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Last Updated on January 17, 2018

Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home

Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering  Your Home

It was only when I had a Japanese guest visit that I realized the importance of taking off my shoes before entering the house. As many Japanese eat on tatami mats on the floor and sleep on futons that are rolled out at night, it seems perfectly logical to keep shoes at the door. In fact, this is the norm in most Asian countries. Yet, interestingly, many European and American families never bother to insist on leaving shoes at the door.

Now, science is backing up this hygienic practice and revealing that what you pick up on your shoes is not just a few germs and dirt, but rather nasty customers who should never be allowed into your home! This is particularly important when you have toddlers rolling around the floor.

Which nasty bacteria are you bringing home?

Researchers at the University of Houston found that about 40% of shoes were carrying the nasty “C.diff” bacterium, which stands for Clostridium difficile. These spores are not at all easy to treat.

The study found that this C.diff was not only on shoe soles (about 40% of the total examined), but also spread around other household areas such as toilets, tops and surfaces, and wherever floor dust was found. These spores can live on dry surfaces for a long time.

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The problem with treating an infection caused by C.diff is that it is resistant to most antibiotics. This can cause the bacterium to proliferate and make recovery very difficult for the patient. The linings in the intestines are attacked, resulting in colitis. Many people in hospitals pick up the C.diff infection and it is becoming more difficult to treat.

Now, you don’t want this bacteria as a guest in your home, do you? Off with the shoes and on with the slippers.

What else is on those shoe bottoms?

Well, there will be a disgusting quantity of dust, bird droppings, dog poop, leafy debris and other unwanted matter. The leafy stuff acts as a breeding ground for bacteria.

“That means potentially harmful bacteria can survive on your shoes for days or even weeks.”- Dr. Reynolds, microbiologist, University of Arizona

The University of Arizona decided to assess the quantity of bacteria and they were not disappointed – they found 421,000 different units! These can be categorized into 9 different strains. They are the cause of infections in the eyes, lungs and stomach. Two of these are certainly worth mentioning so you can reach for your slippers the moment you get home.

The first one is known as E.coli (a pathogenic organism) and it makes up about a third of all bacteria so it is a heavyweight. E.coli strains are mostly harmless, thank goodness, but the nasty ones (like E.coli 0157:H7) are not. They often cause severe stomach and intestinal problems leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Now, you might think the risk of contacting the E.coli bacteria from your shoes is minimal. But let me ask you a question: How many times did you visit the restrooms at work today?

Another type of bacteria the researchers found was the Klebsiella pneumoniae which is known to cause severe damage to the lungs and lead to pneumonia. The death rate from this bacteria is high at 50% and can reach 100% when people are suffering from alcoholism.

What you can do to have a healthier and cleaner home

There are so many advantages in taking off those shoes and wearing slippers. You will have to clean the house less often and your floor coverings will last longer, thus saving you lots of money. Your shoes will last longer, too!

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Keep a shoe rack or basket near the door so that everyone does it automatically, as soon as they get home.

Your house will be much healthier and cleaner. If you have toddlers, they can safely play on the floor and you need not worry about them. Another great advantage is that if you go barefoot, you will be stimulating your foot pressure points — for you reflexology enthusiasts. The Chinese have been doing that for 5,000 years!

Finally, your neighbors downstairs will start smiling at you again as they no longer hear the clip-clop of your shoes, up and down, morning and night!

But perhaps Al Franken put it best:

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“It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.”

Featured photo credit: 28/365 These might be the dirtiest shoes I own now/ Liz Mc via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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