Information & Tips

Can’t catch any ZZZ’s? Here are 5 Tips for How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule

A disrupted sleep schedule can happen to anyone, but there are plenty of restful activities to try — here are five tips that can help you fix your sleep schedule and stick to a routine.

A consistent bedtime routine is important for your health and happiness, but there are lots of things that can throw off your sleep schedule. All nighters spent finishing your homework, waking up in the middle of the night to your baby crying, or working nights shifts are all factors that can disrupt your circadian rhythm. If your internal clock has fallen off track and you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, there are fixes: Here are five tips to help you reset your schedule and drift off to sleep — no counting sheep necessary.

Say No to Afternoon Caffeine

As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant found in many drinks like tea, coffee, and even soda, that give you a jolt of energy to help you through your day. Many people don’t realize how long it stays in your system — up to twelve hours, depending on the individual. Reducing your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon, can help your body wind down in the evening time so you can fall asleep more easily.

Create a Relaxing Environment

Your surroundings can play a big role in insomnia. Noisy and stimulating environments keep the brain active and awake, and because your body temperature falls as you drift to sleep, bedrooms that are too hot can discourage sleep, too. Luckily, you have some control over your environment; turn down the heat or remove a blanket layer, and don’t watch Netflix as you’re falling asleep. To set a snoozy mood after a long day, try sipping on chamomile tea, having a relaxing bubble bath, or going through a guided meditation to ease the nerves before bed.

Manage Your Stress Levels

Lots of people struggle to sleep because of emotional factors, like stress or anxiety that trickles from the day into the evening; your body will produce cortisol when stressed, which is a hormone that can keep you awake. Try activities like yoga or meditation to help shift your focus away from anxiety, and onto relaxing your body to fix your sleep schedule. If you’re someone who lays awake thinking of everything that went wrong during the day, remember, too, that we’re all just doing our best, and for whatever doesn’t get accomplished today, there’s always tomorrow.

Avoid Light Exposure Before Bed as Much as Possible

If your current bedtime routine involves catching up on social media before hitting the pillow, you might want to rethink that, as exposure to light at night can throw off your circadian rhythm. Blue light from your electronic screens has been painted as the main culprit, but a recent study found that this isn’t necessarily true and yellow light also impacts sleep. Using night shift on your devices isn’t a replacement for putting your phone down and doing a screen-free activity.

Talk to Your Doctor

If all else fails, or you can’t fix your emotional troubles alone, you should reach out to your physician, who can likely come up with a diagnosis and a game plan. They might suggest taking melatonin supplements, as for some people it can help establish sleeping patterns. Light therapy could be another option, where bright light exposure, usually in the morning, can help set a proper circadian rhythm and help you fall asleep earlier. Just don’t try any medical fixes before going through it with your doctor!

A disrupted sleep schedule can happen to anyone, but we hope that with these tips in hand, you’ll be able to fix it and create a bedtime routine that you can stick to, so that falling asleep on time every night will be easy, not a chore.

Photo credit: AA.Shkob/Shutterstock

4 DIY Car Maintenance Tips That You Can Handle Without Help

While we love our cars, there is no denying the fact that getting them serviced professionally can be an expensive affair.

That’s why we suggest taking on some auto repair and maintenance jobs yourself. This will not only help you save quite a lot of money but also give you a better understanding of your vehicle.

You don’t need to be an expert, or even mechanically inclined to do some basic upkeep. Here are a few repairs that are easy to handle:

Easy DIY Tips To Maintain Your Car

Many of us consider car maintenance as the work of a mechanic, but with these simple DIY tips, you can easily maintain your car on your own.

Change The Air Filter

Did you know that a dirty cabin air filter can put extra load on your car’s A/C system and make it underperform?

That’s why experts recommended changing your car’s air filter every 12000 miles or at least once a year.

You can change your air filter in just about a few minutes.

Look for it under your car’s hood, in a rectangular box. If you don’t find it, check the manual to find its location. Open the case and make a note of how it’s placed. Replace the old air filter with your new one in the same position, and put back the covers.

A quick tip: if you want to save some extra bucks, remove the dirt on your current filter using compressed air and use the same one again.

Replace The Windshield Wipers

If your car’s windshield wipers leave behind streaks and don’t wipe clean, you need to change the blades.  It’s very easy to replace them. Raise the blades just the way you do it when you’re about to wash your windshield.

Remove them, but make sure to notice how they are connected to metal arms. Push the tab located at the bottom of your wiper to remove the old blade.

Carefully attach your new blades as you don’t want to scratch the windshield, and you’re done.

Replace The Spark Plugs

Change your car’s spark plugs after every 30,000 miles or at regular intervals, as recommended in your car’s manual.

You may think changing spark plugs require loads of time and work, but it’s in fact quite easy.

You may see four or more plugs, so don’t get confused. Just remove the wire from the first plug and clean it or replace it, then move on to the next.

Never remove all plug wires at one go, as they’re installed in a specific order that you’ll need to maintain strictly.

Use your spark plug’s extension and socket to remove the first plug. Place your new plug with your hand first, then use your wrench to tighten it further. Go for a snug fit, as you don’t want to over-tighten it.

Attach the wire back with the plug, and repeat the process for each plug individually.

Check The Oil Filter

If you go by the advice of car experts, change your car’s oil every time you cross 3000 miles.

There’re two things you need to keep in mind before changing your oil:

First, make sure the engine isn’t hot

Second, you may need to jack up your car, so it’s raised slightly.

Once you’ve taken the necessary precautions, it’s time to get your hands dirty.

Place an oil pan under your car. Unscrew the drain plug, and let the old oil drain out completely into the pan. Once it’s drained, change your drain plug.

Open your engine, and take out the old oil filter using your wrench. You’ll have to be careful, as it may contain old oil.

Start lubricating the gasket with your motor oil. You need to fill your oil filter nearly about two-third, not more than that. Screw in the filter, make sure to hand-tight it first.

Now, start filling your car’s engine with new motor oil. Use dip-stick to check the oil level, and your engine is ready.

Save hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing the repairs yourself. These maintenance tasks are easy to do and only require your attention a few times a year.

Photo credit: WeAre/Shutterstock

 

Considering Synthetic Grass For Your Backyard? Here’s How To Install It!

Who wouldn’t love lush greenery, flowers, and a natural lawn in their backyard? But what happens when your garden doesn’t have any grass, not even a little?

There’s also a chance your backyard simply can’t grow quality grass, or you don’t have the time to maintain a green lawn since you’re always busy.

This void can be filled with artificial grass, and the best part is that you can buy it and install it all by yourself. It only takes a little bit of your time, and then you can have a lush green lawn for the rest of the year, and you don’t ever have to worry about upkeep or repairs!

That’s a win-win situation if you ask us.

Easy DIY Methods To Install Your Fake Grass

Having a lush green yard is an important part of the quintessential American dream. You can realize your dream by installing synthetic grass. It’s quick and easy.

Follow the steps below to install artificial grass in your backyard. If you need a visual guide, watch this DIY tutorial to learn how to install fake grass.

Remove Your Present Turf

It’s time to say goodbye to your existing lawn that has only caused exorbitant water bills, patchy grass, costly maintenance, etc. and go artificial.

To ensure your new artificial turf sits still and looks attractive, you need to excavate your existing lawn.  Start by cleaning your base. Remove rocks, debris, and other waste that can get in the way of grass installation.

Excavate the soil with your shovel and dig up to 70mm deep – that’s where you’ll place your fake turf.

Create The Base For Your Synthetic Turf

When you’re done with excavation, get your rake and start leveling the base. Keep one thing in mind: it should be smooth.

It’s better if you use crushed rock as your base for the fake turf. You can find them easily at your nearby hardware store.

Make sure to equally spread its base and use your rake to set the sub-base flat. After that, use a vibrating plate to compact your base. Check the depth of your sub-base; it should be around 15mm.

Arrange The Turf

Bingo! You’ve completed half the installation process.  As soon as you’re done with the base, it’s time to position your artificial turf.

Unroll your fake turf and leave it for a couple of hours to adjust and flatten.

Use a sharp cutting knife to cut the turf. And make sure you cut clean, as it’ll help you in accurate joining later.

Proper Joining Of Pieces

Do you know what makes artificial grass look real? It’s the correct joining of the divided pieces.

Keep your divided turf pieces close, but not so close that they overlap and touch – a few millimeters gap between each section should be more than adequate.

Roll out the turf tape onto the total length of your fake turf to seamlessly join the separated pieces – leave it for 30 minutes.

If you want to ensure it’s in place, walk over it a few times.

Next, trim any pieces that are jutting out or look out of place. Use a new cutting knife, and not with the one you’ve used to cut the turf.

Secure Your Turf’s Perimeter

You’re almost finished! There’s only one thing left: making sure your new artificial turf stays intact.

Grab some flat nails and start hammering them in on all sides of your turf – make sure you go some 25cm down.

Fill Your Turf With Sand

It’s the little things that add to the natural look. To make your turf appear natural, you’ll need about 12kg sand.

Carefully scatter the sand across your fake grass. If you’re finding it hard with hands, use a rake or a seed dropper to get it right and give your artificial grass an unbelievably natural look.

 

Installing fake grass is easy, affordable, and a more convenient option than growing it out season after season. This is a set-it-and-forget-it solution, so no wonder thousands of homes and offices across the United States choose it.

And now you can have it too. Just follow this guide to DIY your artificial grass installation.

Photo credit: christopher babcock/Shutterstock

Problems With Your Air Conditioner? Here’s Your Guide To DIY Fixes!

It’s no secret that air conditioners need regular maintenance to deliver optimal performance. However, most of us forget all about that until the sun is at its hottest, and we are left struggling in the hot weather.

If you want to make sure that you don’t lose your cool at such trying times, learn to identify the most common problems for air conditioners and fix them yourself. This way, you’ll at least be able to keep the AC running until a technician shows up.

We’ve highlighted the most common ways to get your AC up and running in case of an issue.

Common AC DIY Repairs

We’ve seen it happen all too often: an upset homeowner calls us to fix an AC problem – an issue they could have easily remedied by themselves!

Besides, DIY-ing can also help save money and restore some comfort to your home or office.

Try the following troubleshooting tips when your AC starts acting up:

Check The Breaker

If the AC doesn’t switch on, the breaker may have tripped. This is quite a common occurrence that happens when a couple of appliances operate on the same breaker.

The hike in power usage trips the breaker, and the Air Conditioner won’t power up.

So, check the breakers in your house — notice if any switch is off and turn it back on.

Adjust The Thermostat

The central AC may be working fine, but someone may have messed with thermostat settings, putting them on a higher temperature. That’s why your home may not be cooling up appropriately. Check the thermostat, adjust it, and turn it off and on again if the need be.

Please ensure that the thermostat is set at a temperature lesser then what is the room’s actual temperature, and the AC will provide cold air at the right time, every time.

Replace Your Filters

A clogged, dusty filter can keep your AC from performing optimally. Here is how to identify and fix this issue:

  • Open the front housing and inspect the filter
  • If you see it clogged up with dirt, it’s time to clean or replace it
  • If your unit has a permanent filter —wash and dry it before inserting it back
  • If your unit requires new filters, and dusting them off won’t work, replace them
  • If all else is up to the mark, cold air will start flowing through again

De-Ice The Unit

If you use your AC around the clock, it can start accumulating ice as humidity in the air collects and freezes within. This can compromise the airflow, making it difficult for the AC to cool the air sufficiently.

Shut the unit off and let it thaw out completely – this may take a whole day.

Once the ice has melted, use a dry towel to soak up any condensation that may have pooled around it.

Restart your air conditioner; it should be in perfect working order now.

Cleanup Thoroughly

It is highly likely that the AC is just dirty, and you need to clean off the accumulated dust and debris instead of running repairs.

Start with the outdoor unit, thoroughly but diligently clean the fan blades, and drive away any debris or other contaminates.

The same goes for internal condenser fins; they need to be kept in top shape. To clean them, first remove the filters and wash them, then use brushes purposed for condenser fin cleaning to brush off the grime.

Check For Freon Leak

If your AC is clean and at the right setting, but it doesn’t blow cold air, the refrigerant might be leaking.

This can not only cause you physical discomfort but also result in high power bills.

To diagnose if your AC has a Freon leak, take off the cover and examine the condenser. If the coils are dark or wet, there may be a leak.

But that’s all you can do about a leak. The next step would be to call an expert AC technician who can fix this issue for you.

Still Need Help With Your AC Troubles?

If you’ve tried the tips mentioned above but are still having problems with your air conditioner, it’s essential to get in touch with a qualified AC technician stat.

In fact, it is advisable to call a reputable HVAC service company in your area – they’ll send over a professional who can diagnose and repair your air conditioning system in no time.

Photo credit: Wstockstudio/Shutterstock

18 DIY Tips To Keeping Your Garden Healthy And Attractive

A perfectly kept garden is an excellent addition to any household — it’s a sight for sore eyes, raises property value, and lets you farm your own produce.

Gardening is an excellent hobby and keeps you on your feet, so it also has several benefits for your mental and physical health.

However, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to keep a garden looking healthy and well- maintained all year-round – it requires constant care, time, effort, and doesn’t come cheap.

Make sure you follow these tips to keep your garden looking good no matter what time of the year.

Our Top Tips For A Beautiful Garden

To help you have a beautiful and healthy garden, we have jotted down a few tips for adequate upkeep, follow them to have a lush garden all four seasons and beyond.

  1. Gardening is an art that requires planning, time, and patience. So plan efficiently — make a list of vegetables and fruits you would like to grow, then conduct some research on what items from your list are easy to grow. Then you can purchase and plant away.
  2. Avoid planting in rows unless the required crop profile requires it to be planted in a linear manner such as corn. This will significantly raise the garden’s aesthetic appeal.
  3. For a cleaner look, use raised beds; not only are the plants easier to manage, but you get enough space to move without damaging the vegetation freely. You also have the option of using different soil types for different plants.
  4. Ensure proper placement – taller plants should be at the back, medium-sized in the middle, and the smallest go right in front. This layout ensures that everything is perfectly visible.
  5. Like humans, vegetation can also be disease-ridden, and infections can spread to the rest of your plant life and ruin your beautiful garden. Hence, only bring home healthy plants, when at the store, check for aphids, fungus, the health of the roots, and discolored leaves.
  6. If water bills are through the roof in your area or you don’t have adequate water supply to start with. You can still have a healthy garden by selecting plants that don’t require as much water, such as kale and pepper.
  7. Some plants are resistant to many diseases, so it’s best to check plant profiles before buying them like squash plants are known to catch fungus. In contrast, other plants cannot be infected with it. The good news is that most planters mention vulnerabilities right on the box.
  8. Use different colored fruit and vegetable plants to get a colorful and visually appealing garden. You can use plants such as eggplants, tomatoes, pumpkins, white squash, yellow peppers, to name a few.
  9. To conserve water, keep the soil moist, prevent irregular weed growth, etc. — place the plants close to each other. Remember, venerable plants should be kept at afar.
  10. Water plants early morning, or in the evening – since there is no scorching sun – most of the water will be used as evaporation will be minimal. Also, if you are away a lot, create an automatic irrigation system that controls water flow in a pre-assigned manner.
  11. Use 10 to 15 liters of water per square meter, and not anymore.
  12. Plant flowers to enhance the aesthetics and the aroma, beautiful flowers will impress onlookers and make your stay in your patio or backyard more meaningful. Also, having a flower border around produce can safeguard your fruits and vegetables from pests and other infestations.
  13. Stay on top of the weed situation — not only are they bad to look at, but they quickly grow and take over your garden.
  14. Trim weeds as soon as you see them. Use a weeding trowel to remove them from the root.
  15. Remember, temperatures of up to 26-degree Celsius is ideal for your garden and all crops within to grow, whereas a heat over 30-degree Celsius in unfavorable. So if the place in question has sweltering weather, it would be best not to shorten the grass too much – five to six centimeters will be an ideal length – to shield the soil from the direct sun so it would remain mois.t
  16. Ensure that the soil is in top-shape since healthy plants require hale and hearty soil to grow. So you can put natural mulch or compost to the soil to increase nutrient intake.
  17. Remove dead stems, plants and flowers, as they keep the healthy ones from growing properly.
  18. Surround your garden with synthetic grass, it’s a protection layer against many common issues such as irregular weed growth, plus it is impressive to look at.

Key Takeaway

If you follow the steps mentioned here, managing your garden won’t be a hassle, nor will it burn a hole in your pocket. So, plant away for a healthy and beautiful looking garden, and depend on it as your source of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables, instead of buying expensive produce from the store.

Photo credit: Andrey tiyk/Shutterstock