Get the Most Out of Your Sleep

The use of phones and other mobile devices is becoming more and more common, and especially from bed. This habit may actually have a negative effect on sleep quality.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “more than 90 percent of Americans regularly use a computer or electronic device of some kind in the hour before bed.” Researchers have found that the “exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle.”

Those suffering from mild sleep disorders or disturbances may want to consider turning off all electronics prior to bed. Here are some other sleep-supporting habits to try, from Womansday.com:

  • Go to bed earlier. As simple as it seems, going to bed earlier can help you get the extra sleep your body craves. Even if you don’t feel tired, try lying down about an hour earlier until you get a full 7-8 hours each night.
  • Relieve stress. People with uncontrolled stress are more prone to insomnia. But exercise, meditation, yoga and other techniques can help you relax. Do something to relieve stress each day.
  • Let it out. Try to decrease your brain activity before bed by writing down your thoughts in a journal. It will help clear your mind so you can close the book on today and move forward.
  • Turn down the lights. It’s more difficult to fall and stay asleep in a room that is too bright. Wear a sleeping mask and close the blinds and curtains to diminish light and set the mood for sleep.
  • Relax a little. Schedule some downtime each day for meditative activities like stretching, reading or enjoying a hot bath. This can help you unwind after an intense, stressful day so you’ll sleep more soundly.
  • Eat at regular intervals. This keeps your energy and blood sugar levels stable all day long. With fewer highs and lows, you’ll be alert all day and ready to sleep at night.
  • Add white noise. Most people can’t fall asleep when it’s too loud. Wear ear plugs to drown out disturbing sounds and turn on “white noise,” like a fan or rain CD, so you can sleep more soundly.

Definitive Sunscreen Excuse Rebuttals

Studies have shown that nearly 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer cases are a result of excess sun exposure. It’s rather surprising then, that more than a third of women in the U.S. still refuse sunscreen.

A common complaint among women is the heavy, thick texture of most lotions. Others find the smell unpleasant, or that it burns their skin. Some women just admit that they are willing to risk their health for a nice tan.

Women’s Health Magazine addresses the most popular excuses of women today.

For those who claim that sunblock burns their skin, the magazine explains that alcohol may be the culprit.

“To keep the pain out of your protection and keep your skin irritation free, avoid those main culprits and choose a formula with a less-irritating chemical stabilizer (like octocrylene) or one that’s considered a physical block and zinc-based.

‘Zinc sits on top of the skin rather than being absorbed into the skin, and it’s so mild that it’s the major component in diaper-rash creams, which are gentle enough to put on a baby’s most sensitive areas,’ explained Robert Friedman, M.D., a dermatologic oncologist and clinical professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine.”

Some women think their SPF makeup is sufficient protection from the sun.

“Unless you’re performing Kabuki on the beach, chances are you aren’t wearing enough foundation or powder to stay safe,” the magazine explains.
“’Even if you’re relying on a tinted mineral powder with SPF, it will not give you enough coverage unless you apply at least 10 times the normal amount,’ says Francesca Fusco, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. ‘Judging by my patients, those who rely on the SPF in their makeup always have areas that are missing coverage.’

Get good coverage- of both sunscreen and makeup- with a tinted sunscreen. It’s like a tinted moisturizer but with higher SPF and ingredients to help fade dark spots.”

Next are the women who complain about the sunscreen dripping into their eyes during a workout.

The magazine suggests: “Wax on! A waxy stick has polymers that latch onto the skin so that your sun protection stays put, even through major sweat sessions. Sweep the stick over your skin, applying a thin coat onto your entire face. Then rub it in to make sure you’re completely covered. Or smooth on your regular facial sunscreen lotion, then use the stick block just around your eyes (including eyelids, brow bones, and under-eye areas): the waxiness will form a barrier so the lotion doesn’t drip down below your brows and get into your eyes. Bonus: a waxy stick is also great for covering small spots like lips, ears and even your hair part.”

 

Losing Weight and Staying Healthy Into Your 40s

During a woman’s younger years, she may find it easier to eat a little less, exercise a little more, and maintain a steady dress size while occasionally snacking on her favorite chocolate or ice cream. Then, suddenly, she’ll hit forty and realize that her body just can’t balance itself out the same way, and that her schedule is really too busy to start working on a new, all-inclusive health regimen.

The fact of the matter is, as a person ages their body’s metabolism becomes increasingly slower. A woman’s metabolic rate falls 5% every decade starting at the young age of 20. Of course, proper nutrition and exercise throughout those years can slow the process, but the nature of things is eventually inevitable.

As you reach your forties and become more concerned with both your looks and your general health (cholesterol, heart disease…) here are a few simple tips to get started. Remember, the process will most likely take a while, and results will be slower than they were when you were 25. Don’t give up easily, and don’t get discouraged- the better your body feels, the better your mind will feel.

  • Beware of Stress Fat: a lot of the weight gained at this age shows up around the waist. This is often a result of the stress hormone cortisol, which urges the body to store energy in case of an emergency. High levels of cortisol (and with it, fat) can lead to heart disease, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes and even cancer. It is important to deal with stress and anxiety in order to begin losing this weight.
  • Watch the Time: Over-eating during the evening, as the whirlwind of the day winds down and time becomes available, is a number one cause of slow metabolism and weight gain. These hours are often mindless or stressful, leading to large, often instant meals and additional cups of coffee.
  • Plan Your Meals: Instead of snacking on little tidbits throughout the day with plans to eat a large meal at night, make sure to set up three or four smaller, healthy meals to eat each day. Pack a lunch if you know you won’t have time to prepare one later, and make sure to get a real breakfast in within an hour of waking up. These meals will allow you to monitor your eating throughout the day, avoid unhealthy snacks, and eliminate the large late-night meals.
  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise: Of course, physical activity is key in maintaining a healthy, fit body. Though you’ve heard it countless times- skip the elevator and use the stairs. Do jumping jacks or jump rope when you get a private moment, or maybe sign up at the gym. Go swimming, walk the dog, run on the treadmill, ride a bike… All of these activities will not only burn calories, but also improve your general health, as well as significantly reduce stress and improve your mood.

 

Worm Might Be Key to Improving Women’s Reproductive Health

A worm commonly used in scientific research, C. Elegans, might hold the secret to helping women to retain their ability to reproduce for a longer span of time and in a healthier manner. It is a sad fact of women’s lives that already by the time they are in their 30s they begin to show a marked decline in their reproductive ability. C. Elegans has this fact in common with women; and just like in women, the worm’s first sign of declining fertility is the lessening of the quality of eggs, rather than their quantity.

This decline in egg quality was found to be caused by the increased secretion of a protein called TGF-beta (transforming growth factor beta) as the worm ages. Amazingly, this very same protein occurs in women as well as in other mammals. In experiments conducted on worms that naturally produced lowered amounts of TGF-beta their reproductive ability was longer and the quality of the eggs remained high.

In women a decline in egg quality can mean an increase in birth defects such as Down syndrome and others. At the moment it is far from certain that the same effect that lowered TGF-beta has on worms will also apply to women, although tests on mice, which are at least also mammals, have shown a similar effect.

The hope is that perhaps one day women entering into their 30s who still want to have children, will be able to take a medication that will perhaps suppress the secretion of TGF-beta, this allowing the production of healthy eggs, which will hopefully lead to healthy babies.