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Take Sleep Seriously!

Meet Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist who studies sleep patterns in the brain. In the following video, he speaks about a range of topics relating to the importance of sleep.

He first describes three theories on the main function of sleep, as well as which theory he subscribes to. He then discusses what happens to a person (and the person’s brain) when sleep is lacking, as well as ideas about how to improve sleep quality and duration. Foster debunks some common myths and misconceptions about sleep, then speaks about the correlation between mental health and sleep disruption. He urges people to take sleep more seriously and realize the huge role that it plays in making us happy and healthy.

Watch to learn more:

20 Simple Ways to Conserve Water

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The hot summer weather is here and it is creating a drought, making water conservation a must. This year California businesses and residents were asked to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20 percent to help save water. There are hundreds of things that you can do to help conserve water. Here are a few ideas that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life.

  1. Minimize the number of dishes used throughout the day by designating a drinking glass for yourself. This eliminates the need to wash multiple cups.7190209429_6d6b828104_z
  2. When serving dinner, serve right out of the pots and pans, as this will eliminate additional dishes.
  3. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  4. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of using running water from the tap.DIY fruit and veggie wash 4
  5. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water.
  6. Dishwashers can use less water than hand washing, especially new energy-efficient models.
  7. Collect water used for cleaning fruits and vegetables, drained from pasta, etc. to water your plants.

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  1. When doing laundry, wash in cold water, as it saves water and energy while helping clothes keep their color.
  2. Also, when doing laundry be sure to match the water level with the size of the load.
  3. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and save up to 150 gallons per month. If your whole family did this, imagine how much water your house could save!3761877701_a3858973a7_z
  4. Aim for 5-minute showers and you can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per year.
  5. Skip the baths, as a full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
  6. Turn off the water as you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
  7. Be sure to check all faucets for leaks, as one drip every second can add up to 5 gallons per day! Also check all pipes, hoses, toilets, and faucets inside and out for leaks.6502693313_54a02fb395_z
  8. Run your washer and dishwasher only when they are full. This can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  9. In your yard, be sure to plant species that are native to your area, as they require less maintenance to flourish.
  10. Start a compost pile or bin. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.

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  1. Wash your pets outdoors, in an area of your lawn that needs to be watered.
  2. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks, and driveways, and save water every time!
  3. When washing your car, use commercial car washes that recycle water. When washing your car at home, be sure to turn the water on only when rinsing.

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Try to incorporate as many of these as you can, and see what a difference a few little changes can make to reduce the amount of water you use.

 

Some Like It Hot!

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It’s summertime, which means that there is an abundance of outdoor activities to fill your day. Some people are so excited that they forget to take proper precautions against the heat when enjoying the weather. This can result in serious illness, severe sunburns, cramps and muscle spasms, heat stroke, and in extreme circumstances, even death. It is important to be aware of the risks and prevent them as well as you can. Here are some important actions to take against excessive summer heat:

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First of all, you want your house to be a sanctuary where you can get out of the heat. Make sure your air conditioner is installed correctly and running well before the heat of summer hits. Install weather-stripping on doors and windowsills to keep the cool air in and, more importantly, keep the warm air out!

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If you don’t have an air conditioner, it’s best to open your windows during the coolest part of the day, have fans circulating the air through your house, and then close them up to keep the heat out. Use drapes or blinds to block direct sunlight from shining in and warming the interior.

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Limit outdoor activities to times of day that are cooler, such as morning and evening. Spend the warmest part of the day inside your home or in public, air-conditioned buildings such as libraries, malls, or movie theatres.

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While spending time in the sun, protect your head and face with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day, especially when swimming or sweating excessively. Wear light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight, rather than absorbing it with dark clothing.

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Limit the amount of exercise you engage in. If you must exercise in the heat, drink twice as much water as you usually would. You can replenish salts and minerals that you sweat out by drinking sports drinks.

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Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic drinks. This is probably the most important tip, and it is often overlooked. DRINK WATER!

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Make sure to protect your pets by keeping them indoors or in the shade and by giving them a constant supply of water.

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It shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but never leave children or pets in the car! There are too many reports of children and pets dying because of neglect in the heat.

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Be aware of the temperature, because the hotter it gets, the more dangerous it becomes. Be aware of who is at the greatest risk of experiencing heat-related problems, such as the very young and the elderly.

Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is a great time to recognize all of the wonderful things dads have done for their children this year. There are many ways to show appreciation, like planning a special event, finding that perfect gift, or doing something nice to help him out. Here are some ideas that are fun for Dad and friendly for the environment.

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Prepare an organic breakfast-in-bed

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Buy him a nice organic-cotton tie, shirt, or bathrobe

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Take him on a trip to a farmer’s market or a local restaurant

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Take him to a concert, festival, or sporting event

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Set up a hammock for him in the backyard so he can relax

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Take him bird watching and take pictures of birds you see

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Go on a hike or bicycle ride and spend some quality time together

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Get a pair of fishing poles and take him out to the river

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Find a nice recipe for dinner that the two of you can make together

Whatever you decide to do, the best part of Father’s Day will be spending some quality time together!

25 Ideas to Kick Your Summer Off Right

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Now that school is out and the weather is hot it’s time to think about what kind of fun activities you can plan to keep the whole family happy. Here is a list of 25 ideas we came up with. Use some of our ideas or come up with a few of your own.

  1. Volunteer at a local animal shelter, nature center, or organization that you support.
  2. Plan a camping trip and head out to the great outdoors.
  3. Visit your local farmer’s market for some yummy produce and local goods.

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  4. Pick berries.
  5. Use the berries you pick or the farmer’s-market finds to make delicious smoothies!

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  1. Have a picnic at a park.
  2. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  3. Have a backyard campfire – with s’mores.
  4. Go biking on a trail.

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  1. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  2. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvas or cardboard.
  3. Visit a museum.
  4. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible.

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  5. Go outside and play. Volleyball, basketball, baseball, badminton- whatever game you love, get out and start playing.
  6. Get a map of the US and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit.
  7. Lace up your skates and go rollerskating.

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  8. Make popsicles with your favorite organic juice.
  9. Visit a flea market.
  10. Pick up a new hobby like painting, writing, fishing, etc.
  11. Visit a national park. The kids can even become Junior Rangers!

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  12. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary, Jenga, Monopoly, etc.
  13. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  14. Find a local carnival.
  15. Have homemade-pizza night.

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  16. Fall into a good book.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the summer, be sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun!

 

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.

Plan A Picnic

 

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Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect occasion to pack a picnic and head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. First you have to decide what dishes to bring. Typical picnic foods can include hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and cookies, which are not the healthiest choices (though they may be delicious). If you’re looking for better options, here are 10 healthy finger-food ideas for your next picnic outing!

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1. Edamame

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2. Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)

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3. Grilled Vegetables (zucchini, squash, mushrooms, etc.)

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4. Pita Chips with Hummus

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5. Homemade Trail Mix (dried fruits and nuts)

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6. Turkey Sandwiches with low-fat ingredients (whole-grain bread, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and low-fat cheese)

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7. Shrimp and Lemon Skewers

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8. Yogurt

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9. Fruit Salad

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10. Angel Food Cake (low in calories) with fresh fruit and fat-free whipped cream

Now that your basket is packed with delicious foods, it’s time to head out and enjoy the beauty of nature!

 

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