August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013

7 Things to Do in Your Bedroom That Can Save Your Life

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

We now know that there are many things you should not do in the privacy of your own bedroom such as scarfing up a carton of cold carryout instead of a proper dinner, turning your haven into an office with computers and phones blatting, or watching a horror movie before a sweet midsummer night's dream.

Yet, did you know that your bedroom can be not only a haven of intimacy and solace, but the staging ground for several effortless things that can help you live a longer, sweeter life? It's true. Read on.

1. Have Breakfast in Bed

Take your coffee, tea and toast to bed and begin your day slowly. Contrary to what we're so often inclined to do, don't hit the ground running. Studies at Harvard University and in many other medical settings show that the risk of having a heart attack is highest during the first few hours of the day. The cardiovascular system needs more blood and oxygen to get started at a time when the blood vessels are most constricted, which is the case after an extended period of rest. A calm, paced start to your day protects not only your heart but your peace of mind.

2. Stretch When You Get Up

However restful your night, you'll wake with some tight muscles. After your shower, but before you hit the road or the desk, stretch. The Mayo Clinic says a morning stretch is a natural instinct that can have mega health benefits. A five-minute stretch starting with the neck, progressing to the arms and shoulders and lower back and calves improves circulation, boosts joint health and increases flexibility. You'll feel great, and those warmed-up, stronger muscles will carry you safely through the day. When you're supple instead of stiff as you move about, you'll be less likely to hurt yourself.

3. Take a Look at Yourself (Naked) in a Full-Length Mirror

Most of us avoid looking at our naked bodies no matter how fit we are. Because of that we can miss critical changes, says Ann Wertz Garvin, Ph.D., an expert in exercise physiology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. "Looking at yourself naked gets you familiar with the normal you," says Garvin. "Then, you'll notice things such as bumps or spots of inflammation that can signal serious diseases if they don't go away." Don't get over-excited about anything that looks unusual, Garvin adds. Consult your doctor with any significant concerns.

4. Have Sex

A 10-year study of 1,000 middle-aged men at Queens University in Belfast, Ireland, showed that men who engaged in weekly sex had half the death rate of men who had less frequent orgasms. During sex, the body releases endorphins, the "joy" hormone, as stress hormones plummet. Muscles grow stronger, deep breathing and circulation increases, and chronic pain lessens. A benefit for both genders: People get sleepy after orgasm (sleep is good) and burn about 200 calories each time they, er, engage!

5. A Moment of Peace

Taking a moment, just before sleep, in the privacy of your bedroom, to pray or meditate and count your blessings can boost your mental health and your immune system. In his book Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., points out that people who consciously pause to give thanks, to the universe, to God, to their families, to one another, are less likely to experience anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle pain and other manifestations of stress. The last thing you think about at night is important, he says. Make it count.

6. Sleep Au Naturel

Despite the human desire to want to snuggle under blankets, the natural tendency of the body is to cool off as we sleep, which is a good thing. Heavy PJs can disrupt that, not to mention wake us up when they get twisted and turned around our limbs. According to Lisa Shives, a doctor who serves on the National Sleep Foundation's board of directors, sleeping nude is a healthy luxury for empty nesters. (For in-the-buff sleepers who have housemates or kids at still at home, a bedroom door lock is a simple solution and wise investment.)

7. Sleep Tight

Getting a sound sleep decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol that regulates the metabolism of sugar, protein, fat, minerals and water. Poor sleep can raise your metabolism, making you feel hungry and deprived, liable to scarf up the kind of foods that lead to belly fat. Long- and short-term, sleep debt slows you down mentally to a dangerous degree. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in Virginia, who blogs and writes under the name The Sleep Doctor, warns Americans not to brag about "getting by" on little sleep. A lost night, or a week of four hours of sleep, can give individuals the same reaction time as drunks. But we're accustomed to forfeiting sleep so we live with it, accepting declining health in the process. Breus advises tightly wound adults to make sleep a clean ritual, turning off the TV and the computer an hour earlier if that's what it takes to catch those too-precious Z's.

Hope you have a beary safe and great Thursday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab