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A Good Night’s Sleep = A Better You

By HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals

Get up, wrangle the kiddos, go to work for eight-plus hours, make dinner, wrangle the kiddos again, go to bed exhausted, do it all over again the next day. Sound familiar?

The National Sleep Foundation says 40 percent of women in the United States are not getting the recommended number of zzzs because of busy lives. Plus, sleep problems and diagnosed sleep disorders affect women nearly twice as much as men.

Experts at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals say there are 84 identified types of sleep disorders.

“Sleep is just as important as the air you breathe, the food you eat and the exercise you get,” said Kelly Schmidt, HSHS Clinical Sleep Educator.

Schmidt has been studying sleep for 17 years with HSHS. She said while insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, you don’t just get insomnia.

“Insomnia is a symptom of something else like depression, stress or medication, and women are three times more likely than men to suffer from it which leads to daytime sleepiness.”

The environment in which you get your zzzs is just as important as avoiding caffeine and screen time before bed.

“For women especially, the bedroom should be a stress-free zone. Daily life brings enough challenges with kids, managing a household and finding time for personal space,” she said.

Studies show lavender decreases heart rate and blood pressure which puts you in a more relaxed state.

White noise from a sound machine, fan or air purifier could also give you a better chance of undisturbed sleep because it blocks background noises.

Temperature is also extremely important, especially for women. As you sleep, your body temp drops. As morning arrives your temp naturally rises and gets you ready for the day. Experts say the ideal bedroom temp is 65 degrees.

Schmidt says it’s important to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night and if you don’t, a sleep study could shed light on why.

“It could be sleep apnea, maybe restless leg syndrome,” she said.” The bottom line is you have to listen to your body. If you’re struggling through the day to stay awake, you need more sleep. It’s that simple.”

If you think a quick fix like caffeine or a 15 minute snooze in the afternoon will help, Schmidt says think again.

“Caffeine leads to a crash which leads to being more tired,” she said. “A nap throws off your schedule which can trigger disrupted sleep at night.”

If a nap is an absolute must, Schmidt says limit it to no more than 60 minutes and no later than 3 p.m. Even better, she says use that time to get in some exercise. Movement will release endorphins, improve your mood and awaken your system.

The bottom line for women is to remember personal time is important. Taking care of everything and everyone else is great, but if you aren’t healthy and happy, the support you give others will be a snore.

Advice for Allergy Sufferers

By Carol Rudd, registered respiratory therapist, Healing Choices Oasis

Our nose drips, we sneeze and cough, people think we are sick, and the reality is we suffer with allergies. And I mean suffer! Our eyes itch and our ears and throat, even our skin itches. Those who don’t have allergies just don’t understand how irritating and distracting allergies can be. Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic disease, and the number is increasing.

So, what is an allergy? An allergy is a physical response your body has to something that usually is not problematic, like pollen, grass, dogs, or cats. Allergens can be just about anything: foods, plants, animals, dust, molds—you name it. Our immune system is triggered by an allergen and creates a variety of responses to defend against what our body sees as a foreign invasion. According to the John Hopkins Medicine website, “That’s the job of the immune system, to defend our bodies from microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi and to destroy any infectious microorganism that does invade. The immune system is made up of a complex network of cells and organs (lymphoid organs) that are responsible for the growth and development of lymphocytes.”

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology states “your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.” It’s that allergic reaction that gets us in trouble! Those pesky symptoms can involve the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach, and the skin. The AAAAI further states “each type of IgE has specific ‘radar’ for each type of allergen, and that’s why some people are only allergic to cat dander while others with multiple allergens have many more types of IgE antibodies.”

So what’s to be done? Avoidance has been the first line of defense against allergens. Sometimes, especially with those who have multiple allergies, it’s extremely hard to avoid contact with an allergen.

So, an over-the-counter antihistamine, which helps suppress the allergic response, is the usual first treatment for allergies. Then allergy testing and shots can be used to decrease a person’s sensitivity to an allergen. If that fails, prescription medications, including nasal and oral steriod inhalers, can decrease inflammation and offer some relief. On the holistic spectrum, things like detoxing the body, especially the gut, can be beneficial, as well as adding anti-inflammatory foods. Green tea is a natural antihistamine and only 2 cups a day, two weeks before allergy season will help avoid congestion! Adding spices like cayenne pepper, hot ginger, or fenugreek can calm a sore nose and un-stuff your head. Also acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage can provide relief of symptoms.

Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. While allergies in children are more common, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age or recur after many years of remission. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to know your triggers and be prepared, be it a seasonal allergy or multiple all-year allergies.

WIC Can Help You “Go Further with Food”: March Is National Nutrition Month

By Susan Krahn, MS, RDN, CD, CLC, Public Health Nutritionist, Eau Claire City-County Health Department

Whether it’s starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast, packing a brown bag lunch, or enjoying a family supper, the foods you choose can make a real difference. “Go Further with Food” is the theme for National Nutrition Month. The theme highlights how our food choices impact not only our own health and well-being, but also the community.

Conversations about food often revolve around weight, health, or the environment. But people rarely talk about the foods we toss out. It is estimated that Americans throw away up to 90 billion pounds of food each year–either at home or when eating out. This amount doesn’t include food that goes to waste at the grocery store.

While many families struggle to get enough food to feed their families, the amount of safe food wasted in the United States is on the rise. While not all food that is thrown away could be saved and eaten, there are ways we can prevent food from being thrown away, especially at home.

  • Plans meals around the foods you already have on hand. Check the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for foods that need to be used up. Buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products that can be eaten within a few days. Buy more frozen fruits and veggies that are ready to use quickly and keep longer.
  • Get creative with leftovers. Plan to use leftover meats and vegetables in soups, salads, or sandwiches later in the week. Use them as a topping on cooked grains like rice or pasta.
  • Learn about date labels. Many dates on food packaging refer to the food’s quality, not food safety. Easily find out if it is time to toss foods by using the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ “Is My Food Safe” app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.foodsafety&hl=en) or accessing the USDA’s FoodKeeper App at www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/index.html.

Registered dietitian nutritionists with the WIC program can give you more practical tips on how your family can “Go Further with Food.” The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program is a nutrition program that provides wholesome foods, nutrition and breastfeeding education, and community support for low- and moderate-income women and children up to the age of five years.

WIC gives you healthy food and teaches you how to use it. Good nutrition during pregnancy and in the first few years of life has long-term positive impacts on health. WIC teaches you about the benefits of breastfeeding and guides you through the process. WIC gives you healthy food and teaches you how to shop for it, how to prepare it, and ways to help your child enjoy eating it. If you think your family may be eligible, contact your local WIC office or visit http://bit.ly/EauClaireCoWIC .

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses nationwide attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month. For more reliable nutrition information, visit www.eatright.org/nnm.

Shop Here We Grow Again’s Huge Spring/Summer Thrift Sale!

Here We Grow Again is West Central Wisconsin’s upscale children’s consignment event held at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Our sales are offered twice a year, one in spring and one in fall. We are the place to find bargains on quality, name brand clothes, shoes, sports equipment, outdoor play items, great toys, books, videos, baby equipment, nursery furniture, maternity, and more. We also have vendors and goody bags available to share their family friendly products and services with you.

The very first sale in 2005 had just 20 consignors and was held in a basement, Here We Grow again has grown sale after sale and now has over 400 families participating each season and has an entire ice rink BURSTING AT ITS SEAMS! The upcoming sale in April will be the 27th consignment sale in the Chippewa Valley!! Here We Grow Again has something for anyone in search of children’s things. Items are inspected before being placed on the sales racks and tables. Some items are even new with tags.

The sale helps families in so many ways. People can clean out their unused/outgrown children and maternity items to sell and make some extra cash, most consignor’s make between $300-$350. Thrift sales require lots of time to set up and oversee the entire sale, our consignors price their things and simply drop them off with us. We do all the marketing, set up, and selling for you! Our consignors are usually surprised at the small pile of unsold items after each sale.

Shoppers benefit from the deep discounts from buying 2nd hand and being able to get almost ANYTHING baby/kid under one roof all at once. Providing all of the things children need is expensive. And when they’re little, children quickly outgrow their clothes and toys. Sometimes it seems like you just cut the tags off that $30 pair of shoes and now they are too small! If what you need is a one stop shop where you can get just about everything you need for your children from newborn on up at great prices. Our Spring/Summer sale is the perfect place to find a HUGE assortment of shorts, dresses, shirts, shoes, and more! We’re also a great place for teachers and Daycare providers to shop.

With an average of 2000-2500 shoppers at each sale, we’ve recently extended our hours to accommodate those Friday evening shoppers.

Here We Grow Again is run almost entirely on volunteer workers, in fact about 250 of them!! They each sign up for a 3-hour shift, doing a wide variety of jobs from prepping marketing materials to setting up, taking down and helping to bag purchased merchandise. WE LOVE OUR VOLUNTEERS, some have literally worked at all 26 HWGA sales! I can’t tell you how many times I hear “that was so much fun” as they finish up their shift. Each volunteer receives a pass of our exclusive pre-sale and gets to shop over 35,000 items before the sale opens to the public. With our growing sale, we are always looking for more volunteers!

Consignors have the option to pick up unsold items OR they may choose to donate them. All of our donated items go to support a local non-profit, Hope Gospel Mission.