As the holiday season is in full swing, many people pull out their wonderful holiday decorations of candelabras, votives and candles in wreaths. But many of those candles are scented to smell like cinnamon spice, apple, or even pine tree or more. As tempting as burning those scented candles may be, they may be causing more harm than good.
Many candles are made from paraffin wax, and when this wax is heated, the toxic chemicals benzene and toluene are released – the same chemicals that can be found in diesel fumes! These toxins are also known as phthalates , which can cause major health effects if inhaled and have been linked to cancer, asthma and common allergies.
The wicks of the candles can also contain heavy metals, most commonly lead. Inhaling lead can cause hormone disruption and behavior problems.
Not all candles are harmful. Be sure to read all labels fully to see what materials are used in the creation of the candle.
There are many alternatives to achieving the beautiful aromas of the season without the use of candles, such as:
- Soy-based candles with wooden wicks
- Essential oils
- Beeswax candles with wooden wicks
- Cinnamon sticks
- A small live tree in a pot
- Wreaths made from fresh branches
My favorite solution for a natural holiday scent is this Holiday Stove-top Potpourri:
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange (sliced)
- 2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons cloves
- 1 cup cranberries
- 1 sprig of rosemary (optional)
Fill a saucepan with 2 to 3 cups of water and toss in all ingredients. Simmer on low. Add water as needed to freshen up.
The holidays can be full of magic, family fun, delicious foods and more but they can also be full of stress, guests and interruptions of your regular schedule. Here are some ways to ensure the holidays are enjoyable and you get all the zzz’s you need to bring joy this season!
- Get ahead of the holidays
This time of year is always hectic. There are many things that need doing, from decorating for the holidays to baking to shopping for presents, preparing for guests, and more. Many of us put these jobs off until the last minute, which makes for a stressful holiday. It is no fun to be running around on the eve of the holiday looking for the last-minute gifts you forgot to order or grocery shopping on the day of a big dinner.
To avoid stress and sleep deprivation, get a jump start on your holiday planning. Make a list of things that need to be done and begin to make a timeline for when the tasks need to be done. If after writing your to-do list you still feel overwhelmed, ask for help!
- Don’t overload yourself
The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones and enjoying each other’s company. What better way to make your holiday less stressful than to recruit your family to help you prepare for the holidays? Plan a shopping trip or a baking day to help bring fun to tasks that can feel overwhelming. If you are hosting a dinner, ask family members to bring a dish to help minimize the amount you need to prepare.
- Don’t stop exercising
Routine exercise is one of the greatest promoters of good, quality sleep. While it is tempting to take some time off during the holidays, don’t do it! It’s not only good for the body, it is great for the mind as well. Exercise is a great tool to help eliminate stress. You can always adapt your exercise routine around the holidays. If you have company staying, try picking activities that they can be included in, such as walks or outings. If you have young children, get outside and enjoy the outdoors, build a snowman, go snowshoeing or skiing, etc.
- Don’t overdo the snacking, especially at night.
All the yummy foods and desserts make an appearance this time of year, and the temptation to indulge can be a constant battle. It is ok to have some treats here and there, but stuffing yourself right before bed can cause your body to have to work harder to break down all that food while you are asleep. When your body has to focus more energy on processing those gingerbread cookies, it takes away from repairing and refreshing itself during sleep. Also late-night snacking can increase acid reflux, which can make falling asleep and staying asleep that much more difficult.
So what foods are best for nighttime snacking? Shredded wheat cereal with milk, or crackers and cheese, make great snacks. Complex carbs, milk and cheese are great at promoting sleep.
- Don’t drink too much
Be aware of those tempting eggnog and peppermint specialty drinks this holiday.
While alcohol can induce drowsiness and help you fall asleep more quickly it can also disturb your rest and lessen the quality of your sleep. Alcohol decreases the amount of REM sleep, which is when dreaming occurs and learning and when memories are stored.
- Keep your regular sleep schedule
It is easy to stay up later than normal, catching up with old friends, attending Christmas parties, wrapping presents, etc. but those late nights can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. It is important to keep your regular sleep schedule, but if disruptions are unavoidable, try to limit them to no more than an hour off your regular schedule. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood and behavior changes, so if you don’t want to become Scrooge, make sure that sleep is a priority.
If you are traveling across time zones, it can be harder to keep your regular schedule. Try to maintain as close to a regular sleep schedule as possible, especially on “mini vacations,” so it won’t affect you in the long run.
- Turn off that technology
To promote restful sleep, it is best to have a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off tablets, phones, computers, etc. at least an hour before bed to allow your brain to “power down.”
Electronic devices emit a light similar to that of daylight. Our brains get tricked by this light, as it associates it with daylight, which can delay the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
Be sure to not let the holidays rob you of that sweet, deep slumber you not only crave, but need to make it through to the new year.
With Thanksgiving a few days away and Christmas around the corner, are you prepared for all the company that is coming to stay? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are a few suggestions to make your guests comfortable, warm and happy while they visit.
Our GOLS certified, organic natural rubber latex mattress is the perfect addition to any pull-out-sofa. Absolutely comfortable and organic, Its 4” natural rubber core will provide the support you need to get a good nights sleep. Like our other mattresses, it is also covered with certified organic wool and certified organic cotton to help with temperature control and pressure points. A good full nights sleep means a great family day ahead.
The Wooly Lite
Now that you have your guests’ mattress taken care of, it’s time to add a comfort layer. Our 1.5” Wooly Lite is a great addition to any mattress. It adds 1.5” of certified wool, quilted in certified organic cotton to your mattress. This great topper will add that little extra comfort to your pressure points, helping your guests to achieve the REM sleep everyone so badly needs.
This lightweight blanket is great for all seasons. 100% certified organic cotton in a crepe weave comes in all sizes, from crib to king. When a comforter is just too much or too heavy, this blanket makes the perfect substitute. Accompany this with a flat sheet, and guests are good to go for a long night’s rest.
If you live in the northern states or Canada, this 100% certified organic wool comforter is the way to go. It will keep sleepers warm in the winter and cool in the summer due to all that wool being temperature regulating and moisture wicking. It’s a great way to top off any mattress.
Wool-Wrapped 100%-Natural Shredded Rubber Latex Pillow
This is probably my favorite pillow out of all the pillows OMI offers. This wool-wrapped, 100% natural shredded rubber latex pillow has it all! The shredded latex gives you that down-like feel, and it’s adjustable!! If it’s too high, take some rubber out; if it’s too low, add some. You can adjust this pillow to suit what works best for you. The layer of wool helps with heat control and wicks moisture away, so it stays dry.
OMI is not responsible for guests refusing to leave because of the sleeping environment and hospitality you’ve given them. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season ahead.
Thinking about skipping out on dusting while you clean your home? Did you know that even the smallest amount of dust can harbor harmful chemicals? According to a new study, researchers analyzed dust samples collected from homes in 14 different states. The results revealed 45 chemicals in dust that came from simple household products, such as vinyl flooring, furniture, cleaning products, perfumes, and even pizza boxes and popcorn bags.
The 45 chemicals were found in five classes of compounds: Phthalates, flame retardants, phenols, fragrances, and highly fluorinated chemicals. Many of these chemicals have been linked to health hazards such as hormone disruption, fertility problems, and cancer. Click Here
Children are more likely to be at a higher risk for exposure to these chemicals from dust, because children often crawl or play on the floor and put their hands in their mouths. “These categories of chemicals are certainly of concern,” said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, who was not involved in the study. However, the new research shows only that the chemicals are present in dust. Future studies are now needed to examine the extent to which these chemicals get in to the body and contribute to harmful effects on health, Spaeth said.
In addition, this new study explains that dust exposes people to multiple chemicals at once, as opposed to just a single chemical at a time. For this reason, more research is needed to better understand the exact health effects of dust exposure, the researchers said.
This makes it very difficult for consumers to avoid these chemicals, because many are found in common household items. Manufacturers are often not required to include the substances on the label. However, there are ways for people to reduce their exposure to chemicals in dust. These methods include washing hands frequently, using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) filter, and opening windows to allow fresh air to circulate in the home, when possible.
Some companies have already banned some phthalates from children’s products, and the Food and Drug Administration is currently considering a petition to ban phthalates from food packaging, according to researchers.
To find out more about this study, visit the website HERE
Weekends are made for sleeping in. You wake up when the mood strikes and you enjoy a slow-paced relaxing morning, maybe reading the paper, drinking coffee, lounging in bed. Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, which means that we will need to set our clocks back at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. Many people set their clocks back Saturday night before bed so they are able to get an “extra” hour of sleep. But is this the best method to adjust to the time change?
Our bodies have a natural clock that is a cluster of neurons deep inside the brain. It generates the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. The cycle spans roughly 24 hours. According to Dr. Alfred Lewy, director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory in Portland, “Our body needs a signal every day to reset it. The signal is sunlight, which shines in through the eyes and corrects the cycle from approximately 24 hours to precisely 24 hours,” said Lewy. With the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles not lining up due to the time change, it can cause you to feel out-of-sync, tired and grumpy.
Here are 4 ways to help you adjust to the time change:
- Wake Up at a Normal Time on Sunday Morning
Many people see this time change as an excuse to stay up late on Saturday or sleep in an extra hour longer on Sunday. But sleeping in beyond your normal wake-up time can cause your body confusion and lead to you feeling out of sorts.
Try to get up at your regular time and use the extra hour for some fun family time.
- Eat Well and Exercise
An active lifestyle and a healthy diet can work wonders for your sleeping. Plan to use that extra hour to the fullest by taking a walk and then cook up a hearty and nutritious breakfast.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Sunday Night
Make sure your room is ready for an earlier bedtime on Sunday by making it a sleep zone. Keep your bedroom cool and dark, and leave your gadgets outside the bedroom to give you minimal distractions, ensuring you have the perfect sleeping environment.
- Be Patient
Know that your body will adjust naturally with time. It may take a few days to feel back to normal, but your body will adjust to the new light-dark cycle.
Remember that with the time change we will get to wake an hour earlier to the sunshine, which can be much more enjoyable in the long run.
The days are getting shorter, leaves are beginning to fall and summer is officially over. Before settling in for the season, there are many ways we can look around our homes and ensure that everything is ready for the colder months ahead.
Here are some great eco-friendly tips for Fall:
- Have your furnace inspected and cleaned.
- Replace air filters
- Clean your fireplace, to ensure maximum efficiency
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Ensure that all vents, baseboard heaters, and registers are free of obstructions so the air moves freely.
- Open the blinds during the day to attract warmth. Close them at night to retain the warmth.
- Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan. The fan should run clockwise so that is pushes the air up against the ceiling and down the walls to gently recirculate the warm air.
- Check windows for air leaks and replace the caulking, if needed.
- Ensure weather stripping around doors is in good condition and replace, as needed.
- Don’t overfill your refrigerator as the cool air can circulate more easily with fewer obstacles.
- Clean the ducts and area behind the dryer
- Bring out your blankets, sweaters, and socks so you can snuggle up rather than raise your thermostat.
- Add a blanket to your bedding to keep you warm during the cooler nights.
- Clean your roof gutters and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house.
- Reduce your house temperature one degree at a time to help lower the energy used in heating your home.
- Insulate your water heater and pipes. Turn the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees.
- Shorten your shower times and install a low-flow showerhead to lessen water used and the energy to heat the water.
Now that your home is ready for the fall you can cuddle up, relax and enjoy the beauty of the season!