Monthly Archives: December 2015

Sleeping With Wool—Nature’s Natural Air Conditioning

If the idea of sleeping with a wool comforter in the summer makes you sweat, think again. For over 12,000 years, wool has been used to make life more comfortable, especially in the hottest climes.

Wool bedding (mattress toppers, comforters, and pillows) actually provides the perfect temperature-controlled sleeping environment. Manufacturers have all tried to make a synthetic product with the qualities of wool, but to no avail.

A recent sleep study conducted by The Woolmark Company and the University of Sydney examined a variety of bedding products in a range of temperature and humidity environments, and wool was selected as the “undoubted winner.” This study proved wool breathes better than synthetics, increases periods of deep REM sleep, and also gets the body to a comfortable sleeping temperature quicker and maintains it for a longer period of time.

The following explains the benefits of wool and how it can help you sleep mofe comfortably during the summer.

Wool Is Animal-Friendly and Available Organically!
No animals are killed in the process of harvesting wool. As long as the sheep or alpaca graze in pesticide-free pastures for at least three years and are shorn using humane methods, wool batting can be considered natural, sustainable, and cruelty free.

Wool Regulates Body Temperature
Perhaps wool’s most-remarkable quality is its ability to maintain comfortable body temperature, no matter what the season. Wool produces warmth in winter without overheating, and—believe it or not—keeps you cooler on summer nights because of its natural moisture-wicking properties. Wool bedding works like a personal heating-and-cooling system, which makes it perfect for people who experience “night sweats.” A wool mattress topper or wool moisture pad can actually cool you off during the night by dissipating sweat through the wool’s coil-like fibers.

Wool Is Hypoallergenic
Wool is resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people. People with chemical sensitivities can also sleep without suffering if the wool is untreated.

Dust-mite allergens are the leading trigger for asthma attacks, but dust mites need moisture to survive, so they don’t like wool. Other types of bedding, such as down, feathers, or synthetic materials are more of a haven for dust mites.

Wool Is Soothing
Wool mattress toppers provide soft cushioning where your shoulders, hips, and knees meet your mattress. People who suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis, and rheumatism find that wool buffers their sore body parts from their mattresses.

Wool Is a Natural Fire Retardant
Firefighters wear wool clothing. Why? When wool touches a flame, it won’t ignite because wool fibers do not support combustion. Wool is also used in natural and organic mattresses to meet fire-safety codes without using toxic chemical flame retardants.

Wool Is Soft!
Forget your association of wool with an itchy, scratchy sweater. Wool batting has a soft, down-like loft or puffiness. Pure-wool batting is sheared from living sheep or alpaca, washed without harsh soaps, and then carded (or combed) into soft, clean wool fill, which is placed inside cotton casings. There is no scratchiness at all.

How Wool Works
Wool fibers create a lining of still air, one of the best insulators found in nature. These little pockets of air create a dry layer of air next to your skin to hold in heat during colder months and cool your body as outdoor temperatures rise.

Evaporation of moisture is our body’s natural way of keeping cool. Wool helps this process along by drawing moisture from the body during sleep, absorbing it into cells, and reducing skin temperature. When you’re cooler, you toss and turn less often, and sleep more soundly in a deeper REM state.

In summer, outdoor heat is kept away from your skin because of wool’s insulating barrier of air pockets. Sleeping with a lightweight wool comforter acts like an air conditioner.

Where does all that moisture go? The average sleeper gives off nearly a pint of water vapor in an eight-hour sleep period. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp or clammy. The cells of wool fibers are porous, so they quickly and efficiently absorb and evaporate moisture—unlike down, which actually holds moisture and can create mildew.

Wool Bedding
Wool comforters, pillows, and mattress toppers can be found online or in specialty retail stores. When purchasing wool bedding, it’s a good idea to ask a few questions about where the wool comes from and how it was processed to be sure it has not been treated with chemicals.

Good Night Naturals makes a complete wool bed as well as many other top of bed items such as pillows, comforters and mattress pads filled with pure wool and covered in 100% organic cotton ticking.

Texel wool comes from sheep raised on an island off the Netherlands. According to the Texel Wool Company, the weather is extreme in this area and over the past 300 years, the Texelaar breed of sheep has adapted to produce “a unique, long wool fiber with a high crinkle factor and high natural lanolin content”. A few online stores carrying products with this wool claim the wool fiber offers more loft.

Many small, organic sheep and alpaca farmers in the U.S. and Canada produce wool for organic bedding products.

Whether humble sheep or adorable alpaca, the world owes these creatures a debt of gratitude for sharing their “miracle coats” so that we might enjoy a more restful night’s sleep—even in summer.

Source: Christine Chamberlin

Organic’s Top Ten scientific breakthroughs in 2015

Organic benefits shown to be significant and widespread
Maggie McNeil
December 28, 2015

In 2015, numerous studies revealed scientific breakthroughs on the environmental and human health benefits of organic food and farming — from improving soil health and supporting water quality, to reducing our exposure to pesticides and mitigating climate change.

“The amount and scope of cutting edge research last year showing that the benefits of organic are supported by science was very impressive,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “A large body of the research shows that pesticides that are banned from use in organic can have serious negative impacts on the environment and humans. The good news is that by choosing organic you can contribute to a healthier world.”

The Organic Center lists the year’s 10 most important organic findings:

1. Pesticides negatively impact bees. Perhaps the most important topic was the impact of pesticides on pollinator health. Several studies showed the class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (“neonics”) has various negative impacts on bees. One study found even exposure to very low levels of neonics can adversely affect bees. Another study correlated increased use of neonics with honey bee losses. Another found that even when neonics aren’t sprayed directly on fields, they can impact bee health. For more details, see The Center’s Pollinator Health report.

2. Organic improves soil. Key research studied organic’s benefits to soil health, particularly soil organisms. A long-term study showed organic farming is beneficial for soil organisms, with larger soil animals increasing to over 250 times that found in conventional soils, and microorganisms up 70 percent. In addition, another study showed organic management improves nutrient availability and soil structure. Still another found microbial communities of “good” soil organisms can suppress “bad” pathogens. Thus, diversity can promote resilience to diseases. One of The Center’s current projects collects soil samples from organic farmers to test for health qualities versus that of conventional soil.

3. Organic farming supports water quality. Researchers examining nitrogen runoff found organic cropping systems have less nitrogen pollution than conventional systems. Another study looked at water quality, and found organic methods can be used to reduce water pollution in U.S waterways. It showed nitrate loss via water in the conventional cropping systems was twice as high as that from the organic system. Putting these benefits of reduced nitrogen pollution into context, The Center is developing a nitrogen footprint calculator for individuals to examine their specific nitrogen contributions based on personal consumption patterns.

4. Dietary exposure to pesticides can hurt reproductive health. While research has long demonstrated clear dangers of pesticide exposure from living and working in agricultural areas, few studies have explored the health consequences of exposure to low-level pesticide residues in a conventional diet. Researchers at Harvard University published findings showing dietary exposure to pesticides can lower sperm quantity and quality in men. After taking into account confounding factors such as weight and smoking, researchers found that men exposed to the highest levels of pesticide residue through fruit and vegetable consumption had almost 50% fewer sperm and more abnormally shaped sperm when compared to men who consumed the least amount.

5. Roundup may be carcinogenic. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the pesticide Roundup (prohibited for use in organic), has been touted as a pesticide posing few risks to humans. New groundbreaking research suggests it might not be as benign as previously thought. One study suggested that low-level exposure to Roundup over a long period could cause kidney and liver damage in rats. The doses used in the study were low enough to prompt researchers to note that the results of the study potentially have significant health implications for animal and human populations. Similar research results were cited in a recent study published by the World Health Organization calling glyphosate’s risk level as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

6. Organic farming has higher yields than previously thought. Several recent studies tackled the myth that organic farms have lower yields than conventional. One study showed that farms under organic soil management systems can produce yields equivalent to conventional systems. It also found organic farming reduced weeds by up to 47 percent and increased total soil nitrogen by up to 7 percent. Another study synthesizing information from over 100 studies and over 1,000 observations, found similar results, showing the yields of organic crops are higher than previously thought.

7. Eating organic reduces your exposure to pesticides. How to reduce personal exposures to pesticides was explored. One large-scale study involving 4,000 participants from across the U.S. confirmed that choosing organic does, in fact, reduce exposure to pesticides. Another study on children’s exposure to pesticides showed eating an organic diet reduces the exposure to some pesticides in young children, and that an organic diet was associated with lower levels of commonly detected metabolites for all children.

8. Commonly used pesticides negatively impact children’s health. The health effects of pesticide exposure in children was studied. One study showed an association between early exposure to organophosphate pesticides and respiratory symptoms consistent with childhood asthma. Another study linked pesticide exposure and decreased mental ability in children, including neurocognitive abilities. One study linked exposure to pesticides during child development to ADHD symptoms.

9. Organic agriculture supports whole-farm biodiversity. New research also showed organic farming promotes a wide diversity of organisms on the farm. One study showed organically farmed lands had more beneficial predatory insects and spiders than conventional farms. Not only did researchers find these beneficial insects controlled on-farm pests, they showed the impact reached beyond the organic farms, improving adjacent forest patches as well. Another study confirmed that the presence of organic farms increases the amount of biodiversity on surrounding conventional farms.

10. Organic farming helps mitigate climate change. Agriculture accounts for 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but an important study supports the idea that conversion to organic agriculture may be a climate-change solution. The study showed organic farming methods could mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Practices such as replacing chemical fertilizers with organic manure and using crop residues as forage for cattle were found to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase storage of carbon in the soils.

The Organic Center’s mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public. As an independent non-profit research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association, The Center envisions improved health for the environment and for people through the conversion of agriculture to organic methods.

– See more at:

Organic is bee-friendly, shows new report

The Organic Center outlines techniques to protect pollinator population.
Maggie McNeil

An important and timely report just released by The Organic Center shows that organic farming practices are effective in maintaining the health and population of important crop pollinators, predominantly bees, which have been declining at an alarming rate in the past decade and threatening global food security.

Bee, Pollinators, Organic CenterTitled “The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health,” the report reviewed 71 studies detailing current threats to our pollinators and the impact of organic practices. It found that organic methods not only reduce risks to bees, but actively support the growth and health of populations of bees and other pollinators. The paper outlines pollinator-friendly techniques used by organic farmers that can also be incorporated into conventional farming systems.
“Our paper takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by honey bees and other pollinators, and we look at organic as a model for supporting pollinator populations,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “We hope this report acts as a tool to educate policymakers, growers and consumers. Bee-friendly practices being used by organic farmers can be adopted by all producers to foster healthy pollinators.”

Seventy-five percent of all crops grown for food rely on pollinators, mostly honey bees, for a successful harvest. But over the past decade, the bee population has plummeted. Since 2006, beekeepers have lost over a third of their bee hives. More than $16 billion worth of crops in the United States alone benefit from pollination every year. Without pollination from honey bees, many favorite fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, carrots and onions would not be on our grocery shelves.

The Center’s report notes that no one factor has been consistently singled out as the cause of the disproportionate bee declines. Instead, a number of factors – including exposure to toxic pesticides, parasite and pathogen infections, poor nutrition and loss of habitat – likely interact together, resulting in lethal consequences for bees. Large-scale chemically intensive agricultural production has been implicated as a major source of the threats to pollinators.

Organic as the solution
Organic farming, because of the practices it follows, has been demonstrated by a number of studies to support more pollinators than conventional farming.

“One of the simplest ways to conserve our pollinator populations in an agriculturally reliant world is through organic farming. Consumers can rest assured that every time they purchase an organic product, they are supporting pollinator health,” said Shade.

Organic practices have been found to protect and support the health of bees in two critical ways:

Less exposure to toxic chemicals. One of the biggest threats to bee health is exposure to toxic chemical pesticides through insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other synthetic toxins used in industrial agriculture. Neonicotinoids, a widely used class of insecticides, are found by many studies to be especially harmful to bees. Neonicotinoids can be applied not only as a spray, which is toxic to all insects, but also as a seed coating. When seeds are treated with neonicotinoids, the toxin then transfers into plant tissue and is present in the plant’s nectar and sap, which bees feed on. Organic farming standards largely prohibit organic farmers from using synthetic pesticides and require them to use integrated pest management (IPM) techniques instead of relying solely on pesticides.

Protection of the bee’s native habitat and biodiversity. Lack of habitat and nutritional food sources are key factors in pollinator decline. Bees need a diversity of plants from which to collect sufficient pollen and nectar to support their hives. Because organic producers are required to manage their farms in a way that maintains and improves natural resources, organic farms tend to have a more diverse landscape with more flowering plants to support and feed bees.
“Organic farming supports all of agriculture by maintaining and nourishing healthier pollinator communities, through practices such as crop rotations, hedgerow planting and the use of integrated pest management techniques. Our goal is to gain recognition for these important organic practices,” said Shade.

The Organic Center’s report follows the recent release from the White House of its official strategy to protect bees and other pollinators. The White House strategy provides funding to protect bee habitat, increase research, and directs the Environmental Protection Agency to re-evaluate neonicotinoids.

The Organic Center’s mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public. As an independent non-profit research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association, The Center envisions improved health for the environment and for people through the conversion of agriculture to organic methods.

– See more at:

10 Reasons Why People Who Like Sleeping Naked Are Healthier People

Did you know that only 8% of Americans sleep naked, even though it’s healthier and improves more than one area of your life? Are we all sabotaging our sleep, beauty, and sex, or are we just unaware? Well the following information may just cause you to chuck those pajamas and bring out your birthday suit. Here are 10 reasons why people who sleep naked are healthier.

1. Sleeping naked helps prevent insomnia.
A recent Australian study concluded that a drop in core body temperature is needed in order for sleep to initiate normally. The body pushes the heat out from the core like a radiator and releases it. If your body can’t release the heat because of heavy pajamas or socks, you are more likely to suffer from insomnia, because your core won’t be able to release the heat. Sleeping naked allows the heat to release more quickly, and helps you fall asleep faster.

2. Naked sleepers get deeper, longer sleep.
Another study showed that the regulation of in-bed body temperature could significantly help in reaching a deeper sleep for longer periods of time. In one study in particular, Dutch scientists placed thermo suits on participants in order to lower their skin temperature. As a result, the participants had an uninterrupted sleep and spent more time in the deep sleep stages.

3. Sleeping naked helps prevent excess belly fat.
Natural body cooling at night helps you lower your cortisol levels. The deep sleep hours between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. lower cortisol levels to a minimum, then after 2 a.m., the glands that produce cortisol start working more actively to prepare the body for the next day. This is so you feel energized when you wake up.

When you don’t get enough sleep, you wake up with abnormally high cortisol levels, which stimulates your appetite for comfort foods that create belly fat when eaten. Since sleeping without pajamas keeps you cooler, it helps to regulate those cortisol levels.

4. Sleeping naked can make your sex organs healthier.
The vagina is naturally a warm and humid place, creating an environment where yeast and bacteria thrive. By removing those pajamas and exposing it to free flowing air, you allow the vagina to breathe, helping to prevent the growth of yeast and bacteria.

For men, keeping the testes cooler helps keep sperm healthy and the reproductive systems functioning normally, which is why the testes are located outside of the body in the first place. When you are wearing tight briefs, the testes heat up and lower your sperm count.

5. A cooler body helps prevent aging.
According to a study published in the journal “Sleep”, sleep in and of itself triggers the release of growth hormones and melatonin, which are the most vital anti-aging hormones. So the more you sleep, the more of these hormones you produce. And since we’ve already determined that lower body temperatures create a deeper, longer sleep, being naked is sounding better and better. I mean, who doesn’t want to slow the aging process?

6. Skin-to-skin contact improves your sex life.
If you’re not sleeping alone, skin to skin contact with your partner can boost the release of oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin is a powerful “feel-good” hormone, which is needed for orgasm and sexual responsiveness, dealing with stress, combating depression, reducing intestinal inflammation, and reducing blood pressure. It’s also important to note that being naked removes any obstacles between you and your partner and encourages a more sexual environment.

7. Airing out your skin prevents skin diseases.
Airing out the skin all over your body, especially in areas like your feet, armpits, and genitals, means a lowered risk for skin diseases like athlete’s foot and Intertrigo, which result from wet, restricted skin!

8. Being exposed to your body improves self-esteem and acceptance.
Theories suggest that the more time you spend in the nude, the more comfortable you feel in your skin. And the more comfortable you feel, the more confidently you’ll behave, making you happier and more attractive to others. And according to a study done by the University of Central Florida, pro-nudity students “were significantly more accepting of other religious groups and the LGBT crowd” when compared to the anti-nudity students. They were also “less prejudiced towards ethnically dissimilar peers.”

9. Sleeping naked helps prevent type 2 diabetes.
A study, published in the June edition of Diabetes, found that sleeping in colder temperatures has been linked to improving our metabolisms, lowering blood sugar levels and even preventing type 2 diabetes. Scientists found that, when the participants were colder—and sleeping almost entirely in the nude, their unhealthy fat began disappearing within just a few weeks, and their health was rapidly improving, especially in the metabolic aspects.

10. You’ll experience better blood flow.
Without all those elastic bands around your waist, twisted t-shirts, and tight socks cutting off your circulation, your blood can more freely flow through your body. This increased circulation benefits the heart, muscles, and arteries as the oxygen rich blood flows to your extremities.

With all this information on why sleeping naked is SO MUCH better for you, why are you still wearing pajamas? Go ahead, indulge in a little naked time. According to science, you won’t regret it.

Lifehack – Sleep Naked

Unless nations act, air pollution deaths will double by 2050, study concludes.

By Puneet Kollipara 16 September 2015

The annual death toll from outdoor air pollution could double to 6.6 million globally by 2050 without new antipollution measures, a new study suggests. But policymakers seeking to reduce the death toll will need to clamp down on a wide array of potentially hard to control pollution sources—including household furnaces and agricultural activities—that are expected to play a growing role, researchers report today in Nature.

The study marks a solid step toward clarifying exactly how major sources of air pollution contribute to premature death around the world, says Aaron Cohen, an epidemiologist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit research organization in Boston, who wasn’t involved in the study. That information will prove useful to policymakers, he suggests.

Existing estimates have been hampered by gaps in air pollution data, particularly in the developing world, and a lack of knowledge about how specific air pollution sources contribute to the risk of disease and death.

To get a clearer picture, researchers led by Jos Lelieveld of the Germany-based Max Planck Institute decided to take a global look at outdoor air pollution, which the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates is responsible for almost 3.5 million premature deaths annually. (WHO estimates indoor air pollution accounts for an additional 3.5 million.)

Using a computer model that fused air pollution and atmospheric chemistry data, they estimated what annual average levels of ozone (a key smog ingredient) and fine particulates smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) were in 2010 within 100-km-by-100-km grid squares across the world. Then they forecast what the levels of both pollutants would be in 2050, assuming policymakers implemented no new controls.

Next, the researchers estimated how many premature deaths the pollution caused in each square. To do that, they used a set of equations—recently updated based on the most recent epidemiological research—describing how exposure to air pollution affects a person’s risk of dying from various diseases. These “exposure response relationship” equations enabled the researchers to calculate how fine particles and smog would affect the risk of a range of diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, and pulmonary disorders.

In a final step, they estimated the fraction of deaths in each square attributable to a specific pollution source, including automobiles, power plants, in-home energy generation, and farm activities such as burning crop residues.

Overall, the researchers concluded that, in 2010, 3.3 million people died prematurely from outdoor PM2.5 and ozone pollution. That number echoes recent WHO estimates. But the more troubling finding, the researchers say, is that the annual death toll would rise to 6.6 million by 2050 without new controls.

The deadliest outdoor pollution source—accounting for 31%, or about 1 million, of premature deaths in 2010—is residential energy use, such as furnaces. And the bulk of these deaths would occur in Asian countries such as India and China, the researchers concluded, where households often use soot-emitting stoves and furnaces powered by wood. These emissions could be tricky to clamp down on; for instance, persuading residents of India to adopt cleaner technologies has proven difficult, Lelieveld says, in no small part because of cultural and family traditions.

The second deadliest source of pollution in 2010 was agriculture, accounting for about 20%, or more than 600,000, of the premature deaths in 2010, the researchers say.

“I was surprised” by that result, Lelieveld said. “What you tend to think is that [air pollution comes from] mostly traffic, and maybe industry.” But agricultural activities such as animal husbandry and fertilizer use generate ammonia, which can be converted to fine particles in the air, he explained. Agriculture is the leading source of outdoor pollution–related premature mortality in the eastern United States, Europe, and in countries such as Russia, Japan, and Turkey, the researchers found.

Other pollution sources, including the power sector, industry, biomass burning, and vehicle traffic, each made smaller contributions to the death total, the study concluded.

Lelieveld cautions that the findings depend on a number of assumptions. One is that all forms of PM2.5 have the same toxicity. But the particles can differ in chemical composition, he notes, and thus could differ in toxicity, based on location or source type. For instance, a limited body of research suggests that carbon-rich particles from residential energy and biomass are more toxic than particles from agriculture and other sources, Lelieveld says. If that’s true—though Cohen argues that this is still an area of unsettled science—the fraction of outdoor pollution–related deaths from residential energy and biomass burning could be higher than the study found, whereas the fraction from the other sources would go down, the researchers say.

The mortality numbers also depend to some degree on the accuracy of assumptions about how exposure to different levels of pollution affects disease risk. For example, in the case of deaths due to cardiovascular disease related to PM 2.5 exposure, research now suggests that adding even small amounts of pollution to relatively clean air boosts disease risks more than adding the same amount of pollution to relatively dirty air. The researchers incorporated that research in modeling how PM2.5 levels related to risk of death. That carries a big policy implication, Cohen says: It not only “makes both public health and economic sense to clean up dirty places,” but also means there could be significant health benefits from reducing air pollution even in areas that already have relatively tight controls.

“Even in countries with good air quality such as Australia, there is still a health gain to be made by reducing fine particle pollution,” noted health researchers Christine Cowie and Bin Jalaludin the University of New South Wales, Kensington, in Australia, in a statement released by the Science Media Centre.

Cohen notes a limitation to the study. The authors assumed that death rates from cardiovascular disease would be constant over time, he says, even though populations in countries like China and India are steadily aging—potentially boosting such death rates. To offset that demographic impact, China and India may have to make even deeper pollution cuts in order to cut death rates, Cohen and other researchers noted earlier this year in a study published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Still, Cohen lauds the new work. “It’s important,” he says, “because actions taken to improve air quality, and to improve public health, have to focus on [controlling emissions from] major sources of air pollution.”

What your sleep position says about you

Does the way in which you sleep reveal your true nature? One study concludes that it just might.

By: Melissa Breyer
November 21, 2014, 9:55 a.m.

Sleep positions
You don’t have to talk in your sleep to reveal secrets while slumbering. (Photo: Rugdal/Shutterstock)
Your dog breed, face shape, blood type … there’s no shortage of random attributes that are said to describe the inner you. Various researchers claim that Labrador owners are agreeable, people with wide faces are aggressive, if you have type A blood you are earnest and creative. We love to have our personality traits confirmed by external considerations.

And as it turns out, our character can even be assessed by the way we arrange our bodies while catching 40 winks, says one expert.

In a study about sleeping positions and personality, Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, analyzed six common sleeping positions and found correlations between slumbering posture and one’s true nature, reports the BBC.

“We are all aware of our body language when we are awake but this is the first time we have been able to see what our subconscious posture says about us,” says Idzikowski. “What’s interesting is that the profile behind the posture is often very different from what we would expect.”

Here’s what he found:

woman sleeping in fetus position

Photo: Dima Sidelnikov/Shutterstock
Do you sleep curled up on your side? If so, you aren’t alone ­— it’s the position adopted by 41 percent of the 1,000 participants who took the survey. Those who sleep in the fetus position are said to be tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. And while shy upon first encounters, they open up quickly. More than twice as many women than men sleep in this position.

woman sleeping in freefall sleep position

Photo: Igor Dutina/Shutterstock
If you sleep on your stomach with your hands up by your ears and your head turned to the side, Idzikowski’s study would mark you as a gregarious person, but one who is sensitive underneath and doesn’t like criticism or extreme situations. That said, sleeping in this position is great for your digestion!

woman sleeping in the log position

Do you sleep like a log? In terms of position, that is — lying on your side with both arms down straight along your torso. These sleepers are easy-going extroverts who like being part of the hip crowd. They trust strangers, and thus, can be gullible.


woman sleeping in soldier position

Photo: Dima Sidelnikov/Shutterstock
Soldier sleepers recline on their backs with both arms straight down the sides, just like, you know, a soldier. Sleeping like this may suggest that you are quiet and reserved. You probably don’t like to fuss about things, but also have high standards. Note that this position often leads to snoring.

man sleeping in yearner sleep position

Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock
If you sleep on your side with both arms out in front of your body, then according to Idzikowski you probably tend to have an open nature, but can be suspicious and cynical. Yearners are slow to make decisions, but once they’ve made up their mind they are determined not to change it.


woman sleeping in starfish sleep position

Igor Dutina
Do you sleep on your back with your arms up around your head, doing your best impression of a sea star? If so, you are probably a good friend to have, lending an ear to those in need and always willing to help out. Meanwhile, you don’t enjoy being the center of attention. Like soldier sleepers, starfish slumberers may be prone to snoring.

Bonus! And here’s a random detail just for kicks. Sleeping with one arm or leg sticking out from beneath the duvet was the most popular covering habit of those surveyed. Next popular was both feet sticking out the end. Only one in 10 people reported a preference for covering all limbs with their blankets. Now we need a study to reveal what that means.

Good Sleep: It’s Not Just About the Night

Busy through the day? Running from one thing to the next? It’s likely to be impacting your sleep.

Often people looking to improve their sleep are overly focused on what they do at night and in the evening preparing for bed. They’ve stopped drinking coffee late in the day, aren’t exercising at night, have begun using earplugs and managed temperature and light in the bedroom. But despite these measures they’re still not sleeping well. In part, that’s because they’re not paying attention to what they’re doing through the day and how they’re doing it.

We’re all busy, but are we too busy?

Running on nervous energy or rushing from one thing thing to the next are worn as badges of honor in today’s society. No wasted time, every waking minute accounted for, ticking off tasks on our to-do lists. This stereotype pervades the business world, but is also seen in other areas. One group I commonly see in my practice are supermoms. Women in modern society have the dual pressures of being expected to be successful in work and family life and can find themselves overly busy with no downtime, trying to manage their myriad responsibilities. The stereotype of the supermom is often held up as an example of a successful woman for others to aspire to, despite research showing supermoms are at higher risk of depression.

2015-11-29-1448784343-5838227-AngelaWayeviaBigstockphoto.jpgAngela Way via Bigstockphoto

Another common group I see in clinical practice are small, medium enterprise business owners or entrepreneurs who are not sleeping well. Sometimes people I see recognize that they are burning out, but often it takes a dramatic turn of events, such as the development of insomnia or other health impacts to get them to seek help. Arianna Huffington, in her book Thrive gives a good description of the predictable consequence of this lifestyle. Arianna’s tale of collapsing with exhaustion and her reflection of just how self-destructive her previous behavior of never switching off had been is telling.

The warning signs that people need to slow down can be intermittent episodes of insomnia or finding that they’re waking earlier than usual. If people don’t heed these signs, they can get in to a vicious cycle of sleeping less, feeling more tired, and having to work harder, running on adrenaline, during the day to keep up with their tasks. This is turn leads to worsening sleep, and the cycle repeats itself. As people develop insomnia, other areas of health can be effected such as mood.

The effect of being overly busy or stressed on sleep is something that has been increasingly clear over the last few years, both in what I see in my practice and in research. One of the key recent papers on insomnia, published in the journal Sleep showed that stress is an important contributing factor to insomnia. That in itself is nothing new, as people have long associated stress with poor sleep. The interesting part was that it isn’t just acute, or short-term stress that impacts on sleep. Chronic stress, which can just be being overly busy on a day-to-day basis was just as likely to result in insomnia as acute stress.

Sleeping well takes a lifestyle, not just focusing on sleep.

The message isn’t that we need to quit our jobs, or abandon our families and go sit on the beach all day. That’s not realistic as we all have responsibilities. But it is important that we manage our workload so that it is sustainable, and give ourselves permission to periodically switch off or disconnect, as well as develop relaxation or stress management strategies that we practice regularly.

It’s also important to not lose sight of other factors that can impact on sleep. Keeping good physical and mental health, maintaining a healthy diet and being physically fit and active all impact on energy levels through the day and sleep at night.

The key to sleeping well is not just about the night. In fact, many people with poor sleep are overly focused on their behaviors around sleep and over-analyze their sleep, which exacerbates the problem. A common blind-spot is what they’re doing during the day, and the impact that is having. Recognizing this is a great starting point on the road to better sleep.

Are there factors about your lifestyle that may be impacting on your sleep?

This post originally appeared in a modified form on the online sleep resource, SleepHub. You can follow David on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow David Cunnington on Twitter:
MORE: Sleep Stress Insomnia Busyness Sleep + Wellness Too Busy

There Really Is A ‘Wrong Side’ Of The Bed

Some mornings it feels like the side of the bed on which you woke up is full of thorns and decaf coffee. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

According to a recent survey conducted by Sealy UK, there really may be a “wrong” side of the bed. The survey results suggest that those who usually get out of the left side of bed were four percent more likely to be in a good mood in the morning, eight percent more likely to like their job, 9.5 percent more likely to have a positive outlook on life and eight percent more likely to have a lot of good friends compared to those who exit the bed on the right.

The survey, which queried 1,000 people from across the United Kingdom, was commissioned by Sealy to better understand the factors that can contribute to becoming a “deeper sleeper,” according to a press release. More research needs to be done to look into the reasons why left is right, but in the meantime, if you’re one of the one in 10 couples who argue about who gets to sleep on which side, you might want to hide this news from your partner

What Do Your Dreams Say About Your Sleep Quality?

A good night’s sleep is far more nuanced than simply putting in your seven to nine hours and calling it a day. Good, healthy sleep means feeling rested upon waking. It means not having chronic bad dreams or nightmares. And it turns out that the difference between a smile-filled slumber and a fearful one isn’t entirely up to chance.

According to a group of French researchers writing in the Journal of Sleep Research, all people dream when they sleep, even people who think they don’t. But is there a correlation between good sleep and good dreams? We partnered with Sleep Number to dig into this and other dream-related questions: Does sleeping well lead to more — or more pleasant — dreams? Does sleeping poorly lead to bad dreams? The answers to each of these queries, we discovered,, are yes … and no.
factoid 2 Clinically speaking, a “good night’s sleep” is considered one that consists of seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted snooze time — barring the simple activities that wake us during the night like using the restroom, getting a glass of water or even turning over.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine describes the experience of sleep as unfolding in four phases, culminating in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The stages repeat in order every 90 to 110 minutes on average. Stages 1 and 2 are characterized by a progression from light sleep through a gradual slowing of brain waves. Stage 3 is the period of sleep when we’re the most conked out. If you’ve ever had a hard time waking someone up, he or she was probably in this third stage of the sleep cycle. The fourth stage, REM sleep, is when our breathing rate quickens and our eyes move under our eyelids. This is the stage during which most people dream, especially when it occurs in the latter half of the night. We can also dream in the other stages of sleep, but scientists don’t have a good idea of how often or how much.

What Do Dreams Do For Our Health?
Studies show that dreaming is good for us. Rubin Naiman, a sleep and dream expert on the clinical faculty of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, says, “Good dreaming contributes to our psychological well-being by supporting healthy memory, warding off depression, and expanding our ordinary limited consciousness into broader, spiritual realms.” A study at Harvard Medical School concluded that dreaming also helps us consolidate memories and retain information.

In the book The Mind in Sleep, Arthur M. Arkin cites a study in which subjects were deprived of REM sleep intermittently over a period of time. The study concluded that there is a “close association between REM sleep and dream recall” and a “positive correlation between REM density and the subjects’ active involvement in dramatic dreams.” In other words, the longer your REM cycle, the more intense your dreams.

“If you have very poor sleep, you may not even dream at all,” says John S. Antrobus, a professor of psychology and sleep research at the City College of New York, now retired. “But it depends on why you’re not having a good night’s sleep.” According to Antrobus, factors that can lead to poor sleep include consuming alcohol before bed, experiencing stress and having a disturbing day. Other causes include keeping electronics like cell phones, televisions or computers in the bedroom; eating, exercising or consuming caffeine too late; having an uncomfortable bed or sleeping environment; and keeping an inconsistent sleep schedule.

So, “good” sleep — or sack time that includes REM sleep — leads to an active dream life, and in turn an active dream life is good for us. But when it comes to the relationship between getting a good night’s sleep and having good dreams, or remembering our dreams better, the science gets murky.

What Things Can Impact Our Dreams?
Several factors influence our ability to remember our dreams (also known as lucid dreaming or dream recall) — from age and gender to specific personality traits — but there is no hard evidence explaining why some people remember their dreams better than others. Often, it seems as if we only remember the dreams we were having right before we wake up. Antrobus, the former sleep researcher, explains that this is related to another cycle of brain activation on which the sleep stages rely. “That larger cycle starts before you fall asleep and leaves you feeling sleepy and wanting to go to bed at night,” he says. That cycle winds down in the hour or so before we wake up, when our brains are most active and we’re having more dreams, “and that’s why you tend to remember more of them.”

Timing, in other words, is everything. “A lot of people only remember their dreams if their alarm clock wakes them up right in the middle of it,” adds Dr. Shalini Paruthi, director of the Pediatric Sleep and Research Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. A study conducted at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France supported this theory, concluding that “high dream recallers are more reactive to environmental stimuli [during sleep], awaken more during sleep, and thus better encode dreams in memory than low dream recallers.”

Likewise, there is no evidence-based research as to whether sleep quality affects our ability to remember dreams or control the tenor of dreams. Rather, Paruthi says, “Whatever people are exposed to during the daytime will have an impact on their dreaming at night.”

This is the premise for a technique called imagery rehearsal therapy, which involves visualizing alternate endings to bad dreams 10 to 15 minutes before a person goes to bed each night. “Even thinking about good things to dream as you’re drifting off to sleep can impact [the] dreams that you have that night,” Paruthi explains. “So, you can have a negative impact on your dreams if you’re surrounded or getting exposed to negative things throughout the day. But, on the flip side, you can also have [a] positive impact on your dreams if the last things that you’re thinking about are positive things.”

Deirdre Barrett, author of The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists and Athletes Use Dreams for Creative Problem-Solving –And How You Can, Too and an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, is a firm believer in our ability to influence our own dreams. “The details of how to do it are very different depending on whether you’re trying to induce lucid dreams, whether you’re trying to dream about particular content, or whether you’re trying to dream a solution to a particular personal or objective problem,” she said in an interview with Scientific American.

Whether your goal is to dream about a particular topic or person, change the outcome of your dream, remember your dream, or problem-solve in your dream, Barrett suggests to “first of all think of the problem before bed, and if it lends itself to an image, hold it in your mind and let it be the last thing in your mind before falling asleep.” She also recommends not jumping out of bed right away upon waking up. “Almost half of dream content is lost if you get distracted. Lie there, don’t do anything else. If you don’t recall a dream immediately, see if you feel a particular emotion — the whole dream would come flooding back.”

What Control Do We Have Over How And What We Dream?
Getting a good night’s sleep, Paruthi says, “is the most important thing” we can do to ensure that we dream. First and foremost, that means sleeping in a room that’s dark, quiet and cool (65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Other things we can do to help us sleep better include taking a bath and reading a book before bed; practicing relaxation exercises; avoiding stressful or stimulating activities before sleep; napping early in the day (or not at all); exercising earlier in the day; avoiding alcohol, sugar and large meals before sleep; maintaining a regular sleep schedule; and, as simple as this might sound, going to bed when we’re tired.

While we can’t have 100 percent control over our dreams, there are things we can do to influence them in a positive direction, experts say. Among them: exposure to pleasant smells and sounds while we’re sleeping; avoiding spicy foods; not smoking; eating healthy and exercising regularly; and improving our daytime thought patterns. In simplistic terms, if you want good dreams, sleep well and think happy thoughts.

Growing Up With a Dog Lowers a Child’s Asthma Risk

The benefits of canine companionship are myriad. Studies have found dog owners tend to be in better physical shape, more socially adept and have reduced levels of stress and depression. Now new research adds lowered risk for asthma to the list.

A study looked at nine different data sets that accounted for more than 1 million childrenall born in Sweden between January 2001 and December 2010 and found that those who had pet dogs in the first year of life had a 15 percent lower rate of asthma than those who did not grow up with a dog in the home. The results were consistent even among children who had parents with asthma. The findings of the studythe largest to date that examines the link between pet ownership and asthmawere published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

The new research adds some ammo to those who argue for the hygiene hypothesis, which is the theory that living in an environment that is too clean promotes the risk of developing certain conditions, such as asthma.

“If we look at this history, we’ve been living with dogs for a very long time,” says Tove Fall, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden and a coordinator on the study. “It’s the first pets we had.”

Sweden’s social services and health care system provided a unique opportunity to examine the subject in one comprehensive study on a bigger population. When a child is born in the Sweden, he or she is given a unique identification number, and all medical records, including visits with specialists and prescribed medicines, are kept in a single database.

The country also maintains meticulous records on household data, including information on dog ownership, which has not been used for health research in the past. Swedish dog owners are required by law to register their pet with an identification number.

The authors of the study call the phenomenon the “farming effect,” because other researchers have found that children who grow up on farms are also less likely to develop asthma. An analysis of 39 studies on farming and asthma found children who had early exposure to farm animals, such as cattle and sheep, had a 25 percent lower risk for developing asthma, compared with those who did not grow up on a farm.

Fall says their findings indicate that having a dog in the household may affect a child’s microbiome, the unique bacterial environment of the gut that is determined by a number of factors, including the air we breathe and the food we eat. Fall wonders if there’s a specific strain of bacteria that’s transmitted from dog to child that makes the latter less prone to asthma. She added that children living in households with dogs probably spend more time outdoors and may be exercising more frequently, both of which could lower their risk for childhood asthma.

But Fall says the new study’s findings are not enough to say definitively that having a dog can help fend off the chronic respiratory condition. Her team hopes to examine the link in more detail. Sweden’s dog registry is highly detailed and includes information on the breed and gender of the dog, which could help them figure out if certain pet qualities offer more protection.

“If you look at dust from a non-dog household, there are nearly no bacterial fragments,” says Fall. “Children that are growing up in a home with a dog are exposed to more microbes. These dog households generally have this lower risk, and we need to find the mechanism behind that.”