Sunday, July 31, 2011


Dream Supreme Plus Gel Fiber-Filled Pillows, Standard (Set of 2)

Exercise is a good idea and a healthy diet is important but sleep, sound quality sleep is absolutely critical for good health. How do we sleep? How do you improve your sleep? How do you get to sleep? How do you fall asleep and stay asleep? How do you "sleep like a baby" in a perfectly relaxed slumber?

I have read many books about sleep and many of them have many remedies that I have tried on and off over the years to try to have better sleep. I will share with you those that worked for me during the times when I was having bad sleep. 

The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep (Harvard Medical School Guides)

At different points of my life, I have had varying quality of sleep. When I had bad sleep, most likely the cause was...

  • bodily discomfort
  • thinking - one thought will lead to another and sometimes I find that I have been awake half the night and almost till dawn!
  • poor routine
These are the 3 top reasons why I have bad sleep, so I have come to conclude that to have better sleep, one must...


Make yourself as comfortable as possible. 
  • Set your room to the best temperature that is most comfortable for you. Not too hot and not too cold. Changes in temperature will wake you up too so try to get the best temperature then make it constant throughout the night. Fans etc with a timer are not a good idea because when the fan turns off, you will feel hot and wake up.
  • Get comfortable pillows and bedding
  • No noise please. A quiet room is best for aiding sleep.
  • No lights. We're supposed to sleep in the night so a dark room is best. No night light is better. 
Go to sleep when you are tired.
  • I sleep better when I am tired because I don't get to think. When I start thinking about my day or the 101 things that I have to do the next day or the 101 things that I didn't manage to do, then my trail of thoughts will continue leading from one thing to another, quite often ending in something totally different from what I was originally thinking off. 
  • Leave thoughts and planning for the day. If there is something that you wish to remember, then write it down before sleep.
  • No afternoon naps. That makes me less tired and more likely to think about my day and the 101 things I didn't do.
Have a good routine

I am a night person, having been "trained" to sleep that way for most of my life. I am no early bird. Since my children started school, I have had to change my routine in order to get up early. I find that routine helps.
  • Go to bed at the same time
  • Establish a bedtime routine. Do the same things before sleeping
  • Don't go to sleep later and get up later during the weekends. It really disrupts your sleep routine.
A handbook of health

Take care of yourself
  • If you have some bodily discomfort like a rash, or itchy eyes or ears or a sensitive nose. Take care of those areas first, try to resolve those issues. It will improve your sleep.
Don't think too much about how hard it is to sleep and how little sleep you are getting
  • This is probably the hardest part but I think it helps not to worry about how bad your sleep is or how little sleep you are getting and how you will be able to catch up with sleep
  • Don't watch the clock when you are unable to sleep. That will make you think about how little sleep you are getting! Which will get your thoughts going into full gear and once your thoughts are moving along, very soon you will find that you are thinking of all sorts of things and sleep will then be evasive. 
 Thoughts are my biggest barrier to sleep.

Health (1-year auto-renewal)

Does reading help?
  • For me reading does not help. It makes me even more wide awake because a book quite often catches my attention to read more and more unless the book is boring but why would I want to read a boring book?
Norpro My Favorite Mugs, Set of Two

Does a hot drink or a hot bath help?
  • I guess a hot drink and a hot bath makes you more comfortable and creates a routine which helps overall. However, when you have bad insomnia, you may feel frustrated if a hot drink and a hot bath does not help you fall asleep. For me, these things help to make me more comfortable, relaxed and can be a good bedtime routine but I must go to sleep when I am sleepy so that my thoughts don't get in the way.
Lastly, if all else fails, consult a doctor. Don't take matters in your own hands. I wish everyone reading this a good night's sleep. 

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Vegetable Juice Recipes

Yesterday, I shared this vegetable juice recipe:

Vegetable Juice with spinach.
I used:
  1. Cucumber
  2. Celery
  3. Spinach
  4. Apple
Vegetable Juice with tomato
Sometimes, I add a tomato to the above vegetable juice recipe to give it an extra tangy taste. So I use...
  1. Cucumber
  2. Celery
  3. Spinach
  4. Apple
  5. Tomato
Vegetable Juice with broccoli
At other times, I replace the spinach and cucumber with broccoli like this..
  1. Broccoli
  2. Celery
  3. Apple
  4. Choy Sum (Chinese Flowering Cabbage)
It is very easy to make your own vegetable juice recipe. You can try any combination you like by adding or replacing vegetables like this. Once, I tried ginger but I didn't like it. I think it should only be used sparingly because the taste of ginger is so strong.

I almost always add only one fruit, that is apple to my vegetable juices. Apple is sweet so I try not to have too much of it. Usually, just one apple to whatever vegetables that I am juicing to give it a sweeter taste. I like celery too. It too has a strong taste but it makes the juice taste more interesting. The Chinese Cabbage has an almost bitter taste but it is dark green and leaf so I like it in my juice but I do not use too much of it.

If you want to know more about Chinese Cabbage and other Asian Vegetables, read this interesting article on the Sydney Morning Herald "Can't tell pak choy from buk choy? Demystifying Asian Greens."

I always peel off the skin of my vegetables and fruits before juicing. Yes, it is a pity because I will lose most of the vitamins that way but I have no choice really. I prefer not to take the risk of taking something with loads of vitamins but laden with wax or pesticides. So I peel the skin, always. 

Happy Juicing!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Juicing Vegetables

Today I will share one of my vegetable juice recipes in pictures. My vegetable juice recipe is not precise as I will not mention how many stalks or leaves of vegetables I used. I think it depends on the amount you wish to make as well as your personal taste and preference.

Here are the ingredients I used in my Vegetable Juice.

1. Apple
2. Cucumber
3. Spinach
4. Celery

That is my vegetable juice, all done. :)

All the green vegetables you see in the first picture above yields two cups of fresh and pure vegetable juice. I do not mix with any water or ice.

Here is another closer look at my pure green vegetable juice. Does it look healthy or yuckky to you? It tastes quite nice actually, once you get used to the taste. Vegetable juice is an acquired taste just like any other foods or drinks.

Finally, here are the vegetable leftovers from the juicing. A bit of a pity isn't it? All that lovely greens and fibre. Anyway, I couldn't eat that much of vegetables in one sitting. 

Most importantly, I don't just drink my vegetables, I eat them as well. I drink vegetable juices in addition to eating my greens. They are not meant to be a replacement but rather to increase my intake of vegetables especially raw vegetables. 

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Best Music to Sleep To

Sleep is essential to us. How to you get good sleep? Will listening to music help? What is the best music to sleep to? I guess it depends from individual to individual and personal preference and of course the choice of music.

For me, it is definitely soft piano background music. No vocals. Vocals distract me. Some prefer to listen to sounds of nature like the falling rain or the sound of river flowing or of ocean waves at the seashore. Those distract me too but there are others who prefer to listen to white noise or sounds like these.

Whatever it is, music helps us to relax and in turn that may help us to go to sleep better. By concentrating on the sounds or music, we free our minds from our thoughts that delay sleep.

This relaxing piano music from YouTube is my personal favorite. It is called First Love by Utada Hikaru. It never fails to relax me. I like to listen to it after a good exercise too. It is very relaxing.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is the Neti Pot Safe?

Like anything else to do with self hygiene it is very important to keep your Neti Pot clean so that the Neti Pot does not get contaminated.

It is also very important not to share your Neti Pot with anyone else. It is very personal, just like a toothbrush or a comb. 

Lastly, don't push the spout too far up your nose, keep the water warm (not hot!), get the amount of salt just right (not too much) and don't blow your nose too hard to prevent the water from entering the ear canal.

Most importantly, see a medical doctor if you have any infections and consult your doctor about the use of a Neti Pot before you start using one. Never use anything on your own without medical consultation or advise.

Related posts:

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How often to use the Neti Pot

This is just my personal experience. I've used it up to 2 to 3 times a day when my nose was badly congested. I could feel the mucus loosen up almost immediately and breathe better right afterwards. However, when my situation improves, I would use it just once a day or not at all. Though it is an easy procedure, rather like washing your face or brushing your teeth and can be done as part of your daily hygiene routine, I find that it takes some (just a little) effort to set up ie mixing the saline solution before you can do the nasal irrigation. So for me, personally, I would use it just once a day and increase only if the situation calls for it, when the nose is badly congested.

Generally, I try not to use it when I have a cold or inflamed sinuses. To me, it is better to use it before you have a cold not during a cold.

Here are some other useful reading on Neti Pots and Nasal Irrigation.

1. Nasal Irrigation on Wikipedia

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How to use a Neti Pot

If you have got one of those Neti Pot Starter Kits, it would have come with some instructions. However, if you have not purchased any Neti Pot, but would like to find out a little bit more, I hope that by sharing my experience, it will help you.

This is my neti pot. It is made of plastic. I like plastic because it is light, non-breakable and cheap too. 

I use Sea Salt to mix my saline solution for nasal irrigation, in other words for washing my nose.

I mix the sea salt with boiled water, part hot and part room temperature so that I get a warm saline solution. When it is too hot, it will hurt your nose. When it is too cold, it is not very comfortable. Warm is just nice for me. I got the right temperature after several trial and error attempts. The amount of salt must be just right too. Too much salt will make it uncomfortable.

Once, you have got the saline solution, you can watch an instructional video on YouTube on How to Use a Neti Pot. The one I highlighted in my post on What is a Neti Pot is the one I like best because it includes some simple exercises you can do to make sure that all the water runs out after your sinus irrigation.

Basically, you just have to bend over the sink, your head turned slightly, then place the spout over one nostril (the higher one) and let the water come out the other nostril. While you are doing this, open your mouth and breath through the mouth. You will get it after one or two tries. It is very simple and does not cause any discomfort at all. 

Related Posts:

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Types of Neti Pot

I have a very sensitive nose. Each morning when I wake up, I would sneeze several times. Dust makes me sneeze and changes in temperature makes me sneeze. When I go into an air conditioned room from the hot sun I would sneeze and when I go out from a cold room to the hot sun I would sneeze. It is a terrible thing. Quite often, I would see people trying to avoid me because they think I have the cold. I don't have the cold.

My sensitive nose is not seasonal. It is all round the year. I suffer from chronic nose congestion all through the year. I think they call it  allergic rhinitis. The best treatment for me so far are nasal corticosteroid sprays. However, these are temporary. As soon as I stop the sprays, my problem would persist.

I tried nasal irrigation using saline solution because I read that it would help. Then I found out about Neti Pots. Basically Neti Pots are a form of nasal irrigation. It just makes it easier to clean the nose, that is all. Neti Pots have been around for a long time.

What are Neti Pots made from?
Neti Pots can be made from different materials. However, they all basically look like a small teapot with a spout.

Here is a picture of a plastic Neti Pot. 

Himalayan Institute Neti Pot Nonbreakable

Here is a Ceramic Neti Pot

Himalayan Institute Neti Pot Ceramic

Stainless Steel Neti Pot for Sinus Congestion (Ayurvedic JalNeti)

And here is a Copper Neti Pot.

Copper Jalneti (Nasal Cleansing) Pot for Naturally Cleanses, Refreshes, and Protects the Nasal Passages

As you can see, the Neti Pots come in various shapes, materials and designs. I don't think it matters very much which material it is made from. They all have the same function. It is up to your personal preference. I am using plastic because it is  light and non-breakable.

Related Posts:

1. What is a Neti Pot
2. How to Use a Neti Pot
3. How often to use the Neti Pot
4. Is the Neti Pot Safe Pin It

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What is a Neti Pot

To put it very simplistically, a neti pot is a device, that looks rather like a child's toy teapot used to wash or irrigate your nose. If you like a longer explanation, you can read up this link about Neti Pot from Wikipedia which will explain the functions and history of Neti Pot in greater detail.

There are many videos on YouTube to show you how to use a Neti Pot but I have selected this one, not because of the commercial or because I recommend this brand of Neti Pot but rather because it shows the recommended exercises one should do after using the Neti Pot. I find that whatever Neti Pot you choose to use, the results will be same, ie. cleansing of your nose. To me, it does not matter what brand or what type of material your Neti Pot is made up of.

I find that quite often, there is some water remaining within the sinuses after using the Neti Pot. Doing some exercises which required bending over and turning your head from side to side will eliminate this slight discomfort. It is not a discomfort really because you don't really feel the water in there but doing these exercises will get the water flowing right out. You will be surprised by it.

Related Posts:

1. Types of Neti Pots.
2. How to Use a Neti Pot
3. How often to use the Neti Pot
4. Is the Neti Pot Safe

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