Sleep On It: 6 Tips for Better Sleep this Autumn

Sleep Med Page“Getting deep sleep is one of the best things you can do for your skin. It’s during REM sleep that your body regenerates cells and produces collagenboth keys to maintaining youthful skin.” ~ Dr. Howard Murad

A change in season gives us an opportunity to cast off bad habits and embrace changes to our regular routines. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep:

  1. Create a sleep sanctuary. Transform your bedroom into a place for slumber, not an entertainment centre or office. This means keeping your bedroom cool, dark and quiet. If your bedroom is not dark enough, try using a sleep mask. If ambient noise is disturbing your sleep, use soft foam earplugs or a white-noise machine. It’s also important to have a good mattress, pillows and sheets. Think about how much money you spend on a car. Chances are you spend more hours in your bed than you do in your car, so consider it a wise investment. And make sure you’re wearing loose-fitting, comfortable sleepwear.
  1. Exercise for great sleep. Exercising during the day supports sleep, but remember to give yourself enough time to decompress (at least three hours).  Exercise too late in the day will stimulate your body and mind when you should be winding down for sleep.
  1. Keep an eye on seasonal partying. Christmas parties are a blast, but keep in mind how this will affect your nightly rhythm. If you consume alcohol up to three hours before you hit the sheets, you may fall asleep easier, but your sleep cycle will be disrupted. Instead of a night cap, try a cup of chamomile tea with honey.
  1. Tune technology out. We’re attached to our devices from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we crash at night. The problem is that the light emitted by smartphones, iPads, laptops, etc mimics daylight and sends a signal to our brains to get active! The release of melatonin (the sleep hormone) is inhibited, which is bad news for getting a good night’s sleep. So commit to turning off technology at least half an hour before bedtime.

 

  1. Prepare for sleep. Once you’ve finally powered down all of the gadgets, what’s next? Do you have a good book? What are some books you want to read but never seem to have the time? Bedtime is also a great time to practice relaxation techniques, including gentle yoga poses and breathing exercises to calm the mind and body. Start by breathing slowly and deeply as you ease into slumber. Another soothing way to transition from a busy day and mind chatter is to develop a gratitude practice. As you lie still in bed, make a mental list of all the things you are grateful for.
  1. Create a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Realistically, we know this is not always possible. But if you can, try going to bed at approximately the same time every night, within a half hour. You’ll start to train your mind and body that “this is bedtime, time to go to sleep.” Same goes for waking up. No sleeping in on Saturdays! If you can get up and go to bed at approximately the same times every day, you can train your mind and body to naturally be on track for good waking energy and a sound night’s sleep.
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Chocolate = Happy Heart

164615-chocolate-chocolate-waterfallOne of Dr. Murad’s favourite sayings is “before there was medicine there was food.” This reflects the simple reality that before modern medical treatments people had to rely on eating healthily to be healthy!

However, you have to allow yourself to indulge in your favourite treats every now and then to preserve your love of food and of life! Dr. Murad recommends you stick by his 80/20 rule – eat healthily 80% of the time and indulge for the remaining 20%.

As Easter approaches chocolate is everywhere and you’d have to have an iron will not to indulge at least a little bit. The trick is not to feel bad about it! After all, what’s the point in treating yourself to something truly delicious if you feel racked with guilt afterwards?

To help you eat your 20% guilt-free, here are some health benefits of eating chocolate you may not know:

  • Chocolate is good for the heart. The cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as colourful, fresh fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, our bodies can benefit from this antioxidant power, much as plants do.
  • Chocolate is full of antioxidants. The antioxidants found in chocolate (dark chocolate in particular) are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental nasties like cigarette smoke and everyday stress. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals.
  • Chocolate is good for the blood. Flavonols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. The darker the chocolate is, the higher levels of flavonols it has. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavonols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

So enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (30 grams or so) a few times per week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries.

Just Relax: simple ways to incorporate relaxation into your daily routine

MeditationIt’s no secret that stress has a major negative impact on us. It damages our mental and physical health and impacts our relationships, both at home and at work. So, what can we do to alleviate or avoid stress? The answer is to relax! However, as we all know, that’s easier said than done.

When we take time to unplug from this over-stimulated world – and dial down what Dr. Murad calls Cultural Stress®, the constant and pervasive stressors of everyday modern life – it can have huge impacts on our health and wellbeing.

The simple definition of relaxation is being free of tension and anxiety. When you’re relaxed, you will sleep better and spend more hours in REM sleep, which builds your immune system. Truly relaxing improves your memory, reduces your risk of stroke and may even improve your eating habits by reducing cravings for fats and starchy food.

So, considering all of these benefits, why is it so hard for us to relax? Well, times have changed and Cultural Stress, in its many forms, keeps us from finding a peaceful state where we can truly be calm and quiet. In the modern world, relaxation is a deliberate choice and a learned behaviour that requires training and practice to make it an effortless part of your regular life.

Here are a few ways to help you incorporate relaxation into your daily routine:

• Take slow, deep breaths for a few minutes before bed. Do it again when you get up in the morning and then again whenever you are driving in the car or on your way to and from work.

• Create a list of things you “have” to do. By getting your “to do list” out of your head and on to paper (or into an organisational app on your phone), you will begin to alleviate the stress that comes with trying to remember it all.

• Take a few minutes and enjoy your present state. Allow yourself to feel where you are, not what you just did or all the things that have to get done today, tonight or this week. Just be still in one moment during the day.

• Take a few moments before bed – perhaps while you’re doing your deep breathing – to be grateful for what you have in your life. Dr. Murad says, “if you are breathing, you have something to be grateful for.” So say thanks, even if it is just for the little things.

Morning vs. Evening Exercise

RunnerOne of the greatest challenges of incorporating exercise into your lifestyle is simply finding the time to do it! Perhaps exercising in the evenings suits your schedule best. Or maybe you are a natural early riser and prefer to kick-off your day with a morning workout. But is there a more productive time of the day to exercise for your mental and physical health?

To help you decide, we take a look at the pros and cons of morning and evening exercise:

Morning Exercise Routine

PRO: Charge Your Metabolism.

An early workout charges your metabolism in the morning and throughout the day. Jump-starting your metabolism in the morning enables you to continue burning calories while you go about your day and consume food. Early exercisers are also more likely to make healthier meal choices.

PRO: Sleep Soundly and Uninterrupted.

Those who work out regularly in the morning tend to sleep sounder than those who exercise in the evening. And when you have an uninterrupted night of sleep, you tend to wake up looking more refreshed and youthful.

CON: Schedule Challenges.

Despite the advantages to an early morning workout, you may not be able to adjust your schedule to accommodate it. Balancing work and family life often makes it difficult to carve out time in the morning for a regular exercise routine.

 

Evening Exercise Workout

PRO: Prime Time.

The evening is often the only time of the day we have available to do a proper workout. Between spending quality time with your loved ones and handling work obligations, the evenings are often more convenient to those with no free time in the morning.

PRO: Greater Flexibility and Productivity.

Research has shown that people who work out between the midday to evening, when their body temperatures are elevated, are often more productive overall. Furthermore, your body and muscles are often more flexible in the midday to evening, enabling you to make the most out of a workout routine.

CON: Sleepless Nights.

Exercising too close to your bedtime can make it more difficult to wind down and have a restful, uninterrupted night’s sleep. If you work out in the evenings and find it difficult to fall asleep at night, make sure to give yourself enough time to cool off and stretch your muscles after you exercise.

Above all, it’s far more essential to simply incorporate a regular exercise regime into your lifestyle, regardless of the time of day.

Most importantly, what really works best for your internal, emotional and physical health is to find your ideal time of day to exercise, so that you get a regular dose of endorphins and consistently care for your Inclusive Health. The key is to maintain your mental and physical well-being with a consistent exercise regimen. Do that and you’ll look, live and feel better!

Energy Boosters – Natural and Healthy Alternatives to Coffee

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Have you ever thought that coffee could be the number one addiction in the world?! People wake up and before they can even string a sentence together they must consume their favourite caffeine fix. Caffeine is great for memory, boosting energy, detoxifying the body and building stamina; however, just like anything else, moderation is key. Consuming too much caffeine – usually from coffee and energy drinks – can lead to restlessness, irritability, insomnia, anxiety and an increase in blood pressure.

Founder of Murad skincare, Dr. Howard Murad, wants you to be the healthiest version of you possible, so he has come up with five alternatives to coffee so you can still get that morning pep-in-your-step.

Ginko biloba tea1.      Ginkgo Biloba

A herbal extract that comes from the nut of the ginkgo biloba tree. Ginkgo biloba can be taken as a capsule or in tea form. It’s been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. The ginkgo biloba increases blood flow to the brain, so you to feel more awake and energised!

2.      Ginseng

Extracted from the ginseng root. Like ginkgo biloba, ginseng increases blood flow to the brain and gives the body a stimulating effect, similar to coffee. Ginseng can be taken in capsule form or tea form.

Green Tea3.      Green Tea

Provides a calmer form of energy boost compared to coffee because the caffeine in tea is buffered with the amino acid theanine, which stimulates relaxation. Green tea is extremely good for your overall health. Also, it has been shown to boost levels of elastin in the skin and provides you with plenty of antioxidants.

4.      Yerba Mate

Another herbal extract; this one provides long-lasting natural energy without the crash that you may experience with coffee.

5.      Ice Cold Water and B12

An excellent pick-me-up for when you first wake up in the morning. Drink a glass of ice-cold water with the recommended amount of B12 drops in it (check the bottle for appropriate dosage). The cold water will shock the body and wake it up, making you feel more alert. And the vitamin B12 will naturally enhance your energy and mental clarity.

apple 1If you’re one of the many people who reach for another cup of coffee when having an afternoon slump, try some iced green tea and an apple for a boost. Apples contain natural sugars which will help lift you out of it.

Relax! You’ll be healthier

DR_ImageDr. Murad is a great believer in taking time for YOU. He believes that if you want good skin, managing stress levels is as important as your diet and the skincare products you use. Scientific studies have shown the benefits of taking time for you; from increased mental clarity to improved digestion. We know it can be hard to justify taking time for yourself, so here are some scientific reasons why you should be incorporating more “me time” into your day:

  • The enjoyment you get from self-pampering triggers a relaxation response that can prevent chronic stress from damaging your health.
  • Cardiologist Marianne Legato found that if you never have any time except reactive time (things you must do for others), your brain has trouble resting, even during sleep. She found that, “such chronic exhaustion increases the release of stress hormones, and your blood sugar rises. If this is your normal state, then the physical consequences increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and memory problems,” not to mention the effects on your waistline.
  • A recent study found that sleep deprivation is one of the best predictors of on-the-job burnout.

stress-at-work

 

Are you guilty of intending to take time for yourself, but somehow it never actually happens? Here are some of the tips Dr. Murad’s shares with his patients to ensure that “me time” becomes a reality:

 

  • Put your “me time” in your calendar and keep the appointment as you would any other meeting.
  • Plan in advance what you will be doing with your “me time” that day. If you are locked into an appointment somewhere – say for a massage – you are less likely to cancel.
  • If you have kids, trade babysitting with another parent. That way you are not only helping yourself but also helping another busy adult take some “me time” too.
  • Set the expectation with your family and ask them to support you. Tell them some of the statistics above, and show them how they will benefit from you taking your “me time.”
  • Turn off your mobile. When “me time” comes, unplug! This will help you detach from that to-do list and kick your brain into relaxation mode.

MassageDr. Murad says:

“Remember, if it is something you are doing simply to cross it off of a to-do list, then that’s not time for yourself. Schedule the time like you would a meeting with an important client. Don’t forget that your most important client is you.”

 

Start scheduling some “me time” in today – doctor’s orders!

Preventing “Sleeping Lines”: Wrinkles Caused by Sleeping Patterns

sleepDon’t we all want to hibernate in winter? Snuggling up in a cosy duvet and settling down to sleep always seems more appealing in the colder months. However, while you’re snoozing away, “sleep wrinkles” could be sneaking up on you! It may be one of the most often-overlooked causes of wrinkles but, if altered, the position in which you sleep can help to prevent wrinkles from forming.

Sleep Lines and Sleep Wrinkles are Not a Myth

The idea of “sleep wrinkles” is often considered to be a beauty myth, but sleep wrinkles are recognised as a dermatologic reality. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology supports the idea that sleeping in certain positions will increase and cause wrinkles.

Which Sleeping Positions Cause or Prevent Wrinkles and Why

Sleeping on your side or with your face down on your pillow can cause wrinkles to form, while sleeping on your back can prevent the formation of wrinkles. The reason for this has to do with two other causes of wrinkles: repetitive motion and gravity. Repetitive motions can ultimately lead to wrinkles over time; e.g. expression lines around your mouth and crow’s feet around your eyes. When you sleep on your side or with your face down into the pillow, you “push” your skin into positions in a way that is similar to repetitive facial motions.

Gravity also plays a role in the development of wrinkles. As skin loses its firming collagen and becomes looser, the life-long push of gravity downward leads to the appearance of wrinkles or sagging skin. When you sleep on your side, you allow gravity to push your face to one side or the other, causing the wrinkles on that side of your face to appear deeper.

When you sleep on your back, you don’t push your face into wrinkled positions and gravity pulls your skin back away from your face rather than towards the centre of it.

The Role of Collagen and Elastin in Sleep Wrinkles

While the repetitive motions of sleeping positions and the impact of gravity are the lifestyle causes of sleep wrinkles, it’s the natural breakdown of collagen and elastin as you age that really makes the lines appear. While you most likely have slept in the same position for most of your life, you’re unlikely to see the first appearance of sleep wrinkles until you are beginning to see the signs of ageing skin throughout your body. Why is that? It’s because while you sleep, wrinkles are forming throughout your life, they become defined and apparent as your collagen and elastin breakdown.

Elastin is the skin protein that makes skin smooth and allows it to “snap back” from positions. Collagen is the protein that’s responsible for supporting skin in order to make it appear firm and full. As you age, genetics, UV damage, environmental factors and the hormonal shift for women associated with menopause all work to deplete your collagen and elastin. When this happens, your skin becomes looser and wrinkles that have been forming over time become more visible.

SONY DSCRelated Product: Rapid Collagen Infusion

This is the first-ever product to penetrate the skin’s surface with pure collagen! After the age of 20, a person produces about one percent less collagen in the skin each year. This product combats the break down of collagen and keeps skin plump.

This product is available exclusively from QVC in January 2014. Tune into the show on Friday 17th January.

It will be available at www.murad.co.uk from February 2014.

Treating and Preventing Sleep Lines and Sleep Wrinkles

To treat and prevent sleep lines from forming, you should make both skincare and lifestyle changes. Of course, the best change is to learn to sleep on your back, but it’s actually quite uncommon that an individual is able to change their natural and habitual sleeping position! Adopting the practices of Inclusive Health®, Dr. Murad’s revolutionary youth-building lifestyle, can assist in preventing and minimising wrinkles and ageing skin. Here are the three prongs of his Inclusive Health® philosophy:

SONY DSCLook Better: Anti-ageing products are a vital part of any anti-wrinkle regime. Develop a personalised anti-ageing skincare regime that combines products that hydrate with those that support the production of collagen.

summer fruit

Live Better: Healthy skin begins on the inside, and the most effective form of youth-building is via diet and nutrition. Staying hydrated by eating your water daily in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as embracing a diet that’s rich in Essential Fatty Acids and antioxidants will improve not only the youthfulness of your skin, but also of your body.

laughing11Feel Better: Your stress levels and your sense of self have an overwhelming impact on the health of your body and your skin. Learning to control Cultural Stress® and taking time for you can improve the health of your body and its largest organ, the skin!