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Why proper sleep is important to boost immunity

The COVID-19 has ensured that we take care of not just our diet. We are now particular about everything including how much sleep is needed to ensure that our immunity is high.

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girl sleeping on the bed
Photo by We-Vibe Toys on Unsplash

Did you ever wonder why you tend to sleep longer when you are ill? Did you know that we sleep in sleep cycles — light sleep and deep sleep? Did you know how important deep sleep is to the immune system?

Stages 3 and 4 – the first 3-4 hours of our sleep that you experience the longest period of deep sleep. During deep sleep you experience very low brain waves called theta and delta brain waves.

The blood vessels dilate and are usually stored in the organs throughout the day. It moves into the muscles to nourish and repair them. The immune system activates during deep sleep to fight disease. This is why people tend to sleep longer when ill.

Poor sleep pattern

When you don’t take proper care of the inner sleeping system, you are at risk of poor sleep. Poor sleep happens for a variety of reasons. The main reason is the inability or the difficulty of obtaining proper amounts of deep sleep.

It’s common for people who travel across time zones to get ill very quickly. The blame is put on jet lag. This happens because of the body’s natural body temperature rhythm being out of alignment.

Jet lag creates a disruption of deep sleep, added with the stress of travel, this is a perfect mixture for lowering one’s immune system.

Most people live without being aware of all the actions they’re taking in their lives that are detrimental to the sleeping system. Fortunately, there are simple methods to take proper care of your inner sleep system.

Foods to eat

What you eat can affect how you sleep. In order to get a good night’s rest, it is essential to choose foods that calm your mind and body. Certain foods will promote rest and relaxation. Let’s take a look at them.

Tryptophan

It is a precursor of other neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin and melatonin. Eating foods that are rich in tryptophan will help you feel relaxed and sleepy.

Foods like turkey, hummus, lentils and kelp are high in tryptophan. They also contain nutrients that provide a host of other health benefits. Bananas not only contain tryptophan, but also potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants. Fresh and dried cherries are also one of the only natural food sources of melatonin.

Carbohydrates

Foods that are rich in starchy, high-glycemic carbohydrates promote better sleep. They stimulate the release of insulin and tryptophan. Foods like jasmine rice, potatoes, carrots, corn, puffed cereal, and honey are some of the healthiest choices of simple carbohydrates.

Calcium

It helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Certain combinations like whole-grain cereal with milk, a peanut butter sandwich, or crackers with cheese contain both carbohydrates and calcium that work together to relax the mind and body. Calcium itself is so beneficial in helping you sleep. This is because it has natural muscle relaxants and helps you manage stress levels.

Timing

Eating the above-mentioned foods calms the nervous system and triggers a sleep-inducing hormonal response. But timing is everything. Eating a large meal too late or eating right before bedtime can have the opposite effect and keep you up at night. It is best to eat these foods later in the day or at least one hour before bedtime.

Foods to avoid

Fast food!  Too much food!  The type of food! Eating too late!  These are all a strict no-no. This is because they have one thing in common – eating the wrong food, too much food, or too late at night can wreak havoc with your sleep.

If you eat too large a meal, too late at night, you can almost be guaranteed you’ll wake up mid-night feeling indigestion. Eating smaller portions in the early evening is the best option. It is best to eat the main meal somewhere between noon and 2 pm.

We have all heard the adage – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Ensure that your evening meal is the lightest. It is easier on your digestion process.  Eating the bigger meal midday, gives an opportunity for you to digest it while you work the rest of the day.

But pay heed — don’t go to bed hungry.  Hunger pangs in the middle of the night can wake you up.  It is important to eat your meals on a set schedule to help establish balance.  Eating at fixed times helps to set your body’s biological clock.

So, the question is — what to eat?  Make a note of foods that when you have sleep challenges.  Some of the common food sensitivities are: Wheat, dairy products, corn, and chocolate.

It is thought that with intolerance, the brain releases histamines. The histamines upset biochemistry causing restlessness, irritation, and inattentiveness in the day, and insomnia at night.

A good example is that wheat can cause gastric pain and bloat – no doubt two side effects that will keep you awake (and in pain) during the night.

If you suspect that this may be one of your insomnia contributors, begin an elimination diet to find out what and who is the culprit.  In the above example, cut out everything containing wheat.  When all wheat is eliminated, if this is a contributing factor, your sleep will begin to improve.

The same rule applies when it comes to drinks. But we know what drinks to avoid at night to get a good sleep. We all know that eliminating or drastically reducing caffeine consumption can help sleep better.

A few cups of coffee in the morning can affect sleep at night.  Caffeine has a long half-life so it should be drunk early in the morning.  Definitely don’t drink any caffeine-laced beverages close to bedtime.

It’s not just coffee and cola-type drinks that can cause sleep disturbance. Several over-the-counter medications can also result in sleep-challenged nights.

No-no at night

Tea, Coffee, Colas, Alcohol

Spicy foods

Chocolate

Drugs with caffeine

Refined carbohydrates – like cookies, pastries, donuts, sweetbreads

Preservatives

Foods likely to cause gas/bloating, like beans, cucumbers, fatty/spicy foods

Foods really high in protein, like beef, can inhibit sleep by blocking the synthesis of serotonin, which in turn makes us feel more alert.

MSG (monosodium glutamate, often found in oriental food.

Yes-yes at night

  • Bread, bagels and whole wheat crackers, brown rice – high in complex carbohydrates.  They increase serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.
  • Mushrooms
  • Fruit – lemons, figs, dates, bananas, grapefruit

Legumes

Fish or poultry.  Turkey is high in tryptophan, which promotes sleep.

Warm milk with honey is still one of the best remedies for insomnia.  Milk contains tryptophan, which converts to serotonin, inducing sleep.

Remember, if you want to fall asleep more easily at night and wake up refreshed, eat a small complex carbohydrate snack and avoid protein-rich foods at least an hour before bedtime.

Avoid eating meals that have too many ingredients. Try sticking to the new or modified food and meal routine for at least two to four weeks to evaluate whether this improves your sleep habits.

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Lifestyle

What you need to know about Transient Ischaemic Attack

Winter is here. Therefore, it is important to diagnose Transient Ischaemic Attacks. This can help to identify a patient who is at risk for subsequent stroke and prevent the same

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Transient Ischaemic Attack
Source: @Oklahoma Heart Hospital

An episode of stroke in any family is devastating. The sad part is that it can result in premature death and lifelong disability. In India, the incidence rate of stroke is estimated to be 119-145 per lakh. This means that there are 1.44 to 1.64 million cases of strokes annually. Unfortunately, when we do not heed the warning signs of stroke, we end up becoming victims of this devastating episode.

One such sign is a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) or a mini-stroke. The risk of stroke in the first three months after a TIA is 2-17%. About 33% of those with a history of TIA have a major stroke within a year if not treated. Hence, it is important to raise awareness about TIA so we can alert ourselves regarding the subsequent stroke.

TIA cause

When the blood flow to the brain cuts off for a short while (less than 5 minutes) it causes transient neurological symptoms. This is similar to observed in stroke but is rapidly reversible. This is known as TIA. TIA is also referred to as mini-stroke because it is like a miniature version of a full-blown stroke. It causes less damage but it sure needs emergency care without delay.

The difference

When an artery that is supplying blood to the brain gets blocked due to a blood clot, it causes oxygen starvation resulting in TIA. In a TIA, such a temporary clog is generally pushed along and is broken down. The normal flow of blood to the brain returns quickly.

Symptoms of a TIA usually subside within an hour (typically less than 15 minutes) but may last up to 24 hours in some cases. In an ischemic stroke, the brain goes oxygen-deprived for a longer period. This causes more damage and brings long-lasting effects that can be fatal and cause permanent disability or death.

Risk

Apart from the risks that are not under our control like age and family history, generally, women have a higher risk of stroke/TIA than men. Obesity, carotid artery disease, high BP, high cholesterol, Diabetes, and preexisting heart conditions are also found to increase the odds of stroke/TIA. Excess smoking, alcohol consumption, eating foods high in cholesterol, and using drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine and heroin can increase the risk.

Symptoms

We must attempt to remember the term FAST — Face, Arms, Speech, Time. These are seen if a person is having a TIA. These include:

The facial droop may be observed where the eyes or mouth may droop to one side. One may also experience trouble smiling.

Problems related to speech such as slurred, garbled, or difficult to understand. Also, one may find it difficult to gather the right words.

Weakness or numbness of limbs may be experienced.

There might be trouble lifting or holding up the arms.

One may also notice balance and coordination related troubles, blindness or transient blurring of vision, inability to move one side of the body, dizziness, confusion, and difficulties in understanding others.

Changes to make

After knowing about TIA, it is important to make efforts to have a better lifestyle and adopt preventive measures to reduce the risk of experiencing a TIA/stroke. These include:

  • Quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke from tobacco.
  • Eating a healthy and nutritious diet that includes a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Having a check on the excessive intake of salt and fats
  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping away from recreational drugs.
  • Maintaining ideal body weight.

Following the advice of the specialist and or timely treatment plan for heart disease, Diabetes and other health conditions can go a long way in managing TIA. A person can live a healthy life for a long time.

Management

Diagnosis is generally established through a full body physical examination. Neurological tests and various imaging techniques (MRI, Angiography), medications like blood-thinners, anti-cholesterol medications with or without the use of minimally invasive procedures (carotid angioplasty/stenting) and surgical procedures (Carotid endarterectomy) may be advised depending upon the severity of TIA.

When the symptoms of a TIA strike one should get medical help immediately. It must be remembered that there is a lot of uncertainty about whether the blood flow will restore on its own or not. It is impossible to predict if one is having a TIA or stroke because the symptoms are more or less the same. Given the present pandemic, it can lead to blood clots in the vessels supplying the brain. This can subsequently progress to TIA and stroke.

Disclaimer: The article is meant only to create awareness among the people. For any treatment one must always consult a qualified and certified health professional.

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Lifestyle

Top 5 online learning tools for your children

Today, parents re looking for overall development of their child. Let’s look at some of the tools that can help sharpen the child’s mind

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Learning Tools
Source: @Pew Research Center

Technology has really changed the way we learn today. From a face-to-face tutor to a tutor online to offline classes to online, technology is playing a big role in the education sector. It is providing them with various opportunities.

Not only this, the benefits of e-learning are tremendous. For this reason alone, there has been an exponential boost in the use of online learning platforms.

Learning becomes interesting if the learner enjoys the process. There are many learning tools that make this process effective. E-learning platforms enhance children’s education. It helps them to engage with edutainment videos, fun-packed kits, innovative teaching, and several practical co-curricular activities.

These online courses have an attractive design, suitable graphics, animations, clear instructions and easy language that makes learning fun. The companies provide flexibility to the kids. They can learn at their own pace. Kids are rewarded once they compete in quizzes or chapters. This motivates them to study without outside pressure.

Let’s look at a few such companies.

Class Monitor

It is an Indore-based ed-tech start-up. It caters to today’s needs and provides world-class, comfortable home-based learning. This is an interactive way for early learners in India (0-8). Early childhood development is vital for developing socio-emotional skills. The firm offers fun-packed kits that let you play, teach and bond with your children.

The start-up provides effectively-researched early childhood education programmes blended with traditional and modern learning techniques. It focuses on developing your child fundamentally. It focuses on five core areas: Linguistic skills, logical thinking, sensory and motor skills, cognitive skills, and creativity. The firm’s hybrid early childhood programmes connect real-life learning experiences and hands-on activities with an app designed to help strengthen your children’s learning.

Flintoclass

It’s considered to be a market leader in early childhood education. It transforms homes and classrooms into interesting collaborative activity spaces. The company has innovated the early education industry. It follows the e-commerce subscription model. All learning products and tools are intensively researched. The research center works with parents and early childhood teachers to create an ecosystem conducive to realising each child’s true potential.

Kutuki

It is one of the first early learning apps in India. It uses proprietary stories and song-based lessons to appeal to the youngest students. This interactive app aims to change the minds of young people by creating contextual and multilingual content.

This makes it easy for parents and children to identify with. With over 1 lakh-plus user and over 130 kindergarten subscribers, the firm is entering tier I, II, and III with its regional language content.

Kangaroo Kids

It is an online preschool that balances learning and development suitable for children 2 to 6 years old. Its programme aims to help young children develop critical skills in literacy, emotional intelligence, and social and physical development. The goal is to provide children with a safe and well-structured learning environment. This allows them to develop in a fun and exciting way.

They can explore their curiosity and learn at their own pace. Its unique curriculum helps children learn in a friendly environment while giving parents peace of mind.

Ocky Pocky

It is one of the first interactive English learning apps for preschool children. It has been created by Whizkids in India. It uses Artificial Intelligence/natural learning processes to help children meet their English learning needs. It provides feedback and allows children to build an early vocabulary base through voice, video, and vernacular. It is primarily for non-English speaking families.

Remember, a child learns the most in his first five years of age. In the first five years, experiences and relationships stimulate children’s development, creating millions of connections in their brains. A child’s brain develops connections faster in the first five years than at any other time.

It is therefore important to give the child the best that there is so that he has an all-around development. It will help him get the edge that this competitive world needs today.

Disclaimer: There are several other such platforms in the market today. The attempt here is to introduce a few of them and not to be considered as gospel truth.  Parents can choose whatever is best for their children.

 

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Job Portal

Looking to get recruited? Here are 5 newage technologies for recruitment

There are a few companies that are using newer technological advancements that can be used to solve hiring issues.

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Recruitment

The present pandemic has made it tough for everybody looking for a job or for a fresher to get hired. It is just as tough for recruiters looking for the right man for the right job. But there are a few companies that are using newer technological advancements that can be used to solve hiring issues.

It is not just the people who are looking for jobs that find it tough to match their skills with the job. Even recruiters are constantly looking for skilled people to match the job description. Therefore, sourcing and acquiring top talent has always been essential and involves a lot of time and cost for the companies.

However, now, newer technological advancements have made it possible for recruiters in making better hiring decisions and thereby breaking the chain of traditional methods of recruiting. These technological innovations are helping recruiters to plan their hiring processes better and provide the best-fit candidates for the required roles. Several start-ups are using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Analytics to meet the needs of companies.

Artificial Intelligence is one of the most disruptive technologies today. Its potential to evolve and enable innovations is now being leveraged by several industries across the globe, HR is no exception. Integration of AI is aimed at making life easier. This allows HRs to play an increasingly strategic role.

Here are 5 platforms that are leveraging technology to simplify the HR processes.

GetWork

This is a SaaS-based HRTech and EdTech platform. The idea is to democratise job opportunities and empower college placement cells in Tier II and III cities in India. It is a technologically advanced two-way marketplace. It trains students and gives universities access to companies and startups. It connects corporates to over 18,000 placements cells across colleges and private institutes.

Today, there are several challenges. There is also a huge skill gap in students. The challenges faced by talent acquisition and campus recruiters make it tough to hire the right people. GetWork founders managed to recognise the potential of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to build this company as a solution and scale it up through college placement cells.

ReferHire

It was started in 2016. In the last five-six years, it has managed to create a peer-to-peer (P2P) networking platform. It brings together organisations and those seeking new career opportunities on one platform. The Delhi-based firm aims at building transparency and efficiency.

The entire process involves hiring the right candidate. Once the user identifies the companies they are interested in, the firm starts introducing them to peers in those organisations so that they can look out for an opportunity.

iXceed Solutions

This is a talent and workforce solutions services company. It is a service provider to Fortune 500 companies. It primarily focuses on these domains globally: Technology, IT consulting and Engineering Consulting.

The company uses Artificial Intelligence-based recruitment solutions. It creates an in-class experience for both clients and candidates. Its list of clients is impressive and hence those looking for a change in their job or freshers looking to get recruited should at least come here to check out the options. Some of their clients are: Infosys, HCL, Oracle, Mindtree and NIIT.

InCruiter

This was established in 2018. It is an online recruitment platform based on SAAS in the B2B space. It provides an online recruitment marketplace for recruitment agencies and independent recruiters to speed up the hiring process 10 times.

The platform connects specialised recruiters. They have the best track records for matching jobs. Multiple agencies working on a single job with a single point of contact makes hiring fast and efficient. This enables employers to hire accurately. It also saves them cost and time.

The firm helps in finding companies with the best candidates in the shortest time without any hassle of phone calls, emails, invoices, and agreements from multiple vendors.

Instahyre

This is another Delhi-based HR-tech start-up. It is an advanced hiring platform that uses Artificial Intelligence. This means that recruiters can hire top talent effortlessly. Getting the talent and the employer on the same page has never been an easy task.

This is so true in the present scenario of innovation and competition. With revamped technology, it is easy to find a suitable job or suitable candidate. Finding jobs or source talents has become much easier with the help of this firm.

There are several other companies that are in the business of hiring and recruitment. The idea here is to just give a sneak peek into a few of them and not to be considered as a rule of thumb.

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