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Sleep is awesome – and so is this infographic created by Julien Smith (with Zeo and FFunction).

Most of us do not enough sleep. How much is enough? Well, that’s a bit of a tricky question because the amount of sleep that any one person needs can vary a bit, but it is generally recommended that you spend 7-9 hours in bed each night. If you are not doing this on most nights, then you are very likely not getting as much sleep as you need to perform at your very best.

So, besides going to bed earlier, what else can you do to improve your sleep?

Sleep specialists use the term “sleep hygiene” to refer to a collection of behaviors that you can do, avoid doing, and ways that you can change your environment to improve your sleep. Some of these recommendations include:

Your environment:

1) Keeping a cool bedroom temperature with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended for good sleep. Try to make your bed as inviting and comfortable as possible – having nice sheets, comforters, and pillows will pay dividends in wanting to go to bed and in getting good quality sleep.

2) Make the bed and bedroom a place for sleep and sex only. Working or watching TV in bed creates an undesirable association between being in bed and NOT sleeping.

3) An ideal sleep environment is absolutely pitch black. Try to eliminate any light that remains when you turn the lights out at night. Cover windows with heavy shades or drapes, cover lights from electronics or alarm clocks and turn them away from you, and use an eye mask if you are comfortable doing so. Light is an enemy of good sleep.

4) Protect yourself from noise pollution by running a box fan, air purifier, or white noise maker (sounds like radio or television static). White noise drowns out background noises that might wake you up during the night.

Things to do:

1) Establish a regular bedtime routine to begin at about the same time each night – this helps prepare yourself physically and mentally for a relaxing night of sleep.

2) Make sure that you get sunlight and exercise during the day – just not right before bedtime. Dim the lights around you as you approach bedtime.

3) Eat a light snack or take a warm bath.

4) When going to bed, close your eyes and focus on staying awake. This is called paradoxical intent, is terribly boring, and helps people fall asleep.

Things to avoid:

1) Try not to do any strenuous exercise several hours before bedtime.

2) Avoid eating any large meals or foods that are spicy or contain caffiene (e.g., chocolate) several hours before bedtime.

3) Do not consume alcohol, nicotine, or caffiene within several hours of bedtime. These will either make it difficult to fall asleep or will result in poorer quality sleep when you are sleeping.

4) Try to avoid taking naps during the day. Naps will make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

Sweet dreams…


This is a bit off-topic, but one of the things that the tragic events that occurred over the weekend in Arizona got me thinking about is diversity.

Allow me to explain.

Here at Dan’s Plan we regularly recommend that individuals seek out a diversity of foods and a diversity of movement. These recommendations are based on scientific findings, the opinions of experts, and the fact that different foods and different types of movement offer different types of benefits. Personally, I also believe that there is value in surrounding oneself with diverse groups of people. A diversity of ideas, cultures, beliefs, backgrounds, upbringings, and experiences enrich our lives. The coming together of disparate ideas has even been proposed as a necessary component for innovation and the birth of new ideas.

So, how does this relate to the weekend’s events in Arizona? It is difficult to tell whether radical political motivations, mental illness, or a combination of the two are largely to blame for the death of those six people and the wounds that many more received. However, I think it is worthwhile to reflect for a moment on the diversity of the heroes that emerged on that day.

1. Daniel Hernandez is a 20-year-old, gay, Hispanic man who rushed to the aid of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she had been shot in the head. His quick thinking and smart actions helped save her life.

2. Patricia Maisch is a 61-year-old woman who was one of the three people who helped stop the shooter when he was trying to reload his weapon. She tried to wrestle the second batch of ammo away from the shooter and was wounded. She very likely saved peoples’ lives by preventing the shooter from reloading.

3. Peter Rhee is a 49-year-old surgeon and chief of trauma at the University of Arizona who also helped save Giffords’ life.

Although we can speculate about what each of us might have done in a situation like that, it is near impossible to say how any of us would have actually responded. Clearly, Dr. Rhee’s training and experiences on the battlefield prepared him to respond to these events, but who knows what kind of life experiences might have led to Mr. Hernandez, Ms. Maisch, and the other two men (Mr. Sulzgeber and Mr. Zimudie) who helped subdue the shooter and save innocent lives act as they did. However, no matter what caused them to respond in the way that they did, their actions demonstrate that anyone can be a hero.

This week, I will honor the heroes of last Saturday and the heroes that emerge every day by reflecting on their diversity and the potential benefits of diversity across a variety of aspects of our private and public lives.


A paradox is a statement or group of statements that represent an apparent contradiction or a situation that appears to be illogical. As I have been thinking about fruits and vegetables more and more lately, two fruit and vegetable paradoxes occurred to me.


Fruit paradox

A) There is a potential risk in buying fresh fruit in that it spoils over time. Most people don’t like to feel that they have wasted food or money. This can discourage the purchase and consumption of fresh fruit.

B) Lots of people buy frozen fruit for smoothies, baked desserts, etc.

Paradox resolution (my take away): Buy loads of fresh fruit when it is on sale. Use what you can right away, but don’t let the rest spoil. Throw the excess fruit in the freezer for inexpensive and delicious treats later. (note: this also applies to other methods of preserving produce such as canning, dehydrating, and pickling, but freezing is just so easy)


Vegetable paradox

A) Sometimes we just don’t quite know what to do with vegetables. Some vegetables might seem weird or difficult to prepare and this can discourage the purchase and consumption of fresh vegetables.

B) I have eaten a number of stir frys in which I could not be 100% sure that I could identify every vegetable in the dish.

Paradox resolution (my take away): Buy vegetables, especially when they are on sale and without regard to whether you are familiar with them or know at the moment what you plan to do with them. If you happen to get home, look for recipies and preparation tips, and come up short, try the vegetable(s) in a stir fry with whatever else you have lying around (e.g., meat, seafood, herbs, spices, etc.). Odd are you’ll come up with something tasty and exciting – and that’s part of what cooking is all about.


Have a great weekend folks,


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