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Sleep-Friendly Dinner Recipes

A delish, healthy alternative to sleeping pills

A big, delicious dinner leaves you pushing back from the table, loosening your belt and dreaming about bedtime. Nice on Thanksgiving but deadly for every day. Other than the need for expando-pants, the bigger the meal, the longer it takes to digest it, which will interfere with a good night’s sleep.

Sleep deprivation and obesity are epidemic in the United States. In our opinion, they’re unholy bedfellows who are much too cozy with each other. The later we go to bed, the poorer our food choices. If we’re already sleep deprived, we tend to reach for sweet and salty snacks during the day, which can lead to weight gain and increased risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

But what if your diet could help you sleep better, which in turn would help avoid weight gain? Sleep and diet experts suggest eating your biggest meal before midafternoon and enjoying a light evening meal of 500 calories or less. Chicken, fish or extra-lean meat will make you feel fool and curb middle-of-the-night munchies. Sounds easy, right?

7 ingredients for a meal that sets the stage for sweet dreams

While eating more earlier in the day sounds like a good idea, we often crave savory, flavorful meals at night as we reconnect with our loved ones and wind down from the stress of the day. So what can you eat a night that won’t kill your diet? Start with the ingredients below and then move onto our suggested recipe. Bon appetite and sweet dreams all at once!

  • Begin with milk – Your mom was right when she nudged you to drink milk before bed. It’s loaded with the amino acid, tryptophan, which helps you produce melatonin and serotonin (both are necessary for sleep).
  • Throw in some beans – One cup of soybeans provides your daily dose of tryptophan. One cup of cooked black, navy, lima, kidney or pinto beans and you’ve got half your daily intake. Don’t forget that beans are a great source of fiber and protein so you’ll feel full all night long. Pasta with edamame or maybe a bowl of chili, anyone?
  • Grab some nuts – All nuts have a little tryptophan but walnuts take over-achieving to a new level. What’s more, they’ve got melatonin too. Sprinkle them on pasta or a salad for a flavorful crunch.
  • Make a salad – Chop up some spinach, a vitamin B6 powerhouse that also contains tryptophan and calcium. Enjoy your spinach raw in a salad (with soybeans and nuts) or sautéed alongside your favorite fish. Of course a bedtime smoothie sounds good too!
  • Find your fish – Cod, halibut, tuna, salmon and snapper are all good sources of vitamin B6, which promotes the production of sleep hormones. Fire up the barbeque and enjoy!
  • Or maybe chicken – Chicken has more tryptophan than turkey and paired with rice or quinoa, provides a healthy balance of protein and complex carbohydrates to help you sleep better.
  • Sweeten with cherries – cherries (especially tart ones) contain melatonin and studies show one glass of tart cherry juice can improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. But cherries and low fat ice cream might be more to your liking – delish!
 Salmon-Potato Cakes

Ingredients

  •  14 ounces fresh skinless salmon fillets
  • 2 cups refrigerated sour cream and chive flavored mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 5-ounce package mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cup bottled Honey-Dijon salad dressing

Showtime

Rinse and dry salmon. Place in 2-quart square microwave-safe baking dish; cover with vented plastic. Microcook on high (100% power) for 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Break in pieces. In bowl combine salmon, potatoes, bread crumbs, and dill. Form salmon mixture in eight 3-1/2-inch cakes. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Cook cakes over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until heated through and browned. Place salad greens on plates. Top with salmon-potato cakes; serve with salad dressing. Makes 4 servings. 503 kcal calories. Recipe via BHG.com


Eager for more sleep info you can really use? Join our communities on Facebook and Twitter and let’s continue the conversation. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

This blog was originally published on Restonic.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on Restonic.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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7 Habits of Highly Effective Nappers

Deconstructing the fine art of napping

When’s the last time you indulged in an afternoon nap? Too busy, you say? Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, JFK and John D. Rockefeller were all dedicated nappers – every day. If these busy, highly accomplished men can make time for a nap, why can’t you?

Although most of us hang our hat on our ability to function normally on very little sleep, there’s strong research to support the humble nap. One study from California studied the relationship between naps and workers for 25 years and say 92.5% of workers increased productivity, creativity and problem-solving skills after a short afternoon nap.

Coffee might be quicker, but napping comes more naturally.

Our internal clocks are programed to slow down twice in a 24-hour period. We feel naturally sleepy when it’s dark outside but the mid-afternoon slump is natural too. Trouble is, most of us fight the afternoon nap with mega-doses of caffeine rather than surrendering to it, even though 20 minutes of sleep can energize us for the remainder of the day.

If you’re considering swapping out caffeine for an afternoon quickie, follow these 7 habits for making the most of your naptime.

7 highly effective nap habits

1.    Give yourself permission

This is the first and most important step in a successful nap. Understand that your work will never be done and that a nap will help you be more productive and creative. Allow your mind this time to rest so you can finish your day strong.

2.    Choose your nap spot

Suss out an over-sized chair, comfortable sofa in a cool, dark room – or even your own bed. Also known as napnomic devices, the cushion and blanket you choose are equally important. If you’re napping at work, find a spot where you can relax and not worry about being jarred awake.

3.    Drink a cup of cool coffee

It might sound strange to drink coffee before sleep but there’s a simple explanation. It takes approximately 20 minutes for caffeine to travel from your stomach to your blood stream – the perfect nap length. A cup of coffee before you lie down gives your mind time rest before the caffeine begins blazing its trail. Great way to beat the after-nap groggies, right?

4.    Consider timing

Although most research suggests that an afternoon nap won’t interfere with nighttime sleep, the later in the afternoon you nap, the bigger the risk. Schedule your nap early in the afternoon, when you’re naturally groggy.

5.    Set an alarm

Most people wake up naturally after a nap but if you’re sleep-deprived, you might need to train your body to wake up at a scheduled time. Use your smartphone to set a gentle wake-up call rather than a blaring alarm. If you’re so exhausted that a loud alarm is necessary, you might want to look at your overall sleep strategy

6.    Give yourself time to wake up

If you’ve enjoyed a coffee beforehand, your nap hangover should be minimal – but it’s still a good idea to inch back into your day rather than jumping headfirst into it. Enjoy a big glass of water and stretch out your muscles.

7.    Plan tomorrow’s nap

Even successful nappers often miss this step. Only you can carve out napping opportunities in your day – and the only way to do that is it to plan ahead. Even if you decide not to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in the afternoon, you’ll appreciate the breathing room you’ve carved out.

Ready to practice the fine art of napping? We’d love to hear how it works for you and if you have any additional tips. Happy napping! 


Eager for more sleep info you can really use? Join our communities on Facebook and Twitter and let’s continue the conversation. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

This blog was originally published on Restonic.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on Restonic.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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9 Reasons to Sleep More

The ultimate pro-sleeper cheat sheet

You’ve heard the frightening list of things that can happen when you don’t get the sleep you need. From short-term avoidable accidents to long-term disease risk and early death, it’s enough to send us racing to our bedrooms. But what about the amazing benefits that are yours for the taking when you do get the sleep you need?

After all, wouldn’t you rather hear about the rewards for a change?

In the interest of brevity, we cut our list off at 9 but we challenge you to share more. Leave a note in the comments below and let the world in on your sleep secrets.

Live longer

When it comes to how long you’re going to live, there’s a lot of truth in the saying that genetics is a loaded gun – but your environment is the trigger. You may carry genes for a multitude of diseases, but whether you get them or not is largely dependent on how you live your life. If you want to live longer, sleep can be your best defense against a slew of diseases.

Maintain a healthy weight

Mattress manufacturers should consider giving away a free bathing suit with every purchase. Think we’re crazy? As wild as the idea sounds, substantial medical evidence suggests fascinating links between sleep and weight. According to WebMD.com, “Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite.”

Manage stressful situations better

Some stress is good for us – like date night with your partner or accepting an award for a job well done. But some stress has the power to turn us into impatient toddlers, especially if we didn’t get a good night’s sleep. If you’re averaging four to five hours sleep a night, your brain reacts to stress as if you’ve gone for three consecutive nights without any sleep. Imagine the power you’ll have the next time your boss wigs out and you’ve had a good night’s sleep…

Reduce inflammation and pain

Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging all have strong ties to inflammation. If you sleep less than six hours a night, your blood levels of inflammatory proteins may be higher than people who sleep more. Show your heart some love – put it to bed.

Enjoy physical activity

When’s the last night you had a terrible night’s sleep and bounced out of bed in the morning, energized and ready for a 10K run? We thought so. Sleep is the mop-up crew for your brain and body, cleaning up spills, reorganizing memories and repairing muscle tissue. Skip that important recovery time and you look more like the energizer bunny who didn’t make the cut.

Avoid accidents

In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that sleepy drivers are responsible for the most single car crashes – even more than alcohol. What’s downright sobering though is that even one sleep deprived night can impair your driving, mimicking the effects of an alcoholic drink.

Embrace lifelong learning

Just as sleep repairs muscle tissue, it also cleans out the synapses in your brain. Sleep facilitates the processing of memories, moving the important ones to storage and discarding the ones you won’t need tomorrow. Without sleep, your memories all stay in the short term retrieval area and learning complex skills becomes nearly impossible. So in essence, that 8-hour void of doing nothing other than sleep actually makes you smarter.

Fight depression

The relationship between sleep and depressive illness is complex – depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders. But the evidence is clear: people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Enjoy more creativity

Ever notice how creativity ebbs and flows during the day? Depending on whether you’re a night hawk or early bird, you’ll enjoy spurts of creativity throughout the day – when your brain is most awake and energized. Without sleep, your brain lacks the fuel it needs to get into that creative zone. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy – without sleep, he’s really a drag.

Now you know the amazing benefits of a good night’s sleep. Who’s tucking in early tonight?


Eager for more sleep info you can really use? Join our communities on Facebook and Twitter and let’s continue the conversation. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

This blog was originally published on Restonic.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on Restonic.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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Make Your Perfect Outdoor Living Room

As days get sunnier and the temperatures warmer, giving in to your natural urge for the great outdoors is better for your health and happiness than you might realize. Savoring sunny days and fresh air by gathering around the grill or lounging on the porch can actually improve your blood pressure and energy level, elevate your mood and improve mental concentration, experts say.

 

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Today’s outdoor living rooms are cozy and stylish. Photo Credit: Woodard Furniture

Creating an outdoor living room has never been so popular or so full of possibilities, thanks to the abundance of outdoor furnishings and accessories available now– from seating to tables and rugs, pillows and lighting. Forget the mundane lawn chair or plain picnic table of the past. Today’s outdoor living rooms are cozy, comfortable and oh-so stylish.

 

 

According the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), nearly 85% of households plan to add outdoor furniture in 2015. The number one item on the shopping list is an outdoor chair, followed closely by a fire pit.

In fact, the American Society of Landscape Architects named fire pits as the number one outdoor design element in demand for this year.

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Chairs and fire pits are high on the shopping list for outdoor spaces. Photo Credit: Kolea seating and fire pit group from Agio International

 

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Outdoor sectionals are a popular new configuration. Photo Credit: Lloyd Flanders

Ultimately, the key essential for outdoor living room comfort is seating. While rocking chairs lined in a row on the front porch may still have their merits, today’s outdoor living room seating arrangements span the gamut from upholstered sectionals to the classic Adirondack chair made into a lounge chair version.

 

 

 

According to the AHFA, traditional is the number one outdoor furniture style, followed by contemporary/modern, “natural” and “rustic.” Thanks in part to more durable outdoor fabrics with more resistance to soil and water, today’s outdoor spaces are often just as stylish as inside the home. Outdoor furnishings are created with comfort in mind to encourage relaxing and enjoying all the benefits of outdoor living—better health and happiness among them!

Funny couple fighting with pillows in bed

Can a Good Night’s Sleep Make You Smarter?

5 ways sleep (and your mattress) affect your brain 

Does sleep affect how ‘smart’ you feel? How many hours of sleep do you need to feel ‘smart’? Ever “slept on it” and woke up with a smart solution to your challenge or problem?

Scientists believe that our brains use sleep to sort and clean – much like the nightshift crew at Target cleans up after a busy day of selling. The aisles are tidied, everything’s put away and the stuff that’s not selling is moved to the backroom. When we don’t get the sleep we need, our messy brains actually start to fall apart, as seen through brain imaging technologies.

So how can you sleep smarter?

If being smart is tied to better sleep, quality and quantity is tied directly to your mattress. A 2011 National Sleep Foundation survey of 1,500 Americans found that 92% of us feel a comfortable mattress is very important to a good night’s sleep. And yet so many people climb into a bed that’s more of a torture device than a soothing sanctuary.

You wouldn’t get into a car without brakes, right? You wouldn’t tolerate a fridge that couldn’t keep food cool, right? But night after night, many of us climb into a bed that’s not only killing our chance of a good night’s sleep – it’s actually making us stupid.

If your mattress has seen better nights, we’ve found 5 benefits of sleeping on a new mattress.

1. A new mattress can zap your stress

“In a small 2009 study, 59 healthy men and women slept for 28 consecutive nights on their regular mattresses, then another 28 nights on new, medium-firm mattresses. They were asked to evaluate their stress levels based on factors like worrying, racing thoughts, nervousness, irritability, headaches, trembling and more. The new beds resulted in “a significant decrease in stress,” according to the study, possibly because of the related increase in sleep quality and decrease in pain associated with the firmer setup.” Read more: HuffPost.com.

2. A new mattress can soothe a hurting back

Sore and aching backs send more people to doctors than any other single complaint and the busier we get, the more we suffer. Sitting all day at a desk or standing in heels wreaks havoc on spinal alignment and sadly, we’re just not exercising enough to undo that damage. Sleep can help heal the abuse we throw at our backs but most of us don’t sleep on a supportive enough mattress to get the job done. And when we don’t give our backs the rest they need, mornings can be painful. Read more: Restonic.com.

3. A new mattress can help you lose weight

While you weren’t sleeping, your body cooked up a perfect recipe for weight gain. Skimping on sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, the locus of decision-making and impulse control. So it’s a little like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions. When you’re short on sleep, it’s easy to lean on a large latte to get moving. You might be tempted to skip exercise (too tired), get takeout for dinner, and then turn in late because you’re uncomfortably full. Read more: WebMD.com.

4. A new mattress can help reduce inflammation and pain

Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging all have strong ties to inflammation. If you sleep less than six hours a night, your blood levels of inflammatory proteins may be higher than people who sleep more. Show your heart some love – put it to bed. Read more: Restonic.com

5. A new mattress can make you happier

A change in your sleep habits is one of the most common effects of depression. Lack of sleep can start before depression, be a symptom of depression, and make depression worse. “Depression and sleep are closely related,” says Prashant Gajwani, MD, associate professor and vice chairman of clinical affairs in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. “Depression is a brain illness, and it affects many types of brain functions, including the sleep-wake cycle. Once this biologic clock has been disturbed, it can make sleep even more irregular and that adds to the depression. It can become a vicious cycle for many people.” Read more: EverydayHealth.com.

What’s the cost of a good night’s sleep?

If you spent $2,000 on a new mattress (for example) and slept comfortably on that mattress for 7 years, the cost of healthy sleep would be $1.27 per night – less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee in the morning…

If you’re ready for a new mattress, we’d love to help you find the right one for you. Visit our Find a Retailer page and we’ll locate a store close by where you can lie on our mattresses and talk to a trained sales professional. Use these links to begin your online research:


Eager for more sleep info you can really use? Join our communities on Facebook and Twitter and let’s continue the conversation. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

This blog was originally published on Restonic.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on Restonic.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

Happy mother and daughter having breakfast in kitchen

Power Up with a Super Breakfast

Seriously guys, breakfast is the most important meal of the day

We say it all the time, but it’s true. Eating breakfast sets the tone for your day. It helps kick start your metabolism and energizes you for all you have to accomplished before it’s time to hit the hay again.

What’s the most important ingredient of a healthy rev-me-up breakfast? Protein. It’ll keep you fuller, longer and give you the energy you need to jump start your day. Eggs are a great source of protein – and they’re delicious. To get the most out of your breakfast, try adding a superfood into the mix. Superfoods are low in calories, high in nutrients and jam-packed with antioxidants. Spinach is a fave of ours and it goes great with eggs.

Need some breakfast inspiration? We might be the “Supporting Dreams” company but we’ve got you covered for breakfast too. Scroll down for a yummy breakfast casserole recipe that’s an easy Sunday night prep and grab and go for the rest of your week.

Breakfast casserole with spinach, leeks & 2 types of cheese

Ingredients (Makes 4 large or 6 small servings)

  • 1 leek, white and light green part only (or use green onion or red onion if you don’t want to buy leeks)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 5-6 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and dried if needed
  • 10 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-2 tsp. all-purpose seasoning
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, rinsed with cold water and drained well
  • 3 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled (you can also substitute low-fat cream cheese, Feta, or more cottage cheese for the goat cheese)

Showtime

  1. Cut a 3 oz. piece from a log of goat cheese and put in the freezer to chill while you prep other ingredients. Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
  2. Measure 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, put in a fine strainer, and rinse with cold water.
  3. Cut off the root end and dark green part of the leek, then cut into fourths lengthwise and slice into thin pieces.
  4. Heat olive oil in a frying pan with tall sides, then add leeks and sauté 3-4 minutes. Then add the spinach leaves and sauté 3-4 minutes more. While vegetables are cooking, lightly beat the eggs with all-purpose seasoning, salt and pepper. Remove the goat cheese from the freezer and crumble it as finely as you can.
  5. Spray an 8″ x 8″ casserole dish with nonstick spray. Spread spinach/leek mixture in the bottom of the dish, then layer on cottage cheese and goat cheese. Pour egg mixture over, then use a fork to gently stir so the veggies and cheese are evenly distributed in the eggs.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until eggs are set and lightly browned. The casserole will puff up slightly as it bakes, but will settle down when it cools for a few minutes
  7. Cut into pieces and serve hot. Add a dollop of low-fat sour cream
Recipe via KalynsKitchen.com

Eager for more sleep info you can really use? Join our communities on Facebook and Twitter and let’s continue the conversation. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

This blog was originally published on Restonic.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on Restonic.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

 

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The History of the Mattress

Where it all began

Believe it or not, the mattress has been around for almost 10,000 years. Maybe not the luxurious mattresses we know today, but a form of mattress was first invented in during the caveman period. These mattresses were mostly made of natural items – straw, leafs, grass covered with animal skin. Comfy, right?

The Persians were the ones to really innovate and improve upon the mattress and sleeping conditions. Persian royalty slept on the first water beds – goatskin filled with water. Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs raised the mattress off the ground by using pallets. King Tut had a bed base made from ebony and gold; while prettier, it was not any more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.

Fast forward to the late 18th century, mattresses more closely related to the modern mattresses we know today begin to emerge. Cast iron beds with cotton mattresses were found to be less attractive to bugs and make sleeping much more enjoyable. Bug free is the only way to sleep. In 1865, the first innerspring mattresses are introduced – the birth of the modern mattress. From there the inventions of the box spring, modern waterbeds, memory foam and latex mattresses all follow. All adding up to the mattress and sleep options we know and appreciate today. Read more at BetterSleep.org

Museums exhibits

Want to learn more about how people have slept through the ages? Many museums have32_-_lincoln some examples of bedroom furniture (though some of it more closely resembles torture devices) throughout history. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a collection of bedroom furniture, as well as design drawings of bed designs from all over the world and throughout history. The Frick Collection, also in New York City, has examples French, Italian, and English furniture of the Renaissance to the nineteenth century.

Perhaps the best places to see examples of beds is to visit historical home museums. The Palace of Versailles is an amazing example of ornate – and let’s be honest, over-the-top opulent – 17th century bedding. Some of the beds are literally made of gold!

The White House is an excellent example of Victorian era bedding. The Lincoln Bedroom is most likely the best known room in the House, aside from the Oval Office. Although, Lincoln never actually slept there, the bedroom is said to be haunted by none other than President Lincoln himself and used as a guest bedroom for distinguished guests of the President and First Lady.

Now that we’ve given you the history of the mattress and bed, we’d love to help you shop for a new mattress. Here are a few articles to help you get started with your search:


 

Eager for more sleep info you can really use? Join our communities on Facebook and Twitter and let’s continue the conversation. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

 This blog was originally published on Restonic.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on Restonic.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.