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Dr. Yvette Lu, Guest Contributor

Fall Back Tips – By Dr. Yvette Lu


Image: Underwood Archives

Every year when it’s time to “fall back”, I rejoice a little. After all, it means an extra hour of sleep in the morning, and for a person who lives in a culture that secretly celebrates sleep deprivation, an extra hour of sleep is a guilty pleasure.

We all know how much sleep we need, but many of us still have trouble getting enough. Most adults need 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Those of us who don’t get enough sleep can accumulate a sleep debt.

If you have a sleep debt, you may be one of the people most affected by the time change, but not necessarily in the way that you think.

Studies show that people have disrupted sleep, decreased sleep efficiency, and less sleep overall for the first week after the time changes, both in the fall and in the spring.

The problems are thought to be related to the disruption of the sleep cycle and decreased sleep quality. The time change may cause people to take longer to fall asleep and wake up more after falling asleep. It can also cause daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and fragmented sleep, especially for those who already have a sleep debt.

The sleep disruption can last for a week or longer, leading to sleep loss as bed and awakening times adjust.

Long sleepers seem to be better able to adapt to the time change. Short sleepers, people with poor sleep quality, those who are sleep deprived, and early risers tend to be most affected and have more difficulty adjusting to the time change. Evening people will have an easier time adjusting to the fall transition and morning people will have an easier time adjusting to the spring transition.

Most of the studies have been done on the switch to Daylight Saving Time in the Spring, and have shown increased numbers of car and pedestrian traffic accidents, workplace injuries, suicides, and heart attacks, and decreased work productivity on the Monday after the switch, as well as poor performance on test scores the week after the time change.

Most of the issues are likely related to fatigue causing decreased attention and concentration. Fatigue can also worsen mood disorders. The heart attacks may be due to the lack of sleep affecting stress hormone levels. Decreased work productivity was observed as increased cyberloafing, which is non work-related internet surfing. This may be caused by reduced sleep impairing a person’s ability to self-regulate counterproductive behaviours, like procrastination. The spring time change also requires people to drive on darker roads in the morning, and the increased number of traffic accidents may be related to both fatigue and reduced visibility.

For the switch back to Standard Time in the Fall, one study showed an increase in car accidents the Sunday night, but a decrease in the number of car accidents on Monday morning. The authors were unsure why there might be an increase in car accidents on Sunday, but postulated that it may be caused by people staying up later than usual due to the time change and becoming fatigued.

Another study showed a decrease in heart attacks on the Monday morning, possibly related again to the change in stress hormone levels with an hour of extra sleep on Monday. Many people, however, are unable to take advantage of the extra hour of sleep in the morning and wake up earlier than they want to since it takes time for our body’s circadian rhythm to adjust to new sleep and wake times.

Here are some tips on how to adapt to the time change:

  • Get more rest in the week leading up to and the week after the time change. Take short naps if needed, not more than 20-30 minutes.
  • Catch up on your sleep debt prior to the time change. To do this, sleep in for several days in a row. Sleep until you awaken spontaneously and feel alert.
  • Adjust your sleep and wake times gradually in the week before and after the time change. Parents can adjust their children’s bedtimes gradually 10-15 minutes each night.
  • Circadian rhythms are affected by light. Be around natural light during the day and turn down lights in the evening. This will help your body adjust to the time change more quickly.
  • No lighted screens (eg. mobile phones, tablet devices, computers) a few hours before bed. Lighted screens activate the centers in your brain that keep you awake.
  • Exercise during the day.
  • Sleep and wake at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine after early afternoon.
  • Have a bedtime routine.

Also, with winter coming, here are some other things to watch out for:

  • Seasonal affective disorder: moodiness or depression that is caused by the change in the season and lower light levels.
  • Vitamin D levels: We don’t get enough Vitamin D in the winter in Canada from the sun, so consider taking Vitamin D3 supplements or get more in your food. Food sources of Vitamin D include milk products, fortified products, egg yolk, and oily fish.

Chronic sleep loss is associated with reduced performance, increased risk for accidents and death, and detrimental effects on psychological and physical health. Studies have shown increased numbers of car crashes and workplace accidents, as well as increased immunosuppression, heart disease, and obesity with chronic sleep deprivation. The time change is an opportunity to examine your sleep habits and schedule, to catch up on sleep debt, and to establish new habits. Select one thing that you want to change about your sleep routine, set a goal, and make a positive change in your sleep habits to improve your quality of life.


More info on how to get better sleep and sleep hygiene:

More info on the impact of time changes on behaviour:

More information on Seasonal Affective Disorder:

More info on Vitamin D:

Dr. Yvette Lu is a Family Physician in Vancouver, BC.

website: | twitter: @yvettelu

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Guest Contributor, Wendy Vreeken Banham

Fall Garden – by Wendy Vreeken Banham

I love my garden. Not like I love my husband or my children, of course. But it is hard to beat the joy of being outside with my hands in the dirt.

It’s truly my happy place enjoying when weeding beds, deadheading flowers, and generally finding ways for the garden to look as beautiful as possible.

The payoff is so cool. I admit it, I love it when guests come over and say, “wow!”
My garden is far from perfect.


Here it is back in August, at its peak. Well, actually, a lot of the perennials had already finished blooming, but it still looked pretty nice.

Now, not so much.

Now, usually, I’d already be in cleaning up mode…but this year, I’m of mixed mind.

Recently an article spoke about letting your garden “be” in the Fall. Just letting it do what it does, in all its messiness. It offends me a bit.

I’ve always had a ‘scorched earth’ approach to Fall cleanup. Everything must go! Seedheads, begone! Long tall spent flowers – off with your heads! Dahlia tubers – out you get; time to get comfy and cozy in a nice box, away for the winter

This year I’m thinking, maybe I will just let it be.

I will stay busy digging up those dandelions and the clumps of grass that seem to grow in my garden beds – and Dahlia tubers, yes, those need to get dug up, cleaned off, and put away.

Other than that – I’m going to let it be. All of which would save me a tonne of work!

Why? Because all of that spent vegetation in your garden beds is actually terrific habitat for bugs. Those seed heads are great food for birds. Ladybugs, who eat Aphids in the Spring, need a place of refuge for the Winter. Bees, that are increasingly endangered, need a place to overwinter. Snakes and frogs are looking for a home as well. The more you dig up spent perennials, the more habitat you destroy.

So this year, I’m taking the opportunity to be a bit lazy under the guise of being environmentally responsible.

I’m hoping this new approach can actually be a boon to the bugs and birds that form the bottom of nature’s food chain. So, I’m going to do the world (and my back) a favour, and be lazy for a change.
Happy gardening!

About Wendy:

I’m from a previous generation of news gals who really enjoys this new site. My passion is now gardening, as I sit on the edge of retirement. I’ve worked with Kristina Matisic and Corinne Newell, and am thrilled to add my name to the list of guest contributors.


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Charlotte Phillips, Guest Contributor

Sunday Satire – by Charlotte Phillips

Because You Watched……

Because we’ve been watching you watch us, we’ve come up with some “suggestions” to help you through this phase in your life. You’re not alone. Remember that. Even if you are technically alone on a Friday night with a half empty bottle of pinot noir leftover from lunch and nothing but a frozen veggie burger to gnaw on for dinner, we are here.

We at Netfriend are just a wireless connection away from your MacBook over there on the coffee table. We’re taking note of every movie you watch and other activities you’ve engaged in online, virtually 24/7. We’ve been analyzing your algorithms since you signed up 3 years ago for $7.95 a month. Back when what’s-his-name was still sleeping on the couch across from you snoring through that romantic comedy you fought over; the one you settled on because it was your turn to pick something and you were sick of Saving Private Ryan and The Hurt Locker and even though you thought Ben Affleck was kind of handsome in Argo, you really had had enough of the foreign wars thing. Continue Reading

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Ben Lu, Guest Contributor

In Defence of Downtown – by Ben Lu

Image: Ryan Adams / EyeEm

Image: Ryan Adams / EyeEm


My kid goes to a school in a suburban area so I often hear parents comment about how “downtown living is not good” — that they “could never” raise their family in a condo.

A little while back a good friend bought a place in the suburbs and she, too, declared “downtown is not good for kids or raising a family”.

I need to protest — or rather brag about downtown family life. I love it.

My home is steps away from the best park in the world – we smell the sea breeze. It is downtown that my kid gets to see the microcosm of the world (well sort of) more often than not. Walking in the streets we hear Korean, Japanese, Farsi, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Turkish and Spanish and Mandarin spoken –everywhere.  That’s on top of more prevalent English and French.

The library is a few short blocks away from us and we use it. Continue Reading

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Charlotte Phillips, Guest Contributor

Where We Are – by Charlotte Phillips


Charlotte and her Mom.

Charlotte and her Mom.

“I’d like to walk over to Safeway again. Do you think I could do that, Charlotte?”

“No, Mom. It has been more than two years since you did that. It’s not safe anymore.”

It is such a simple desire. Put on her coat, get her purse, push her walker across the parking lot and over to the automatic door that leads to the elevator. A few steps, a few buttons and the freedom to meander through the grocery store, choosing whatever her heart desired. It was a solitary outing that gave Mom much joy. It also used up a couple of hours in her increasingly long days.

She would chat up the store clerks and other shoppers, buy an O Henry bar, linger in the bakery area, marvel at the offerings, and sometimes sit and have a cup of tea in the little market café by the deli department. It meant she was out in the world on her own, of her own accord, on her own schedule.

Now, a few weeks shy of her 94th birthday, Mom’s world is shrinking in some ways while expanding fearfully in others. Continue Reading

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Ed Watson, Guest Contributor

Canadian Trump – by Ed Watson

Image: Martin Child

Image: Martin Child

Image: Getty Images

Image: Getty Images

There is a risk when you’re conducting research for an opinion piece that the facts might cause you to change your opinion. Very inconvenient.

That’s what happened to me when I started collecting some info to support my belief that a bombastic demagogue like Donald Trump could get elected in Canada. I still believe that Canada could produce such a political figure, but I discovered that some of my assumptions were wrong.

Similar to many other people who like to think of themselves as political analysts, I have have been known to give some information too much weight, and not pay enough attention to what I personally observe.

Initially in this piece I was constructing an argument based partially on the issue of trust in government. While overall trust in government has declined in the US and Canada since the 1960’s an EKOS survey earlier this year found trust in the Canadian government is higher than it’s been in years. That’s not too surprising given we have a new and upbeat government. But these gallup numbers suggest a large number of Americans trust the executive branch of their government (the president) and Barak Obama has an approval rating of over 50%.


So, if millions of Americans are generally happy with their government (at least right now) why would they be interested in engaging with a guy like Trump?

Perhaps my assumption about trust was wrong.

Perhaps it’s something more than dissatisfaction. Perhaps it’s cultural.

The economic and social reasons for Trump’s rise have been examined in detail and I find it unsettling that now all of the focus is on the presidential “horse race” and not on solutions to problems that gave rise to so much unhappiness to begin with. And I don’t believe enough attention has been given to two important factors: the role of US popular culture (particularly reality TV) in creating an atmosphere for a demagogue to thrive, and how notoriety and popularity are now commonly driven by celebrity. Celebrity itself seems to be enough to drive popularity, not who you are or what you’ve done.

In the past 20 years music, movies, social media and particularly TV have fed us a heavily dystopian diet. The topics for dramas include everything from terrorists, zombies and aliens to wall street fraud and unfaithful spouses. So called reality TV seems to reward unremarkable personalities grounded in narcissism and vulgarity.

So, popular culture reinforces the idea that society is broken, the little guy is getting screwed and often the storyline makes an uncompromising lone wolf the hero.

When awful stuff actually happens in real life (economically, socially) that subliminal message of doom feeds into the perception that the world is going down the tubes and our political systems just aren’t up to the job. If it wasn’t for the years of dystopian noise in the background, I don’t think Trump would be as successful. And Canadians have been hearing the same noise.

Last month I took a road trip from the BC Coast to Saskatchewan and back. I repeatedly asked people what they thought of Donald Trump. I’m talking to strangers at a gas bar in Princeton, customers in a Sport Chek in Calgary, motor heads at a car show in Rosetown a business owner from Sidney BC, among others. Probably 100 people all together. Almost everyone I believed Trump was loopy but they also felt that he raised important issues and that he was the only choice outside the status quo. These are Canadians remember. Some said they weren’t too worried about his many gaffes, because it was part of his schtick and he behaved that way on reality TV too.

I recognize there is no statistical value in these conversations but like the 2013 BC election, my observations don’t match what the polling is saying.

According to an August poll by my friend Mario Canseco at Insights West a majority of Canadians can’t stand the idea of Donald Trump as president. Perhaps I just talked to the ones who might consider voting for a Trump like leader.

Continue Reading

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Guest Contributor, Rachel Sentes

Stretching to Live – by Rachel Sentes

Image: Dr. David Phillips

Image: Dr. David Phillips

I’m sitting in my comfy chair watching tv. Every now and then I stretch my legs and do a few ankle roles. Sounds simple but now I think about it. Every hour. Because last year at this time ( oddly around the time of World Thrombosis Day Oct 13) I was diagnosed with a DVT- deep vein thrombosis in my calf and now, stretching is not just something to do when I feel like it. It’s something I do every hour to save my life.

Well that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point. It’s strange that something that you never gave a second thought to suddenly is top of mind.  I’ve become oddly focused on how my leg feels, all of the time.

Walking my dogs each morning typically my focus is “true crime podcasts”, but with each step I take I am aware of every tiny twinge, or feeling in my leg.

Engrained in my mind are the words the emergency doctor uttered before realizing I had two clots, not one, “If you feel it behind your knee then get back here- that’s where it will lodge before breaking loose- and you don’t want it to go any higher or then you’ll be in trouble.”

Her words bounce around in my head often.

When I get out of bed in the morning and I step down onto the floor I’m focussed — you see that’s when I first felt the oddness in my calf. It had appeared out of the blue, no warning. Perhaps I’d pulled it in the night? No. Continue Reading

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Guest Contributor, Jim Van Horne

Living Life – by Jim Van Horne

Gord Downie

I’ve been thinking a  lot about Gord Downie lately.

I’ve never met the man, have never seen the Tragically Hip live in concert. I like their music, can’t say I love it but I enjoy a lot of their songs.

Downie’s been on my mind because of what he’s living with, something that could, and likely will, end his life.. brain cancer.

Watching his recent interview with Peter Mansbridge on CBC I found it inspiring. He is living life to its fullest – for as long as he can.

Simply put, he’s taking advantage of every minute he has left.

I’m lucky, I don’t have brain cancer, mine is in my bladder, and it likely won’t kill me in its present state. It should be noted that “my” type of cancer has taken a number of very well known people: actors Jack Lemmon and Telly Savalas, sports commentator Nick Charles, singer Andy Williams and author Dominick Dunne – to name a few.

It’s been eight years since I was first diagnosed. I’ve gone through countless treatments to try and stem the tide, but nothing has worked. It’s to the point where my oncologist has told me there is no more treatment available to stop it.

As I write this I’m waiting to find out if I qualify for the latest trial of a new protocol. I don’t know when or if it will happen. There are two other options. Monitor my situation closely and catch the tumours as they develop, or have major surgery. That would include removing the bladder, the prostate and a portion of my colon. The colon will be used to rebuild my bladder. I’ve been told there recovery period is about seven months.

The surgery is the only way I’ll be guaranteed of ridding my body of the cancer.

I don’t consider myself to be brave or courageous by any stretch of the imagination.

I have felt every emotion known to man over the years: fear, anger, self pity, defiance you name it. I’ve asked time and time again “why me?” but the bottom line in all of this is that cancer is part of my life and the challenge is to overcome it, not to allow it to control me or my future.

I don’t look at it as a fight, or battle, in anyway.

A positive attitude is critical is these situations, and I truly believe I will overcome and continue to live a life full of optimism, love and joy.

About Jim Van Horne:

Jim is the Dean of Sports Broadcast, he spent decades building TSN and Sportsnet.  He’s hilariously funny, kind, thoughtful, gentle and sincere.  He is, hands down, the best co-host I’ve been blessed to work with.  When starting the planning stages of — the VERY FIRST person I thought of as a contributor was JVH.  He immediately said “I’m in, anything with you.” (see? Love him.) When it was time to launch, he was not only doing work for the Olympics in Rio, he was dealing with the subject matter of the above post.  I love this man.  He’s worthy of all of our admiration — even with all of that ^^^ humility.

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Corinne Newell, Guest Contributor

Just Start. – By Corinne Newell

img_1362-1 img_8833-jpg-1

We’ve all experienced it – the dread of starting something new.

“What if I fail?” you say to yourself. “How will I be judged on this? What if people laugh at me?” It can be paralyzing.

In my 50 years on this earth, I have gone through many changes.

Many times when I’ve had to “start over”. Many times when I’ve had to weigh the pros and cons of staying where I am vs. venturing into the great unknown. Scary as hell.

In my younger years, it meant leaving an abusive relationship (yes, it’s scary to do that). Then, making the choice to leave my family in Edmonton and move to Vancouver, be completely on my own…for the first time.


In the past 15 years it has meant having faith in my gut instincts and starting a family at 38. In the past 5 years, it has meant developing a completely new career path, adding to my repertoire of working in the TV news industry, and expanding into the fitness industry.
Making change in our lives, as much as it scares the crap out of us, can also be exhilarating. One of the best things I’ve done recently is to become a Zumba fitness instructor. Yes, that’s right. At the age of 45 and with 3 kids under the age of 7, I added a second job to my life teaching the crazy fun Latin dance fitness program, Zumba. So. Much. Fun. (STILL terrifying!)

What the heck was a 45 year old mother of 3, with a full-time job doing teaching fitness? Good question, one I asked myself many times!

I had ZERO background as a fitness instructor. I did, however, have a passion for dance, I absolutely LOVED Zumba, and I thought to myself, “what the heck…how hard could it be?” So I studied the group fitness program, got licensed to teach Zumba, closed my eyes, and jumped.

My first job was as a sub for an established instructor at a small dance studio.

My first class was a disaster. Continue Reading

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Ed Watson, Guest Contributor

Loneliness Epidemic. – by Ed Watson

Image: PM Images

Image: PM Images

One night recently, I found myself alone in a hotel room casting around for something to do. No, I didn’t watch porn, which I gather is a popular pastime among men alone in hotel rooms. But I did watch TV, and a movie called “Love Actually”.

I’ve given up on the machismo image and no longer try to hide the fact that I enjoy some romantic comedies.

“Love Actually” is one of the movies I like. I’ve seen it 2 or 3 times. The film details the love stories of several couples. It’s quite good, except for the premise that anyone resembling Hugh Grant could ever become the British Prime Minister.

What resonated with me most during this viewing of the show was how the movie portrayed the angst and indecision that comes with dating, finding a mate, and even maintaining an existing relationship.

I come at this subject from a different perspective now. My wife recently died of cancer. At this point I won’t go into the emotional wreckage that experience leaves behind, but I’ve now tentatively tested the waters of the dating pool.

I think I almost drowned.

Continue Reading

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