus, green tea is an excellent source of the mind-calming amino acid L-theanine, which means you may just feel more awake and alert without the late-afternoon caffeine crash.

When buying matcha, be sure and check each product so you know you’re buying high-quality tea with the most health benefits. “The more vibrantly green the matcha is, the higher the chlorophyll and amino acid content,” David and Jessica advise. Also, check labels and watch out for additives and sugars, which some matcha products contain. For the perfect cup, David and Jessica recommend heating water until near boiling (180°F) and whisking in matcha powder in a “M” or “W” motion.

25909806,36896809,24559867

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Weight Loss

I wish to introduce you to a powerful tenet which gives rise to whatever it is you’re attempting to achieve along with your physique is not external, yet contained within your mind. The vital to dropping weight is determined by exactly how you attach meaning to it – the thoughts and emotions associated along with it. Weight loss implies removing something unwanted or unhealthy i.e. excess physique fat. exactly what if we re-framed it in our minds as an expression which affirms the adhering to instead; allowing our physique to…

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My Ovary-Free Life

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I was 48 hours away from surgery, obsessed with wondering how my life and my body would change, when I was crudely reminded of why having my ovaries removed could be a really good thing. I got my period with the works—bloating, pimples, and cramps. As usual, I subsisted on ibuprofen every three hours. It was strange thinking this would be the last time Id feel this way.

Then the profound moment evaporated, and the inevitable complications popped up. Some tests turned up a little blood in my urine—and the two days til I was eggless in Manhattan turned into six weeks. Fortunately, the follow-ups on my blood were negative, but another life-changing event came along. My beloved dad died of brain cancer, and I needed time to grieve before I rebooked my surgery. Then, finally, the date was set: I was about to give away a huge part of me in hopes of outsmarting the breast cancer (BRCA) genes—passed down from mom and her sister—that greatly increase my risks of ovarian and breast cancer. I was sure I was ready.

 

 

Next Page: The prep aint pretty

[ pagebreak ]The prep aint pretty
The day before, the calls from the hospital start coming in at 11 a.m. Im asked things like: Whats your primary language? Are you planning on bringing any valuables? And then: Theres a chance you may stay overnight. You know—if they find something (like cancer). Oh, and no sex or baths or straining for a month afterward. Help! This is before Ive even begun … the bowel prep.

All I have to say is that anyone who says a bowel prep is easy has never done one. But once youve done it, its like youre in a secret club. Before any of this business even started, I did ask a dear friend (and colonoscopy veteran) to detail it for me. “Is it like you read a novel on the toilet? I asked naively. “Um,” she replied, “you kind of dont really feel like reading.” Enough said—but saying just isnt the same as doing.

At the stroke of 4 p.m., I start sipping magnesium citrate “tonic” (diluted with ginger ale) through a straw before quickly realizing that the only way to get through this 10-ounce treat is to chug. I think its going to be an explosive evening, but that turns out to be the understatement of the year. Its the nastiest evening Ive spent in a long time.

When my alarm rings at 5:45 a.m., its not that much of a shock since Id only catnapped. In the cab with my mom by my side, I silently pray my stomach will cooperate during the pitch-black half-hour ride to the hospital. Soon we check in, and there are more questions, including, when was your last period? Odd that this is going to be the last time Im asked this. Im parched and manage to get the nurse to smuggle me four ice chips. Ive never tasted anything more delicious. I then change into a gown and wrap myself in the chenille throw my mom was smart enough to pack. We cry softly as we imagine how my dad would have taken charge. That pain dulls the pain of being an hour away from a voluntary—but necessary—laparoscopic surgery. My ovaries are about to be removed through my navel and two small incisions at my bikini line. Lets go.

Going under…and going home
A few minutes before I head into the operating room, colleagues of my doctor, New York University (NYU) cancer expert David A. Fishman, MD, arrive with a stack of CDs and a release form listing all the unpleasant things that could happen during surgery. I sign and pick Sheryl Crow over Creed, figuring thats better karma. Soon I hear the sweet sounds of the music and someone saying: “She has chubby hands. Getting an IV line in will be easy.” I lift my hand, as if to say, “Watch it, Im still awake,” and thats all I remember.

I wake up a few hours later, and all is fuzzy. A nurse is offering me cranberry juice, asking how much pain Im in on a scale of one to ten. I say six. My husband runs off to fill my prescriptions—Im getting Percocet, stool softeners, and an estrogen pack to go. I summon up the energy to leave the recovery unit and walk—slowly, like an old woman—out and back into the world again. Once I get home, I snuggle under my sheets, kiss my sons head, take my first estrogen tab, and pass out.

 

 

Next Page: Why am I so sad?

[ pagebreak ]Why am I so sad?
I have a dull headache when I wake up, and my stomach feels like a painful balloon. (Im told itll take six weeks for my stomach to deflate—nice!) I peek under my bandages, and its not too scary. Plus, the ibuprofen seems strong enough to control my pain … but then the crying jags start.

Lying in bed, my thoughts race. Ive lost a part of myself thats so personal. Im over the fact that I wont bear another child; its more that from this moment on Im staying young synthetically. Thats disturbing. And the cruelest trick of all: My period starts. I realize Im 24 days into my cycle. Its worlds colliding: Im taking estrogen from what looks like a birth control pack, I have my period, and Ive lost my ovaries. I cant even put what Im feeling into words.

In a few days Im moving sluggishly, not a bad thing. I observe more, I appreciate more. Im tired but happy the whole thing is behind me, especially since my pathology report came back all clear. And, though Im sad that I cant scoop up my son, Ill be tickling him in just a few weeks. I look at him, my one and only biological child, and the husband I love now more than ever, with pure wonder and joy.

Meet the new me
My breast-cancer risk has now dropped 50 percent since I had my ovaries removed before I turned 40 (my birthday is in August), but my breasts remain a constant worry since my mom and aunt are breast-cancer survivors and Im BRCA positive. That means vigilant monitoring, and I get the red-carpet treatment. Women who have found something suspicious and dont have my genetic legacy often have to wait weeks to get a mammogram. I make just one call, and Im squeezed in on even the busiest of days. This special treatment seems unfair. So the new me—the one who can now worry a little less about getting cancer—decides to use my BRCA status to tell the world my story.

A week after surgery Im due back at NYU, but nothings wrong. Im going to be the “real woman” in a video news story featuring my surgeon and his studies on early detection of ovarian cancer. I feel grateful as I head up to the familiar fourth floor. The waiting room is packed. I gaze at the faces, the scarves, the women of all backgrounds gathered for the fight of their lives. I realize that for the past two years, I avoided looking at the other faces in this room. Now I really look and see unbridled bravery. I am this brave woman, too. I got rid of a body part before it had the power to kill. Sure, this was a huge ordeal, and there will always be a hole in my center, where my fertility, my innocence, once lay nestled somewhere within. But Im not a gambler. Not when it comes to my life, anyway. I have too much to share with the world. And now I can.

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5 Sleep Problems Nobody Talks About

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You drift off at night like a newborn baby yet can't recall the last time you woke up truly refreshed. It may not seem that weird: "People tend to assume that because our modern lives are so hectic, nobody feels rested," says Meir Kryger, MD, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. But the reality is, you might have a sleep disorder and not even know it. There are a handful of problems that can cheat you out of quality slumber, leaving you more tired in the morning than you were when you went to bed. Find out what could be going on between your sheets and how to catch more restorative z's, starting tonight.

Sleep Problem No. 1: You snore like a saw
Those snuffle-snorts mean that your slack tongue and throat muscles are narrowing your airway, possibly due to the shape of your soft palate or any extra weight you're carrying.

Although you're likely to wake up if you get short of breath, it may not be for long enough to remember. Some people wake dozens or even hundreds of times a night—a disorder known as sleep apnea that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and possibly osteoporosis, according to a new study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. "Those repeated awakenings are as disruptive as someone pinching you every two minutes all night long," says Safwan Badr, MD, chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

Sleep aid: If you rarely wake up feeling bright-eyed, see a specialist to get checked for sleep apnea.(Three to 9 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 70 suffer from it.) If you have the condition, a CPAP machine and mask can help by keeping your pharynx open with a steady stream of air.

To quiet your snore, avoid rolling onto your back—a position that makes your airway more likely to collapse. Rachel Salas, MD, associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, suggests this little trick: Sew a tennis ball into the pocket of a sweatshirt and wear it backward to bed.

RELATED: 14 Reasons You're Always Tired

Sleep Problem No. 2: You grind your teeth
Do you wake up with a sore jaw or get chronic headaches? If so, you may be gnashing your ivories overnight. All that clenching can cause enough pain to interfere with your shut-eye (not to mention wear down your enamel). Experts believe that teeth grinding, which about 16 percent of us do, is associated with anxiety—though an abnormal bite and antidepressants can also play a role.

Sleep aid: A dentist will fit you with a mouth guard. If you're clamping down because you're overwhelmed and overloaded, find a healthier way to manage stress, urges Michael A. Grandner, PhD, an instructor in psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "It's also crucial to spend plenty of time winding down before bed so you drift off in a calm, relaxed state," he adds.

RELATED: 11 Signs You're Sleep Deprived

 

 

Next Page: Sleep Problem No. 3: Your body clock is off

[ pagebreak ]
Sleep Problem No. 3: Your body clock is off
Not even drowsy until the wee hours? Delayed sleep-phase syndrome (DSPS) is the technical term for this disorder, which afflicts 10 percent of people who seek help for insomnia. It involves a biological glitch that prevents your body from making melatonin (the sleep hormone) until 12 a.m. or later. A prime sign you've got DSPS: You've been a night owl since high school. The syndrome is common among teenagers and sometimes persists into adulthood. If you're not squeezing in at least seven hours of z's a night, you're at greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. What's more, a recent study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research found that people who nod off late (and get less sleep as a result) tend to experience more negative thoughts.

Sleep aid: Begin by improving your sleep hygiene. Cut back on caffeine. Avoid tech and television starting 90 minutes before bedtime. Create a soothing wind-down routine. And get some sun first thing in the morning to help reset your body's 24-hour rhythm. "In 80 percent of cases, these strategies lead people to conk out earlier," Dr. Badr says. If they don't do the trick, a specialist may prescribe synthetic melatonin, as well as light therapy with a medical lamp to use in the morning.

RELATED: 20 Things You Shouldn't Do Before Bed

Sleep Problem No. 4: Your legs feel jittery at night
That creepy-crawly feeling—aptly called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)—troubles as many as 1 in 10 people and is thought to be linked to a dysfunction in the way the brain processes the neurotransmitter dopamine. However, in some cases it suggests a nutritional deficiency, Dr. Kryger notes: "With people who have low iron, there seems to be overactivity in parts of the brain that results in an urge to move the legs."

Sleep aid: Ice packs, warm packs, massages, a bath—any of these remedies might help, says David N. Neubauer, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: "Different things seem to work for different people."

Also, talk to a sleep doc about trying an RLS drug. Be sure to mention your current prescriptions because some meds (including certain antidepressants) reduce dopamine activity. Get your iron levels checked, too, Dr. Gardner advises: "Sometimes a supplement is the only treatment necessary."
 

sleep problems
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Sleep Problem No. 5: You sleepwalk—and even sleep eat
For reasons that aren't completely understood, somnambulists are partially aroused in the night—often from the deepest stage of slumber (called slow-wave)—and proceed to wander around the house. The behavior, which may affect up to 4 percent of the population, appears to run in families and is more likely to occur with sleep deprivation. Another trigger: taking zolpidem (one of the most popular sedatives), according to Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, author of Sleep Soundly Every Night; Feel Fantastic Every Day.

Additionally, 1 to 3 percent of people who experience such a zombie-like state actually raid the kitchen. Called sleep-related eating disorder, this condition often strikes women on a diet, who go to bed hungry.

Sleep aid: Benzodiazepines (aka tranquilizers) can sometimes help, and so does getting more sleep. As long as your nocturnal adventures don't involve anything risky (like, for example, baking cookies), you may not need medication, Rosenberg says: "Just make sure you safety-proof your home by clearing out clutter and stowing away sharp objects." If you're a nighttime roamer, let your partner know that the ideal approach is to gently lead you back to bed.

RELATED: Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

 

 

 

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Why Can't I Meditate? 7 Solutions to Common Meditation Blockers

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Meditation might be the biggest self-care trend since yoga, and for good reason—it’s been shown to help with everything from easing anxiety to boosting your sex life. Problem is, meditation isn't quite as simple as it seems, and it doesn't come easy for everyone. If you’ve tried (and tried, and tried) meditating to no avail, you’re not alone. Here, Elisha Goldstein, PhD, co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in Los Angeles and featured expert on Meditation Studio, solves the most common meditation problems so you can finally find your Zen. 

I can’t clear my mind

Legs crossed, eyes closed, body relaxed—you’re all ready for a meditation session. There’s just one problem: you can’t stop thinking about all those errands on your to-do list, that fight you just had with your sister, or what you’re going to make for dinner. Sound familiar? Try as we might, sometimes it’s downright impossible to totally empty our minds. “It’s easy to get frustrated because we have certain expectations about what meditation is supposed to be like,” says Goldstein. “There’s this misconception that meditation is supposed to be concentration. But it’s not.”

If you’re having trouble staying focused, Goldstein suggests trying mindfulness meditation. With this type of meditation, the goal is not to completely clear your mind of all thoughts; instead, it's to be fully aware of your thoughts and surroundings in the present moment. “If your mind wanders that’s perfectly fine, just realize your mind is going off and be aware of that,” Goldstein says. Most importantly, he points out: “It’s perfectly okay to be imperfect about this practice.”

RELATED: A Meditation to De-Stress

I get restless

Many people feel fidgety when they try to meditate. Just because you struggle to sit still, though, Goldstein says you shouldn't assume meditation is not for you. “The only way we can be more at ease and at peace with our lives is to learn how to deal with that restlessness differently, and to learn how to settle it down,” he says. Test out different types of meditation. Your restlessness may be well suited for a walking meditation, in which you focus on staying mentally present while moving your body.  

It’s physically painful to sit still

When you imagine somebody meditating, you may picture them sitting cross-legged on the floor. That may be the ideal position for some, but ultimately, you just need to get into a comfortable position that allows you to relax and breathe, whether you're sitting on a mediation cushion or a chair, or even lying down, Goldstein says. Take a few deeps breaths, and really try to soften your muscles. The main goal: “Come to a place where you’re settling in and taking the time for you,” Goldstein says. 

I don’t have enough time

Ask yourself: If I’m not going to take care of myself, who will? Just like working out, taking time for this self-care practice can do a world of good for your body. Studies have shown that mediation may sharpen memory, ease chronic pain, reduce depression and anxiety, improve sleep, and more. “It has to do with committing to ourselves,” says Goldstein.

Plus, meditation doesn't need to last for hours and hours. You can start with as little as three minutes a day, says Goldstein, and build up to a longer practice later. Just be sure to make it a non-negotiable part of your day. 

RELATED: 7 Ways to Carve Out Time to Meditate

It makes me fall asleep

So you finally found the time to meditate, and two minutes in you’re out like a light. While falling asleep mid-practice isn’t the goal, it’s also not necessarily a bad thing. “I prescribe meditation to go to bed all the time, it’s a great thing to help turn the volume down on your mind,” says Goldstein. To do this intentionally, lie down on your bed, play a guided meditation, and allow yourself to drift to dreamland. “The goal is of course to be awake,” he says. “But if all you have time for is a meditation as you fall asleep, that’s totally fine.”

If you’re prone to drowsiness, but are determined to stay awake for a full session, Goldstein suggests picking a time of day when you tend to be less tired, or doing a little stretch before you begin your practice. “That helps with energy, and promotes better meditation.”

RELATED: A Sleep Meditation for a Restful Night

I can't stick with it

So you tried to make meditation a priority for a few days, but then totally dropped the habit. That doesn't mean you shouldn't pick the practice back up. “There’s this phrase I really like to use: forgive, investigate, and invite,” Goldstein says. First, forgive yourself for missing a few sessions. Then, Godstein advises, ask yourself what got in your way. Did you forget to plan it into your day? Did something unexpected come up? No matter the reason, Goldstein says it’s simply important to identify the obstacle, and then invite yourself to try again. “If you do that alone—stopping and starting your practice over and over again in your life—you’ll become a master at meditation.

RELATED: Stuck on a Problem? Let Your Mind Wander

I won't be good at it

There’s often an underlying fear of failure at the root of this hesitation, says Goldstein. Question your self-doubt, and work with it instead. “Vulnerability is oftentimes where we learn to trust ourselves," Goldstein says. 

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How to Fall Asleep Fast, According to 6 Health Editors

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Sleep experts have tons of tricks to getting a better night's rest: go easy on the caffeine and alcohol, take a warm bath before bed, keep the thermostat set low, ban TV and mobile phones from the bedroom, and so on. But for Health's editors, the bedtime behaviors that help us fall sleep fast aren't exactly scientifically proven—and in some cases, they'd make the experts cringe. But they work for us, and research shows we're better off for it: the health benefits of sleep include sharper memory, lower stress, and lower risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Read on for our tried-and-true before-bed routines. 

Sip warm milk

"When I'm having trouble falling asleep, I go into the dark kitchen, heat up some milk and sip it in bed. The funny thing is we have published stories reporting that there is no good science to back up this folk remedy, so maybe it's just placebo effect, but it always works for me." —Lisa Lombardi, executive editor

Follow a specific routine

"I rarely have trouble falling asleep. I think it's because I follow a pretty specific routine every evening to get relaxed and ready for bed. In the hours before bedtime, I often watch a little TV, but only comedies—I've found that high-stakes dramas and gory scenes from Game of Thrones stress me out and keep me up later than I'd like. When it's time to head to bed, I wash my face and brush my teeth, and follow that up with my night cream, which is my one big beauty indulgence: Estée Lauder Resilience Lift Night ($86; nordstrom.com). The sweet floral scent helps tell my body it's bedtime. After I get into bed, I read a book until I can no longer keep my eyes open, and then roll onto my left side to fall asleep. Yes, it HAS to be my left side—not sure why!" —Christine Mattheis, deputy editor

Sniff some lavender

“Lavender is my go-to scent when I want to relax and fall asleep fast. I am obsessed with my DW Relaxing Lavender Candle ($28; amazon.com)—so much so that I’ve burned through the 13-ounce jar…twice. I’ll usually have the candle burning while I’m getting my clothes and bag ready for the next day and then I will blow it out right before I get into bed (safety first!). The lingering scent helps me drift right off to sleep.” —Lindsey Murray, assistant editor

Stretch it out

"I used to be a terrible sleeper, but I've really worked on it over the last few years since I've learned how crucial good sleep is to overall health. I stretch for around 15 minutes (also working on my flexibility, another area that needs improvement!), and drink a magnesium supplement that helps relax me (Natural Calm, $25 for 16 oz.; amazon.com). After getting ready for bed, I put coconut oil on my face, then get into bed, set my Beddit sleep tracker ($80; amazon.com), and read a book until I feel my eyes drooping. Then I smooch my husband and drift off." —Beth Lipton, food director

Jot notes in a journal

"I have a 5 Year Diary ($12; amazon.com) that I write in every night before I go to bed. Every page in the book has five paragraph entries, so you can see what you were doing on that specific date five years in a row. There's only enough space to write 3-5 sentences about your day, so it's not as daunting as a traditional journal page might be. I started mine when I first moved to New York City three years ago, and I love looking back and seeing what I've done, who I've been with, and how drastically my life has changed. As you write and gather more entries, it's a great way to gain perspective on your own life while also benefitting from the daily therapeutic benefits of journaling." —MaryAnn Barone, social media editor 

Slip into a food coma 

"Experts may not approve of my approach to falling asleep, but it works for me. I eat small meals throughout the day, and I really look forward to a robust dinner around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. As soon as my tummy is full, I start getting sleepy. After I brush my teeth, I watch some TV on the couch. I find it really comforting to doze with the TV on if my boyfriend is still awake and actively watching it. If he’s not watching it with me, then I’ll turn the TV off and head to bed. I turn onto my stomach and usually fall asleep within 10 minutes or so." —Janet Lawrence, senior video editor

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The importance of sleep

 

If you want to give yourself a better chance of avoiding the curveballs, prioritise sleep.

Clocking less than six hours of sleep per night compromises the brain’s ability to regulate emotions, making it that much harder to deal.

And it only takes one night of insufficient sleep to make you vulnerable to meltdowns according to a new Tel Aviv University study that identified the neurological mechanism responsible for disturbed emotion regulation and increased anxiety due to sleep debt.

In effect, the brain loses its ability to discern between what is and isn’t important, reported The Journal of Neuroscience.

Hannah Bailey shows us eight ways to improve your sleep:

Behaviour:

Ditch the macchiato, doughnut and laksa.
“Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and avoid large quantities of food, particularly heavy fatty foods, immediately prior to sleep that may make you feel uncomfortable and prevent sleep,” Dr Eckert says. If you suffer reflux, avoid spicy foods, as when you lie down it may come back to bite you.

Order a mocktail
A couple of vinos may feel like they usher you backstage at lala land, but the sleep you have when you get there is likely to be flawed. “Alcohol prior to sleep can impair sleep quality, cause snoring and in some cases lead to sleep apnoea, and should be avoided,” Dr Eckert says.

Move your workouts
Vigorous exercise just before bed can impair sleep, but Dr Eckert says that exercise at other times is actually a sleep aid. “It is associated with increased levels of slow-wave (deep) sleep.”

Switch off
Working back at the office or with your laptop on the couch can hijack your sleep routine. “Overly stimulating activities prior to sleep can make it difficult to fall asleep and should be avoided,” Dr Eckert says. Likewise detailed tasks.  “Maintaining a regular sleep routine that includes avoiding these types of activities immediately prior to sleep is ideal.” Exorcise the bedroom of any screens, Eckert advises. According to a 2012 Harvard Health Letter, blue wavelengths from fluorescent lightbulbs, LED lights and computer and iPad screens wreak greater havoc than white light on melatonin. In an experiment, blue light suppressed melatonin for around twice as long as green light. Red light, on the other hand, had the mildest effect on melatonin.

Bedroom
Dim the lights
According to the National Sleep Foundation, bright light inhibits the release of ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin, which can only be stimulated in a dimly lit environment. Any bright light can prevent the release of melatonin, preventing the onset of sleep. If you can’t block 100 per cent of light, Eckert advocates using a sleep mask to mimic a dark sleeping environment.

Pull the blinds
Skip diaphanous window dressings – however romantic – and go for a heavy fabric or blinds that completely block light. The first exposure to light in the morning activates a part of your brain called the supra-chiasmatic nucleus according to the National Sleep Foundation. That means processes associated with being awake crank into gear, calling a premature end to quality sleep.

Snuggle up
Sleep temperature is integral to the quality of shut-eye. UniSA’s Centre for Sleep Research revealed that that normal initiation of sleep demands a core body temperature drop. Ordinarily, the body automatically turns down its heat dial about 90 minutes before sleep, while insomniacs who find it hard to nod off tend to maintain a higher body temperature. While your body should regulate its own degrees, a hot or frigid room can mess with the process. Eckert says the ideal room temperature for sleep is 22 degrees Celsius. If you use an electric blanket to take the chill off your sheets, turn it off before falling asleep.

Luxe your crib
You can call high thread-count sheets a health expense. While they’re not a magic sleeping pill, Eckert says good bed linen complements other measures to maximise comfort, including temperature regulation.

NEXT: Lack of sleep not only impacts on your brain function, it also kills your beauty buzz.

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Jess Sepel's FebFast tips

 

We chat to clinical nutritionist Jess Sepel on how to stay on track this FebFast – are you up for the challenge?

 

The festive season is over, the January hangover has slowly subsided and it’s time to rekindle the healthy routine you’ve been avoiding so far in 2016.

Lacking motivation? The annual Febfast event encourages a month-long pause from alcohol and sugar, while raising money for underprivileged youth. Enter as a team or go it alone; just use it as an opportunity to give your body a break from the vino and the sweets for a good cause.

We spoke to clinical nutritionist and all-round health guru Jess Sepel to get her tips and tricks on how to stay on track for the challenge.

Stay hydrated

Make sure you’re drinking your two litres of water every day. If this isn’t exciting enough for you, swap to a few glasses of sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime, or freeze your favourite fruits into ice cubes and pop them in your drink. Not only is this refreshing on a hot day, but the fruit infuses as the ice melts for the sweetener taste (minus the calories).

Eat your protein

Protein keeps you fuller for longer, and it doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of red meat, chicken or eggs. Potatoes, chia seeds, green peas and rice are examples of foods also high in protein.

Snack pre-party

Have a satiating snack before you head out to a celebratory event so that you don’t find yourself starving and turning to foods you wouldn’t normally eat. My favourite snack options before heading out are hummus and vegie sticks, coconut yoghurt or Greek yoghurt topped with berries and sugar-free granola, or chopped apple with almond butter.

Be balanced

If you do indulge, don’t feel it has to be an ‘all or nothing’ affair. Let yourself enjoy a few treats occasionally and remember that your body can handle unhealthy foods in small amounts. Trust yourself.

Get active

Use Febfast as an opportunity to wake up early on the weekend and go for a run, practice yoga outside as the sun rises or even just take the dog for a stroll around the block. Physical activity in the morning before you start your day will kick start your endorphins and leave you feeling awake and energised.

Prioritise your health

Prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing by making a conscious decision to balance your fun – enjoy activities that aren’t centred on drinking or alcohol. Go to brunch with your besties, take a walk along the coast with your family or have a booze-free picnic.

Register and find out more today.

NEXT: Find out how alcohol affects you.

 

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