Category Archives: Guest Contributor

how screen time

How Screen Time Interferes with Sleep (and What to Do About It)

Technology and screen time have become an integral part of life for both adults and children. It allows for better communication and an incredible ability to exchange information. However, it can also lead to the sleep deprivation that affects anywhere from 28 to 44 percent of the population. A few simple habit changes can turn things around so you still get the full seven to nine hours of sleep you need.

Screen Time and the Sleep Cycle

Your brain largely relies on natural light to correctly time the start of the sleep cycle. The sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface lies on the blue spectrum. Special photo receptors in the eyes absorb blue spectrum light and send signals directly to the part of the brain that controls the sleep cycle. During the day when light levels are depression treatment hormones are suppressed. As light fades in the evening, the brain releases sleep hormones to begin the sleep cycle.

The light emitted from the screens of your favorite electronic devices like the televisions, laptops, or smartphones can also emit a blue spectrum light. While it may not be as powerful as light from the sun, it’s still absorbed by the same photoreceptors and travels to the brain to suppress sleep hormones. Consequently, screen time can throw off the timing of the sleep cycle, leading to sleep deprivation.

How to Manage Screen Time for Better Sleep

The responsible use of technology and electronics can certainly help you get better sleep. However, you also need to have the right conditions in your bedroom. A comfortable mattress, cool temperatures, and complete darkness are also essential. If you start with a room set up for success, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Set a Curfew

A curfew on the use of electronics can help your whole family get better sleep. In general, your brain needs two to three hours to adjust to changing light levels so the curfew should start two to three hours before bedtime.

Calm Down the Evening Atmosphere

If you’ve already got an electronic curfew in place, your next step is to bring the evening energy levels down in your home. Try dimming the lights, turning off the television, listening to quiet music, or reading a book. If you have young children, it’s a good time to work on puzzles, color, or engage in other quiet activities.

Remove Electronic Devices from the Bedroom

For many people, the use of electronic devices at bedtime is a habit that’s hard to break. Help yourself by completely removing them from the bedroom. The light from the television won’t keep you awake and notifications from your smartphone can wait until morning.

Use a Bedtime Routine to Your Advantage

Help yourself fall asleep by using your bedtime routine to your advantage. Perform activities in the routine in the same order and start at the same time each night. Over time, the brain recognizes your routine and releases sleep hormones when it senses the start of your bedtime routine.

Conclusion

Adequate sleep is a full partner in your overall health and well-being. It may take time and a concentrated effort to develop habits that manage screen time better, but it’s well worth it. Better sleep acts as the foundation on which to build your personal and professional goals. So turn off the phone and shut the laptop to give your body a chance to get the rest it needs.






why you need

Why You Need To Be Mindful Of Your Weight

Please welcome Guest Contributor, Dr. Charles-Davies, with an article about healthy weight.

Why You Need To Be Mindful Of Your Weight

Not having a healthy weight has been shown to have some negative effects on our health. We have gotten to the era where we eat more and burn buying zetia leads to having an unhealthy weight and some serious health conditions.

Before we go on to know why we need to be mindful of our weight, we need to understand what weight means and what it means to have a healthy weight.

What Is A Healthy Weight All About?

Bones, muscles, water and fat all contribute to our body weight. We usually use our weighing scales and Body Mass Index (BMI) to measure our body weight. However, the weighing scale does not break up our body weight into bones, fat, muscles and water.

One of the major components of physical fitness is body composition, which can be used similarly with weight. Body composition gives a percentage break down of the fat and nonfat components of our body. The nonfat components are our muscles, bones, organs, and water.

What Does It Mean To Have A Healthy Weight?

We will be using BMI to determine a healthy weight. It is an index that measures the weight of a person as a function of the person’s height.

To calculate your BMI, simply divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. The unit is usually kilograms per square meter.

Here’s what different BMI values mean:

  • Underweight- Less than 18.5
  • Normal weight- 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight- 25 to 29.9
  • Obese- Above 30

Body Fat

We now know the ideal body fat we are expected to have but why do we need to watch it since fat is not the only component of our weight? Let’s break down fat to fully understand why we need to watch this aspect of our body composition.

There are two major types of fat:

1. Subcutaneous fat

This is fat stored underneath our skin. This type of fat is not so harmful to our health. Excess subcutaneous fat can be removed using liposuction.

2. Visceral Fat

This is fat stored around our organs and in our tummy. This type of fat in excess has harmful effects on our health. Excess visceral fat, however, cannot be removed by liposuction.

So the fat we should actually be watching is our visceral fat.

A high visceral fat increases the risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart attacks. So, you should follow a good and healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and exercising often. This will help you prevent chronic diseases that can hamper your mobility in old age like osteoarthritis- which can cause severe pain at the back of the knee.

This fat is found around our organs and also major blood vessels in the body that transport blood around the body.

Why You Should Be Mindful Of Your Weight

Just because you are slim does not mean you should not watch your weight because your weight might just be more of visceral fat. Also, people who think they are fat may have more subcutaneous fat and reduced visceral fat and actually be healthier than their slim counterparts.

As a rule, one way to combat bad fat is to eat a balanced diet and exercise frequently. You can try to get an appointment with a dietitian and get yourself a home exercise bike. Here are some reasons to ensure you mind your weight.

1. Your Heart

Imagine having a lot of fat around your heart. The heart needs to work extra hard to pump blood through this fat and through the blood vessels that may be compressed by the fat. This can lead to cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension.

2. Your Blood Vessels

Fat can also build up in our blood vessels, which in turn leads to reduced blood flowing within the arteries and therefore reduced blood flow to certain parts of the body. It can lead to some vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.

3. Your Blood Sugar

The pancreas secretes insulin that controls our blood sugar. Excess visceral fat can clog the passageway of the blood vessels, which will reduce the insulin flow to the carbohydrate consumed, and cause an increase in blood sugar level. It can also make the pancreas overwork itself and reduce the production of insulin to break down sugar. This can lead to diabetes.

Conclusion

There are a lot of health issues with an unhealthy weight. Do not assume your appearance makes up for how healthy you are. You can stay healthy by paying attention to your weight. Weight is not just the numbers you see on a weighing scale, your weight is in you.

Dr. Charles-Davies is a licensed medical practitioner who loves to educate people about their body and health.

5 ways sleep

5 Ways Sleep Helps Your Child Learn and Grow

Please welcome Guest Contributor from Tuck Sleep,  Sara Westgreen, with this important information for parents:

5 Ways Sleep Helps Your Child Learn and Grow

A good night’s sleep is just as important as eating a nutritious diet.

However, most kids between the age of five and 12 need 10 or 11 hours of sleep a night but only get about 9 1/2 hours. There are a lot of reasons that your child needs to get a good night’s sleep, and here are five of them.

Kids Grow Overnight

Kids do most of their growing overnight, thanks to the growth hormone that is secreted during deep sleep.

The more deep sleep that your child gets, the better they will grow in the long term. They won’t grow to be a giant if they are sleeping more than usual, but they will grow to the height that they are designed to be as long as all of the other factors are there.

 

Grows Proteins to Fight Germs

It’s no surprise that when you don’t sleep well, you are more likely to get sick. That is because the human body produces a type of protein called cytokines while we sleep. Cytokines fight infection, stress, and illness, and also make us tired to help us heal.

The more sleep that the human body gets, the healthier a number of cytokines their body produces. Since kids are constantly in contact with other humans at school and at home, this is especially important for them.

Less Clumsy

If your child is particularly clumsy or impulsive, it might be because they are not getting enough sleep every night.

Kids who do not get enough sleep regularly are far more likely to be injured badly enough to need medical attention compared to their well-rested agemates.

Increased Attention & Better Mood

A child who has slept well is going to be much more pleasant to be around than one who has not. They are also more likely to pay better attention and store better memories, thanks to their time spent asleep.

This is the reason that sleep testing is an important part of being tested for attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Adding an additional 27 minutes of sleep per night could be the key to helping your child be more attentive and pleasant for everyone else to deal with in the long term.

Be More Creative

REM sleep encourages creativity by making it significantly easier for our brains to solve problems creatively and find previously unrecognized links between things that we already know.

REM sleep is the deepest level of sleep that our brain falls into and is essential to feeling rested in the morning. If your child is struggling to fall into REM sleep, you might want to try offering a white noise machine to them see if that will help them sleep more deeply and wake up less often in the middle of the night.

If your child is struggling in school and struggling to sleep, you should definitely talk to a pediatrician to see if there is a different medical reason for the sleep trouble, and to find possible solutions for this problem.

5 ways sleep

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

7 easy swaps

7 Easy Swaps to Make Your Meals Healthy

7 Easy Swaps to Make Your Meals Healthy

Please welcome Guest Contributor, Brittnay Sharman.

A little bit of creativity is crucial when it comes to eating well. Rather than denying yourself or overindulging just a few tweaks here and there won’t have you missing out on anything. Turn these idea yummy ideas into habits to ensure you lead the healthiest lifestyle possible (while still enjoying it)!

Have you ever tried frozen banana in the blender? Well it is a game changer, tastes exactly like ice-cream! You’re going to learn to make some simple changes that will have you eating healthy in no time.

Homemade Muesli

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start it off the right way.

Instead of kicking off the day with a bowl full of commercial cereal, which are sure to be filled with processed sugars and other preservatives, try having a bowl of homemade muesli as a healthy alternative!

Treat your body and taste buds the right way, by adding in your favourite fruits into your healthy homemade bowl of muesli!

Forget About the Fizzy Drinks

Fizzy drinks sure do taste good but we all know they aren’t in the slightest bit good for us. Many people tend to avoid drinking water because they think it is boring and have no flavour. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You could try kombucha, a fermented and sweetened tea drink. Make sure you look for a brand that is lower in sugar. Kombucha can be found at your local grocery and health food stores. You can even make your own kombucha. Soda lovers typically love kombucha because they can still get the carbonated taste they are used to.


Let’s Taco About It!

Pulled pork and tacos go together like mac and cheese! However, the cut of used for pulled pork is usually the shoulder which high in saturated fats and sodium. Instead you can try smoked pork tenderloin, it has a similar flavour and still melts in your mouth (not to mention it’s a nice lean as chicken breast).

Our families favourite tacos are piled high with avocado, cherry tomatoes, pork loin & chipotle lime. Kids love to build their own tacos, so on the table in all your ingredients in small bowls. Making your own always tastes better!

Use Steam Instead

Cooking veggies and fish by steaming them is a super healthy alternative. You retain all of their natural yummy flavours, whilst cooking them to perfection. By steaming your food, you’re adding no extra calories to your meal, making your favourite (usually unhealthy) meals, much healthier. You can top fish with flavourings like lemon and chilli and use the steam to infuse the flavours into your food.

Poach, Don’t Fry!

Poaching is another great way to cook foods you’d usually fry. Take eggs for example; if you usually fry your eggs, try poaching them next time. Cooking them in hot water means you aren’t using any oils in the cooking process.

Poached eggs are super healthy, and tasty; you aren’t covering up any of the natural flavour of the eggs with oil. As well as eggs, you can poach fish, fruit and even chicken, with scrummy results!

Make a Condiment the Star!

Have you tried making your sauces? If you have ever had a read of the back you will notice that sugar is one of the main ingredients. If you see some tomatoes on sale, why not make your own tomato sauce? Or you could try making a yummy pesto. It is great to add to pasta or as a coating on chicken.

If you looking for a creamy spread like butter, why not try avocado. It is a similar texture to butter and great to spread on flatbread or toast. It is super easy to also make salsa, hummus or even salad dressing.

We All Scream for Healthy Ice cream

We all love ice-cream, but if you have ever brought a tub and ‘accidentally’ finished the whole tub, this can help. If you see some brown bananas at the shop or have some, don’t throw them out, peel and freeze them now! When your ready for some yummy ice-cream grab them out and throw them in the blender for 1 mins -2 mins. You will find it turns into fluffy banana ice cream in no time!

It is delicious on its own, but you can add anything you love in ice-cream. You could throw in some blueberries, coconut milk or mint. You won’t believe how similar the consistency and taste is to ice cream!

Educating yourself is crucial when it comes to eating well. Rather than denying yourself or overindulging just a few tweaks here and there won’t have you missing out on anything. Turn these idea and behaviors in habits to ensure you lead the healthiest lifestyle possible (while still enjoying it)!

how to

How to Quit Your Spending Addiction in 5 Simple Steps

How to Quit Your Spending Addiction in 5 Simple Steps

We all want to save more and spend less – but that can be tough when it’s so easy to use your money. These days, there are countless pieces of technology out there that make it simpler than ever to spend without even realizing how much cash you’re wasting. Signing up to monthly subscriptions takes a matter of minutes, and you can confirm a purchase with a tap on your smartphone screen.

So, in a world where it’s incredibly easy to form an addiction for your spending habits, how do you change your financial health for the better? Here are some simple tips to help you reduce costs and prepare for the future.

1.     Plan Your Budget and Set Savings Goals

There are few things more important when it comes to making sure that you stick to your budget plans, than having a strategy in place. Your budget is a great way to give yourself an insight into where you’re overspending, and where you can cut back to improve your savings. Just remember that you’ll need to keep track of the money you spend to keep your budget as accurate as possible. Write down, or record everything you buy, from a morning newspaper, to a fresh cup of coffee.

Additionally, while you’re setting up your budget, make sure that you have an overarching goal in place to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. Sometimes it’s harder to control your spending than you might think, a few simple goals could help to keep you inspired.

2.     Stop Eating Out

As tempting as it can be to simply grab some fast food for dinner after a long day at work or buy a sandwich from the canteen for your lunch, you can save a serious amount of money simply by using the food you buy from the grocery store. Think about how you can plan to pack your lunches for work all week, and stock up on the ingredients you’ll need in advance.

Work with your family to come up with a list of meals that you’ll want to eat in the week ahead. If it helps, try choosing a theme for certain days, like make your own pizza day on Fridays, or taco Tuesday. Alternatively, you can look into trying out new recipes with ingredients you know everyone enjoys.

3.     Ditch the Credit Cards

Credit cards can be a huge problem when you’re trying to save more and spend less. It’s easy to over-spend when you don’t have to see any cash going out of your wallet or bank account. The best thing you can do to make sure that you stay on track towards your goals, is to get rid of the credit cards and replace them with cold hard cash instead.

Figure out exactly how much money you’re going to need when you go shopping, and only take that cash amount with you. That way, you can ensure that you don’t spend any more than you planned to. If you see something extra that you want to buy, you’ll have to go back home for your card, and that will give you time to think about whether you really need the extra item.

4.     Don’t Underestimate Little Savings

When you’ve got big goals for your money, it’s easy to overlook the little savings that you can accomplish simply by giving up your morning coffee or switching your electricity or gas supplier. Many people struggle with their budget because they’re looking for big ways to make a difference all at once. However, the truth is that the best results come from the smallest changes.

When money is tight, every little saving opportunity you can find will make an impact. Whether that means cutting out coupons from your local newspaper or shopping online so you can avoid paying for petrol.

5.     Know the True Cost of Everything

Finally, whenever you’re considering making a purchase that’s not on your monthly list of essential expenses, take the time to think carefully about the “true cost” you’re agreeing to take on. A good way to do this is to calculate how many hours you’d have to work to earn the money to pay for whatever you want to buy. For instance, if you were lucky enough to make $20 an hour, and you wanted to spend $80 on a meal, you might not feel too bad about using those four hours of work.

On the other hand, if you’re only earning $10 an hour, then $80 on one meal converts to a whole day at work instead.