Surviving the Night Shift

If your job involves working the night shift, (late at night until early in the morning) then you probably know how difficult it can be to maintain and take care of your health. According to a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans are working the night shift.

Our bodies are designed to be active during the day and resting at night. Many functions of your body, including digestion and heart rate, are dependent on your circadian rhythm. When you work the night shift, your body’s circadian rhythm can be disturbed, causing it to become out of sync. Here are some tips that will help you get through working the night shift.

  • Manage your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant. When used carefully, your daily dose of coffee can help you to remain alert throughout a shift. However, improper use of caffeine can cause gastrointestinal upsets and muscle shakes.
  • Take a hot shower before and after your shift. This will wake you up and help relax your muscles.
  • Sleep as much as you can before. If you are someone who usually wakes up early, try to nap for at least 3 hours to reduce your drowsiness at work. Be aware that if you sleep for more than 30 – 40 minutes, your body will enter deep sleep mode. It can take around an hour to feel fully alert afterward, so set aside time for that as well.
  • Stop unhealthy snacking. If you don’t feel like eating a huge meal or if you don’t have time, eat healthy snacks such as nuts and raw fruits or vegetables. Snacks that are high in sugar may help you initially when consumed, but you’ll more than likely end up feeling moody and “crashing” later, which will induce drowsiness.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry. Have something to eat and drink before you go to sleep. If not, then you will wake up feeling hungry and thirsty.
  • Spend your off days wisely. Once your body is on a schedule, it could take some time for it to completely switch routine. Stick to a routine. Even on days you don’t work, try to stay awake at night and sleep during the day.
  • Exercise regularly and when you can. If you’re someone who feels exhausted after finishing your night shift, try to schedule your workouts before your shift, or exercise on your off days.
  • If you’re used to falling asleep with the TV on or with your phone in your hand, you should definitely “unplug” before going to sleep. Take advantage of any time you have to sleep and try to make it uninterrupted. Sleep experts recommend turning off all of your devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Try to set aside 7 to 9 hours of sleep after getting home from your night shift. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electric fans are great for keeping air circulating throughout the room and it is helpful and neutral background noise.
  • Bond with your colleagues. It’s good to have a support system at work of other coworkers who are working the night shift as well. Be honest with them about how you are feeling.

Working the night shift can be difficult, but sticking to a routine, eating healthy, and improving your sleep patterns can make the adjustment smoother. If you’re struggling, see a doctor. Discuss your problems with them so that they can help you come up with a solution.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Battling Fatigue at Work

If you’re like many people, you may spend time at work battling fatigue. One minute you’re feeling wide awake and productive, and the next you start yawning and feel your body progressively getting more tired. Fatigue is a common problem that affects many people in the workplace – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of adults are not getting enough sleep each night.

If you’re someone who doesn’t get enough sleep at night, the drowsiness might hit you sooner as opposed to someone who is getting an adequate amount of sleep each night (at least seven hours). Here are some techniques you can utilize to stay awake so that you’re not falling asleep on the job.

  • Take breaks. Short breaks will help you sustain your focus and energy levels. If your eyes are tired from strain and your muscles are aching, it’s time to get up and walk around. You will feel better and be more productive if you walk around, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Drink more water and less caffeine. Dehydration causes fatigue – it can reduce blood flow to your organs, which slows down your brain. Keep water in your work area and condition yourself to drink 8 cups of water a day, which is the recommended amount. Caffeinated drinks will wake you up temporarily, but later on, you will feel jittery and eventually “crash.”
  • Get moving – take a walk. Physical activity stimulates blood flow to the brain. If you are feeling drowsy, take a walk or stretch to increase your level of alertness. If you are doing a task where you aren’t able to move around much, stretch.
  • Go outside. Exposure to the sunlight outside will improve your mood and concentration, and it can even boost your levels of Vitamin D.
  • Breathe. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a big, deep breath. There are many breathing exercises you can do while at work.

If you are still battling persistent fatigue even after making small lifestyle changes, you may have an underlying medical condition. See a doctor for help so that they can come up with a treatment plan for you.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Sealing Your Home

Air sealing is a seal that prevents the passage of air or vapor. Creating an air seal with foam insulation can work to block air movement both in and out of your home. The air leakage you may be experiencing can account for about 30% of your home’s heating and cooling costs.

Besides the financial aspect, sealing your home against air leakage is a simple way you can increase your comfort and simultaneously reduce carbon emissions by up to 25%. Air usually leaks through unsealed or poorly sealed doors and windows, unsealed vents, skylights, and exhaust fans, poorly fitted or shrunken floorboards, and gaps in or around ceiling insulation.

Air leaks also damage the structure of your house. The air that enters through the tiny gaps around your house can carry moisture, and this moisture can damage your home’s foundation. If you don’t already have the correct barrier to protect from outside vapor, the moisture than is absorbed can also result in the development of mold, water damage, and pest infestations.

Air sealing will especially help those who suffer from allergies or asthma, which is directly linked to pollutants and other allergens that are found in indoor air. Besides mold and pesticides, pollen and dust are other irritants that can irritate the airways.

Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the most common ways to air seal your home.

  • Weather-stripping is the process of sealing openings around doors and windows to prevent air from entering and escaping. Foam, vinyl, and tape are some of the material that helps to block air flow.
  • Caulking is a multipurpose material that seals the cracks created by caps, cracks, and joints. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, and ceilings.

Air that leaks out of your home is replaced by air that comes in from the outside, which creates unnecessary drafts within your home. The most effective solution would be to start by sealing the largest and most obvious leaks, and then moving on to the cracks that are more significant. When these are sealed, smaller leaks become more prominent. Larger leaks on the roof may be more difficult to locate and seal, so professional advice may be necessary.

You will notice a decrease in energy consumption and an overall improved air quality and be at ease knowing that your home is protected against mold and other air leak related damages. Air sealing will keep your home and its occupants healthy.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Health Benefits and Importance of Exercise

If you are trying to lose weight or keep it off, exercise should be a regular part of your routine. However, the advantages of physical activity don’t just include physical fitness. Here are the health benefits of exercise.

  • Maintains weight. Exercise can help prevent extra weight gain or even maintain weight loss. When you work out, you burn calories. The more the intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
  • Enhances immune system. Exercise improves your body’s ability to pump the oxygen and reduces the risk of getting colds and/or the flu.
  • Reduces risk for health diseases and conditions. Consistent exercise combats health diseases and conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. For Type 2 Diabetes, exercise helps to control blood glucose levels.
  • Boosts energy. Exercise increases energy levels so that you can be more productive.
  • Promotes sleep. Exercise helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. A good quality of sleep helps improve overall wellness and can reduce stress.
  • Strengthens and tones muscles. Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength and boosts your endurance. Strong muscles reduce your risk of joint and lower back pain by keeping your joints in proper alignment.
  • Improves mood. Physical activity releases chemicals called endorphins, which are known to make you feel happier and more relaxed. Exercise also decreases the amount of stress hormones that your body releases.

If you’re unsure of your health status or if you have health problems, speak with your doctor before starting a more strenuous exercise program. Here are some other factors that will make working out more enjoyable and productive.

  • Stretch before and after exercise.
  • Pace yourself and start slow. If you are starting to exercise after a long time or if this is your first time exercising regularly, start with 30 minutes a day, 2-3 times a week. Try to have at least one day where you don’t exercise at all.
  • Listen to your body. If you aren’t feeling well or if you’re in pain, don’t overexert yourself.
  • Have good, comfortable running shoes.
  • Know what the weather is going to be like. If it’s hot outside, protect your skin using sunscreen and wear proper clothing to avoid overheating.
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking water before, during, and after a workout.

You don’t need to spend money on a gym membership. There are at home exercises you can do that don’t require gym equipment, or you can start by walking or running around your neighborhood. Exercise and physical activity in general are both are a great way to feel better, boost your energy, and have fun. For most adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Exercise is good for your mind, body and soul.

Staying Put During a Disaster: How to Shelter in Place

Choosing to take shelter during a disaster is a necessary step for survival. Shelter-in-place is a precautionary measure and one of the instructions you may be given in an emergency, whether it’s a severe weather alert, or a chemical, biological, or radiological contamination that may have been released into the atmosphere.

During some disasters, evacuating your home or business may put you at greater risk than staying put. There may be some situations when it’s simply best to stay where you are, whether you are at home, at work, or somewhere else. To effectively shelter, you should first consider the hazard, and then choose an area in your home or building that will protect you.

The safest place to seek shelter and instructions will vary depending on location.

At home:

  • Close and lock all windows and doors.
  • Go to an interior room without windows that are above the ground floor level. In case of a chemical threat, an above-ground level room is best because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may leak into the basement even if the windows are closed.
  • Turn off electric fans and heating/air conditioning systems.
  • Make sure your vents and fireplace flue are closed.
  • Retrieve your disaster supplies kit.
  • Bring your family and pets inside. Be sure that you have additional food and water supplies for your pets, and make arrangements for them to use the restroom inside your room.

At work:

  • Close the business.
  • Bring everyone inside. Shut and lock the doors.
  • Turn on call-forwarding or alternative answering phone systems. If the business has a voicemail, change the recording so that it indicates that the business is closed.
  • If there are any clients, visitors, or customers in the building, encourage them to stay inside and give them directions of the shelter-in-place procedures.
  • Write down the names of every person in the room. Call your business’ designated emergency contact and let them know who everyone in the room is, and their relationship to the business (whether it be an employee, visitor, customer, or client).
  • Gather essential disaster supplies – nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radios, flashlights, batteries, plastic garbage bags, etc.
  • If there is a danger of explosion, close the window, shades, blinds, and/or curtains.
  • Keep listening to the radio or TV until you are told all is clear or you are told to evacuate.

Finding out what can happen is the first step to being prepared. You should develop a disaster plan within your home or workplace. Consider practicing drills so that in case of an emergency, you know exactly what to do.  You should also have an emergency package – this should include an adequate water supply (at least three days’ worth), batteries, flashlight, first-aid kit, scissors, duct tape, paper towels, non-perishable food, a battery operated radio, and cell phone chargers.

During a shelter-in-place alert, no one is to leave the area until you are given the “all clear” from authorities. Shelter-in-place can last a few hours or even longer. It’s important to try to stay calm and be patient. Local authorities may not be immediately available to provide information about what is happening and what you need to do. However, you should still watch TV, listen to the radio, and check the internet for news and updates.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Spring Vegetables

Spring is almost here, which means warmer weather and more sunlight. For some, the spring season can mean a fresh start. Spring is also a great time to make healthier choices when it comes to food, which can include incorporating more vegetables into your diet.

These colorful vegetables are in season right now and are very versatile – they can be consumed whether they’re fresh, frozen, or even in the form of a smoothie. Another good thing is – these don’t require much time or effort at all.

  • Kale is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and very low in calories. It’s easy to add in a salad, or you can substitute it for bread if you choose to make a healthy lunch wrap.
  • Spinach is a great source of iron, folate, and magnesium. It can also be added to salads or eaten on the side of a dish such as grilled chicken.
  • Asparagus contains a prebiotic named inulin that aids digestive healthy by promoting the growth of good bacteria. It also contains many anti-inflammatory nutrients that act as antioxidants. Artichokes provide fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They are a great source of lutein, which promotes heart health. Salmon with a side of grilled asparagus is a very popular dish.
  • Spring peas provide folic acid, fiber, and vitamin B6. They have been recognized as a source of alpha-linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Sweet spring peas can be eaten raw with a salad.
  • Broccoli contains the antioxidant named sulforaphane, which studies have shown to have anti-cancer effects. Broccoli can help support digestive health. You can lightly steam broccoli for about 5 minutes and have it on the side of a dish.
  • Avocadoes are considered a great source of folate, which is one of the B-vitamins needed to make red and white blood cells in bone marrow, convert carbs into energy, and produce DNA and RNA. You can mash up avocados in order to make guacamole, eat it on toast, or even have it with scrambled eggs.
  • Brussel sprouts contain potassium and are high in vitamins C and K. You can coat Brussel sprouts in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, and roast them.
  • Artichokes nourish the probiotics in your digestive system and also help reduce inflammation in your body. Artichokes are best when steamed or braised, or you can even make it into a soup with other vegetables.
  • Tomatoes contain many antioxidants and they can go with just about any meal. You can add them to salads, soups, or choose to eat them as a snack.
  • Red bell peppers are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Red bell peppers are sweet and you can even eat it as a snack. Green, yellow, and orange bell peppers are healthy as well, but red bell peppers have more nutritional value.

Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about the effects these vegetables will have on your body and overall health.

 

Written by Dami Falade

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10 Health Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis and has been used around the world for medicinal purposes. Green tea is consumed as a beverage and can also be taken in supplements. There are many different types available and it is very versatile.

Here are the top 10 health benefits of drinking green tea.

  • Compounds in green tea can improve brain function, mental performance, and prevent cognitive decline. The two main compounds in green tea, L-theanine and coffee, can significantly boost levels of attention and alertness.
  • Increases fat burning and improves physical performance. Green tea increases metabolism and the nutrients found in green tea works to increase levels of fat burning.
  • Improves bone density. The bioactive components of green tea help decrease the risk of fractures by improving bone mineral density.
  • Can kill bacteria, which improves dental health and lowers your risk for infection. Green tea has natural antibiotic and antifungal properties and can protect against cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
  • May lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. Green tea improves insulin sensitivity and helps protect against rapid rises and crashes in blood sugar levels.
  • Maintains a healthy cardiovascular system. Green tea contains significant amounts of antioxidants that protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots and improving blood vessel function.
  • Aids digestion. One of the ways that green tea promotes digestive healthy is because the catechins (antioxidants) found in green tea can help increases the activity of pepsin, a digestion enzyme.
  • Improves your mood and helps you relax. Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is found in tea plants. L-theanine exhibits anti-anxiety effects by increasing dopamine levels in the brain and decreases blood pressure.
  • Live longer. Not only has green tea been found to help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it has also been found to prevent cancer, which can greatly impact one’s life expectancy.
  • Lowers blood sugar. Green tea helps reduce insulin resistance, which goes hand in hand with the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.

Here are some more tips to make drinking green tea more enjoyable.

  • Be mindful of water temperature. Green tea should usually be brewed between 150 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to control water temperature is to use a tea kettle. If you don’t have one, you can simply boil water in a pot on the stove.
  • Don’t add sugar or honey. This may take away from the nutritional value of tea. A better alternative would be using mint or lemon juice.
  • Drink three to five cups a day for maximum health benefits.

Feel better, lose weight, lower your risk of chronic disease, and be healthier by incorporating green tea into your everyday routine!

 

Written by Dami Falade

Allergies

An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees an unfamiliar substance as harmful and overreacts to it. The symptoms that appear as a result are an allergic reaction. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 50 million Americans experience various types of allergies each year.

Now that spring is approaching, we have cooler weather, which means that allergy season is among us. Along with cooler weather and changing vegetation, plants are releasing pollen into the air and outdoor molds are growing under fallen leaves, both of which can trigger allergies.

Allergy symptoms can vary, depending on the severity:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling/redness
  • Cough
  • Hives (swollen red bumps on the skin)

Here are some tips for allergy relief.

  • Clean the air filters in your home. The things you come into contact with every day are the ones most likely to trigger your allergies. Clean bookshelves, vents, and other places where dust can collect as well.
  • Vacuum your home on a regular basis.
  • Consider buying a humidifier. By having a well-balanced level of humidity in the air, you can help your nasal pathways be free of mucus.
  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • If you’ve been outside, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes. This will help so that you don’t bring allergens into your home. Take your shoes off at the door.
  • Wash everyday items, such as your bedsheets and pillowcases, at least once a week.
  • Keep your doors/windows closed during the spring months, to keep allergens out.
  • Eat healthy foods. Make sure you’re eating fruits and vegetables, and make sure you are drinking enough water as well.

Allergy season is unavoidable, but you can still utilize these tips so that you can feel your best and stay healthy. Remember to see a doctor if over-the-counter medications aren’t providing much relief, or if your symptoms become more severe.

 

Written by Dami Falade

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Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

Packing your own lunch can save you money and cut down on daily calories. Although it can be tempting to eat fast food instead or have other sweet snacks, there are many options for easy and healthy lunches that you can take with you to work. Here are some tips that packing a healthy lunch can be less difficult.

  • Plan ahead! Have a meal prep day, if your schedule permits. Prepare some large batches of salad, soup, or another healthy recipe on the weekends so it can be packed into your Tupperware containers for the week. Store the containers in the fridge, and in the mornings, you can grab them on the way out the door.
  • Make extra dinner and pack up the leftovers. If you make a large healthy dinner, put some away in a container and refrigerate it for the next day.
  • Pack your lunch early. Making your lunch the night before can save time in the mornings.
  • Keep water on hand. You can pack a reusable water bottle that you like. Drink water throughout the day and at lunchtime so that you can stay hydrated. Try to avoid sugary drinks, like juices or soda.
  • Don’t force yourself to eat foods that you don’t like. If you pack foods that you won’t normally eat, you’re more than likely to toss it out and go eat at a restaurant instead.
  • Consider investing in Tupperware containers and a lunch bag to put your food in.
  • Skip the processed snacks. When adding snacks to your lunch, consider fresh fruit, raw veggies, or nuts instead of packing potato chips and candy.

Here are some healthy lunch ideas.

  • Switch noodles for veggies. You can make zucchini noodles, which has fewer carbohydrates, instead of eating whole grain pasta.
  • Protein is very versatile. You can do grilled chicken breasts, turkey, or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Instead of having a sandwich, eat a lettuce wrap. You can still incorporate your choice of protein, such as ground turkey meat or grilled chicken.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Baby carrots, avocados, celery, or grape tomatoes
  • Chili or chicken tortilla soup
  • Snacks: Besides fruits and veggies, try raw nuts or seeds.
  • Turkey meatballs with green vegetables – zucchini, spinach, or kale
  • Chicken or steak fajita bowls with bell peppers and low-fat cheese

Finding time to cook during the week can be tough, but you can start by making small steps to beat bad habits. Bringing your lunch to work is a great way to start or maintain healthy eating habits. Making smarter choices can save you time and calories!

 

Written by Dami Falade

Heart Health: Preventing Heart Disease

The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body. Unfortunately, some people don’t take care of it the way that they should, which is where heart diseases come into play. According to Dr. Eugenia Gianos, Director of Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, 50% of heart disease is genetic.  There are so many factors that go into cardiovascular health, but heart disease is preventable. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you will have a healthy heart and a healthy life!

  • Reduce or stop smoking entirely. People who smoke are twice as likely to have a heart attack as opposed to those who don’t. The carbon dioxide found in tobacco decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. Smoking also causes blood clots and increases your blood pressure. If you do smoke, try to cut down significantly. The earlier you stop smoking, the better.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Physical activity helps lower your blood pressure and being active improves blood flow. Try to incorporate physical activity into your daily or weekly routine, if you don’t work out already. Start slow – take a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week, if possible.
  • Monitor your weight. The more fat a person has in their midsection, the more at risk they are for heart disease. Instead of eating outside food, cook meals at home more often. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate – meals like whole-grain pasta with marinara sauce or grilled chicken breasts with vegetables on the side shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete. Not only is it cheaper, but you have control over what ingredients are put in your food. However, if you don’t have time to cook, make smarter choices in the case that you do want to eat outside.
  • Maintain your stress. Chronic, repeated stress triggers your body’s fight-or-flight mode and high blood pressure. Deep breathing, yoga, and even meditation can help manage this.
  • Problems with sleep or lack of sleep can have a huge impact on your heart health. Things that may seem minor, like drinking alcohol or eating a big meal right before bed, can put you more at risk for heart disease. If you feel hungry before going to sleep, try to have a light snack to curb your cravings. Drinking alcohol before bed drastically affects the quality of your sleep. If you do want to drink, do it a few hours before so that it has time to get filtered out of your system through excretion and perspiration.

Heart disease prevention is solely based on what kind of lifestyle you are living. A report from the Centers for Disease Control revealed that heart disease killed around 415,000 Americans in 2016. It may be difficult at first, but you can start by making small changes one at a time. Taking a few simple steps will have a big impact on your heart and overall health.

 

Written by Dami Falade