Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer is Hard on Sleep for Three Reasons

I was just talking about my fear of not getting enough sleep because of the high temperature in my bedroom, not even five minutes before coming across this ETR essay written by Dr. David Eifrig titled "Three Reasons You're Not Sleeping Well This Summer."

After reading it, I decided the information was pretty helpful (for me at least) and decided to share it with you. It's the weekend. Play hard or relax, but get some sleep!



Three Reasons You're Not Sleeping Well This Summer

By Dr. David Eifrig
There's one thing you need to do today to start improving your health: get a good night's sleep.

Sleep has been on my list of the top ways to improve your health for 9 years. In fact, it held the #1 spot for 8 out of those 9 years, until this year when I bumped it to #2 in favor of movement.
If you're like a lot of people, your quality of sleep starts slipping as the summer season hits. But today, I'll show you how to make sure you're getting enough sleep this time of year. Before I explain the three factors hindering your sleep this summer, let me explain why sleep is so important...

Scientists don't know why we sleep... but the benefits are well-known.

Current theories suggest that sleeping relaxes your brain cells, causing them to shrink, which, in turn, allows waste products to seep through the extra cellular space and exit the brain faster.

Not getting the right amount of sleep causes a number of health problems. Your immune system will not be as functional, leaving you more likely to develop colds or chronic diseases. Over time, not getting enough quality sleep increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Not getting enough sleep has also been linked to aging your skin, leading to Alzheimer's, and lowering your sex drive.

Scientists do know how we fall asleep – it happens through a chemical process in our brains. Your internal "thermostat" is located in a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. This region secretes a hormone that effectively lowers your core body temperature and promotes sleep.

The thermostat corresponds with your body's natural 24-hour cycle, called your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm relies on cues from your environment to trigger when it's time to sleep. These include temperature, light, and lifestyle.

In the winter, shorter daylight hours disrupt our sleep cycles as less sunlight throws off our body's circadian rhythm. But did you know that the long days of summer also mess with your sleep cycle?

The top three causes of summertime insomnia are:

1. Soaring temperatures heating up your bedroom

2. Long days of lots of sunshine

3. Spending too much time socializing

The most common cause of summertime insomnia is soaring temperatures. Hotter air doesn't just make you uncomfortable... it can also keep you from getting a full night's sleep.

Every person has a slightly different comfort range, but typically a temperature between 60 and 68 degrees is best for sleeping. Many studies link the body's temperature regulation with sleep patterns, which is why you become sleepy in colder temperatures.

One of the most crucial parts of the sleep cycle – rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – can suffer during hotter temperatures. That's because during REM, your body loses its ability to sweat or to shiver. If the room is too warm, your body temperature will rise to match it, bringing you back to a point of almost wakefulness. If it's too hot, you can even wake up completely, ruining the quality of your sleep.

Thankfully, you can keep cool without breaking the bank. To start, you can install a programmable thermostat to save on energy costs. My research assistant Laura did this last winter. Installing a programmable thermostat can save the average household hundreds of dollars per year. Just set a lower temperature while you're asleep and put it back up to the 70s or 80s while you're gone during the day.

For every degree you have it set above 72 degrees Fahrenheit, you can save about 2%. Some energy suppliers also offer dollar discount plans where they actually change your temperature from their headquarters by a certain number of degrees during times of peak usage.

Other ways to stay cool and save money include cleaning and replacing your air filter on a regular basis. Clogged or worn-out filters make it harder for the air to flow through the air conditioning system. You can also do what I do and have an individual unit in your bedroom and turn it on only when sleeping.

Finally, use a ceiling fan to circulate the air. It won't lower the temperature of the room, but the air movement will help sweat evaporate from your skin, helping you cool down. You can also use fans to help circulate air from an air conditioner, allowing you to reduce the settings on the unit and save on energy costs.

Or do what I do and put a little water on your arms, neck, head, and even legs if you're having trouble falling asleep. The fan or just natural cooling of your body will put you sound asleep before you can count 30 sheep.

Another main culprit for lost sleep during the summer is light. Summer's longer days mean more hours of sunlight. The shift may be subtle, but it can disrupt the natural circadian rhythm, particularly in the hypothalamus.

Light-blocking curtains keep sunlight from triggering episodes of wakefulness. Many thicker curtains not only block light, but include thermal panels to help keep the heat out as well. Last summer, my research assistant Amanda purchased some for her living room and says she rarely needs to use her air conditioner while her curtains are closed.
If you're traveling, do what I do and pack some large paperclips – if a hotel's curtains gap or don't block enough light for you, you can pin them together or hang up extra towels for a darker room.

Be sure not to interrupt your sleep with any kind of light. If you need to use the bathroom during the night, don't turn on any lights. Instead, have a low-light nightlight plugged in to guide your way.

Taking rests or even short naps in the late afternoon can also help with the longer hours of sunlight. Even participating in a quiet, restful activity can help start to relax your body and prepare you for sleep in the evening.

The third big cause of poor summertime sleep is lifestyle. Social contact, late-night eating, and electronic device usage all affect your sleep quality.

The longer days of summer often are filled with more social events, including cookouts, extended happy hours, and evening baseball games. My assistant recently attended a neighborhood little league game and was surprised that it didn't start until 8:30 p.m. People around her were still eating hot dogs and peanuts and drinking sodas when the game ended two hours later.

Eating close to bedtime causes weight gain and disrupts your sleep cycle. Digestive sugar spikes and the production of stomach acid can also wake you from your sleep. And although it acts as a depressant at first, alcohol causes bouts of wakefulness as your body metabolizes it.

Likewise, soda and coffee can keep you up long after you drink them. Caffeine can stay in the body far longer than you might expect... as long as 14 hours. The effects of coffee usually wear off about three to five hours later, so drinking coffee after dinner could keep you up long into the night.
So do what I do... stop eating and drinking at least two hours before bed.

Also, make sure to avoid caffeine after lunch so it has enough time to leave your body before sleeping. I mainly drink decaf in the afternoon. And most important, maintain a regular bedtime. Having a set schedule will help your body regulate its sleep cycles.

Remember, keep your bedroom a place for relaxation, sex, and sleep. Take the time to relax before bed without your cell phone, tablet, television, or any other electronic device. Electronics emit electromagnetic radiation that disturbs sleep cycles.

Lately, I've been researching the top sleep problems in the U.S. I also found other lifestyle choices that can ruin your sleep – and learned how to change them. I'm putting everything into an upcoming special report. I've included topics like beating jetlag and adjusting to nontraditional work hours.

Friday, July 18, 2014

'It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all' - Nelson Mandela

( July 18, 2014 ) World Citizen Artists (WCA) -- Global art
movement World Citizens Artists celebrates Mandela
International Day (18th July) as part of its campaign to
raise awareness about global issues affecting the lives of
millions of people the world over.

This is the first time the world is celebrating Mandela
 International Day in the absence of Nelson Mandela,
who passed away last year, but friends and followers
are celebrating this day to remember and spread his
message of love and peace.

Mandela was not only art lover, but himself was an
art practitioner who used to take pencil and brush to
express his beliefs and views beyond logic through visual
art. World Citizen Artists across the globe are celebrating
Mandela International Day with the idea that each artist
has the power to change the world.

Nomfusi, the South African celebrity singer and actress
who played in the movie that celebrated Mandela's life
'Long Walk to Freedom' is headlining WCA's online
magazine. In the film, Nomfusi played Myriam Makeba.
She has dedicated her latest song 'My Hero' to Mandela.

In WCA's magazine at she
speaks about Mandela and her support for WCA.

The Belgravia Gallery in London, UK, run by Anna Hunter
and Laura Walford, is also supporting World Citizen Artists
by sharing some of Mandela's artwork with WCA. Mandela
started to draw for the first time in 2002, when in his
eighties. His work is noteworthy for its symbols of struggle,
peace and harmony.

WCA's founder, Valerie Won Lee, said "Mandela Day was an
obvious choice for us to celebrate because he stands for
freedom, human rights and equality across borders with no
 fear or favour. He is a shining example to humanity."

About World Citizen Artists:

World Citizen Artists was launched in June 2014 to harness
the expressive power of art as a way of raising global awareness
and responsibility. The movement comprises artists from more
than twenty countries around the world. It's online magazine
accessible at is now in its second



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kicking Fear's Butt... And the Reward

I'm almost done crocheting my cornmeal colored scarf.  I can't wait to show you my progress!  In the meantime, I've been doing a few other things.  For example, just yesterday I completed a collage paying tribute to the first orders placed by the public to the Ford Motor Company which took place on July 15, 1903.  You can read about it in a press release here:

Today, I've gone back to reposting some juicy little tid-bit from ETR.  This essay is by Stephen Guise and is an attempt to help you (or anyone) assess risk against reward.  I hope this helps you conquer some of your fears.


How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure by Using Rewards

By Stephen Guise
The girl at the smoothie stand was expecting my order.

Instead, I walked up to her and asked, "Do you like animals?"

"Yes. I love animals," she said.

"Me too!" I replied, "I was wondering if you’d like to go to the zoo with me."

"Oh. Actually, I have a boyfriend."

She was really cute.

So I wasn’t at all surprised that she had a boyfriend. In fact, I expected it. But… she said no. It was rejection.

It’s even possible that she didn’t have a boyfriend; some women will "protect" men with that line if they’re not interested. Because I know that, I have to wonder for eternity what type of rejection it was. Sigh.

Still, I felt good about the whole thing because I don’t often ask out strangers and I do have some fear of rejection. It was a victory in that sense, but there was obviously some disappointment there too, as I walked out of that place with a smoothie instead of a date. Oh well. The smoothie was tasty, and it turns out, I’m smarter than I first realized for getting it.

Risk and reward have a special relationship.
Risk and reward are inseparable.

The general relationship they have is, "what possible reward can I get for taking this size risk?" If the risk/reward ratio is favorable, then it’s a good idea to take the risk. Asking out a pretty girl has a high potential reward, while the risk of any meaningful harm is very low. She’d have to go on a tirade about how terrible I am that pinpointed my greatest weaknesses and crushed my self-esteem forever. Again, unlikely.

We make this risk/reward calculation every day:
The long-term risk of eating an unhealthy hamburger vs. the reward of tasty beef.
The risk of being embarrassed by asking for a raise vs. the reward of actually getting it.
The risk of starting a business that could fail vs. the reward of it succeeding.

On this basis, I’ve got an idea for a NEW risk/reward model, and I really think it can help us overcome many of these "petty" fears we struggle with.

The NEW Risk/Reward Model
What makes a risk a risk? Is it that something bad can happen? Sometimes, certainly. More often though, the real risk is a relatively harmless feeling of discomfort or rejection combined with the sting of NO REWARD.

The fear of not getting a payoff while being embarrassed keeps men single, prevents workers from getting raises, and generally keeps people in their safe, but boring and life-draining routines while they could be out living the Caribbean life (or, whatever might suit them better than their current life).

Here’s the NEW risk/reward model:
When you take a SMART risk (something with low real risk and high potential reward), give yourself a reward. Plan the whole thing out: If I ask a girl out, I get to buy a smoothie. If I email the president, I get to watch an episode of Seinfeld. If I dance in limelight at the wedding tonight and let loose, I will book a massage.

The reason I was smarter than I realized with the cute barista situation is because immediately after I was rejected, I rewarded myself with the smoothie. What if I got a smoothie every time I asked a girl out? I like smoothies. It really "sweetens" the deal, because now there is a built-in, guaranteed reward. Sure, the reward is completely artificially-placed, but your brain can’t tell the difference, and what’s there to complain about? You get a smoothie!

Here are the reasons to use this new risk/reward model…

It trains you correctly, neurologically.

We know from research on habits that the brain responds to rewards, and will favor the behaviors that precede rewards, given enough repetition. If you complete a behavior in a similar context enough times over a given period, and it is always followed by a reward (even if the reward is unrelated), the brain will begin to desire that behavior more. So if you really want to increase your tendency to take smart risks, this new method is a neurological way to do it.

It establishes the risk as permanently more favorable.

If every time I asked a girl out, I’d get 10,000 dollars, how many girls do you think I’d ask out in the next 5 minutes? As many as I could find within shouting distance. Isn’t it interesting how even a shy guy would completely shatter his shell of fear if the reward was big enough? Find the shiest guy in the world, and offer him a million dollars to talk to ten attractive girls. I bet you he’d find a way.

These are unrealistic rewards, of course, but it gets the point across that you can make a risk more attractive if you promise yourself a nice reward for it.

If you’re shy and love video games, promise yourself that you can buy a new game if you talk to ten strangers throughout your day. If you’re going to a big networking event and you’re nervous, promise yourself one guilt-free hour of television for every solid connection you make. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination. You know your fears and desires better than I do, so make your actions and "bribes" appealing to you.

It makes it more fun.

"Fun" is maybe the most underrated tool in personal development (behind mini habits, which can never be rated highly enough… says the biased author). Enjoyment (or not) of activities has been shown to have a big impact on willpower depletion, in fact, which is something I’m currently researching. If you can reframe a scary or intimidating activity into a fun one, everything will be better.

When I play basketball, I play my very best when I’m having fun, and my very worst when I’m nervous about my performance. This seems to be the case in much of life.

Attaching a reward to a scary, but worthwhile behavior makes the whole scenario seem more playful, because, well, it is more playful. This shift in mindset is surprisingly powerful in helping you rise above fear.

It gives you the opportunity to calculate the real risk.

Being a human is scary, ok? We’ve got all of these expectations, both self-imposed and from society. We’ve got insecurities. We’ve got fears. It’s my firm belief that the most successful people (in any way you define success) are those who manage to disregard much of these worrisome things and live life with "smart reckless abandon." They take smart risks. They always try new things. They’re here to experience life’s finest offerings. They understand that asking a question and getting a "no" response is entirely acceptable and non-life-threatening.

But let’s not get caught up in comparisons either. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been scared all of your life, held back by others’ expectations for you or your own insecurities. Today is a real opportunity to take a step in a promising, bold new direction. And well, I’m suggesting that you bribe yourself to take that step. Combine this strategy with mini habits (i.e. taking really really small steps), and you may become a juggernaut.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dealing with the Banks... How Iceland Did It

To kick off the weekend I wanted to share a bit of information that was shared with me. It might inspire you.

The following quote is from an article written by Nathaniel for The New York Times titled "After Crisis, Iceland Holds A Tight Grip On Its Banks" and published on January 15, 2014:

"Iceland is a living experiment in what can happen when a country forces its financial firms to go under, rather than bailing them out, as much of the rest of the world did during the global financial crisis.

In October 2008, all three of Iceland’s major banks collapsed. None failed more spectacularly than Kaupthing, the bank whose glass headquarters were on the waterfront. At one point, it had a balance sheet four times as large as the annual economic output of the entire country. Last month, four former Kaupthing executives were sentenced to multiple-year prison terms."

The video I’m posting is only a little over one minute, but it may (hopefully) make you pause… think… reconsider…

Have a great weekend.

And, oh yeah, I’ve posted a few new things on Etsy you might want to check out. More products will be added almost daily!


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

15 Painfully Inspiring Literary Quotes

Currently I am in the middle of reading Thomas Hardy’s, Jude the Obscure, which was first published in 1895. And though I’m not finding this novel as intriguing as I found his following one, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, I am always fascinated by both the language and the universally applicable nuggets of wisdom one manages to mine from old literary works.

In this vein, I’m posting this list of literary quotes I call "Painfully Inspiring." And though you may not have read all of these classics (I sure haven’t) I’m hoping you’ll glean a bit of hope or strength or inspiration from these quoted works to help you through your day, your week, your month…

Feel free to come back and read them all over again whenever you’re feeling a little disenchanted.



15 Painfully Inspiring Literary Quotes


"When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too."

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho


"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."

Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll


"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours."

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand


"My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time."

David Copperfield, Charles Dickens


"The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience."

Dune, Frank Herbert


"Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up."

The Dying Animal, Philip Roth


"I don't like work--no man does--but I like what is in the work--the chance to find yourself. Your own reality--for yourself not for others--what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means."

Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad


"It’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out."

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini


"I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night."

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini


"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."

No Country For Old Men, Cormac Mccarthy


"The sun himself is weak when he first rises, and gathers strength and courage as the day gets on."

The Old Curiosity Shop, Charles Dickens


"What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one's life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment."

The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro


"If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want."

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates


"It is to the credit of human nature that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates."

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne


"Peril, loneliness, an uncertain future, are not oppressive evils, so long as the frame is healthy and the faculties are employed; so long, especially, as Liberty lends us her wings, and Hope guides us by her star."

Villette, Charlotte Bronte

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Happy Birthday Luther Vandross (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005)

Luther Ronzoni Vandross (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005)


Give Me the Reason

What's there to say, there's not much to talk about
And whatever happened to all of the love that we vowed
Yes, it's true
And there's nothing new you can say

Give me the reason to want you back
Why should I love you again?
Do you know? Tell me how
How to forgive and forget?

Give me the reason to love you now
It's been a mighty long time
And the love that used to be
Ended the day you walked out
Never knew I'd ever be
Standing alone and outside with no one to love

I was secure and so glad there was you to love
What in the world would I ever do without us?
But it's getting clear
That I have to get over you

Give me the reason to want you back
And why should I love you again?
Do you know? Tell me how
How to forgive and forget?

Give me the reason to love you now
It's been a mighty long time
And the love that used to be
Ended the day you walked out
Never knew I'd ever be
Standing alone and outside with no one to love

No one, no one to love
No one, no one to love
No one, no one to love
No one, no one to love

Give me the reason to want you back
Why should I love you again?
Do you know? Tell me how
How to forgive and forget?

Give me the reason to love you now
It's been a mighty long time
And the love that used to be
Ended the day you walked out

Give me the reason
To love you, girl, to love you, girl
To love you, girl, to love you, girl
To love you, girl, to love you, girl, to love you, girl

Give me the reason
To love you, girl, to love you, girl
To love you, girl, to love you, girl
To love you, girl, to love you, girl

To love you, girl
To love you, girl
To love you, girl

Monday, June 30, 2014

More Words of Wisdom from Artists to Artists

By William Edmondson

In the studio, maybe today's drawing isn't the devastatingly beautiful creation I am reaching for...but I was in the studio, and some of my lines, the way I captured a curve of light and shadow...were superb.  My intention is to express the aching beauty that I perceive. My practice is to let myself do my best at the moment. My perfect practice is to look for and see what doesn't express the beauty I seek, and keep practicing that part until it does.” - Stede Barber


Get into galleries,” you’re told, or, “Enter major competitions  so that you’ll be seen.” That’s how we began, because that’s what we were told, but we’re impatient people, and when something doesn’t work well the first year, or two, or three, we look around for options. Our favorite line, which we have heard from people trying to sell us magazine ads to organizers of shows, is, “You have to give it more than a few years. Once collectors see you here for six or seven years, they’ll start to notice you.” Oh really? The person who benefits most from this attitude is the one collecting the money for those six or seven years.” - Carolyn Henderson


Most of us have habitual ways of perceiving or habitual ways of doing. When these serve us with problem solving, habits can be good and supportive. When old habits get in the way of learning new tricks, then obviously they do not serve us but become stumbling blocks. We have to try something so new and so totally different that we jar ourselves out of traditional ways of thinking. This is not unrelated to what is sometimes called breakthrough thinking. It may also be called the eureka moment or moment of realization. The mind has relaxed from intense engagement with a particular problem that has resisted solution from a relentless habitual approach.  Not focusing so intently, the mind offers up a solution seemingly unbidden. Thus, we get what feels like effortless realization.” - Donald Fox


See who makes an effort to spend more time with you. Listen to those who offer support and encouraging words - something a little more useful than, “Oh, you’ll be okay. Gotta  run!”  Cherish those who listen deeply and well.  Embrace those who run errands, who lend a hand, who truly show you how much you mean to them.” - Luann Udell