10 Ways to Fall Asleep Without Pills

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10 Ways to Fall Asleep Without Pills Sleep has been under the microscope for years now. How many years do you sleep a night? What happens if you don’t sleep that much? Can you really be a superhero just from getting enough sleep? What is enough sleep? In most cases these are the questions that …

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4 Tips to Prevent Sleep Deprivation during an Emergency

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When the world is crumbling around you, sleep may not seem so important. However, if you don’t pay attention to your body and its needs, you’ll end up dehydrated, weakened and/or sleep deprived. And we can all agree that there’s not much you can do in this state! […]

The post 4 Tips to Prevent Sleep Deprivation during an Emergency appeared first on Preppers Survive.

5 Tips to Prevent Sleep Deprivation

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5 Tips to Prevent Sleep Deprivation

5 Tips to Prevent Sleep Deprivation

 Six to eight hours of sleep every day is the amount of rest we need to keep our brain and body healthy and prepared for any challenge. When we’re young, we could manage with less sleep. But as we age, our ability to tolerate the sleep deprivation effects diminishes drastically. And when we find ourselves in a survival situation, the lack of proper sleep will influence us even more than in our usual daily life.

Continue reading 5 Tips to Prevent Sleep Deprivation at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

The 4 Cheapest Ways To Feed Your Chickens

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The 4 Cheapest Ways To Feed Your Chickens

Image source: Pixabay.com

Chickens are arguably the most efficient livestock you can own. They take up little space, are easy to care for, and produce both meat and eggs. However, feeding them can still be expensive, especially if you rely on pricier organic feeds for your flock. With egg prices remaining near ten-year lows, feeding your chickens as economically as possible is especially important right now.

Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to keep your feed costs manageable. And while you may not eliminate your trips to the hardware store for another bag of layer pellets or cracked corn, you can certainly reduce the number of trips you have to take this year. Here are four great tips for lowering feed costs with the chickens you raise.

1. Range free and far

If chickens are penned up, they are completely reliant on the food you provide them. But if you let them roam free, they will be able to forage and eat grasses, seeds and any hapless bugs that come their way. Free-ranging your chickens will enable them to get much of the nutrients they need, and will help make the feed you purchase go a long way. Many people believe that eggs from free-range chickens taste better, too.

You also can set the chickens on your garden beds in the fall, and let them devour dead vegetables, plants and any bugs that are setting up shop there. The key with free-ranging your chickens is ensuring they are protected from predators (and themselves, since some chickens are prone to wandering) with good fencing. If you are uncomfortable with letting your chickens roam completely free, then you can compromise and set them in a chicken tractor that you move around your homestead every few days.

2. From table to coop

Hopefully you are accustomed to composting your table scraps, and an additional trip to the chicken run with a pale of leftovers is no big deal. If not, you can still start feeding your chickens table scraps today.

Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Livestock De-Wormer!

The 4 Cheapest Ways To Feed Your Chickens

Image source: Pixabay.com

Chickens can eat most of the things that we eat, although there are some foods that should be avoided. Your birds will make good use of the leftovers and food waste that you otherwise would compost or throw away. Food items like cooked vegetables, grains, breads and meats (cut into small pieces) make great feed for your chickens. Simply keep a food-safe plastic pale in your kitchen, add the scraps to it as you prepare or finish meals, and then feed them to the flock.

3. Grow bugs

It’s no secret that chickens love to eat bugs; throw a grasshopper in front of a few hungry hens and watch what happens! However, many people don’t realize that bugs are full of protein, and some bugs are easy to grow as a food source for your birds.

One easy-to-grow food source bug is the lowly mealworm. Mealworms are the larva of the mealworm beetle; chickens love to eat them, they are loaded with protein, and they make a great food for your layer flock. Raise them in plastic containers or old aquariums, and keep an ever-replenishing supply of mealworms on hand. So purchase a mealworm starter culture, and start growing them today.

4. Cull older birds

One of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of raising chickens, especially if you are focused on laying hens, is to cull the older birds. Most chickens’ egg-laying capacity declines precipitously after two years; keeping them around after that does little more than add to your feed costs.

Birds that reach two years or so should be destined for the stew pot. Alternatively, you could sell them or give them away on Craigslist to people interested in chickens as pets. You also should ensure that you limit the number of roosters you have on hand, if any; unless you are using different roosters for a breeding program to fertilize eggs, having more than one doesn’t make much sense for a cost-conscious homesteader.

How do you feed your chickens “on the cheap”? Share your tips in the section below:

How Your Sleep Patterns Can Spark Alzheimer’s

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How Your Sleep Patterns Can Spark Alzheimer’s

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Staying up late or even all night can be fun — sometimes. You’re at a party that goes long and nobody wants to leave. Or you have a new baby in your house. Or you’re binge-watching Netflix. Or you just can’t stop working on a craft project.

Occasional all-nighters are a fact of life, but sleep deprivation can be harmful, especially during emergencies. Frequent all-nighters (or insomnia) can bring serious, long-term health consequences, even for teenagers.

The body “recharges its batteries” during sleep. Long-term sleep deprivation can promote and accelerate cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s. If you’re getting less than six hours of sleep per night, your brain cannot detoxify the buildup of harmful proteins (called amyloid-beta) so your liver can flush them out. Over time, the buildup of these proteins can cause deterioration of the brain’s mental faculties, bringing on Alzheimer’s, and increasing the risk for dementia.

Fast, All-Natural Pain Relief With No Nasty Side Effects!

Sleep deprivation also can cause a number of physical and psychological problems. In the short term, you may be cranky, snapping at people and having abnormally highly emotional reactions. This can cause problems with family members as well as coworkers. You’ll look tired. Your judgment and self-control will suffer. Long-term sleep deprivation can bring on anxiety and depression.

The reaction time of a sleep-deprived person can be equal to a drunk person, without alcohol. The risk of a car accident or other devastating event increases. It’s not just you that becomes groggy; your cells will, too. You also might gain weight.

You may have an occasional deadline-sensitive project. Working when you start getting tired means you’ll be less productive.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s time get your body back in order so that it can sleep at least 8 hours again.

Try some of these tips:

  • Have a regular bedtime and wake-up time. This will keep your circadian rhythm working like it should.
  • Get regular exposure to natural sunlight during the day. If you work in an office, factory or other enclosed place, then take a walk outside at lunchtime or during a break.
  • Keep your bedroom completely dark, or as close to dark as you can. Even light from a digital alarm clock can activate your pineal gland and make it think it’s daylight, thus disrupting sleep. Turn the clock’s face away from you and turn off any other lights.
  • Practice regular rituals, like reading, that tell your body that it’s sleep time.
  • Limit/eliminate the use of electronic devices an hour before bed. If you must use your smartphone or tablet, then use the setting that gives you a “night mode.” This will change the screen from the disrupting “blue light” to a warmer light. Additional apps are also available that go beyond the built-in functions.
  • Take a warm bath/shower an hour or two before bed. This drops your core body temperature when you finish, signaling the body to start going to sleep.
  • If you get up during the night, don’t turn on a light or check the clock. Using a low-wattage yellow, orange or red bulb in night lights prevents the disruption melatonin production (like white or blue light will).

With a few changes to your nightly routine, you’ll be sleeping like a baby again. Your body – and your brain – will thank you.

What are your tricks for getting a good night’s sleep? Share your suggestions in the section below:

All-Natural Secrets To A Better Night’s Sleep

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All-Natural Secrets To A Better Night’s Sleep

Sleep problems affect 70 million Americans every day—one out of five of us. Are you one of them?

You may have tried things like warm milk or chamomile tea with honey before bed, only to lie awake wondering when it was going to kick in. Or maybe you’ve mentioned insomnia to your doctor, and he handed you a prescription for something you’ve seen on TV. Most of these sleep medications are only intended for short-term use (two weeks or less), and some are actually addictive.

Sleep is one of the best things for your overall health. Long-term poor or insufficient sleep can affect:

  • Weight
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Mental acuity
  • Impaired cognition
  • Driving
  • Emotional balance (crankiness, bad judgment, etc.)
  • Hormone production/fertility
  • Immunity
  • Premature aging
  • Behavioral difficulties in children

Computers, smartphones, tablets and even your Wi-Fi can disrupt your sleep with an EMF (electromagnetic field), especially if they’re charging next to your bed. Turn these off at night, or move them at least three feet away from the sleeping area—including children’s rooms. Use a regular alarm clock, also three feet away, with a gentle but effective alarm to wake you up in the morning.

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Making your room completely dark (or as close as you can get) will help normalize your circadian rhythm and start the production of melatonin. A slightly cooler temperature—around 69 Fahrenheit—is optimal. Even a small bit of light—from outside, from a phone, or from anywhere else can disrupt your sleep and stop the normal flow of melatonin.

Regular exercise also helps, but not at night–unless it’s a relaxing yoga or other type of stretching. Avoiding big meals and caffeine too late at night allows your system to relax and sleep. But if you’re still having trouble sleeping, or you’re waking up at night, natural sleep aids are non-addictive and readily available.

  • Melatonin. This hormone controls your sleep and is produced by the pineal gland. Pill dosages range from 3mg to 10mg, so you’d have to try some and find out how it affects you. Too much can lead to headaches, nausea and other side effects, so start with a small dose and raise it as needed. Take it one hour before bedtime, unless it’s a “quick release” pill. Melatonin is best for short-term use.
  • Valerian root. One of the most common natural sleep aids available. The plant is native to Europe and parts of Asia, and is consumed either as a tea or in capsules. Valerian root promotes deep sleep and calmness, and increases GABA levels.
  • GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid. This amino acid works in the central nervous system to tamp down the brain’s nerve activity. Low levels of GABA interfere with deep sleep, causing you to wake up frequently. GABA is sometimes combined with 5-HTP to promote sleep.
  • L-Tryptophan. Yes, this essential amino acid in turkey also helps with sleep on its own. Available as a supplement, 500 mg nightly helps maintain serotonin and 5-HTP levels and promotes sleep.
  • L-Theanine. This green tea extract is an amino acid that’s also available in pill form. It promotes calmness both day and night, resulting in a deeper sleep. Recommended dose is 50 to 200 mg.
  • Magnesium. A deficiency of this multipurpose mineral can cause insomnia. Taking 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate before bed removes calcium from the muscles and relaxes cramped muscles. You also can soak in Epsom salts or rub magnesium oil on your skin to absorb it quickly.
  • Lavender. A small pouch of dried lavender placed under your pillow, or in a sleep mask, can help you relax and fall asleep. Lavender spray on bedding also works.

Try only one of these supplements at a time, and when you have time to sleep (i.e., weekends, a day off). You don’t want to be late for work because something knocked you out! Once you determine if it works, you’ll know if you can take it regularly.

Sources:

Magnesium makes me sleep, Dr. Carolyn Dean, 12/26/2012

Nightcaps, sleeping drugs and magnesium, Dr. Carolyn Dean, 2/18/2010

Sleeping with the enemy, Dr. Carolyn Dean, 08/16/2010

8 Natural Remedies That May Help You Sleep, Mercola.com, 01/06/2009

What Happens in Your Body When You’re Sleep Deprived?, Mercola.com, March 03, 2016

How Much Melatonin Should You Really Be Taking? Sleep.org (The National Sleep Foundation)

Why I chose Magnesium over Melatonin, Sylvie McCracken, HollywoodHomestead.com, December 2013.

7 Natural Sleep Aids that Really Work, DrAxe.com

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

The Easy-To-Grow Herb That Fights Insomnia & Anxiety (And Is Safer Than Xanax, Too)

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The Easy-To-Grow Herb That Fights Insomnia & Anxiety (And Is Safer Than Xanax, Too)

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Although valerian root is usually grown outdoors as part of an herb or flower garden, it is not too difficult to grow it indoors, as well. If you do have outdoor space, it is even possible to start the plant outside, and then transplant it into pots at the beginning of winter to bring inside. Valerian that is left outdoors and not cultivated for its roots will return in the spring. Valerian also reproduces runners that can be harvested or transplanted into indoor pots.

What Is Valerian Root and What Are its Benefits?

Valerian is a perennial plant that grows up to two feet tall. It has sweet-smelling, light purple, white or pink little flowers that bloom during late spring and early summer. The flowers of the plant are a common ingredient in many perfumes and can be harvested for potpourri.

The root of the plant is used medicinally and is hard-pressed into juice or is dried to create a powder. The root is light, grayish-brown in color and doesn’t have too much odor when fresh. Once dried, it has an overpowering smell that is displeasing to many people.

Although the smell may not be pleasant, valerian root is valued for its many medicinal and culinary uses. It has been used to ease nervousness, anxiety, restlessness and insomnia since the second century A.D. Scientists are not sure exactly how valerian works, but believe that it operates in much of the same way as Xanax or Valium, which increases the amount of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This chemical aids in the regulation of nerve cells and produces a calming effect.

Fast, All-Natural Pain Relief With No Nasty Side Effects!

Valerian is a popular alternative to prescription medications for sleep and anxiety problems because it is considered to be both safe and gentle. The United States Food and Drug Administration lists valerian as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), while Germany’s Commission E has approved valerian root as an effective mild sedative.

How to Grow Valerian Indoors

We have the choice of growing and harvesting enough of the root during the spring, summer and fall to last through the winter months, or we can grow it indoors as well, to harvest as needed.

Step 1

The Easy-To-Grow Herb That Fights Insomnia & Anxiety (And Is Safer Than Xanax, Too)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Use pre-moisturized potting mix to fill a seed tray. The easiest way to moisten a dry mix is to pour it into a bucket and add warm water until the soil is moist. You do not want it to be dripping, however. Too much wetness will prevent the seeds from germinating.

Step 2

Find high-quality valerian seeds that are fresh. Valerian seeds can be pernickety, so it is important to get this step right. You want to sprinkle the small seeds onto the top of the pre-moistened potting mix, and then press them lightly into the soil. Do not cover them, because they need sunlight to germinate.

Step 3

Use a spray bottle to lightly mist water over the top of the seeds. Cover the tray with clear plastic wrap and place it in a warm and sunny area. Don’t put the seeds directly on a windowsill, however, as the window might magnify the sun’s rays and burn the seeds. Remember that valerian seeds are finicky!

Step 4

Check the potting soil regularly and use your spray bottle when needed to keep the seeds and soil moist. Moist, but not over-saturated! The environment inside of the plastic should be warm and humid for the seeds to germinate.

Step 5

When the seeds emerge from the soil, loosen the plastic wrap. When the seeds grow to 1-2 inches tall, remove the plastic wrap entirely. You will want to replant the healthiest seedlings into new containers that are 3-4 inches in height. Now you can put these seedlings on a sunny windowsill; just keep an eye out for over drying. If you don’t have too many sunny areas inside of your home, you will have to use artificial sunlight such as a grow light.

Step 6

Keep re-potting the valerian plants as they grow into larger containers. Make sure the containers all have a good drainage system. The bottom of the plant should never be allowed to sit in water. Remember that these plants can grow to 5-6 feet tall, so make sure that you have containers large enough to support a plant of this size.

How to Harvest Valerian Root

  1. Cut the blooms of the plant to use as flower bouquets or as potpourri.
  2. It is best to harvest mature root systems after the plant has had time to grow to full size. However, valerian also produces runners that can be harvested to leave the original plant in place. You can also harvest the original plant and let the smaller ones re-grow. Many herbalists say the root is the most potent on the mature plants.
  3. Dig deep enough so that you get the entire root system out of the soil. Rinse the roots off with water.
  4. Cut the roots up into small pieces with sharp shears. Soak the pieces in a bowl.
  5. After they are thoroughly soaked, remove them from the water and sprinkle them on a drying rack. Place the cuttings in a dry and cool place, and let them dry out for at least a month. You will notice the scent of the roots become more pungent as they dry.
  6. You also can dry out the leaves of the plant to make teas.

You now have a dried valerian root herb! You can simmer the roots and leaves as a tea or use them in food. You can mix the root or leaves with other dried herbs. You also can make your own capsules to take before bed to help you sleep.

Guess what? Cats love dried valerian almost as much as catnip! You now have a healthy, homegrown treat for kitty, as well.

Have you ever grown or used valerian root? Share your tips for how to grow and use it in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

Wilderness Survival: 3 Core Skills to Keep Your Child Alive

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by Todd Walker

Two roads diverged in a wood… and your child is lost!

Wilderness Survival: 3 Core Skills to Keep Your Child Alive - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hiking and camping season is upon us. Families are hitting the trails to enjoy nature and all its benefits. Nature is neither for you or against you. Nature is neutral. But Mother Nature can also be brutal. Any survival instructor that says otherwise is delusional.

Over the past two years, my 9 year-old grandson and I have spent time together learning survival and self-reliance skills. When he visits now, he usually asks if we can build a fire. The thermometer reading in Georgia matters not, he wants to burn stuff.

Leadership equals influence. Influencing your child to get outside is often easier achieved by you Doing the Stuff. Share your knowledge, demonstrate the skills, and let your child imitate the skills until they become proficient. If your child knows nothing else about survival, the following will keep him alive if ever lost in the backcountry.

3 Core Survival Skills

What is survival? It may be easier defined by stating what survival is not.

Survival isn’t wilderness living, camping, foraging, or bushcraft. Your child won’t have to carve a spoon, make a survival bow, know 21 edible plants, or build an elaborate shelter to stay alive in the unfortunate event he is ever lost in the woods. It’s highly probable that search and rescue will find him before the weekend is over.

Survival is any situation where if you don’t take corrective action, you die.

Train your child in three core survival skills…

Shelter – Hydration – Sleep until rescued.

Core Skill #1: Build a Microclimate

Wilderness Survival: 3 Core Skills to Keep Your Child Alive - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Testing the Kochanski Super Shelter

Clothing: The most important piece of the survival puzzle is having the ability to build a microclimate for core temperature control. The first layer of shelter is the clothing your child wears. Dress appropriately for the weather and location. Cotton is a killer in cold weather survival due to its ability to hold moisture against the body. However, it can be a lifesaver in hot weather by exploiting this same property for evaporative cooling.

Tarp/Cover: Beside clothing, go out prepared to use every shelter option available in your kit. A reusable mylar space blanket is my #1 option to build an emergency microclimate. Add a clear 9 x 12 inch plastic painter’s tarp and you have a lightweight, effective cold weather microclimate called the Kochanski Super Shelter. You’ll need to teach your child to collect enough wood to build a fire in front of this shelter for it to be effective through the night.

Insulation Layer: A closed-cell foam ground pad is what I carry when backpacking or camping. This piece of gear offers a barrier from cold ground (conduction) or helps prevent heat loss from convection when laid in the bottom of my hammock. From my experience of hanging and ground camping in a sleeping bag, this insulation layer is essential to creating a microclimate.

Without a commercial ground pad, two contractor trash bags can be used as an insulation layer. Fill both bags with leaves or fluffy stuff so that, when compressed, you have a 4 to 6 inch barrier of insulation. In a pinch, the forest litter filled bags can be used as a makeshift sleeping bag. There are multiple survival uses for plastic bags. Two bags won’t add much weight but multiply your survival chances.

Fire: The main reason I teach fire craft to my 9 year-old grandson is to reinforce its forgiving nature as a survival tool. Yes, even with no other shelter options, fire can keep you alive. We have many articles parked on our Bombproof Fire Craft Page.

Microclimate Preps

  • Clothing
  • Reusable Emergency Space Blanket/Tarp
  • Clear Painter’s Tarp
  • Two Contractor Trash Bags

Core Skill #2: Hydration

Wilderness Survival: 3 Core Skills to Keep Your Child Alive - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ways to disinfect water

Find and drink enough water to cause urine to be clear. Remember, even if you don’t have a way to disinfect your water, drink it anyway. You want to die from dehydration or have the trots a week later after being rescued hydrated and logical in the wilderness?

The above statement may seem counter to “proper” survival advice. But if you’re not prepared with water treatment gear, drink the water to stay alive. Food should not be a concern for short-term survival. If you have enough calories to consume daily, eat up. Otherwise, fasting is your best choice. Physiologically, our bodies can go several weeks without food with no ill effects.

Be prepared with water disinfection equipment. My preferred method of water disinfection is boiling. You’ll need a metal container and fire. Fire plays such an important role in survival. Without a suitable metal container, use your garbage bag to boil water using the stone boil method. Practice fire craft! I also like the lightweight Sawyer Mini filters. More detailed information on water treatment can be found here.

Plants and trees are also a source of water and need no filtration. Cut a wild grapevine and water will drip into a container. A clear plastic trash bag can be used to get water from leafy, low-hanging tree branches through transpiration. John McCann has a great article on using this method.

Hydration Preps

  • Metal Container
  • Water Filter
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Trash Bag and Hot Stones
  • Transpiration Bag

Core Skill #3: Sleep

Wilderness Survival: 3 Core Skills to Keep Your Child Alive - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sleep is a survival tool

“The quality of a survival kit is determined by how much it can help you when you need to sleep.  If you can sleep well at night, you have it made.” ~ Mors Kochanski

When camping, I call sleep the number one skill of a good woodsman. But in a true wilderness survival situation, restorative sleep is key to staying alive. If you’re child has learned to build a proper microclimate and learned at least two methods of disinfecting drinking water, then sleeping 8 hours is his next survival skill.

Scared and alone in the wilderness, I always go back to fire. Beside being a great survival tool for shelter and water disinfection, a fire offers phycological comfort. Kind of like a nightlight in the woods. It not only keeps the boogieman at bay, but gives some peace of mind concerning predators.

Your child should sleep at opportune times. Not all eight hours have to be consecutive like we stress when home. An hour here and there adds up.

With sufficient sleep, your child will be better prepared to deal with the stress of survival. Our physiological body needs sleep for rational thought and decision-making. Sleep deprived, we make stupid mistakes. Use every available resource to make a comfortable microclimate for sleeping and shelter from the elements.

Sleep Preps

  • See Microclimate above – Core Temperature Control
  • Fire
  • Practice in the backyard with minimal gear

Your child can beat the odds of surviving by having the knowledge and practiced skills mentioned here. Spend some time rehearsing the plan before he needs the skills. As the Boy Scout’s motto states, “Be Prepared.”

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

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Sleep When Your Life Depends On It – Selecting The Best Air Pad / Air Mattress for a Bug-Out Situation

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Sleep454

What would you respond to a simple question, “What’s the single most useful weapon or tool we have in a bug out situation?”

Sure, it’s fun getting compliments on the new blade and trying out the new illuminated scope you just paid a small fortune for.

But would it be as fun if your hands were trembling and you could barely keep your eyes open?

Our tools and weapons are only as useful as the person wielding them.

That’s what this guide is all about – one of the essentials for any smart prepper – SLEEP.

To be more precise, it’s about finding the best air mattress for our shelters and best sleeping pads for our BOBs.

It might not be as “glamorous” as talking about tac gear, but when SHTF we need our best selves to handle the gear and protect what we love.

If you’re think you can go days with little sleep and maintain your shape, you’ve been duped into believing a myth, my friend.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

As recent studies show, ONLY ONE NIGHT of bad sleep sets in motion a cascade of cognitive impairments that compromises your ability to defend your own when the moment comes.

So, let’s get to the “meat” of things and make sure we stay sharp in the face of calamity.

Sorting the basics out – an air mattress and a sleeping pad

An air mattress is only an option for your trunk or the shelf of your shelter.

After we’ve dealt with sleeping pads, we’ll go over a few rules to keep in mind when choosing the best high-rise air mattress.

Sleeping pads we’ll be talking about are the kind you’re using on your hiking/camping trips (if you’re into that). We’ll put our prepper glasses on and look at the products from a different angle.

Some of the questions we’ll address:

How is the choice of a sleeping pad for a bug out bag different?

How to plan for different scenarios and get the most versatile sleeping gear while “sacrificing” minimum space?

Choosing a sleeping pad for your bug out bag

OK, so every inch counts and every ounce counts. Let’s dig into our options and what to look for when choosing a sleeping pad.

There’s a lot of vague and confusing information out there, so we’ll debunk some myths along the way and try to make things as precise as possible without getting into the nitty-gritty.

Types of sleeping pads

There are two main types of sleeping pads. Well, three really, but one of those is a sub-type.

Anyway, you have your foam mats and inflatable pads (classic or self-inflating…more on the difference between the two in a minute).

Closed cell foam mats

Foam Mat

Foam Mat

The lightest and the cheapest option – these don’t inflate so you can’t puncture them, they’re practically indestructible.

The insulation offered in the better ones is pretty good, but on their own, they provide very little comfort (it’s a thin piece of foam after all).

Having said that, the mats make one hell of a combo with light pads and/or sleeping bags.

Main downsides:

  • There’s no air in it so you can’t deflate and pack it. You roll or fold it and strap it to the side or under your backpack.
  • Not comfortable on its own. If you’re sleeping outside, a foam mat alone will do very little for you.

Best use: Combined with a sleeping pad and/or bag.

Versatility comes in layers!

Foam Mat and Air Pad

Foam Mat and Air Pad

Air pads

These have come a long way from the inflatables you’d see on beaches, and that goes for all quality aspects that matter: materials, packing size, weight, size options…

Strip it off the fancy terms you’ll see in the company specs, and it’s still a piece of material, most of the time some sort of PVC with some plasticizers added to soften it and make it more comfortable.

It’s light and packs small (the best of these pack as small as a sneaker or a beer can).

Packed Air Pad

Packed Air Pad

Main issues: Fragile and easily punctured, so placing it directly on the ground is never a good idea. Because it’s only material and air, if it’s damaged beyond repair it becomes just a piece of plastic.

You inflate these manually (mouth-to-valve or by pressing an integrated pump).

Best use: Combined with a foam mat.

Self-inflating pads

It’s been over 4 decades since John Boroughs, an engineer who was let go from Boeing in the infamous layoffs of the early 70s, changed the landscape of the industry of air pads by introducing a self-inflating pad.

You might think these work much like a battery-operated air mattress but you’d be wrong.

The inside of these pads is filled with open-cell foam, which tends to return to its natural shape after being deformed. Plainly speaking – you push the air out as you fold the pad and the foam sucks it back in as you unfold it and open the valve.

Valve of a Self-Inflating Pad

Valve of a Self-Inflating Pad

Unlike with a classic air pad, if you puncture the material of a self-inflatable, you’re not left with a useless piece of plastic. Even if you can’t repair it, the foam itself offers some comfort and insulation.

Main downsides: Although the technology and the materials evolved, making these easier to pack and carry, there’s still foam inside and they don’t pack as small as a regular air pad.

Another thing worth mentioning is that, over-time, the open-cell foam loses some of its “rebounding” ability and the pad doesn’t inflate as well as it used to.

The enigma of the R-value

There’s way too much fuss about the R-value of a sleeping pad, so let us cut through the clutter of vague statements out there and make it really simple.

Let’s get to it…

The basics

R-value is a number that represents Thermal Resistance (hence the R). The higher the number, the more insulation your pad will offer.

Some of the info we’re about to present is approximative and is meant to be used as reference.

How R-value relates to temperatures

This is where the information gap is and where most people get confused.

Some brands do offer what they call temperature ratings, so we compared the relationship across a few dozen of brands and products to come up with the table below:

R-Value

R-Value

Can I compare R-values across brands?

Here’s a dirty little secret of the industry – R-value of a pad is a standard and it has a unique formula. However, there’s no standard when it comes to how it’s measured.

This means that comparing it across brands is, to put it mildly, imprecise and can only be used as a reference.

That’s why choosing a good brand of inflatables (both air mattresses and pads), and sticking with it, is a good idea.

How do I add up the values of two pieces of gear?

This is a crucial piece of information because it allows you to mix and match looking for the combo that covers most of your scenarios.

Adding up the R-value of two items is approximately linear, meaning that if you combine a foam mat with an R-value of 2.5 and a pad with an R-value of 3, the total R-value is close to 5.5.

We say “close” because there is some energy loss, but it’s nothing you should lose sleep over (pun intended).

This raises the question of…

How to combine the two pieces?

The short answer to this would be – aim for the most comfortable setting.

This shifts the focus from R-values to the thickness of the items. In plain terms, go with the thicker item on top.

Although it’s true that this setting is slightly less efficient in heat retention, it’s far superior in comfort and more than makes up for the small energy loss.

Bottom line – if you have two pads and you want to double-up, go with the thicker pad on top.

The sweet spot

The range between 3.5 and 4.5 is where you’ll find the most versatile pads.

These are the pads that you would call “four-season”, which means they cover most scenarios, especially combined with a foam mat.

If you go below 3, you are entering a zone of pads designed for warm climates and if you go above 5, the pads become too bulky and heavy for a backpack.

Weight and size of a pad

For the needs of a prepper, the pads designed to be ultra light and pack extra small are rarely a good choice.

Yes, you will save a couple of ounces in weight but you sacrifice too much of the pad’s versatility. The little weight and room you save rarely justifies it.

Rule of thumb – don’t go for anything that can’t comfortably fit your shoulders and the full length of your body.

Right Width and Length

Right Width and Length

Women and side-sleepers

A tapered or a “mummy” design (semi-rectangular, broader at the hips) is best-suited for women since they are, generally speaking, colder sleepers and require more insulation at the hips and feet.

The design also provides extra comfort for side-sleepers.

That pretty much covers all the main INs and OUTs of choosing a good mat, pad or a combo of the two for your BOB.

So, as we promised, let’s go over a few rules for choosing a good airbed.

Best air mattress for your shelter

Whether you have a spacious off-the-grid shelter or you need to set up one elsewhere, there are a number of realistic scenarios that will call for a sturdy and durable air bed:

  • If your shelter in tightly packed, the fact that you can pack up and store your bed during the day and set it up for the night is a substantial advantage
  • An air mattress can be sealed and kept at your shelter without bacteria or bed bugs spreading as opposed to a regular mattress that will sit there and collect dust
  • With most people being unprepared as they are, there’s a high chance you’ll have to accommodate a few extra souls when SHTF

So, whatever your given scenario, having a good air mattress on-hand is simply smart.

Now, let’s make sure that we know what to look for when choosing.

Cutting through the clutter of information

In a jungle of a market that we have today, the word “quality” is freely thrown around, which strips it of its very meaning.

If everything is “high-quality”, how can you tell the difference between brands and products just using the word and those genuinely superior?

You do it by educating yourself to look past the marketing blabber and into specifics that actually mean something.

Materials

Most of the airbeds are made of PVC and claims like “high-quality PVC” and “puncture-resistant” mean very little.

One of the crucial factors that determine the durability of the air mattress is the thickness of the PVC. So, instead of scanning through the specs filled with dazzling terms, look for actual information on the thickness of the material.

To be specific, don’t go for anything lower than 0.4 mm. Ideally, a thickness of 0.6 is right up our alley.

Structural design, air retention and chambers

Another crucial factor is the internal structure.

Let’s make it simple – the “internal structure” are the air cells of the mattress. The number and shape of these determine how well the weight is distributed across the sleeping surface.

This impacts the comfort and the durability.

Generally, the airbeds with a chambered-design beat the ones with end-to-end air beams.

Chambered Design of an Airbed

Chambered Design of an Airbed

Make it a rule to go with 30+ chambers and you’re set.

Fumes and safety

There’s a notion that, because of the PVC used, airbeds are somehow a health hazard.

It’s a remnant of days long gone.

Unless you are picking from the bottom of the barrel, modern airbeds have the lower fumes-involved (off-gassing) health risks than any other type of mattress.

Take a moment with the following graph:

Off-Gassing by Mattress Type

Off-Gassing by Mattress Type

Note: If safety and fumes are still a concern for you, you can always take the extra precaution of choosing an air mattress that’s phthalates and BP-free (those are the chemicals that created the concerns in the first place) or even go with an airbed that’s completely PVC-free (only textile used).

Pump

General rules of what makes a good pump in an air mattress are somewhat different for a prepper.

Besides choosing a pump that’s reliable and doesn’t leak air, a prepper has to think about possible power outages and choosing an airbed that features a pump that can be both battery and manually-operated.

Speed of the pump is only a secondary factor at best.

Know how to read user reviews of the air mattresses

So, you’ve got your eyes on a specific model, you go to one of the e-commerce websites that carries the beds and you read the raging reviews it’s getting.

Take your time and don’t jump to conclusions, the reviews can be deceiving.

Here are a few common “traps” and quick fixes:

  • Problem: The reviews might not be real. Not all the websites have a system in place that ensures that all reviews are from verified buyers.
  • Solution: Make the websites that have the verification system in place your go-to sources for user reviews.
  • Problem: The sample is not big enough. Think of it like this – even if the website has a system in place that verifies the reviews, a company that brings a new product to the market can easily organize buying 10 or 15 of it and leaving full 5-star reviews. This is an attempt to artificially push the air mattress towards the top-rated ones.
  • Solution: Make it a rule not to go with any product that has fewer than 50 reviews. These are the ones that stood the test of time.
  • Problem: The quality of the product has changed and the positive (or negative) reviews you are reading might not be relevant anymore.
  • Solution: Sort the review by “most recent” and analyze them starting from the top – these are the most relevant.

Wrapping it up

There’s an abundance of information out there on other basics, like water filtration systems, nutritional value of energy bars…but there seems to be a gap in addressing what simply has to be a part of any well-crafted preparedness plan – sleeping arrangements.

If this guide at least starts to bridge that gap, we’ll sleep tight tonight.

Stay safe, stay smart
James Menta
Editor-in-chief of 3beds.com

This is a guest post. 

TS

Trouble Sleeping? Here Are 6 Tips That You Need to Know

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sleepThe modern world has done a number on our sleep cycles. While surely there have always been sleep disorders, living in a high stress world filled with lights, gadgets, and on demand entertainment has turned many of us into sleepless zombies. About 10% of the American population has chronic insomnia, and between 45% and 55% of us experience it infrequently.

Clearly this is a widespread problem. Calling it an epidemic would be an apt description, since it’s so common and incredibly bad for us. Sleep is like food and water. If you don’t get enough of it, every function in your body will be hindered in one form or another. And that of course, can put you into an early grave.

Fortunately there are a few simple (though not always easy) things you can do to finally get a good night’s rest. If you don’t want to be among the sleep deprived masses, consider the following:

Tobacco, Alcohol, and Caffeine

Everyone knows that caffeine can keep you awake and shouldn’t be ingested before going to sleep. Tobacco is another stimulant that can keep you up, and not just because of its brief energizing effects. If you smoke once or twice every waking hour, then that’s what your addicted brain is used to. But when you try going to sleep, all of sudden you’re going several hours without smoking. This often leads to restlessness and waking up in the middle of the night.

And finally, alcohol is one of the worst substances you can ingest before bed. Initially it will help you fall asleep fast, but like tobacco it hurts the quality of that sleep. You’ll get less REM sleep, and it may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.

Light and Dark

It’s common knowledge that a dark environment is ideal for a good night’s rest. Even the slightest speck of light can hinder melatonin production (even with your eyes closed too) and throw a wrench in the gears of your circadian rhythm. It could be the numbers on your alarm clock, the lights on your TV, or the street lamp outside your window. Anything can throw you off. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy a sleeping mask and/or blackout curtains for your bedroom. Most people don’t even realize how much these tiny lights are ruining their sleep until they try out these options.

What most people don’t know however, is that experiencing daylight is just as important for your sleep. Research has shown that seeing and feeling more sunlight throughout the day helps you sleep better at night. When you stay inside all day under artificial light, your body doesn’t really know when it’s day-time and night-time. Thus, it doesn’t know when to sleep.

Electronics

And while we’re on the subject of how light affects your sleep, you should avoid all contact with electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. As I said before, any form of light can hinder your sleep to some degree, but computers and cell phones are the worst. The light from these devices, as well as LEDs and fluorescent bulbs, is often tinted blue. That color actually induces wakefulness and focus, and it can hinder your sleep for several hours after you see it.

Skip the Snooze Button

The problem with hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock is that it interrupts your sleep cycles, which typically lasts about 90 minutes and consists of 5 stages throughout the night. Hitting the snooze button causes that cycle to restart unnecessarily as you drift back to sleep. You would feel more restful if you had just set your alarm clock a few minutes later. Not only that, but the snooze button has a tendency to disrupt your hormones and your circadian rhythm.

And when you think about it, you shouldn’t need an alarm clock either unless your work schedule changes from day-to-day. If you need an alarm clock to wake you up every single morning, then you’re not getting enough sleep. Set it every night anyway just in case something disrupts your sleep, but don’t rely on it. If you’re really getting plenty of consistent rest, and you’re disciplined enough to go to bed at the same time every night (which your body loves), you’ll wake up at the same time every morning a few minutes before that alarm clock goes off.

Exercise

One of the best remedies for occasional insomnia is a workout. If you sit on your butt all day, your body will have an abundance of energy that it wants to burn off, and that will keep you awake. If you really want to conk out fast, then you need to feel exhausted at the end of the day, and obviously exercise can do that. Even moderate exercise like walking and jogging can help take care of your restlessness. Keep in mind however, that this works best for the majority of the population that doesn’t have a sleep disorder. If you have chronic insomnia, then you should know that exercise may not have the same effect on you.

Find the Perfect Temperature

We all know that a hot muggy evening or a freezing cold night can make it difficult to sleep. However, the temperature range that provides the best sleep isn’t as broad as you might think. Anything between 65 and 70 degrees will put most people to sleep the fastest, and help them feel more restful when they wake up. To fall asleep, the temperature of the human body needs to decline slightly, and that aforementioned temperature range helps your body maintain that state. If the room temperature drifts too far from that range, then your body will have to work extra hard to maintain the lowered temperature, and you’ll struggle to sleep.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How ‘Nighttime’ Cow’s Milk Can Actually Make You Healthier

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How 'Nighttime' Cow's Milk Can Actually Make You Healthier

Image source: Pixabay.com

Did your grandmother encourage you to drink a cup of warm milk before bed? This folk remedy has been around for generations, and like many folk remedies, there is actually something to it. However, the type of milk – specifically when the milk was milked from the cow – may have more to do with its effect on our sleepiness than we ever thought.

Recent research indicates that cow’s milk that is milked at night may have more of a sleep-inducing effect on humans than milk that is milked during the day — and if you have trouble sleeping, that means it can actually make you healthier.

Researchers from Seoul, Korea’s Sahmyook University found that so-called “night milk” contains more tryptophan and melatonin, natural hormones that aid in regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, mice were fed with dried powder made from cows milked during the day and the night. The mice who were fed night milk were less active than those who were fed the milk collected during daytime hours. Scientists noted that the night milk contained 10 times the amount of melatonin and 24 percent more tryptophan than daytime milk.

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Mice fed on night milk also exhibited less anxiety and more of a willingness to explore open spaces than mice that had daytime milk.

How 'Nighttime' Cow's Milk Can Actually Make You Healthier

Image source: Pixabay.com

“Considering the fact that tryptophan and melatonin are abundant in night milk, it is possible that the sedative effect of night milk may be attributable to these substances,” researchers theorized in a press release accompanying the 2015 research findings.

A German company has already capitalized on the sleep-inducing aspects of night milk. In 2010, Munich-based Milchkristalle GmbH released its “Nachtmilchkristalle” product (translated as night milk crystals). The powder is made from milk collected from dairy cows between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

The body converts tryptophan — an essential amino acid that we can only get through the foods we eat — into serotonin, a natural hormone in the body that helps make you sleepy. The body then uses serotonin to make melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles.

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Tryptophan also is used by the body to make niacin, a B vitamin that is important for the skin and for the digestive system. Niacin also has been associated with calming anxiety.

Milk is not the only source of tryptophan. Poultry, meats, cheese, yogurt, fish and eggs contain the hormone, and pumpkin seeds are a good non-animal source.

Previous research studies have suggested that the calcium content of milk also makes it work as a sleep aid. Calcium can help some people to relax.

If you choose to drink milk before bed – whether it is daytime milk or nighttime milk — nutritionists recommend that you watch the fat content. The fat in whole milk can put a burden on your digestive system when you drink it before retiring for the night.

What do you think about the daytime milk vs. nighttime milk debate? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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Your Grandma Was Right About Early Risers (And Here’s Scientific Proof)

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Your Grandma Was Right About Early Risers (And Here’s Scientific Proof)

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William Blake wrote, “Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

Jonathan Swift wrote. “I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning.”

Benjamin Franklin wrote “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

For centuries, philosophers have written about the advantages of rising early. However, are early risers really more productive than late risers? Research seems to confirm it, and what’s more, early birds tend to be healthier overall than their night owl compatriots.

First, what is a morning person? The term is informally defined as someone who feels awake and full of energy in the mornings. Morning people also tend to wake up naturally around the same time each day, by 7 a.m. or earlier.

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Research shows that early risers are more productive at work, get better grades and are healthier in mind and body. One theory is that getting up early gives you more time to prepare for the day.

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, work supervisors evaluated morning workers as more conscientious than those who start work later. These findings remained constant even after researchers accounted for total work hours and objective job performance reports.

A study conducted in 2013 of students at five German high schools found that late risers had lower grades than morning people, even after researchers accounted for factors such as cognitive abilities and their motivation to do well in school. Another study conducted by the University of North Texas in Denton of more than 800 college students found that early risers had a GPA that was a full point higher – 3.5 as compared with 2.5 — than their night owl peers.

Your Grandma Was Right About Early Risers (And Here’s Scientific Proof)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Study author Daniel J. Taylor theorized that early bird students find it easier get to classes on time and to study before later classes. He added that students who go to bed earlier might be less likely to drink excessively or to participate in other activities that could negatively affect their academic performance.

Whether or not you are an early or late riser can also affect your body weight, according to research by Northwestern University. The study, which found that early risers have a lower body mass index (BMI) than late risers, connected this finding with the body’s dependence on the circadian rhythm. Lead researcher Phyllis C. Zee concluded that if we do not get enough light at the appropriate times of day, our body clock could be affected, leading to an altered metabolism and weight gain.

Early risers also tend to be more consistent in adhering to an exercise regime, according to the American Council on Exercise. Most studies indicate that people who exercise in the morning set and maintain more rigorous workout schedules.

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An altered body clock can even affect your driving ability. Spanish researchers found that night owls taking an 8 a.m. driving test performed worse than they did on the same test given at 8 p.m. Early risers, on the other hand, had consistently better scores at both times.

An interesting aspect of these and other studies about early risers is that the findings do not have to do with the amount of sleep we get, but instead with when we sleep. Our bodies are designed to sleep with a natural circadian rhythm that is connected with sunlight and darkness. To put it simply, most people who adjust to this cycle sleep better.

Research by Harvard University suggests that night owls can reset their circadian rhythm by going outside into the daylight early in the morning. If you are a late riser, one way to work your way into an earlier wake-up time is to get up a half-hour earlier for three days and then to repeat the process with another 30 minutes adjustment.

If you need more of an inducement to “get up and at ‘em” earlier, research indicates that early risers are happier than night owls. According to a University of Toronto study of more than 700 adults, morning people reported up to 25 percent higher feelings of cheerfulness, happiness and alertness than their night owl counterparts did. The study linked early exposure to daylight to more energy and a reduced risk of depression.

Convinced? Here are some other tips to move to more of an early bird lifestyle:

  • Sleep in a quiet, dark room for effective sleep. Turn off electronic screens 30 to 60 minutes before you get in bed.
  • Get everything you will need in the morning – such as clothes and lunch — together before you go to bed. Shortening your morning to-do list makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Maintain a regular evening routine that will let your mind and body know it is time for sleep.
  • Be consistent by setting your alarm clock for the same time every morning — weekdays and weekends.
  • Move the alarm clock away from the bed so that you must get out of bed to reach it. Set it to play a pleasing tone and skip the snooze button once and for all.
  • Open your curtains and shades to let in as much light as possible.
  • Drink a glass of water soon after rising. Dehydration causes fatigue. If you are groggy when you wake up, you may need water, not more sleep.
  • Eat breakfast for the energy and brain food it provides.

The bottom line is your grandmother was right. Early birds do get the worm. Why not make getting up a half hour earlier or more one of your New Year’s Resolutions?

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Hammock camping!

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Hammock camping
Josh “The 7 P’s of Survival

12-4-15 hammockThis Week on the 7 P’s of Survival Live Show we will be talking all things hammock camping and winter hammock camping with the guys from Jacksrbetter.com! I have had the pleasure of using their Mt. Washington and Winter Nest Underquilts recently and these guys put out some of the most high quality gear available on the market today.  Just one look at their website and you will know that these guys have a ton of camping experience and I personally look forward to learning from their wealth of knowledge. In just a few short conversations that I have had with these gentlemen I have learned a great deal about how to make a hammock a more enjoyable place to sleep, especially in the winter.

In this 12-4-15 JMW1-300-px-300x300show I hope to discuss the following topics: hammock
selection, under and top quilt selection, alternative sleeping methods to under or top quilts, rigging methods, tarp/rain fly options, and best places to hang a hammock.  I myself just started trying to hammock camp this past summer as a way to stay cool/elevated and away from the mosquitoes and fell in love with how great of a night’s sleep you get in the hammock, if I could I would replace my bed with one. In that short time of camping I have learned a few lessons that I hope to convey tonight and among those are the following:

1) If you are always hot get a hammock and I guarantee you will be cold when you under estimate the power of heat loss by convection;

2) Under quilt substitutes will work, but they end up being much bulkier and weigh more while providing much less protection from convective heat loss;

3) Wool blankets are great when winter camping, but once again are much heavier and provide much less warmth for the weight;

4) All in one packages are great, but when it comes to winter camping the netting can be in the way;

5) While a small foot print tarp/rain fly are nice for easy packing and deployment a larger 10×10 fly can make all the difference when going on a long-term trip;

6) There are literally hundreds of ways to rig a hammock, but for the a figure 8 follow through on one side coupled with a truckers hitch on the other is hard to beat (I guess that is the old school in me);

7) The size and the type of the tree you hang from matters a great deal, remember soft woods such as pine will bend much easier creating sag in your hammock.

I have no doubt the guys from JacksRBetter.com will be insightful into all things hammocks and will make this a learning experience for campers at any experience level.
Visit The 7 P’s of Survival HERE!

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Listen to this broadcast or download “Hammock camping” in player below!

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Here are 7 sensational herbs for calming the mind

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Here are 7 sensational herbs for calming the mind

1. Passion flower is a beautiful vine that has mild sedative properties and can help calm the mind. All parts of all the plant except the root are used for the mind relaxing qualities. Usually brewed as a tea, taken as a tincture or in capsules. 2. Lotus Flowers are a beautiful way to increase […]

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