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Scotland to Install Smart Top-Up Taps

Scotland to Install Smart Top-Up Taps

The huge media exposure given to the plastic crisis over the past 12 months has given birth to a range of new ideas and measures to reduce both production and waste. Across the UK we've banned plastic cotton buds, hid and replaced plastic straws, introduced deposit return schemes and even forced tea companies and crisp manufacturers to rethink their packaging choices. 

Quite a lot of movement in the short space of a year, considering the lack of action on plastic pollution for so long. It's amazing what some mainstream media exposure can do to propel an issue into the front of everyone's conscious. 

The raft of measures to tackle plastic waste has triggered the revival of public water fountains with London leading the way by installing 20 new fountains over the summer and now following up with a proposal to install 100 new drinking taps across the city by the end of 2020. 

Scottish Water's Smart Taps

Scottish Water has announced a new project to install smart top-up taps in 30 towns and cities over the next two years. These public drinking taps will track the volume of water filled up from each location and estimate the amount of money and plastic saved. 

The locations are still to be finalised with local councils, however the first tap will be installed outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. Scottish Water plans to install 10 taps by the end of March 2019, with the other 9 likely to be in Glasgow, Ayr, Dumfries, Dunfermline, Fort William, Milngavie, Oban, Inverness and Aberdeen. 

Despite the rise against plastic bottles, not all areas of the UK are developing new, updated public drinking fountains. In Manchester there are no council maintained drinking taps while across 5 Merseyside council area there are also none. 

Elsewhere, Tyne and Wear has one outdoor fountain in South Tyneside and two in Sunderland, while there are four across the West Midlands and one in West Yorkshire. 

What Impact Will They Have? 

It's hard to say how successful the new public drinking taps will be before they have been introduced, however there's no doubt they will help reduce plastic water bottle use. The data taken from the Scottish Water fountains will be interesting and the existing taps in London have been well received by the public. 

There may also be a public health boost, with some advocates suggesting the water fountains are likely to reduce consumption of sugary drinks because the water is totally free for anyone to use. However, the true impact of the taps in terms of health is likely to be one which will be determined in years to come. 

According to Scottish Water research, 65% of the public prefer tap water over other varieties and they also find that 36% carry reusable bottles always or often. These statistics provide a strong foundation for the fountains to be a success and given the reputed high quality of most Scottish tap water, there shouldn't be any taste issues for the public - the same thing can't be said of London! 

Get Smart Tap Ready 

If you're not already among the 36% who carry a reusable water bottle always or often, you can join the clan with a Phox Go double-walled stainless steel bottle. 

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5 Simple Ways to Boost Brain Health

5 Simple Ways to Boost Brain Health

When was the last time you did something to improve the health of your body? 

Today? Yesterday? Last week? 

Now, when was the last time you did something to improve the health of your brain? 

When it comes to health, the scales are so often tipped towards the body. We all want to lose weight, gain muscle, or get leaner. 

But we don't often think about training our brain and the various ways we can boost our cognitive health. 

In order to help you enhance your onboard computer, we've put together a list of 5 simple ways you can boost your brain health:

1. Ditch Multi-Tasking 

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Aren't you tired of the age-old debate between sexes about who can and can't multitask? 

Well, the good news is - no one can. At least not effectively. 

Multitasking diminishes mental productivity, increases brain fatigue and creates stress. By trying to share our concentration and attention across more than one task we, in turn, give neither of the tasks the due care they deserve. 

This scattered form of thinking creates a habitual cycle of distraction because your brain is trying to cover all bases. 

If you focus on one task, you'll get things done much more effectively and efficiently while avoiding the mental fatigue generated by multitasking. 

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2. Practice Meditation

Boost Brain Health

Meditation is rapidly becoming a widespread phenomenon. The ancient practice once exclusively associated with Buddism is being adopted across all cultures and demographics thanks to its wide-ranging benefits. 

Taking as little 10 minutes per day to practice mindful meditation can reduce stress, calm your brain and improve memory & concentration. 

This growth has kindled a tremendous amount of research into its effects. Scientific studies have found that meditation can also decrease physical pain, alleviate depression and increase happiness. 

Practising meditation is probably the single biggest boost you can give your brain health. 

3. Get Good Sleep! 

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One of the most powerful things you can do to protect your mental and physical health is to get good quality sleep. 

On top of getting into the right routine, an adequate amount of sleep is key to restoring and refreshing your brain from day-to-day. 

Sleep cleanses your brain of the toxicity caused by stress and worry, and it is also vital for storing memory. On the other hand, lack of sleep causes a range of problems for your brain. 

Dips from a normal, healthy sleeping pattern can cause a lack of concentration, falls in mental sharpness and increased irritability.  

4. Start Yoga

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If you're already familiar with meditation, why not try and practise yoga too?

Practising yoga has been shown to enhance cognitive performance and prevent cognitive decline in older people. 

Scientific research of the benefits is so positive that yoga has been used to treat anxiety, insomnia, depression and even eating disorders. It has also been proven to improve wellness and self-control in large prison populations. 

While there are various different types of yoga, the most simple form to get you started is Hatha Yoga. If you want to feel mentally revitalised, yoga might just be the refresher that you need. 

5. Give Your Brain a Workout 

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Along with your trips to the gym this week, give your brain a workout by taking on a new cognitive challenge. 

Learn a new language, pick up a musical instrument or take on a new puzzle. The benefits of taking on new cognitive challenges are extensive for your brain, particularly as you age. 

For example, learning a new language can increase brain elasticity and improve the speed that our minds can process data at. Research at Edinburgh University has also found that speaking 2 or more languages can prevent age-related cognitive decline. 

Even learning a musical instrument has been shown to ward off cognitive decline later in life and improve our hearing and listening skills

What kind of cognitive workout will you give your brain? 

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How Can I Improve My Sleep?

How Can I Improve My Sleep?

Do you know what the best thing about sleep is?

It's the basic foundation of good health. 

Why?

Because sleep deprivation can be the root cause of a range of health issues that permeate all areas of our lives. 

It is estimated that 1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by insomnia and 38% of adults say they are not getting the right amount of sleep.

These statistics highlight how sleep is one of the most undervalued parts of our everyday lives. 

Sleep has become stigmatised by laziness, and so often in the hive of busy contemporary lifestyles - consumed by technology and information overload - it is has become a badge of honour to sleep less. People often feel validated that they're working so hard that they only managed 3 hours last night, but it's becoming ever clearer how damaging this can be for our health. 

That's why we've put together a list of 5 ways to improve your sleeping pattern and make sure you stay clear of the potential side effects of sleep deprivation. 

1. Sort Out Your Routine 

Improve My Sleep

The most vital thing you can do to help your body is sleep wise is to get into a regular routine, to align with your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is your internal body clock that regulates your sleep/wake cycle.

You've probably noticed that you have dips in energy throughout the day. Generally, for most adults, the sharpest energy dips are between 2am-4am and 1pm-3pm. That wave of tiredness that hits straight after lunch is related to your circadian rhythm. 

Now, if your sleeping pattern is already perfectly in tune you may seldom notice these drops in energy. 

However, an irregular sleeping pattern or a general lack of sleep can throw off your sleep/wake cycle meaning you will experience dips in energy at various times throughout the day. 

You may be thinking 'why should I have a regular bedtime, I'm not 10 years old?' While you may not be a child anymore, did you know that just one night of 3-4 hours sleep can reduce the 'natural killer' cells in your body by 70 per cent?  

 2. Phone Curfew 

Improve My Sleep

It may sound radical, but ditching your mobile phone 30 minutes before bed can have a great impact on your sleep quality. 

The blue light that comes from your phone screen triggers the same response in your brain as daylight. Chemically, this suppresses melatonin. Which as we've already discussed, interrupts your circadian rhythm by stimulating your brain when you should be trying to sleep. 

Setting your phone to automatically enter 'night-mode' at sunset to reduce the blue light will help but no light at all is best. 

You'll find it much easier to get to sleep each night if you have a routine which signals to your brain that it's time for bed. Putting your phone to bed 30 minutes before yourself will help you start to wind down towards a comfortable, restorative night's rest. 

3. Lights Out

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Closely related to your new phone curfew is the importance of turning off bright lights at least 30 minutes before bed. 

All artificial light acts as a stimulant for your brain and can be subtly disruptive both when trying to get to sleep and stay asleep. 

In much the same way as your phone screen, any artificial light will inhibit melatonin secretion and decrease your chances of a good night's sleep. 

If you don't quite believe how powerful this is, then maybe some research will help underline it. 

Research from Cornell University found that shining an artificial light the size of a 10p coin on the back of someone's knee is enough to disturb their sleep cycle. 

4. Hydrate

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You might have known that hydration would be a factor in sleep quality! Much like sleep itself, hydration is a vital foundation for good health. 

Studies have shown that dehydration can be a factor in a range of sleep-related problems, from insomnia to sleep apnea. 

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You won't be surprised to hear that the primary victim of dehydration in terms of sleep is, you guessed it - melatonin. If your body is not adequately hydrated throughout the day and at night, then it can suffer from a lack of essential amino acids. This puts you at risk of melatonin deficiency which we know disrupts your body's natural sleep cycle. 

Another effect of dehydration on your sleep quality is that it can exacerbate snoring problems. Making sure that you're properly hydrated can lubricate your airways and the soft tissue in your throat to help tone down the snoring which can be so disruptive to you (and your partner's!) sleep. 

5. Caffeine Curfew

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We all love a nice coffee. 

There's a reason that it's the second top-selling commodity in the world. 

But when it comes to sleep, coffee consumption must be carefully managed. Caffeine's popularity is obviously due to its powers as a stimulant and this stimulation can disrupt your sleep no end if you don't consume it within reasonable timeframes.

Did you know that if you consume 200mg of caffeine, eight hours later there's still 100mg in your system?

Then eight more hours later, there's still 50mg in your system.  

This means that consuming any substantial amount of caffeine after midday is almost certain to interfere with your sleep quality at some level. 

Now of course, if you're currently drinking five cups per day it doesn't make sense to drop down to one cup starting tomorrow because there would be a pretty severe tiredness crash. 

However, if you have any problems sleeping it is worth reassessing your coffee consumption and phasing out excessive quantities. 

Top Tip:

If you want to dive in deeper and learn more about how to maximise the power of sleep check out the book 'Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success' by Shawn Stevenson. 

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