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Having a hard time falling asleep? Check out Dreampad

 

I have a very hard time when it comes to sleeping. I have a hard time falling asleep and a hard time staying asleep. On most nights from around 1:00 AM to about 3:00 AM you’ll find me flicking through the endless supply of infomercials on television. I know that watching TV is NOT what yo should do if you can’t sleep, but reading doesn’t help me. Watching boring infomercials actually makes me sleepy.

I have tried just about everything to help lull me off to sleep – sound machines, over the counter medication, warm milk, homeopathic remedies, even prescription medication. I simply have a hard time shutting my brain off and relaxing. My doctor says I have a lot of anxiety.

I’ve been using another thing to help me to relax and unwind. It’s called the Dreampad. It’s made by Integrated Listening Systems.

Dreampad looks like an ordinary pillow, but inside it holds a secret. The pillow hooks up to your smartphone which allows it to play special music. The most interesting thing is that your bed partner cannot hear the music. Only the person who is lying their head on the pillow can hear it.

Interesting…

When I heard about Dreampad I knew I had to try it out for myself. The last thing I’d want to do is wake up my husband.

Dreampad is a technology-based solution for reducing stress and improving sleep – something I certainly need help with.

Setting up Dreampad is not that difficult. You simply download the FREE accompanying app and then hook your phone up to your pillow via a small plug that you will find in the corner of pillow. That’s it. That is all you need to do.

The app offers several free soundtracks that you can download and enjoy. The music is something only YOU can hear while resting your head on the Dreampad pillow. This is accomplished by special vibrations in the pillow that help you to hear the music.

You an also listen to your own music/play list, including nature sounds. I downloaded some nature sounds (ocean, rain, jungle…) so I can listen to them with the Dreampad pillow.

Looks like a normal pillow

At first I thought this honestly couldn’t work. How can you HEAR through vibrations? Apparently there is a whole scientific reason for why this happens. If you really want to know more about this, as well as research on the subject, you can read about it on the Dreampad website – How It Works. Who am I to question how or why it works… my job is to review if it actually does work.

Yes… it does! I was very surprised by it too. I was even more surprised when my husband told me he couldn’t hear a thing coming from the pillow.

I was concerned that my head would be shaking all over the place since the music is listened to via vibrations. That is not the case at all. You don’t feel any type of vibration. All you hear is music.

You also don’t really notice that your phone is in the Dreampad either. I was worried that sleeping on my phone would be uncomfortable, but there is enough padding in the pillow that you don’t even know that the phone is in there.

You will have to turn off your phone so that you don’t get phone calls or text messages while enjoying the Dreampad music. Hopefully late night phone calls and/or texts is not an issue for you.

There is a volume control and timer on the app, as well as an alarm. I have not tried the alarm as of yet. My husband is my alarm. That is all I need. LOL!

I do find Dreampad to be very relaxing. There are several musical options to choose from. I hope that one day they add more options. Sadly, Dreampad doesn’t really help me to sleep. It helps me to relax and unwind, but it doesn’t make me sleepy. My brain is just too wired to let the Dreampad do what it was made to do. I have to take a prescription medication to help me sleep (a heavy duty one), so this is NOT a reflection on Dreampad’s effectiveness. It’s simply I am a more difficult case. I think with the average person this would work like a dream (no pun intended).

Plug the cord into the section where headphones would go on your phone.

Tuck your phone into the pocket.

Dreampad has done a PTSD study, autism study and parent blogger study which all had positive results. I think they are really onto something.

My husband uses the Dreampad. The firmness it better for him and he doesn’t have that hard of a time falling to sleep. He sleeps with the Dreampad pillow every night, but he doesn’t always turn on the music.

Dreampad is available in a variety of pillow styles – slim support, medium support, firm support and memory foam. I have medium support. It’s OK but I think for me I need more firmer support. There are also accessories you can purchase to go along with it that are optional (like a pillow case or Bluetooth receiver package).

Overall I think this is a fabulous idea. My son had a hard time falling asleep when he was little. I wish Dreampad was around then to help him (he’s almost 18 now and sleeps just fine).

If you are interested in learning more about Dreampad visit DreampadSleep.com. The site will give you a wealth of information about how Dreampad works, as well as the available products. You can also check the brand out on social media. All of their links are found at the bottom of their website.

What do you think about Dreampad? Does it sound like something you need in your life?

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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7 Techniques For Keeping Your ‘Thought Life’ Healthy And Your Stress Level Low

 

Life gives people plenty of reasons to be stressed.

Relationship problems, child-rearing issues, job woes and a lack of money are just some of life’s complications that can weigh people down – and cause health problems.

“It’s difficult to stay healthy and energized when stress is a daily reality,” says Dr. Greg Wells, author of The Ripple Effect: Eat, Sleep, Move and Think Better.

“Chronic stress can damage your body, threaten your mental health, put a strain on relationships, and take the joy out of life.”

But there’s no reason to surrender to stress, Wells says. He suggests seven techniques that can help you have a healthier “thought life” and recover from chronic stress:

Move your body. Rhythmic, repeated motion is particularly soothing to the mind and body. A long walk, cycling, swimming, or running will all work, but any kind of movement relieves tension, improves circulation, and clears your mind.

Get into nature. Head to the garden, the park, or the woods to lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, reduce tension and depression, and boost your mood. “It’s stunning how good it is for your health to be in nature,” Wells says. “And I recommend you leave the cell phone and earbuds at home.”

Photo Source: Dreamstime

Practice yoga or Tai Chi. Therapy, yoga and Tai Chi are good ways to decrease stress and anxiety, increase energy, and boost the immune system. They also give you more stamina—needed in stressful times—and improve the quality of your sleep.

Have perspective. Don’t be so quick to conclude that you “can’t handle” a stressful situation. “This is truly a mind-over-matter opportunity,” Wells says. “Believing that you are strong and resourceful actually makes you stronger and more resourceful.” Don’t give in to negative self-talk about not having what it takes to manage life, he says.

Change the nature of your response. Research indicates that taking an active, problem-solving approach to life’s challenges relieves stress and can transform it into something positive. If you withdraw, deny the problem, or spend all your time venting, you’ll feel helpless. Instead, Well says, be determined to make a change, put effort into it, and plan for better results.

Practice slow, deep breathing. Start applying the power of deep breathing each day. It will make a huge difference. Wells recommends you start small by taking three deep breaths each time you sit down at your desk—in the morning, after breaks, after lunch, and so on. It will help you become more patient, calm, and relaxed.

Block time for single-tasking. Each day, schedule time in your calendar for focusing exclusively on one task. This task should be something that is important to you. “People love to talk about multi-tasking, but while doing several things at once might make it seem as if you are working hard, it’s an illusion,” Wells says. Your body and mind are not designed to work that way and it causes extra stress.

“Ultimately, it’s important to remember that your thoughts have a strong influence over stress levels,” Wells says. “What you choose to think about, or not think about, dictates how your body and mind react to everyday life.”

About the author: 

Dr. Greg Wells (www.DrGregWells.com) is an authority on high performance and human physiology. Wells’ latest book, The Ripple Effect: Eat, Sleep, Move and Think Better, hit shelves earlier this year. Dr. Wells is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Toronto where he studies elite sport performance. He also serves as an Associate Scientist of Translational Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children, where he leads the Exercise Medicine Research Program.

 

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Understanding Gluten Cross-Reactivity and Associated Red-Flag Foods

This is a guest post by Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories

Photo Source: Dreamstime.com

I remember back in the good ol’ days when my mom would serve up a tasty pile of lasagna with layers of cooked pasta, dripping with multiple types of melted cheeses. This dinner favorite, once considered my ideal comfort meal, could now just as easily be labeled a “red-flag meal” to many (including me), having lost its stars and stripes to enemy attackers: gluten and its evil imposters.

In recent years, new medical science and an increased spotlight on how the foods we eat affect our health has given rise to the now-inescapable trend of the gluten-free diet. But while some choose to avoid gluten because of its association with general bloating or inflammation, others are forced to give it up for more serious medical reasons. Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) are two serious conditions that require patients to completely avoid gluten and any cross-contamination of gluten.

Celiac disease (CD) — an autoimmune disease where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the villi of the small intestine, interfering with absorption of nutrients from food—triggers a localized immune response in the small intestine. NCGS, on the other hand, does not cause an autoimmune destruction of the small intestine, but it can still cause chronic, and sometimes acute, systemic immune activation. Both of these gluten-related disorders (CD and NCGS) can cause symptoms outside of the gastrointestinal tract, like brain fog, headaches, joint and muscle pain, depression, fatigue, and skin problems. The current estimate is that about one percent of the American population suffers from celiac disease, with about 83 percent of those affected going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions. But these “celiacs” account for only a fraction of the population that experience sensitivity to gluten. An additional one percent of the population is estimated to deal with some form of NCGS. Those with celiac disease and NCGS may be vulnerable to damage caused by the above referenced “imposters” due to gluten cross-reactivity.

Photo Source: Dreamstime.com

To better explain, the immune system is highly complex and can mistake molecules that are similar in shape (and amino acid sequence) to gluten molecules for actual gluten, creating a similar reaction or autoimmune response. This phenomenon might explain why symptoms do not always dissipate for many people with gluten sensitivities once they have eliminated gluten from their diets. One study revealed that about 50 percent of gluten-sensitive patients also have a problem with a protein called casein found in bovine (cow) dairy. 50 percent! It turns out that the gluten protein and casein protein are very similar in structure. Unfortunately, although this statistic is staggering and problematic for millions of Americans hoping to feel better after dropping gluten from their diet, dairy is not the only thing to worry about.

In addition to dairy, here are several other gluten-associated cross-reactive foods that could be the cause of ongoing symptoms of immune response similar to those of celiac disease or NCGS:

  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Polish/Ancient Wheat
  • Oats
  • Alpha & Beta-Casein
  • Casomorphin
  • Milk Butyrophilin
  • Whey Protein
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Instant Coffee
  • Yeast
  • Millet
  • Corn
  • Rice

Some of the foods on this list also belong to a new subgroup of identified overly consumed foods that may need to be examined when on a gluten free diet. This list includes:

  • Sesame
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Hemp
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Tapioca
  • Teff
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Potato

Because food sensitivities are different from allergies, a traditional allergy test panel would be of no benefit to someone with immune-reactive food intolerances. Until recently, the only way to pinpoint a possible sensitivity was to try an elimination diet. In this case, you would eliminate all of the foods mentioned above for a few months until symptoms dissipate, reintroducing them one at a time, looking for symptoms to reoccur. This can be a long and frustrating process. Fortunately, science has come a long way in recent years and there are now hyper focused gluten cross-reactivity screens available for patients dealing with food sensitivities and reactivities. For example, Cyrex Laboratories, a clinical laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity, offers the Array 4 – Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods and Foods Sensitivity. This innovative test identifies reactivity to foods that are known to cross-react to gluten and react to newly introduced foods on a gluten free diet.

If you have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gut dysbiosis and are experiencing limited improvements or are non-responsive on a gluten-free diet, testing for gluten cross-reactivity is highly recommended. Remember that inflammation, discomfort, joint and muscle pain, brain fog, skin problems, fatigue, bloating and other digestive and systematic symptoms are not just a matter of being uncomfortable; these signs are our body’s way of telling us that something is off and needs to be adjusted. Always consult with your primary care physician to discuss symptoms, possible causes and options for testing. Be well!

Photo Source: Dreamstime.com

About the author:

Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories. Dr. Larson holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease.

 

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Summer Weight Gain Prevention Tips

*This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own. 

The key to keeping your kids healthy during the summer months is to provide structure to their day so that they don’t wander into mindless behavior like overeating and not exercising. The structure is not going to be the same as a typical school day so use trial and error to find out what works for your family.

The tips below are our ideas and suggestions on how to add structure so that your child is occupied and staying on track with their health goals.

Gameify tidying up the house.Have your kids do things around the house that you’ve been asking them to do all year in exchange for points. Decide on a number of points that lead to a reward like going to a trampoline park or getting a new pair of tennis shoes. For example, 30 points may equal a fun outing and they get 10 points each for  cleaning out their school folders, getting rid of clothing that doesn’t fit, donating toys that they no longer use, etc.

Crown an Iron Chef. Each night of the week someone different in the family gets to pick out a green light dessert recipe they want to make then everyone has to score how much they like it. Whomever wins gets to be the Iron Chef of the week. Check out Kurbo’s Pinterest page and Summer cookbook for ideas: www.Kurbo.com/cookbooks

Avoid Zombieland.Kids turn into Zombies during the summer with excess time on the couch watching movies, sitcom marathons, and YouTube videos. Avoid Zombies in your house by trading active minutes with screen time minutes. Establish a firm rule in your household that screen time is earned based on how much time is spent playing outside or doing some sort of exercise.

Teach your kids that not all farmer’s are like Old McDonald.Take the kids to your local farmer’s market; this time of year has exceptionally delicious produce. Let them pick out their favorite looking summer berries and melon, then keep it washed and cut up so that it is easily accessible. You’ll be surprised how much more your kids will want to eat healthy food when they are the ones that pick it out.

Star Gazing.Make nightly family walks a summer tradition. Challenge the kids to find the Big Dipper and various star constellations as you walk. (You can download apps or get books that help identify the constellations and planets).

About the author:

Arielle is a Master coach at Kurbo Health coaching kids, adults and parents on lifestyle changes that lead to weight loss and happier, more fulfilling lives. She is an International Coach Federation certified coach and pursuing a Ph.D in Mind-Body Medicine. 

 

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Keeping The Elderly (and everyone) Safe In The Hot Summer Heat

 

PHOTO SOURCE: Dreamstime.com

I am NOT a fan of the summer months. Summer is my LEAST favorite season, right behind winter. I cannot stand humidity or the intense summer sun.

I used to like summer when I was younger, but the older I get the more I dislike it. I especially hate it at night when it’s so hot and sticky that I can’t get comfortable to sleep.

Below are some great tips from Kurt Kazanowski on how to protect the elderly during the dog days of summer. I am sharing these tips with readers because I think they can apply to everyone – not just he elderly.

Kurt Kazanowski MS, RN, CHE, author of A Son’s Journey: Taking Care of Mom and Dad, who is a senior care, homecare and hospice expert, offers these tips:

Stay hydrated

Dehydration is one of the main causes of most health problems, not just heat related. To keep everything running efficiently in the body, and keep it cool, water is a must. Encourage them to continually drink water throughout the day even if they aren’t thirsty. Your body needs water way before it tells you through the sensation of thirst. Keep an eye on the consumption of caffeine and alcohol as their intake dries out the body. 

Notice the time of day

If you have an activity planned, especially one with heavy sun exposure, schedule it accordingly. The hottest times of the summer day are between 12pm and 4pm. Aim for morning or evening when thinking about having a family outing in the summer. Most importantly keep the time limited. There is only so long people of any age can benefit from being in direct sunlight. 

PHOTO SOURCE: Dreamstime.com

Dress appropriately and seek shade

Older individual’s skin is particularly sensitive. Encourage them to use sunscreen and bug sprays when necessary. Utilize shade during your summer fun when possible. They can also wear light breathable layers and sun hats to avoid sun exposure if shade is not an option. 

Watch the index

High heat coupled with high humidity impairs the bodies sweat glands. Therefore, it can’t cool itself properly. The heat index takes the moisture and heat measurements into account. It then reports the temperature ‘it feels like’ outside with multiple variables in mind. There are apps and various websites where you can check the heat index easily. 

Take it easy

Plan your activities with all family members and their needs in mind. Strenuous activities outdoors are overwhelming to many in the summer. Sometimes turning your activity plans into two-parts is the most successful. If you are inviting your older family members, consider their limitations. Maybe have one part of the family do the hike and meet your parents for lunch after with everyone. That way it is still a social activity but without the stress for them. 

PHOTO SOURCE: Dreamstime.com

Utilize AC

Air conditioning is a wonderful asset for people of every age, especially those in hot climates. If seniors do not have AC in their homes, they can take advantage of public places. Libraries, movie theatres, coffee shops and shopping centers all have AC. Taking a cool bath or shower is a good option as well. Other easy options involve cool cloths and ice packs. Make sure these are handy at their home for a quick grab when needed. 

Know the signs of heat illnesses

Keep an eye out for any signs that seem off or out of the ordinary. Sudden redness in the face, dizziness or nausea are red flags. Sit them down in a cool place with a glass of ice water and take a breath. Any chest pain, erratic breathing, rapid heartbeat or sudden headaches should all be taken seriously. Seek medical attention if it gets worse.

Don’t forget about your pets either. You need to make sure they are safe and healthy during the hot summer months too.

Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share? Feel free to share them in the comment section of this post.

PHOTO SOURCE: Dreamstime.com

Kimberly

*This is a guest post. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect my own. 

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Advice to my younger self…

 

PHOTO SOURCE: Dreamstime.com

Oh to be a child again. No worries. No responsibilities. No stress. Just enjoy life to it’s fullest. Sure, I can do that now, but when you are a parent and have a mortgage there are things you do need to worry about.

I grew up in upstate New York, about 2+ hours North of New York City. I lived in the country. Back in the day I would leave my house first thing in the morning and no one would see me until dusk. It was also back when my parents would never even lock the door when the left our home. In hindsight, that was not a smart thing to do.

When I was a young girl I could not wait for summer vacation from school. I got to hang out with my cousins and my friends and go on fabulous adventures, even if it was only in my backyard.

I spent countless hours in my great-grandfather’s pool. My friends and I would ride our bikes all over the place and my cousins and I would walk for miles on end in Pennsylvania just to got to the ice cream shop to share a small ice cream cone.

As an adult I wish there was a way I could have given younger self. For example, always wear shoes – especially when you are playing in the woods (I have many scars as a result of always being barefoot). I would also teach my younger self about “stranger danger.” Perhaps walking miles in the middle of no where with your younger cousins to get ice cream was not a smart move.

There are many things I would advise my younger self about, but the #1 thing would be to ALWAYS use sunscreen.

Growing up I never used sunscreen. I don’t even think my family owned any. This was back when it was OK to lie out in the sun slathered in baby oil (I cringe at that thought now).

Me with a really nasty sunburn because I neglected to apply sunscreen.

I’m of Welsh, Norwegian, Irish and Scottish decent. None of these nationalities are know for their glowing tans. These nationalities are all fair skinned – just like me. I joke that I’m so pale that I’m practically see-thru.

When I was younger I had MANY incidents with sun poisoning. That is way more than a typical sunburn. I would get massive blisters all over my body and be in total pain an agony. I’ve even had incidents were my face would be so burned it would swell up and I’d be unrecognizable. Just ask my cousins and my aunt. To this day they STILL talk about all those times I was severely sunburned.

I never learned my lesson. I would just keep out of the sun for a few days until I healed then I’d be back outside living life like I normally did.

Fast forward a few decades later. I had to have six “suspicious moles” removed so far. If you have ever had to have a mole removed you know that it’s NOT a pleasant experience.

My Dermatologist told me to ALWAYS protect myself from the sun because I am at greater risk of developing skin cancer due to all those times I had sun burns and sun poisoning when I was younger.

Dermatologist examining moles for signs of skin cancer.
PHOTO SOURCE: Dreamstime.com

Did you know that Skin cancer is the leading cause of cancer related death in the US? It’s also the most common cancer type in the United States. That is REALLY SCARY!

SUNSCREEN!!!! If there is one thing I wish EVERYONE would do is to ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN.

I know some people enjoy a dark, rich, glowing tan but in the end it’s not worth the damage it does to your skin. If you want a tan use a self-tanning lotion or bronzer.

Now that I know better I always wear sunscreen when I go out. I always wear lotion on my face with SPF in it as well. I wear sunscreen even during the winter months. I don’t want to take any chances.

CVS knows how incredibly important that wearing sunscreen is. That is why they created their “Long Live Skin” campaign. This initiative is meant to increase awareness around skin health. I think that is a wonderful idea because I still see people that don’t care about their skin health and think it’s OK to bask in the sun and turn their skin into shoe leather.

CVS, along with Johnson & Johnson, have teamed up with the American Cancer Society to educate its customers about why proper skin care and sun care.

In addition, Neutrogena, as a sun care leader, wants you to live a sun safe life. It should be taught at a young age so that it can continue for a lifetime. Neutrogena as a valued sun care expert. I personally use Neutrogena sun care products on a regular basis. I keep sunscreen in my car, in my husband’s car, at work and in my medicine cabinet. I also keep a well stocked supply of Neutrogena sun care products in our cabinet so that my entire family has easy access to skin care products.

Our children are out in the sun a lot too. They used to fight us when it came to putting on sunscreen, but THANKFULLY as adults they know to use sunscreen when they are going to be outside. Our daughter is gong to be a camp counselor this summer and our son works at a ballpark, so both of them are outside in the sun for hours at a time. I’m grateful that they know how to care for their skin, unlike me when I was there age (and younger). They have learned from my mistakes.

As pare of the Love Live Skin campaign, CVS has removed all sun care products fro their shelves that have an SPF lower than 15. They are being replace with 30 new SPF+/broad spectrum products that either meet or exceed FDA standards.

Some of my favorite products include Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen with SPF 100+. I spray it on before I leave for work. It’s lightweight and it doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy or sticky. When I’m at work I don’t want to feel that way.

I work at a school and our class goes out for recess. That is why I make sure to apply the mist before I leave for work. I also keep another sunscreen in my lunch tote in case I feel like I need more.

I enjoy using Neutrogena Age Shield Face which is an oil free lotion with SPF 110. Not only does it protect my face fro the sun, but it’s also waterproof AND it offers anti-aging protection (the sun can really age your skin).

Another “must have” for me is Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Liquid (SPF 70). You can squeeze out as much as you need. I use this to give my nose, cheeks and ears extra coverage when I need it. I don’t need to worry about slathering it all over my face. I only use it on the areas I feel need extra sunscreen.

FYI… until June 24, 2017, when you purchase any Neutrogena or Aveeno product with SPF, $1.00 will be donated to the American Cancer Society (up to $100,000) to help educate people and prevent skin cancer. 

To learn more about this campaign, and to see what others are saying about it, check out the hashtag #AdvicetomyYoungerSelf on social media.

For more information about my favorite Neutrogena products (or other Neutrogena products) visit Neutrogena.com. You can also check them out on social media (@Neutrogena).

Be honest… do YOU regularly wear sunscreen? Why or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

Kimberly

*I have partnered with Neutrogena to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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