With just over two weeks to go before Thanksgiving, now is the perfect time to begin preparing for house guests. Even for friends and family that you adore, the entire process of cooking and living with extra people in the house can leave you a little anxious and on edge. Because it’s smart to be proactive, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you get prepared now for a little more relaxation when Thanksgiving (or the winter holidays) roll around.
Although dust is sure to settle between now and November 22, take this time to deep clean guestrooms. Vacuum the carpet or sweep and mop to cut down on allergens. At this point, too, make sure you having sleeping arrangements for everyone. Younger kids may be able to deal with a pallet on the floor but for adults, a more supportive bed is in order. If you don’t have enough regular mattress sets, consider buying a trundle bed or air bed. In terms of cost-effectiveness, a trundle is your best bet given that it won’t take up much space for storage but will last for years. And don’t forget the bed linens. If you have to buy more, do it now so you aren’t pressed for time as you wash and dry them before the holiday.
Clean off your dining room table
If you’re like most Americans, at any one time the dining room table functions as an office, a craft table, a spot for dining, and a catch-all for mail and important papers. Cleaning it off and keeping it that way takes a little conditioning. Before we get closer to Thanksgiving, find a place for everything that usually stacks there. Then, as new paper, mail, and projects come in, mindfully put them all away. You’ll be surprised by how much more relaxed you’ll feel when Thanksgiving Day comes and the table is clean and tidy.
Clean smarter, not harder
No one wants to spend the whole day before Thanksgiving cleaning the entire house. Choose the easier (and smarter) way now. Either pick one room per day and deep clean, or take the next two weekends to clean. The day before guests arrive, just do a light cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, etc.) to make sure everything is tidy.
Choose home scents wisely
Spices and citrus all make wonderful holiday home fragrances, yet they can wreak havoc if used in bedrooms. Citrus is often used to energize, which doesn’t promote sleep. Spices can actually cause headaches (and sometimes migraines) for some. Especially in a small room, these usually-pleasing scents can be overpowering. If air fresheners are needed, try an at-home concoction like distilled water, witch hazel, and a few drops of lavender oil mixed and sprayed on bed linens and drapery.
The beauty of Thanksgiving is the opportunity to be with friends and family. Preparing the house slowly over a few weeks can truly make the difference between your enjoyment of the time and a high stress level. If all else fails, do the best you can. A home that’s a disaster area isn’t enjoyable but a little clutter here and there is just natural. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
To say that it has been a busy news month on all matters related to sleep would be a major understatement. Beginning with new reports on the long-term effects of sleep training a couple of weeks ago, there has been at least one major finding or study-related report every single day since. And it makes sense. The Centers for Disease Control deemed insufficient sleep a public health epidemic over a year ago. More and more researchers are looking at the topic of sleep, attempting to find ways to help us get more and informing us of what we’re facing if we don’t.
By far, one of the most interesting newly-reported studies has to do with sleep deprivation and one’s attractiveness to others. Back in 2010, British researchers photographed subjects when they were well rested, photographed them again when they had been deprived of sleep for 31 hours, and then asked untrained observers to rate the images in terms of attractiveness. Overwhelmingly, the sleep deprived people were consistently rated as unattractive. Publishing their findings in the British Medical Journal, the researchers stated that “Sleep deprived people are perceived as less attractive, less healthy and more tired compared with when they are well rested.” (Source: BBC News.) But as it turns out, there’s even more to this idea of attractiveness and sleep than even this study defined.
Just this month, Swedish researchers from Medical Institutet Karloinska in Stockholm reported that not only does the lack of sleep adversely affect our attractiveness, it also makes us less approachable. Reported in the Huffington Post, the experiment demonstrated that “sleeping four hours a night — or not at all — wouldn’t make any difference. In both cases the individuals tested in the experiment appeared to others as equally exhausted. But beyond appearance, the study reveals that lack of sleep repels those you meet or socialize with.” The notion of ‘approachability’ applies not only to possible romantic or sexual relationships but also to daily interaction at work or school. Across the board, the sleep deprived individuals seem to repel any type of social interaction.
While these findings may seem humorous at first (of course we hate being around grouchy, tired people), it has some far-reaching meaning. Without sleep, many of us may be missing out on chances and opportunities. Regardless of performance at work, the perception that someone is unapproachable may very well mean he or she is passed over for promotion. From a personal standpoint, too, it may be one reason why some feel unlovable or undesirable when seeking a relationship, platonic or sexual. Either way, this new study provides yet another great reason to catch some Zzzzs every night.
As much as we hate to say it: summer is over. Sure, by the calendar it’s still officially summer, but the long, lazy weekends by the pool, the vacation weeks, the sun and sand…it’s just past its prime for the year. If you’re a die-hard summer person, you may be a little sad to see it go, but we actually have some good news. In terms of sleep, autumn is one of the best seasons to catch some ZZZZs. Don’t believe us? There is actually quite a bit of scientific research that proves our natural sleep patterns change according to seasons. Because we are on the cusp of fall, we’re going to discuss the good and the bad when it comes to sleep in September, October, November, early December.
Autumn: The Good
Researchers and sleep specialists agree that autumn is the season most conducive to good sleep for a number of reasons. For one, temperatures are typically lower. The extreme heat of the summer forces us to either crank up with air conditioning or muddle through each night with a fan. Once the nighttime temperatures reach into the 50s and 60s, the bedroom becomes cooler (but not cold) naturally. Light is also a major contributor to healthy sleep in the fall. Prior to the winter equinox, days are still quite long, meaning that there is enough natural light during the day to ward off the symptoms of Season Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that often leads to depression and insomnia. That being said, the days begin to shorten, offering the best of both worlds: light for mood but dark for melatonin production. Allergy sufferers also tend to experience fewer problems as a whole during the fall months. The pollen counts of spring and summer lessen. As harvest season comes to an end, there are also fewer allergens to affect those who are sensitive. In terms of overall sleepiness, autumn ushers in a strange phenomena: most of us just feel sleepier. While it’s probably a combination of coming out of a busy summer and entering into a period of time in which days slowly shorten, it’s a point in the year where it seems oddly human nature to want to sleep.
Autumn: The Bad
In spite of everything good related to sleep and the fall, autumn can often vary widely in terms of temperature, allergens, light, and weather. Especially with global warming figured into the equation, the traditional fall months are trending toward summerlike temperatures. What was once termed “Indian Summer” is now commonplace (and brutally hot) despite what the calendar says. With a target bedroom temperature somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees, it can be difficult to create the perfect sleeping environment without air conditioning and/or fans. In many parts of the country, some allergens do rear their ugly heads particularly during the autumn. Ragweed can be extremely bothersome to those who are sensitive, as can mold since it often becomes airborne. If it’s cool enough to sleep with the windows open, some may find that ragweed and mold cause too much congestion upon waking.
Autumn: Tips for Great Sleep
Especially if you are new to geographical location, you may not know what to expect when fall arrives. Sleep specialists seem to all agree that airing out the house and the bedroom specifically can help create a calming mindset as soon as temperature cooperate. Many seem to suggest, too, getting out for a walk in the early evening to soak up natural light before bed. Mentally, this clears the head and helps one appreciate the beauty of the season. Physically, getting out before settling in for the night helps the body absorb that vital natural light and provides some aerobic activity. And, of course, if allergies or SAD plague, it’s important to find and work with your physician for great days and great nights.
If you follow us on Facebook, you know that we have a lot of fun seeking out the silly unofficial holidays that seem to pop up every calendar day (hello, National Joke Day last Friday). One “awareness week” that recently hit our radar was Every Body Needs A Massage Week, which is observed this month. After a little research, it seems that there’s more substance to this than just the silly name we were bound to make light of.
No denying it, massage is expensive. With prices that range anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars for just a half-hour, historically massage has been viewed as a frivolous luxury that most of us just can’t justify. That being said, perceptions have changed over the past few years. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 90% of survey respondents in 2011 stated that they “perceive[d] massage therapy as effective in reducing pain….” This percentage has grown exponentially just since 2009. Despite this acceptance of massage therapy as a beneficial treatment, the tough economy appears to be keeping people from heading to their massage therapists for even occasional treatments. In fact, 2011 saw a 30% reduction in trips to massage therapists, according to the AMTA, despite the fact that a growing number expressed a need for massage.
Boasting results like a reduction in lower back pain, arthritis pain management, and help with insomnia, most of us would benefit from regular massage therapy. Because it can be hard to add regular massages into a tight budget, we decided to scour the web, finding easy at-home massage techniques to share. They’re safe, beneficial, and best of all…free!
WebMD.com’s “Massage Therapy for Stress Relief and Much More” is an all-encompassing, vital step-by-step guide that explains how to easily apply gentle pressure and massage techniques to relieve tired, strained eyes, ease headaches and tension, soothe tired feet, and more. For example, WebMD explains that you can lessen a headache often by placing your thumbs gently on your temples while moving them in a circular motion.
Another excellent home-massage compendium is LiveStrong.com’s “How to Do Self-Massage,” featuring massage tips to relax shoulders, soothe feet and relax hands–an important area to stretch if you spend a lot of time typing.
While the title is maybe a bit misleading (a facelift is impossible through massage alone), care2.com’s article “Massage Yourself a Face-Lift” takes you step-by-step through a facial massage. Using a great skin oil (no, that’s not an oxymoron) like extra virgin olive oil as a moisturizing slip agent, do-it-yourself massages like this one can help soothe, relax, and rejuvenate.
Of course you don’t have to complete a structured series to feel the benefits of massage therapy. For those who wear high heels often, simply lacing the fingers of one hand through the toes and spreading them gently can reduce foot fatigue and that “pinched” feeling. For those with back pain, place three (or more) tennis balls on a carpeted floor, then lie down on them making sure the tennis balls are arranged near the source of the back pain. The rubbery balls give just enough so that they don’t hurt, yet the rigidity allows the back to stretch and relax.
With simple at-home, do-it-yourself massage techniques like these, you may find that you can stretch your dollar by seeking professional massage therapy less frequently. Why celebrate Every Body Deserves a Massage Week just one week out of the year? With a little practice, you can celebrate relaxation and comfort every single day.
If Sleeping Beauty had a sister named Waking Beauty, it’s a sure bet there would be some sibling rivalry. It’s all well and good to look lovely while sleeping but it’s something altogether more magical when we awake looking good. Between the hair knots, facial creases and puffy eyes, most of us spend the greater part of our morning routine battling the effects of how we’ve slept. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Truly, a few easy steps before bed can have you looking your best the moment you finally submit to the alarm’s call. Ready to look better tomorrow morning? Read on because we’re here to help.
Bad Breath: Our mothers always told us to brush our teeth before bed, and you have probably heeded that advice throughout your lifetime. As it turns out, it’s probably not enough. A bedtime routine should include a three-pronged approach: flossing, brushing and mouthwash. Not one of the three steps can adequately remove and kill bacteria alone, and this bacteria causes both bad breath and cavities. Take that brushing a step further and you’ll have better breath in the a.m.
Facial Creases: When it comes to the ideal position for sleeping, your back is the best way to go. Between the weight of your head (7 to 9 pounds) and the friction caused by your pillowcase as you move during sleep, creases and wrinkles are bound to happen. Of course the creases go away within a few hours but the cumulative effect can lead to deep wrinkles. Your best bet is to try to train yourself to sleep on your back every single night. If you still find that you’re migrating onto your side or stomach, try a satin pillowcase. The slip factor of satin means less friction.
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Puffy Eyes and/or Face: Like facial creases, puffiness and bloating can be caused by sleep position. A bit of gravity helps fluids drain. Sleeping slightly elevated on your back is the best position. Try doubling your pillows, one on top of the other, for a good angle. A second culprit is diet. Dehydration, salt and carbohydrates can cause whole-body bloating. The MSN Living article “10 Ways to Wake Up Beautiful” explains that a dinner of rice, pasta or potatoes can lead to “carb face,” that pasty, bloated look the next morning. Of course salt causes the body to retain water, while drinking plenty of water helps flush your system for that coveted svelte look.
Breakouts: No matter what time you go to bed, wash your face before you turn in. You may be tempted to skip this step when you’re exhausted but that’s always a bad idea. With or without makeup, dirt, oil and toxins build up on your face throughout the day. Failing to remove this dirt leads to clogged pores. For a deep, relaxing clean, choose a cleansing brush. The Clarisonic is ideal but expensive. An effective but more economical choice is the Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System. Use your favorite cleanser and brush away the poor-clogging dirt and debris.
Dull Skin: Night is the perfect time to work a skincare treatment into your beauty regimen. If you’re feeling a little lackluster, try a sunless tanning cream. A gradual tanner like Coppertone Sunless Tanning Lotion goes on clear and builds gradually, which means you won’t stain your sheets with the formula and you won’t have to worry about fast-forming splotches. An AHA skin moisturizer like St. Ives Naturally Smooth Fruit AHA Complex Body Lotion also does wonders for uneven skin tone, light sun damage and breakouts.
Knotted, Dull Hair: Our mothers and grandmothers slept in soup cans and curlers to wake up with gorgeous hair. Thankfully hair tool technology has changed a bit; however, it’s still a good idea to take some beautifying steps before bed. Night is a great time to apply a deep moisturizing hair conditioner. You’ll have to wash it out the next morning, but your tresses will look silky and shiny. When you aren’t deep conditioning, make sure your hair is pulled up while you sleep. Buns and high ponytails keep locks knot-free. If you’re hoping for beachy waves, try braiding your hair in three or more plaits. Upon awaking, just shake out the braids and spritz some texturizing spray.
Rough Heels: Especially during warmer months, a nighttime foot treatment will lead to perfect sandal-ready feet the next morning. For a head start, slough dry skin and callouses with pumice stone or foot file immediately after an evening bath or shower. Apply an ultra-moisturizing foot cream like Sally Hansen Intensive Overnight Heel Repair Cream, then slip moisturized feet into lightweight cotton socks. By morning, feet will be soft and smooth.