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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:

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!

 

Don’t Lose Sleep During Sleep Awareness Week

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Wake up!  Sleep Awareness Week is now underway and will wrap up with everyone losing an extra hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time.  The National Sleep Foundation recently released the Sleep in America Poll® examining the sleep habits of caregivers and their children.

 

The primary objectives of the research included looking at parents’ perception of the importance of sleep, factors that impaired sleep and the impact of various types of electronic devices in parents’ and children’s bedrooms.  Not surprisingly, parents placed great value in the importance of sleep for their own health and wellbeing and for their children.  Over 90% felt a good night’s sleep helped with mood, health and performance. Of the parents that responded, 69% felt the importance of sleep was extremely important for their child’s performance at school.

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photo credit Image Source/Getty

Factors that made sleep more difficult included juggling evening activities, homework, temperature, noise, light and pets.  Managing busy family afternoon and evening activities was the most common challenge.  The survey revealed that 41% of parents and 34% of children experienced getting a good night’s sleep due to evening activities.  Temperature was a factor in impaired sleep for 35% of parents. 

Electronic devices are commonplace throughout the home.  When used in the bedroom they have the potential to disrupt the quality and duration of sleep.  The light and noise from these devices can also lead to delayed bedtimes.  Televisions were the most common device found in bedrooms, with 62% of parents and 45% of children having televisions in their bedrooms.  Leaving electronic devices on at night can especially cause sleep to suffer, and the television was left on more often than any other device.

Are you aware of your sleeping habits?  Do you tend to have lots of activities in the evening?  Is your bedroom filled with electronic devices that might be robbing you of restful sleep?  Learning about your sleeping habits and rituals is the first step.  The National Sleep Foundation, which commissioned this study, is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that Americans are aware that their sleep is an important aspect of their overall health and safety. 

Ok, you can go to sleep now.

Talalay and Dunlop Latex

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Latex can be found in many different products in the form of natural or synthetic.  The synthetic form of latex is derived from petroleum, while the natural form…you guessed it…comes from nature!  Many plants produce natural latex, but the Pará rubber tree produces the liquid latex used in the majority of commercial applications.

Talalay and Dunlop are the two methods used to make liquid latex into a core for a latex mattress.  So what’s the difference between the two processes?  It boils down the heating and cooling (no pun intended).  Talalay is a process of vacuum pressurization, flash freezing and heating followed by several washes.  With the Dunlop method, liquid latex is poured into molds, heated and washed, and does not have the flash freeze step that the Talalay goes through.  Both processes have been improved in recent years to yield a more consistent product.

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Another development in latex is the Global Organic Latex Standard, or GOLS.  This standard establishes sustainable processing methods from organic raw materials and also addresses standards for the health, safety and welfare of workers during the manufacturing process.  This new organic certification is available only with Dunlop latex, and everyone here at OMI couldn’t be happier to have more assurance and another step in purity.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Discovered 1962 Speech

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Today, the day we celebrate the life of our country’s greatest civil rights leader, I hope you have a few minutes to go listen to a new online exhibition featuring the only known recording of Dr. Martin Luther’s King, Jr.’s 1962 speech, now available from the New York State Museum.  The speech commemorated the centennial anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Top 10 Sleep Myths Debunked

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After reading this article from the Huffington Post, I was fascinated to learn that I believed at least 5 of them!

Sleep Myth: Eight hours of sleep is a luxury; six hours is realistic.
Truth: Sleeping should not be treated as a luxury, but as a necessary part of total health. People who get the proper amount of sleep feel better, look better and are overall in better health. This is a major step to enjoying life more. I always tell people that it is hard to enjoy life when you are too fatigued to do what you like.

Sleep Myth: If I don’t get enough sleep at night, I can make up for it with a nap during the day.
Truth: While naps can rejuvenate you enough to get through the day, they are not a permanent solution to sleep deprivation. If you must nap, avoid them after 3 p.m. or you’ll affect your ability to sleep at night, creating a vicious cycle.

Sleep Myth: The weekends are a great time to rest for a long week ahead.
Truth: You can’t “bank” sleep and store it up for the future. Although being well-rested will help you cope a bit better with lost sleep, sluggishness will set in.

Sleep Myth: Hitting the snooze button will give me a few extra minutes of rest I need to feel energized.
Truth: If you’re snoozing, you’re sleep-deprived. Sleep does not come in nine-minute intervals, so be realistic about the time you need to get up. I like hitting the snooze alarm one time and doing light stretching with the light on. This gives you a gentle way to wake up.

Sleep Myth: I’ll learn more if I pull an all-nighter and cram for a test.
Truth: If you pull an all-nighter, your memory may fail you during that big test. It’s during the REM stage of sleep that we consolidate memories from the day before. If we are trying to learn new information and skimp on sleep we won’t remember as much information.

Sleep Myth: If I wake in the middle of the night, I should read a book or watch TV until I become sleepy.
Truth: The bright light from your TV or lamp will only wake you up further.  If you get up at night, go into another room and keep the room dark. I suggest meditating or doing light stretching until you feel ready for sleep again.

Sleep Myth: Exercising near bed time will keep me up at night because I’m too “energized.”
Truth: Exercising near bed time may keep you up at night, but that’s most likely because your body is too hot.  Your core body temperature must cool down before you can have a restful sleep. The optimal time for exercise is four hours before you plan to go to bed.

Sleep Myth: As I get older, my body requires less sleep.
Truth: Research has shown that as we get older we still need the same amount of sleep as when we were younger. In fact, older adults need to spend more time in bed to get the same amount of sleep, thanks to the aches, pains and medications that wake them up at night.

Sleep Myth: Snoring may be annoying, but it’s harmless.
Truth: Habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems, including sleep apnea, which can result in high blood pressure and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Not to mention the impact that snoring can have on your quality of sleep and that of your sleep partner!

Sleep Myth: Lack of sleep may make me feel tired, but it doesn’t have a severe impact on my health.
Truth: The consequences of even one hour of sleep loss for one night can be an increase in heart attacks. The masses of the sleep-deprived have a higher risk of illness — from heart disease, to Type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression. 

For the full article click, HERE

To ensure you get a great night of sleep, be sure that you get enough sleep at night, don’t hit that snooze button, avoid watching TV and reading in the middle of the night, be sure to exercise early and remember that all-night study sessions really don’t work.

So here’s to a good night’s sleep and debunking some sleep myths!

New Resolve for the New Year: Seven Resolutions for a Healthier Lifestyle

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With the New Year come New Year’s Resolutions!  The most popular resolutions often have something to do with health as people recommit to a healthy lifestyle in the new year.  Maybe you’ve already been thinking about your resolutions, but if not, we’ve put together seven resolutions to help you lead a more healthful life:

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1.  Graze your way to better health

Making even small changes in your diet can have favorable results for better health.  Keep a diary to track what you eat during the day and review what changes you may need to make.  Choosing organic food is one easy way to help eliminate toxins from your body.

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2.  Boost your physical activity

For some, this might mean starting to train for a marathon; for others, it might mean getting up from the couch more often during commercials. Try some new approaches to see what works best for you.  Try parking your car a little further away, start your day with a few stretches, or dance the night away with your sweetheart.  A few modifications done consistently can develop into beneficial habits.

3.  Sleep well

A good night’s sleep can help restore your body and provide the energy you need for the next day.  Going to bed at a regular time each night can help you sleep better. Perhaps it is time to flip your mattress or invest in a new one.  If you haven’t budgeted for a new mattress, consider starting the new year with a new pillow.  A good pillow may help you sleep better, and may even help those with allergies.  We spend about a third of our lives in bed, so make sure your bed and bedding help promote your health rather than damage it.

4.  Quit smoking

OK, perhaps this falls into the “easier said than done” category.  If you do smoke, try cutting back.  It’s hard to quit cold turkey, so try the gradual approach.  Maybe you pick a day of the week when you won’t smoke, or wait until the afternoon before you have your first cigarette.  If you’re tired of eating sunflower seeds during smoking cessation, try other approaches, such as hypnosis, acupuncture or tai chi to help manage stress.

5.  Stretch your brain cells

Keep your brain active by brushing the dust off an old hobby or by learning something new.  Maybe you took music lessons in your youth but haven’t touched an instrument in years.  Did you learn a foreign language in school, but don’t get a chance to use it?  You may be surprised at how much you have retained.  Stay curious and seek new things to learn.  Try out your skills at crossword puzzles or other games to keep your brain active and healthy.

6.  Expand your social life

Creating positive relationships with others can help your physical and emotional health.  A good social network is a great way to connect with others who may share similar interests or introduce you to new ones.  Try volunteering at a local nonprofit.  Seek out a community center in your area for social gatherings or classes.  Don’t sit on the sidelines…get in the game.

 7.  Visit your doctor

Healthcare has become more affordable for millions of Americans.  Take stock of your current situation by getting a complete physical.  An assessment can help you focus on areas that might need more immediate attention.

By taking even small steps in these areas you can reduce your risk of many ailments and enjoy the journey on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

May the New Year bring you much health & happiness!

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