Posts belonging to Category General



Should you be counting sheep?

Can occupying your mind with sheep help you fall asleep?

Can occupying your mind with sheep help you fall asleep?

 

Have you ever laid in bed watching the minutes tick by, knowing the alarm is set for early in the morning and you just can’t drift off? Counting sheep is a timeless suggestion to help you fall asleep, but where does it come from and does it really help?

The History

Sheep counting may go back to very early shepherds. These shepherds would have needed to literally count their sheep to make sure they were all safe before they could go to sleep.

Why it Doesn’t Work

Sleep specialist Michael Decker PhD, says that counting actually activates parts of the brain that processes information. Putting this part of the brain to work may stimulate you rather than help you fall asleep.

Alternatives

Other studies suggest you should try a different method.  A study performed by Oxford researchers that found people who were told to visualize a relaxing scene such as a beach, waterfall or walk in the woods fell asleep on average twenty minutes faster than those who were given no instruction.

The idea is that you can occupy your mind with something relaxing so that you are not thinking about tasks, relationships or other worries that might cause stress instead of help you fall asleep. These relaxing scenes are enough to keep you busy without stimulating your brain.

Try Again

If you can’t fall asleep after thirty minutes, you should get up. Move to a different room and read or listen to relaxing music until you feel sleepy. Then return to bed and try again. Try not to read or do other activities in bed. Doing so can help train your body to stay awake in bed.

Worth a Try

While the research shows counting sheep may not be the best option for drifting off to sleep, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. Picturing relaxing scenes or counting sheep will not have any of the side effects of sleeping pills or other medications.

If your insomnia is not severe or it is related to a short terms stress, feel free to try any at home tricks to help you drift off. However, if your sleeplessness is interfering with your day to day activities, counting sheep certainly won’t help. See a doctor so that you can get some rest and feel healthy again.

 

Image: Counting Sheep by Amen Clinic

6 Ways to Save Energy in Your Bedroom

5 Ways to Save Energy in Your Bedroom

There are many ways that you can reduce your energy bill for your home. Here are six simple things you can do just in your bedroom to save a bit on energy costs.

1) Close Your Blinds During the Summer

Keep all window coverings closed during the hottest parts of the day. Keeping out the light will help retain cooler temperatures. Likewise, in the winter, opening up the blinds on a sunny day can help warm the house. Thick window coverings will also insulate the house from either hot or cold temperatures.

2) Close Your Closet

You do not need to heat or cool your closet. Keeping the door shut to prevent your heating and cooling systems from working to regulate temperature in spaces that don’t need to maintain a comfortable environment. You will see the most significant difference when your closet is on an outside wall.

3) Don’t Block Vents

To help heating and cooling systems work more efficiently, move any furniture that may be blocking vents. Vents that allow the air to flow freely will be more effective at heating and cooling your home.

4) Use Your Fan

Ceiling fans use significantly less energy than a central heating or cooling system. Running your fan will allow you to turn up the temperature on your thermostat while still staying cool. Did you know you can also use fans during the winter? Most fans have a switch that changes the direction of the fan. Fans should run slowly and clockwise during the winter to keep warm air circulating.

5) Use Insulated Bedding

Bedding that acts as insulators such as wool or down will help you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. These insulators trap the air around your body preventing hot air from seeping out in the summer and warm air from escaping during the winter. If you have bedding that keeps your body temperature comfortable, you can adjust the thermostat so that your heat and air don’t run as often during the night.

6) Unplug Electrical Devices

Do you have a computer, TV, stereo and other appliances plugged in in your bedroom? These devices use power even if they are not turned on. An easy way to address this problem is to place all of your devices on a power strip. Turn off the power strip when you leave the bedroom in the morning.

These simple tips can save you a few dollars on each energy bill, which can add up to a lot of savings in the long run. Make small changes one at a time to make a big difference.

Image: “Random: Power Supply” by semihundido

 

How to Brighten Your Room

How to Brighten Your Room

Brighten up your dark room.

During winter cloudy days and long nights can make your home seem extra dark. As the longest nights of the year are upon us, lift your spirits a bit by using these tips to brighten your bedroom.

Paint

The winter is a great time to paint because all of your outside projects are on hold. It has been very trendy to paint entire rooms or accent walls in dark colors. While it looks very attractive, it may be making your space too dark and dreary. Consider painting your bedroom white. If you prefer to have color, choose a shade that is soft and bright. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in changing the look and feel of your private space. It’s important to note that when painting during the winter months, be sure to ventilate the room by opening a window or door. The paint fumes are not only harmful to humans, but small pets as well.

Lighting

The lighting levels within a room have a huge effect on your mood. Choose a fun new chandelier or add sconce lighting beside your bed. Find something that will match your style and brighten your space. More bulbs in your room mean a sunnier feel. Be careful when buying your bulbs. Bulbs that are labeled outdoor light are a cold, bluish color. Choose a warm bulb for your bedroom for a homier feel.

Sheets

Add fresh,crisp white sheets to your bed. Having bright white sheets can help you feel clean and warm. Pair the sheets with adown comforter andbright duvet to keep you extra cozy on cold nights.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh flowers can add a springtime look and scent to your bedroom even in the middle of winter. Place a small bud vase on your nightstand or place a larger arrangement on your dresser or even on your bathroom. Living houseplants are a more long lasting way to bring the outdoors inside and brighten up your space.

Rugs

You may not want to invest the time or money into replacing your carpet. Adding a rug is a fast and easy alternative. Find a rug with a bright color or lively pattern to transform your room and refresh your floor.

Mirrors

TLC suggests adding mirrored surfaces or cut glass to reflect light around the room. A decorative mirror will help your space appear larger and brighter.

Small Touches

These are just a few things you can do to brighten up a dreary feeling room. You can go as far as remodeling with new paint and decor, or simply add a few flowers or plants. Even small touches can help dark days seem a little lighter.

How do you brighten your home in the winter?

Image: “Sunny Window” by ilovebutter

 

Tips for Avoiding Allergens During the Holiday Season

Tips for Avoiding Allergens During the Holiday Season

Dust off your tree and ribbons.

Allergens are lurking all over your home during the holidays. Make your Christmas season more enjoyable by removing these pesky allergens.

Christmas Tree

Using an artificial tree instead of a real tree can help many allergy sufferers feel better during the holiday season. If you are using an artificial tree, don’t forget to remove the dust it collects each year. You can remove dust before you set it up by gently vacuuming it with an upholstery brush attachment or a small hand held vacuum. Test a small section in the back of your tree to make sure your vacuum isn’t too strong before cleaning more visible portions of the tree.

WikiHow also suggests wiping the tree down with a damp cloth. Use a small amount mild dish soap in a bucket of water. Wring out your cloth so that it is barely wet and carefully wipe down the tree. Make sure you aren’t leaving behind suds or drips of water.

Using a bag to store your Christmas tree each year will also prevent your tree from collecting excessive dust while it is in storage.

Artificial wreaths and garland can also be cleaned in a similar manner.

Sheets

When you pull out your flannel sheets and down comforters be sure to wash them before putting them on your bed. Storing your seasonal sheets in a storage container or bag will also help cut down on the dust that collects in them. Washing your sheets with a half cup of vinegar will help remove any musty smells the sheets may have collected.

Candles

Some people are sensitive to burning candles. If it is the burning that bothers you use a candle warmer instead. You can melt scented wax cubes and still get the desired aroma without burning a wick. If it is the scent that causes problems, simply freshen your kitchen or bathroom by putting out a small container of baking soda. The baking soda will absorb odors without covering them with another scent.

Ribbons

Ribbons on wreaths and other decorations can also collect dust or mildew while being stored. Consider replacing your ribbons each year to avoid any mold or mildew. Storing decorations in plastic tubs will also protect them from any unwanted moisture that causes mold and mildew.

A few extra steps can and some caution used when storing seasonal items can help you feel healthier throughout the winter season. During the winter, when you spend more time in your home, you want to remove anything that might make you feel sick. What do you do to feel great during the holiday season?

Image: “Christmas Tree Closeup 7” by Zechariah Judy

Tips for your Turkey Table

Tips for Setting Your Thanksgiving Turkey Table

Make your Thanksgiving get together memorable.

Are you hosting a big group of family or friends for Thanksgiving?Here are some unique tips to help make your Thanksgiving fun and memorable.

Place Cards

While it may feel like extra work or too formal to make place cards for Thanksgiving they can be really helpful. If there is anyone in your group who is new or may not know other people, a place card can eliminate any awkwardness. You can also avoid any holiday drama by placing guests next to people they will get along with.

Place cards can be simple. Write names with permanent markers on small decorative pumpkins. Place a leaf cut out with a printed name on plates. Stick a small slip of paper with names written on them in a pine cone.

Decorating the Table

Avoid fussing over the table and have your guests help decorate. Send kids outside with a paper bag and a scavenger hunt list. Have them collect dried leaves, twigs, berries, grasses, acorns and any other items. When they come back encourage the kids to use their finds to decorate the table. This will help your table feel earthy and homey and give your younger guests something fun to do while the dinner is cooking.

Interactive Placemats

These printable placemats from My Sister’s Suitcase will keep kids busy while adults are enjoying dinner and conversation. Set little packets of crayons next to the kid’s places. You can even cover your table in paper or set out extra coloring sheets to keep everyone entertained.

A Cornucopia

A cornucopia is a traditional symbol of abundance that we associate with Thanksgiving. However, how often have you seen a real cornucopia on a Thanksgiving table? Lily Shop offers a step by step tutorial for making your own cornucopia. It is a simple project that can be made from store bought pizza crust dough. Fill your cornucopia with fruits, breads or chocolates and you will have a stunning, edible centerpiece.

It is the little touches that can make a Thanksgiving memorable. It is also time spent with family and friends that makes a Thanksgiving special. These tips can help you enjoy one another and share an unforgettable day.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions and recipes?

Image “Thanksgiving Table” by vxla

3 Fabulous Fall Leaf Crafts

Autumn leaves make beautiful fall crafts.

Autumn leaves make beautiful fall crafts.

With Autumn well underway the leaves are beginning to rain down from the trees. Here are three ideas for crafts that use colorful collected leaves. These crafts can add to the homey fall feel of your own house or make excellent gifts.

Most leaves will need to be dried before using them for crafts. This takes time, but it will help your crafts last longer. The simplest method for drying is placing flat leaves between two pieces of wax paper or newspaper. Place them inside a heavy book with several heavier books on top. This method can take 2-3 weeks, so get started right away.

1) Candle Jars

This craft comes from Gingerbread Snowflakes. This blogger suggests coating a mason jar with Mod Podge then placing the leaves on the jar and applying another layer of Mod Podge on top. Continue adding layers of leaves and Mod Podge until you have the look you want. Keep in mind light will not shine as brightly through the thicker layers. Put the ring around the top of the jar without the lid and place a tealight or small candle inside.

2) Leaf Relief

Cassie Stevens, an art teacher, used this project so all of her students could create beautiful art successfully. You do not need dried leaves for this project. Use spray glue to fix collected leaves, vein side up to a piece of matte board. Then add another layer of spray glue and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. Rub the foil until you have an outline of the leaf. Then, spray cheap black spray paint over the top.  Once it is dry, gently rub it with steel wool to create your desired look. You can paint another piece of matte board to work as a background for your leaf.

3) Leaf Lantern

Imagine Childhood offers instructions for making a leaf lantern. These would be great decorations for an outdoor fall party or a fun way to light a night hike. Use craft glue mixed with water to dip strips of white tissue paper. Apply the tissue to an inflated balloon leaving about six inches at the top. After you have applied one layer add in fall leaves coating them with the same craft glue. You can then apply another layer of white tissue over the top. Make sure you have several layers. Let the lantern dry overnight. Then pop the balloon. You can attach a handle made from craft wire. Place a small tealight inside or use LED tealights if you prefer not to worry about an open flame.

These three crafts are sure to brighten your fall days. What other leaf crafts have you done this year?

Image: “Leaves” by Oregon Department of Transportation.

Tips for Arranging Your Bedroom

Create a welcoming and comfortable space that invites relaxation and sleep by thoughtfully arranging your bedroom. Here are some tips for creating a space that you will enjoy and rest well in.

1) Less is More

Cluttered bedrooms can lead to a sense of anxiety that can disrupt your sleep. If you don’t need a piece of furniture in your bedroom, don’t use it. Extra desks, tabletops, and dressers create space for things to accumulate. Having less in your bedroom also means less to clean and less surfaces to catch dust which can aggravate allergies and lead to sleepless nights.

Tips for Arranging You Bedroom    2) First Things

When you have determined what you do need start with placing the most important piece of furniture, your bed, first. Apartment Guide suggests that this piece of furniture is both the largest and typically the focal point. Usually you want to place it in the middle of the longest wall or at an angle in a corner. 

3) Dual Functions

Do you watch TV in your room? If so, a long low dresser opposite your bed can double as a TV stand. Are you an avid reader? A short bookshelf beside the bed can also work as a nightstand. Be sure you put each piece of furniture in your bedroom to work so you can get the most out of your space.

4) Form

According to HGTV interior designers often use triangulation to create visual interest. You can accomplish this easily in a bedroom by placing nightstands on either side of the bed and an interesting headboard or work of art above the bed. This will create an attractive space that is comfortable for the viewer. Symmetry also sets the viewers mind at ease. When there is enough space, having a symmetrical room centered around the bed may make it easier to relax.  

5) Ultimate Goal

Remember that sleep is your ultimate goal in your bedroom. Do whatever you need to do to be able to sleep well in your space. If you only need one nightstand, don’t worry about symmetry. If watching TV keeps you awake at night, get rid of it. If your desk makes you think about work too much, put it in a different room.

These are just a few tips for arranging your bedroom so that you can get the most out of it. Have you noticed if a bedroom arrangement helps you sleep better or keeps you awake at night? Where do you start when you think about arranging your bedroom?

Photo “Mirage Maple Savanna [Bedroom]” Boa-Franc

What Are Mothballs? And When Should I Use Them?

Prevent an infestation by storing clothes and linens in a cedar chest.

Prevent an infestation by storing clothes and linens in a cedar chest.

Everyone has experienced that unpleasant moth ball smell. It is often associated with older homes. But, what are mothballs and should you be using them?

Insecticide

Mothballs are a chemical insecticide. There are several different kinds all made with chemicals, but they all work similarly. The chemicals change into gas and kill insects, larvae and eggs with the fumes. The best way to use moth balls is to seal them in a container with clothes that you are storing. It can work, but it is not as effective, to simply place mothballs in your closet. The build up of fumes is what causes damage to the insects. An entire closet is difficult to create enough exposure to the fumes to be effective. Mothballs are also dangerous for pets and children. Be careful not to leave them lying around within reach.

Moths are particularly attracted to natural fibers, such as wool, but they will eat any fiber that may have a food or grease stain on them as well. It is best to use mothballs when you know you have a problem with bugs. According to How Stuff Works, the chemicals used in the balls should be inhaled as little as possible to avoid any harmful effects. Hang any stored clothes outside to allow them to air out. You may even want to open the container they were stored in outdoors.

Cedar

You can avoid having to use mothballs by preventing an insect infestation before it starts. The scent of cedar repels bugs. You can keep cedar chips, sachets or blocks in your closet to repel bugs. Or, you can store clothes in cedar chests or closets. Cedar can be very expensive, but it is very good at keeping bugs out of your clothes. It also absorbs moisture preventing mildew and mold smells. According to Organize Your Life, cedar trunks should be sanded with a fine sandpaper every season to release the scent.

Storage

Air tight containers can also help keep bugs out. Make sure the clothes are clean when placed in the containers so that you don’t introduce the pests into the space.

Take Care of Your Clothes

In short use cedar to keep bugs from getting in your clothes and mothballs when there is already evidence of bugs in your clothes. Cedar repells and mothballs remove. Wash and dry clothes directly before storing them to remove any hidden eggs or larvae. Taking care of your clothes and linens can help them last longer and save you money in the long run. How do you store your seasonal items?

Image: “Cedar Hope Chest” by Rich Misner

9 Interesting Facts about Dreaming

Studies suggest that animals dream too. Their brain waves during sleep appear very similar to human’s when dreaming.

Studies suggest that animals dream too. Their brain waves during sleep appear very similar to human’s when dreaming.

 

Dreaming is an important component of sleep. It happens during the rapid eye movement or REM cycle of sleep. With a few rare exceptions, everyone dreams. However, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding why we dream as well as what dreams reflect about ourselves. Here are some fun facts about dreaming. You can see how your dream life might to other’s.

1.     12% of people dream only in black and white. That number has gone down since the introduction of color TV. 

2.     “The average person has about 1,460 dreams a year. That’s about four per night.” 

3.     Pregnant women both have more dreams and are more able to remember their dreams than other people. This is likely due to hormonal changes. 

4.     “Five minutes after the end of the dream, half the content is forgotten. After ten minutes, 90% is lost.” 

5.     During an average life span about six years is spent dreaming. 

6.     Even if it seems you see an unfamiliar face in your dream, you can only dream about faces you have seen before. 

7.     Normal snoring cannot occur during the REM cycle, but sleep apnea snoring can. 

8.     The most common emotion experienced during dreams is anxiety. Negative emotions in general are more common during dreaming than positive emotions. 

9.     There are common themes in dreams across various cultures. Being chased, falling, feeling frozen or paralyzed, flying and being late are all themes that have been identified throughout the world. 

It is important to get enough sleep at night. Your brain depends on experiencing all of the cycles of sleep to stay healthy. It is believed that most adults need around eight hours of sleep per night to be healthy. Having a dark, quiet and comfortable sleeping environment will help you relax and get quality sleep that encourages all of the sleep cycles.

Dreaming during REM is a necessary part of refreshing and restoring your body. Do you get enough sleep during the night? Do you remember your dreams?

Image: “Sleeping” by Andrew Roberts

Making New Year’s Resolutions that Stick

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Write down your resolutions to keep them fresh in your mind.

Measurable

Make your resolution measurable so that you have something specific to aim for. Instead of saying “I’m going to keep the house clean,” say “I’m going to vacuum every Tuesday.” It is one specific item that you can evaluate whether or not it happened every Tuesday.

Attainable

Make sure your resolution is one you can actually do. You may not be able to become an astronaut this year, but you can take a course on astronomy at the community college. Don’t set yourself up to fail before you’ve even begun. Choose resolutions that will change your life and that you can accomplish. Avoid feeling guilty by keeping your resolutions simple.

Feeling Good

Chances are that if your resolution helps you feel good, you will have no problem continuing it throughout the year. Getting more sleep, exercising more and eating a healthy breakfast are all examples of types of resolutions that will combat stress and help you feel well. 

Too Many

Don’t make too many resolutions. You will forget your resolutions or feel too bogged down if you list is too long. Pick one or two resolutions that you feel inspired to keep and stick to those.

Record

Write down your resolutions. You will be more likely to remember and evaluate whether you are keeping your resolutions if they are written down. You may even want to post them on your refrigerator or mirror where you will be reminded of them regularly. When you write them down you can also track your progress.

Practical Changes

New Year’s resolutions are not just another to do list or distant wish list. New Year’s resolutions can be practical changes that you can make in your daily life to feel better about yourself. You can reduce stress and improve your health by sticking to a few small resolutions throughout the entire year. What resolutions are you making this year?

Image: “Resolving to Write More – a Worthy Thought” by vanhookc