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How Daylight Saving Time can affect your sleep patterns


Losing or gaining an hour of sleep on any given day doesn’t necessarily throw our sleep patterns into a tailspin, but the Daylight Saving Time change poses a bigger issue than a long nap’s worth of sleep. In addition to the minutes of sleep you’re gaining or losing, you’re also adjusting to light cycles. With “falling back,” you’re shifting your internal clock later while the sky is getting darker—and bringing cues for bedtime—earlier. Here are a few areas to look out for when it comes to how your body reacts to this transition:

On the road
Just because the clocks have changed doesn’t mean your schedule has. Studies have shown that there is an uptick in car accidents in the weeks following the fall Daylight Saving Time change, in part because even if people aren’t physically more tired, a sudden adjustment in sleep patterns can lead to lower cognitive performance. This includes performance behind the wheel. If you’re driving as it’s getting dark out when you’re used to driving in daylight, it could take some time to adjust, so be extra mindful when you’re on the road.

Mind your mood
For many people, it’s hard to get out of bed to a dark sky. As our daylight hours get shorter, it’s important to seek out mood-enhancing sunlight when we can. In the first weeks after the time change you may actually be able to sync your wake time with the rising daylight; if you’re susceptible to the “winter blues,” take advantage of this early morning boost! Further into the winter season, try to schedule sunlight breaks during the day. Getting up in the dark and then heading home in the same conditions can be a real hit to your mood, making exposure to natural light a much needed bonus. Continue Reading »

Packing a safe lunch 101


With another school year in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to write about food-safe school lunches. Many parents or kids make school lunches to take to school. Each day their lunches are packed with nutritious foods (I hope!) that are safely wrapped or packaged. Even so, the contents can leak or spill. You may be packing a nutritional lunch, but is it safe? Here are a few tips to keep your little one’s lunchbox clean and healthy.


  • Before handling any food that will be consumed, wash your hands.
  • Wash any surfaces and utensils you will be using to cut or prepare the food, including counters, cutting boards, plates, knives, etc.
  • Rinse fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, even ones that have tough rinds or skins that won’t be consumed. Dry before packing.
  • While it is preferable to wash soft fruits such as strawberries or blueberries just prior to consumption to avoid wilting, chances are your child will not have a chance to do so at school. To preserve as much of the fruit’s integrity and still provide safe foods for them to eat, wash these and then blot them dry immediately. Put in them in a dry, airtight container.
  • If your child’s lunch bag can be washed, do so on a weekly basis, or more frequently if you notice any stains or spills. If the bag cannot be washed, wipe it with a moist, clean disposable wipe or a disinfectant wipe. Then let it dry.

Continue Reading »

Top 5 things you and others will notice when you quit tobacco


Freeing yourself from tobacco can be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that is well worth it. While there may be temporary discomforts during the process, the permanent rewards for giving up the habit and addiction far outweigh any struggles you may encounter. Being mindful of benefits during the process can keep your spirits up and push you to commit to being nicotine free. There are many benefits to look forward to, including;

  1. The amount of money saved from not buying tobacco will help you to feel more financially secure. The average smoker spends approximately $2,200 per year on cigarettes – imagine what you could do with that money.
  2. The lingering smell of smoke will be gone. Not only will you smell better, but people may feel more comfortable around you since you won’t have that smoky smell in your house or car anymore.
  3. Others will notice you have more time to spend with them instead of having to leave the room to smoke. Think of the conversations you won’t be missing!
  4. Others and yourself will notice you have more energy and are more productive. Breathing will become much easier, so exercise and vigorous activities won’t cause as much shortness of breath.
  5. You will notice a better sense of taste and smell. The world around you will become more enjoyable!

Continue Reading »

What you need to know about e-cigarettes


In the 50 years since the surgeon general announced that cigarette smoking was found to have a direct link to lung cancer, it has been uncovered that tobacco use leads to many other serious health issues. To this date, tobacco use remains the #1 leading cause of preventable death and disease in this country.

In recent years a new alternative to traditional tobacco products has appeared on the scene: electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. If you’re wondering about the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes, your health care provider is an excellent resource for information. If you’re considering using electronic cigarettes, there are a number of things to consider: Continue Reading »

Tiny gardens: tips for planting container herbs


Simon and Garfunkel sang a great song about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, but these herbs are also fabulous to grow and use in your meals. While many individuals do not have green space to grow a full-fledged garden, with a little time, effort and love many can be successful at growing container herbs.

Growing herbs such as basil, chives or cilantro in pots allows you to have them close at hand, perhaps right on the kitchen counter or on a window sill, patio or porch. Not only will these herbs provide you with ingredients for your foods, but they will also add greenery to your living space.

Below are a few tips to get you started on growing your container herbs.

  1. Light. Sun is crucial for growth. Most herbs originate from sunny regions and thus will need exposure to sun for at least eight hours a day. If growing the herbs inside, identify your south-facing window and place your containers to receive the most of the sun through that window. If planting outdoors, place in a sunny spot, protected from the wind.
  2. Seeds or plants? Despite the late arrival of spring, you might be better off starting your herb garden from plants. That means you may have to purchase small herb plants that are ready to go outside or be transplanted into a container for growing indoors. Starting from seeds is less expensive, and you can start seeds right in the pot you will be growing them in. However, these should be started two months in advance of spring, in full sun.
  3. Drainage. The container you will be growing your herbs in must have a nice size hole on the bottom so excess water can drain out. The last thing you need is water-drenched herb roots that will end up rotting. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.