Trouble Sleeping because of the Holidays? Drink this and get more sleep a night!!!

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Give your box of chamomile a rest. New research presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting finds drinking tart cherry juice twice a day can help you sleep nearly 90 more minutes a night.

Researchers from Louisiana State University had seven older adults with insomnia drink eight ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks, followed by two weeks of no juice, and then two more weeks of drinking a placebo beverage. Compared to the placebo, drinking the cherry juice resulted in an average of 84 more minutes of sleep time each night.

Insomnia is a common health problem among older adults, impacting an estimated 23 to 34 percent of the population ages 65 and older. Insomnia – defined as trouble sleeping on average more than three nights per week – can be an annoyance for some, but long-lasting sleeplessness can seriously affect health, especially in the elderly.

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Cherry juice is a natural source of the sleep-wake cycle hormone melatonin and amino acid tryptophan, says study coauthor Frank L. Greenway, director of the outpatient research clinic at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at LSU.

“Proanthocyanidins, or the ruby red pigments in tart cherry juice, contain an enzyme that reduces inflammation and decreases the breakdown of tryptophan, letting it go to work longer in your body,” he says. Montmorency cherries are particularly high in those compounds. (The study was funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute, but the group had no role in the study design or outcome.)

Greenway estimates that up to one-third of American adults over age 65 have insomnia, which is defined as having trouble sleeping more than three nights per week. He believes cherry juice is a safer way to improve sleep quality than going the pharmaceutical route, given the lack of side effects. “Sleeping pills in the elderly are associated with a 4-fold increase in the prevalence of falls which, at that age, can result in fractures that require surgery,” he explains.

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Not a cherry juice fan? Try kiwi. Eating two kiwi fruits an hour before bed was shown to increase sleep time by 13% and decrease mid-sleep waking periods by 29% after just four weeks, finds a recent Chinese study. Or incorporate seaweed into your dinner; the ocean vegetable is high in omega-3 DHA, which helped children get an extra full hour of sleep, according to a recent University of Oxford study.

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Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Learn to Enjoy Being Alone

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aloneeeYOU’LL GET TO RECHARGE.

Often times when we’re surrounded by other people, we’re expending a lot of energy. Trying to keep others happy, make them laugh, soothe their egos, read their emotions, and all of the other rigors that come along with regular interaction.

It can be mentally draining if you’re constantly connected to other people. A little alone time lets you recharge and take a break from the emotionally and mentally taxing job of constant interaction.

YOU’LL REFLECT MORE OFTEN.

Your life is always moving at a crazy fast pace. So fast in fact, that it’s probably rare when you have a moment alone to sit and reflect on your life.

Being alone gives you the perfect opportunity for a little self reflection. Since you aren’t spending so much time processing the thoughts and feelings of others, it’s the best time to turn your focus inwards.

Solitude provides the perfect environment for reflection.

YOU’LL GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR OWN EMOTIONS.

Again, when you’re surrounded by other people all the time, you’re constantly trying to read, and cater to, the other persons’s emotions. So much so, that you could end up losing touch with your own.

When you start to enjoy being alone, you’ll gain a greater perspective for your own emotions. You’ll create a deeper understanding of what makes you happy, what upsets you, and what saddens you.

With that knowledge, it’s then easier to regulate your emotions. But it all starts with understanding how you feel, and that comes from a little bit of solitude.

YOU’LL START DOING THINGS YOU ACTUALLY ENJOY.

When you’re constantly in the company of other people, you’re always making compromises in order to find solutions that the entire group can enjoy. And unfortunately, the things you want most, may not always line up with what the group wants.

So it’s easy to enjoy being alone once you realize that doing so gives you more freedom to do the things you actually want to do.

YOU’LL BECOME MORE PRODUCTIVE.

Being in the company of other people can be fun and entertaining, but it can also seriously affect your productivity. There are times when the company of other people acts as nothing more than a distraction from getting your work done.

Time spent alone can be some of the most productive time in your life—mostly because there are less distractions, and you can just put your head down and get to work.

YOU’LL FEEL MORE INDEPENDENT.

Once you enjoy being alone, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to actually be alone. And that naturally leads to you feeling more independent.

You’ll no longer feel that anxiety, or burning desire for company, once you learn to enjoy being alone. You won’t feel the need for constant interaction with other people, or the anxiety associated with looking around and seeing no one but yourself.

YOU’LL GET A BREAK FROM CONSTANTLY TRYING TO KEEP OTHER PEOPLE HAPPY.

Life is filled with relationships, and most relationships only last when both people are kept happy. And that can turn into a draining job depending who that relationship is with. Now, this does’t only apply to personal relationships, but every kind of relationship.

Once you’re alone, the only person’s happiness you have to worry about in that moment, is your own. You can treat yourself to thing that makes you happy, but may have upset someone else.

YOU WON’T HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR ANYTHING.

When you start to enjoy being alone, you’ll quickly see that solitude means you don’t have to keep apologizing for what you’ve done. So often, we do things that end up upsetting other people, or hurting someone else’s feelings, and then have to quickly apologize for it.

But when you’re alone, you don’t have to apologize for anything. And that takes a lot of pressure out of most situations. You get to stop second guessing everything you say, or every move you make because you’re afraid someone is going to be offended, or saddened, and angered.

YOU’LL STOP LOOKING FOR VALIDATION.

So often we feel we the need to get the “OK” from our friends and family before we take action. We constantly look to other people for advice on what we should do next.

Of course, there are times where it’s not only perfectly acceptable to ask for advice, but downright necessary. But there are also times where we’re perfectly capable of acting on our own, be we instead of looking to others for ananswer.

When you start to spend more time alone, you’ll learn to trust your instincts and make decisions without any third party validation.

Credit: Life Hack

Survival of the Fittest – Benefits of Eating Apples

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  1. Get whiter, healthier teeth

An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

  1. Avoid Alzheimer’s

A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

  1. Protect against Parkinson’s

Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fibre foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

  1. Curb all sorts of cancers

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

  1. Decrease your risk of diabetes

Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fibre, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

  1. Reduce cholesterol

The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

  1. Get a healthier heart

An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

  1. Prevent gallstones

Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

  1. Beat diarrhea and constipation

Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

  1. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fibre in your diet.

  1. Avert hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a swollen vein in the anal canal and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. They are caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. Part and parcel with controlling constipation, fibre can prevent you from straining too much when going to the bathroom and thereby help alleviate hemorrhoids.

  1. Control your weight

Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre. Foods high in fibre will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

  1. Detoxify your liver 

We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

  1. Boost your immune system

Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed out.

  1. Prevent cataracts

Though past studies have been divided on the issue, recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants—like apples—are 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop cataracts.

Credit: Best Health Mag

The Pursuit of Happiness by Aristotle — Tell us what makes YOU HAPPY!!!

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“Happiness depends on ourselves.” More than anybody else, Aristotle enshrines happiness as a central purpose of human life and a goal in itself. As a result he devotes more space to the topic of happiness than any thinker prior to the modern era. Living during the same period as Mencius, but on the other side of the world, he draws some similar conclusions. That is, happiness depends on the cultivation of virtue, though his virtues are somewhat more individualistic than the essentially social virtues of the Confucians. Yet as we shall see, Aristotle was convinced that a genuinely happy life required the fulfillment of a broad range of conditions, including physical as well as mental well-being. In this way he introduced the idea of a science of happiness in the classical sense, in terms of a new field of knowledge.

Essentially, Aristotle argues that virtue is achieved by maintaining the Mean, which is the balance between two excesses. Aristotle’s doctrine of the Mean is reminiscent of Buddha’s Middle Path, but there are intriguing differences. For Aristotle the mean was a method of achieving virtue, but for Buddha the Middle Path referred to a peaceful way of life which negotiated the extremes of harsh asceticism and sensual pleasure seeking. The Middle Path was a minimal requirement for the meditative life, and not the source of virtue in itself.

In conclusion, according to Aristotle, what is happiness?

  • Happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human existence
  • Happiness is not pleasure, nor is it virtue. It is the exercise of virtue.
  • Happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life. Hence it is a goal and not a temporary state.
  • Happiness is the perfection of human nature. Since man is a rational animal, human happiness depends on the exercise of his reason.
  • Happiness depends on acquiring a moral character, where one displays the virtues of courage, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship in one’s life. These virtues involve striking a balance or “mean” between an excess and a deficiency.

Happiness requires intellectual contemplation, for this is the ultimate realization of our rational capacities.

Tell us what makes you HAPPY!!!

Credit: Pursuit of Happiness

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Survival of the Fittest – Traits of Mentally Strong People

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We live in a fast-paced world. There are fewer guarantees and more uncertainties these days. Thankfully this also means that there are plenty of opportunities, too. People who learn to welcome them as they come are the ones who are keeping up and making progress in the turbulent times we live in today. Usually these people are mentally strong and manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life. If you are wondering whether you are a mentally strong person, here are 25 signs that show you have nerves of steel:

You avoid conflicts

The true mark of maturity is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back. Holding grudges has never been a solution to problems, nor has anyone achieved anything out of it.Instead of spending your time hating people who hurt you, you choose to let go of the pain and learn from the incident. Even in the harshest stress factors, you choose to stay calm and you try to handle situations smoothly. You think that raising your voice is a sign of weakness.

You don’t judge or envy

You’ve hardly ever made assumptions without first being fully aware of the situation. You avoid believing in the negative stuff that you’ve been told and you don’t resent other people’s success. You celebrate other people’s success and don’t grow jealous when somebody is better than you in a particular area. You know that success comes with hard work and you are willing to work hard for your achievements.

You are open to receive the help of others

You are not trapped by your ego. You are not afraid of asking for help if you are in need. You are confident to admit that you don’t know everything and you are open to ask for help in order to learn.

You apologize when necessary

You are not worrying about losing face when you apologize when you’ve said or done something wrong. You don’t fear admitting your own mistakes and are ready to suffer the consequences from them. That makes you a responsible and honest human being.

You are open to other people’s opinions

You handle different opinions easily- you don’t reject them because you believe that the opposite of what you know may be true for someone else. You embrace diversity and are ready to listen to what everybody has to say.

You are selfless

You love helping others and you don’t expect anything in return when you do something good for a friend. You know that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

You know you can’t always please everyone

Although you are a kind and genuine being, you are aware that you can’t always make everyone happy. You know that spending time on yourself is as important as containing a good relationship with the people around you but are willing to say “no” when somebody tries to steal from your time for yourself.

You know that the world does not owe you anything

You don’t feel entitled to things in life. You are willing to work hard for achieving your goals and you know that your world is what you make it. You don’t take anything for granted and are thankful for what you have.

You embrace change

You don’t try to avoid change and understand that it is inevitable. You welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible because you believe in your abilities to adapt.

You follow your heart

You believe that you can’t go wrong by following your heart and instincts. You understand that by doing that, you’re helping your soul grow and you are never sorry for following your heart.

You forgive yourself

You know that being angry at yourself is not going to take you far. Instead, you are willing to forgive yourself and by doing that you are able to learn. Leaving the past where it belongs instead of dwelling on it is the key of moving on and making progress.

You use your time wisely

You value your time and believe that by killing time, it actually is killing you. You fight procrastination and choose to spend your time productively.

You handle crisis calmly

You remain calm and clear of thought during a crisis. Good result of anything comes out when it’s done with a peaceful and a calm mind.

You are not co-dependent

You don’t rely on others to do your work and by doing so, you maintain a healthy relationship both personally and professionally.

You know you are responsible for how your life unfolds

You believe your own happiness and success is a byproduct of your own thinking, beliefs, attitudes, character and behavior.

You know that gratitude is the best attitude adjustment

The more goodness you see, the more you create, and the more good things you have to smile about. Happiness doesn’t start when “this, that or the other thing” is resolved. Happiness is what happens now when you appreciate what you have.

You know that you don’t have to be perfect

You believe that when you spend too much time concentrating on everyone else’s perception of you, or who everyone else wants you to be, you eventually forget who you really are. So you don’t fear other people’s judgments because you know in your heart who you really are and are not ashamed to show your real face to the world.

You know who you are

You are at peace with yourself and you aware of what you want to achieve. You have certain limits that you’ve established for yourself and you’ve embraced them because you know well that that is who you are.

You expect less and learn more

Although things don’t always go as you’ve planned, you’ve realized that this is what life is about. You don’t always get what you’ve wanted and that’s a good thing because you learn from this experience and keep going.

Credit: I Heart Intelligence

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Survival of the Fittest – How long Naps benefits the Brain

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Benefits of Naps

So what are the most ideal ways to nap? Napping can be seen as a quick reboot or boost for the brain. Think of when your computer is starting to perform slowly and things aren’t responding up to par, after you shut everything down and do a reboot, things are back up to speed. The brain is quite similar in that, as you nap, even for very short periods of time, benefits can be seen in a number of areas.

Sleep experts suggest  that taking a 10-to-20-minute power nap can give you a quick burst of alterness and mental clarity when you don’t have much time. This can be used throughout the day, late at night, before something important or right before you are trying to beat the final boss of a video game you’ve been playing all night right and you know you need the extra quickness.

When I was interested in trying to maximize my time awake (which I still am, but haven’t tried much lately) I did some research into sleeping cycles and how to minimize the amount of sleep you need while still being able to function well. I ended up choosing a cycle that gave me a core sleep and then several naps throughout the day that lasted about 20 minutes. I found that after the 20 minutes naps, I felt great. Very alert, mental clarity was high and I was ready to gofor the next 3 or 4 hours easily.[2]

I found though, that near the beginning of my experiment with cycles, I would start to lose cognitive clarity as I got closer to the end of the day. While this was part of the transition portion of the cycle, I got to feel what its like when the brain just isn’t getting enough deep sleep. According to Dr. Mednick, this is where longer naps of 60 minutes or so are said to be good for increasing that cognitive power again. [1] Mednick also states that the 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep, which aids creativity, emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia.

Naps Summarized

A study evaluating the recuperative effects of short and ultra short naps found that napping for 5-10 minutes can create a heightened sense of alertness and increased cognitive ability when comparing to not taking a nap at all.

If you are looking for a quick recharge: nap for 5 – 20 minutes.

If you are looking for deeper sleep rejuvenation: nap for 60 – 90 minutes.

Final tip: When you take your shorter naps, sit up slightly as it will allow you to avoid falling into a deeper sleep. If you dream during these power naps, it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived.

Credit: online.wsj.com / www.collective-evolution.com

The Scientific Power of Naps:

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Science Behind The Brain’s Response To Dangerous Situations (Science is Awesome) – Tell us what really Scares you!!?

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According to ByteSize Science “Fear is the expectation or the anticipation of possible harm,” Dr. Abigail Marsh, associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University, says in the video. “We know that the body is highly sensitive to the possibility of threat, so there are multiple pathways that bring that fear information into the brain.”

And which part of the brain is central to the fear pathway? The amygdala, an almond-shaped group of nerve cells that release neurotransmitters, chemicals that relay signals in the brain. Neurotransmitters trigger a cascade of responses in the body responsible for that “fight or flight” response — and that adrenaline rush that not only may be key to our survival in dangerous situations, but also may make scaring yourself so fun. Adrenaline raises your heart rate and blood pressure, and gives you a boost of energy and alertness.

Luckily, the brain dials down the amygdala’s response and returns your system to normal if it recognizes that you’re not actually in danger — and you can keep scaring yourself without getting too stressed out.

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