Saturday, June 13, 2009

Video Time: Life is a....

The updated version..

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Video Time: Man Hands

Inspired by a conversation this afternoon:

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Video Time: Bad Piano


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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sweet Dreams?

from my email:

Getting Better Sleep – The Google Method

Posted: 30 Mar 2009 03:45 AM PDT

Many articles have been written about getting better sleep. This time, we’ll take a different approach. The people behind the (relatively) new browser from Google, Google Chrome, used an approach to tweaking that browser’s inner workings that’s divided into three parts: Basics, Minor Tweaks, and Under The Hood.

We’ll take the same approach here and apply it to how you can improve your sleep today.

The basics in sleep always have to do with the so called sleep hygiene. There are a few rules relevant to this stage. You may have heard some or all of them before, but you have to make sure you’ve covered the basics before moving on to the next stages.
  • Learn to abide your internal clock
    Our body has an internal rhythm that is called a circadian rhythm. Human beings are creatures of habit, and our internal rhythm reflects that. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day (yes, even on weekends), and your body will “learn” this routine, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Avoid napping during the day
    Napping will cause your internal clock to get “confused”. If you must nap, limit the nap to no more than 45 minutes, and don’t take it after 4 pm.

  • Avoid foods that will tamper with your sleep
    This includes drinking alcohol, caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea), or fatty or spicy foods in the evening, before going to bed.

  • Keep your room as comfortable as possible for sleep
    This includes a comfortable mattress, a temperature that’s not too high or too low, and a noisy-free environment.

  • Use your bed only for sleep (and sex)
    When we use the bed for other things, our mind connects the bed with things other than sleep. When we finally get to bed for sleeping, it doesn’t have the right connection in our minds necessary to convince our brains that it’s time for sleep.
These things all require little of you, and are mostly minor things you can start doing to improve your sleep.

Minor Tweaks
These are things that require more on your part, but have been proven to improve sleep.
  • Exercise
    Apart from other known benefits of exercise, it can help you sleep better. Our body’s temperature changes during the day. We are most active when it’s the highest (typically in the late morning and early evening) and we are more sleepy as it declines at night. Exercise causes your body temperature to rise, and a few hours later to drop as a compensation for that earlier rise. The drop in temperature makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

    Since the drop in temperature occurs a few hours after exercise, it’s best to exercise within 3-6 hours of bedtime.

  • Take a bath
    A hot bath will also cause your body’s temperature to rise and fall afterward. You should take it about 2 hours before bedtime (since the temperature drops here faster) and stay in the hot water for about 25 minutes.

  • Expose yourself to the sun
    Before there was electricity, people were exposed to sunlight during the day. Our body recognizes that light as a cue for “day”, and when it’s gone it “understands” night time is coming. Inside our body, this “understanding” is done by producing a hormone called melatonin, which promotes sleep.

    Nowadays, people spend most of the day in offices or at home, where there is artificial light. Our body doesn’t recognize it as sunlight and the secretion of melatonin is changed, which makes it harder for us to get to sleep. To let your body know that it’s daytime, open the drapes or get out for a walk in the morning. Also expose your eyes to the sun before it sets.
Under The Hood
The second step required you to be active about promoting a better sleep. This step is meant for anyone who’s still having trouble after trying the above methods.
  • Artificial light
    Some of us, for many reasons (no time, no ability), just can’t get exposed to sunlight during the day. For these people artificial bright light boxes were invented. They contain special bulbs that produce a light strong enough to convince our mind to think it’s daytime. You can find many on the Internet. Look for lights that produce 5,000-10,000 lux (that’s the unit the light in these boxes is measured by).

  • Manage stress
    Our daily lives can be hectic. Working full time, managing a house, a family, personal issues. All can take a toll on our sleep at the end of the day. Stress worsens sleep. Learning to relax can be one of the best methods to promote better sleep. There are many methods to achieve relaxation. Some of them were described here before, such as here, here and here.

  • Look for medical causes
    Sometimes, even though we try many methods, we just can’t fix sleep. Some of these cases are caused by a medical problem. There are many medical conditions that can harm sleep, like asthma, allergies, lung problems, heart problems, digestive problems and more. It can also be a manifestation of depression or anxiety. If nothing else works, it might be a good idea to ask a doctor for advice.

Written on 3/30/2009 by Roy Schwartz. Roy is a new MD, and tries to help people understand diseases and improve their health at A Disease A Day. Photo Credit: Google

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Video Time: Friendship

In the animal world...

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Good Night?

Cleaning out email before I left for vacation, I found this bit of advice on sleeping. If you need more help, I'll have more on June 10th:

Dumb Little Man - tips for life

Link to Dumb Little Man - Tips for Life

Six Simple Steps to Successful Sleep

Posted: 17 Mar 2009 07:15 AM PDT

Does the idea of “successful sleep” seem kinda weird to you? After all, we don’t tend to get graded on good sleep (beyond being an infant). Your annual performance development review or your G.P.A won’t factor in “great at sleeping” or “needs to improve sleeping habits”.

Or will they?

I’m sure that all of you, like me, have experienced nights of unsuccessful sleep. Nights when you wake up feeling more tired than when you hit the sack. Nights when bad dreams churn around your mind, keeping you in a half-awake state. Nights when you jolt upright at 3AM, having suddenly remembered something for your to-do list. Nights when you’re too hot, too cold, exhausted but unable to nod off.

And after a night like that, you’re not going to be in any state to give your best performance at work, in school, or as a parent. You’ll be tetchy and grouchy. You’ll struggle with routine tasks. You’ll drop the ball, on multiple occasions.

So successful sleep is an important factor in your life overall. How can you be on top form at work, in school or with your family, if your mind and body are crying out for a good long recharge?

Here are seven simple steps that make a night of successful sleep much more likely:
  1. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Near Bed
    If you grab a coffee after dinner, chances are, you’ll struggle to nod off a couple of hours later – or you’ll sleep restlessly if you do. Caffeine affects everyone differently, but setting a “caffeine curfew” can make a huge difference to your quality of sleep, especially if you drink strong (brewed) coffee.

    Alcohol is notorious for disrupting your sleep – and anyone who’s ever overindulged and experienced that room-spinning effect will know it’s not exactly conducive to drifting off to sleep…

    Stop drinking at least a couple of hours before bed (it takes your body an hour to process one unit of alcohol – that’s about half a bottle of beer). And rehydrate yourself with a glass of water, so you don’t wake up with a horribly dry mouth.

  2. Don’t Go To Bed Hungry Or Stuffed
    No-one can sleep well if their stomach is growling. If you’re feeling peckish at 10pm, have a small snack. Oats, turkey and milk are high in tryptophan, which means they encourage melatonin production – helping to get your body ready to sleep.

    On the other hand, you don’t want to lie down having just eaten a huge meal. Yes, we’ve all experienced that sudden desire for a nap after a big lunch – but trying to sleep an hour or two after a large dinner is a bad idea. Your body will still be digesting your food, and you might find your stomach feels uncomfortably full and gurgly.

  3. Switch Off Your Computer
    In my mis-spent youth, I’d often see brightly coloured graphics from computer games after lying down to sleep – after staring at a computer screen for most of the evening. Whether it’s work or play, gazing at a computer screen will flood your eyes and brain with glaring, artificial light – not great for making you sleepy. The same goes for television.

    Computers also tend to get your mind racing: if you check emails last thing at night, you’ll go to bed with work on your mind.

  4. Write A List
    Do you find yourself lying awake, worrying about all the things you need to get done tomorrow? Or do you wake up in the night, suddenly remembering some little task that had slipped your mind?

    Clear all of this junk out of your brain before you get into bed. Grab a notebook and write a list of anything that you need to take care of the next day. It’s surprising how this can help quantify the seemingly indeterminable mass of “stuff to do” – seeing it all on the page can help you focus on your priorities for the next day, without stressing about how you’ll get everything done.

  5. Get Your Gear Together Before Bed
    If you constantly find yourself rushed in the morning, chances are you won’t sleep too well – part of your mind will be thinking about leaping out of bed into the chaos of another day. Take ten minutes before bed to lay out your clothes, put things ready for your shower and breakfast, pack your briefcase or backpack, and so on.

    This is also a good way to wind down near bedtime, and if you make it a daily habit, the act of setting everything up for the next day can help get your mind in the mood to sleep.

  6. Meditate Or Journal
    Make some time for yourself before bed to unwind and calm down. Some people like to meditate, others pray. (This can also be a good time to do gentle stretches.) As a writer, I like to write about my thoughts in a journal. It’s a good chance to review the day, celebrate successes, come to terms with failures, and think about how I want tomorrow to go.

    This mind-clearing time is especially useful if you often feel that your thoughts are chasing one another around your brain when you lie down to sleep.
Are you a successful sleeper? What do you do to nod off quickly and sleep solidly?

Written on 3/17/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.Photo Credit: Joe M500

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Video Time: A different kind of Food Fight

Can you find the theme?

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