10 tips for a healthy sleep

We spend around a third of our lives sleeping. It goes without saying that the quality of sleep plays a particularly important role in our health. In the best case scenario, you go to bed in the evening and fall asleep without further ado. In the morning you wake up feeling refreshed. Then you don't need to pay attention to the following tips. However, if you occasionally have trouble falling or staying asleep, or if you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, the following advice can help you.

Rhythm ensures good sleep
Ideally, you always go to sleep at approximately the same time. Your body gets used to fixed times and is therefore “polarised” for sleep.

Only go to bed when you are tired
Sounds simple, but it makes sense: go to sleep when you are actually tired. Get up again if you are wide awake in bed and cannot fall asleep. Even if you do not comply with rule 1.

Don't look at the clock
Don't let the time confuse you when you wake up at night. Our advice: turn the alarm clock to the wall.

Avoid stimulants
About three to four hours before you go to bed, you should avoid stimulants such as nicotine, alcohol and cola. Many herbal teas and warm milk have a calming effect and can help you fall asleep.

Do not go to sleep immediately after eating
You should especially avoid large meals just before going to bed. A full stomach has a negative impact on sleep because the body is busy digesting. You should definitely skip night-time snacking.

Exercise and sport
Do you exercise regularly? Good thing, because it has been proven to help with sleep disorders. However, you should avoid intense exertion in the evening. Nordic walking, gentle gymnastics and yoga, for example, are ideal.

Don't relieve stress and anger in bed
Rest before you go to bed. If this is difficult for you, autogenic training may help.

Sleep better in the dark
Keep the lights off when you wake up at night. The brightness can mess up the internal clock.

Create a cosy bedroom
Is your bedroom a place of rest and relaxation? Create an oasis of well-being without disturbing elements and clutter. Most people find a room temperature between 16 and 18 degrees pleasant.

See a doctor if you have persistent sleep disorders
Do not reach for tablets straight away if you have a persistent lack of sleep. Go to the doctor and get advice.

Where we get our organic cotton from...

Prolana sources organic cotton - one of our most important raw materials - from Chetna, an Indian non-governmental organisation. Chetna works with 9,000 organic cotton farmers and is currently helping 7,000 more with the conversion to organic farming and certification.

For us, Chetna is a perfect partner because we have common goals: Prolana uses organic cotton because it is produced without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. This makes it healthy for our customers, but the farmers also benefit because they do not have to deal with chemical poisons. They also get a slightly better price for organic cotton.

Our values include - wherever possible - making a contribution towards improving the working and living conditions of producers. Paying a fair trade premium is only one aspect. By working with Chetan, we support the cotton farmers and their families directly. Most of the farmers in India are poor and have just small amounts of land.

Many belong to particularly disadvantaged social groups. Chetna helps organic cotton farmers from seed procurement and cultivation (compost management, biological pest control, intermediate crops ...) to harvesting, processing and marketing. And Chetna supports the farming families (sometimes even the entire village community): Chetna employees advise women who want to grow organic vegetables as a sideline, assist seed initiatives in setting up seed banks and help parents get scholarships for their children. You can find out more about this in our stories.

"Living-Wage"" pilot project

We have set ourselves the goal of treating everyone involved in the production of a Prolana product fairly - from cotton farmers to the seamstresses who finish our products. A small part of our goods, for example our children's sleeping bags, are therefore manufactured by selected partners in India. Our motivation is not the low price, but to involve the people in the processing industry in the added value that is created, and not to see them purely as raw material suppliers.

“Normally” only the cotton farmers receive a fair trade premium, but not the other textile workers such as the seamstresses. The reason for this is that only a very small part of the cotton produced worldwide comes from controlled organic cultivation and only a fraction of it from fair trade. It is comparatively easy to pay the farmers a fair trade premium for raw cotton. But before this raw cotton is turned into a children's sleeping bag or pillowcase, it has to go through many processing stages: The cotton is cleaned, carded, spun and twisted into a thread. The yarn is processed into a woven or knitted fabric, printed or dyed as required, and finally cut and sewn. The value of cotton consequently increases as it is processed or 'refined'. And dozens of people in different companies, in different places, are involved in the creation of a product. And since fair trade still only has a small market share, only a few members of the workforce spend a small part of their working time in a spinning mill, weaving mill or in the assembly department, manufacturing fair trade products.

Nevertheless, we are determined, insofar as this is feasible and makes sense, to involve these people in the creation of value. We do this, for example, through a “Living Wage” project. At our Indian partner, the state minimum wages are of course paid for the further processing of the organic cotton fabrics (for example the sewing of our children's sleeping bags). Independent calculations have shown, however, that this minimum wage does not correspond to the definition of a “living wage” (in German: “subsistence minimum”). For this, the wage level would have to be increased by 20%. For this reason we are taking part in a pilot project: at its core is the calculation of the proportion of wage costs that are incurred, for example, in the manufacture of a children's sleeping bag. We pay 20% more to close the described gap. At the end of the month, this fair trade surcharge is distributed to all employees, since it is pure coincidence who is currently working on a Prolana order and who is not. The more fair trade products are bought and the more companies take part in the “Living-Wage project”, the faster the wage level can be raised for all employees. At the moment the workers get a 13th month's salary, so to speak. From our point of view, this is a good start.

Where we get our natural rubber from...

Our mattresses are made from 100% natural, plant-based raw materials. The most important of these is rubber. But it is also required for other products. Like cotton or pure new wool, rubber is a natural product and therefore a renewable raw material.

Synthetic rubber, often referred to as ""cold foam"" in connection with mattresses, is made from the fossil, finite raw material crude oil. The manufacturing process is energy-intensive and products made from petroleum are poorly degradable. At some point they end up in a landfill. Natural latex, on the other hand, is made from rubber milk. It begins to flow as soon as a tapper removes a wafer-thin strip of bark from the trunk of the rubber tree with a sharp tapping knife. But rubber trees are not only suppliers of a valuable raw material, they also make an active contribution to environmental protection, because they absorb more CO2 than most other plants.

In addition, natural latex mattresses have been named the test winner in many independent tests because of their very good lying properties. Rubber is therefore a high-quality, versatile material that is superior to synthetic rubber in many ways. Especially when it comes to protecting the environment.

The idea of fair trade is also one of the basic values of our company. It is therefore important to us to give the primary producers of natural rubber - in particular rubber tappers, plantation workers and small farmers - the opportunity to participate in fair trade.

Why is the rubber we use fair traded but not certified by the Fair Trade Labelling Organization (FLO)? This is because FLO has no criteria for rubber. For this reason, Prolana is a founding member of Fair Rubber e.V. We are the largest processor of fair trade natural latex worldwide. The aim of the association is to improve the living and working conditions of the primary producers of natural latex.

For every kilogram of the raw material Dry Rubber Content (portion of the rubber in the ""latex milk"") the members of the association pay a fair trade premium of € 0.50. A percentage fair trade premium, on the other hand, would not make sense, since the prices for rubber are dependent on the world market. When prices are low, producers cannot even cover their production costs. At Fair Rubber e.V., at least the fair trade premium remains the same. In addition, in contrast to other fair trade programs, the producers do not pay any fees to be listed on a certified plantation register. On the contrary: if necessary, the association will even cover the costs of any certification.

This premium paid by the Fair Rubber members is not a donation, but an additional income for tappers, plantation workers and small farmers. They decide for themselves which projects they want to finance from it. Over the past 30 years, the fair trade premium as made it possible to implement projects, some of which were very extensive, which have improved the living and working conditions of the workers on the plantations.

Sustainable trade relationships are an important part of our corporate philosophy. And the personal encounters with the local people are always a great enrichment. We appreciate the numerous personal conversations and the shared vision and look forward to gaining insights into the worlds of our partners and to learning more about their lives and cultures.

Lalita - the life of a rubber worker

The day starts early for Lalita Ayrangani. At 4.30 a.m. she gets up and starts to cook for the whole family: rice, vegetable curry and a coconut dip for breakfast and lunch that everyone can take to work. Her daughter, son, his wife and four-year-old granddaughter live next door. At 6 a.m., 44-year-old Lalita goes to the factory building where the latex is processed; work starts at 6.30 a.m.

Until recently, Lalita had to get up even earlier: over a year ago, the tank that fed the water supply to Lalita's house collapsed, which meant that she and the rest of the family were more than 500 meters away from a source of water. Several times a day she ad to go to the spring to bring back every litre of water that was used for drinking and cooking in buckets and jugs. The Fair Trade Committee agreed that a new water tank should have priority and the work has now been completed and water is gushing out of the tap behind Lalita's house. All you have to do is fill one of the bulbous stainless steel vessels and carry it around the corner into the kitchen.

Lalita's shift in the factory ends at 3 p.m. She usually buys some groceries from the plantation's co-op and vegetables from one of the stalls nearby afterwards. When she comes home, she plays with her granddaughter, does laundry, takes a bath, and sets out to cook dinner for the family. Her children all work in a factory that makes clothes. The company provides transportation, but wages are low, only Rs 12,000 a month. Why don't the children work on the plantation where they could earn more? Lalita smiles and shrugs her shoulders - the work in the clothing factory is clean, she says, and the children attended school, so they think that a job on a plantation is not for them.

“A lot of young people work in these factories for a couple of years,” says Nisala Jayawardena, the plantation manager, “but then they turn 30 and get fed up with spending a couple of hours on the bus every day and the noise in the factory floor then they apply for a job with us. ”

Lalita was seven years old when she came to this plantation with her parents and grandparents. Her father still works in the factory and her mother is retired. Since her husband died in an accident, she has lived in two small rooms alone. Her living room, in which family photos, vases and figures of gods are lovingly arranged on the few items of furniture, leads onto the veranda. The rest of the family shares the rest of the house, two bedrooms and a living room with vases full of artificial flowers and a small TV in the corner. The children come home from work around 7.30 p.m., in time for the Sinhala soap operas that Sri Lankan television shows every evening.

What hopes and dreams does Lalita have for the future? She says she has been satisfied since the water started running again. Now she just wishes that the children are well and that they can settle in their own apartment nearby.

About the happiness of being able to shower

We at Prolana firmly believe that partnership, respect and personal relationships allow you to work together fairly around the world. As a founding member of Fair Rubber e.V., we have already seen several times how some projects made possible by the Fair Trade premium have made the lives of several thousand people a little easier. One of these is the water project that was implemented on the Udabage rubber plantation in Sri Lanka.

WJ Christian is sitting on the floor of his shed, tools, spare parts, scrap iron and cables are piled up around him. Happy screeching sounds can be heard from the area behind Christian's wooden crate, which is surrounded by a thick fence - four boys are trying out the new showers. Before the public communal open air shower was installed i, you could only wash in the nearby stream.

The showers are part of the Fair Trade water project and there is a reason why they were built right behind Mr Christian's workshop: he can reach them without help. The 52-year-old contracted polio as a baby, his legs are bent and without muscles, and he can only move with difficulty on all fours. “The water project has made me much more independent,” he says. Now, not only can he bathe without help, but the villagers have also installed one of the 12 common drinking water taps directly behind Mr Christian's house, which means that he doesn't have to constantly ask his aunt or neighbours to fetch him water.

Everyone was happy to help him, because WJ Christian is known for his craftsmanship - if he cannot repair it, it really belongs in the trash. In 1995, in just six months, he constructed a fully motorized tricycle, low enough that he could get on and off without any problems. Since then, he not only drives to church on Sundays, but he can also reach customers all over the plantation - whether someone needs new, hand-made wooden window frames or a fan needs to be fitted with a new cable. With his talent and his precise way of working, WJ now has  a reputation that extends beyond the boundaries of the plantation. But he does most of his work in his workshop: more than 20 years ago, a plantation manager asked him if he could sharpen the rubber tappers' knives - of course, WJ Christian could and still does. It takes him about an hour to fix the draft knife, which resembles a wood chisel, and to make it usable again. He sharpens up to 10 knives a day, gets Rs 180 each and, along with his other jobs, earns enough to live on.

The fair trade water project benefits 72 families, six families each share a drinking water tap and all use the four showers. Each family paid a one-off sum of Rs 100 to install the tap and Rs 20 a month to use the water. The money is collected by the members of the water committee, who in turn are responsible for the regular control and maintenance of the taps and supply lines - this means that the families pay for a service that the water committee has to provide.

The members of the Fair Trade Committee are of the opinion that a small financial contribution from the beneficiaries leads them to see the project as their own and to deal with it responsibly. Families will be able to buy water meters later this year (the cost is Rs 2000 and can be paid off over two years). Only then will separate pipes be laid so that every family will have a water connection directly in their house. A big change in a community in which up to now the nearest water source dried up for two to three months a year and every litre of water had to be carried more than 500 meters from another source.

The families live in buildings called 'Lines', a form of accommodation introduced by the British in the 19th century on rubber and tea plantations. Each family lives in two rooms in an elongated, single-storey building that is accessible from a veranda. But with the temple, the bus stop and a huge peepul tree, the 'Lines' in Udabage almost have the character of a small village. And the residents obviously have a sense of community and a sense of responsibility - that the showers would be built as close as possible to WJ Christian's house and workshop was clear from the start.

Happy cooking and manure for the plants

More than 2000 organic small-scale farmers in the south-east of the Indian state of Gujarat have come together in the “Suminter Cotton Project”. The soils are not very fertile, and one thing in particular helps: manure. But for that you need a cow (of course it can be a bull - if he can be harnessed). With the additional fair trade income, the Suminter farmers bought seven cows for seven families. The only condition: the first calf is given free of charge to another family in the project, who then gets the first calf again ... The result: happy cows, milk for the families, lots of manure and healthy organic cotton plants.

Walliamma - a retiree tells us her story

We see it as part of our responsibility to support the workers on the rubber plantations in improving their living and working conditions. As a founding member of Fair Rubber e.V., we maintain long-term relationships with our trading partners and are also allowed to immerse themselves in their cultures.

Waliamma is 72 years old. She still lives in the village on Mahaoya Plantation where she was born. After 44 years of working as a rubber tapper, she retired at 68. One of the small perks that she enjoys as a pensioner is that she no longer has to fetch the water she needs in the household every day in large, bulbous aluminium jugs from the water point ten minutes' walk away - her family and neighbours did that for her. Now she can do it herself again, says Waliamma. There is now a new tap, financed by fair trade funds, just a few steps away from her house. On Mahaoya, too, the Fair Trade Committee (Joint Body) elected by the workers had decided that a water project should be implemented first. The spring that the villagers used until then not only dried up occasionally, the water had to be boiled before it could be drunk or used for cooking. This is no longer necessary either, because the newly built tank is equipped with a filter.

Waliamma has been widowed for 15 years and shares the small house with her brother, sister and their families - nine people in two rooms. A corrugated iron shed serves as the kitchen, whilst the laundry is washed and they bathe in a nearby stream. The two living rooms and bedrooms are meticulously tidy and clean. Her grandfather came to the plantation looking for work and got a job in the factory where the freshly drawn latex milk is processed, says Waliamma. Her father became a foreman on Mahaoya, her mother a tapper. Waliamma took on her first small jobs on the plantation at the age of 13, and at the age of 24 she was also a tapper. She only went to school for two years and even then she decided that her children should get an education one day. At that time there was only a secondary school in the capital, Colombo. It was not easy for her to send her sons there, but at least they were able to live with relatives. Her nieces are better off going to a local school. Together with other schoolchildren from the village, they walk the five kilometres to school every day.

Much has changed for the better, says Waliamma. The tappers eearn more and three years ago she and her family were able to move into their small house, which also has an electricity connection. She proudly points to a new iron and a small pile of folded shirts and saris. And in the second phase of the fair trade financed water project, there will be individual connections in every house in the village in addition to the community connections. What else does she want? If the two sons lived a little closer with their families and could visit more often with their grandchildren, that would be nice.

The Fair Trade Committee also sees another possibility to improve the lives of retirees like Waliamma in particular. In Sri Lanka there are no monthly pension payments, only a one-time payment when an employee retires. This means that most of them are dependent on family support or are financially dependent. On a rubber plantation in India, which is also part of the Fair Rubber e.V. fair trade model, the joint body used part of the fair trade funds to take out supplementary pension insurance for tappers and workers. On Mahaoya the water supply has priority, but you can still develop and plan ideas…

Water patrol in Walpola

The Fair Trade premium paid by the members of Fair Rubber e.V. made another unique project possible in Walpola, Sri Lanka.

The water supply has long been a problem in Walpola, but all previous attempts to provide the 66 families with clean water have failed: there was no one the villagers could turn to if the pipes were leaking or the taps were broken. Usually it did not take long until everyone had to
drag in buckets of water from a spring about 100m downhill, often polluted by grazing cows. That is now a thing of the past.

The 262 beneficiaries of the project helped dig the trenches for the lines that connect the village with the tank on a hill about 800 m away. The fair trade funds were used to buy building materials and water meters (Rs 1950 each - just under EUR 11). The first 1000 litres of water are billed to the families at Rs 50, after that 1000 litres cost Rs 25. Since the villagers only use the water for cooking and drinking, no one assumes that the bills will be particularly high, no one will be paying more than around Rs 200 per month for water. But the income will be enough
to reward the four members of the water committee elected by the villagers: their job is to read the water meters once a month and to issue individual bills. Then there is the maintenance work: water pipes and taps are checked once a week, and it's the turn of the filters every three months. The water committee members are also required
to address any problems that arise immediately. The surplus of the income is saved in an account in order to buy spare parts and other necessary materials. Maybe even a small amount will be left as start-up capital for another water project.

The water meters they use in Walpola make this water project an innovative and unique undertaking: the villagers are not just passive consumers, they pay for a service and the water committee is responsible for it. The model was developed by the so-called Joint Body - a committee of employee representatives that is elected on all plantations involved in the Fair Rubber project.

The 32-year-old Vijay Kumar is one of the beneficiaries of the project and at the same time one of the members of the water committee. Until now, the family members had to
fetch water twice a day for the 9-person household. Mr Kumar is a plantation worker and union representative. His wife, Satguna Devi, is a rubber tapper and they have two children who are seven and two years old. Mr Kumar's father is retired, his wife still works as a tapper. Then there is the 82-year-old grandmother, Mr Kumar's aunt and his 24-year-old sister
Ambiga: She runs the daycare and preschool with 25 children up to the age of five.

In the past, the water not only had to be dragged in in buckets but also boiled. Every two to three days the family was busy collecting wood for several hours. ""Now the water comes out of the tap and we can drink it without worry,"" says Mr Kumar. He is proud of the decision the villagers and the Joint Body made. “Some people think we're crazy for paying for this water. But nobody becomes ill from the water any more and others on the plantation are suddenly interested in what we are
doing and how the system works ”. He's not the only one who thinks the water meters were a good investment.