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4 tried and true tips for enjoying the season!

Hailey Hudson is a young author, blogger, and freelance writer from the mountains of north Georgia. She loves softball, Harry Potter, and her beagle puppy, Sophie. Click here to buy her debut book and follow along as she pursues her career in writing and children’s ministry by following her blog:

When I was younger, Thanksgiving and Christmas were my favorite times of the year. I loved the parties, the lights; anything and everything associated with the holidays. But two years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic fatigue illness, and things changed. Many times, I was just too tired to enjoy all the holidays. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered a few tips to help me: I’d like to share them with you with you in the hope that what works for me might help you enjoy the upcoming holidays.

Have an escape plan. You may need to have an escape or a backup plan for the season. Tell everyone that your plans need to be tentative and why: over partying and stress bring flares. Never missing an opportunity to educate, explain why committing to everything can be stressful and how stress affects you.

Or, you may need a backup plan for each event. For example, if I have a party or an activity in the evening, I try to get someone else to drive me, because I know I might be too sleepy to drive when the party ends.

Tell people what to expect Do you need a nap each afternoon? Do you have food sensitivities? Does your medicine need to be taken exactly thirty minutes before a meal? What a tremendous opportunity to educate other people. For example, while assisting the hostess prepare hors d’oeuvres, you can tell her that you’re unable to eat ‘x’  because it affects how a medication that you take, works. Bu, tell her that that won’t affect her because you brought a few things that you can pop into the microwave.

More than likely, people will be happy to accommodate you so you’ll enjoy the festivities. If you’re on a restricted diet and have enough energy, bring food so that you know you’ll have at least a few things to eat.

As much as possible, try to space things out. I do this all year round—if I have an all-day event, I know that I’ll need to rest for the entire next day. So, I try to leapfrog days when I’m planning out my calendar. For example, if I have the option of a holiday party one night and breakfast with a friend the next morning, ideally I would choose only one of those events so that I don’t get too run down. No one will mind if you miss something in order to rest. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself, even if that means sitting out on something fun. You, more than anyone else, knows when your body needs rest. Today’s sniffles could be tomorrow’s full-blown flu without proper care.

Self-care is important—but don’t put it into a box. I spent many evenings forcing myself to take a bubble bath and drink tea and calling it ‘self-care’ because that was what everyone preached—completely disregarding that I disliked both! Finally, I wised up and realized that self-care is not synonymous with a bubble bath—self-care is anything that relaxes you. I began reading and painting in the evenings, and found it much more relaxing than sitting in a tub of water; the water is bound to get cold!

Only you know your body. How you relax is 100% your call, but if you’re like me, in an attempts to be everything to everyone, you’ll forget YOU. So, make sure to make time for whatever relaxes ‘you;’ write it on your calendar if you need to. If you’re not proactively taking care of yourself, you will crash and burn and regret it. I’ve been there and trust me, it’s not pretty!

The bottom line here is this: the holiday season is hectic, but make your health a priority. If you take care of yourself, you will be able to enjoy the holiday, and you’ll love the season and all it has to offer once again. Happy Holidays!


 

 

 

 

 

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To sleep: with cats or dogs?!

Many western societies have a taboo on non-romantically involved people sleeping together. This forces singles to sleep alone even if they do not want to. Feeling anxious sleeping alone is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. But there are cultures in which  it is acceptable for people to look for partners just for sleep company, even if there is no serious relationship.

Pets can be a great help for the single person who has night time anxiety or just does not enjoy sleeping alone. Pets can help improve your sleep by laying by your side at night and enriching your life by giving you genuine companionship during the day.

Since there are reasons which help the functioning of your immune system, I felt that a post about sleeping with pets had a place here. A friend finds comfort when her dog curls up on the bed and takes her half out of the middle; but the dog eventually finds his space in the crook behind my friends’ knees. But, your preference might be with cats.

CATS AND THE PURR FACTOR:

For space-saving reasons, cats make better sleeping mates. A person sleeping alone is more likely to own a single bed. So, space is an issue and cats take less of it than most dogs. Cats are soft  balls of fur that can either fit in between that crook between your arm and chest, lie on top of you or slide in between your shins without disturbing your sleep at all. Add to that the seemingly magical relaxing powers of the cat’s purr and you will see why they are the most popular pets to take to bed. Studies have shown that a cat’s purr helps reduce stress and can reduce the risk of heart disease. To put the cherry on top of the cake, cats can also serve as excellent feet warmers!

On the other hand, cats will come and go as they please and won’t lie there unconditionally to give you warmth and company. Another drawback is that their smaller size won’t allow you to hug them while you sleep if that is something that helps you. Finally, cats cannot give you the same sense of security as a dog, as you cannot really count on a cat to fight off an armed robber unless it is a large cat with claws!

DOGS

The larger size of dogs allows you to hold on to them which helps some people sleep better; in fact they may enter REM sleep sooner. Dogs, being loyal as they are to their owners, are more likely keep lying next to you, even if they wake up, giving you a sense of security and comfort throughout your sleep.

Of course, size may become a factor if they take up most of the space. All that love in those hearts of gold may become a problem for they will want to lie on top of you which isn’t real comfortable especially if your dog is a  huge Irish Wolf Hound or Bullmastiff.

And the winner is……Both of these pets are excellent sleep aids, if you are suffering from anxiety and stress caused by sleeping alone and we all know that that stress can trigger a flare. In my view, cats win this battle because of their smaller size and purring. Maybe you have a different winner of this battle. So, take a look at both the pros and cons of each and decide who wins!

Author bio: Eugene Gabriel has his BSc (Hons.) Degree in Psychology. He has always been fascinated by the effects of good quality sleep, or the lack of it on human productivity and overall well-being. He has helped thousands of individuals suffering from sleeping problems by teaching them about the healthy changes they need to make in their lifestyle in order to sleep peacefully. Read his post on perfect sleep quantity. You can also follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj

 

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INSOMNIA

We’ve recently had several posts  about the effects of sleeplessness on the immune system and lupus. Now. we have a clinical trial for insomnia.

Insomnia

As many as 30 million people in the US are affected by some form of insomnia, making it the most common sleep disorder in the country. As people age, they experience changes in sleep patterns, which may increase their risk of insomnia. People with insomnia often experience daytime sleepiness or tiredness, fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, and more. This study for insomnia in elderly patients aims to help reduce insomnia symptoms.

Interested in participating in this trial? Click here

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Sleeping alone and autoimmune disease

Anxiety when sleeping alone is an issue often thought of to be an issue limited to children. However, many adults feel it, too. It is not much different than being afraid of the dark but when you’re the one experiencing it, the intensity. is greater. More common in women, men do experience it, though often they are too embarrassed to admit it.

Scientists have long discussed the benefits of sleeping alone on one’s health and quality of life. Some just hate sleeping alone, though-and it is not just a matter of choice. Right now, the more cynical reader might be thinking “So? Why doesn’t the person just find a more suitable partner?” But, no! (sic ,tongue in cheek) What about those wonderful tax incentives?

Pets are Chicken Soup for the Sleepers (less) soul

As they calm the high-strung, a pet can bring comfort as you drift off to sleep. Studies have shown that pets can be the tonic the doctor ordered. Yes, who’d have thunk that Fido could help the restless drift off more easily and stay in dreamland
longer? EEG activity doesn’t lie, though. Sleep patterns are such that these people enter REM sleep stages with greater regularity.

Some cringe at the thought of an animal occupying the same bed; but those same people don’t seem to have a problem with pets in the home. They also see the health benefits of having pets. Many people are concerned about germs from house pets (and possibly rightly so!); well, as it turns out the bed is already one of the most germ infested places in the house so Fido will not make much of a difference.

Germs or no germs, most Americans are comfortable with pets in their beds. Surveys say that most people claim that pets don’t disrupt sleep and even more said that they were helpful in relaxing so they could fall asleep and stay asleep.

It needs to be remembered that the couples surveyed, did not have issues sleeping alone. It can be easily ascertained that for people who are distressed sleeping alone, pets can help them relax and might improve the quality of their sleep.

Anxiety and sleeping  alone

Recently singled people find it difficult to adjust to new sleeping arrangements, to living alone, to sleeping alone. The newly single person forms a form of “attachment anxiety” and a pet can be an excellent option to ease into the new situation, by giving them company and helping them sleep better. We will stop shy of saying they might be a great replacement. Recent studies have shown that loneliness may adversely affect quality of sleep. With that in mind, pets may also indirectly help sleep by giving you company.

About the Author
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Sleep and Room Temperature. You can follow him on twitter@eugenegabrielj

  Contact: eugenegabriel.j@gmail.com

 

 

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LUPUS, in a nutshell

Every disease, everything that ails us, usually has a descriptor, a very easy way of describing it. and here is a lupus descriptor that is a very basic. Future articles will expound on this video:

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The Importance of Sleep if you Have Lupus

Sleep is essential for overall well-being and it plays a vital role in improving both physical & mental performance, and the quality of our lives.

Quality sleep boosts our mood, focus & attention span, memory, creativity, immune system, and curbs inflammation, depression and anxiety.

But for people suffering from chronic illnesses, the importance of sleep can’t be over-stated. A 2009 National Sleep Foundation poll found that people in poor health who do not get enough sleep, exercise & work less efficiently when compared to people in good health.

Lupus is a disease of remissions (symptoms improve and you feel better) and exacerbations (symptoms worsen and you feel ill). The most common symptoms of exacerbations (or flares) are fatigue, pain and inflammation and they are are commonly triggered by stress and chronic lack of sleep. Therefore, it is very important for a person suffering from lupus not to cut corners and to sleep the recommended 7-8 hours every day.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 50 to 60 percent of lupus sufferers experience poor sleep and suffer from sleep related problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea. In another study, it was found that lupus patients have more sleep problems than people in normal health. This is a serious issue as lack of or poor sleep can further weaken the immune system and cause worsening of lupus symptoms such as inflammation, pain and cognitive dysfunction. Anxiety and depression were also common. Here are a few tips to improve sleep to prevent lupus flares.

Make sleep a priority

Make sleep a priority in your life. Often, in today’s world, sleep is too often seen as an unnecessary waste of time, resulting in our putting other activities taking priority over sleep. Too often and to frequently, we prioritize our work, family, social life and even regular household chores over sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation also found that only about 40 percent of Americans feel that sleep is as important as exercise or eating well to overall health and well-being. Once we know the importance of sleep in our lives; then we can go about the business of making it a priority.

Be Evaluated by a Sleep Expert

If you are facing long term sleep problems that have lasted a few weeks or you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness then it’s important that you obtain an evaluation from a sleep expert. This can also help to figure out if a medical condition unrelated to lupus such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, is the real culprit behind your sleep problems.

Schedule your Sleep

Set a bedtime schedule and follow it strictly even on weekends. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every day. This way your body clock will also adjust to your sleep schedule, making you easier to fall asleep close to bedtime.

Napping

A short afternoon nap can really help to alleviate fatigue and refresh you. But be wary of taking long naps as they might leave you sluggish for the rest of the day and awake at night, and can disrupt your regular sleep schedule.

Exercise

Exercise, playing a sport or any physical activity for that matter improves the quality of your sleep. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise regularly report sleeping better as compared to those who don’t exercise even if they get the same amount of sleep. So take out at least 20-30 minutes for physical activity every day. Also, it’s important to exercise 5-6 hours before bedtime.

Indulge In Sleep Inducing Foods

Diet really affects your sleep so it’s important to make healthy dinner choices that can promote a good night’s sleep. Avoid caffeine rich drinks such as coffee, tea and cola drinks. Also stay away from alcohol which is more of a sleep disrupter and results in poor quality fragmented sleep. Instead go for sleep inducing foods such as milk, turkey, lettuce, cherries and other options.

Meditate

Meditation is a great way to unwind after a hectic, stressful day to prepare for sleep. According to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation can significantly improve sleep quality and daytime impairment.

Steer Clear of Electronic Devices

Avoid watching movies, checking your emails or playing any video games at least 30 minutes before bedtime and shut off any electronic devices such as your laptop, tablet and phone if you want to get good sleep. The light from these screens send the wrong messages to your brain, keeping it alert and leaving you sleepless.

Unwind before bed

Include something relaxing to you, such as reading, a warm bath, inducing essential oils or any other relaxing activity right before bed to help you settle for sleep.

Set the Scene

Turn off the lights, wear comfortable clothing and control your room temperature. Research suggests that a temperature between 16 – 18 degree centigrade is perfect to help you fall asleep.

These tips should help you to take control of your sleep to avoid any lupus flares; but If sleep problems persist, it’s best to consult your rheumatologist.

About the Author
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Sleep and Room Temperature. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.

Sources:

The Lupus Foundation of America magazine

The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology

Sleeping Too Hot? Try These Cool Ideas

 

 

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Lupus and the Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential for overall well-being and it plays a vital role in improving both physical & mental performance, and the quality of our lives.

Quality sleep boosts our mood, focus & attention span, memory, creativity, immune system, and curbs inflammation, depression and anxiety.

But for people suffering from chronic illnesses like lupus, sleep is ever more critical. This can’t be under-stated. A 2009 National Sleep Foundation poll found that people in poor health who do not get enough sleep, exercise & work less efficiently when compared to people in good health.

Lupus is a disease of remissions (symptoms improve and you feel better) and exacerbations (symptoms worsen and you feel ill). The most common symptoms of exacerbations, or flares, are fatigue, pain and inflammation and they are are commonly triggered by stress and chronic lack of sleep. Therefore, it is very important for a person suffering from lupus not to cut corners and to sleep the recommended 7-8 hours every day.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 50 to 60 percent of lupus sufferers either experience poor sleep or suffer from sleep related problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea. In another study, it was found that lupus patients have more sleep problems than people in normal health. This is a serious issue as lack of or poor sleep can further weaken the immune system and cause worsening of lupus symptoms such as inflammation, pain and cognitive dysfunction. Anxiety and depression were also common. Here are a few tips to improve sleep to prevent lupus flares.

Make sleep a priority

Make sleep a priority in your life. Often, in today’s world, sleep is too often seen as an unnecessary waste of time, resulting in our putting other activities taking priority over sleep. Too often and to frequently, we prioritize our work, family, social life and even regular household chores over sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation also found that only about 40 percent of Americans feel that sleep is as important as exercise or eating well to overall health and well-being. Once we know the importance of sleep in our lives; then we can go about the business of making it a priority.

Be Evaluated by a Sleep Expert

If you are facing long term sleep problems that have lasted a few weeks or you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness then it’s important that you obtain an evaluation from a sleep expert. This can also help to figure out if a medical condition unrelated to lupus such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, is the real culprit behind your sleep problems.

Schedule your Sleep

Set a bedtime schedule and follow it strictly even on weekends. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every day. This way your body clock will also adjust to your sleep schedule, making you easier to fall asleep close to bedtime.

Napping

A short afternoon nap can really help to alleviate fatigue and refresh you. But be wary of taking long naps as they might leave you sluggish for the rest of the day and awake at night, and can disrupt your regular sleep schedule.

Exercise

Exercise, playing a sport or any physical activity for that matter improves the quality of your sleep. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise regularly report sleeping better as compared to those who don’t exercise even if they get the same amount of sleep. So take out at least 20-30 minutes for physical activity every day. Also, it’s important to exercise 5-6 hours before bedtime.

Indulge In Sleep Inducing Foods

Diet really affects your sleep so it’s important to make healthy dinner choices that can promote a good night’s sleep. Avoid caffeine rich drinks such as coffee, tea and cola drinks. Also stay away from alcohol which is more of a sleep disrupter and results in poor quality fragmented sleep. Instead go for sleep inducing foods such as milk, turkey, lettuce, cherries and other options.

Meditate

Meditation is a great way to unwind yourself after a long hectic stressful day and prepare yourself for sleep. According to a recent study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California, mindfulness meditation can significantly improve sleep quality and daytime impairment.

Steer Clear of Electronic Devices

Avoid watching movies, checking your emails or playing any video games at least 30 minutes before bedtime and shut off any electronic devices such as your laptop, tablet and phone if you want to get good sleep. The light from these screens send the wrong messages to your brain, keeping it alert and leaving you sleepless.

Unwind before bed

You can include a daily relaxing act such as reading, a warm bath with sleep inducing essential oils or any other relaxing activity right before bed to help you settle for sleep.

Set the Scene

Turn off the lights, wear comfortable clothing and control your room temperature. Research suggests that a temperature between 16 – 18 degree centigrade is perfect to help you fall asleep.

These tips should help you to take control of your sleep to avoid any lupus flares; but If sleep problems persist, it’s best to consult your rheumatologist.

SOURCES:

Journal of Clinical Rheumatology

 

The Lupus Foundation of America

Sleeping Too Hot? Try These Cool Ideas

About the Author
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Sleep and Room Temperature. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.

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