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3 Ways to Drink Your Way to a More Balanced You

3 Ways to Drink Your Way to a More Balanced You

    We are a few weeks into 2012 now and some of us that made New Year’s resolutions have discovered that in our zeal to achieve change, we have created resolutions that have us feeling too constrained. For most people however, success lies in practicing a balanced approach to life.

    Finding balance means adopting the path less travelled, and rethinking arbitrarily determined timelines in favour of creating our own timelines and strategies —  that work for ourselves.  And for some of us, that also means rethinking the whole idea of “cleanses” and austerity as penance for excess, instead embracing a few simple pleasures that can bring us a little bit of joy throughout the entire year.

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    I’m here to tell you that a little tipple can help you do that! Keep the following 3 things in mind to help you drink your way to a more balanced you.

    Think of cocktails and spirits as a health tonic

    Many of the spirits and liqueurs we enjoy today were originally concocted as health tonics. And the ingredients that give them their distinct flavour profiles also have healing properties. For example, gin was originally distilled in the 1500’s as a means of making the benefits of juniper berries widely available to the masses. Chartreuse, containing 130 herbs, was created by monks in the 1600s as a health tonic. All of the Italian amaros, incluing Fernet Branca, and Campari, were originally consumed as digestifs, intended to promote optimal digestion. And Cognac, was actually available during prohibition by prescription.

    While this may seem far-fetched, consider that herbalists creating healing tinctures use 80 proof alcohol to extract the beneficial properties of the herbs they prescribe.

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    Quality over quantity

    While it often goes without saying that moderation is the key to a healthy, happy existence, I’m going to say it anyway. Deprivation is the surest route to “falling off the wagon” of our well-meant resolutions. The best way to avoid the pitfalls of the binge/abstain cycle is to invest a few extra dollars or time in a better quality of beverage.

    For those also resolved to reign in their spending in 2012, the good news is that finding a good quality spirit or wine does not mean having to lay out $100 for a bottle of single malt. There are bargains to be had if you are willing to look at alternatives. If you enjoy single malt scotch, for example, but find it too spendy for your pocketbook, try a bourbon or an aged rum for less than half the price.

    You will get all the enjoyment of sipping on a nuanced beverage, without the sticker shock.

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    Pick your potion

    With so many lifestyle and health-related diets out there these days, finding a spirit that is “allowed” on many of these diets leaves many people opting out altogether (see the reference above to deprivation). Whether you are on a Paleo diet, or a slow-carb diet, or a gluten-free diet, there is a quality beverage for you out there.

    For those looking to minimize their grain intake, the good news is that a quality spirit is far better than beer, and there are more microdistillers experimenting with creating spirits from fruit. Red wine is better on the carb front than white wine. And remember that organizations such as the Celiac Association are working at the local level with wine and spirits purveyors to research and educate about gluten-free options.

    Picking your potion does not need to be a complicated affair, instead it’s a matter of being more mindful about what we consume.

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    Conclusion

    I wish you well in 2012, and raise a glass to all of you seeking balance in your lives. Remember to consider the health benefits of a life well-lived. A moment of reflection while sipping a delicious beverage, or connecting in the evening with your spouse over a glass of wine, may have more benefits than you think!

    (Photo credit: Bottles of spirits and liquor at the bar via Shutterstock)

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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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