Putting Insomnia To Bed


Not getting enough sleep? Here are eight strategies that can help.

As the saying goes; “You snooze, you lose.” But when you don’t get enough sleep, nobody wins. When we’re tired, we tend not to exercise or eat right either. We also get more irritable, stressed out and are more likely to get sick. And we don’t work as well when we’re tired. By some accounts, sleep deprivation costs Canadian businesses more than $15 billion a year in lost productivity.

So how do you get the rest you need? Try these strategies to help you get a better night’s sleep.

1 – Create a bed-time ritual

Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekend. Establishing a pattern of calming bedtime activities like taking a bath, reading, meditation or writing in your journal can help to train you mind and body that it’s time to settle down.

2- Put away your smartphone

Blue light from your phone (or tablet) suppresses the production of melatonin. That is why people who spend a lot of time looking at a screen before bed have more trouble nodding off. If you like to read e-books, try a reader that isn’t back-lit or use a screen cover that minimizes blue light.

3 – Take the pressure off

Poor sleep is our number-one response to stress. It’s also a bit of a double-edged sword as not getting enough shut-eye actually increases stress. So how do you break the cycle? Find ways to recharge and calm down throughout the day. Go for a walk, practice mindfulness exercises, or yoga. Small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference.

4 – Cool it

A cool room can help you too relax as well. Our body temperature naturally drops as we fall asleep, an environment that’s too warm may actually inhibit drifting off. Ideal bedroom temperatures range from 19 to 22 C.

5 – Lose the light

Too much ambient light can suppress melatonin production while darkness triggers it. The darker your bedroom the better so if you live in a brightly light city or near a large industrial installation installing blackout curtains and removing electronics with light-up displays can help.

6 – Move more

People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better. Working out three or four times a week can make a real difference. Don’t hit the gym too close to bedtime though, or the adrenalin from your workout could end up keeping you awake. Morning workouts are best but try to give yourself at least 2 hours for your body to return to normal before trying to go to sleep.

7 – Eat to sleep

Certain foods can help you nod off at night too. Vitamin B6 is important for making melatonin. B6-rich foods like fish, bananas, chickpeas, nuts and lentils can help. Drinking tart cherry juice, right before bed has been proven to alleviate insomnia in some cases.

 

8 – Avoid alcohol

We all know that cutting back on caffeine can reduce wakefulness. But most forms of alcohol inhibit sleep too.   This one is a bit counter intuitive until you think about it.  A glass of wine may help you drift off, but as the relaxing effects of the alcohol wear off the fermented sugars take over and you’re suddenly wide awake again.

Still can’t sleep?

Try not to stress about it. Insomnia can happen to almost everyone. If you’re tired all the time, talk to your doctor, maybe you have sleep apnea or another underlying cause.

Sweet dreams….

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

 

 

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Health Insurance – Better Than Cash


As many of you know, before I started working in the Financial Services industry I spent 19 years as a marketing rep in the Music Industry, the last 12 at the same company.  During that time I never had a health plan.

When I started I was in my late 20s and the lack of access to things like routine dental care and the odd prescription really wasn’t that big of a deal to me.  Health plans weren’t for young health people like me; at least that’s what I thought.  That is until my wife was diagnosed with a chronic condition, requiring approximately $200 per month in prescription drugs.  The resulting financial strain on our new marriage was at times unbearable.  Not to mention the fact that neither of us saw an optometrist or dentist for over ten years.

That’s why, when I became a Financial Advisor I started talking to small business owners about the benefits of providing health insurance for their employees.

healthplan

A recent survey from Manulife Financial shows that while most companies believe they are responsible for the health and wellbeing of their employees fewer than 45% of them actually provide any form of health plan.  Cost is a huge factor but most small business owners just don’t know how to optimise the plan and how with the help of a good accountant they can balance the cost against some very generous tax advantages, for both the employer and the employee.  Not to mention the cost of retraining when employees leave for greener pastures at companies who get it.

For many employees, a well designed benefits plan can be better than cash.  For more information on how best to structure a health plan for your employees feel free to write to me at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com and click the link here to read more on the Manulife Financial Small Business Research Report.

Canada’s Gold


 

So last week, more than 20 years after the federal government stopped using asbestos in the insulation of federal buildings and banned the use of the mineral in building materials across Canada, it was announced that they would no longer resist the implementation of similar laws in other countries.  As a result an entire region of Eastern Quebec will no doubt lose its main industry and thousands will be out of work very shortly.  The final nail in the coffin of an industry that was once referred to as “Canada’s Gold” has at last been driven. 

In the 1970s Canada was the world’s largest producer of asbestos and for decades as the world wide demand for the mineral has dwindled we have resisted the listing of it as a hazardous material and the banning of its use world-wide.  In an act of what can only be called arrogant duplicity Canada banned the mineral domestically and spent billions to remove it from buildings all over the country and yet still promoted its export and fought against its ban on the world stage.  In recent years Canada had even attempted to take our friend and ally France to court at the WTO to prevent them from enacting a similar law against the use of asbestos in new construction.  It was the loss of this lawsuit and pressure from the international community that finally caused last week’s announcement.   

Asbestos has been linked to lung cancer and respiratory disease, with the first suspected death due to inhalation of asbestos fibers dating back to 1906 and the first truly documented case of lung cancer as a result recorded in the UK in 1924.  The use of asbestos in construction peaked in the reconstruction boom after World War II but by the late 1960s and 70s the links to illness were undeniable and the law suits started.   By the early 1980s countries all over the world were beginning to ban its use and shut down mining operations.  

The reasons behind Canada’s continued support of the asbestos mining industry had as much to do with domestic tensions within the province of Quebec as with anything else.  But at the end of the day it comes to down to a perverted application of development economics.  While the developed world long ago recognized the hazardous effects of asbestos and weighed the health risks against the economic advantages of inexpensive construction, developing countries couldn’t afford that luxury.  The demand for inexpensive insulation in the construction of infrastructure in developing nations continues to this day and asbestos is still prevalent in everything from government offices to schools and hospitals all across sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and the middle-east.     The fact that Canada, per capita one of the wealthiest nations on earth, was until know still promoting the export of a known carcinogen to poor nations and thereby placing the health of millions below the economic wellbeing of a few thousand miners was beyond deplorable.  Even though that now a few towns in Eastern Quebec are going to go through some serious economic hardship Canada is more than capable of provided assistance to those individuals without causing further damage to human lives on the other side of the world.    

But let’s be honest, the fact that Canada is officially out of the asbestos business doesn’t mean that a world-wide ban on its use is coming any time soon.  It just means that Russia and China are now unchallenged in their dominance of the industry and I for one am happy to let that dubious distinction remain with them.  Human life is too valuable to be measured in dollars and cents, especially when those dollars end up being the difference between life and death.