Is this common appliance causing you a health problem?

The Good Life Letter

2nd April 2010

  • The laziest way to keep your health in tip top shape
  • How long should your 'workout' be?
  • Why you should keep your alarm clock away from your head 

Last night, I was woken up by a strange wailing

And this time it wasn't me having a nightmare
about England beating Wales 71-0 in the rugby.

Eventually, the wailing woke Lara up too - and
believe you me she can sleep through

If a nuclear bomb ever hit Britain it wouldn't just
be cockroaches left behind...

There'd also be Lara, fast asleep under her duvet.

But last night even SHE woke up. After much
prodding with her feet I finally 'agreed' to go
downstairs to see what the noise was.

As I approached the living room the wailing got
louder. I gripped the door handle. I was struck
suddenly by an image of me fighting with a giant
wasp as Lara asked me to 'keep the noise down'.

But I pushed ahead anyway, and after a quick
search I found the source of the noise...

A phone...

A phone that had been left out of its charging
station and was now alerting us to the fact that it
was in the wrong place...

A phone that Lara had left under a cushion after
speaking to her friend Laura (confusing I know)
for an hour.

After I'd heroically placed the phone back in its
cradle, I shuffled upstairs and tried to get to sleep
in vain.

In fact, I only managed another hour or so before I
gave up and came downstairs.

Basically, today I have am suffering from a
serious complaint I haven't suffered since the
youngest was a baby - sleep deprivation. Of
course, it's not a real problem if it only happens

But if you don't get enough sleep on a regular
basis, you'll be doing your health a great

The laziest way to keep your health in tip top

According to the experts, sleep keeps you young,
helps prevent diabetes, makes you smarter, happier
and even keeps the weight off!

In fact, a good snooze is probably the cheapest,
safest, most effective health and beauty booster
out there...

While you're busy snoozing, your body gets busy
regenerating its skin, blood, brain cells and

According to Meir H. Kryge from the National
Sleep Foundation in the US:

"Research suggests that even a modest amount of
sleep deprivation can increase appetite by altering
the behavior of the hormones leptin and ghrelin,
which are responsible for regulating metabolism.

As a result of sleep loss, people may experience
stronger cravings for carbohydrates and calorie-
rich comfort foods such as cookies and chips,
which can lead to weight gain."

Got that?

Skimping on sleep can actually make it harder to
lose weight!

And that's not all...

Sleep makes you happier

We all know lack of sleep can make you grouchy.

But taken to extremes, sleep deprivation can cause
disorientation and paranoia.

During the highly active stage of sleep
characterized by accelerated dreaming and rapid
eye movements (REM) - your subconscious
analyses the day's events and processes feelings -
an essential activity for mental health.

... and brainier too

During REM sleep your brain also replenishes its
supply of neurotransmitters. These boost your
mood and your memory too.

A recent study by Harvard Medical School found
that people who slept after learning and practicing
a new task remembered more about it the
following day than people who stayed up all night
learning the same thing.

And if that's not a good enough reason to hit the
sack earlier tonight, recent research suggests that
people who sleep less may also produce more
insulin, which puts them at higher risk of
developing Type 2 Diabetes - a disease that's
already on the rise in the UK.

So... to get all these amazing benefits, how much
sleep are you supposed to have?

How long should your 'workout' be?

Well, the experts say between 7 to 9 hours a night.
But everyone's different, so the best measure is
whether you're exhausted or not during the day.
If you are, you probably need more sleep. If you
feel refreshed and alert after just 6 hours, then
you're fine as you are.

This is all very well, but what if you're someone
who has trouble sleeping? Someone who'd love to
pack in a couple of extra hours if only you could?

I looked into that as well and uncovered 7 safe,
drug-free tips that could just help you get all forty

Why you should keep your alarm clock away
from your head

Watches, clocks and the like all emit
electromagnetic pulses that can interfere with your
body's own electromagnetic field.

Even if you don't think you have trouble sleeping,
try moving the alarm clock further away from your
head at night. Perhaps try the foot of the bed, and
see if it improves the quality of your sleep.

Here are some more tips you should try:

- Avoid caffeine and alcohol at night

Caffeine's an obvious one, but it needs
saying. Alcohol might come as a bit of a
surprise - isn't a nightcap sedating?

Yes, initially.
But it seems it disrupts the second half of the
night, either making you sleep fitfully or
waking you up completely.

Studies show that a moderate dose of alcohol
consumed as much as six hours before
bedtime can increase wakefulness during the
second half of the night.

- The old wives' tale that's true

Turns out milk's power to help you sleep isn't
an old wives' tale after all.

Milk contains a substance called tryptophan
that your body converts into the sleep-
promoting hormones melatonin and serotonin.

If you wake up in the early hours and sleep
lightly for the rest of the night you may be
serotonin deficient so try a glass of milk or
other tryptophan-rich foods such as oats or
bananas before bed.

- Try Valerian

Dubbed 'Nature's tranquiliser', this herb
sedates the nervous system and makes you

You can make a tea with one or two
teaspoons of dried valerian root before
bed but be warned, it tastes rank. If you
can't quite stomach it, try a tincture or
capsules from your local health food shop.

- Avoid the sheep!

Listen to some relaxing music, take a shower.
Avoid watching the news or some violent TV
programme that leaves you wired.

If your mind is still racing when you get to
bed, don't count sheep - that just stimulates
the brain even more.

Try touching the following two acupressure
points on your forehead for a couple of
minutes. Here's how to find them: place one
finger on the middle of each eyebrow, then
trace up the forehead, to halfway between the
eyebrow and the hairline.

You should feel a slight bump here, which is
why these points are called the frontal

- Eat magnesium-rich foods

Magnesium is a natural sedative, so try
stocking up on foods rich in magnesium.
These include seeds, dark leafy green
vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews,
blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, and
whole grains.

I hope these tips help you catch up on some
health-giving sleep.

If they don't work, try watching a party political

That's all for today. I'll be back again on Sunday
with more news and tips.

Have a great Easter!



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