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Sleep and Exercise: A Reciprocal Relationship

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Many people feel that they get a better night’s sleep after a day of physical activity. It makes sense: The more active you are during the day, the easier it may be for you to relax and fall asleep at night. Interestingly enough, sleep may have as much of an effect on exercise as exercise has on sleep. Also, people who regularly sleep well may experience these effects very differently than people who have chronic sleep problems.

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According to a study published in the Mental Health and Physical Activity journal, a nationally representative group of participants reported a 65% improvement in sleep quality and daytime alertness when they exercised for at least 150 minutes per week. Aerobic activities seem to be best for sleep, as they increase the levels of oxygen that reach your bloodstream. The exact reasons behind exercise helping with sleep are unknown, but there are some theories from the National Sleep Foundation. One is that your body becomes heated during a workout, and the post-workout drop in temperature may promote sleep. Another reason could be that physical activity decreases anxiety, arousal, and symptoms of depression, which may contribute toward sleep problems. By keeping active during the day, it may be easier to deal with stress, and with less stress comes a deeper and more restful sleep.

Sleep also maximizes the benefits derived from exercise. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the body performs vital activities during sleep, such as providing an opportunity to recover from being used during the day. Restorative functions almost exclusively take place while asleep, such as muscle growth, protein synthesis, and tissue repair. Alternately, when humans are deprived of sleep it can cause health problems by modifying levels of hormones involved in metabolism, appetite, and stress response. If your body has not had a chance to recover and restore itself, you will not be as fit for activities the following day.

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Most studies that look at the correlation between exercise and sleep do not use subjects with existing sleep issues. For people who do not have chronic sleep problems, the relationship between exercise and sleep is not as complicated. For people with insomnia, the relationship between sleep and exercise can become a vicious cycle, the lack of one hindering the other and vise versa. Insomnia can come in many different forms: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking during the night, non-restorative sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

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A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine takes a closer look at a previous study on physical exertion and sleep. It concentrated on sedentary older women with insomnia. They were randomly directed to either remain inactive or begin doing cardiovascular exercises for 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week for 16 weeks. After the 16 weeks, the active group was sleeping much more soundly than they had been at the start of the study. They were sleeping for 45 minutes to an hour longer each night, were waking up less frequently, and were more energized during the day.

What was most interesting though, was the fact that the active participants did not experience immediate results. They did not notice an improvement in sleep the night following a day of physical exertion. In fact, they instead noticed diminished corporeal performance after a night of poor sleep. People with insomnia tend to experience extreme arousal of their stress system. Random single bursts of exercise will not help overcome this arousal, and may even aggravate it. In order to help with insomnia, an exercise routine needs to be implemented and maintained. Eventually the regular activity will start to silence a person’s stress response, and sleep will come more readily.

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The process is very gradual, and does not offer immediate gratification. This makes it harder to implement into daily life, because it takes regular exercise several months to show significant and consistent changes in sleep behavior for those with insomnia. And when you are tired, it is hard to motivate yourself to be active, and your workout suffers. Once sleep and activeness become a normal routine, each will benefit the other.

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As a whole, sleep and exercise are mutually beneficial, and both help maintain overall health. For people who do not experience regular problems with sleep, these benefits can be reaped almost immediately after implementing regular workouts and sleep routines. For those with insomnia or other sleep issues, it may be a bit harder to find the initial energy and endurance to begin this lifestyle change. Either way, the conclusion of these studies is that regular sleep and exercise should be incorporated into everyone’s lives, and as a pair, they can improve your health!

8 Tips For a Happy and Healthy Organic Garden

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Everyone wants their garden to be as healthy and beautiful as possible, but not everyone knows how to accomplish this without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. These harsh chemicals will contaminate your soil, plants, food, and therefore your body.

To protect your family and our planet from further exposure to harmful chemicals, an organic garden is an excellent first step. This will promote a cleaner environment for your family and pets, and healthier produce for their consumption.

There are plenty of natural ways to provide nutrients and protection for your garden. Here are some great tips for starting or maintaining an organic garden of your own!

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1. Use organic fertilizers such as horse manure, bat guano, fish emulsion and kelp meal. These natural fertilizers help your soil stay moist and aerated, promote microbiotic activity, and keep roots healthy.

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2. Make your own fertilizer by starting a compost pile for food scraps such as fruit peels, uneaten vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds, or yard waste and paper items.

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3. Get your soil tested by your local Cooperative Extension (a service provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture). They can let you know which natural additives will be beneficial for replenishing your garden soil.

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4. Companion planting is the practice of raising different plants in pairs that encourage each other’s growth and discourage harmful insects. Do some research on what would pair well with your favorite plants, and incorporate them in your garden.

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5. Plant rotation is very important for keeping your soil replenished with nutrients and for discouraging soil-borne disease. Keep track of which plants you have in a plot and grow something else in its place the following season.

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6. Beneficial insects should be welcomed into your garden with open arms. Earthworms are wonderful for aerating your soil and bees are phenomenal pollinators. Predatory insects such as ladybugs and praying mantises are the perfect solution to problems with plant-consuming bugs, without the use of pesticides!

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7. If you are trying to deter animals such as deer and rabbits from your garden, do not poison or kill them. There are many repellents that are made from natural ingredients — like garlic, predator urine, and pepper — which will work wonders!

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8. For fungus and mildew issues there are a variety of home remedies that can be used in place of harsh anti-fungal sprays. A small amount of baking soda mixed into water can make a great anti-fungal spray for your plants.

Now there is no excuse for using toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, because there are so many natural and organic options for garden care!

Happy Earth Day!

Enjoy the beauty of our planet.

 

Refresh Your Bedding For Spring!

Spring is a time of renewal, when seeds bring new life, animals come out of hibernation, and the Earth reawakens after winter. Many people use this time of year to refresh or renew some things in their lives. You can do this by gardening, cleaning, or getting rid of old items and replacing them with new ones. While replacing old items, why not replenish your bedding accessories with new organic and natural options?

Organic and Natural Bedding Accessories

Bedding is one thing that can definitely use replacing periodically. Once the winter is over, you might want to replace your bedding with some lighter-weight items that can help keep you cool during the warmer nights. Here are some accessory items from OMI that will make great additions to your new spring bedding!

Thermal Blanket

Our Thermal Blanket is perfect for lightweight warmth, and is a great substitute for a comforter during the warmer seasons. The pebbly textured fabric is 100% organic cotton in a crepe weave. Offered from crib to king size.

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Starting at $85

 

Pearl Organic Sheet Collection

Since sheets are the closest to you during sleep, it’s nice to change them out for fresh new ones periodically. This sheet collection features 300-thread-count GOTS-certified organic sateen cotton in a creamy ivory. Each set contains a flat sheet and a fitted sheet. Twin and twin XL sets include one standard pillowcase; full and queen sets include two standard/queen sized pillowcases, and E. king and Cal. king sets include two king pillowcases.

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Starting at $230

 

Eco-Wool™ Moisture Pad

Wool is a great natural temperature regulator, keeping the body warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As well as helping regulate temperature, it is also naturally moisture resistant (not waterproof). Use this pad to help protect your mattress from soiling due to heavy night sweats, incontinence, or other moisture-related concerns. This seamless, woven wool protector has elastic corner straps and is available in sizes crib through king (crib and puddle-pad sizes have no corner straps). This pad should be rinsed only (no detergents).

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Starting at $75

 

Organic Cotton Flannel Mattress Pad

The Organic Cotton Flannel Mattress Pad pairs very well with the Eco-Wool™ Moisture Pad. Together, these pads protect the surface of the mattress and keep it looking great for years. Two layers of certified organic cotton flannel have been quilted together with a tape-edge finish, and have wide elastic corner straps (crib pads are fitted). This pad is seamless and machine washable.

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Starting at $199

 

Organic and Natural Pillows

Getting a new pillow can make all the difference in the world for your sleep, and since pillows are in close contact with your face, it feels great to replace them with fresh new ones. OMI makes a variety of pillows using an array of organic and natural materials. It should be easy to find one that is perfect for you!

100% Certified Organic Cotton Pillow

For those seeking a firmer, flatter pillow, our cotton pillows are filled with pure, sanitized 100% certified organic cotton. As with our wool pillow, they are available in three weights: light, medium, and full. (Please note: cotton pillows compress about one-half over time.)

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Starting at $95

 

100% Natural Rubber Latex Pillows

Our Molded and Contour pillows are sold with double covers. The inner cover is certified organic cotton mesh fabric, designed to ensure that the pillow keeps its shape and integrity for many years. The second (removable, hand-washable) envelope case is made from our certified organic cotton mattress cover fabric. The Molded pillow is recommended for back and side sleepers; the Contour is ideal for back or stomach sleepers.

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Starting at $229

 

Eco-Wool™ Pillow

In general, wool offers a soft and springy fill, and tends to sleep cooler and compact less than cotton fill. Like our other wool products, our Eco-Wool™ pillow resists dust mites. Available in three weights: light, medium, and full. (Please note: wool pillows compress approximately one-third over time.)

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Starting at $115

 

Wool-Wrapped 100% Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow

This dual-chambered pillow is a best seller! It is made with a center chamber of 100%-natural shredded rubber latex surrounded by an outer chamber filled with Eco-Wool™. This pillow is made with a zipper, so sleepers can remove material and customize each pillow to their personal preference.

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Starting at $200

 

The Crush 100% Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow

Adjustable and supremely comfortable, our Crush pillow is made without wool for ultimate resiliency. Covered with signature OrganicPedic® knit fabric and filled with 100%-natural shredded rubber latex, the Crush has a soft yet supportive feel, and can be adjusted to any height to meet the needs of individual sleepers.

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Starting at $170

 

Wool Wrapped Organic Buckwheat- Hull Pillow

In this dual-chambered pillow, the outside chamber, filled with Eco-Wool™, cushions both the feel and the sound associated with buckwheat pillows. The inner chamber is filled with organic buckwheat hulls. This pillow is made with a zipper, so sleepers can remove material and customize each pillow to their personal preference.

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Starting at $189

 

So this spring, while you’re taking out the old and bringing in the new, remember these wonderful organic and natural bedding accessories!

For more OMI products, click HERE.

Have a Green Easter: 9 Organic and Eco-Friendly Ideas

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Easter is a holiday of colorful decorations, sweet snacks, increasingly warm weather, and wonderful outdoor activities for the whole family. It is also a holiday that can create a lot of waste because of one-time-use decorations, toys, and wrappers. If you and your family are looking to have a greener Easter, here are some organic and environmentally friendly ideas.

  1. Prepare a delicious organic Easter breakfast, like this recipe for Artichoke-Scrambled Eggs Benedict. It replaces the English muffin with artichoke bottoms for a low-carbohydrate alternative.

Artichoke-Scrambled Eggs Benedict

~Serves 4

Ingredients

            8 canned organic artichoke bottoms

            6 large organic eggs

            4 large organic egg whites

            4 teaspoons organic extra-virgin olive oil, divided

            1/3 cup chopped organic pancetta

            2 tablespoons reduced-fat organic cream cheese

            2 tablespoons reduced-fat organic mayonnaise

            2 tablespoons nonfat plain organic yogurt

            1 teaspoon water

            2 teaspoons organic lemon juice

            1/4 teaspoon organic salt

            3 teaspoons chopped fresh organic oregano, divided, plus garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss artichoke bottoms with 2 teaspoons oil and 2 teaspoons oregano. Place artichoke bottoms on half of a large baking sheet, topside down. Spread 1/3 cup chopped pancetta evenly on the other half of the baking sheet. Roast until the artichokes begin to brown and the pancetta is crispy (about 12 minutes).

While the pancetta and artichokes are roasting, whisk lemon juice, water, yogurt, and mayonnaise in a bowl until smooth.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil on medium-high. Add the eggs, stirring and folding constantly with spatula for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in cream cheese, salt, and 1 teaspoon oregano.

Divide artichoke bottoms among 4 plates, topping each with scrambled egg, pancetta, and lemon sauce. Garnish with oregano and enjoy!

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  1. Instead of buying new Easter baskets, reuse baskets from previous years and revamp them with new decorations. If you don’t have any from last year, purchase them from a garage sale or resale store. Or, even better, make your own unique baskets from scrap fabric or any other materials you might have around the house.

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  1. Don’t use plastic grass in your Easter egg baskets. Not only does it go to the landfill after one day of use, but it’s also toxic, and many young children end up ingesting it. Instead, shred some colorful paper from the office or home that was headed to recycling, or use some fabric from old clothing.

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  1. Instead of using plastic Easter eggs, use real organic eggs, round stones, paper mache, or even felt. There are all sorts of creative alternatives to boring, toxic, plastic eggs.

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  1. Rather than using artificial dyes for decorating your eggs, use natural alternatives. A variety of fruit juices can be used to get different colors, or you can try using saffron, coffee, or red wine.

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  1. Use any leftover hardboiled eggs for a delicious Easter snack of potato salad, deviled eggs, or egg salad sandwiches. This way you are not wasting any unused eggs.

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  1. Purchase organic chocolate bunnies and candies. Or for even more Easter fun, make your own organic fruit snacks with this easy recipe!

Organic Fruit Snacks

Ingredients

1 cup organic fruit puree

5 tablespoons raw organic honey

6 tablespoons organic gelatin

Directions

Puree your fruit of choice in a blender or food processor and measure out one cup of puree (about one and a half cups of chopped fruit should make one cup of puree).

Warm puree on the stove at medium heat in a medium-sized pot until the puree is warm, but not too hot to touch.

Mix in the raw honey and then slowly stir in the gelatin until it becomes an even consistency.

Pour the mixture into fun shaped silicone molds, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and make a sheet that can be cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.

Place in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to set, and they are ready to be enjoyed!

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  1. Easter is the perfect time to plant a garden. This activity is perfect for kids, who can learn to plant seeds and water them until they grow. It is educational and eco-friendly!

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  1. Adopt a bunny from your local animal shelter. The kids will love it, you will be helping an animal in need, and you will have natural fertilizer for your yard!

The Story of Stuff

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Released in 2007, The Story of Stuff takes a closer look at the linear pattern of our economy. From our constant reaping of the planet’s finite resources to the addition of toxic chemicals to our products and our overwhelming transition to identifying ourselves as consumers, this unsustainable system cannot and will not last forever.

This video illustrates the current flow of our economy and the role that government, corporations, and individual consumers play in the “big picture.” It points out the problems with our current linear model, and the possibility of change to a more cyclical model based on people coming together to make a difference.

To learn more about The Story of Stuff Project or see more videos, visit http://storyofstuff.org/

Tips for Creating the Perfect Sleep Environment

If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, your bedroom may be part of the problem. There can be many factors that you don’t realize are keeping you from an entire, rejuvenating night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation put together this list of 6 simple changes that you can make to your bedroom to create an ideal sleeping environment.

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