All posts by Lynette Kimotho

The good book constantly asks us to relax, to guard our hearts and to avoid any anxieties. Other inspirational teachers have explained at great lengths the importance of rest. Today not many can attest to live up to this calling and neither can they say they are enjoying a restful life.

We live at a time when sleep is seen as a cause of poverty or utter laziness. And while some people have broken out of poverty through hard work, some have remained poor or made no quality advancements in their lives despite their efforts. This can be explained in part, by one’s type of sleep.

The lack of sleep or sleep disturbances is said to contribute to decreased productivity. In addition, studies have drawn strong correlation between insomnia and health problems. A research done by the Harvard school of medicine showed that good sleep plays an important role in learning and memory while the lack of adequate sleep affects your mood, motivation and your perception of events.

When it comes to proper memory, the research named three functions that are involved:

  • Acquisition – The introduction of new information to the brain
  • Consolidation – Process by which your memory becomes stable
  • Recall – Your ability to consciously or unconsciously access the stored information

A sleep deprived person cannot clearly focus their attention thus cannot learn or executive projects efficiently. In addition, because sleep helps in the consolidation of memory, this happens through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories, if you are sleep deprived, you will find it challenging to remember things learnt.

This is because without good sleep your neurons get overworked and as a result fail to coordinate information properly causing you to lose your ability to access previously learnt information.

Although there is a need for more research on the effects of sleep to human health, the one thing science has agreed on is that good and or adequate sleep is important for learning and memory.

If you revel in gardening and plants at your home, more power to you. Not everyone feels this way, in fact some of you may be the most forgetful gardeners who have caused casualty to a string of plants or have given up on the art and joys of botanicals.

While these plants add unmistakable beauty with foliage and flowers to your house, indoor plants have been shown to hold stress-reducing properties. You will also be encouraged to know that according to a NASA study, while in search for creating cleaner air for their astronauts, they discovered several plants that have the capacity to purify air by absorbing some of the dangerous toxins found in our environment.

Here are 5 house plants among the NASA 10 that require little effort to keep them alive and have been recommended as air purifiers for your home:

Aloe Verashutterstock_113142826

The Aloe Vera plant is largely known for its healing properties from the gel in the leaves to heal cuts and burns. It can help clear formaldehyde and benzene found in chemical based cleaners and paints. Because it grows best under the sun, it would be a smart choice for a sunny kitchen window.

English Ivy 



NASA has listed English Ivy as the most effective plant in absorbing formaldehyde. English Ivy is also a great choice for those with pets in the home because it can reduce the amount of airborne fecal matter particles keeping your indoor air fresh and clean.

The plant is very adaptable and grows in medium sunlight with moderate temperatures.

Peace Lily shutterstock_433122295

The Peace Lily carries the ability to purify air by breaking down and eliminating formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, ammonia, xylene and toluene. Peace lily thrives well in the shade and some indirect sunlight.

Snake Plant 

The Snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue does not only filter formaldehyde but absorbs carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night. Having a snake plant in your bedroom would be a boost to the oxygen levels at night.

Red-Edged Dracaena shutterstock_1671337

Easily distinguished by its red-purple edges on its green leaves, this plant will remove formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene. Given that it can grow as high as 15feet tall, it is best for large spaces and high ceilings. It is best in moderate sunlight.

The NASA research recommends the use of 1 plant per 100 square feet for effective air purification. It is also advisable to work with your botanist to select the plant that best suits your home and lifestyle. Be sure to ask whether a plant might be poisonous especially for people with children and pets.

The world we live in is an inadvertently constant exposure to unlimited toxins attesting you don’t have to live next to a toxic site to be exposed. It is from the food you consume to your regular hygienic routine. It is from the lounger you enjoy and the carpet on your floors. These are but a few of verified points of contamination.

In a study done by Dr. Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard school of Public Health and Philip Landrigan of the Icahn school of medicine, they establish the alarming effects of chemical exposure on the human brain with a heightened risk to the unborn child. The doctors call it the “silent pandemic”. A pandemic because there is a rising number of children suffering from neurotoxicity -damage to brain development with little in the way of a definitive diagnosis.

This kind of exposure to natural and artificial toxic substances has also been linked to the alteration of normal functioning of the nervous system. Doctor Philippe’s research is one of the recent studies that have once again established this cause of concern. The study names 12 toxins frequently present in our daily lives as the greater cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and Lower IQ levels:

Manganese: Mostly found in stainless steel and soda cans. Used to protect metal from corroding and has been associated to lower IQ scores

Lead: Found in gasoline, house paints and sometimes in children toys. The levels vary by agency and type of exposure. Although consumer product safety commission has significantly lowered the levels that can be used, there is no agreement on what constitutes a safe level exposure. Exposure to lead can affect nearly every system in the body.

Toluene: Affects the nervous system, eyes, skin, respiratory system, liver and kidneys. Used to make nylon and plastic soda bottles, also as a solvent in paints, metal cleaners, nail polish, shellac, glues and adhesives. Exposure is by breathing it in, getting it on your skin, splashing on your eyes or swallowing it.

Fluoride: Occurs naturally in most water sources. High levels connected with significant lower IQ levels. It may also affect fetal brain development and behavior

Chlorpyrifos, DDT/DDE: Pesticides banned in most parts of the world but are still used in many lower-income countries. Have been said to have a possible connection to Alzheimer’s disease

Tetrachloroethylene (PERC): Often used in dry cleaning fabrics and has been linked to cause hyperactivity

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs): Often found in food and can be passed to a baby through breast milk.

Arsenic: Commonly found in water supplies as it enters the water table though the soil. It is also used in bronzing and pesticide production. When absorbed it can reduce cognitive function in school children and cause neurological diseases

Mercury: Initially used in thermometers and as a laxative by industries but has found its way to fish. Affects the neurological development of a fetus, slows down kidneys if absorbed in large quantities and may cause Pituitary/Thyroid dysregulation

Ethanol: Used in medical products, industrial solvents and alcoholic beverages. Also associated with neurological disorder

Polycholorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Mostly used in insulation, carbon copy and engine coolant.

While avoiding these chemicals can be challenging given their prevalent nature, reading product labels, avoiding certain foods and a little change in lifestyle can go a long way in keeping you healthy. Engaging in a detoxification program constantly can also ensure you rid your body of most of these chemicals to a desirable non-toxic level.