Can Labor Day Make You Happier and Healthier?

Can Labor Day Make You Happier and Healthier?

Ah, Labor Day. A much-needed break from our day-to-day routines and an excellent excuse to have one last celebration of summer. Who doesn’t love getting another chance to squeeze in some more fireworks, picnics at the beach, barbeques in the backyard or a final family vacation before we have to really buckle down for work and school in the rapidly approaching autumn?

This end of summer holiday got its start as a way to honor the American labor force and give the hard workers that have helped to make our country great a nod for their contributions to the strength and prosperity of our nation.

It also gives us all a chance to indulge in some much-needed and well-deserved time off. So whether you’re planning to squeeze in as much fun as you can or simply crash on the couch for a serious Netflix marathon session, there’s one thing that should most definitely be a part of your Labor Day. You guessed it – getting some rest!

You probably already know how important sleep is to your health and happiness, and you might even already know some of the scary symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as a lack of focus and impaired cognitive abilities, or even an increased likelihood of developing heart disease or diabetes. Yikes!

We thought it might be a good idea to go over the importance of Labor Day to both our country and the state of our sleep health. Keep reading for some fun and helpful facts…

What's Really Behind Labor Day

Although most people think of Labor Day as the signal of the start of the widely-known but rarely-followed “no white after Labor Day” rule, the holiday has much more going on behind the scenes. Oh, and if you were wondering, the thinking behind that now mostly ignored fashion guideline was due to the thought process that white clothes were once seen as less protective against cold weather than darker clothes. And so people would set aside their light colored clothing as winter approached.

Celebrated on the first Monday in September since the 1880s, Labor Day got its start with the creation of the Labor Movement, which recognized and praised the social and financial achievements of American workers from every corner of the country.

While getting plenty of rest and enjoying yourself on Labor Day is what it’s all about, it’s also important for us to look back and reflect on all of the hard-working folks that helped America become the strong nation that it is today and gave the much-appreciated holiday its start.

And we should include today’s workforce in our reflection and appreciation, as we get the ball rolling toward the new movement of a fair wage for fair work. More than half of working Americans make less than $15 an hour, which puts many of them shockingly close to the poverty level, even when they have full-time employment.

A Brief Labor Day History

The older our nation and the American worker gets, even more emphasis is given to the day designated to recognize them. The very first time Labor Day was recognized came from municipal ordinances which went through in 1885 and 1886.

The first state to accept the day as a holiday was Oregon, in 1887. During the same year, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and New York all created the legislation enacting Labor Day. By 1894, Connecticut, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and twenty-three other states followed suit in celebrating the holiday.

By June of that same year, the act was passed for Labor Day to be a national holiday in the District of Columbia, as well.

The Founder of Labor Day

More than a century after the very first Labor Day, confusion and disagreement as to who can actually stake a claim to being the founder of the “worker’s holiday,” although the man to sign it into law as a national holiday is officially known as Grover Cleveland.

Some records show that a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor named Peter J. McGuire was the man who first suggested the day to honor “those who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

There are some who believe that a machinist, Matthew Maguire (not to be confused with McGuire), was the first to support the idea, and most of the recent research into the matter seems to lean mostly in his favor.

The one thing that can truly be agreed upon is the fact that after the holiday was suggested, a committee was appointed by the Central Labor Union to organize a picnic and demonstration in honor of our nation’s labor force.

The First Labor Day

Tuesday, September 5th, 1882 is the date of the first Labor Day celebration and New York City was the location. It’s been an annual (and hugely popular) event in the United States ever since.

Before the day was recognized as a true national holiday, the Central Labor Union would ask similar organizations from around the country to participate in the rapidly developing “workingmen's holiday,” which caused the idea to rapidly spread through other American organizations.

5 Intriguing Labor Day Facts

If you want to entertain your family and friends with some trivia about Labor Day and what it’s meant for American workers, give one or two of these fun Labor Day facts a try!

1. Childhood labor was very real: In the late 1800s, it was common practice for child workers to be a large part of the American workforce, beginning as young as the age of five, and expected to work for up to 12 hours a day.

2. A late start for organized labor: By the time the U.S. Department of Labor got its start, Labor Day had already been around for nearly two decades.

3. Fun for families from the start: On the first American Labor Day, 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to 42nd street in Wendell’s Elm Park to meet their families for the festivities.

4. Regulated hours: On September 3rd, 1916, the traditional 8-hour work day got its start, thanks to the passing of the Adamson act.

5. Sad but true: Labor Day is considered to be the official close of “hot dog season.”

Join in on the Labor Day Celebrations

When Labor Day was still a newer holiday, most American workers used the day to spend time with their families or even prepare themselves for more work in the coming weeks and months.

Today, many of us still take the chance to have some quality time with loved ones when Labor Day rolls around but it’s also now known as a great day for some serious shopping, thanks to tons of sales during the holiday weekend.

Of course, there’s lots more to do when it comes to celebrating Labor Day than just hitting the mall! Check out some of the cool ways that you can really enjoy up your Monday off and make it a memorable holiday…

Host an “All-White” Party: Ring in fall and say goodbye to summer while having some fun at the expense of an old tradition by throwing a “white party” for family and friends. Keep all of the party favors and food white when possible, and of course, make sure everyone knows to wear nothing but white, before Labor Day over and it becomes a fashion faux pas. Pamper Yourself: Use the one day a year that is dedicated to appreciating the hard work of the American workforce to treat yourself! Gather a group of friends and head for the spa, take a long afternoon nap or just spend some doing something that you enjoy (but usually don’t have time for) like reading the latest bestseller. Honor American Workers: Since this holiday is all about the labor that went into building our country, why not celebrate it by doing just that. Bake some goodies and take them to the nurses at your local hospital or fir station. Help your kids make a poster or write a card to the local police force, thanking them for all that they do for the community. Plan a Parade of Your Own: Include the whole neighborhood in the fun by skipping the pro parades and throwing one of your own. You can give the adults a chance to display their skills by asking them to come dressed in uniform and give the kiddos a chance to have a great time by asking them to dress in patriotic costumes. Add some prizes for the best-dressed in both age groups, a bit of music, a table of food, and some fireworks to really make it a memorable event!

Hack Labor Day with 10 Quick Tips for Better Sleep

Now that you know what the “worker’s holiday” means to our country and some unique new ways to celebrate it, the time has come for you to use Labor Day to get happier and healthier by taking the opportunity to get the restorative sleep you need and deserve. After all, you’re supposed to be using the day off from work to rest in honor of hard workers everywhere, remember?

So check out these 10 fast and easy ways to start getting higher quality sleep right now…

1. Keep your wake-up time consistent: If you’re waking up later on the weekends, you’re messing with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which makes getting to sleep the rest of the week even tougher. Stick to waking up at the same time, every single day.

2. Expose yourself to natural light: Speaking of your body’s natural rhythms, if you’re not getting a regular dose of sunshine, you’re doing some serious harm to your body’s ability to create melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Soak up at least 30 minutes of natural sunlight each day for better sleep.

3. Keep your protein levels high: Unlike simple carbs (those found in sugary foods), protein takes longer to process and doesn’t create a spike in your blood sugar levels. That means that you’ll be less likely to feel sleepy before bedtime and you won’t be craving that afternoon caffeine boost that could keep you awake at night.

4. Stop working out before bed: While exercise brings some serious health benefits to the table, if you’re hitting the gym within three hours of turning in for the night, higher levels of adrenaline could be robbing you of high-quality sleep. To stay healthy and well-rested, keep your workouts to the morning or afternoon hours.

5. Ditch your devices: You’ve most likely heard this advice before and that’s because it works! Keep your bedroom a gadget-free zone by leaving computers, TVs, smartphones and other electronic devices off (or in another room altogether) to keep the sleep-disturbing blue light that they admit from wreaking havoc on your night of rest.

6. Keep a cool head: Studies all agree that you fall asleep quicker and sleep sounder you’re your bedroom is cooler. For the best results, try to keep your room right around 65 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re catching some shut-eye, which experts say is the ideal sleeping temperature.

7. Upgrade your bedding: Nothing will help you sleep better than a supportive and comfortable mattress paired with soft, clean sheets. You’ll fall asleep faster and stay that way! And with a third of our lives spent in bed, what could possibly be a better investment?

8. Unwind your body and mind: Take a warm bath, have a cup of herbal tea or glass of warm milk, read an entertaining book. All of these things will help you to relax and unwind after a long day, while also sending signals to your body and your brain that it’s almost time for lights out.

9. Stay loose: Ditch the restricting PJs and go for sleep attire that is loose and cool. Sleeping in a material like cotton is your best bet, as it won’t bind or stick to your skin, and will also help prevent tossing and turning.

10. Get serious about relaxation: One of the best things you can do to get better sleep is to find some great ways to relax, both at bedtime and throughout the day. Try adding some essential oils in calming scents to your bedroom, such as vanilla, sandalwood or lavender. Or give some light yoga a go – it not only relaxes your body and diminishes aches and pains, it also calms the mind, helping you to fall asleep easier than ever.

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