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Before you reach for another cup of coffee, try our expert life hacks

Ugh. Your alarm clock has gone off and there’s no way your ready to carpe diem. You’re feeling short on sleep. And it’s not Saturday or Sunday, so you can’t just hit the snooze alarm and linger in a bed.

Where do you get the energy to battle through the fatigue and get on with your day?  

We’ve found it!

Our experts have chimed in with their best tips and tricks sure to put some pep in your step again – without relying on a jumbo cup of coffee

1. Tap into yoga-inspired breathing

Just the simple act of yoga breathing can wake up your brain and get you going, according to Anita Perry, a yogi who practices in Massachusetts. She suggests nostril breathing – simply inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Start with four counts in, hold for four, then exhale for four.

Or try the Sitali breath, which is handy to do on exertions or when you need to dial back your stress quotient. Inhale through your nose, moving your breath to the back of your throat, and exhale making an audible sound like a Darth Vader sound. As a bonus, it brings warmth to the chest area. See a video for this technique: YogaForAll.

Finally, take a leadership position with this type of nostril breathing to help balance both sides of the brain – made famous by Hillary Clinton. Extend your thumb and forefinger on your right hand. Block the right nostril with the thumb and inhale left. Block the left with the forefinger and exhale right.

2. Power up with a nap

Rebecca Lee, a registered nurse from New York City and founder of RemediesForMe.com, a site that focuses on natural remedies, is a believer in short power naps. “They optimize productivity levels, improve mood, boost overall health, and increase alertness and memory,” she says. 

Researchers have studied the ideal time you need to nap to yield the best productivity. Four different nap intervals of 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes were studied and the 10-minute nap was proven to yield the best results. Improvements were seen in sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, work performance and mental clarity. Keep in mind that the best time to take a nap is in the late morning and early afternoon. Naps too late in the day can interfere with the body’s natural internal clock. 

3. Do a desk workout

When a nap is out of the question, Lee recommends using a stepping device that can be slid slide easily underneath the desk and out of sight. It is inexpensive, nearly silent and can be used while sitting or standing. The movements of the device replicate similar movements to walking. One study showed that a stepping device can lead to a weight loss of up to 44 lbs per year if sitting is replaced for just 2 hours a day. It also found that office-place stepping and cycling increases an employee’s energy levels more than walking.

4. Take your exercise outside for at least 21 minutes

Exercise boosts energy and adrenaline levels. There have been numerous studies on the effects of exercise on the body and mind. 

Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that exercising at least 21-minutes each day can release enough endorphins to decrease stress, increase energy and improve mood. Exercise also helps to increase alertness and concentration and aids against sleep disturbances. The best time to get moving? The morning – the energy you glean lasts several hours and may even get you past that early afternoon slump. If you can’t get outside before work, walk for at least 21 minutes at lunch and get a good dose of vitamin D.

5. Get a boost from essential oils

Erica Jones, a natural beauty expert with her masters in health sciences and founder, Elevays.com, says to forget the caffeine and sugar and reach for something that will give you the energy boost you need. Without the side effects. She suggests using peppermint, wild orange and rosemary essential oil to combat an energy dip.

“Peppermint can revive your senses when the alarm clock goes off in the morning and you want to hit the snooze,” says Jones. “Whether you were out too late with friends or you were up rocking a teething baby, peppermint will do the trick. Inhale a drop or two of peppermint in your palms to wake up in the morning.”

Instead of reaching for that sugary mid-afternoon snack or energy drink, reach for wild orange essential oil and dab a few drops to your palms and inhale deeply several times.

When you’re feeling totally broken down, look to rosemary essential oil in a diffuser through the day or applied topically by mixing it with a carrier oil like coconut or olive.

6. Fuel up at breakfast

When you’re sleep deprived, it’s essential to eat a well-balanced breakfast, says Sydney Ziverts, a health and nutrition investigator with ConsumerSafety.org. Be sure to eat a combination of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Healthy fats should help with satiety over the course of the day. Stay away from foods high in fat and sugar. They’ll initially make you feel energized, but you’ll crash and become sluggish more quickly.

7. Chew on this

Can just a wad of gum help? Yes, it can. Experts from the US National Library of Medicine have concluded that chewing gum can help combat daytime sleepiness. Even if only a slight effect, researchers determined that self-rated sleepiness was reduced when chewing gum, so keep a pack handy, Ziverts recommends. Mint can also stimulate nerve fibers to give you an afternoon boost without the negative side effects of caffeine.

8. Get moving with some chair yoga

Try these easy, at-work moves from Nancy Gerstein, a yoga teacher, author of Guiding Yoga’s Light. She uses these mostly yoga-based techniques for staying awake at her office job. 

Practice forward bends in your chair. Wake up your brain with some fresh blood flow by bending forward and dropping your head between your legs. Hold here for several breaths. 

 Or do a gentle chair twist. Wring your spine free of stale energy that’s causing you to feel sleepy by sitting up tall in your chair. Upon exhaling, twist your hips, rib cage, shoulders and neck to the right. Take three deep breaths then repeat on the left.

Give your face a gentle slap and scratch your head to bring sensation back into your tired eyes and temples. Use your fingertips to rub your scalp and back of your neck. Feel the tingle!

The post 8 Essential Ways to Kick Start Your Energy Levels and Squash Daytime Fatigue appeared first on Restonic.

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Make the morning a little less hectic and a LOT more delicious!

The most important meal of the day is breakfast, so make it simple and easy. We always want those few extra minutes to lay in bed and collect ourselves before the whirlwind of a day begins. To help you get as much sleep as possible, we’ve found some easy mason jar breakfast recipes to help get your day started with healthy already checked off.

The basics

The best thing about any mason jar breakfast is that the ingredients are pretty basic. You can prepare breakfast for the entire week saving you money and time. I have listed the four ingredients most commonly used to create a healthy and quick breakfast.

  • Add the milk – You can use regular milk or give Almond Milk a try. Almond milk has many benefits, from keeping your skin healthy and glowing and like regular milk helps your bones remain strong.
  • Drop in some yogurt – Greek yogurt not only helps with digestion but is full of protein and a great ingredient to start off your morning. Whether it’s plain or flavored, Greek yogurt will help keep you full and feel satisfied longer.
  • Grab some oats – You have some options here, instant oatmeal to speed the process up or some steel cut oats. Either way your body will benefit from this super healthy ingredient. Oatmeal is filled with fiber, assisting your digestive system and controlling your cholesterol.
  • Throw in some fruit – Fruit will bring your morning mason jar to the next level. It’s rich in vitamins and natural sugars, not to mention it tastes great too! By adding fruit to these jars you will also boost your mood. Blueberries for example provide your body with antioxidants and Vitamin C to help prevent illness.

The recipes I put together are simple and easy for you to grab and go. I also put a spin on the traditional eggs and bacon breakfast. It’s time to take the lid of and give these recipes a try.

Creamy Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats

Fall is coming and so are pumpkin-flavored beverages and treats.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Steel cut oats
  • 1/4 Pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 Almond milk
  • Dash of pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg)

Showtime
Mix the ingredients in a bowl and then pour into a mason jar. Cover with lid and let it sit overnight. In the morning microwave for 1 minute to eat or eat cold! Masonjarbreakfast.com

Nutella Breakfast in a Jar

Start your morning off with a sweet hazulnut treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. Nutella
  • 1/4 Oatmeal (half pint jar)
  • 1/2 Cup almond milk
  • Strawberries
  • Yogurt (if desired)

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Combine oatmeal, almond milk and Nutella. Mix ingredients until Nutella is completely integrated. Top with strawberries and refrigerate overnight. Feel free to top it off with yogurt and strawberries. Masonjarbreakfast.com

Bacon & Eggs in a Jar

Just because you’re eating out of a mason jar doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to bacon and eggs. I’ve tried this myself and I must say it puts a whole new delicious twist on breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • Fresh spinach
  • Shredded cheese
  • Bacon
  • Dash salt & pepper

Showtime
First step is cooking the bacon. Then you mix the eggs, salt & pepper, spinach and cheese together in a bowl. Pour mixture into a mason jar and cook in microwave from 1:30-2:00 minutes (checking often). Be aware that the egg mixture will puff up during cooking but deflate when out of the microwave. Top with some additional cheese & bacon crumbles (you can also you bacon bits to save some extra time). Recipe via masonjarbreakfast.com

The post Breakfast in a Jar – 3 Mason Jar Breakfast Recipes! appeared first on Restonic.

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What happens to your body when you’re short on sleep? The alarming facts!

It may have been just a night or two when you’ve slipped into bed past your usual bedtime.

Perhaps you stayed at a party longer than you planned, binge-watched The Crown, or couldn’t stop turning the pages of that new suspense novel everyone is raving about.

It happens.

But now you’re stuck with a sleep deficit that’s making you feel sluggish, like you’re trying to walk through thick mud, and your brain feels fuzzy. What can you do to make up for that lost slumber time? We asked a few top health and sleep experts for their best sleep advice and found their opinions were mixed about whether you can actually “catch up” on sleep at all.

What our experts had to say about catching up on lost sleep… Yes, you can make up for sleep deficit—somewhat

“The general consensus is that you can somewhat pay off sleep debt within a short time frame (48 hours or so), but long term, it is deleterious to your health,” says Ellen Wermter, a family nurse practitioner with Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine. “Individuals have genetic differences in how well they tolerate sleep loss, and those who are most affected are going to need longer recovery times. In general, women do not rebound from sleep loss as readily as men do. It’s genetic.”

Is sleep shortage really so bad? “Cognitive performance is probably the most obvious deficit from lost sleep,” she says, “but it also greatly impacts the endocrine system and metabolism.”

In fact, short sleep duration affects your ability to use glucose and can give you blood sugar levels similar to those of someone with diabetes. You have more stress hormones and inflammatory markers that occur with the activation of your autonomic nervous system – a system that’s great in an emergency, but not good when activated for longer periods. Those stress hormones cause hyper-arousal, which can cause lighter sleep and perpetuate a sleep-deprivation cycle.

 “If you need to ‘pay-off,’ a very recent debt, naps are great alternative,” Wermter recommends.

Sleep deficits can’t be erased

Can you just catch up by sleeping in? “No way,” says Nicole Porter, a Wisconsin-based, bio-psychologist and fatigue expert.  

“The majority of us (more than half) exhibit independent signs of sleep deprivation already,” she says. “Twenty-five percent have serious fatigue. And it’s affecting our work. Sleeping in on Sunday, trying to make up for burning the candle at both ends is exactly how we end up with sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue.”

She points out that sleep deprivation is such a rampant problem that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) called insufficient sleep a public health concern last year. It found that a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep and many more suffer from insomnia. New research from the National Safety Council finds 76% of us say we often feel tired at work and 43% are too tired to function.

These statistics are confirmed by survey from Legal & General that found that 42% of Americans said ‘lack of sleep’ was our biggest health concern with another 34% worry about ongoing general fatigue. These rates mean fatigue can formally be defined as an epidemic.

Porter is also concerned about the impact of this chronic fatigue on health: “It leads to a host of health problems, such as hypertension, obesity, ulcers, cognitive difficulties, and immune deficiencies that leave us open to infection, disease and cancer. It also causes anxiety and depression.”

Sleep deprivation effects can occur quickly and they are surprisingly similar to what booze does to your body. New research indicates 17-19 hours without sleep is the equivalent (or worse) than having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05%. After a few more hours without sleep, and performance reached levels equivalent to a BAC of 0.1 percent.

 “Think about that,” she says. “If you sleep 8 hours out of 24, you should be awake for 16 hours. At 17 to 19 hours awake, you exhibit signs of sleep deprivation. That’s one to three hours after bedtime! It’s like you’ve had a few beers. You get a DUI at .08, so pretty quickly you’d be basically driving drunk.” 

When it comes to tackling a deficit, it’s back to the basics – good sleep hygiene, a healthy diet, managing stress, and a balance of exercise and relaxation. They’re the only ways to stay energized. There are many simple, self-healing techniques that you can begin using right now that will improve your energy levels significantly.

Porter, also the founder of the Prairie Sky Sanctuary, suggests finding some solutions in Eastern medicine. They might include: practicing mindfulness, detoxing, following an organic diet, nature immersion, forest bathing and meditation.

There’s no turning back the clock to catch up on sleep

“The problem with a sleep deficit is you can’t just catch up on sleep, or make it up any other time,” says Jamie Logie, a certified health and wellness specialist, nutritionist, personal trainer and author, Taking Back Your Health. “Once you’ve neglected it for that night, you have to deal with it. It can lead to increased stress hormone levels, biological clock issues, and can even affect your body’s ability to handle sugar by making you more insulin resistant.”

He warns that when we don’t sleep, it puts stress on the body. “Our body doesn’t know exactly why we’re staying up,” he explains. “All it knows is something traumatic must be happening in order to prevent us from resting and recovering. This keeps those stress hormones elevated and over time this chronic sleep deprivation and stress can lead to a lot of harmful conditions in the body.

The solution for sleep deprivation is straightforward. “You’ll just need to start creating a proper sleep pattern and follow it,” Logie says. “That starts with having a wind-down routine as this is the best way to get in a rhythm and it allows your body to know sleep is coming.”

A quick primer on sleep hygiene

When you’re overcoming a sleep deficit, these are some of basic principles for creating good slumber conditions:

  • Keep your room cool—body temperature naturally lowers when we sleep. Starting the night in a cooler state will help you get you to sleep quicker and promote deeper sleep. “A warm room may make you groggy and put you to sleep, but your body has to waste a lot of energy regulating its temperature,” says Logie. Your room should be cooler than other rooms in the house.
  • Go dark—darkness helps to stimulate melatonin and this is important for deep restful sleep. Keep your bed room as dark as possible by using blackout curtains or wearing an eye mask.
  • Avoid electronics at least 1-2 hours before bed—while darkness stimulates melatonin production, blue light from electronicscan prevent it from being released. This will cause issues with getting to sleep and staying asleep. Try to cut out the bright blue light from phones, tablets and TVs for at least that 1 or 2 hours before bed to allow your body to get to its natural state.
  • Skip caffeine and alcohol—Alcohol may put you to sleep, but it’s bad for deep restorative sleep. While we know caffeine can keep you up, many people don’t understand that it hangs around in the bloodstream much longer than the two or more hours where you feel the noticeable effects. It can linger for 3 to 7 hours. Experiment to find what’s the best cut-off time of day to end caffeine consumption– 2 pm is a good rule of thumb though.

The post Running on Empty? What Our Experts Say About Overcoming Sleep Deficit appeared first on Restonic.

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Keeping your sleep cool when summer starts heating up the nights

As summer comes peeking around the corner of spring, we’re all thinking of the fun, sun and long warm nights ahead of us. Funny how we all forget how those long warm nights go from blissful relaxation on the patio to torture when trying to fall asleep.

If you find yourself without the luxury of air conditioning, or you simply need to rough it out to save your bank account this summer, we’ve got 10 terrific ways to stay cool while you sleep this summer.

1. Think about your sheets

To sleep cool, choose lighter colored sheets in breathable fabrics, such as cotton or linen. When the heat spikes, you’ll be thankful for air flow in between the sheets where you need it most.

2. Adjust your nighttime wardrobe

When the temperature rises, our need for clothing coverage lowers. Go all out and snooze in your birthday suit or choose loose, cotton pajamas that allow for ventilation to help keep you cool.

3. Make the fans work for you

  • Place your fan facing the window so it pushes hot air away from your sleeping area.
  • Adjust your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise to pull hot air up and out of the room instead of just pushing it around.
  • If you prefer the fan facing you, place a bowl or pan of ice in front of it. The blowing air will take the coolness from the ice as it melts and mist it on you while you sleep.
  • Create a glorious world of swirling air with a cross-breeze by placing a fan across from an open window.

Need to create more of your own cool breeze? Set up multiple fans throughout the room to make your sleeping sanctuary more comfortable.

4. Bring cool down tools to bed

  • Fill your hot water bottle with water in the morning and place it in the freezer. By the time you’re ready for shut eye, you’ll have a chilled ice pack to cool your feet while you sleep.
  • Fill a sock with rice, tie it off and place it in the freezer for at least an hour. Pull it out just before bed and it should stay cool for 30 minutes, hopefully enough time for you to fall asleep.

5. Close the kitchen and cook your food outdoors

There’s no denying that turning on the stove or oven heats up the whole house. Use Pinterest to hunt down meals you can serve cold or at room temperature, like yummy summer salads. And then move outside to grill – who doesn’t love a BBQ? Eating heavy items such as steak causes your body to produce more heat than if you were to eat fruits or veggies, so be mindful of what you chow down on before bed.

6. Unplug & go dark earlier in the evening

Part of this tip is self-explanatory. Turn off your lights closer to bedtime to limit the heat in your bedroom. Also, turn off all your electronics and TV 30 minutes before you hop in bed. This will help you keep cool by not having a warm device in your hands, and help you fall asleep faster without the distraction of technology.

7. Sleep solo (or at least further apart)

You may have to kick your loved one out of bed, but if the heat is keeping you both awake, staying cool and sleeping is more beneficial than cuddling up at this point. When you sleep with a partner, they’re adding body heat to the sheets and mattress. There’s nothing sexy or healthy about sweaty sheets. If you have a whole mattress to yourself, you’ll be able to stretch and spread out like a starfish, allowing air to flow around your body and limiting the potential perspiration.

8. Give yourself cold feet

Your feet are a very sensitive area, containing many pulse points in the feet and ankles. Cool down your whole body by dipping your feet in cold ice water, just like you do at the pool. Before bed, fill a tub with ice water and soak your dogs until you’re cool enough to sleep.

9. Indulge your pulses

Maybe you don’t find yourself gasping for cooler air until the middle of the night, and you want to get back to sleep quickly. To chill down fast, place an ice pack on your pulse points such as your wrists, neck, elbows, ankles and behind the knees.

10. Allow the chill to cascade like a waterfall

If you can’t bring down the temperature of the room, bring down your body temperature. Take a cold shower, rinse off all the sweat, drop your temp a few degrees and prepare to hop in bed clean and cool.

Bonus: Stay hydrated

Combating the heat isn’t always just a battle of temperature – consistent sweating can cause dehydration. In the early evening, be sure to drink at least 8 ounces of water to keep yourself hydrated. Be careful about drinking too much H2O right before bed as you don’t want to wake up throughout the night to use the bathroom.

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The post 10 Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer & Sleep Better appeared first on Restonic.

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Feeling tired is a national epidemic – it’s time to stop the suffering!  

Ever been working away and found yourself blinking, rubbing your eyes and yawning? Soon, the line between being awake and asleep starts to blur. Feeling drowsy during the day is too common among Americans. According to the National Safety Council, 76% of us admit being tired at work.And that drowsiness doesn’t just affect productivity – it can be a serious safety factor too. Approximately 15% of work injuries can be attributed to fatigue. And some of the latest data raises red flags around getting behind the wheel of a car tired with an estimated 21% of all fatal car crashes attributed to drowsy drivers, says an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report.

Try as we do, navigating life drowsy is a serious problem that can’t be fixed with a jumbo cup of coffee. Not getting enough sleep is the obvious culprit, but our reasons for exhaustionare more complex and wide ranging, according to our experts.

Want to feel fully awake and present each day? Then you’ll want to be aware of these sources of fatigue and sleep disruption:

7 sneaky reasons why you’re exhausted 1. Too much blue light from electronics

According to August Brice, a tech wellness expert with TechWellness.com, evening use of screens is wrecking our sleep. “It’s important to cut back on using your screens at night,” she says. “The best way to avoid the blue light from suppressing your melatonin production or changing your circadian rhythms is to not use your phones, computers or pads at night.” At the very least, power down all devices at least two hours before bedtime.

If you don’t feel like you can tear yourself away from your email or Candy Crush game, consider changing the temperature shade for your screens. Use a software program like Flux or iPhone’s nightshift setting.  

Another option is to wear glasses with orange lenses. Though you might look a bit odd, they do work for many. “I find orange-tinted computer glasses, which change the color temperature of the blue light work best for me,” says Brice. “Typically around 7 or 8 pm, I’ll put them on when I’m winding down for the night. There have been a couple of studies done on the efficacy of wearing them.”

Note: Blue light isn’t bad. “It’s just not good during the naturally dark hours as it messes with evening melatonin,” she points out.  

2. Not enough calories (and carbs) at night

“An increase in calories, especially from carbohydrates, can help people fall asleep faster and stop waking up,” says Kirsi Bhasin, a New York City health and wellness expert who specializes in helping women sleep, eat and live better.

She explains that it’s all about improving blood sugar control that comes from consuming an appropriate amount of calories and carbohydrates. At night, blood sugar drops and your liver releases its stored glucose in order for your blood sugar to remain steady. If your liver doesn’t have enough glucose, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. If these levels get high enough, they can wake you up.

How to sleep through the night? Make sure you’re eating enough and pack in the carbs and healthy fat (avocado on whole grain toast, for example) a couple of hours before bedtime to help keep your blood sugar steady throughout the night. 

3. Not eating enough sleep-inducing foods before bed

Look to your diet for foods linked to snoozing, according to Dr. Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based family and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parentand an expert child psychologist on The Doctors. 

The ingredient tryptophan has a natural calming agent that relaxes you without medication. It’s found in turkey, almonds and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk. Turkey, bananas, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, eggs and dairy products also contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant, which helps to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while steadying heart rhythm.

 Some people take melatonin supplements to help them fall asleep faster and then sleep deeper. But did you know that melatonin occurs naturally in oats, cherries and oatmeal?

Honey not only tastes good but also contains glucose, which sends a message to the brain telling it to shut off orexin, also known as hypocretin. It’s a chemical that regulates arousal, wakefulness and appetite.

4. Too much stress, depression and anxiety

The mood/mind/body connection is well documented, but it’s easy to forget that these all tie into the quality of your sleep as well. “In my work with adult women, sleep issues are a result of anxiety or depression, recent change and loss such as the death of a parent and worry about troubles their children are having,” saysAnna Bradshaw, a licensed clinical social worker from New Jersey with the Feel Better Group 

Sleep issues vary by age, broadly grouped into young children, adolescents/young adults, middle age and mature age. In all these groups, sleep deprivation can be caused either by difficulty going to sleep and/or sleep disruption during the night. She also explains that medical or psychiatric conditions may cause sleep disturbances in adults. If you’re experiencing sleep problems, whether it’s fatigue, oversleeping or insomnia, consult with your healthcare provider to see if there’s an underlying mental health issues.

5. Bad nighttime wake-up habits

“Another issue that leads to drowsiness is the mishandling of a nocturnal awakening,” says Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, a licensed clinical psychologist and fellow, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, based in Westport, Conn.

Most people think they should lie in bed and “relax” to get back to sleep, but this doesn’t usually work well. Most people who do this “download” their daytime worries and start trying to solve these at night.

A better strategy, according to Schneeberg is to read in bed with a blue-light blocked device or a real book (or listen to an audio book) until drowsy enough to fall back to sleep. This technique often shortens the incidents of nocturnal waking significantly.

6. Undiagnosed sleep apnea

Drowsiness may also be due to sleep apnea. Its symptoms might include snoring, witnessed breathing pauses, high blood pressure, daytime drowsiness, waking to urinate (more than once), heartburn, dry mouth in the morning, headache in the morning and being overweight. Overnight sleep clinic are able to test patients for the condition and offer solutions, ranging for CPAP machines to customized dental implements to help keep air passages open. 

7. Caffeine, carb and sugar crashes

It’s important to remember that caffeine is a drug that can cause ill effects including, among other things, adrenal fatigue. Typical symptoms are crashing in the afternoonand evening and having a reliance on a few cups of coffee to wake up in the morning. If you start feeling drowsy mid-day, take a closer look at your coffee habits.

You may be suffering from reactive hypoglycemia. It occurs within four hours after a meal that has a high level of carbohydrates. It’s characterized by lethargy, irritation and tiredness. Both diabetics and non-diabetics might experience this condition tied to an abnormally fast spike in blood glucose after eating. Avoid consuming carb-only meals. Be sure to include fat and protein, which have slow rates of absorption.

While that sugary donut may taste great, you’ll pay for it afterward in more ways than one. Sugar causes a rapid increase inblood glucose level, causing the pancreas to pump out insulin. In turn, your blood sugar drops. You might experience sudden headaches, irritability, increased heart rate, along with fatigue. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 100 calories per day of refined sugar for women (the equivalent of 10 jelly beans) and 150 calories for men (equal to 15 jelly beans).

Americans eat about five times more sugar than they should. Go easy on the sweet stuff and you’ll avoid the wild ride in energy levels that come with it

The post 7 Sneaky Sources of Drowsiness and Fatigue appeared first on Restonic.

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Everyone has ideas on how to get a good night’s sleep – you can safely ignore these ones!

Fake news! When it comes to advice on how to get your best sleep, some of what we’ve read online has us scratching our heads in disbelief. Though perhaps well-intentioned, some advice simply doesn’t pass the tried-and-true common-sense test. We asked some experts for the worst advice they’ve heard – tips and tricks that should be ignored. These nuggets definitely qualify for the bad sleep advice hall of fame.

Just say no to bad sleep advice!
  • Dispose of excess energy by exercising right before bedtime – While there might be some twisted logic to this, it doesn’t hold true. “Exercise is great at some point in the evening, and it can help you sleep better,” says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert with Maple Holistics in Farmingdale, NJ. “But just like eating supper, it should be done in a timely manner. By the time you get to bed, you should already be past the post-exercise rush and ready for genuine well-deserved rest.” In other words, it’s time to wind down, not up.
  • Trouble sleeping? Take a pill – It might be tempting to reach for a sleeping pill to help you get the rest you need. It’s a quick and easy solution, right? But it’s not a good idea, according to Backe. For several nights, even consecutive ones, pills might be an option, but as a part of your ongoing sleep routine? Nope. It’s not a good way to go about getting sleep. There are long-term issues around dependency and many users experience morning grogginess, which can impair cognitive skills, affect motor skills and your ability to drive.
  • Get to bed early for a good night’s sleep – Some experts say you should head to be early to get adequate rest, but if that’s contrary to what your body is comfortable with, then skip it. Set a bedtime that allows you to fit in enough hours of sleep. “To be clear, this one is probably true sometimes,” says Backe. Getting to bed early can indeed be very beneficial when you feel tired. What you want to avoid is those times when you’re simply laying in bed wide awake. The key is don’t force something that’s not there. Try to stick to pre-determined bedtime.
  • Have a nightcap – Sipping an alcoholic drink before bed might sound like it makes sense, since it acts as a tension reliever and is mildly sedating. But it’s not going to work. Though you might fall asleep quicker, its effects continue into the night and disrupt your sleep. Alcohol may cause your sleep to be lighter and increase chances of interruptions during the night. Not to mention, alcohol is very dehydrating and you’ll wake up not feeling not so ready to seize the day.
  • Must get X hours of sleep – “One of the myths I often hear is that there is a right sleep pattern and a wrong one,” says Dr. Irina Zhdanova, a sleep and circadian clock expert, and CEO of ClockCoach. “This includes ideas on how many hours of sleep a person needs, how much time it should take to fall asleep, or with the advent of wearable sleep gadgets, how much deep or light sleep is required.” In reality, sleep needs are highly individualized and dependent on multiple factors. Every approach to sleep requires personalization. “The best comparison I provide is with food intake,” she adds. The same diet might keep one person slim, while causing another to be obese. A reasonable number of hours to sleep in a 24-hour period will never be the same for two individuals.
  • Watch TV until you fall asleep – Nodding off to Jimmy Fallon or your favorite sitcom rerun may seem comforting, but it actually disrupts your sleep patterns, according to Karen Azeez, certified health coach, owner Wellbeings with Karen Azeez and author of the upcoming book, The Kindfulness Solution: Transforming Your Body and lLife through Greater Awareness and Self-Compassion. Even after you turn off your TV, all those power lights are like little lasers burning through your eyelids, keeping your room from being sufficiently dark. Follow the golden rule. Leave the TV in another room and keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only.
  • Take a cold shower – The rationale behind this is that you’ll bring down your body temperature, which is helpful for sleeping. Not only is it unpleasant, unless you are in the midst of steamy summer heatwave, it will shock your system into alertness. A better option is a warm bath. It’s soothing and more relaxing than a chilly blast. When it comes to cool, apply that to the temperature of your bedroom. The sweet spot , according to the Better Sleep Council, is 65 degrees.
  • Sleep with a slice of wedding cake under your pillow – Though the practice has been touted as a means for single women to dream about their future husbands, it’s just silly for many reasons. You can’t predetermine the content of your dreams and, more importantly, who wants a sticky, messy pillow? Eat your cake as an afternoon snack instead.
  • Go naked in bed – Just 17% of Americans head to bed in their birthday suits. If you’re in that group, you’ll be happy in your nakedness and sleep well. If that’s not your thing, you’re unlikely to feel good foregoing your jammies. Stick to what’s comfortable for you.

The post Bad Sleep Advice Hall of Shame – 9 Sleep Tips NEVER to Follow appeared first on Restonic.

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Celebrate the first long weekend of summer with one of these drool-worthy recipes!

Memorial Day is almost here and we all know what that means. Not only do we get to take time out of our busy schedules to thank our veterans who sacrifice everything to keep us safe, we get to kick off summer’s picnic and BBQ season. Talk about a perfect day!

While delicious is always at the top of the picnic-must-have list, we know you’ve got your eye on healthy too. After all, it’s a long summer and you want to start it out energized and ready for all the excitement ahead. That means choosing ingredients that rev you with healthy energy during the day and don’t stand in the way of a good night’s sleep later, right?

We’re betting our first Frisbee toss that these 6 drool-worthy recipes are going to please everyone on your invite list. And that you’ll be happy to offer seconds to all, knowing that you’re filing your family with healthy, wholesome food.

So, let’s get cooking!

Green Goddess Veggie Dip Cups

Uh oh. You’ve been put on appetizer duty, but you’re not much of a cook. No worries, veggies-in-a-cup will fit the bill and make you look pretty darn impressive, too. This crowd pleaser is easy to make and a breeze to tote to your picnic. We’ve got a feeling that these brightly coloured crunchy cups are going to end up on regular rotation at your house.

Up the health factor– Swap out the Green Goddess dressing for hummus. This savoury middle-eastern dip is a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps relax you into sleep, making it a perfect bedtime snack too.

Recipe & image via TheViewFromGreatIsland.com

Root Beer Can Chicken

How about a new take on an old picnic standard? Yep, we’re talking the chipper chicken. Breading and frying is so last year. Instead, try this super juicy and flavorful take on beer can chicken. A whole bird is rubbed with an assortment or aromatic spices then slow roasted on your grill atop – you got it – a can of root beer. This recipe is perfect both for BBQs and picnics alike and is an ideal make-ahead dish.

Up the health factor—Add cumin to your dry rub. This spice is rich in iron and manganese and is often used to manage insomnia. And we all know napping after a picnic lunch is the perfect picnic pastime.

Recipe & image via Iowagirleats.com

Garlic-Herb Potato Salad

Tired of the same old potato salad? Lighten things up with this delicious new take on a traditional favorite. Ditch the mayo for a tangy garlic-herb vinaigrette and make prep easier with baby red skin potatoes (no peeling needed). Be prepared for this one to become a family favorite.

Up the health factor–  Throw some fresh basil into your herb dressing. Basil is known to alleviate stress, which in turn will make everyone happier.

Recipe & image via CookingClassy.com

Cold Broccoli Salad with Bacon & Cranberries

Your picnic won’t be complete without a salad or two, but how much lettuce can one person eat? Everything’s better with bacon, don’t you agree? This healthy option takes broccoli to the next level with crispy bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, diced onions and mini heirloom tomatoes – all dressed with a light creamy dressing. Talk about a flavour explosion!

Up the health factor– Throw some chopped walnuts into the mix. It feels like they should already be in there already, doesn’t it? Like turkey and hummus, walnuts contain that naturally healthy sleep remedy, tryptophan.

Recipe & image via SavoryTooth.com

Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

Don’t forget the coordinating desserts. These fun cupcakes are the perfect way to show off your patriotic pride. Don’t worry, these tri-color sweet treats are easier to make than you think – just add lots of love and a little time to boxed cake mix and you’re ready to go!

Up the health factor– Enjoy a cup of relaxing chamomile herbal tea with your sweet treat and you’ll be heading right for a nap. Why? Drinking Chamomile tea increases your levels of glycine, a natural chemical that acts as a mild sedative.

Recipe & image via a WickedWisk.com

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Your picnic menu wouldn’t be complete without fruit. We love strawberries but they’re best enjoyed when topping creamy cheesecake bars on a crunchy shortbread crust. Sweet, juicy and so delicious. Best to make extra because these treats are going to go fast.

Up the health factor– Strawberries (and other berries) contain vitamin B6 which kicks up the sleep-regulating hormone melatoninin high gear, making this the perfect bedtime snack any night.

Recipe & image via TheSeasideBaker.com

Happy Memorial Day!

The post 6 Incredibly Delicious Recipes to Pack for Your Memorial Day Picnic appeared first on Restonic.

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Booze control – drinking & sleeping don’t always mix well…

With summer picnics and parties on the horizon, many people will tip back a drink or two to celebrate. It’s a fine way to celebrate the coming warmer weather and (hopefully) slower pace of life for a few months. Sure, the booze might make you a bit more gregarious, laugh louder at bad jokes and take the edge off after a hectic day, but when it’s time to hit the hay, you can bet your sleep is going to be impacted – good and bad.

We posed our most burning questions about alcohol, drinking and sleep to some savvy experts. Cheers to that! Here’s what they told us…

How does consuming alcohol affect sleep?

Brandon Mentore, a strength and conditioning coach, functional medicine practitioner and sports nutritionist, Philadelphia, Pa.

Alcohol affects sleep in several ways. The primary driver that causes the cascade of effects is the metabolic processing of alcohol. The body will prioritize the metabolism of alcohol over everything else because it’s essentially a toxin. The more alcohol you drink the more metabolic activity has to take place up until the point where things become bottlenecked (no pun intended). This point is different for everyone based on individual tolerance but loss of fine motor skills, coordination and slight impairments are signs that your metabolism has becomes bottlenecked. Continued alcoholic consumption makes things worse.”

Metabolism becomes more active to process alcohol which is a stimulating process that can impair sleep. The majority of the blood gets rerouted to the GI tract as it does when you eat food to aid in the process of metabolism. This can impair sleep because peripheral blood supply is limited, which in turn limits the restorative aspects sleep provides. The quantity that will put you over the metabolic ledge – which is where a hangover comes in – depends on your tolerance and frequency with which you consume alcohol. The dangers of mixing alcohol and sleep come with the quantity of consumption – the more you drink the further you impair sleep’s ability to restore, regenerate and recharge.”

What can you do to minimize a hangover?

To minimize effects of alcohol before bed, have a cut off time of an hour or more prior to sleep. Hydrate yourself and try not to mix different type of alcohols when you do drink.

Effectiveness of hangover remedies depend on the severity.

For light hangovers with headaches, hydration, electrolyte replenishment and light cardiovascular activity can help you bounce back.

For moderate hangovers, hydration and a 20-40 minute nap to allow the brain flush out lymphatic fluid burdened by alcohol metabolism.

For severe hangovers, think hydration, a meal consisting primarily of protein and fat, supplementation with probiotics and a 60-90 minute nap.

What are the other risks of combining booze & sleep?

Dr. Ron Rosenthal, dentist/headache and migraine treatment specialist, Norfolk, Va.

“A study done several decades ago, which looked at alcohol consumption and sleep, found that those who drink heavily clench, grind and gnash their teeth during sleep 100 times longer than when they don’t drink and with 100 times greater force. These forces can easily cause tooth wear and tooth fractures. And when we clench, grind, and gnash, our teeth are in contact, which reduces the amount of space inside the mouth to its smallest size. If someone who does this has a large tongue, or small jaws, or a combination of these factors, there is a problem, i.e. not enough room for the tongue. It has to go somewhere else. It ends up being squeezed into the back of the throat and reduces the size of the airway, which causees snoring.”

“If your tongue is really big – and your jaws really small – your tongue can get forced back, against the back of your throat, which can seal off your airway so you can’t breathe at all. Your oxygen level drops. When it gets low enough your brain wakes up, notices the drop and wakes you up. You clear your throat, take in a loud snort of air, and breathe a few times, until your oxygen is back to normal. Then you go back to sleep and the same thing happens repeatedly all night long. It’s no surprise that a night like this will leave you tired in the morning – and tired all day. If you’ve been drinking to excess, your brain might not be able to wake you up. Oxygen level can drop to the point where it can no longer support life. Sleep apnea is related to the deaths of 38,000 Americans in their sleep every year.”

Is mixing any amount of alcohol with sleep a bad thing?

David Wagner, sleeping expert, SleepingExpert.org, Eugene, Oregon

“The key certainly seems to be moderation. There are a number of studies out there showing a definite link between alcohol and poor sleep. The theme is very much the same across other alcohol-healthissues. A little bit of alcohol is OK, even good, but too much is definitely harmful to sleep. Basically, a glass or two can help us enter deep sleep (the awesome restorative REM sleep stuff) faster, which is very good. Too much alcohol (i.e., beyond the second glass) and we enter deep sleep quickeras well. But later in the night, booze actually disrupts our REM stages.”

According to a few studies, there is a trade-off. You fall asleep a bit more quickly but do not get the rest you need because you sleep more deeply in the first hours but not later on (when you should be in the deepest sleep).

How can you minimize the effects of alcohol at bedtime?

T.L. Curtis, licensed Master Social Worker with specialized knowledge of addictions prevention, intervention, and treatment, Decatur, Ga.

“The average adult male metabolizes about one drink per hour. Though the effects of the alcohol having been in the body may still be felt (elation, relaxation, etc.) afterward, there is technically no alcohol left in his body. If he were to take a blood or breathalyzer test, his blood alcohol would be .000. That said, giving your body adequate time to process the alcohol in your body is the best you can do for minimizing the effects. It’s unfortunate to find out that there is no “magic” to sobering up.”

What can you do to treat a hangover?

“In my 19 years of education and training in the field of addictions, I have heard a million fables about hangover remedies. The truth is, if your body has been saturated with alcohol so badly that you feel hungover, then time without alcohol and rest in a safe space is needed to recover the fastest. For a person who drinks until they lose consciousness (‘pass out’), it can take their body 72 hours to recover from that particular episode of intoxication, once the body is allowed to rest.” 

“Putting other drugs such as caffeine or more alcohol into the body, putting more alcohol, or putting the body under added stress (such as vigorous exercise) add extra pain to the recovery process and can even make it take longer for your body to return to normal functioning.”

What can you do to avoid wreaking havoc with your sleep and still would like to enjoy a drink or two?

Rebecca Lee, registered nurse and founder, RemediesForMe.com, a site that provides information on benefits of natural remedies, New York.

“Alcohol can adversely affect your sleep, even if consumed 6 hours before bedtime. If you want to sleep soundly through the night, don’t drink after 5 PM and limit yourself to one small alcoholic beverage.”

Does alcohol really help you to get to sleep?

Many people have a night cap before bedtime, and in fact, alcohol does decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and increases deep slow-wave sleep during the first half of the night.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, healthy middle-aged men were given a moderate dose of alcohol 6 hours before bedtime. Total sleep time, sleep efficiency, stage 1 sleep and REM sleep were all reduced compared to another group that drank just mineral water. Drinkers experienced twice as much wakefulness in the second half of the night. The intriguing aspect of this study is that, by the time they went to bed, all of the subjects had a breathalyzer reading of zero. Drinking alcohol disrupted sleep even after it had been eliminated from the participants’ bodies.

Hungry for more sleep info?

The post Experts Answer Burning Questions about Hangovers & the Restless Sleep Alcohol Causes appeared first on Restonic.

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Clean living means ensures having a sleep environment free of dust mites, allergens & other unpleasant elements

What’s lurking beneath your sheets? Hopefully, the answer is no dust mites, no stains, no spills. What should be there is a mattress protector – an essential purchase to safeguard the significant investment you made in a quality mattress.

While a mattress protector might not be as glamorous as designer shams, a cuddly blanket or cute-as-a-button pillows adorning your bed, it’s an accessory that will serve you well for many years and ensure your mattress stays in tip-top condition.

5 convincing reasons to use a mattress protector

Perhaps you’ve made it to this point in your life without having a mattress protector covering or encasing yourmattress. You may not have even given it a thought. That’s about to change. We’ve got a few key reasons why you need a mattress protector right now.

  1. Keep it clean– You don’t really want to know what unsavory things might be on your mattress – sweat, dead skin cells, assorted body fluids and dust mites or bed bugs. Ick. By protecting your mattress from unpleasant stains and dirt, you’ll help extend the life of your mattress.
  2. Shore up your defenses– When your clothes get dirty, you toss them in the washing machine. With a mattress, it’s not that easy. Cleaning up stains doesn’t always work, often leaving residue stains and odor behind. Vacuuming a mattress is recommended, but who remembers to do that? A mattress protector is a better strategy.
  3. Protect your warranty– A soiled or stained mattress will mean that your warranty is null and void. If it’s defective, you can’t return it for servicing or replacement because of strict hygiene and safety regulations. Protect your mattress and your investment.
  4. Bug off– Dust mites thrive in dirty environments. They hang out on mattresses in search of their favorite meal – flakes of dead skin. A clean sterile mattress really wrecks their dining plans. No debris, no bugs.
  5. Avoid the sneezy wheezies– Sleepers with allergies or asthma will benefit from an environment free of triggers, whether it’s dust or pet dander. Breathe a bit easier with a pristine mattress.
But what kind of mattress protector should you buy?

“Gone are the days of selecting a mattress protector based on size alone,” said Caitlin Hoff, a health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org. “Today, mattress protectors come in a range of different materials and offer different functions depending on what you’re looking for.”

A basic mattress protector may only protect the mattress from wear and ensure longevity, while a higher end protector will protect your mattress from bed bugs, stains, dust mites and allergens, she added. Depending on your needs, you can select the brand or product that provides you with the best solution.

Hoff gives the example that if someone suffers from incontinence, he or she would want to look at waterproof mattress protectors while a student in a college dorm should consider a mattress protector that protects against bed bugs that might lurk in crowded dorms or apartment buildings. If you aren’t sure of your needs, you can always buy a mattress protector that addresses a wider range of challenges.

How to buy a mattress protector

Before you begin shopping, ask yourself what purpose your mattress protector will serve.

Do you need…

  • Light protection against daily wear and tear? Opt for a basic cotton cover.
  • A strong defense against bed bugs? Buy one that completely encases your mattress.
  • Seeking a bit of extra comfort? Go with a thin, padded, quilted sheet or a thicker mattress topper.
  • Dealing with a sleeper with incontinence issues? Find a mattress protector that incorporates waterproof fabric. 

ConsumerSafety.org also offers some other key factors to consider before you buy.

  • Warranty–Your mattress has a long lifespan and so should the product protecting it. Look for a mattress protector with a multiple-year warranty to ensure that any manufacturer defects are taken care of without you having to replace the protector at your expense.
  • Comfort–Though not to be confused with a mattress topper (a product that offers more cushion or support to your mattress), some mattress protectors do offer comfort features. It might be made of a material that promotes warmth for cold winter nights or is breathable and cool for hot summer nights.
  • Easy to Wash –The best case scenario is a mattress protector that fits into your washer at home. If it requires dry cleaning, consider another easier option. While you can’t wash your mattress, laundering your mattress protector regularly helps you remove dead skin, hair, sweat, and grime that builds up over time. Your mattress protector should be washed a minimum of every 3 months – more frequently if conditions warrant.

Hungry for more sleep info?

The post To Serve and Protect: Why a Mattress Protector is the One Accessory for Your Bed You Can’t Be Without appeared first on Restonic.

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Let there be peace and quiet and darkness for the best night sleep possible

Many factors make up sleep hygiene, which is a fancy way of describing a series of items/tasks that set the scene for good quality sleep. Two of the most important sleep steps include creating a dark room and ensuring quietness. Both of these go a long way to ensure that you can fall asleep, stay asleep and get that restorative REM sleep crucial for optimal health.

But it’s not always possible to create ideal sleep conditions. That’s where a little help is a wonderful thing—in the form of sleep masks and earplugs. Do you have these on hand? You should! You’ll be amazed at the difference they can make in turning a less than optimal sleep situation into one that’s conducive to healthy, healing rest, whether you’re catching a snooze on a long-haul flight or trying to block out noisy neighbors.

Do sleep masks and earplugs really work?

“Yes, they do,” said David Wagner, sleeping expert and founder of SleepingExpert, “but each in a different way. Noise, whether traffic, air conditioners or those infernal hotel mini bar fridges, can either wake us up completely or simply disrupt sleep cycles without us realizing it.”

Earplugs might not completely eliminate 100% of noise, but they dramatically lower decibel levels and that helps with restful sleep.

Light is more a factor of melatonin production by the body than actually getting to sleep. “I think most people are aware of the issues with blue light from screens, though most lights (including daylight) are going to have blue light in them too,” explained Wagner. “This hinders melatonin production in your body and reduces the body’s ‘it’s-time-to-sleep’ signal.”

A sleep mask can eliminate all light so you can start nodding off while your partner reads with the light on, or help you get to sleep during the day if you’re a shift worker.

Savvy buying tips for sleep masks and earplugs

When it comes to buying sleep masks and earplugs, the two keywords to remember are “comfort” and “fit.” They make the difference between being effective sleep tools and money poorly spent. “Both of these products need to fit correctly to do their job,” said Wagner. “They need to be comfortable as you’ll be wearing them for what amounts to be a third of your life.”

Earplugs, or a mask that doesn’t feel right, will have the opposite effect and wake you up or cause earaches, irritation or unpleasant sweaty eyes.

Finding the right one comes down to personal trial and – sometimes – error. With sleep masks, consider what materials have been used. Some people may experience allergic reactions, while some fabrics don’t breathe well and cause irritation, swelling and sweating. Silk is a popular choice since it’s a natural, lightweight material that feels soft on the skin and allows for airflow. Cotton is also a safe pick for the same reasons.

Designs differ greatly from mask to mask – one size does not fit all. You’ll want one that doesn’t put significant pressure on your eyes. Some are contoured so the mask doesn’t sit directly against the skin. Other sleepers may prefer that, so you’ll have to see what suits you. Some online retailers offer money-back guarantees so you can bed-test a few different types.

A plug for earplugs

Wagner suggests trying an inexpensive pair of disposable foam earplugs to start. Keep a supply in your nightstand and pop a pair in your backpack or purse, handy for catching naps on the fly. While they might not block enough sound for some, the hard-molded varieties may be quite uncomfortable to some wearers, especially for side sleepers. He says start cheap and, if they aren’t effective, move on to more expensive types. Silicone varieties are an option if you prefer a reusable type.

On the higher end of the price scale is wax. They block out more sound and are moldable to a wide variety of ear canal sizes. Sleepers like them because they stay put better than other types.

A good pair of earplugs should be easy to insert and to remove. They should fit snugly, but they shouldn’t put pressure on the eardrums. If they feel uncomfortable, it may be because they are too big for your ear canal. Switch to a slim fit size for a better fit. Or try buying a variety pack that has a range of sizes. Also watch for the NRR (noise reduction rating) to guide your choice. It tells you how many decibels the earplugs were able to reduce sound when they were tested in a laboratory.

Hungry for more sleep info?

The post Essential Tools for a Restful Slumber —Sleep Mask & Earplugs appeared first on Restonic.

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