Tag Archives: health

6 Movies That Could Change the Way You Think about Food

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6 Movies That Could Change the Way You Think about Food

And even though you try to look behind your plate, your habits, your condition or your entire lifestyle, how can you be entirely sure that what you’re doing is right? It’s hard to know what’s right with today’s specialists, headlines and tips often coming in great contradiction.

Food documentaries could be a good place to start understanding better what’s hiding in the food from your plate. Either you’re looking to broaden your knowledge about food, become more food aware, or on the contrary, you’re interested to start your food education, and you couldn’t care less about food, I bet there is a tiny piece of information in every documentary that will be of help at some moment in your life.

Here are 6 documentaries about food that could change the way you envision food and your habits regarding it:

1. Got the Facts on Milk  – The Milk Documentary

The Milk Documentary intends to turn upside down the common myth that milk is good for your health. Ever since you were a kid, you knew that milk is essential for your bones, for calcium, and for proteins. At an early age, milk is a common breakfast, especially for children, who also receive it at school.

Fact is that research has shown that everything you know about milk is wrong and that milk is responsible for diseases like diabetes, arthritis, asthma and even weight gain and acne. According to the movie, the misconceptions about milk are due to the milk industry, who promote dairy because of its “huge health benefits”.

As a person with dairy allergy, creator of the movie Shira Lane discovered the link between several diseases and milk. Research on the effects of dairy on health evolved and on her journey of finding the answers to her questions she traveled a 4600 mile road. During this road she exposes the opinions and arguments of both nutritionists, dietitians, doctors, and also average Americans who believed, like most of you, that milk is good.

Another interesting fact is the controversy that the movie has caused while being promoted at festivals and to audiences. And honestly, it’s perfectly natural to stir up people, because it’s difficult to accept that something you knew all your life is wrong. The film is available on DVD, but watching the trailer is enough to get you convinced.

2. The Truth about Food

The Truth about Food is a six episode documentary covering all the aspects that food has on your body, effects tested and monitored on 500 volunteers.

Divided in six episodes: How to be healthy, How to be sexy, How to feed your kids, How to be slim, How to stay young and beautiful, How to be the best, the movie is highly educational and revealing for viewers of all ages.

If you’re not sure on certain aspects regarding food, its influence on health and beauty, then this documentary could be the thing for you. Surprisingly, you’ll find some busted myths and learn some healthy eating tips, because the movie also gives solutions on what you can do  to improve or completely change your lifestyle.

And it’s not just headlines and talks from specialists. It’s facts, facts proven on normal people just like you.

3. Food, Inc

How much do you know about the food you’re buying? How it’s made, where does it come from, but more important, are you aware about the effects it has on your health?

Food, Inc is a revealing documentary that analyzes the American food industry, showing not only the process of making the food, but also its effects on your body, on the environment and the economy.

The way in which it exposes the industry is not at all beneficial, so it might shock you, if you weren’t interested in food at all, or you might just find some new information, if you were more or less into becoming aware of your food choices. Personally, I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. Don’t expect for the documentary to bring forward some ground breaking theories, but do expect to be more conscious about what you’re buying after watching the movie.

Its extensive view, the different aspects in which food is analyzed and its educational nature makes the movie worthwhile of beginning your food education with, either you’re a person working on improving your lifestyle or an adult living a unhealthy life but ready to make a change.

4. Food Matters

The fact that you are what you eat is no secret. Exploring the effects and the benefits of the food on the human body, this movie abounds in educational ideas that everyone should at least be aware of.

While uncovering some myths on nutrition and healing, the doctors and specialists from Food Matters reveal alternatives of healing diseases, alternatives that are basically found in your plate.

The popular belief that there is a pill for everything is highly contradicted, the solution proposed instead being a lifestyle change that can reduce diseases.

And even though not all of you believe in taking supplements and eating plants, the movie is worth watching at least for checking the other side of the story and find out some bad eating habits that you’re unconsciously doing on a daily basis.

5. Food Stamped

Sooner or later, some people decide they want to eat and live healthy. Unfortunately not all of those people can afford to buy anything that is thought to be healthy, because as you know, the organic or bio label means more cash. Can you eat well on a tight budget?

That’s the question that Shira, nutrition educator, and her husband Yoav Potash try to answer in the inspirational documentary Food Stamped. The couple reveals their journey on trying to eat healthy on a food stamped budget, journey involving meeting people facing the same problem and sharing the same views.

Struggling with the problem of quitting different ingredients from food because of money but discovering different recipes, they face the situation with humor and realism.

None of you will believe a scientist telling you what or what not to eat, but the sight of normal people trying to dwell and make the best choices concerning food is enough to just make you want to have a look. At least you can find out what dishes you can cook for 1$, right?

6. Processed People

Leading health and nutrition experts analyze what’s wrong with what we eat and and just like in Food Matters, they try to give solutions to the unhealthy lifestyle of the modern American.

Divided into 8 chapters, Processed People goes beneath the propaganda and the lies in the food system, with hard-hitting discussions on why are we so fat, what happens if we don’t de-process ourselves and what is health.

If you’re into interviews with health experts, than the movie could be the thing for you.

12 Food Additives to Avoid

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12 Food Additives to Avoid

Posted by on May 24th, 2009 

Whoever coined the term food additives had it all wrong. Including something new in a food doesn’t always add up to more, at least when it comes to your health. Studies that test the safety of additives are based on animal trials. It is difficult to deduce whether the results of an animal study equate to human health, though many of these studies show that some additives could be cancer-causing.

1. Sodium nitrite
sodium-nitrate
The list of the 12 most dangerous additives to red flaguntil we know moreincludes the preservative sodium nitrite, used to preserve, color, and flavor meat products. Sodium nitrite is commonly added to bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish, and corned beef to stabilize the red color and add flavor. The preservative prevents growth of bacteria, but studies have linked eating it to various types of cancer. “This would be at the top of my list of additives to cut from my diet,” says Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Under certain high-temperature cooking conditions such as grilling, it transforms into a reactive compound that has been shown to promote cancer.”
2. BHA and BHT
bha
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are additional additives to red flag. They are antioxidants used to preserve common household foods by preventing them from oxidizing. Both keep fats and oils from going rancid and are found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils, but there is concern that they may cause cancer. “The structure of BHA and BHT will change during this process [of preserving food], and may form a compound that reacts in the body,” says Gerbstadt. “BHA and BHT are not stable or inert. They’re not just hanging out and being excreted by the body.” Gerbstadt says that they are obviously not added for the purpose of giving people cancer, but for some people, some of the time, there may be that risk.
3. Propyl gallate
propyl-gallate
Propyl gallate is another preservative to avoid. It’s used to prevent fats and oils from spoiling and is often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. This additive is sometimes found in meat products, chicken soup base, and chewing gum. Propyl gallate has not been proven to cause cancer, but studies done on animals have suggested that it could be linked to cancer, so it is an additive to be concerned about. “It’s important to read the label,” says Gerbstadt. “You really have to carry a cheat sheet around in the supermarket. I try to buy as few foods as possible containing preservatives.” 
4. Monosodium glutamate
monosodium-glutamate
Monosodium glutamate is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and restaurant food. It is commonly associated with Asian foods and flavorings. MSG can cause headaches and nausea in some people, and animal studies link it to damaging nerve cells in the brains of infant mice. Gerbstadt recommends replacing MSG with a small amount of salt when possible. “Why bother using MSG when you can live without it?” she says. “MSG can cause migraine-like headaches and create other adverse affects for certain people. It is a flavor enhancer, but you’d be better of putting in a few grains of salt.”
5. Trans fats
trans-fat
Trans fat makes it onto our dirty dozen list because eating too much of it leads to heart disease. “Trans fats are proven to cause heart disease, and make conditions perfect for stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and limb loss due to vascular disease,” says Gerbstadt. “It would be wonderful if they could be banned.” Manufacturers have modified product ingredients lists to reduce the amount of trans fats, and are required to label trans fats amounts, but restaurant food, especially fast food chains, still serve foods laden with trans fats. Experts recommend we consume no more than two grams of trans fat per day, an amount easily accounted for if you eat meat and dairy.
6. Aspartame
aspartame
Aspartame, also known by the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal, is an additive found in so-called diet foods such as low-calorie desserts, gelatins, drink mixes, and soft drinks. It also comes in individual packages used in place of sugar as a sweetener. The safety of aspartame, a combination of two amino acids and methanol, has been the focus of hundreds of scientific studies. Conclusions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the ADA, and the Food and Agriculture Organization indicated that the additive is safe. Conversely, the Center for Science in the Public Interest gave it their lowest ranking in a review of food additives, quoting animal studies in 1970 and in 2007, which suggest that there is a link between aspartame and cancer. Gerbstadt, spokesperson from the ADA—an organization that supports the general safety of aspartame—says that the additive might be unhealthy for some people—especially those with the disease phenylketonuria, an enzyme disorder—because it contains phenalalanine. “Some people may be sensitive to it, and it’s easy to avoid.
7. Acesulfame-K
acesulfame-k
This is a relatively new artificial sweetener, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998 for use in soft drinks. It is also found in baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts. Acesulfame-K—the “K” is the chemistry symbol for potassium—is considered 200 times sweeter than sugar. While Gerbstadt isn’t specifically concerned about this sweetener when used in moderation, there is a general concern that testing on this product has been scant. Some studies showed the additive may cause cancer in rats, but the substance makes top 12 lists of additives to avoid because further study is needed to conclude whether or not acesulfame-K is harmful.
8. Food colorings: Blue 1, 2; Red 3; Green 3; and Yellow 6
food-color
You may think that all dangerous artificial food colorings were banned by the FDA long ago, but there are five still on the market that are linked with cancer in animal testing. “Always opt for the product without the color, if you have a choice,” says Gerbstadt. “I’m not saying to avoid all coloring. Many are made from natural sources. But some specific dye colors do promote tumor formation, in the right combination and conditions.” Blue 1 and 2, found in beverages, candy, baked goods and pet food, are considered low risk but have been linked to cancer in mice. Red 3, used to dye cherries, fruit cocktail, candy, and baked goods, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats. Green 3, added to candy and beverages, though rarely used, has been linked to bladder cancer. Studies have linked the widely used yellow 6—added to beverages, sausage, gelatin, baked goods, and candy—to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney.
9. Olestra
olestra
Olestra, a synthetic fat known as the brand name Olean and found in some brands of potato chips, prevents fat from getting absorbed in your digestive system. This often leads to severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and gas. “If you eat fat when taking Olestra, the fat is going to go right through you,” says Gerbstadt. More significantly, though, Olestra inhibits healthy vitamin absorption from fat-soluble carotenoids that are found in fruits and vegetables and thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. “It blocks fat absorption, but it also blocks vitamin absorption,” says Gerbstadt.
10. Potassium bromate
potassium-bromate
Potassium bromate is rare, but still legal in the U.S., and used as an additive to increase volume in white flour, breads, and rolls. Most bromate rapidly breaks down to an innocuous form, but it is known to cause cancer in animals—and even small amounts in bread can create a risk for humans. California requires a cancer warning on the product label if potassium bromate is an ingredient. 
11. White sugar
white-sugar
Some foods, such as fruits and carrots, naturally contain sugar, but watch out for foods with added sugars, such as baked goods, cereals, crackers, even sauces and many other processed foods. Gerbstadt includes white sugar on the list of 12 because although it is non-toxic, large amounts are unsafe for our health and promote bad nutrition. “Simple sugars shouldn’t take up more than about 10 percent of the total calories you consume daily,” says Gerbstadt. Yet most Americans already are eating way over that amount, consuming 20, 30, or 40 percent of their calories from simple sugars, she says. Too much sugar not only leads to problems with weight control, tooth decay and blood sugar levels in diabetics; it also replaces good nutrition. “In addition to providing unnecessary calories, your body needs nutrients to metabolize sugar, so it robs your body of valuable vitamins and minerals,” says Gerbstadt.
12. Sodium chloride
sodium-chloride
A dash of sodium chloride, more commonly known as salt, can certainly bring flavor to your meal. But salt is another hidden food additive that can lead to health issues. “Small amounts of salt are needed by the body and are beneficial in preserving food,” says Gerbstadt. “Excessive amounts of salt can become dangerous for your health, affecting cardiovascular function, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.”
Article by: Jean Weiss
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What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of?

by Ryan Andrews, September 9th, 2009.

 

I don’t know what you had for lunch today, but I had 18 apples.

What do you think of that? You probably think I’m a glutton and have the GI tract of a gorilla.

But check this – a typical fast food value meal has the same amount of calories as 18 apples. 18! So I wanted to see what would happen if I downed the same amount of calories from apples.

Not pretty.

Yet I’ve had buddies knock back 2 value meals while watching Monday Night Football.  And no, I haven’t seen any of them go through a bag of red delicious by the 4th quarter.

What does this tell me?  Well, it tells me that Mother Nature has got your back.

Fast food and apples What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of?

Remember:

  • Real food regulates appetite – so you don’t overeat
  • Real food controls blood sugar/insulin – so you can avoid energy swings and diabetes
  • Real food provides the best nutrition – so you can remain healthy for life
  • Real food has a sane amount of energy – so that you can’t accidentally overeat
  • Real food has a longstanding relationship with our body – so that our bodies know what to do with it

Energy density

This leads me to the world of energy density. Are you familiar with it? It’s the amount of energy (calories) per unit of food. Let me explain.

200 melons What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of? 200 cheese What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of?
This is 200 calories of melon. This is a lot of melon. This is 200 calories of cheese. This isn’t very much cheese.
200 celery What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of? 200 chocolate bar What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of?
This is 200 calories of celery. Good luck eating this. This is 200 calories of a candy bar. Good luck NOT eating this.

Seeing a trend? It’s hard to rack up excess energy (calories) from whole, real, calorie-dilute foods.

Food poundage

Interestingly, research shows that most humans eat around 3-5 pounds of food per day.  Indeed, as we approach 4 pounds of food intake for the day, most of us are feeling pretty satisfied.

Now, this can be 4 pounds of celery.  Or it can be 4 pounds of candy bars.  It’s not the food or calorie content that matters.  It’s the volume/poundage that counts.  And obviously, there are some big nutrient differences between celery and candy bars, right?

Now, let’s take some extreme examples of this…

  • 4 pounds of raw veggies will provide 400 calories
  • 4 pounds of raw fruits will provide 1000 calories
  • 4 pounds of cooked whole grains/legumes provides 1600 calories
  • 4 pounds of nuts/seeds provides about 10,000 calories
  • 4 pounds of Lucky Charms, Pop Tarts, Cheese provides about 10,000 calories

Note: I’m showing calories only as a measurement unit to help illustrate a point. Don’t get wrapped up in the numbers.

People that struggle with body fat management tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later.

Translation: Fatness.

If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.

What’s our poundage portion?

Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs

1.5 pounds fruits and veggies

0.5 pound grains

0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils

= 4.5 pounds

= about 3,700 calories per day

What if we switched this around?

2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies

1.0 pounds of grains and legumes

0.3 pounds nuts/seeds

0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs

0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils

= 4.2 pounds

= about 2,075 calories per day (this isn’t really that much, especially if you’re physically active.)

Putting it to the test

I’m curious: what does a day of my food weigh?

How much my day of food weighs 1024x768 What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of?

How much my day of food weighs = 3.7 pounds

Foods – Clockwise, starting in upper right

2 lentil burgers, steamed broccoli

Peaches & blueberries

Raw buckwheat granola with hempseeds and flax

Roasted garbanzos & goji berries

Sprouted grain bread with peanut butter

Lettuce & kale

Celery, carrots, zucchini

Note: I was surprised it didn’t weigh more. The actual food weighs less than 3.7 pounds, as the food containers contribute to the total weight. I left out condiments like salad dressing and mustard.

Oh, and this was just a random day of eating. Some days I eat more, some days less.

What have we learned today?

If we prioritize and eat nutritious, real, controlled energy foods – there isn’t much room left for the energy dense, fake foods. You only have about 3-5 pounds to work with each day.

So… think about it…what are your 4 pounds made up of?

What Are Your 4 Pounds Made Of?

Misophonia

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Misophonia

You may be asking yourself if you have misophonia. You may even be wondering what misophonia is. Just a few days ago the tv series 20/20 did an in depth piece about this little known disease. Since that piece there has been a great response as awareness for the disorder has increased. This lens is in response to any questions that people might have about misophonia and what they can do to prevent and treat the symptoms.

Misophonia is a very complicated and little understood disorder that affects a person’s sensitivity to noise. Read through this article to find out more information about misophonia.

 

Misophonia Definition

What is misophonia?

The word misophonia literally translates to “hatred of sound”. Hatred of sound is in fact an understand for those who suffer from this disorder. Misophonia sufferers are extremely sensitive to sound, so much so that they have sometimes violent reactions to a certain set of sounds that they call “triggers”.

Much like individuals who suffer from PTSD, those who suffer from misophonia have aset of triggers. In the case of those with a sensitivity to sound, these triggers can be things like; people eating food, the crunching of ice or chips in someones mouth, the sound of a certain persons voice, heavy breathing etc.

Misophonia is not be confused with hyperacusis (a disorder that makes people sensitive to all sounds). Misophonia is purely a sensitivity to a set of “trigger” sounds. It may be very possible for a person suffering from this disorder to have extreme difficult speaking with a certain person simply because of the sound of their voice while still being able to converse with others.

Misophonia is very rarely given as a diagnoses and is currently considered a sensory processing disorder much like PTSD. As a matter of fact, misophonia and PTSD are very closely aligned both in symptoms and diagnoses.

Even Your Fat Cells Need Sleep, According to New Research

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Even Your Fat Cells Need Sleep, According to New Research

ScienceDaily (Oct. 15, 2012) — In a study that challenges the long-held notion that the primary function of sleep is to give rest to the brain, researchers have found that not getting enough shut-eye has a harmful impact on fat cells, reducing by 30 percent their ability to respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates energy.


Sleep deprivation has long been associated with impaired brain function, causing decreased alertness and reduced cognitive ability. The latest finding — published by University of Chicago Medicine researchers in the Oct. 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine — is the first description of a molecular mechanism directly connecting sleep loss to the disruption of energy regulation in humans, a process that can lead over time to weight gain, diabetes and other health problems. The study suggests that sleep’s role in energy metabolism is at least as important as it is in brain function.

“We found that fat cells need sleep to function properly,” said study author Matthew Brady, PhD, associate professor of medicine and vice-chair of the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Chicago.

Brady said body fat plays an important role in humans.

“Many people think of fat as a problem, but it serves a vital function,” he said. “Body fat, also known as adipose tissue, stores and releases energy. In storage mode, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the circulation where they can damage other tissues. When fat cells cannot respond effectively to insulin, these lipids leach out into the circulation, leading to serious complications.”

Esra Tasali, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and co-senior author, led the recruitment of six men and one woman, all young, lean and healthy. Each volunteer went through two study conditions, at least four weeks apart. In one, they spent 8.5 hours a night in bed for four consecutive nights. In the other, they spent 4.5 hours in bed for four nights. Food intake, strictly controlled, was identical under both study conditions.

On the morning after the fourth night following both the long and short sleep conditions, each volunteer took an intravenous glucose tolerance test, which measures total-body insulin sensitivity. The researchers performed a biopsy, removing abdominal fat cells from the area near each volunteer’s navel. Then they measured how these fat cells responded to insulin.

The researchers assessed insulin sensitivity at the molecular level by measuring the phosphorylation of a protein called Akt within fat cells. Akt phosphorylation is a crucial early chemical step in the cell’s response to insulin.

After four nights of short sleep, total-body insulin response decreased by an average of 16 percent. The insulin sensitivity of fat cells decreased by 30 percent. This reduction is comparable to the difference between cells from obese vs. lean participants or from people with diabetes versus non-diabetic controls.

They found that the sleep-deprived study participants had a decreased response to a range of doses of insulin. It took nearly three times as much insulin to provoke half of the maximum Akt response in volunteers who had been deprived of sleep.

“Sleeping four to five hours a night, at least on work days, is now a common behavior” said study author and sleep specialist Esra Tasali.

“Some people claim they can tolerate the cognitive effects of routine sleep deprivation,” said co-author Eve Van Cauter, PhD, the Frederick H. Rawson Professor of Medicine and director of the sleep, metabolism and health center at the University of Chicago. “In this small but thorough study, however, we found that seven out of seven subjects had a significant change in insulin sensitivity. They are not tolerating the metabolic consequences.”

The study was one of the first to bring together sleep research experts and biologists focused on energy regulation and metabolism in adipose tissue. The impetus came from a sleep-research graduate student, Josiane Broussard, PhD ’10, lead author of the study and now a Society in Science-Branco Weiss fellow at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She wanted to combine her interest in sleep and metabolism with research at the molecular level.

So she pulled together a team for this project that included the two sleep researchers, Tasali and Van Cauter, plus two specialists from the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center, David Ehrmann, MD, and Brady, who studies how insulin regulates energy storage in fat and liver cells.

They focused on fat cells because of their direct links to metabolic disruption and weight gain. These cells store energy for the body, are exquisitely sensitive to insulin and help regulate appetite.

Witnessing the direct effect of sleep deprivation on a peripheral tissue such as fat at the cellular level “was an eye-opener,” Broussard said. It helps cement the link between sleep and diabetes and “suggests that we could use sleep like diet and exercise to prevent or treat this common disease.”

Brady said the study opens up many new questions.

“What signals from sleep loss affect the fat cell? What effect does dysfunctional fat have at the whole-body level?” Brady wondered. “And if we can deprive healthy people of sleep and make them worse, can we take sick people, such as those with the common combination of sleep apnea, obesity and diabetes, improve their sleep and make them better? That’s the missing link in the sleep-obesity-diabetes connection.”

This study is “a valuable contribution to the understanding of the causal pathways by which reduced sleep duration may directly contribute to diabetes and obesity,” according to an editorial in the journal by Francesco Cappuccio, MD, DSc, and Michelle Miller, PhD, of the University of Warwick, in Coventry, United Kingdom. “These results point to a much wider influence of sleep on bodily functions, including metabolism, adipose tissue, cardiovascular function, and possibly more.”

The paper, “Impaired Insulin Signaling in Human Adipocyes,” appears in the Oct. 16, 2012, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Health and Society in Science — The Branco Weiss Fellowship.

10 Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep and How to Fix Them

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10 Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep and How to Fix Them

Having trouble sleeping?  Below are 10 of the most common reasons why with suggestions on how to correct them.

1. Your room isn’t dark enough.

Ideally, your bedroom shouldn’t have any lights on, especially light emitted from a TV or any electronic device. When your eyes are exposed to light during the night, your brain is tricked into thinking it’s time to wake up and reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone released by your pineal gland that causes sleepiness and lowers body temperature. Light emitted by electronic devices is especially troublesome because it mimics sunlight.

2. Exercising too late.

If you exercise within three hours of trying to sleep, you’ll overstimulate your metabolism and raise your heart rate causing restlessness and frequent awakenings throughout the night.  Try to exercise in the morning or no later than mid to late afternoon, which will result in sounder sleep.

3. Drinking alcohol too late.

We tend to think of alcohol as a sleep inducer, but it actually interferes with REM sleep, causing you to feel more tired the next morning.  Granted, you may feel sleepy after you drink it, but that’s a short-term effect.  Here’s a great video at WebMD about alcohol and sleep.

4. Room temperature too warm.

Your body and brain wants to cool down when you sleep, but if your room is too warm you’ll thwart the cool-down process.  Having a fan in your room is a good idea because it will keep you cool and produce a consistent level of white noise that will help you fall asleep. Just don’t get too cold, because that will disrupt sleep as well. (You can also try cooling your brain.)

5. Caffeine still in your system.

The average half-life of caffeine is 5 hours, which means that you still have three-quarters of the first dose of caffeine rolling around in your system 10 hours after you drink it.  Most of us drink more than one cup of coffee, and many of us drink it late in the day.  If you’re going to drink coffee, drink it early.

6. Clockwatching.

Though it’s hard not to do, don’t look at your clock when you wake up during the night. In fact, it’s best to turn it around so it’s not facing you.  When you habitually clockwatch, you’re training  your circadian rhythms the wrong way, and before long you’ll find yourself waking up at exactly 3:15 every night.

7. Getting up to watch TV until you’re sleepy.

This is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, watching TV stimulates brain activity, which is the exact opposite of what you want to happen if your goal is to sleep soundly. Second, the light emitted from the TV is telling your brain to wake up (see #1 above).

8. Trying to problem-solve in the middle of the night.

All of us wake up at times during the night, and the first thing that pops into our heads is a big problem we’re worried about.  The best thing you can do is stop yourself from going there and redirect your thoughts to something less stressful. If you get caught up on the worry treadmill, you’ll stay awake much longer.

9. Eating protein too close to bedtime.

Protein requires a lot of energy to digest, and that keeps your digestive system churning away while you’re trying to sleep — bad combination.  Better to have a light carbohydrate snack.

10.  Smoking before bedtime. 

Smokers equate smoking with relaxing, but that’s a neurochemical trick. In truth, nicotine is a stimulant.  When you smoke before trying to sleep, you can expect to wake up several times throughout the night; much as you would if you drank a cup of coffee.