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19th-Century Bridal Superstitions for Getting Married and Staying Happy

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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce, who had facilities in Buffalo, New York, and London, became famous for his mail-order medicines. Things like "Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery Pills," "Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription Tablets," and "Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets" may sound laughable now, but the opium-laced pills—which he peddled as cures for all sorts of "feminine ailments" like hysteria, fatigue, and menstruation pains—were hugely popular.

It wasn't just the addictive substances that buoyed sales of Dr. Pierce's wares, though; he was also a marketing innovator. In addition to billboards and broadsides, he published testimonial pamphlets, the most famous of which, The People's Common Sense Medical Adviser, sold a million copies. One such advertorial concerned itself—interspersed among the cure-all claims—with dream interpretations and bridal superstitions.

How To Tell If There's A Wedding Brewing

At the table, if two spoons are accidentally put down together, there will soon be a wedding in the family.

If, by chance, an unmarried woman or a bachelor be placed between a married couple at supper, that person will soon become engaged.

A strange white pigeon flying near a house is a sign that someone there will be married within a year.

To see a caged bird in one's dream indicates a forthcoming wedding.

To Take Matters Into Your Own Hands

Sometimes a gal's gotta know what her marriage prospects are, and she just can't wait for a strange white pigeon. That's where the following comes into play.

She must find a green pea-pod with exactly nine peas in it, and hang it over the door of a room or entry-way without letting anybody know about it; she must then watch the door and see who goes through first. If it is an unmarried young man, or a bachelor, she will positively be married before the current crop of peas is disposed of; if it is a woman, she will have to sigh in single-blessedness another year.

You're Getting Married! But First, Watch Your Step

This one requires a little background knowledge: "Calling of the banns" refers to a practice of publicly declaring your intention to be wed.

Between the calling of the banns and the wedding, the spirits of evil and envy are said to have great power. Therefore at this time the engaged couple should guard against a lovers' quarrel, exercise caution when going down stairs, not to stumble, and they should not be photographed together.

The first two sound like perfectly solid advice for engagements and beyond. But that last suggestion might have to be amended for any 21st Century editions of Dream Book Bridal Superstitions.

It's the Big Day

But beware! You may think it's all bouquet tosses and and wedded bliss from here on out, but there's still plenty that can go wrong.

On no account should a bride or a bridegroom be handed a telegram on the way to church.

The bride must be careful when leaving the church to put her right foot first. It is deemed most unfortunate for a bride to make the first step into the new world with the left foot.

To have an unequal number of guests at the wedding breakfast or supper is unlucky.

When to tie the knot

Even before you start following the preceding instructions to a tee, you should ensure that you pick a particularly auspicious date. Here's a helpful guide.

January—If married in January, the wife will live longer than her husband.

February—In February, domestic happiness will prevail.

March—In March, the couple will eventually make their home abroad.

April—The April bride very decidedly rules the roost.

May—May is considered unlucky for weddings.

June—June is an exceptionally lucky month and promises lasting love to its bridal couples.

July—July marriages are apt to be crisscrossed with sunshine and shadow.

August—August is noted for its ideally mated couples.

September—September marriages run a smooth, congenial course.

October—October, either love or money will be lacking in the future for those who join hands this month.

November—November promises prosperity.

December—December a life full of love.

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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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