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6 Gardening Hacks You Need to Know This Spring

6 Gardening Hacks You Need to Know This Spring

Christmas has come and gone and, if you’re a suffering Brit like me, you’ll have been patiently awaiting Summer for what feels like an eternity. Considering Summer usually only lasts for a few short weeks, it’s important to be prepared as soon as those days hit in order to capitalize on the small amount of sun we actually get.

One of the best Spring and Summer pastimes is enjoying the weather in your own garden; sometimes though, the Winter months take such a huge toll on your back yard that repairing the damage can be time consuming and costly. If you want to find more eco-friendly ways to look after your garden and spend less time and money treating it, here are few tips to help you do just that.

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Remove rust with vegetables

Do you want to get rid of rust on your barbecue tools  or patio furniture? Believe it or not, one of the cheapest ways to do this is sitting right in your kitchen. Cut a raw potato or cucumber in half and scrub the rusted areas with the flat, moist surface of your chosen vegetable. Trust us, it works wonders, and there’s absolutely no need to spend money on kitchen sprays and scrubbing tools.

Get rid of candle wax with a paper towel and a butter knife

Al fresco dining is great and atmospheric, but can be messy; don’t worry if you overdid it with the candles at last night’s dinner party, you can remove candle wax easily.

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Start by using a butter knife to scrape off as much of the wax as you can from affected rug or tablecloth, and then place a paper towel over the affected area. Put iron on low heat over the paper. This will warm up the wax enough for the paper towel to absorb it.

Clean glass with vinegar

If you want to clean glass table tops or windows, you don’t need harmful chemicals to do it. Make your own glass-washing fluid with a mix of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. If you’ve used commercial products on your glass surfaces before, you may need to add a few drops of dish water to the solution. This will remove the waxy residue left by your old conventional glass cleaners.

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Use a trellis to brighten up your walls

If you want to brighten up an unsightly concrete (or just plain dull) wall, then it’s worth considering climbing plants and trellis’ for a quick and simple uplift. This year willow expandable trellis is making a comeback but if you check out trellis at Jewson Tools or any other reputable gardening supplier you’ll uncover a range of decorative trellis and garden features that will fit your style.

For advice on planting climbers, the BBC Gardening Guide is a great source for information and inspiration.

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Use salt to make paving stones look better

Nothing is less inviting than an unkempt driveway and if you’re looking to sell a property this Spring, you’ll really need to up your curb appeal game. If weeds are growing between the cracks in the paving stones on your patio, or on your concrete driveway – salt is all you need! Just sprinkling a bit in the affected areas should do the trick.

Please note: Salt can build up in soil and cause issues for plants you want to keep. So, if there’s a flowerbed next to your patio, be careful not to wash the salt into the soil.

Use a clothespin for safety

When working on DIY projects in your backyard, use a clothespin (rather than your fingers) to keep nails in place as you hammer it in. It may take a little extra time, but will absolutely save in money in the swear jar!

Featured photo credit: Huffington Post via i.huffpost.com

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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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