Got Insomnia? Try Smiling.

Posted by Maria on March 19, 2011 under Humour, Photo gallery, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, TV Shows & Movies, Uncategorized, Wellness | 5 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Do you remember that TV jingle, “Pack up your troubles in a Glad trash bag and smile, smile, smile?” Have you ever thought of applying that sage advice to your insomnia? Is it possible to simply smile your insomnia away?

Smiling sheep.

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, attitude is everything. If you dread going to bed, then falling asleep won’t be the pleasant, restful experience that it’s meant to be.

If I were a betting woman, I’d bet you haven’t come across this tip for insomnia before. I thought of it after reading two unrelated articles on the Internet and in print and then I put two and two together and came up with this idea. I’ve tried smiling myself for the last couple of nights, just when I shut the lights off, and I really think it makes a bit of a difference.

Benefits of smiling yourself to sleep

  • it’s free
  • it’s simple
  • it’s quiet
  • it can’t hurt
  • what do you have to lose?
  • no one can see you doing it, so they can’t think you’re weird.

Smiling isn’t just a superficial gesture

So the next time you’re tossing and turning in bed, remember to smile. Instead of thinking negatively and saying things to yourself like, “I can’t sleep,” over and over again, change your thoughts to ones that will serve you better. And the best way to flip that switch is to smile.

“But what if I have nothing to smile about?” you ask. That’s easy. Picture yourself out with your nearests and dearests having fun and then somebody says, “Let’s take a photo of us.” Just pretend you’re standing arm and arm with your goofy friends, smiling and posing for a picture. We’ve all done that before, right? That’s it. That’s all you have to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re re-living an old memory or imagining good times in the future, your brain will respond by releasing serotonin into your bloodstream which will automatically uplift your mood.

And then before you know it, you’ll start feeling better and then you’ll fall asleep sooner.

Humour Me

I invite you to try smiling just for fun and let me know if it works for you.

Happy National Sleep Awareness Week

Posted by Maria on March 8, 2011 under Books, Magazines, Music, Humour, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Uncategorized | 9 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Did you know that March 7 to March 13, 2011 is National Sleep Awareness Week in Canada? It ties in with the “Spring Forward, Fall Back” schedule and has been designed to remind people about the importance of consistently getting a good night’s sleep.

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m passionate about the art of sleeping. In keeping with the Irish Proverb,  “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book” and to honour National Sleep Awareness Week, I’ve collected a few humourous quotes on the topic. I hope you enjoy them.

"Now go to sleep, Kevin or once again I'll have to knock three times and summon the Floating Head of Death." — Gary Larsen, The Far Side.“All I do is eat and sleep. Eat and sleep. Eat and sleep. There must be more to a cat’s life than that. But I hope not. — Garfield, Infamous cartoon cat, created by Jim Davis

“If people were meant to pop out of bed, we’d all sleep in toasters.”  — Jim Davis

“When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, “Did you sleep good?” I said “No, I made a few mistakes.” — Steven Wright

“Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone.” — Tommy Cooper

“Now go to sleep, Kevin or once again I’ll have to knock three times and summon the Floating Head of Death.” — Gary Larsen, The Far Side.

“People who snore always fall asleep first.”  — Author Unknown

“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.”  — Wilson Mizener

“No wonder Sleeping Beauty looked so good…she took long naps, never got old, and didn’t have to do anything but snore to get her Prince Charming.” — Olive Green

“There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We sleep in separate rooms, we have dinner apart, we take separate vacations – we’re doing everything we can to keep our marriage together.” — Rodney Dangerfield

“Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep.” — Albert Camus

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.” — Anthony Burgess

“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds.”  — JoJo Jensen

“There is nowhere in the world where sleep is so deep as in the libraries of the House of Commons.” — Henry “Chips” Channon

“Next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you’re in a science fiction movie. And whisper, ‘The creature is regenerating itself.” — George Carlin

O.M.G. — Omega 3

Posted by Maria on March 1, 2011 under Esthetics School, Ingredients, Nutrition, Skin Care, Sleep, Uncategorized, Wellness | 2 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

When I think of cod liver oil, I think back to grade 4 when my friend Erin used to complain that her mother forced her to have a spoonful of cod liver oil every morning before school. I was grateful that my mother wasn’t that mean. I didn’t know what cod liver oil was but it sounded nasty — fish and liver? Yuck!

Fast forward 30 years. I have since updated my thinking. While in esthetics school, we learned how nutrition plays a huge supporting role in skin care and we talked about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil.

Our Skin

This is a story about cod liver oil and essential omega-3 fatty acids and how they contribute to our overall health and wellness. But first I want to talk about skin and how it works.

Our skin, weighing in at around 10 pounds and covering an area of about 16 square feet on an average-sized person, is the largest organ in the body. It works to regulate our internal temperature and to provide us with sensory information about the external world we live in. Our skin is also our first defense against the invasion of bacteria, viruses and other toxins that may want to infiltrate the system. Our skin is also an excretory organ and one of its jobs is to remove toxins from the body via perspiration.

Signs of aging (like wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, dark spots and a leathery appearance) show up in the skin after the skin cells have been damaged. Skin damage can be caused by exposure to strong sunlight, pollution, toxins, cigarette smoke, x-rays, and drugs. Sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and other stressors can also contribute.

Once the skin is exposed to a hazardous agent in the environment, it produces inflammation in the form of swelling, pus or redness to defend and heal itself. As an example, you can see this whole process play out with a pimple on your face. First some dirt lands on your face and clogs a pore. Then the body creates inflammation to defend itself against the invader and voila, you’ve got an oozing red splotch where there wasn’t one before.

Inflammation can trigger the release of free radicals :< (I always picture free radicals as rebels wearing brown berets for some reason, but that’s just me) which are unstable and highly reactive oxygen molecules that cause cellular damage. It’s like the rust that forms on your bike after you leave it out in the rain. Are you with me so far?

Once these free radicals show up, they’ll do one of two things: they’ll either cause damage :< to surrounding tissue (which are a group of cells doing the same job) or they can be neutralized and stabilized :> by the body’s anti-oxidant system. I think there should also be an uncle-oxidant in the mix, but again, that’s just me.

The trick to keeping your skin healthy involves minimizing exposure to environmental offenders which cause the body to produce inflammation and free radicals and then maximizing the body’s protective forces like the anti-oxidant brigade (the army that helps fight the free radicals and keep them under control).

Another way to minimize the inflammatory response in the body is to increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids — which brings me to — sound the trumpets please — cod liver oil. I never thought I’d write that in a million years. In any case, the omega 3 essential fatty acids in the fish oil help reduce inflammation. They also support anti-oxidants in their task of sweeping away the influx of free radicals before they do any damage.

You can also find omega-3 essential fatty acids in sources like:

  • cold water fish: wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, shad, herring and trout;
  • oils: flax seed oil, hempseed oil;
  • nuts and seeds: hemp seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds;
  • avocados;
  • certain dark green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, mustard greens and collard greens.

So while I was in school learning about all of this stuff, my mom (of all people) introduced me to Liquid Omega-3, Smooth and Creamy Lemon Meringue Flavour by Webber Naturals which she found at Uncle Costco’s. I was skeptical, but I tried it and was quite impressed. It was delicious. Tastes just like lemon meringue pie! It was so good, I thought I’d use it as a simple syrup in a cocktail some day. Does that defeat the purpose?

Later, while I was visiting Uncle Costco, I saw a woman holding one of the bottles of Omega-3 in her hand, trying to decide whether or not to buy it for herself and for her young son. I said, “it tastes pretty good but you have to make sure to shake the bottle really, really well each time because if you don’t, it might taste really fishy.” I think she ended up buying it and I hope she liked my recommendation.

Was this article helpful? If so, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your tall fish oil stories.

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