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How Taking 60 Minutes from Your Sleep Can Break Your Day Before It Even Starts

Whether you’re working or still at school, having a hectic schedule in Singapore means that it’s really important that you get the right amount of sleep once you get home from school or work.

It also goes without saying that not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling drained, and that even taking an hour away from your valuable sleeping time leaves a profound effect.

But how exactly does this happen?

How Less Sleep Affects You
Healthy adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep, and teenagers and children roughly eight.

Your body takes this time to rest and repair itself on a cellular level, but when you short yourself out on your sleep, you will see both short-term and long-term effects on your body, from a general lack of alertness and an impaired memory to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Sleep deprivation can also affect your appearance and lead to premature wrinkling and dark circles under your eyes, since the long-term presence of cortisol in the body breaks down collagen in skin.

But with all these effects, why do we still sleep less today?

Why We Sleep Less
Hectic schedules aside, there are a lot of reasons why we sleep fewer hours now, such as maximizing our work or free time. However, there is also a third reason, and that is the lights we keep switched on, from the light bulbs to the LED screens of our TVs and devices.

This constant exposure to bright light inhibits the sleep hormone melatonin, and this lack of the chemical keeps us awake for longer.

However, you don’t need to be asleep and then wake up to feel the effects of a lack of sleep on your body.
The effects of sleep deprivation will show whether or not you are awake, and the result is a reduced state of alertness and memory loss that many studies have shown to be similar in brain function as legal drunkenness.

Taking Back Your Sleep Hours
The easiest way to make sure you get the optimal amount of sleep possible is by measuring how much sleep you really need.

All you need is to try to sleep at varying times around when you usually sleep. For instance, you can sleep fifteen minutes earlier and wake up fifteen minutes later. Do this for a few times until you find a day that you wake up feeling the most refreshed.

Gauging your optimal amount of sleep will take a few days of trial and error, but when you find out the best amount of time you need, you will be able to stick to it and get consistent sleep as a result.

4 Simple Steps You Can Take to Be More Assertive in Your Life – and at Work

If you have an anxious disposition, chances are that you find it difficult to say what’s on your mind and just let other people have their way even if you don’t like it. However, there will come a time when you need to assert yourself and stand by what you believe, and being assertive as a person will definitely help.

Being assertive is different from being aggressive. It allows you to communicate your thoughts honestly and stand your ground, and even give you more confidence and less stress.

Here are the steps that you need to be more assertive in the future:

1. Know what you want. Most of the time, people who find it difficult to stand up for themselves don’t know what they want, and the antidote to that is by having a clear vision of it in your head.

Once you know what exactly you want, even if it’s still just in your head, it becomes more tangible and you can take the needed steps to go after it.

2. Change your mindset. One good way to start being anxious quickly is by being too self-conscious. Instead of focusing on yourself, give your full attention to the situation or on what the other person is saying.

This is because when you focus more on the other person, you take in more of what they’re saying, which lets you respond much better.

3. Find ways to be more assertive without sounding aggressive or rude. Standing your ground doesn’t mean that you have to be disrespectful or rude, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you need to have a short fuse to be assertive.

When you frame your words the right way, your honest thoughts and opinions may even be more valuable to people.
It also helps that you don’t fumble your words by speaking too quickly. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re a little anxious, take a deep breath, and speak more slowly.

4. Learn to say “no”. Saying the word is the best way for you to start getting comfortable with it. Even with extremely persistent people, just repeating “no” will eventually get your message across.

You can start by saying no to situations where you would otherwise be compelled to say yes, such as a night out with friends or co-workers when you really want to stay in.

If there are times that a lack of assertiveness has held you back, even doing something simple as writing down the pros and cons of asserting yourself can give you enough reason to do so. But most importantly, being assertive can save you – and everyone involved – time.

What Should You Do About Melasma?

Melasma is a common skin problem among women and can even manifest during pregnancy. It causes brown or blue-gray patches to appear on the skin, especially on the cheeks, chin, and forehead. It also appears on parts of the skin that are most commonly exposed to direct sunlight such as the arms and neck because of the overproduction of pigments. Melasma during pregnancy, however, is caused by the fluctuations in the hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.

Fortunately, melasma does not cause other problems and can be prevented with the use of sunblock every time you go out. It can also fade over time, especially if it was triggered by hormonal changes during pregnancy or if it’s a side effect or oral contraceptives. Melasma does not have a cure, but there are various treatments available for those who are conscious of the patches on their skin.

Available Treatments for Melasma
The type of treatment that will be recommended by a dermatologist in Singapore will depend on the severity of the problem. The doctor will examine the patches and use Wood’s light to look at the condition of the skin. In some cases, a biopsy is needed because melasma can look like other skin problems.

1. Hydroquinone. This is usually the first medication recommended for people with melasma. It is a skin-lightening product that come in lotions, cream, gel, and liquid. Hydroquinone products that are bought over the counter usually contain less active ingredients than those prescribed by your dermatologist. It can irritate some skin types, so the dermatologist will usually recommend a product that contains 2% hydroquinone.

2. Tretinoin and Corticosteroids. These are used to enhance the effectiveness of the first skin-lightening product that you’re using. Your dermatologist might recommend a triple cream type that contains hydroquinone, tretinoin, and corticosteroid if needed.

3. Topical Medications. Other topical medications besides those listed above also have alternatives such as kojic acid, arbutin, and azelaic acid. Kojic acid will help decrease the number of dendrites and melanosomes and bounds the chelates copper to tyrosinase. Arbutin inhibits the maturation of the melanosome and suppresses tyrosinase activity. Azelaic acid inhibits tyrosinase and is also an anto-proliferative. All the topical medications have different side effects, and it sometimes take a trial-and-error process to determine which one works best for your melasma. Other alternatives also include lactic acid, L-ascorbic acid, licorice, mulberry, rumex extract, phenylethyl resorcinol, undecylenoyl phenylalanine, phytic acid, and antioxidants.

4. Dermatological Procedures. In some cases where topical medication is not enough to get rid of the pigmentation, the dermatologist performs chemical peel, dermabrasion, and/or microdermabrasion to remove dead skin cells.

Proper Beauty Regimen
Overtreatment can worsen the condition, that is why a gentle beauty regimen is recommended. Use only low-percentage topical treatments daily and use sunscreen whenever you go out. Use a sunscreen that not only protects the skin from UV rays, but also has antioxidants and melanogenesis inhibitors. Apply the sunscreen every 2 hours when you’re out swimming or walking or 30 minutes before exposure to direct sunlight.

Dos and Don’ts of a Courtroom Attire

Have you ever been invited to attend a court hearing? Hopefully it’s not because you have a criminal charge, but in case you were required to be in a court, remember that there are rules on how to dress appropriately for the occasion.

Don’ts When Dressing Up for the Courtroom
You don’t need to look like you’re about to get married, but it would not hurt to dress professionally for court. Below are some clothing you should avoid when dressing up.

1. Short-sleeved shirt
2. Sneakers
3. Shirt with cufflinks or French cuffs
4. Low-cut blouse
5. Heavily patterned/brightly-colored blouse
6. Short skirts
7. Shorts
8. Tube top, halter top or spaghetti straps
9. Tight-fitting clothes that are suggestive
10. See-through clothing
11. Torn or ripped jeans
12. Baggy pants that expose your underwear
13. Hats or caps
14. Shirts with indecent or offensive prints
15. Flip-flops
16. Open-toed shoes like sandals
17. Spike-heeled shoes
18. Distracting colors on your shirt, pants or shoes
19. Too much jewelry or accessories

A Guide for Men
Men should dress conservatively by avoiding patterns and colors that will catch unwanted attention from the other people in the court. You can still color-coordinate your outfit, but pick neutral colors such as white, navy blue, tan, or black.

Learn about the court’s dress code, if there is any, before picking an outfit. A suit and tie is the most acceptable outfit, or you can also pick a sports jacket, dress shirt with no tie, and neutral-colored trousers. If you have tattoos on your arms, you will be advised to cover it with long sleeves. Pick only the most comfortable size you can wear because depending on the procedure, a hearing might take an hour or more.

A Guide for Women
Remember that dressing up for court means you have to look conservative to avoid unwanted attention from the other people who will also attend the hearing. There are other venues where you can show off your personal style, but the court is not one of those places.

Do not overdress when you’re in court, instead pick clothing that are comfortable and are of the right size so that you can keep your focus and concentration during the proceedings.

A neutral-colored blouse with minimal patterns is your best bet. If you have a dress suit or pantsuit, it can be an alternative to the business casual outfit you also wear at the office. For your shoes, pick a pair of dress shoes in neutral colors that have low or mid-heels. Some stylists advise against the use of an all-black outfit to court, especially if you’re representing yourself, because it might send the wrong message to an older conservative judge.

If you have long hair, you might be advised to pull it back from your face to avoid distractions especially if you’re attending for self-representation.

5 ways to keep a harmonious working environment

Regardless of the type of work you do, you will always have to interact with people at one point in your day. You’d have to coordinate, plan, implement or simply chat with them. The success of your work sometimes depends on how stable your working relationships are with your colleagues.

Individual differences in the workplace may either make or break an organization. Different personalities, culture and norms sometimes cause conflicts in the workplace.

So to prevent any unnecessary feuds, here’s a few tips to help you promote harmonious atmosphere in the workplace:

1. Be open
Whether it may be for advices, feedback or even plain small talk, make sure your stance is open and welcoming. Make your colleagues comfortable with you so they can share thoughts and substantial work-related ideas with you. Not only that, but suggestions as well as complaints could spring forth in a comfortable atmosphere. Make sure you make them feel like their voices are heard, because primarily you’re both just humans at the end of the day. A little kindness couldn’t hurt. You could readily make use of it too, so be ready to hand it out too.

2. Appreciate the little things
People work better when they feel that even the smallest efforts are recognized. You may not be in charge of a lot of people in your company, but your subordinates could use a sincere little thank you once in a while. Before you know it, the atmosphere in the office is that of gratitude and motivation. If people feel they are grateful to be in an organization, they will be motivated to go the extra mile.

3. Stay away from gossip
Any idle gossip is fun at first but could breed paranoia and hurt in the long run. Office environments could use a no-gossip rule any day. Gossip is hurtful and shameful, plus it robs the company of precious working time.

4. Breed teamwork
One of the best ways to develop teamwork in an organization is to make sure each one feels valued and recognized. Make an atmosphere where there is respect towards other people’s opinions and ideas. Instead of barking out orders, make sure ideas are well-discussed. If the people feel ownership for the ideas and plans to be done, they will be motivated to push through with it.

5. Be thankful…vocally
Saying thank you is one habit that could do magic for your organization. If people feel valued, they will genuinely work happily. Even in simple favors like holding open the door or the elevator or even letting you get coffee first when you bump into each other in the pantry, being thankful and actually saying it out loud could do you wonders.

5 Ways to Tell a Person is Trustworthy

We have all encountered a lot of people in the circles that we belonged to. Friends and acquaintances from school, academe, church, business and colleagues, it is but natural for us to mingle with others.

Not only in the professional arena of our lives, but more importantly on a personal level, we surely have been familiar with the craft of reading people’s characters on the way they carry themselves before we even want to talk to them. An eye twitch, a certain way they hold a conversation and the overall aura they exude, these all give an impression. And the same goes for us, as well.

Here are six ways to tell whether a person is trustworthy (these are not a definite guarantee, but they might be helpful at some point):

1. Eye contact
Keep appropriate eye contact with the person. When talking, the person who does not waver in looking into your eyes as he speaks usually is telling the truth. Well, some may say that it can be out of practice that he has mastered in looking straight in the eye. But mostly than not, only the one who can make a direct eye contact is the one who can say that he is telling the truth.

2. Body Language
Other than having eye contact, body language is also very much interesting to note. Observe people on the way they carry themselves if they are confident or nervous. Why are they fidgeting? It could be that he is anxiously keeping something to himself.

For business oriented-people and during some negotiation activities, they have learned that by sitting with cross legs and pointing your toes to the person you are convincing has a telepathic effect whereby he seems to believe in what you are saying. Usually, they are convinced. That is magic of it.

3. Keeping Appointments
A man is as good as his word! Now you can start to trust him on this. Seldom can you meet that when you agreed to meet for an appointment, he is there on time. Of course again, business-minded people really do this. They are on time. Because time is of essence for these people. Relatively, time means money for them. Business opportunities come with punctuality on business matters. They don’t miss chances.

Again, he can be trusted on this or maybe not. It all depends on the motive of the person. Then again, we must go back to the first two considerations: eye contact and body language.

4. Respect for Elders/Others
When a person respects his parents, it is sure that he will also have a respect for other elderly and even his partner in life. It is true that respect is not being asked for, but it is earned through one’s good regard to people not only the elderly.

5. He walks his talk
A man is trustworthy if he ‘walks his talk’. This would reflect that he is also God-fearing. He does what he believes in what is good for all.