Things will be a little crazy for a lot of us in the next two weeks, with holiday parties, visits from friends and family, and most likely some significant deviations from regular schedules—whether it's the kids home for school break, people out of the office for the holidays or the busiest time of the year at your store. And there'll be a lot of seasonal treats you'll be tempted to consume as well.
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All of that makes it more likely that that your sleep patterns will be disrupted, and you'll be tossing and turning and maybe not feeling up to all the festivities the next day. Midnight alertness might be great on Christmas Eve if you're six years old and waiting for Santa. But it's not so good if you have to fix a big meal for visiting family the next day.
There are certain things you should eat and drink—and not eat and drink—to help you sleep soundly and face the madness refreshed.
1. Eating a big meal shortly before turning in is a sleep disruptor. It puts the digestive system into overdrive just when you need to be closing things down for the night. Eat smaller amounts of food throughout the day so you won't feel tempted to eat a lot all at once. An hour or two after dinner but well before you turn in have a light snack.
2. Make sure that snack doesn't include hard-to-digest foods. Anything heavy, fatty or spicy isn't going to make a good evening nosh. Crackers and cheese, some fruit or a small sandwich with lean meat or vegetables is a good choice.
3. Say no to those sugary foods—you do not want that rush of sugar energy before hitting the sack. This is not the time to binge on those Christmas cookies and candies. Put them on a very high shelf you have to get a stool to reach!
4. Any caffeinated beverage is going to keep you awake, so coffee and colas are definitely out. You should probably stop drinking them by mid-afternoon, since caffeine can stay in your system more than six hours. Regular black teas have less caffeine but aren't the best choice for an evening drink.
5. The right hot beverage, such as a caffeine-free herbal tea, can be a sleep inducer. You've probably seen teas with names like "Sleepy Time" that are sold for just that purpose. They contain herbs like valerian and chamomile that are known to be relaxing. Some people also find that a cup of hot milk or cocoa can help them unwind.
6. While it's often recommended that you avoid alcohol before going to bed, some people find that a small glass of wine can send them into dreamland.
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By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
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