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Category Archives: research

Benefits of a Cool Sleeping Environment

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Recent studies have found a correlation between cooler sleeping environments and metabolic health, relating to the volume of “brown fat” that is stored in a person’s body.

“Brown fat” is one of two types of fat found in mammals, along with the more common “white fat.” An abundance of brown fat is found in newborns and hibernating mammals, generating body heat for those who do not shiver.

Research has shown that this type of fat is metabolically active, unlike white fat. It takes sugar out of the bloodstream to burn calories and maintain the body’s core temperature.

It was previously thought that adults didn’t have brown fat stores in their bodies, but recent studies have detected small amounts stored in their necks and upper backs.

In a new study, five healthy male adults volunteered to sleep in climate-controlled rooms over the course of four months. Their blood-sugar and insulin levels were tracked throughout, along with their caloric expenditures. At the end of each month, they measured the amount of brown fat found in their bodies.

After four weeks of sleeping in cooler temperatures (66º F), the volume of brown fat had almost doubled, and improved insulin sensitivity was also seen.

By sleeping in a cooler room, adults could over time add to their stores of brown fat and lessen their risk for diabetes and other metabolic health problems.

To learn more, read this article: “Let’s Cool It in the Bedroom” by Gretchen Reynolds from the New York Times.

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:

Why Do We Dream?

Dreams are a very mysterious nightly phenomenon. We can only speculate on the purpose of dreams, but they are usually extraordinary in nature and a bit confusing to analyze. Why is it that most of the time we forget what we dreamt about as soon as we wake? Why are our accounts of dreams often unreliable or distorted?

The following video delves into theories about REM sleep and how important it is for forming and storing memories. It also discusses lucid dreams, sleepwalking, and a theory behind why we have so many negative feelings like anxiety and anger while dreaming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GGzc3x9WJU

What Causes Us to Yawn?

Conventionally we think of yawning as a mechanism for getting oxygen to our brains when we’re running low. However, research and testing shows that the brain is not found to be lacking in oxygen prior to a yawn. So if your brain is not responding to low levels of oxygen during a yawn, what is the reason for this odd but natural action? And why do yawns seem to be contagious?

The following video sheds some light on the most recent theories and evidence.

Try to contain your yawning while watching it!

OTA’s Latest Study Shows that More Parents are Choosing Organics for their Kids

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Here is a great article from the Organic Trade Association (OTA):

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2014) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill may be fighting over the standards of the lunches being served to American children in schools, but in households across the nation, parents are in growing agreement that organic food is the most healthy choice for the meals they are in charge of, shows a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

OTA’s U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2014 Tracking Study, a survey of more than 1,200 households in the United States with at least one child under 18, found that eight out of ten American families have bought organic products one or more times in the past two years. In nearly half of those families, concern about their children’s health is a driving force behind that decision.

My children influence my purchase of organic food, because I want them to be as healthy as they can be,” commented one of the parents who participated in the survey. “I am responsible for providing my children with all their food since they cannot buy it. I choose healthy and organic foods and they enjoy whatever I give to them. Win-win!” said another parent.

Ninety percent of parents report that they choose organic food products for their children at least “sometimes,” with almost a quarter of those parents saying they always buy organic.

Moms and dads purchasing baby food are even more committed to organic; more than a third of those parents say they always choose organic for their infant or toddler. Meanwhile, 74 percent of daycares throughout the country now offer organic options for the children they serve.

Choosing organic foods is increasingly a large part of how families are trying to take better care of themselves and the planet,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA. “The proportion of families who say they never buy organic food has been on a steady decline for the past five years, and those who are choosing organic are buying more.”

OTA partnered with KIWI Magazine on the study, which was conducted in late February and early March.

The proportion of parents who reported that they never buy any organic products fell to 19 percent, a significant decline from just five years ago when almost 30 percent of households surveyed said that organic was never a choice.

The findings are in line with the OTA’s annual industry survey released earlier this year which showed that organic sales in the United States in 2013 jumped to $35.1 billion, a new record. OTA expects the upward trend to continue, pegging organic sales during 2014 to increase by 12 percent or more.

OTA’s consumer survey takes an in-depth look at the buying patterns of American households, who buys organic products, what products are being bought, the reasons behind those decisions, and the purchase patterns of the organic consumer.

It is great to see the organic industry growing and more people learning about the benefits of incorporating organics into their lives. If you have not already, I suggest checking out the Organic Trade Association (OTA) website HERE as they have great articles, news and insight into the organics industry.

For more information on the great Certified-Organic Products offered by OMI click HERE.

Have you napped today?

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Napping can be a great way to gain more energy. There are many benefits of napping, but how long should you nap? Here is a fun video that discusses the science behind napping.

So grab a pillow and snuggle up to recharge your brain with a quick power nap!

 

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.

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