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IQ-tips: remote control etiquette

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My wife and I were fighting over the remote the other night—literally fighting—when it flew out of our grips and went sailing across the room, nearly destroying a ceramic baby rattle from about 350 B.C., which someone had once given me as a present.

After wiping my brow and turning the remote over to her so she could watch her stupid show (and what other adjective could be used to describe the "other" person's show but stupid?) I decided to hunt around online for some etiquette tips we could agree on, laminate, and keep on our Noguchi coffee table (knock-off, of course) for the next round.

Not only did I find some tips worthy of lamination from this great article over at the BBC, but just look at the contributors! ("10 tips" found after the jump.) As always, if you have any remote control etiquette tips of your own to add, we're always happy to hear from you.

New research suggests men are still hogging the television remote control - 41% of men and 30% of women claim to rule the sofa entertainment, says a poll by Intel. We asked some etiquette experts what the rules are on button-hogging.

1. Letitia Baldrige, author and lecturer on manners says: The first rule of politeness is "No Quick Changes". The remote-controller who speeds through a hundred channels without even one breathless pause in one minute has committed a social crime, worthy of being remote-deprived for the rest of the of the social hour. People should be allowed to at least know what program is being rejected by the controller.

2. Mr. Manners of Tomorrow's News says: Do not hide the remote control when you are going to the bathroom. This overt power play is sure to offend your female companion.

3. Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves says" It's only when women are widowed that they discover there's such a thing as a remote control and they find all kinds of things that are on television, like musicals as well as westerns. If you can't agree with your partner what to watch, then split up immediately because it can't be resolved.

4. Letitia Baldrige adds: If there's someone in the room who is about to appear on the television himself or herself- a performer, politician, quiz show contestant or felon caught in the act by police - they get priority.

5. Writer and broadcaster Marcelle D'Argy Smith says: Buy two televisions or do without the man. No woman who can squeeze into a pair of trousers should be with a man who hogs the remote. It's emotional violence and mental cruelty. It means your life is not under your control. I don't want to control a man but neither do I want to be controlled.

6. Letitia Baldrige adds: Men present in the TV room may well lobby for a girly-girly show, such as a big bosoms contest, but their choices may be rejected simply by the numerical strength of the women present. Democracy is a human right which overshadows an individual's right to watch beauty pageants.

7. Peter Post, author of Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It and Why says: When you do share the remote, remember this is a risky strategy, because you've got to be prepared for those times when the other person actually does take control. The upside is that this approach puts a stop to any arguing.

8. Letitia Baldrige adds: Sports-mad viewers should be given their own TV set - in an out-of-the-way place in the house, such as the kitchen or a bathroom - where they can remain undisturbed and undisturbing to others while watching the game.

9. Letitia Baldrige again: People on diets should be allowed to veto the watching of cooking shows.

10. Lynne Truss adds: Agree with each other and say "let's look through what's on". The problem with that is the man usually just goes ahead anyway.

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The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
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Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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5 Tips for Becoming A Morning Person
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You’ve probably heard the term circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is an internal clock that influences your daily routine: when to eat, when to sleep, and when to wake up. Our biological clocks are, to some extent, controlled by genetics. This means that some people are natural morning people while others are night owls by design. However, researchers say the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle, which is good news if you want to train yourself to wake up earlier.

In addition to squeezing more hours out of the day, there are plenty of other good reasons to resist hitting the snooze button, including increased productivity. One survey found that more than half of Americans say they feel at their best between 5 a.m. and noon. These findings support research from biologist Christopher Randler, who determined that earlier risers are happier and more proactive about goals, too.

If you love the idea of waking up early to get more done, but you just can't seem to will yourself from out under the covers, here are five effective tips that might help you roll out of bed earlier.

1. EASE INTO THE HABIT.

If you’re a die-hard night owl, chances are you’re not going to switch to a morning lark overnight. Old habits are hard to break, but they’re less challenging if you approach them realistically.

“Wake up early in increments,” Kelsey Torgerson, a licensed clinical social worker at Compassionate Counseling in St. Louis suggests. “If you normally wake up at 9:00 a.m., set the alarm to 8:30 a.m. for a week, then 8:00 a.m., then 7:30 a.m.”

Waking up three hours earlier can feel like a complete lifestyle change, but taking it 30 minutes at a time will make it a lot easier to actually stick to the plan. Gradually, you’ll become a true morning person, just don’t try to force it to happen overnight.

2. EXERCISE IN THE MORNING.

Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, so jumping on the treadmill or taking a run around the block is a great way to start the day on a high note. Also, according to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising early in the morning can mean you get a better overall sleep at night:

“In fact, people who work out on a treadmill at 7:00 a.m. sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day.”

If you don’t have much time in the morning, an afternoon workout is your second best bet. The Sleep Foundation says aerobic afternoon workouts can help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often throughout the night. “This may be because exercise raises your body’s temperature for about four to five hours,” they report. After that, your body’s core temperature decreases, which encourages it to switch into sleep mode.

3. MAKE YOUR BEDROOM IDEAL FOR SLEEP.

Whether it’s a noisy street or a bright streetlight, your bedroom environment might be making it difficult for you to sleep throughout the night, which can make waking up early challenging, as you haven’t had enough rest. There are, however, a few changes you can make to optimize your room for a good night’s sleep.

“Keep your bedroom neat and tidy,” Dr. Nancy Irwin, a Los Angeles-based doctor of psychology on staff as an expert in sleep hygiene at Seasons Recovery Centers in Malibu, suggests. “Waking up to clutter and chaos only makes it more tempting to crawl back in bed.”

Depending on what needs to be improved, you might consider investing in some slumber-friendly items that can help you sleep through the night, including foam earplugs (make sure to use a vibrating alarm), black-out drapes, light-blocking window decals, and a cooling pillow

Another simple option? Ditch the obnoxious sound of a loud, buzzing alarm.

“One great way to adapt to rising earlier is to have an alarm that is a pleasing sound to you versus an annoying one,” Dr. Irwin says. “There are many choices now, whether on your smartphone or in a radio or a freestanding apparatus.”

4. TAKE THE TIME TO PROPERLY WIND DOWN.

Getting up early starts the night before, and there are a few things you should do before hitting the sack at night.

“Set an alarm to fall asleep,” Torgerson says. “Having a set bedtime helps you stay responsible to yourself, instead of letting yourself get caught up in a book or Netflix and avoid going to sleep.”

Torgerson adds that practicing yoga or meditation before bed can help relax your mind and body, too. This way, your mind isn’t bouncing from thought to thought in a flurry before you go to bed. If you find yourself feeling anxious before bed, it might help to write in a journal. This way, you can get these nagging thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

Focus on relaxing at night and stay away from not just exercise, but mentally stimulating activities, too. If watching the news gets your blood boiling, for example, you probably want to turn it off an hour or so before bedtime.

5. GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF LIGHT.

Light has a immense effect on your circadian rhythm—whether it’s the blue light from your phone as you scroll through Instagram, or the bright sunlight of being outdoors on your lunch break. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, scientists compared the sleep quality of 27 subjects who worked in windowless environments with 22 subjects who were exposed to significantly more natural light during the day.

“Workers in windowless environments reported poorer scores than their counterparts on two SF-36 dimensions—role limitation due to physical problems and vitality—as well as poorer overall sleep quality," the study concluded. "Compared to the group without windows, workers with windows at the workplace had more light exposure during the workweek, a trend toward more physical activity, and longer sleep duration as measured by actigraphy.”

Thus, exposing yourself to bright light during the day may actually help you sleep better at night, which will go a long way toward helping you wake up refreshed in the morning.

Conversely, too much blue light can actually disturb your sleep schedule at night. This means you probably want to limit your screen time as your bedtime looms closer.

Finally, once you do get into the habit of waking up earlier, stick to that schedule on the weekends as much as possible. The urge to sleep in is strong, but as Torgerson says, “you won't want your body and brain to reacclimate to sleeping in and snoozing.”

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