Intelligence for Your Life

How To Stress-Proof Your Sleep!

How To Stress-Proof Your Sleep!

Experts at UC Davis say, because of all the extra stress in the past year, more people than ever are fighting a serious loss of sleep.

Angela Drake is a clinical professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences. She says, it’s a problem across all age groups - and the increase is enormous. Basically, the added stress tells your brain there’s a threat in your environment, which keeps your brain on high-alert, which isn’t conducive to sleep. So, here are some tips to help you get the rest you need:

First: Don’t lie awake in bed or it could become a habit. Instead, if you’ve been in bed awake for 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing, like reading or journaling, until you start to feel drowsy.

Another sleep-booster: Exercise during the day. It triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to lower heart rate and blood pressure and increase feelings of calm.

Finally: Dr. Drake recommends what’s called “box breathing” to calm the mind. Just breathe in through your nose for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 4 counts. Exhale slowly through your mouth for 4 counts. Then, wait for 4 counts, and breathe in again. And visualize a box, tracing one side of the square for each four-second interval. And repeat box breathing until you feel calm, relaxed, and ready for sleep.

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Get Your Blood Pressure Under Control:

Get Your Blood Pressure Under Control:

If you’ve got high blood pressure, or your numbers are creeping up, doctors universally suggest exercise. Because numerous studies show that taking regular walks, for example, can make blood vessels and arteries more flexible, so blood flows more easily, reducing the risk for heart disease.

But new research from the University of Saskatchewan shows you’ll get even better results by stretching! Everything from simple leg, arm and back stretches, to yoga and pilates. Kinesiology professor and lead researcher Dr. Phil Chilibeck says stretching your muscles ALSO stretches your blood vessels, which reduces arterial stiffness. And more-flexible arteries means better blood flow, and improved blood pressure.

This particular study found that those who stretched had better blood pressure than those who walked. BUT the walkers lost more body fat around the waist.

That’s why Dr. Chilibeck says the best way to lower blood pressure is to stretch AND do aerobic exercise most days of the week. He recommends spending a full 30 minutes walking, running, swimming, hiking, or biking. Then, adding at least 10 minutes of stretching, concentrating on the muscles in your legs. That’s because our legs have the largest muscle groups in the body. So flexible leg arteries trigger the biggest reduction in blood pressure.

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The Exercise Fix For Your Food Cravings:

The Exercise Fix For Your Food Cravings:

If you tend to struggle resisting cookies, donuts and other sugary sweets, researchers have discovered a simple solution: Try exercising more! Because, over time, exercise is now proven to help you make healthier food choices.

That’s according to a new study in the International Journal of Obesity. It involved over 2,000 people who normally didn’t exercise. But they agreed to follow a fitness plan, which involved exercising at least three times a week, for 3 months.

And the result? Even though nobody was required to change their diet, researchers found the majority of exercisers gradually ate MORE fruits, vegetables, and lean meat… while also eating FEWER fried foods, sodas, and sugary snacks. And the more intensely people exercised, the more healthfully they ate!

Researchers say this is the latest proof that exercise has benefits that go way beyond improving your fitness. In fact, studies from Harvard University found physical activity can “rewire” your brain by triggering the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters – including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. And one upshot is that as your mood improves, you’ll begin to look for OTHER ways to make positive changes in your life… like choosing to eat a salad for lunch instead of a bucket of fast food combo!

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