Surprise! Sleep Deprivation Affects Emotional Intelligence

It is 8:00 am, pre-coffee (if that’s your thing), and you’re getting ready to walk out the door after a night of staying up with your sick spouse, child, or roommate. You’re starting to feel super-human, juggling all your pre-work morning responsibilities with a heavy head and groggy eyes, when your spouse/child/roommate walks up to you and asks an innocent question: “I’m hungry. What are we having for breakfast?” You look at their cheerful face and take instant offense. You think, “What do you mean, what’s for breakfast? Can’t you see I’m simultaneously feeding the dog, prepping the beans for tonight’s slow-cooker dinner, and reading Junior’s school newsletter?” Excitement      According to a new U.C. Berkeley study published in the Journal of Neuroscience earlier this week, there is a strong link between a lack of quality sleep and decreased ability to distinguish between positive and negative emotional facial expressions in others. Researchers viewed brain scans and monitored the heart rates of 18 adult participants while they randomly viewed 70 images of faces with random expressions: positive, neutral, and negative emotions. Each individual viewed the facial images twice, once when they were fully rested and once after they had been awake for 24 consecutive hours. The study noted a neural link between the quality and amount of sleep a person gets and his or her ability to correctly process others’ facial expressions. The results of the study inferred that there is “a role for REM sleep in affective brain recalibration” and “the next-day success of emotional discrimination…” Sleeping_angel All the more reason to get a good night’s sleep!   For more information on the study, you can refer to the following articles: http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/07/14/brain-facialexpressions/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/15/sleep-brain-emotions_n_7801726.html

It’s World Environment Day!

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Every year on June 5th the United Nations invites you to celebrate World Environment Day (WED). Initiated in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly, WED rallies for worldwide attention and response to our environment. Over the years it has grown to be an expansive international podium for public awareness, celebrated by 100 countries.

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The health and prosperity of the planet and its inhabitants depends upon the effective management of resources. Merging individual actions into a collective effort can achieve incalculable momentum toward a sustainable world. WED is an opportunity for individuals to come together and take responsibility for the well being of our home.

“Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

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Every year there is a theme for the day, and for 2015 the theme is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” This means living within global boundaries and not sacrificing the welfare of the Earth for that of human prosperity and economic growth. Living sustainably means creating a system that maintains it’s own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse. Our current system will not sustain us into the future, so we need to create a practical structure.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life have participated in personal and organized environmental activities and operations. Last year, there were 6,437 pledges and over 3,000 activities that were registered online with WED, which tripled the counts of previous years.

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This year, let’s try and triple that count again! You can register your activity today and be featured on the Wide World of WED. Share your actions with the world and inspire others to do the same!

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!

‘Tis the Season… for Itching and Sneezing!

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Warmer weather is on its way, and with it comes a whole host of pollens and other allergens! While many people may consider spring allergies to be “par for the course,” an article I read recently suggests that those allergies may be something to lose sleep over — literally! According to a survey done by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 59 percent of nasal-allergy suffers say that their sleep is interrupted by allergies and 48 percent say that their symptoms interrupt their partner’s sleep, too! However, even with all this sleeplessness, only 35 percent of those surveyed were making a concerted effort to find a remedy!

Perhaps one of the reasons that so few people are taking the initiative to get relief is that that they are not sure what to do…as a fellow allergy sufferer, I have often found myself standing in a grocery-store aisle, staring blankly at a wall full of allergy medicine options! Here at OMI, we are pretty big advocates of getting a good night’s sleep, so I thought this would be a good time to pull up a previously posted blog to get some tips for tackling those pesky allergy symptoms. Click here to view the blog post, or read on for more great ideas!

1) Avoid Over-the-Counter Decongestants

While these may seem like the most convenient choice for clearing out your nasal passages, they have been known to cause insomnia. Furthermore, overuse can lead to resistance, which means that your symptoms will only come back with a vengeance! We prefer natural remedies, whenever possible, but if you DO take allergy medicine, stick to antihistamines without added decongestants (e.g., Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec).

2) Avoid Exercising in the Early AM

The prime time for pollen production is 5AM to 10AM… which means that your early-morning workout may leave you feeling groggy, instead of energized! Try scheduling your exercise routine for evening hours, at least during peak allergy season. Also, remember to close your windows before bed to avoid being bombarded by pollen in the morning (unless, of course, you are an early riser)!

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3) Drink Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been praised for its digestive benefits for centuries! Some people also tout it as a natural allergy remedy, citing its ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system. Although the scientific basis for this is unclear, it is certain that ACV has digestive benefits — like promoting good bacteria in the gut — and since there is a definite link between allergies and the gastrointestinal system, it is worth giving it a try!

I prefer to enjoy ACV as part of a delicious salad dressing, but some people prefer to dilute it in a glass of water or juice and simply drink it as a supplement. However you choose to ingest it, the important part is making sure you pick the right kind of ACV. The unfiltered kind (with the cloudy stuff at the bottom) offers the greatest benefit to your body. Be sure to shake it up before you pour!

4) Eat Onions

Foods like red onions, red apples, and even red wine contain a bioflavonoid known as quercetin. This naturally-occurring compound is known for its properties as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine! Click here for a more extensive list of quercetin sources, or check your local grocery store for quercetin capsules.

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5) Try Acupuncture

While it may seem a little creepy to some, acupuncture is ideal in the sense that it does not have side effects. It works by calming the overstimulation of the immune system, which makes it useful for people who are experiencing more than one type of sensitivity (e.g., seasonal allergies plus mold allergies). Click here to read more about the benefits of acupuncture.

6) Boost Your Immune System

Keep in mind that the coughing, sneezing, and itchiness are all products of your immune system’s over-response to histamines…so supporting a healthy immune system can help reduce the symptoms of allergies. All of the things that you would do for your body while fighting a cold — eating well, getting enough sleep, etc. — can help mitigate your body’s response to allergens and lessen your symptoms.

7) Grow a Beard

This is not an option for everyone, but facial hair has been shown to measurably reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies, at least according to this article. The theory is that facial hair acts as a natural filter for pollens, dust, and other allergy-causing particles in the air. That being the case, those lucky enough to have a beard or mustache should be sure to keep them clean during allergy season!

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In the end, just about any remedy that reduces allergy symptoms and improves sleep is a good one (especially if is natural)! So don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it sounds a little odd at first!

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/

OMI Mattresses Now Provide Fire Retardant Information on New Label

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California Senate Bill 1019 was approved on September 30, 2014. This bill requires manufacturers of upholstered furniture to identify and label products that contain flame-retardant chemicals with a statement on the product’s label.

While mattresses were excluded from this legislation, OMI agrees that this is information consumers deserve to have. OMI has become the first mattress manufacturer to voluntarily label its mattresses with the words “This product contains Organic Wool and does not require flame retardant chemicals.” OrganicPedic® mattresses meet all flammability requirements using certified organic wool and unique methods of construction.

Consumers should have the right to choose the healthiest option available and have access to information regarding materials and processes used to manufacture a mattress. We feel a responsibility to help our customers become better educated about toxic chemicals found in conventional furniture and bedding.

We hope that this voluntary step on our part will not only support this important Senate bill, but also bring attention to the importance of labeling all products, and not just items found in the upholstered-furniture segment.

For more information on OMI’s wool flame barrier, check out our previous blog, “Who?.. What?.. Wool?”

Insomnia: Causes and Effects

Everyone has had a sleepless night here and there, whether it is because of an exciting event the next day or one too many cups of coffee. For one-third of Americans, insomnia is a nightly problem that affects their daily lives.

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There are a variety of causes that can be attributed to this problem. For some it can be caused by stress at home or work, a change in location, depression, anxiety, or certain medical conditions. For others it may be about sleep habits and environment. Some people eat poorly and too late in the day, others do not have a steady sleep schedule, and most have an unsupportive and uncomfortable mattress.

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There are many long-term effects that can result from insomnia. It can slow reaction times, result in poor performance at work, or cause weight gain or loss, irritability, anxiety, or depression, and it may put you at a higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

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A proper environment and schedule are key to getting great sleep, night after night. Setting up a sleeping and eating schedule can dramatically help with insomnia. Eat healthy foods earlier in the evening and make sure to give yourself a dedicated 8 hours of sleep per night. Also it is important to have a comfortable and supportive mattress. This will help to keep you from waking in the night from aches and pains. For more serious or continual insomnia cases, please seek help from a doctor.