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5 Snoring Remedies

Has your snoring earned you the nickname “lumberjack?” If blaring noises are messing with sleep cycles in your home, why not try these doctor-recommended remedies to help silence your snooze?

1. Strengthening Exercises – Sometimes snoring is caused by weak tongue and throat muscles. To strengthen them, put your tongue tip on the roof of your mouth and make a fast tsk-tsk sound a few times a day.

2. Nasal Strips – Adhesive bands placed in the center of the nasal ridge draw the nasal passages apart, counteracting a key cause of snoring: passageway obstruction.

3. Positional-Therapy Pillows – 54% of snorers only do so when on their backs because, in this position, the tongue blocks the airway and causes tissues to vibrate. Pillows that have a groove to cradle your head allow you to lie comfortably on your side and breathe quietly.

4. Oral Devices – With an 80% success rate, plastic-bound mouthpieces clip onto your teeth and position the jaw forward to keep the soft tissue in the back of your throat from blocking the airway while you sleep.

5. Surgery – If you have a structural obstruction, such as enlarged tonsils, nasal polyps or a soft palate (which an ENT doctor can determine), surgery may be the solution. The catch? A lengthy and painful recovery.

Supercharge Your Immune System

Sharing is just part of the nature of families. But when chilly weather drives everyone indoors, sharing includes whatever sneezes and sniffles they may have. You can’t escape every germ, but you can prepare your body to fight cold and flu viruses and potentially lessen the duration of sickness. One of your most valuable weapons is often overlooked: Vitamin C.

How Powerful Is It?

Besides providing essential structural support to blood vessels, gums, and bones, Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties find and destroy potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Studies have also shown that higher levels may help the heart function properly, help to lower bad cholesterol, increase alertness, energy and mental clarity, lower blood pressure, and could even increase the average lifespan by as much as six years. It could also be your first line of defense when colds or the flu strike. Sounds super to me!

Takes the “C” out of “Cold”

Studies vary regarding the use of Vitamin C in treating colds and flu. Experts agree that while it may not reduce the number of colds a person has, it can shorten the duration. One recent study found that children regularly taking vitamin C had cold symptoms for 14% fewer days. For adults, days with cold symptoms fell 8% with regular vitamin C use.

What Else Can You Do?

If you’re not prone to taking vitamins or just want to do more to stay healthy this Winter, there are plenty of easy, common sense tips for staying well:

• Wash your hands often. Why? The Naval Health Research Center ordered 40,000 recruits to wash their hands 5 times daily. Their incidence of respiratory illness went down by 45%.

• Lower the heat in your house 5 degrees. Warm, dry air lets viruses thrive. Then when your mucous membranes dry out, they can’t trap the germs to keep you from getting sick. The dry air of an overheated home provides the perfect environment for cold viruses to thrive.

• Wipe your nose -- don't blow. Using dye and X rays, a University of Virginia study found that the force of blowing propels drainage back into your sinuses causing pressure and increasing risk of infection.

Prepare Your Vehicle Now for Winter Travel

Some people anxiously await the first few snowflakes of winter, while others dread below-zero mornings and icy commutes to work. No matter how you feel about the cold, the reality is that it can take its toll on your vehicle if you don't take the right precautions…

Motor Oil Musts

Engines work harder in winter. That's because oils and greases become thicker when it's cold. Over time, friction and impeded fluid flow can contribute to engine wear. For cold months, you may want to consider synthetic oil rather than conventional motor oil. Many synthetic motor oils still flow or pump at temperatures up to sixty and seventy below zero. Plus, synthetics have a broader service range than traditional petroleum.

Avoid Frostbite for Your Vehicle

Make sure you check antifreeze levels and the effective working temperature of the product you're using. Otherwise you risk a cracked engine block, blown hoses and water pump failure from frozen, expanded water in your vehicle's systems.

Propylene glycol-based antifreezes provide excellent protection against freezing and are safer than ethylene glycol antifreezes, and don’t have the sweet taste and smell that lures pets to the ethylene glycol variety.

Battery Basics

As temperatures drop, so does the efficiency of the battery. In very cold weather, your battery's power output can be diminished to as little as 10 percent. It doesn’t help that batteries also lose power as they age. Think about replacing your car battery sooner rather than later – there’s no time like the present to get your vehicle powered up!

Small Changes That Can Add Up To Big Savings

Just because there’s a bite in the air doesn’t mean there has to be one taken out of your wallet. Making just a few small changes to your home for the winter can keep you from overspending on utilities all season long:

• Inspect and repair all insulation. Heat rises, which means all that warm air that keeps you comfortable eventually makes its way into the attic. A properly insulated attic could save you money over the course of a single winter season.

• Keep cold air out. If past winters have found you routinely turning up the heat, you have cracks, gaps, or holes that are letting cold air in. Fixing these cracks is inexpensive, and this helps with the heating season.

• Keep warm air in. You can easily keep the warm air you’re paying for in with inexpensive caulking or simply installing new outlet plates and making sure they are snug to the wall.

• Inspect and moderate your heating system. Homeowners often fail to have their heating systems inspected, which results into higher heating bills thanks to dirty heating ducts and old filters. Once these items are cleaned and replaced, you can reap results almost immediately in energy savings. Give us a call and we’ll take care of you and your system so you can start enjoying seasonal savings.

Winter Skin Savers

Summer isn’t the only season that damages your skin. Sun exposure and its link to skin cancer are real concern. But cool weather can also wreak havoc on otherwise healthy skin.

Cooler months bring loss of humidity and cold air that can have very negative effects on the skin. (Plus, it makes me itch!) So what can you do to save your skin?

Use a mild soap. Experts recommend washing with a mild soap like Cetaphil. Long, hot showers can further irritate the skin, so take only one shower a day, and keep it short, around three to five minutes. Don’t lather too much or scrub too hard. Scrubbing removes skin’s natural oils.

Keep your skin moisturized. Moisturizing after a shower is a good idea. If you apply lotion while still damp, it will help to lock in the moisture. Try a lotion that contains the ingredient urea. Urea is a water-grabbing ingredient that draws water from the lower layers of skin to the upper layers where it is most needed.

You can add moisture to your air by using humidifiers, placing pans of water over radiators and adopting houseplants that transpire water into the air. Do your best to take care of your skin. After all, it has to last you a lifetime!

Time to Soup Up

As the weather gets cooler, it’s time to fill up on warm hearty soups. Homemade options can often be healthier, and tastier, than canned alternatives, but how do you get started?

Here are three common options for preparing the base of your soups and sauces this season:

Produced by simmering vegetables, aromatics (like herbs) and bones, stock is the best go-to as a base for soups, stews and sauces. Stock adds complex, robust flavor to any recipe it touches, despite having little or no salt.

Though less rich and flavorful, go for store-bought broth if you’re not ready to commit to hours in the kitchen.

Bouillon, a cube or granule form of dehydrated stock, is often processed with MSG, large amounts of sodium or other additives. Use it only in a pinch.

Don’t Let Winter Whittle Your Lawn Away

Warm weather may be over but there’s still plenty to do to get your lawn ready for the months of shorter days and lower temperatures…

Less Is More

OK, first things first: clean up the yard. Sure, many people feel that leaves add to their lawn’s seasonal and aesthetic appeal. But the truth is leaves that aren’t raked can actually suffocate the grass beneath.

Keep Evergreens Green

Ever notice how your evergreens tend to brown once spring comes around? It’s because of a process known as desiccation.

Basically, the trees dry out over the winter because of sun and wind exposure. And since the ground is cold, the trees can’t get that lost moisture back. To help, wait as long as you can before giving them one last heavy watering for the season.

Baby Your Trees

Sunscald can occur when the temperature fluctuates quickly. This often happens on those random days in winter when the temperature might be warm in the sun during the day but returns to sub-freezing once the sun goes down at night. Newly planted trees can be protected from this by wrapping their trunks in burlap or plastic wraps – just check your local lawn care or hardware store.

Stay Green During the Coldest Months of the Year

Granted, your lawn is looking anything but lively at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be green – as in environmentally savvy.  Here are a few tips for going green this season:

Weatherize your home.  It doesn’t take much to reduce your impact on the environment.  Simply by caulking around doorways and windows and replacing old weather stripping can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,700 pounds per year.

Make sure your home has adequate insulation.  This one step can save 25% on your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of Co2 per year.

Replace old appliances with newer energy-efficient models. Just by using an energy-efficient refrigerator, you can save 500 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Replacing your washing machine with a low-energy, low-water-use machine, will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 440 pounds per year. Plus, washing your laundry in warm or cold water (instead of hot) can bring in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of about 500 pounds per year.

Maintain your HVAC system.  Changing your heating, air conditioning and ventilating (HVAC) filter once a month or so maximizes your system's performance, minimizes its energy usage, and ensures that the system keeps the inside of your home comfortable.  And this one step saves 350 pounds of CO2 each year.  If you don’t know how to change your filter, have a routine system check performed by a qualified HVAC technician (like ours!) and have him show you how to do regular filter changes in the future.  Just give us a call – we’ll be to take care of this for you.

Remember, green is about what you can save – energy dollars, carbon dioxide, the environment, and ultimately, our planet.  So do your part and go green this winter.

4 Heart-Healthy Tips

Heart health is no laughing matter. According to a study by Bayer Aspirin, cardiovascular disease accounts for more deaths in the U.S. than cancer, diabetes or accidents. What can you do to stay healthy? Start by taking these 4 activities to heart and live, love and laugh longer!

1. Exercise – Any physical activity, such as walking your dog, for at least 30 minutes each day can help to strengthen your heart.

2. Reduce Stress – Avoid stressful situations by finding a balance in your home/work lifestyle. Meditation and laughter also help to reduce tension.

3. Reduce Alcohol Intake – Most females should limit themselves to one drink per day. More than two drinks can be harmful.

4. Keep Aspirin on Hand – In the event of a heart attack, call 911, then take one regular-strength aspirin to decrease the damaging effects and reduce the risk of death.

Foods for Good Moods?

When reaching for a pick-me-up on a gray winter day, skip the cookies and instead choose a healthy alternative that offers a boost to both mood and energy. Stock up on good-mood foods so that at the first sign of a sinking spell, you’ll be ready to:

Peel a banana and chew on a slew of benefits, including fructose; fiber; vitamins B6, A and C; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein and healthy carbohydrates.

Enjoy a handful of walnuts, an omega-3 rich food that also provides a dose of vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein and folate. (They are also a great addition to a quick salad.)

Take in a taste of dark chocolate. Rich in antioxidants, chocolate can offer a temporary mood improvement, thanks to its sugar, fat, caffeine and phenylethylamine – a chemical in the brain that releases the endorphins that produce all the happy feelings.

Put a Stop to These Winter Chills

Your doors and windows are shut. Yet, you just have this feeling that something else is lurking inside. Maybe it brushes up against your shoulders and gives you the chills. It’s time to check to see if a draft is flowing through your house attacking your warm, comfy air.

Take a lit candle and place it along each windowsill and baseboard. If it flickers, you’ve got a draft. Here’s what to do to help increase energy-efficiency by eliminating each draft one step at a time:

1. Clean and dry the baseboards with a paper towel.

2. Use white or clear paintable caulking to fill in the gaps between the trim and the floor.

3. Smooth out the caulking with a wet finger.

4. Get rid of the remains with a damp cloth.

5. Place weather stripping around the frames of your windows and doors to really seal-up tight.

Don’t Let Bad Air Crash the Season

The cooler the weather gets, the more time families will spend snuggled into their homes and battening down the hatches against winter. The extra time spent together can be enjoyable, but there’s fun about what all the family togetherness is doing to your home’s air.

See, you’re probably aware of the dangers of pollution, smog, and allergens outside your home – but you may not know that your indoor air has the potential to be even more dangerous.

EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels.

If that sounds scary to you, well, that’s because it is – especially when you consider that about 90% of your time – and your family’s – is spent indoors. Hidden dangers like dust mites, molds, mildew, viruses, and allergens increase the likelihood or irritate certain health conditions. For children and the elderly, this is especially dangerous. 

Tip Offs

Irritated eyes, nose, and throat are some of the first indicators of poor indoor air quality. Since these symptoms can also accompany colds, the flu, or viruses, it’s important to pay attention to when and where the symptoms begin. Don’t be afraid to play detective. Dust or dirt around heating or air vents, on ceilings or stained walls should alert you that there is a problem.

Take Action

• Do what you can to reduce indoor pollutants – that means not smoking indoors, using air-friendly cleaning supplies, and keeping pets groomed.

• Invest in high quality filters for your home comfort system. The more the filter can get out of the air, the fewer harmful particles you’re breathing in.

• Get an indoor air survey. We can do it or we can recommend someone to you. Either way, knowing what’s in your air and what you can do about it is better than not knowing.

Keeping Pets Safe in the Home

Who doesn’t love a puppy or a kitty? Even with such hard-to-resist furry faces, it’s important to remember that pets can’t always keep all the safety precautions straight. 

Puppies don’t know the signs for poison, can’t remember that you don’t want the trash strewn across the room, and forget about that chewing thing that seems to annoy otherwise friendly owners. And kittens nose around in their people’s business as if they have never heard the phrase, “Curiosity killed the cat.”

Fortunately for pet and human, the American Humane Association suggests some helpful ways to “pet-proof” your home. These include:

• Use childproof latches to keep little paws from prying open cabinets.

• Place medications, cleaners, chemicals, and laundry supplies on high shelves. Also, keep medications, lotions or cosmetics off accessible surfaces (like the bedside table).

• Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet.

• Check for and block any small spaces, nooks, or holes inside cabinets or behind washer/dryer units.

• Keep foods out of reach (even if the food isn't harmful, the wrapper could be).

• Keep the toilet lid closed to prevent drowning or drinking of harmful cleaning chemicals.

• Put away children’s toys and games in common areas.

• Move house plants that may be poisonous out of reach. Don’t forget hanging plants that can be jumped onto from nearby surfaces.

• Make sure all heating/air vents have covers.

• Put away all sewing and craft notions, especially thread.

• Keep laundry and shoes behind closed doors (drawstrings and buttons can cause major problems if swallowed).

• Move electrical and phone wires out of reach of chewing.

• Be careful that you don’t close your kitten in closets or dresser drawers.