All posts by Holly VanWert

Holly is an intersectional feminist, cat enthusiast, gamer, and stress baker living in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She is a longtime blogger, sporadic poet, and the founder and editor of Woman Tribune.

What You Should Know About Medical Detoxification

Addiction is never an easy thing to overcome, regardless of how long you’ve been abusing substances. For those who have been struggling to defeat their alcohol or drug addiction for several years, it can begin to seem like an impossible goal to achieve. Yet, the possibility of recovery is more possible than you may realize through a medical detox program. If you’re serious about getting clean, this type of program can help you achieve that dream.

The Facts About Medical Detoxification

Many people have an idea about what this entails, but there are also many myths circulating about the process. For that reason, it’s important to point out the facts, so you can make an informed decision about your addiction recovery. Basically defined, a medical detoxification program uses prescribed medication to minimize the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms of addiction. Medication is controlled by professional and experienced caregivers, so the addict can quit using alcohol or drugs in a safe and managed environment.

The reason that many addicts fail to quit abusing drugs on their own is that the withdrawal symptoms can be very severe. In addition to causing emotional and psychological distress, withdrawal from some drugs can be physically painful. In cases where the addiction is severe, withdrawal symptoms can cause physical damage to the body and can lead to a life-threatening condition.

The detox procedure is divided up into three phases:

  • Evaluation – This involves blood tests to determine the severity of your addiction and how withdrawal will affect any pre-existing physical or mental illnesses.
  • Stabilization – This is the actual process of getting the addict free of his or her addiction.
  • Entry into Treatment – Once the addict is no longer in danger from withdrawal symptoms, he or she must enter a formal rehabilitation program to learn how to cope without using drugs or alcohol.

Throughout the entire process, the patient is monitored closely by trained and experienced staff members. This helps to ensure the individual progresses in a safe manner with his or her withdrawal symptoms strictly controlled.

Detox Centers are Different from Rehab Facilities

While drug rehab facilities focus on helping addicts get clean and confront the issues that drove them to use drugs or alcohol, a Substance Abuse Detox Center has only one goal. That is to get the addict to stop abusing drugs or alcohol while protecting the individual from withdrawal. Once safely returned to a state of clean living, the individual can then fully concentrate on confronting the triggers that prompted the addiction.

Another concern for people looking for help is how effective medical detoxification can be. They find it hard to believe that something that they have found so challenging in the past can be achieved more easily with controlled medication. In truth, the process is very effective and, as proof, there are the thousands of former addicts. All across the country, people undergo medically supervised detox programs, leaving the facility clean of drugs and alcohol.

Detox facilities are fully staffed with compassionate personnel, so patients are never left without proper supervision. The controlled environment protects against substance abuse relapses, but its primary focus is in keeping the patients safe. As patients must remain in the facility until they have completed the program, detox centers are staffed 24 hours a day, every day.

The process involves counseling and therapy, as well as the medication to provide full-service interventions that ensure success. In many treatment centers, the process is tailored to each patient. While all patients may not receive the same treatment, they do receive the best care for their specific situation. Personalizing the process in this way helps to give each individual his or her best chance for success.

Finally, treatment centers welcome patients, regardless of what specific substance caused their addiction. The personalized treatment philosophy was developed to ensure every individual can receive treatment and medical detoxification can be adjusted, based on the type of drug to which the patient is addicted.

For people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, they may feel they are too far gone to be helped. This is never the case. By seeking help from a detox facility, you can take the first step in getting clean and changing your life. The detoxification process gives each individual the extra help he or she needs in order to overcome addiction and begin healing. While the process may still be challenging, it’s far less difficult, when withdrawal symptoms are managed and supervised.

Simple Ways to Practice Self Care for a Balanced Life

In today’s world, millions of people have become increasingly cognizant of the role that self-care plays in helping them lead more progressive, powerful lives. One concept that remains integral to the principle of self-care is cultivating a balanced lifestyle. This type of lifestyle involves not getting too heavily involved in any one activity such that it promotes mental and physical instability. When you maintain a life marked by ongoing balance, you can avoid disease, maintain a positive mood, and keep your energy levels high. Below you’ll find just two of many strategies you can deploy to cultivate a balanced life:

Take Some “Me Time”

In today’s world, much time and attention is paid to the cultivation of healthy relationships and affirming social interactions. This makes sense given that the rise of things like social media and technology mean that people oftentimes spend extended periods of time alone or interact with others in a synthetic, image-based fashion. Yet, while maintaining healthy social interactions is important and advantageous, it’s also important to note that spending time alone is equally imperative.

Constantly being in the company of other people precludes individuals from attaining the level of self-awareness necessary to ensure that you can cultivate a lifestyle of balance. For example, always being around other individuals can precipitate a herd-like mentality which involves constantly identifying with the group rather than the self. The end result can be engaging in all types of social conformance and unhealthy behaviors that detract from your mental and physical equilibrium. (Examples include drinking, doing drugs, staying out late at night, eating junk food, and dating people just to be popular.) This is why spending time alone to journal or meditate is critical for success with the project of cultivating a balanced lifestyle. While alone, you’ll be able to get to know yourself so that you can make decisions that are conducive to your physical well-being and mental health.

Develop an Exercise Routine

If you’re really serious about cultivating a balanced life, make sure that you develop an exercise routine. This technique is empowering because it prevents the physical imbalances that can result from being sedentary for extended periods of time. Exercising regularly also decreases your susceptibility to various types of mental instabilities, one of which is depression. Note that exercise fights depression by ensuring a regular release of “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin throughout the body. There are many ways that you can make exercise a regular, integral component of your lifestyle. One is purchasing home gym equipment from companies such as SmartSquat. Doing so is helpful if you like certain types of exercises or want a back-up plan in the event that the gym is closed or you can’t jog outside due to bad weather.

Conclusion

Cultivating a lifestyle of balance will make you a more productive, positive person. Utilize one or both of the techniques outlined above to bring more balance into your life now!

Tune into FX Networks’ New Period Drama ‘Taboo’ + Exclusive Diamond Giveaway

There are few things in life that I thoroughly enjoy more than settling in for a night of really great television. Whether I’m tuning into the latest episode of a show that I wait all week to see or binge-watching an entire series, making an event out of chilling out in front of the television brings me more joy than you could possibly imagine. Go ahead, call me out for being a giant couch potato. I admit it, I totally am. This January, FX Networks will premiere a new period drama that is sure to have us all cozying up on the couch in our comfiest PJs with our favorite snacks week after week.

Taboo

Taboo is a gritty crime drama set in 1814 London. While London may be rich in culture and entertainment now, it was a far darker setting in the early 1800s. Poverty-stricken and overwhelmed with devastation, 19th century London was overcrowded and rampant with disease and early death. Trash filled the streets until it could be used as fertilizer. Most of the city’s residents during the time barely earned a living working in coal mines. Women and children as young as 5 also worked in the coal mines until at least 1842, when the first law was passed to prevent women and children under 10 from the mines. Many of us can’t imagine building our lives in such deplorable conditions. This is exactly why it is an ideal setting for such a dark series.

Tom Hardy stars as James Keziah Delaney, a man who has been to the ends of the earth and comes back irrevocably changed. Believed to be long dead, he returns home to London from Africa to inherit what is left of his father’s shipping empire and rebuild a life for himself. But his father’s legacy is a poisoned chalice, and with enemies lurking in every dark corner, James must navigate increasingly complex territories to avoid his own death sentenced. Encircled by conspiracy, murder, and betrayal, a dark family mystery unfolds in a combustible tale of love and treachery.

Conspiracy; murder; betrayal. Taboo certainly has all of the makings for a series that will captivate, entertain, and show us just how dangerous of a man James Keziah Delaney is to know.

Taboo premieres January 10 on FX Networks. Created by Steven Knight with Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy, Taboo is the third collaboration of Hardy and Knight following Locke and Peaky Blinders.

‘Taboo’ Exclusive Diamond Giveaway

To kick off the premiere of FX’s new original series, two lucky souls will be rewarded a secret collection of diamonds worth $3,000. Will you find your fortune? Enter the Taboo diamond giveaway for a chance to win. Winners will be chosen January 4 and January 11.

Are you looking forward to the premiere of Taboo?

Luvvie Ajayi Knows We Can Do Better, and She’s Giving Us the Tools with ‘I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual’ — Review

“Did some of us get a limited edition handbook that others didn’t get? You know the one that gives instructions on how not to suck?”

That is the question Luvvie Ajayi tweeted on August 4, 2014 after discovering that a “journalist” had plagiarized her work. It is the same question she asks in the introduction of her new book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual.

We all have plenty of ideas about things we could do or should do every single day. Most of the time, we forget about them and move on with our lives. Ajayi, on the other hand, decided that she would be the one to bring that limited edition handbook to the masses.

https://twitter.com/Luvvie/status/496444500357562368

I have been reading Ajayi’s hugely popular and widely-respected pop culture blog, Awesomely Luvvie, for years. I began my own blogging career in 2007 with a feminist and social justice website called Menstrual Poetry before eventually shifting my focus over here to Woman Tribune full-time. It was when I was a part of that niche that I first discovered Awesomely Luvvie. It has remained one of about a handful of blogs that I largely credit with keeping me entertained and enlightened.

I’m Judging You is a series of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digitally connected lives. Contrary to what the title of the book suggests, Ajayi isn’t casting her judgments on us without taking a long look in the mirror first. The first chapter of the first section of the book is a lengthy admission of perpetual lateness. When she proclaims that we are the worst, she is totally including herself. And she has suggestions for how we can all collectively do better.

I'm Judging You culture

This book is full of laugh out loud gems (“Behind every ain’t-good-for-nothing man are bedroom skills beyond measure.”) But there is also a time for serious conversations, and those take place in the Culture section.

Folks, this is the book we need. It is the book we deserve. Every side-eye and dose of shade — we had it coming. Every bit of it.

We are still having conversations about what an unarmed black person did to get themselves shot and killed. We are still asking what a woman was wearing to get herself raped. We are still arguing about whether two people who love each other should be allowed to get married or raise children. We are still explaining why street harassment isn’t flattering (“Girls are being sexualized by random toads and goats on the streets and told to smile about it.”) We are still legislating women’s bodies.

We can all do better. We should do better. We need to do better. We need to do the hard work and have the uncomfortable conversations. We need to be able to admit the harsh truths about ourselves and know when to laugh about it. We will be better off for it, and maybe we might even leave this world in better shape than how we found it.

When we know better, we do better, and Luvvie Ajayi is side-eyeing us until we do.

Buy ‘I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual’

I'm Judging You book banner

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual is available now everywhere books are sold.

You can find Luvvie Ajayi at Awesomely Luvvie, on Facebook, and @Luvvie.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Inspire Girls Around the World to Continue Their Education with CARE #SimplySaid

Growing up, any time I wanted to know the answer to something, my grandmother told me to look it up. Who invented something; the roots of a tradition; the motivation behind a movement. Whatever it was, she would send me upstairs to the bookcase that stood in her hallway to find the encyclopedia (yes, the encyclopedia!) that contained the information that I sought. She didn’t send me to look up an answer because she didn’t want to help me, but rather, because she did.

As she would tend to a project or chore, I read aloud from the thick books and we would discuss whatever the topic happened to be. If it was more sensitive subject matter, which came up more frequently as I developed an interest in politics and social justice, she would encourage me to share my opinion and how I came to it. Sometimes she shared a different point of view and challenged me. More often than not, one teachable moment would lend itself to another. Before we knew it, we had spent the day (or wee hours of the night, being classic night owls) in deep discussion.

My grandmother always made learning exciting, and she still does. Because of this, it should not come as a surprise that I actually enjoyed school. Well, for the most part anyway. There were some years during high school when I was not so enthusiastic about school, but hey, that’s being a teenager for you. Even so, I know how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to attend school. To learn about the history of the world; develop and hone skills that would serve me into adulthood; do well so that I could do well in the future.

But not all girls have the opportunity to attend school and receive the education they deserve. For more than 100 million girls around the world, hunger, early marriage, extreme poverty, and threats to safety are all barriers that keep them from attending school.

CARE Simply Said Bridget
© CARE

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls. They have worked tirelessly to eliminate barriers to education for girls in developing countries. They know that when you invest in education, children will pay it forward. Equipped with knowledge and confidence, educated children grow up to lead healthier, more productive lives.

Bridget, pictured above, is inspired to work hard so that she may become a doctor. There is no health clinic in her community and patients in need of care must walk over six miles to get medical attention. She hopes that access to education could help her make a difference.

CARE Simply Said: Inspiring Girls’ Education

© CARE
© CARE

The CARE Simply Said campaign inspires girls around the world to continue their education and follow their dreams, regardless of adversity. Moni is an 11-year-old fourth grader whose education inspires her to someday be able to take care of her family. She wants to be successful in life, and in order to do so, she says she will study accordingly. Having watched her parents suffer since her early years of school, she is inspired to get an education and then a job so that she can one day take care of them.

Click here to join the CARE Simply Said mission and write a letter of encouragement supporting students in developing countries who are working to achieve their dreams.

Petco Repeat Delivery Makes Stocking Up on Pet Essentials Easier Than Ever #PetcoDelivers

This blog post is part of a paid Megan Media and Petco Repeat Delivery blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

There are a number of unspoken rules you come to live by when you have a pet in the family. If you happen to have four cats like I do, they include keeping your cool when you’re abruptly woken up by them running over you during 5 a.m. playtime; adjusting to the early morning breakfast demands that come with bops on your head, whiskers against your nose, or when that doesn’t work, having your eyelids licked (always a fun time!); and the one-sided agreement that you are responsible for doling out pets and cuddles on their schedule, never yours.

cats

And then there’s knowing that you are almost always, without fail, running out of something.

Four cats go through a lot of food and litter, and I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone to scoop a litter box or groggily walked to the kitchen still half-asleep after being woken up by a cat demanding breakfast to find that I was running low or was completely out of the supplies I needed. When you live in a rural area about 20 miles away from the nearest pet supply store, it isn’t always easy or even possible to quickly run out and grab something you need. That is precisely why I was so thrilled to find out about Petco’s Repeat Delivery service, and instantly became a loyal customer.

Petco makes stocking up on pet essentials easier than ever by delivering everything you need to keep your pets happy, healthy, and taken care of right to your front door. You don’t need to go into a Petco store to get started, or even have a Petco near you. Simply navigate their website to shop for your pet’s favorite products, like litter, food, treats, catnip, and more, choose how often you would like your supplies delivered (anywhere between every two weeks to 12 months), check out, and wait for your delivery. Talk about a better system than realizing you’re out of something your pets need last minute and having to drive 20 miles to the nearest store and back!

So Phresh Dual Odor Guard Scoopable Cat Litter

Petco Repeat Delivery

The process is so easy and takes just a few minutes, plus Petco stocks a wide assortment of brands, including specialty brands, so you can rest assured knowing that you will still be able to give your fur babies the very best, which is what we all want for our pets. Repeat Delivery also offers savings that really add up, with discounts of up to 20% off select items and everyday free shipping on purchases of $49 or more.

There are a few exclusions to scoring free shipping — for instance, it doesn’t include cat litter, namely because have you ever had to lug around a bulk-sized box of cat litter? It is heavy! However, by planning our delivery schedule accordingly, it can still be an awesome savings, plus I won’t have to pick up those heavy boxes or pails more than from my front door to the litter box, which is great. And if you realize you need something sooner than the schedule you had originally set your deliveries up for or wanted to put off a shipment, you can do so easily by accessing your Petco account.

Would Petco Repeat Delivery make your life as a pet parent easier?

A Mother’s Day Breakfast to Remember with the Waring Belgian Waffle Maker + Homemade Waffle Recipe

I received the Waring Belgian Waffle Maker for the purpose of this publication. No other form of compensation or incentive was received and opinions are my own.

Mother’s Day is next week and while you will find plenty of information about what mom might be hoping for as a celebration of her day and unique gift guides from the best of the blogosphere, it is our experience that the one gift that never goes out of style is quality time spent with those you love. So why not choose a gift that can double as a memorable experience? Enter: the Waring Belgian Waffle Maker.

Waring Belgian Waffle Maker

Restaurant-style and professional quality for home use, the Waring Belgian Waffle Maker can make up to 14 waffles in 30 minutes, so not only will you be able to make gourmet breakfasts and desserts for mom, but also the whole family without being stuck in the kitchen for hours. The brushed stainless steel unit features an extra-deep well for 1-inch-thick waffles that are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The easy-to-handle rotary feature provides even baking on top and bottom, a browning control knob for custom baking, and blue LED lights that indicate when the unit is ready for batter and when your waffle is done and ready to enjoy. The nonstick coated grids make it easy to release your waffle when it’s done and cleaning the unit when you’re finished and ready to surprise mom with a gift she will be able to use again and again is practically effortless.

Waring Belgian Waffle Maker

While I am not always a morning person, I am definitely a breakfast person. Pancakes, french toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal… I love it all, whether it’s for breakfast, brunch, “brinner,” or even dessert. Knowing this, you can probably imagine how long I have wanted a waffle maker, and freedom from the toaster-style waffles in the frozen food section. To say that I have gotten a lot of use out of this little kitchen appliance would probably be an understatement. That’s what makes it such a great gift for your mom, grandmother, in-law, sparent, or any other important woman in your life that you want to celebrate this Mother’s Day — it may not be something that she would have bought herself, but she will definitely enjoy using it.

Looking for a killer waffle recipe? I’ve got you covered there, too. Here is my favorite basic waffle batter recipe. It’s simple to put together and easily adaptable for any mix-ins you love, like blueberries and chocolate chips.

Belgian waffle

Homemade Waffle Batter Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat flour, if you prefer)
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle maker. Beat eggs in large bowl with a hand beater or stand mixer until fluffy.
  2. Beat in flour, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla just until smooth. Pour into waffle maker wells and bake according to the specifications of your waffle maker.

So easy, right?! You can keep this batter covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Just be sure to give it a good whisk before use.

You can purchase the Waring Belgian Waffle Maker on the Waring website. It retails for $59.95 and has a limited one year product warranty.

The Tortured Life of Virginia Woolf, 75 Years After Her Death

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with MODE.

Is there a link between creativity and mental illness? My grandmother has always told me that there is a fine line between genius and madness, and even the Stanford Journal of Neuroscience [PDF] has delved into the prevalence of manic depressive disorder (or bipolar disorder) and schizophrenia among artists, noting a link between these altered mental states, creative thinking, and artistic production. For lived experiences, simply look to some of the most influential artists throughout history, many of whom based much of their work on the inner conflict brought on by mental illness, and some who eventually succumbed to those illnesses and took their own lives — Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton, just to name a few. One of those creative geniuses was Virginia Woolf, who committed suicide 75 years ago this month at the age of 59.

Virginia Woolf touched on the subject of mental illness in many of her books, we can assume by pulling from her own experiences with bipolar disorder that stemmed at least three mental breakdowns and numerous suicide attempts throughout her life. Her last attempt proved successful when on March 28, 1941, she filled the pockets of her overcoat with stones and walked into the River Ouse, drowning herself. Her last manuscript, Between the Acts, was finished just two weeks before her suicide and was published posthumously by the efforts of her surviving husband.

But there is so much more to Virginia Woolf than her suffering, and it can be debated for as long as there is psychology whether her mental illness was what informed her creativity and artistic production. One of the modernists of the Twentieth century, Woolf was a literary pioneer who earned accolades for her nonlinear, free prose style. The English writer and author of Mrs. Dalloway and A Room of One’s Own was also a pacifist and second-wave feminist.

Check out the story slideshow below for even more insight and intrigue about the life and works of the great Virginia Woolf, 75 years after her death.

Note: If you are running an ad blocker, you will need to disable it to see the slideshow.

Check out The Tortured Life of Virginia Woolf

by PrettyTough™ at Mode

Are You Sleep Deprived? 5 Tips for Consistent Restful Sleep

The U.S. National Institutes of Health estimate that at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleep issues. Moreover, the CDC recently concluded in their first nationwide study on self-reported healthy sleep duration that more than one-third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. I am one of those people.

For as long as I can remember, I have had trouble getting consistent restful sleep. Throughout childhood, I was very much “that child” who was never tired come bedtime — except I really wasn’t and would contentedly occupy myself until I finally fell asleep, whenever that happened to be. As a teenager, my dad would say goodnight to me when he went to bed at midnight every night and I would stay up playing on the computer or doing whatever else teenage me was up to those days. Most recently, due to the fact that I work from home, and have throughout the majority of my adult life, not only does the sporadic bout of insomnia still hit, but establishing and keeping up with a normal sleep schedule is something I consistently struggle with.

Aside from chemical imbalances and sleep disorders, there are a number of reasons why people typically experience sleeplessness. Stress is a major factor for many, as well as the amount of caffeine and/or alcohol you may consume regularly. Not to be forgotten are those that have unfortunately chosen incorrect mattresses on which to sleep because they didn’t read which would be the best mattress for them to get a full night’s sleep. If you are one of the millions of sleep-deprived Americans out there craving some quality shut-eye, here are five things you can do to achieve a more consistent and restful sleep.

1. Make Sleep a Priority

In December 2010, Arianna Huffington spoke at TED Women about the power of a good night’s sleep. After collapsing from exhaustion in 2007 while working to build her wildly popular news and opinion website, The Huffington Post, she began the journey of rediscovering the value of sleep.

Somewhere along the way, we as a culture have come to believe that in order to be successful and accomplish the things we set out to do, we must sleep less. In actuality, however, the key to a more productive, inspired, and joyful life is sleep.

Researchers have found connections between lack of sleep and high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, depression, poor memory, and an overall shortened lifespan. Not getting enough sleep is literally killing us, and it’s imperative that we make sleep a priority in our lives. Instead of staying up those few extra hours into the night to finish some task you’ve fooled yourself into thinking you need to get done right now, look at it with fresh eyes in the morning — your well-being and that task you’ve finished better than you would have on no sleep will thank you.

2. Implement a Bedtime Routine

You may have a bedtime routine for your child, but it’s just as important to have one for yourself. Winding down from a particularly hectic or stressful day can be challenging, and it’s common to be surprised by how late it has gotten when you’ve just begun to gather yourself again. Giving yourself a bedtime (yes, really!) and dedicating the hour before bed to preparing your mind and body for sleep can significantly improve the amount and quality of the rest you get.

Try taking a hot bath, playing some of your favorite calming music, old-fashioned of (decaffeinated) tea, doing gentle upper-body stretches or meditation, reading a good old fashioned paper book (we’ll cover why in the next point), knitting, or any other relaxing activity you enjoy.

3. Power Down the Gadgets

Our gadgets have significantly improved our work and social lives, but they are wreaking havoc on our sleep.

Studies have shown that the blue light emitted by the screens of our cell phones, tablets, computers, and televisions promote wakefulness by restraining the production of melatonin — the natural hormone that helps control sleep and wake cycles — making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Additionally, whether we’re answering a few last-minute emails, chatting with a friend, scrolling through social media, or watching a movie, our brains are being engaged and tricked into thinking we need to stay awake longer, ultimately robbing us of the precious hours of sleep we could be getting. After being connected to one device or another all day, our brains need rest by disconnecting from technology for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

Ideally, your bedroom should be a device-free zone. Even if you’re not using your cell phone before bed, it can still disrupt your sleep. Many people keep their phones with them in bed so that their alarm can wake them in the morning, but if your alarm sound is on, your phone can also alert you to texts, emails, calls, and the myriad of notifications you receive. These chirps, dings, and rings will wake you up, or at the very least, subconsciously disrupt your REM sleep.

4. Limit Heavy Meals and Caffeine Before Bed

Food is energy, and eating a large meal before bed will only give your body energy it doesn’t need, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it is when we stock up on the fuel we need — in the form of larger, protein-rich meals — in order to be energized and alert throughout the day. Studies show that people who are sleep deprived tend to eat more fatty foods, simple carbohydrates, and fewer vegetables. Making poor nutrition choices and eating late into the night could lead to sleeplessness. Additionally, caffeine and sugar are stimulants and their effects on the body last for several hours. Because of this, your mid-afternoon jolt could be hindering your ability to fall asleep at night, so it’s best to limit the stimulants you are giving your body and to be mindful of the time when you’re thinking about whether or not you should pour yourself that second cup of coffee.

5. Supplement Your Sleep

Natrol Melatonin

As mentioned above, melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the brain that helps control sleep and wake cycles by reacting to darkness and light. When it’s dark outside, your melatonin levels rise and last for about 12 hours, making you feel tired, go to sleep, and stay asleep throughout the night. But sometimes our hormones can get a little out of whack and lead to occasional sleeplessness. When this happens, a melatonin supplement may help balance the melatonin levels in your body so that you can fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed.

Natrol Melatonin

Natrol Melatonin

Natrol Melatonin is a drug-free sleep aid that promotes healthy sleep patterns and a more relaxed night’s sleep. It supports combating sleeplessness, jet lag, and annual time changes (like Daylight Savings Time coming up on Sunday). It also assists in establishing normal sleeping patterns, which I have so desperately needed in my life.

Natrol Melatonin is available in two varieties:

Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve: a 5mg (also available in 10mg) fast dissolve tablet that dissolves on the tongue quickly — nothing to swallow, no water needed — so you can take it anytime, anywhere.

Natrol Melatonin Advanced Sleep: a 10mg 2-layer controlled release tablet that gives you the initial 5mg dosage to help you fall asleep fast and then releases the remaining 5mg dosage over time to help you sleep through the night.

Key Benefits of Natrol Melatonin:

  • 100% drug-free and non-habit forming
  • Supports an overall better sleep
  • Helps regulate healthy sleeping patterns
  • Wake up refreshed in the morning — no more “sleep hangovers”
  • 100% vegetarian

Want to give Natrol Melatonin a try and start waking up on the right side of the bed? Snag this $2 off coupon! Natrol is available at mass-market retailers, drug stores, online retailers, and natural food and supplement stores. Look for the purple bottle.

For more information on Natrol and their line of products, visit them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and share great health tips on Pinterest.

*Natrol Melatonin contains wheat and soy
*This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases

Saving on Energy Costs this Winter — Direct Energy Savings

When my husband and I were in the process of buying our home, one of the first questions we asked the sellers was what their average annual energy costs were. If you are currently going through this process or will be in the future, don’t be afraid to ask this question, as well as for any documented proof they can provide of utility bills they can give you for the past year. You have every right to know what you can expect to pay to keep your home running smoothly.

Living in Northeastern Pennsylvania, we knew that it would be our energy costs that would be one of our largest monthly investments. Not only do we experience several months of freezing temperatures and seemingly endless snow, me and my husband also both work from home and are almost constantly yolked to one device or another, making for very little energy downtime.

If your electricity costs skyrocket during the winter, here are 3 tips anyone can implement to save big on energy costs, including Direct Energy savings for choice areas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

1. Turn the Thermostat Down

45 degrees in the spring and 45 degrees in the winter feel like two entirely different temperatures. One feels like rebirth and excitement to finally get outside and feel the warm breeze on your skin, while the other feels like hibernation and sadness.

end of autumn beginning of spring meme

If you’re the type of person who cranks the heat as soon as you feel the slightest nip in the air, stop. That chill in your bones is an illusion and you’re wasting money trying to quell its lies. By keeping your thermostat set to 65 degrees during the day, you can save a considerable amount of money while still being comfortable. It’s unrealistic to think that you should feel great lounging around at home in just a tank top when it’s 5 degrees outside. Break out your favorite sweaters and sweatshirts and say hello to big energy savings. During the nighttime, set your thermostat a few degrees cooler. The savings will add up over time and there’s no point in heating your home to 65 degrees while you’re tucked away in your warm and cozy bed.

Your thermostat isn’t the only energy-wasting culprit in your home. Most people have their water heaters set way too high; this is especially true if you have a dishwasher. Ditch your dishwasher manufacturer’s recommendations and lower your water heater to 120 degrees. Your water will heat to a temperature satisfying to everyone in your home, and by rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher they will come out clean without needing lava-like heat to scour stuck-on food away.

2. Keep the Cold Air Out

Our home is nearly 100 years old, and while new windows were installed relatively recently, there are two older windows in our living room and kitchen that can get pretty drafty. Drafts can cost you hundreds of dollars every year in wasted energy, so it’s important to do what you can to keep your warm air inside. You are paying for it, after all. Luckily, there are some quick fixes for drafty windows that can help save you money if you can’t afford to replace them.

Once the chill of autumn strikes, use an indoor window insulator kit to seal your windows and keep that cold air out. If window insulating isn’t an ideal solution for you, say if you have five cats who claw through any barrier keeping them from being able to sit in the window (what, you don’t?) a set of thermal lined curtains are a worthy investment.

3. Choose the Right Provider

So many people choose an energy provider simply because they are the most well-known company in their area, they came at a recommendation of a friend or family member, or they have just always used them and are weary of change. However, chances are that there are multiple providers in your area, and you owe it to yourself to shop around. While multiple factors should go into your decision process, ultimately choosing one energy provider over another should come down to quality service for a fair and affordable price.

Direct Energy Savings

Direct Energy powers your home with a fixed-rate energy plan with the peace of mind that you will pay the same rate throughout your contract term. No seasonal fluctuations here, just big energy savings that will have your bank account breathing a sigh of relief. Direct Energy is also the only energy provider to be a part of Plenti that lets you enjoy rewards every month.

Direct Energy offers different savings depending on where you live. Just plug in your zip code on their website and learn about the Direct Energy savings available in your area. Here in Pennsylvania, Direct Energy has special offers for the month of January:

Save up to 16%* over MetEd’s electricity rate, and up to 12%* over Penn Power’s electricity rate. There’s more! Save up to 10%* over Penelec’s electricity rate!

You can also enjoy Direct Energy savings if you live in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

*All savings refers to the current difference between Direct Energy’s fixed rate offer and the Utility’s current Fixed Rate for Basic Service as of January 8, 2016, and does not include any other component of the electricity bill. Utility rates are subject to change and there may be no savings following the respective official utility rate change date. Direct Energy’s fixed rates include electricity supply charges only and excludes delivery/transmission charges, taxes, and all other utility-related charges. Offer is limited and valid for new residential customers only.

Are there Direct Energy savings in your area? How else do you save on energy costs during the winter? Leave your tips in the comments!