Tales of Sleep Transformation

Getting a good night’s sleep can be one of the biggest hurdles of the day. We may stay up late worrying, trying to get work done or simply face bad luck. Not sleeping well is linked with serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, impaired decision-making and of course, less energy. Health experts recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Feeling like you aren’t getting the sleep you need? Try a new sleep tip tonight!

Here are some expert-recommended tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep bedroom quiet, dark, and cool
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Exercise regularly
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed

Experts recommended these tips, but do they work for the average person? We asked some of our co-workers to put some of these sleep tips to the test. We challenged them to try out at least one new sleep habit for one week. Then we asked, “How did you sleep?”.

Finally Sleeping Through the Night

Karen Brugno

Photo courtesy of Karen Brugno

Karen Brugno from Monroe County tried avoiding large meals and caffeine before bed and reducing her late-night screen time. Before trying these tips, Karen reported she would often wake up during the night.

But, with the new sleep tips, Karen felt she was sleeping deeper and completely through the night. She also found that not using electronics before bed helped her feel less anxious and sleepier, helping her fall asleep faster. The changes made an almost immediate difference in her sleep.

One of the hurdles that she faced was a late meal after one of her children’s sports events. She immediately noted the difference and was right back to what she calls “choppy interrupted sleep”.

More Serenity for a Sleep Aficionado

Pati Christian

Photo courtesy of Pati Christian

Pati Christian, a self-proclaimed “sleep aficionado” from Monroe County, has a lot of experience trying to improve her sleep. Pati decided to try avoiding electronics before bed. To help her avoid the late-night screen time, she tried to check off her usual screen time to-do’s, like checking her calendar and the weather, earlier in the evening. This way she was already prepared for the next day.

Pati said one of the challenges for avoiding electronics was not responding to text messages. As a child of an elderly, out-of-state parent, Pati wanted to be available if she was needed, but knew that “if there was a real issue, the phone would ring”. Ditching the screen time before bed made Pati feel calmer and more at peace before bed. It also increased the time she slept each night by 15 to 30 minutes more each night. The added sleep and serenity also gave Pati a modest boost of energy during the day.

Finding New Ways to Keep Your Bedtime Routine

Sam Barnes

Photo courtesy of Sam Barnes

For Sam Barnes, from Herkimer County, switching off electronics before bed was TOUGH. Before trying this tip, Sam would often read in bed on her phone or Kindle. Her husband would usually watch TV before bed. That was their routine.

The first couple of nights without screens or reading were rough for Sam. She tossed and turned, feeling out of sorts without her usual routine. Fortunately, Sam found that reading a book before bed calmed the restlessness. To keep up with her new habit, Sam is searching for a screen reader that does not give off the bright light (or blue light) that can harm her sleep.

Rested And Energetic 7 Days a Week

Sharon Palmiter

Photo courtesy of Sharon Palmiter

Sharon Palmiter, from Monroe County, tackled a challenging sleep tip: sticking to a consistent sleep schedule. To make this change easier, Sharon said she needed to be willing to wind down her night, even if there were still things on her to-do list. She worked on prioritizing what needed to be done first when she got home, like walking the dogs or prepping food, over what she could let go for later.

The benefit of sticking to a sleep schedule is that Sharon reports that she can “fall asleep almost instantly and wake up a few minutes before her alarm”. As a bonus, she feels “more rested and energetic seven days a week!”.

Still struggling to get the shut-eye you need?

A free, educational sleep poster is available to view and download by clicking HERE. For more help with sleep, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist.

Have you tried something to improve your sleep? Share your tips in the comments below.

Need a new running spot? Look no further!

“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” – Sarah Condor, New York Marathon runner

My high school baseball coach firmly believed that forcing his players to run miles after making blunders during games served as atonement, as an effective deterrent against future mistakes. After all, high schoolers hate to run, right?

As far as I can tell, he was right. We all dreaded the look he’d give us after booting a ground ball or missing a sign – the look that inevitably meant we’d need our running shoes for practice the next day.

Running is a fickle friend, a cardiovascular monster that both invigorates the subject and makes them wish for a painless death at times.

However, given the right setting, I’ve come to like running. Well, actually…

I’ve come to tolerate running and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when it’s over.

As Sarah Condor quipped, a good run can feel good in the moment and great when you’ve toweling off and enjoying a cool burst of fresh water.

There’s no sure secret to developing an appreciation for running, no formula to develop an artificial love for the activity. However, through painstaking trial-and-error, I’ve discovered what very well may be the biggest indicator of how much I’ll enjoy any given run.

The setting.

Jogging down countless cookie-cutter boulevards in succession can feel boring and repetitive. That’s why I’ll ditch the suburban streets for a good view anytime, even if it means hopping in the car and driving a few minutes to snag a solid spot.

Rochester boasts plenty of running trails, but trails aren’t for everyone. The uneven terrain can be a hindrance to enjoyment and some don’t like the silence. For that reason, I’ll focus on some of my favorite spots all across Rochester, many of which feature a mix of settings, from country to waterfront.

EAST SIDE

Eyer Park trail

Let’s start off with a real hidden gem. I’m from East Rochester, a small town nudged between Pittsford, Penfield and Fairport. East Rochester’s Eyer Park holds several ballfields and a lodge for parties, but the real beauty is a trail between the park and the train tracks.

The rush of Irondequoit Creek and the playful chirping of birds will make you feel at peace.

The trail itself is only about a third of a mile long, but it holds a wealth of possibilities. Once you clear the trail, here’s the route I encourage (it’s one of my most frequent runs).

Head down Midvale Drive towards Baird Road. Once you cross Baird, head through the BOCES parking lot. A right-hand turn onto O’Connor Road puts you on a straight line to the Erie Canal.

I love this route because it features so many different types of nature. The trail is thick and green, the streets provide a respite from seclusion, and the canal is an overall beautiful place to explore.

Here’s my suggested route (just over 5 miles there and back):

WEST SIDE

Gates Greece Townline Road

Strangely enough, one of my favorite spots on the west side of Rochester is one of the suburban streets I criticized earlier. However, given its close proximity to downtown Greece, it feels strangely serene.

Clocking in at just over 1.5 miles, Gates Greece Townline Road (which turns into Deming Street) is a picturesque stretch of land that features a farmer’s market, quaint homes and plenty of trees to go around. From there, the Erie Canal is just around the corner and Greece Canal Park isn’t much further.

For a nice long run, try parking near Greece Canal Park, trekking down Gates Greece Townline Road and finishing by heading back down the canal and exploring the park a bit.

Here’s how that looks in map form:

NORTH SIDE

Charlotte Beach

Charlotte is a lovely little neighborhood on the north side of Rochester, featuring cozy homes and abundant shops and restaurants. On the northern tip of Charlotte is Lake Ontario, and the beachfront area is a great place to get in some steps.

The boardwalk extends down a good portion of the beach and the pier gives a stunning view of the lake in every direction (but be careful of the other people trying to walk!). This spot is also great for people-watching. There’s never a shortage of dog-walkers or beach volleyball players.

SOUTH SIDE

RIT

I haven’t spent as much time in the south side of Rochester as the rest, so I’m hardly an expert. However, I’ve run around the perimeter of the RIT campus a few times, and I would gladly do it again.

The Rochester Institute of Technology boasts a massive campus enclosed by Andrew Memorial Drive. One complete loop on the road totals almost exactly three miles, which is great for a short run.

Feeling bold? Do several laps around the campus.

If you’ve ever been to RIT, you’re familiar with the modern-looking area and vibrant student life. There’s never an absence of activity, and you’ll likely see plenty of other runners who are always willing to exchange a head-nod.

DOWNTOWN

Who wouldn’t want this view from Corn Hill while going for a run?

If you’re not familiar with the Corn Hill area, you’re missing out.

Corn Hill plays host to luxury apartments and several nice restaurants, and its proximity to the Genesee River and Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony (or Freddie-Sue) Memorial Bridge provides scenic views. Even though it’s well-known for the housing and dining options, it’s also a great place to burn some calories.

Run down Exchange Boulevard and the Genesee Riverway Trail (they’re right next to each other) to witness the gorgeous river and townhouses in the area. If you get sick of the run, there’s other things to do as well.

Nope, you’re not seeing things – that’s cardio equipment on the sidewalk!

Check out the cardio equipment lining the street! That’s right – if the run gets repetitive, try your hand at a different form of exercise!

BONUS

This one is a personal favorite, but might not be for everyone. I’m very susceptible to nostalgia, which is why I love running around…

My high school! I grew up in East Rochester, and went to the same school for pre-K through 12. Running the perimeter of my old school brings back a flood of memories, and I highly recommend it to anyone with easy access to their old campus.

Any other great running spots in the Rochester area?  Let us know in the comments below!

If not, what are you waiting for?  It’s a beautiful day for a run!

5 Ways to Be Healthier with a Plant-Based Diet

I ate healthy. But I knew I could do better.

I ate a lot of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and reduced-fat dairy. Could I, however, reach the next level of healthy eating? Could I ditch processed foods, most animal products and oil?

Challenge accepted. I tried a whole-foods, plant-based diet. The diet is linked to health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.

What is a plant-based diet?

A whole-foods, plant-based diet focuses on choosing mostly whole, minimally processed foods that come from plant-based sources. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes. It also excludes added sugars, white flour, and processed oils. Many view this way of eating as a lifestyle, rather than a diet.

When I tried a plant-based diet, I didn’t radically alter what I ate. Rather, I just made some simple tweaks.

Make it easy

First, I stocked up on beans, vegetable broth, unsweetened almond coconut milk, sweet potatoes and whole grains such as quinoa. Keeping a supply of plant-based options at home helped make healthy choices easy choices.

Mental Prep

Next, I didn’t focus on what I couldn’t eat. Instead, I focused on the new delicious meals I got to try. Looking for some inspiration? Check out this recipe for grilled tofu skewers with a pineapple teriyaki sauce.

Ease into change

Making changes to what you eat can be a daunting task. So each week, I decided to cut back on one meat-based feast. I also gradually introduced replacements, like drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk.

Keep Grandma’s Recipe

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your comfort foods. Instead, I made small tweaks to favorite family recipes by adding veggies, beans or different grains.

Self-help

Finally, I checked out online resources for help and ideas. Check out USDA.gov for a list of plant-based resources.

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As a bonus, I fell in love with this recipe. Try it. I hope you like it, too!

Cooking light salad

Print Recipe
Cooking Light Salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combined the bulgur and boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Stir in the figs and remaining ingredients. Cover salad and chill thoroughly. Serving size: 1 cup