Five ways to fall asleep faster

We’ve all been there: You’re lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, but can’t seem to fall asleep. As the minutes (sometimes hours) roll by, the frustration builds. And by the time you actually get some shuteye, it’s only a few measly hours until the alarm clock unforgivingly forces you out of slumber. This vicious cycle can wreak havoc on the quality of your sleep, and ultimately, your overall well-being. If this is something that is all-too-familiar for you, consider these five methods to start snoozing faster:

 

  • Take some time to wind down: We’re not wired like computers where you can just flip a switch when it’s time to “shut down.” If you would like to get to sleep by 10:30 p.m., for example, it’s important to start a routine where you calm your mind and prepare your bedroom to be a good sleep environment at around 10:00 p.m. Dr. Epstein, co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, says that our bodies crave routine. The more consistent you are with a “pre-sleep” ritual, the easier it will be for your body to realize it’s time to get some shuteye.

 

  • Ensure you have quality bedding: One of the most important factors in good sleep is what you’re actually sleeping on. A quality mattress is a great start, but you should also consider mattress and pillow protectors to prevent allergens and other irritants from keeping you up at night. These types of products also keep your bed cool and comfortable, which are key factors for quality rest.

 

  • Breathing techniques: It’s as easy as “4-7-8.” This popular breathing method, as explained by sleep expert Dr. Andrew Weil, uses controlled breath to serve as a natural and safe tranquilizer for the body. Following these steps will slow your heart rate and blood pressure – both of which are linked to sleepiness.
    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound.
    • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
    • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound to a count of eight.
    • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

 

  • Mix in some calming activities: During your “wind-down” time, (see the first bullet point) you should include some activities that can help you prepare for a restful night. A common relaxation tactic is to read; whether it is for a half-hour or more, plugging through a good book can calm the mind and drown out the other things that keep you thinking about various stresses of the day. For others, meditation is helpful. There are many studies that suggest regular meditation can not only improve sleep, but also increase productivity and limit the risk of heart disease.

 

  • Turn off the electronics: Going back to the quality sleep environment we discussed in the first bullet point, switching off your phone and TV before bedtime can really help put your mind into “sleep mode.” Easier said that done. According to a National Sleep Foundation study, 95 percent of those surveyed said they used an electronic device within the hour before bed at least a few nights a week. Allison G. Harvey, a sleep specialist and professor of psychology at the University of California, says that light emitted from these devices can disrupt body rhythms and limit the release of melatonin – a hormone that promotes sleep.

 

At times, we all have trouble falling asleep. But following these simple steps can help make it easier on your body and mind to drift off into dreamland each and every night.

Seven Drinks That Help You Sleep

Seven Drinks That Help You SleepAs your evening winds down, it is vitally important to create a quality sleep environment that will help drift you off to dreamland. Limiting allergens and irritants with mattress and pillow protectors, along with adjusting room temperature are both good places to start. But your diet can also have an important impact. While eating and drinking close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep patterns, there are several beverages that can actually improve your rest.

 

 

  • Tart Cherry Juice: A 2010 study published by the Journal of Medicinal Food found that consuming 16 ounces of tart cherry juice – eight ounces in the morning and another eight around two hours before bed – resulted in significantly improved sleep quality. Not surprisingly, cherries contain melatonin, an antioxidant that can assist in maintaining a healthy sleep cycle.

 

  • Chamomile Tea: One of the most commonly known sleep aids, chamomile tea is extremely effective in promoting sleepiness and reducing anxiety. For the best results, seep your tea in hot water for 10 minutes before enjoying.

 

  • Warm Skim Milk: According to age-old wisdom, a cup of warm milk can help put you to sleep. And science is there to back up that claim. Milk’s soothing effect is thanks to its high calcium content – which can help you relax. In addition, it is also rich in tryptophan – a natural hormone in the body that can make you sleepy.

 

  • Coconut Water: While it is commonly known to be an energizing drink, coconut water contains magnesium and potassium – which can relax your muscles and put you at ease just in time for bed.

 

  • Peppermint Tea: Much like chamomile tea, peppermint tea has been proven to assist in stress relief. It is also very effective in calming upset stomachs – which, of course, can inhibit quality shuteye.

 

  • Almond Milk: Similar to regular milk, this increasingly popular beverage is high in magnesium which helps the brain produce melatonin. To literally spice things up a bit, you can add nutmeg and cinnamon to your concoction before heating it up and enjoying.

 

Here’s to a good night’s sleep. We’d love to hear your feedback. Post a comment below if drinking any of these beverages has worked for you.

Potty Training Essentials: Tools to make your child’s transition easier

Potty Training Essentials

In the time-consuming world of potty training, you can never be too prepared. Making sure your child has the necessary tools to make this big life change is more than half the battle. Here are a few essential items you’ll want to have for your child and your bathroom.

 

For your child:

 

  1. Mattress Protectors: Let’s face it…accidents will happen. And there are few things worse for you or your child than having to get up in the middle of the night to change the sheets. If they are quality mattress protectors, they will be completely waterproof on the top surface, but will not change the feel of your child’s mattress. They should be completely air vapor porous, allowing body heat to pass through the surface, and keeping them cool and comfortable all night long. Consider a Potty Training Protection Kit for complete peace of mind that your mattresses will remain dry and protected.

 

  1. Training Underpants: As your child transitions through the different stages of potty training, these underpants will help them realize they’ve gone to the bathroom as they feel the wetness (unlike diapers). However, they are absorbent so that there are no leaks on the floor. Better still, these underpants come in washable or disposable – so you can choose whatever works best in your house.

 

  1. Reward System / Progress Chart: Being able to go potty on their own is a big accomplishment for children. And while it may take a while to be accident-free, feeling and watching their progress can go a long way. Offering rewards and allowing your child to chart their success will help them get a sense of pride when they have gone potty correctly.

 

For your bathroom:

 

  1. Kid-friendly hand soap: Part of the often-overlooked elements of the potty training process is hygiene. Instead of the standard soap bar or plain-smelling soaps, kids enjoy the foaming bubbles.  They’re typically inexpensive and make kids look forward to washing their hands after using the bathroom.

 

  1. Potty Seat: These can be less intimidating to your child than a traditional toilet. Often decorated with cartoon characters and welcoming colors, potty seats are available as stand-alone items or attachable add-ons for your existing toilet.

 

  1. Step Stool: When they are ready to use the real toilet on their own, you can make your child’s life easier by giving them a stepping stool to get into the right position. In addition, this helpful tool will give them a boost when needing to reach the sink and soap to wash their hands.

 

By taking advantage of these essential tools, you will help your child’s potty training transition be that much smoother.

How to overcome six potty training issues

Potty training can prove to be quite the challenge for many families. While every child adjusts to this important life change at different speeds, there are several things you can do to overcome some common issues and pitfalls.

1.    Your Child Won’t Go in the Potty: Being potty trained is a big adjustment and some children take longer than others to truly be ready. As their parent, you can look for physical, behavioral, and cognitive signs of readiness. Some of these signs include: staying dry for two or more hours, they can pull their pants up and down on their own, or have their own words for urine and stool. If they don’t exhibit these signs, you can lay some foundation by reading them potty books or taking them into the bathroom when you use the toilet. Getting them comfortable with the “idea” of going to the bathroom is a good first step. However, if they continue to show no interest, it may be beneficial to hold off for a while and try again after a month or two.

2.    Your Child Wets the Bed: Potty training isn’t an exact science nor will your child be 100 percent perfect every time. Even when they’ve started using the toilet on their own, accidents happen. Use mattress and pillow protectors to prevent your child’s nighttime accident from ruining their mattress. Just as important is how you react. Avoid getting angry or frustrated when accidents occur – as this could adversely affect their progress. Some parents use a calendar to track and reward consecutive nights without wetting the bed. Offering stickers, candy, or small gifts can motivate your child to make it through the night.  Another option is to keep the potty training toilet available and add night-lights in the bedroom to make their trip to the bathroom easier.

3.    Your Child Only Goes Potty at Home: Many children get comfortable with “their own” toilet seat or potty environment. It’s not surprising that they can be hesitant to try going somewhere “new.” To help alleviate this issue, get them used to going in a different bathroom where they still might be at ease – like a grandparent or friend’s house.  And like most of these tips, reinforcing success with rewards is always a good motivator.

4.    Your Child Won’t Go “Number 2”: This can be a common problem that Dr. Alan Greene M.D., the Pediatric Expert for AmericanBaby.com, refers to as the D3 Cycle. In other words – Discomfort, Dread, Delay. To overcome this, changing up your child’s diet could be a good start. Encourage your child to go poop in the bathroom “just like you.” It’s the first of small steps that will gradually get them comfortable with the idea of “Number 2.” 

5.    You Want to Take a Family Trip While Potty Training: Understandably, summer and vacations go hand-in-hand. Keeping up your child’s potty training while you’re all out on the road can be tricky. Make sure that before you leave, you have brought all of your potty training tools – such as training toilets to books to extra underwear. You also might want to scope out where the closest rest stops and public bathrooms are located to ensure that you can take breaks when necessary. And finally, make it a point to take your child to the bathroom regularly – so they know that it is part of a normal routine. 

6.    Your Child is Afraid of Flushing: Many children have a fear that they will be sucked into the toilet if they’re sitting on it when flushing. Not to mention the loud noise can be a bit startling at first. A good way to overcome this is to have them flush pieces of toilet paper to acclimate them to the noise and process. That way, their fears are lessened when it comes time to flush at bathroom time. 

Remember that every child potty trains at a different pace. What works for some probably won’t work for all. As a parent, your job should be to provide an environment that is supportive and nurturing as they begin this important process.

Increase Your Happiness: A 3-Step Guide to Stressing Less and Smiling More

Increase Your Happiness: A 3-Step Guide to Stressing Less and Smiling MoreWould you consider yourself a happy person? Be honest now. Could you be happier? The answer, while sometimes a yes, is often tied hand-in-hand with the level of stress in your life. While daily pressure is unavoidable, there are a few simple things you can do to keep an even keel and turn that frown upside down:

 

  • Get Quality Sleep: It’s not enough to just rack up 7-8 hours of shut-eye…it has to be the right kind. Did you know that while the comfort of your mattress and pillows are important, so too is temperature. Experts agree that a cool environment is ideal for quality REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – resulting in improved recovery. For these reasons, safeguarding such an important investment to your wellbeing (your bed) is that much more crucial. Protect-A-Bed mattress protectors and pillows are completely air vapor porous, allowing your body heat to pass through the surface, and keeping you cool and comfortable all night long. So turn down those thermostats and get to bed. You’ll wake up rejuvenated and ready to tackle the day.

 

  • Get Movin’: Are you getting your 10,000 steps? The Center for Disease Control recommends adults rack up 150 minutes of moderate activity per day, such as a brisk walk or jog. On average, though, studies show we’re getting about half that. Much like sleep, regular exercise has been proven to markedly reduce your stress and, in turn, make you a much happier person in the long run. Not to mention, the more activity you have in your life, the better you will sleep at night. It’s a good cycle to be in.

 

  • Find A Balance: We aren’t robots (although sometimes it feels like we’re getting close). To stress less, add time into your day for YOU. Sure, there’s work to be done – but to do that work well, you need to have a balance between your life and the daily grind of a “9-5.” Don’t take our word for it; hear it from Dr. James Levine, a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. He says taking small breaks throughout the day will actually increase your productivity.  As he puts it, “the work should break up the break.” Outside of the office, methodically try to mix in something that relaxes you. Whether that be golf, yoga, reading, or just binging on your latest Netflix obsession – balancing your personal and professional life will ultimately help lessen your stress and increase happiness.

 

Bottom line, everyone is different. But following the above tips could help you sleep better, eat better, and feel better.  What are some ways YOU increase your happiness and reduce stress? Share them with us!