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How Much Sleep Do We Really Need to Stay Healthy?

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Health Blog | 0 comments

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need to Stay Healthy?

Research suggests there’s a clear correlation between sleep and optimal health—but the exact relationship may surprise you.

When it comes to the relationship between sleep and health, myths abound; many people assume that our sleep needs correlate directly to our age—with babies needing the most sleep and elderly people needing the least—and that some people have an almost miraculous ability to function on just three to four hours of sleep per night. Likewise, it is believed that sleeping “too much” carries the same (or similar) health risks as sleeping too little.

While it’s true that babies and children need a great deal more sleep than adults, the amount of sleep we need to maintain optimal health remains remarkably stable as we grow older, and in reality, there are very few confirmed cases of adults being able to function properly on just a few hours of sleep. According to most sleep experts, such as Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, professor and co-chair of neurology and program director for clinical neurophysiology and sleep medicine at the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, the average adult (including senior adults) needs at least 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night, though “Many people can function with 6 hours’ sleep, and there are also some who need 9 hours or more.” Chokroverty goes on to explain that “The amount of sleep needed to function the next day varies from individual to individual, and is determined genetically and by heredity.

If needing 9 or more hours of sleep is natural to some individuals, why is getting more sleep correlated with health risks?  Many experts believe that the studies which seem to suggest more sleep is bad for the body are inherently biased: Needing much more sleep than usual is often one of the first signs of an underlying illness, meaning that the higher death rates which appear to be associated with excess sleep are likely not due to the sleep involved but rather undetected illness. As such, most physicians recommend that, rather than forcing ourselves to sleep just 8 hours, we listen to our bodies and get as much sleep as is required to feel rested. (However, if your sleep needs are truly far from the norm, i.e. in excess of 10-11 hours per night, it’s best to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying health issues.)

As to those individuals who believe they can maintain optimal health on just 3-4 hours of sleep per night, tests of their motor functioning, short-term memory, and cognitive performance almost always reveal that they are, in fact, impaired by their sleep-debt—they have just gone so long on little sleep that they’ve forgotten what being well-rested actually feels like. Even if they can function each day, says Dr. Kingman Strohl of University Hospitals Case Medical Center, they are opening the doorway to health problems and an increased risk of early mortality. If you sleep less than six hours per night, “You’re subject to certain metabolic problems, such as pre-diabetes; you have more likelihood to have cardiovascular problems and hypertension,” warns Dr. Strohl.

As inconvenient as it may feel to have to stay in bed for 8 or more hours each night, if you wish to live a long and healthy life, it’s necessary—so turn off the television, set aside your smartphone, and give your body the time it needs to recharge and repair itself each night.

Thanks for visiting. We hope you come again.  Please leave a comment!

Your partner in health and fitness,

Coach Cindy

I would like to share a personal note, as it relates to this post.  For many years, I only slept 4-5 hours at night, and honestly believed that I was the exception to the rule.  However, my sleep deficit finally caught up with me and I experienced several metabolic problems-uncontrollable food cravings, uncontrollable weight gain, extremely elevated triglyceride levels, and pre-diabetes.  So, if you are only sleeping 4-5 hours and  having the same problems that are mentioned in the post or that I have mentioned above, please get more sleep so that you can improve your overall health.


Dr. William Sears’ Prestigious Prime-Time Health Workshops Coming to Southern Cook County of Chicago, IL in Spring of 2016

Posted by on Jan 2, 2016 in Health Blog | 0 comments

Dr. William Sears’ Prestigious Prime-Time Health Workshops Coming to Southern Cook County of Chicago, IL in Spring of 2016

Chicago, IL (PressExposure) December 18, 2015 — Prime-time Health is a scientifically proven plan for those who want to take charge of their health, prevent disease, avoid disability and spend money on something other than doctors! Prime-Time Health is based on twelve years of scientific research and a lifetime of medical expertise and is a road map to a prime time filled with health, happiness and vitality.

This healthy aging program is taught by Health Coaches who are certified through the Dr. Sears Wellness institute. The fun, interactive Prime-Time Health workshops teach adults and seniors how to add years to their life, and life to their years. Prime-Time Health is based on scientific research that explains why it is important to make health your hobby and become an informed consumer. Eating healthy is not just about learning all the foods to avoid; instead, it is more about ensuring that you are consuming the right foods. In addition, the Prime-Time Health program will show you how to open your internal pharmacy and help your body produce custom-made medicines to repair and protect your body against damage.

“I can honestly say that the Prime-Time Health plan has resulted in the best change in my life, one for which I will be forever grateful” stated Bill Bridegroom, a healthier prime timer. “At age sixty-nine, I am happy to hear my personal physician say that I look a lot younger, and when people ask me how I’m feeling I can honestly say that I feel terrific.”

William Sears, MD is a world-renowned pediatrician, nutrition expert, medical and parenting media consultant, and author of over 40 books including The Pregnancy Book, The Portable Pediatrician, The Family Nutrition Book, The Baby Book, and more! He is a co-founder of the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute and currently lives and practices in San Clemente, CA.
About Assured Wellness

Assured Wellness is owned by Certified Health Coach Cynthia Brooks. For more information, or to register for Prime-Time Health Workshops in Southern Cook County of Chicago, IL, please call 708-300-2422 or visit

Press Release Source:

How to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Health Blog | 0 comments

How to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

3 Little-Known Tips for Beating the Holiday Bulge…

Contrary to popular belief, winter weight gain need not be an inevitability; extensive research shows that, unlike many mammals, humans are not biologically predisposed to weight gain during the colder months—our metabolisms don’t slow down and our appetites don’t actually increase. The only reason our weight changes during winter is that our habits change.

While holiday overeating is often pinned as the culprit, in reality, having an extra slice of pie at Thanksgiving or a large Christmas dinner is unlikely to be the sole cause of seasonal weight woes. Instead, it’s the long-term differences in how we eat, drink, and exercise that do the most damage, leading to a gain of (on average) 5-7 pounds by the time spring rolls around.

Not all of these bad habits are immediately obvious, however, which is why winter weight gain creeps up on so many of us even if we’re careful not to binge-eat during the winter holidays. If your past efforts to cut down the size of your holiday portions did nothing to keep the numbers on the scale from creeping up, try these three strategies to help you avoid winter weight gain:

  1. Reduce (or eliminate) alcohol consumption. Between Christmas and New Year’s parties at the office, with friends, and with family, even usually light or moderate drinkers tend to end up consuming many more glasses of wine or mixed drinks than they would regularly—unaware of just how many calories this heaps on top of their (already heavier) holiday diets. A single glass of wine often contains in excess of 100 calories, while a sugary mixed drink may have over 300 calories per serving; as such, having several drinks at every function between December and January can therefore add up dramatically.
  1. Pay attention to how much you’re snacking. While having a one-day food marathon on Thanksgiving or Christmas day is unlikely to totally ruin your diet, many of us find ourselves in possession of a lot of leftover food after these holidays end. Not wanting it all to go to waste, we feel a subconscious pressure to finish it up, and are soon snacking much more than we usually would, and on more calorie-rich food to boot. In order to avoid doing so, consider giving leftover food away, either to friends or to a charity, and return to your normal diet as soon as these holidays have ended.
  1. Make exercise a priority. When it’s freezing cold outside and we’re coming home in the dark, it becomes very tempting to just curl up in front of the TV for the rest of the evening—leading to a complete lack of physical activity. This, of course, subsequently compounds our heavier holiday eating habits. Instead of succumbing to this sluggish lifestyle, make a habit of finding some way to still work exercise into your day—either by taking trips to the gym, walking somewhere indoors (such as at the mall), or purchasing home gym equipment.

Share with me some of the ways you avoid gaining winter weight.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for visiting.  We hope you come again!

Your partner in health and wellness,

Coach Cindy

Lighten Up: 10 Fun Ways to De-Stress

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Health Blog | 0 comments

Lighten Up: 10 Fun Ways to De-Stress

Learn 10 Fun Ways to Help You Reduce Stress!

Do you ever feel like life is a race, full of high-stakes choices and precarious balancing acts, all underlined by the daily challenge of somehow cramming in everything you feel you need to do?

Too many people accept this fast-paced way of life as being “normal”, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is chronic stress unpleasant, it’s been shown to negatively impact our health, leading to everything from insomnia to obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and gastrointestinal disorders. As such, if you regularly find your heart racing, your chest tightening, and your palms growing clammy, it’s time to take a breather and work a few stress-busting strategies into your day. The 10 fun, easy methods below provide an excellent place to get started:

1. Have a healthy snack.

There’s a reason that we eat for comfort: It works. According to Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the author of The Happiness Diet, “The connection between the gut and brain is huge—called the ‘gut-brain axis’—and lots of interesting data supports the idea that the gut is a major mediator of the stress response. After all, stress is a brain and immune system mediated phenomena, and your gut is the largest organ in your immune system.”

To avoid the pitfalls of this habit and reap the rewards, practice mindful, healthy eating: At the beginning of eat day, plan out a series of brain-boosting snacks (such as a handful of almonds or half an avocado) to reach for when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

2. Take a music break.

Music is one of the most powerful anti-stress agents available to us; taking a short time-out to listen to your favorite tunes will slow your pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease the levels of stress hormones circulating in your body.

3. Take a 10-minute walk.

Just ten minutes of walking has been shown to help clear one’s mind and provoke the release of–endorphins-  a powerful mood booster and anti-stress hormone.  If you can’t leave the room for a walk, try engaging in some form of movement, e.g. lifting light weights at your desk—any form of light exercise should help.

4. Try aromatherapy.

We all know that deep breathing can help to calm us down, but it can be difficult to become truly immersed in this rather mundane activity. To truly distract yourself from stress, spend a few minutes inhaling a relaxing scent (such as lavender), taking slow, full breaths in and out—you’ll be relaxed in no time.

5. Try tidying or organizing things around you.

Not only is this activity distracting, tidying up and getting organized provokes a positive feeling of accomplishment which helps to relax our minds and disperse the nervous energy that stress creates.

6. Try massage.

Even if you don’t have someone else around to give you a massage, learning how to effectively massage your own head and neck can have profound benefits, provoking the relaxation of tense muscles and the alleviation of pain and anxiety.

7. Watch a humorous video.

The wealth of online videos available today can easily provide us with the best medicine—laughter—without taking more than 3-5 minutes from our busy schedules. Whether it’s watching quirky cats or a brief comedy skit, injecting a bit of humor into your day is a sure-fire stress-buster, one which has been shown to immediately activate our bodies’ “relaxation response”.

8. Finger paint.

You don’t need to have access to an actual set of paints to engage in this wonderfully relaxing tactile activity—just pull out your smartphone or tablet, download one of the many free painting apps available, and get creative.

9. Try yoga on the go.

Yoga has become widely renowned for the way it can induce relaxation and foster emotional balance, and the good news is that it works anywhere—even in the office. Even simple poses, such as the seated back-bend (take a deep breath, reach up with your arms open wide, exhale while bending slightly from your upper back and chest, then release and repeat) can release an amazing amount of tension from the core of your body.

10. Read a few inspirational quotes.

When we’re stressed out, it can help immensely to take a step back and focus on our long-term goals and priorities.  Through motivating us to look at the “big picture”, inspirational quotes make the many small irritations that commonly cause stress look smaller by comparison, encouraging us to relax, breathe, and let them go. The next time you are stressed out, lighten-up with one or all ten stress-busters.

How do you relieve stress?  Share what works for you.

Thanks for visiting.  We hope you come again.

Your partner in health and wellness,

Coach Cindy

Want to Live Longer? Eat Blueberries!

Posted by on Nov 5, 2015 in Health Blog | 1 comment

Want to Live Longer? Eat Blueberries!

Increase Your Lifespan Just By Eating This One Berry.


In the world of exotic “superfoods” like acai berries and quinoa, there’s a surprisingly commonplace star: The blueberry.  Loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, these berries pack a health punch so strong that consuming a moderate amount of them daily may actually increase your lifespan.

While the many health benefits of blueberries are still being explored, so far, research has identified the following life-extending properties:

1. Blueberries are densely packed with nutrients.

Blueberries are one of the most nutrient dense berries available, while also being low in sugar and carbohydrates. A 1 cup serving (148 grams, 84 calories) of blueberries contains:

-Four grams of fiber;
-Vitamin C: 24% of the recommended daily intake;
-Vitamin K: 36% of the recommended daily intake;
-Manganese: 25% of the recommended daily intake;
-A range of other micro-nutrients.

All of these nutrients have been strongly implicated in healthy immune system function, resistance to chronic disease, and even in the prevention of cancer. Manganese also helps to fight insomnia, a vital property in an era when many of us are chronically under-rested (which itself leads to a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer).

2. Blueberries contain a staggering amount of antioxidants.

Antioxidants protect our bodies from damage by free radicals, unstable molecules that harm our cells on a structural level and contribute to aging and the development of cancer. Blueberries contain more antioxidants than almost all other popular fruits and vegetables, being rich in powerful polyphenols called flavonoids.

Not only do these antioxidants improve one’s odds of living a long and healthy life, they also aid in preventing vision loss by protecting the eyes from age-related macular degeneration (the primary cause of blindness and vision loss in individuals over the ag32676924_mle of 65).

3. Blueberries help to lower blood pressure and protect the heart.

According to one study, obese individuals at a high risk for heart disease were found to have a 4-6% reduction in blood pressure after consuming 50 grams (1.7 ounces) of blueberries per day, for eight weeks. Likewise, in a 2013 study conducted on 93,600 nurses, blueberries were linked to a 32% lower risk of heart attacks.

4. Blueberries aid overall brain function and improve the memory.

Oxidative stress is known to accelerate the brain’s aging process, leading to poor brain health in old age and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Fortunately, animal studies suggest that the antioxidants in blueberries tend to accumulate in the areas of the brain that are most needed for advanced processing, improving in cell signalling and the connection between neurons.

Human studies are now confirming these results; in one study of 9 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (a common precursor to dementia), consuming blueberry juice every day for 12 weeks led to improvements in several markers of brain function.

How to Incorporate Blueberries into Your Diet

If chowing down on a cup of blueberries a day doesn’t thrill you, try tossing them in salads (they pair well with spinach, another popular superfood), on your morning cereal or oatmeal, or blend them into a smoothie (they combine very well with yogurt and bananas).


Share the different ways you incorporate blueberries or any other fruit into your daily meal plans.

Thank you for visiting.  We hope you come again.

Your partner in health and wellness,

Coach Cindy