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Woman Waking up from good night sleep

The Key To A Better Night’s Sleep Is A Healthy Lifestyle

Sleeping is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Our bodies need rest in order to recharge and replenish our body’s natural systems so that they’re performing to the best of their ability. Many of us have certain sleep issues, whether it be having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or trouble waking up in the morning, whatever it may be, there’s certain changes you can make to your everyday routine that can help improve your nightly slumbers, and get you the eight hours you need to feel great in the morning. 

One of the simplest solutions for improving sleep is ensuring that you’re in a dark environment. Dark rooms obviously support better sleep as there’s less sensory stimulation. Light exposure interferes with our bodies natural sleep cycle and circadian rhythms; which is a fancy term that refers to when your body tells you to wake up and when to fall asleep. 

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Investing in blackout curtains is the easiest solution if your sleeping situation involves a room with a window that’s facing the sun at any given point in the morning or evening. Heavy and thick curtains not only block out the intense natural lighting of the outside world, but also encourages a more relaxed sleeping environment in general. Dark colored curtains will typically always do the trick, however, if a lighter color would better fit your rooms aesthetic, there are plenty of online options of light colored curtains with thick enough linings to darken any space. 

If you’ve done any research regarding sleep or insomnia, you’ve definitely heard about blue light emissions and their negative effects on our bodies ability to fall asleep. Electronic devices typically always have a “blue light” undertone that has been proven to disrupt our circadian rhythms specifically when we’re going to bed; as many of us like to mindlessly scroll through social media before falling asleep. 

This blue light suppresses the production of melatonin in our brains, which is the chemical that tells the rest of our body when it’s time for bed.  Some phones have a “night mode” setting that turns your screen a more amber hue to combat that harsh blue emission, and there are numerous screen-protector like products that do the same, however, the best thing you can do to promote a more solid night of sleep, is to avoid electronics at all cost at least an hour before going to bed. This can be tough for a lot of us who have developed a nighttime routine that involves some entertainment on our devices, but the only way to ensure you’re body will keep producing melatonin at a normal rate, and keep you rested throughout the night, is to unplug it all and read a book instead before bed. 

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What you eat and drink throughout a day also has a heavy effect on your natural sleep cycle. Depending on when you go to bed, you should stop eating at 8 pm the latest. The later in the night you eat, the more your body will have to digest while you’re resting. This is an issue because our bodies digest at a much slower metabolic rate when we’re sleeping, which can either lead to an unpleasant middle-of-the-night bathroom trip, or an overall feeling of grogginess in the morning. 

Following a healthy meal plan that avoids processed foods and sugars will also keep your energy levels in a more natural and stable state, so when it comes time to unwind, your body will have no problem doing so because it received all the necessary nutrients it needed throughout the day. 

Finally, along the same lines as a healthy diet, getting regular exercise will improve how well you stay asleep throughout the entire night. Even just 10 minutes of activity a day can show positive results. So many of us get trapped in the 9-5 bubble of sitting at a desk all day and then going home and just sitting on the couch to unwind. When you keep up with an active exercise schedule, you’re lowering your risk for certain sleep conditions such as sleep apnea. 

Regardless of what issues you have when it comes time to turn the lights out, keeping up with healthy lifestyle habits will always help improve the way your body functions, regardless of if you’re conscious or not.

Caffeine

People are Vaping Caffeine—But Why?

For better or for worse, vaping has become all the rage lately — not only is an entire generation of young people growing up with nicotine addictions thanks to the success of companies like Juul, but people are also vaping marijuana in record numbers as a result of the proliferation of THC cartridges, which are distributed both in the states where marijuana has been legalized and on the black market where it has not. Seeking to capitalize on this trend, various companies have introduced products that allow users to vape a variety of substances, including vitamin blends and melatonin. Though the long-term effects of vaping various substances is currently poorly-understood, companies are advertising products that allow users to vape some common, legal drugs, like caffeine. Eagle Energy, for instance, sells a vape pen that delivers caffeine directly into the lungs, causing the drug to reach the bloodstream within minutes, much faster than the usual routes of administration like coffee and tea.

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Caffeine is widely considered to be one of the safest drugs available, with 90 percent of Americans consuming the stimulant in some form. Caffeine is known for enhancing alertness and preventing tiredness, and while most side effects are minor and uncommon, it can be dangerous in very high doses. While Eagle Energy advertises its product as providing “natural, plant-based energy,” it’s important to keep in mind that caffeine is still technically classified as a drug, even though it is derived from natural ingredients, and the extremely rapid route of administration caused by vaping may lead users to experience the effects of the caffeine more rapidly than intended.

That being said, Eagle Energy goes to great lengths to convince potential customers that its product is safe. On the FAQ page of the company’s website, representatives from Eagle Energy claim that their product is not harmful, especially relative to nicotine vape pens, as the plant-based ingredients are vaporized at a lower temperature than nicotine is and as such the vapor is gentler on the lungs. Eagle Energy also claims that as their product delivers caffeine via vapor, the effects of caffeine are felt in five minutes and last for about an hour, whereas ingesting caffeine via energy drinks takes a half hour for the effects to be felt, and the effects last for five hours or more. As such, Eagle Energy argues that inhaling caffeine rather than ingesting it allows for more precise control of how much users are consuming.

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Experts, however, worry that the rising popularity of vape devices for vitamins, melatonin, and caffeine may draw people to start vaping nicotine. While the CDC has linked the recent outbreaks of lung illnesses with vitamin E acetate, a compound found in illicit THC cartridges, experts warn that more research needs to be done to determine what the long-term effects of vaping are, and as such they cannot as-of-yet be considered with certainty to be completely safe. Experts also warn that the stimulating effects of vape products may be a placebo, as caffeine vape pens may not deliver enough caffeine to cause a stimulating effect.

For these reasons and more, it’s likely best to just stick with tea or coffee to get your caffeine fix, at least until more is known about vaping caffeine and what the research says the effects of doing so are.

Girl Waking up Happy

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Though we tend to focus our attention on events that transpire during our waking lives, we spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping. Sleep is an often-overlooked part of life that affects nearly all aspects of human health and well-being, but many of us neglect to prioritize a goods night’s sleep, often erroneously thinking that we can be more productive during the day if we spend less time sleeping. While caffeine can temporarily mitigate the effects of poor sleep, sleeping poorly for a long period of time is linked to a number of health problems, including depressed mood and increased risk of heart disease and obesity. As such, this article will discuss several strategies you can use to improve the quality of your sleep so you can enjoy a more alert and productive waking experience.

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The practices associated with high-quality sleep are referred to as “sleep hygiene,” and include a number of important behaviors, all of which are essential for sufficient rest. Perhaps the most important factor is limiting your use of electronic devices in bed or near bedtime. Ideally, usage of electronic devices should be eliminated before going to sleep, as electronic devices with light-emitting screens stimulate the mind and make it difficult to rest. However, if it’s not possible to avoid using electronics late at night, it may be helpful to activate a blue-light filter on your computer, phone, or other device. These filters tint the screen to a reddish-orange hue, reducing the output of blue light which is thought to inhibit sleep by reducing the body’s production of melatonin. In general, the bed should only be used for sleep and sex, as setting these boundaries helps to create an association in your mind between being in bed and falling asleep, subconsciously helping you to fall asleep faster.

Conditions like depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep/wake cycle, causing you to get too few or too many hours of sleep and sleep at inappropriate times

Making various lifestyle changes can also help to improve sleep quality. Two of the most important lifestyle factors that contribute to sleep quality, as well as overall health, are diet and exercise. Tiring yourself out for a half hour or more of strenuous exercise per day not only improves your cardiovascular health and strength, but it can also relieve anxiety and stress, reduce tension, and prepare the body and mind for sleep. While exercising immediately before going to bed probably isn’t a good idea, exercising earlier in the day can help you feel more tired and prone to sleep later in the night. The food you eat also affects your sleep; eating a large meal immediately before going to bed can keep you awake as your body uses energy to digest food, whereas a diet high in sugar could cause you to wake up several times throughout the night. A healthy diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat proteins can not only help you maintain a healthy weight but also improve the quality of your sleep. Be mindful of foods that cause heartburn, as any heartburn sufferer knows that it can prevent you from going to sleep.

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Good psychological health is also important for quality sleep. Conditions like depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep/wake cycle, causing you to get too few or too many hours of sleep and sleep at inappropriate times, so if you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness, be sure to seek treatment from your health care provider, as these illnesses can often be treated with therapy and medication. One of the actions you can take to improve your mental health, alongside diet and exercise, is to begin a mindfulness meditation practice, which can reduce stress and negative emotions by training the brain to observe experiences with openness and acceptance. Another good way to support mental health is to maintain a regular daily routine, ensuring that you wake up, eat, exercise, and go to bed at the same time every day. Doing so will naturally support the body’s circadian rhythms, helping you to feel tired enough at night to fall asleep quickly and alert enough in the morning to start your day. 

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How to Improve your Sleep Hygiene

Many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep. But while occasional, infrequent difficulties with sleep have only a small impact on your everyday life, ongoing problems with sleep can disrupt your ability to concentrate, focus, and even drive safely. As such, for the sake of maintaining your general health, it’s important to take a good look at your sleep habits and identify areas that need work. For most people, the concept of “sleep hygiene” is a foreign one, but for people suffering from insomnia, nightmares, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and other similar issues, the principles of sleep hygiene can be instrumental in improving a person’s overall health. Studies have shown that the average adult needs roughly 7-8 hours of sleep per night for optimum health, but according to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep.

Sleep hygiene refers broadly to the set of behaviors and practices most directly linked with healthy sleep. These factors can be combined with medicines such as melatonin that make it easier for a person to fall asleep but can also be effective when implemented on their own. Some of the suggestions in a sleep hygiene practice may seem obvious, such as the recommendation to avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine before bed. Other pieces of advice, such as refraining from using the bed for anything except sleep and sex, are more surprising. As such, the first step that a person looking to improve their sleep should take is to educate themselves on the various aspects of sleep hygiene.

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Plenty of websites exist for this purpose, but this article will summarize some of the most significant practices. One of the most important tips is to establish a bedtime routine and stick to it over time. This involves setting a schedule for what time of night you go to bed and when you wake up, and choosing a relaxing activity to engage in before bed, such as taking a bath or reading a book. As the blue light produced by digital displays inhibits the body’s production of melatonin, it’s recommended that you avoid electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and TVs before you plan to sleep. (If you absolutely must engage with one of these devices late at night, many devices offer a night mode, which gives the screen a red tint to mitigate the impact of blue light.) Speaking of melatonin, it can be helpful to ensure that you’re experiencing an adequate amount of natural sunlight during the day and darkness at night, as the production of this sleep hormone is heavily impacted by ambient light.

Changing your habits throughout the day can also have a positive impact when it comes time to sleep. Regular exercise, even as little as ten minutes per day, can improve the quality of your sleep at night. Whether or not exercising at night has a negative impact on sleep varies on an individual basis, but for most people it’s not recommended. Certain foods, including fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can disrupt the quality of sleep, and while ingesting alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it too can reduce sleep quality. Taking a nap during the day won’t make up for insufficient nighttime sleep; however, it can help with mood, alertness, and performance, as long as naps are restricted to 30 minutes at most. It’s also important to make sure that your sleep environment is optimized, which means ensuring that your mattress and pillows are comfortable, and the temperature is kept between 60 and 67 degrees. Even small lights, such as LEDs on electronic devices and nightlights, can impact your sleep, and it’s best to sleep in complete darkness.

If you’re interested in improving your sleep hygiene, you don’t have to do it alone. It can be difficult to adjust longstanding habits, and as improving sleep hygiene can take a long time, a lack of improvement at first can be discouraging. For people with more serious sleep issues, cognitive-behavioral therapy, in which sleep hygiene practices are discussed with a psychologist, can help reinforce positive behaviors. Additionally, apps that are designed to help people sleep such as Sleepio attempt to replicate the experience of cognitive-behavioral therapy for sleep hygiene without the expense and hassle of meeting a therapist in-person. And melatonin, a dietary supplement that is produced by the human body in response to darkness in order to prepare for sleep, is available over-the-counter as a safe and effective sleep aid when taken about an hour before bedtime.

Girl Vaping

Melatonin Vape Pens: Are They Safe?

Over the past several years, the emerging technology of vape pens of a method of rapid drug administration has gained tremendous popularity. The most well-known type of this product are vape pens that administer nicotine, also called e-cigarettes, manufactured by popular brands like Juul and marketed as tools to replace cigarettes or help people reduce their nicotine addiction. While these apparent good intentions are admirable, the reality of e-cigarette proliferation has had negative health consequences in the United States: the popularity of these products has exploded, particularly among young people who use them recreationally instead of as a smoking cessation tool; the quantity of nicotine one can inhale with a vape pen is nearly unlimited, making the effects of nicotine dependency more pronounced compared to cigarettes; and recently, a string of vaping-related hospitalizations in the United States has led to concerns that vape products are not nearly as safe as their marketing would have you believe.

Nicotine, of course, is not the only drug that can be administered via battery-powered vapor devices. In states where the drug is legal, THC cartridges have been manufactured as an alternative to smoking marijuana, with users reporting a pronounced effect from the products relative to traditional smoking methods. The concerns associated with these products are similar to those associated with e-cigarettes, as the long-term health effects of inhaling vapor are not yet well understood and this style of administration makes high doses likely. Nevertheless, there’s no end in sight for the rise in popularity of vape pens, and businesses have started experimenting with products that deliver other substances.

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Perhaps the most well-known such business is Cloudy, who promotes their product heavily on Instagram and other social media platforms. Cloudy manufactures a disposable melatonin and essential oil personal diffuser, which they sell for $20 each and which promises to deliver a near-instant sense of sleepiness and relaxation. The device’s primary active ingredient, Melatonin, is a hormone that regulates the human sleep-wake cycle and has long been used to treat difficulty sleeping. While it is categorized by the FDA as a dietary supplement, not a medication, other countries such as the UK prohibit sale of the supplement without a prescription. When taken as a supplement, the hormone presents very few side effects, and it is generally considered safe to take low doses of melatonin even for periods of time lasting 12 months, although long-term reliance for sleep is not recommended.

As melatonin supplements are usually ingested orally and processed by the body’s digestive system, it usually takes between thirty minutes and an hour to feel the effects of the hormone. The main selling point of Cloudy’s personal diffuser is that the effects of Melatonin, when inhaled, can be felt nearly instantly, leaving users feeling ready to fall asleep within minutes. As such, the company claims that inhaling melatonin is superior to using orally-administered supplements, which they state can have inconsistent effects depending on how much food a person has eaten recently among other factors.

Cloudy also asserts that their product is a totally safe aromatherapy device, as it does not contain any of the artificial flavorings or drugs found in other vape products, instead relying on all-natural and vegan ingredients including lavender and chamomile, which are known to produce an effect of relaxation.

Within the past year, the CDC has reported that some of the ingredients present in nicotine and THC vaping products, such as Vitamin E Acetate,  caused thousands of individuals to experience lung collapse and other respiratory issues, however, those ingredients aren’t found in Cloudy’s products. In fact, the company’s website provides research that has been conducted about the effects of its ingredients, many of which have been thoroughly studied and not been found to produce harmful effects. And user reviews of the product seem to be overwhelmingly positive, lauding the diffuser as safe and effective, if the ones presented on the product’s website are to be trusted.

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Despite these promising indicators, there is of course reason to be concerned about these types of devices on the market. For one, while the effects of melatonin are fairly well-understood in the scientific community, the rapid route of administration via vapor has not been as thoroughly studied. Concern also exists regarding the long-term health consequences of reliance on a device that puts you to sleep within minutes. 

As such, I’d recommend caution when considering purchasing a melatonin diffuser. It’s important to note that, as they do not contain any ingredients which are classified as drugs by the FDA, these personal diffusers are largely unregulated and claims of the product’s efficiency are not held to the same legal standard of accountability as those of prescription drug manufacturers. Before starting any supplement, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. While it’s not legally required to have this conversation, your doctor can give you the well-informed perspective of a medical professional and can also take your individual health concerns into consideration, as supplements can have interactions with various prescription drugs and particular medical conditions. Nevertheless, while this category of product is new and untested, it does show promise as a medical device, particularly for those who have difficulty sleeping which is not treated well by traditional therapies and substances.