Students and Sleep: Improving Learning One Night at a Time

Lucélia Ribeiro

Photo Courtesy of Lucélia Ribeiro

With school starting up again, we as parents and grandparents always try to give our children the tools that they need to succeed.  This usually means books, pencils, a back pack, and other supplies to help them learn.  But did you know what is also important for learning and memory retention?  Sleep.

Harvard University has linked lack of sleep with lack of focus, which makes sense.  What many people don’t realize is that lack of sleep not only means quantity of sleep (as in hours rested), but also quality of sleep (as in how many hours you spend in deep REM sleep). A person that goes to bed at 10pm tosses and turns until 12am, then wakes up intermittently throughout the night until waking up at 6am isn’t getting 8 hours of good, restorative sleep.  In fact, someone who goes to bed at 12am, but falls directly asleep, and stays in long REM sleep cycles will wake up feeling more rested, and more able to focus on tasks with energy.

There are three functions that need to occur during learning, according to The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School: Acquisition, Consolidation, and Recall.  Acquisition is the process of actually learning the material, such as in class or by reading.  Consolidation is the process that makes those memories of learning stable, and permanent.  Recall is the process that allows for the mind to remember this learning, thus making it useful. Consolidation occurs while we are sleeping.  Although scientists aren’t sure how, the brain processes the information received throughout the day, and stores it in the correct place.  A student that is not getting proper sleep will not remember key learning points the next day, therefore making the original Acquisition process useless.

Photo Courtesy of CollegeDegrees360

Photo Courtesy of CollegeDegrees360

So when you’re getting your child ready to go to school or college, take a look at their sleeping situation.  Is their twin sized bed too small for their bigger frames?  Has it developed a dip or sag, therefore not giving the best support?  If they’re on the way to college, check out the dorm mattress, and replace if necessary.

Another great idea is to get your children in a good sleep routine.  Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed time.  Keep the bed clean, and not full of toys.  Make sure that the temperature of the room is comfortable.  Maintain the same sleep and wake times as much as possible.

We all want our children to get the most out of their education.  In preparing them for the new school year, also prepare their brains to absorb and retain all that learning!

Mattress Toppers – Like Putting Lipstick on a Pig

Buying a mattress topper to extend the life of your mattress is a common solution for many people who are uncomfortable on their bed.  In some cases, it can be a lifesaver.  In others, it is like gluing your shoe back together – it makes it usable for a while, but things quickly go back to the way that they were before.

Polyurethane Mattress TopperWho Should Buy a Mattress Topper?

Really, only people who have a NEW mattress that they are just not comfortable on should purchase and use a mattress topper.  Their new mattress will still have adequate support, and that support will still benefit the sleeper even through a topper.  If you have a mattress that is less than 5 years old, isn’t sagging, and is just too firm, then by all means, purchase a topper.  DrSnooze.com does carry toppers, though they are not currently available on the site for nationwide shipping.  If you are interested in purchasing one, give us a call at 855-377-6669, and we’d be happy to help you.  We have memory foam and latex toppers only, of high quality.  For more info on buying toppers, skip ahead to the “What to look for in a mattress topper” section…

Who Should NOT Buy a Mattress Topper?

Everyone else.  No, really.  If you have an old mattress, and are trying to make it more comfortable, just buy a new mattress.  The reason why your back hurts is the lack of support.  A topper does not offer any additional support, just comfort and pressure relief.  Your back is still going to feel as sore, even with a new topper.  If it’s a price issue, take a look at some less expensive yet supportive and comfortable mattresses like the Beautysleep Mount Laurel or the Perfect Sleeper Huxley Plush.  Many stores also offer financing, like our No Credit Check financing from Progressive.

I have heard of customers that just get so sick of mattress shopping, and are so confused by all the different beds and stores out there, that they just give up and buy a topper to make their current bed last longer.  People, procrastination isn’t going to help you.  Not only is mattress shopping going to be equally as horrible in a few years, but there was a reason why you went shopping in the first place: your mattress is worn out, and needs to be replaced.  Find a reputable dealer, that employs a salesperson that is both knowledgeable, and that you like.  Then spend an hour with them, and really decide what is best for you.

Mattress TopperWhat to Look For in a Mattress Topper

  • High density foams, such as memory foam, or latex foam will last the longest and offer the most pressure relief.  Good quality American made products, however, may cost as much as a new bed, so be prepared.
  • Stay away from those “egg-crate” polyurethane foams.  While they are in every bed every made, they are usually placed under a few layers of breathable material.  As a topper, they are right up against you, and will trap heat and make your bed into a sauna.  Additionally, they aren’t the most durable, so while cheap and easy to find, plan on replacing it in as little as 2 weeks.
  • Gel foams will keep you cool and comfortable, but are usually a bit firmer than other toppers.  They last a long time, but are pricey.
  • Yes, there are still down toppers.  No, I don’t like them.  They are bird feathers, you know.  They start to smell after a while.  The quills start to poke through the fabric and into your skin.  They cause some people overwhelming allergies.  You have to fluff them up EVERY DAY.  And really, it’s just gross.  Buy synthetic, buy foam, fill your bed with styrofoam peanuts, lay in 2″ of marshmallow fluff, whatever floats your boat, but please, don’t buy a down topper.  Yuck.

A topper can extend the comfort of your mattress for a period of time, but will not affect the support at all.  An old, tired mattress will still make you feel old and tired after sleeping on it, even with a topper.

Memory Foam Off-Gassing and Your Health

As memory foam beds gain in popularity and market share, off-gassing has become a major part of the conversation.  No one wants to cut off their nose to spite their face, and you don’t want to breathe in harmful chemicals to get better support for your back.  I try to pay attention to what I put in and on my body, and can not ignore what’s being said on the internet about my beloved memory foam.  Read on to find out whether you should re-think your memory foam mattress.

What is Memory Foam Off-Gassing?

Memory Foam Off-Gassing

Photo Credit: Brian Fitzgerald

“Off-gassing” is a term for the chemical odor that can sometimes accompany your new memory foam mattress.  Everything naturally gives off a scent, from your neighbor to your apple for lunch, to your new carpet.  The particular scent that most people associate with off-gassing of a memory foam mattress is related to the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that are sometimes used in the manufacturing process.  Most of these chemicals are rendered inert (inactive) after the product is formulated, but their smell can remain.

Is Off-Gassing Dangerous?

To be perfectly honest, most of the dangerous chemicals that were used have been phased out in the US and the UK.  These are PBDEs, which include formaldehyde and CFCs.  Reactions to these and other chemicals found in memory foam mattresses can include headache, eye and nose irritation, nausea, or respiratory problems.  These symptoms always abate as the scent from the mattress dissipates.  According to the EPA, finished foams used in bedding do not present a health hazard.

How to Avoid Off-Gassing

There are a few ways to avoid the memory foam off-gassing issue entirely:

  1. Purchase a latex mattress instead of a memory foam mattress.  You’ll get similar support, the same durability, great pressure relief, and if you buy natural latex, no off-gassing.
  2. Ask the store to air out the mattress before it is delivered, or air it out yourself once it arrives.  Unwrap the mattress and place it in a closed room with windows open.  Within seventy-two hours, the smell should be gone.
  3. Buy a mattress that carries the CertiPUR-US seal.  CertiPUR-US tests all the materials in the mattress for VOCs, PBDEs, carcinogens, CFCs, formaldehyde, and other toxic materials.  Good options are Simmons CURV, and Comforpedic by Beautyrest.

My Opinion on Memory Foam Off-Gassing

Since I can’t make it all the way through a post without throwing my two cents in, here it goes: I am not worried about the off-gassing from my memory foam mattress.  Sure, I am concerned about chemicals in my everyday life, but I feel like my memory foam bed is really far down on my list.  We use lotions and soaps every day with a bunch of ingredients that we can’t even pronounce.  We eat foods that have a bunch of chemical flavorings.  I breathe in exhaust from cars, second-hand cigarette smoke, and ahem, methane from my husband.  Even with how sensitive my skin and allergies are, I have never had a reaction to my memory foam bed.  I put a mattress protector on it, and ta-da, no smell.

Source Credit: orangefan_2011 (flickr)

Source Credit: orangefan_2011 (flickr)

In all honesty, I think that memory foam off-gassing is a trumped up issue.  It’s the SAME smell as “new car scent”, which we are always trying to replicate with air fresheners.  That new couch that you bought will have the same smell also.  And don’t even get me started on the yucky chemicals that are in your carpet that no one even thinks about.

The end result is that the government believes that memory foam beds are not toxic.  Many companies, such as Comforpedic, have made huge efforts to make their mattresses healthy and scent-free.  Air it out and put an Encase Mattress Protector on it, and rest your body on a conforming, pressure relieving, comfortable memory foam mattress.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Check out this great info on sleep apnea – it’s a dangerous condition that you might not even know you have!  If you do, there are some things that can help you, like a CPAP machine, or an adjustable bed!

To put it in the simplest terms, sleep apnea is a condition wherein the sufferer experiences instances of shallow breathing, pauses in breathing, or even infrequent breathing during their sleep. Every pause is referred to as an “apnea,” and they can last around ten seconds in length or even a few minutes before the individual starts to breathe again. Studies see apneas occurring as frequently as five to thirty times in a single hour.

There are three different types of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and complex. Central sleep apnea refers to a lack of respiratory effort, and accounts for less than one percent of all sleep apnea sufferers. Obstructive refers to physical blockage, often resulting in snoring, and accounts for around 84% of all sleep apnea. Complex is a mix of the two, accounting for around 15% of all sleep apnea.

Because others typically observe sleep apnea during the sufferer’s sleep, many who live with sleep apnea may go years, decades, or lifetime without even knowing that they suffer from the condition.

To someone who isn’t familiar with the condition, it might not sound like much of a problem at all, but the effects of the condition can be quite serious. Frequently, poor breathing during sleep can result in restless nights and general lethargy during the day. Slightly less common, but not entirely atypical, sleep apnea sufferers may wake up in sleep paralysis, the paralysis that your body undergoes during deep sleep in order to keep you from harming yourself during the night. Those who have regular experiences of waking up during sleep paralysis may even grow to fear sleep and develop insomnia.

Long-term effects of sleep apnea can include memory loss and poor focus. In other words, sleep apnea is taxing on the brain.

Treatment can include medication, devices to assist in breathing such as CPAP masks, and even surgery for extreme cases.

Many who suffer mild sleep apnea may choose simply to live with it, but getting proper treatment can be an effortless, painless process. That said, the condition affects different people to different degrees, and the treatment that is right for one may not be for another.

 

About CPAP2Me:

CPAP2Me.com is a dedicated website where individuals can go to purchase CPAP machines, CPAP masks and other sleep apnea supplies at guaranteed low prices. CPAP2Me is committed to providing you with quality service without compromising affordability. Our staff is made up of respiratory therapists and industry experts with nearly 40 years of collective experience who are available to help you in any way possible.

Sleep Apnea Info YOU Should Read

Hey everyone – this is a great article by John Redfern on sleep apnea.  This is a very dangerous and common condition, and deserves more attention than it gets.  Check it out:

Sleep Apnea and its Prevalence in Europe and the USA

There are three known forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea that is a combination of both central and obstructive and these constitute 1%, 84% and 15% of cases respectively. In CSA, breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort. With OSA, a physical block to airflow, despite respiratory effort, interrupts the breathing and snoring is common. Overall 99% of all cases are OSA based.

 If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – also known as sleep apnea, and by far the most common type, you’ll know that this form of sleep-disordered breathing can seriously affect your quality of life and impact your health if left untreated. It is estimated that sleep apnea affects between 2% to 4% of the adult population in the UK, yet this debilitating condition often goes undiagnosed so we are far from sure.

 At 4% there would be approximately 2.5 million sufferers in the UK but very few people are actually being treated currently for the problem.

 OSA is a worldwide phenomenon. Studies suggest that in Western European countries from 3-7% of middle-aged men and 2-5% of middle-aged women suffer from OSA, but figures vary widely due to low diagnosis levels.

Living with a Sleep Apnea Sufferer

Despite the increasing recognition that obstructive sleep apnea is a relatively common condition, population data used to estimate disease prevalence in the United States and abroad did not exist accurately until about 15 years ago. Since the 1990s much has happened to quantify the levels of obstructive sleep apnea in various populations. A number of studies using large samples representative of the general population are now available and provide prevalence estimates for obstructive sleep apnea in countries such as the United States, Australia, Spain, China, Korea, and India.

 According to figures issued by the World Health Organization approximately only 100 million people worldwide have OSA. In the USA, OSA is estimated to affect 1 in 4 men and 1 in 9 women; and affects a total of 23 million working adults. Untreated moderate or severe OSA is associated with a six-fold increased risk of death from all causes, independent of any other illnesses.

 Other published figures state much a higher total figure based on detailed analysis of registered sufferers and some of these figures are shown below. If one accepts that the addition of the undiagnosed sufferers would at least double these numbers then the figures are quite alarming.

 Country                      % with OSA       Actual Number

United Kingdom          4.0%                    2.5 million

United States              4.1%                    18.5 million

Australia                      3.1%                    0.8 million

India                            7.5%                    85 million

China                           4.2%                    57 million

Korea                          4.5%                    2.3 million

 There is evidence that regular snoring and OSA are both independently associated with alterations in glucose metabolism and OSA might be a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. The prevalence of OSA is also found more often in those patients with cardiac or metabolic disorders than it is in the general population.

 The prevalence of sleep apnea is higher in different population subgroups, including overweight or obese people, those of some ethnic groups such as African-American, and in older individuals. The fact that prevalence estimates of obstructive sleep apnea from North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia are not too substantially different suggests that this disease is very common not only in developed but also in developing countries. Moreover, given the widespread under-recognition of this disorder by the medical and lay communities, the public and personal health care costs globally are likely to be absolutely enormous.

Source: World Health Organisation

It is estimated in the USA that although there is a known figure of 18.5 million residents* with sleep apnea, there are over twice that many with some form of major sleep disorder – 40 million in total. If these figures are to be believed, the difference is mostly attributed to undiagnosed OSA, and the problem is even more enormous than we believe and constantly worsening.

It is important for us to recognise that obstructive sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine surgery visits and no blood test can help diagnose the condition. Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep so a family member or bed partner might be the first to notice the distinctive signs of sleep apnea.

Untreated sleep apnea can:

     Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes and cancer

     Increase the risk of, or worsen heart failure

     Make arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, much more likely

     Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

 Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people, and it is critical to get professional help and support if you suspect that you are suffering from the condition described.

John Redfern

Sources for US Statistics: 27.02.2012 – National Sleep Foundation and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 *US statistics – see the detail for these Sleep Disorders.

Bed Bug Tips

With all the bed bugs in the news, it’s only a matter of time before you come in contact with one (or one thousand).  I’ve done some research about bed bug removal, and have compiled a list of what you can do to avoid an outbreak, as well as to treat an existing problem.  Remember that bed bugs aren’t the only pests that can plague your home, and many of these tips can be used for a variety of other insects too.

Avoiding Bed Bugs

Unlike other pests, bed bugs don’t live in your yard and invade your home without warning.  Most infestations are due to the bugs hitching a ride on a guest or clothing.

  1. When you travel, inspect the hotel room before bringing in your belongings. Bed bugs like to hide in crevices, like behind the bed, in picture frames, in the seams of the mattress.  They are large enough to be seen, and just a little checking can save you a lot of heartache down the road.
  2. If you didn’t find any bed bugs but still came out of your hotel stay with bites, take care not to bring them into your home.  Instead of bringing your luggage home, take it directly to a laundrymat, and wash all of your clothing in hot water (including what you’re wearing!)  Throw out the suitcase, and bring everything back in plastic bags.
  3. If you see someone scratching, stay away!  These bugs can transfer from human to human quite easily.  Treat them like they’re a virus…avoid them at all costs!
  4. If possible, ask guests that come into your home if they’ve had any issues with bed bugs or unexplained bites.

Bed Bug Treatment

If they are already in your home, there are a few ways to get rid of them, depending on the severity of the infestation.

  1. If you’ve caught the problem before it has become unmanageable, there are a few lesser known options to consider.  There is a product called bed bug spray that can treat a small area, or that can be used in conjunction with other remedies.  Bed bug spray is non-toxic, and can be used around children and pets.  It not only treats the problem, but also can be used as a repellant.
  2. Another way to treat a small infestation is with diatomaceous earth.  A fine powder of fossilized shells, it’s a completely natural way to rid yourself of bugs.  Just sprinkle it where the bugs are (or where they need to walk through), and wait for a few days.  When bugs walk through the powder, the tiny sharp edges perforate their legs, and their moisture escapes.  Kind of gross, but effective.  Diatomaceous earth is also great for fleas, roaches, and other walking insects.  It’s safe to use around kids and pets, it can even be applied to your pet’s fur to kill fleas already biting!
  3. Many pest control companies have a bed bug service using pesticides to kill bed bugs.  However, some strains of the pest have become resistant to the chemicals used, and so they are less effective now.  Not to mention, they are VERY EXPENSIVE.
  4. You can always just throw everything out, and set fire to your home.  Just kidding…or am I?

Bed bugs can be hard to get rid of, but it is possible.  The best option is to pay attention to your surroundings and avoid them at all costs.  Also, if you’ve been getting bitten, or find spots of blood on your sheets, treat for the bugs regardless if you see them or not.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!

 

Why a Mattress Set Isn’t As Expensive As You Think: Part 2

I know, the last blog was a little dry, not everyone gets as excited about mattress components as I do.  However, this blog will knock your socks off.  For all of you that think that mattresses are overpriced, read on.

What I did was to compare a few different products that almost all of us have: a car (I Car or Mattress Set?evaluated both new and used), a cell phone, and a TV.  I didn’t go for the most expensive, I tried to find the average costs online (or I estimated), and then broke down the cost of the actual item over the expected life.  Please note that I did NOT include extras like gas, car insurance or registration, cell phone plans, or cable.  I also did not include any finance charges (which we all know can really get ya on the back end, especially for the cars).  Check it out:

New Car

Average Price: $30,748 (according to TrueCar.com for 2012)

Average Time Kept: 6 years (according to latimes.com)

Average Trade-In Value after 6 years: $10,000 (according to me, estimating, with my not so vast knowledge about cars)

Average Time Spent in the Car Per Day: 2.5 hours (according to  WikiAnswers.com)

Cost PER HOUR for that car, according to the figures above: $3.79

Used Car (up to 8 years old)

Average Price: $14,375 (according to National Automobile Dealers Association for 2013)

Average Time Kept: 6 years (according to latimes.com)

Average Trade-In Value after 6 years: $0 (I’m assuming that you’re driving it to death)

Average Time Spent in the Car Per Day: 2.5 hours (according to WikiAnswers.com)

Cost PER HOUR for that car, according to the figures above: $2.63

Cell Phone

Average Price: $200 (I’m assuming that you’re going for the new agreement discount price)

Average Time Kept: 2 years

Average Time Spent on Phone Per Day: 1.5 hours (according to cnet.com, including gaming, texting, etc.)

Cost PER HOUR for that phone: $0.19

TV

Average Price: $749 (for a 42”, at Best Buy)

Average Time Kept: 7 years (both LCD and LED last from 4-10 years, depending on quality.  Since I’m factoring in a middle of the road model, I figure it will last in the middle of the road for lifespan.)

Average Time Spent Watching TV per Day: 4 hours (that is ridiculous)

Average Price Per Hour: $0.07

 Mattress Set

Average Price: $899 (this depends on where you are, and what sales you find.  I’d say that you can get a decent bed pretty much anywhere for $899-$1000)

Average Time Kept: 10 years (this is according to me, and how long the mattress is really supposed to last)

Average Time Spent in Bed per Day: 8 hours (perfect world, and all)

Average Price Per Hour: $0.03

 three cents for a mattress set

What?  Three cents an hour?  What else can you get for three cents an hour?  Even if you DOUBLED the price of the bed to $1799 (which is a pretty snazzy bed), you’d still be at $0.06 per hour, which is less than your TV, cell phone, and car.

I’ll give you my ideas on why we’re so cheap when it comes to our mattress set, and not with other items in our life:

  • Who sees your mattress set?  Um, no one.  Who sees your car, your TV, or your cell phone?  Everyone that matters.  It’s a status thing, and that’s ok.  I’ll admit that my car is less than 8 years old, I have a smartphone, and we have a pretty nice TV.  However, I also have a great bed to sleep on.  No one wants to be ridiculed for driving a ’72 Datsun, or for using a flip phone from 6 years ago.
  • We only go out to buy these things a few times in our lifetimes.  You’re used to the price that you paid for your mattress set ten years ago, and haven’t monitored prices since then.  You go into a store, and see that the price has DOUBLED.  Wow.  But think, what did you pay for a gallon of gas ten years ago?  I paid $1.25, and now it’s almost $4.00, which is more than triple.  We don’t notice because it’s only a few pennies per time we go to the pump, not all at one time.
  • In our society, sleep is an afterthought.  It’s not exciting.  It’s something to put off when there’s something better going on.  We’ll spend a ton of money for memory-making experiences, or for luxurious rest and rejuvenation, but we ignore what our body needs most: restful sleep.  It’s become kind of a badge of honor to tell how little sleep we got last night, or how much work we got done in a small amount of time because we didn’t sleep.  Aren’t energy drinks a billion dollar industry now?

old mattress setThat all being said, this is why you need to rethink your ideas about the price of a new mattress set:

  • Of all the stuff that I analyzed, a mattress is the ONLY THING THAT AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH.  It affects how you feel each day, your energy level, your body repairing itself, your immune system, even your weight.
  • If you buy something better now, you will get paid back with two benefits: you won’t have to worry about replacing it for quite a few years, and you’ll be more comfortable and supported on a daily basis.
  • You can live longer without food and water than you can without sleep.  Think about that.

So, before you buy the latest technology or upgrade that car that’s still running great, but has a few dings, think about your mattress set.  Your money might be spent more wisely in your bedroom.

Disagree?  Feel free to rant at me in the comments, I welcome the challenge!!

 

A Middle-Aged Sleep Problem: 9 Ways to Fix Your Night Life

I write about sleep a lot.  I think about sleep a lot.  I don’t get enough sleep, a lot.  I usually base my research and posts about either children, or retirement aged people, and tend to ignore my own sleep problem demographic, the thirty to fifty crowd, but no more!  Here’s how it started:

Toddler Sleep ProblemsToday, I was waiting for my 3-year old to wake up from his nap.  It was about time for him to get up, so I let myself do some noisy chores, like the dishes, in hopes that he would wake up.  Every few minutes, I’d check on him, and he’d still be sleeping soundly.  I even went into his room to clean, and he slept right through it.  As I sat on the edge of his bed, dreading the impending crankiness at being awoken, I realized that this kid is getting great quality sleep, and I’m getting next to nothing.  I’ll admit it, I’m jealous of my toddler.

I have always assumed, like many of you, that as we get older, our sleep quality decreases.  I think I’ve even written posts and articles on the topic.  However, there was an article in the LA Times last year that states that if you weed out illness, the sleep you get in your middle age and older is the same as what you got as a kid.  Impossible, I say!

So I did some more research, and found evidence for both sides of the argument.  As we get into our thirties, our sleep is disrupted by work (yes), social events (yes), and children (triple yes).  If we can manage those areas of our lives, then we can get that sound sleep that we enjoyed in our youth, and can stop feeling like zombies all day.  It really is possible.

Some doctors and other experts still believe that our quality and quantity of sleep deteriorate as we get older, due to less melatonin production.  Combine this with the higher instances of illness and stress, and it’s a natural assertion that sleep will suffer.

What can you do?  I’ve given this list a million times, but here it is again with some additions:

  1. If you have kids that disrupt your sleep, figure out how to make them sleep better.  I’m a horrible example, because even at 3, my son is still not sleeping through the night, but I know that it is possible, I’ve heard stories.  It will make everyone more pleasant in the morning, apparently…
  2. Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every Frazzled Sleep Problemsmorning.  This may mean changing your Girl’s Night Out to a Women’s Luncheon, but maybe you won’t have to drink twelve cups of coffee to make it through the next day.
  3. Sleep in the dark.  It’s a novel idea, and it really works.  Use shades on your windows, turn the clock the other way, and don’t leave the bathroom light on.
  4. Keep your room cool – it’s easier to sleep snuggled in a warm blanket, than sweating on top of the sheets.  Try using a fan if you don’t want to keep your A/C on as high.
  5. Reduce the amount of noise in your bedroom.  This may be street noise, the TV, or an offending partner’s snoring; regardless, eliminate it.  Sleep in separate bedrooms, use a white noise machine, make everyone else in the home watch TV in the basement, anything to keep it quiet.
  6. Find a bed that limits motion disturbance.  We all know that I’m a fan of Comforpedic memory foam, but other memory foam products also do a great job, as do Beautyrest mattresses.
  7. Pretend like your workplace is Las Vegas: whatever happens there, stays there.  Don’t let your job stress compromise your sleep, because it will become a vicious cycle (when you are tired, you’re going to underperform, and lose your mental quickness and memory capabilities).
  8. Limit alcohol and food intake right before bed.  A full belly can make comfortable sleeping difficult.  Also, alcohol creates disruptive sleep, as hard as it might be to believe.
  9. Make sleep a priority.  We have all been guilty of putting off sleep to get other things done, please a loved one (why are so many major sporting events on in the evening, until midnight!!!), or to just get some time alone without people wanting you to get them things that they can easily get themselves.  For a week, put all that aside, and focus on sleeping.  See how much better you can feel, and how much more pleasant you can be.

All of this is great, but I am the eternal pot, and you, of course, are the kettle.  I will make an effort to be more conscious of my own sleeping habits, and will report back to you.  Feel free to report back to me in the comments, and tell me what works best for you.  We will get through this middle-aged sleep crisis together.  And if not, eventually the kids will grow up, we will retire (hopefully), and my friends will be more “let’s have mimosas at a Sunday brunch” instead of “let’s ride the mechanical bull at the country bar until 3am” kind of people.  We can all hope.

A Latex Mattress Can Help You Go Green

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Nowadays, there is so much emphasis on going “green” and returning to more natural ways of living.  I’ll admit, it’s important to me too, and I buy organic produce and meats, prefer real sugar to sweeteners, and dress in all natural fibers like cotton and wool.  We don’t use chemical cleaners in our home in favor of vinegar and citrus, and we’re looking into purchasing a hybrid vehicle.  Usually, all this natural stuff can be significantly more expensive than the traditional man-made items.  Do you need to spend $5,000 on a specially made organic mattress?  Not when you can get a great latex mattress for less than you think.

Organic BedsWhether it’s an allergy issue, product sensitivities, or you just like the idea of knowing what is in your home and on your body, the next step to purifying your life might just be your mattress.  It can be hard (and ridiculously expensive) to go out and find an all organic mattress (and they might not be too comfortable either).  While we don’t have an all cotton or all wool mattress, we do have choices that can be healthier for the environment, as well as healthier for you.  Check it out:

  • We have a variety of latex mattresses from Nature’s Way and King Koil Contour Response.  These mattresses have no coils, they have a base foam instead, with layers of latex atop that base foam to add support and comfort.
  • Within the King Koil Contour Response Collection, the Opulent and the Essence are all latex.  They have a 7″ Dunlop (man-made) latex core, with Talalay (natural, as in Latex Mattressfrom the tree) latex padding layers.  The Glorious, Harmonious, and Lavish have the same Dunlop core and Talalay padding, but they also have memory foam padding layers also, which is a man-made polyurethane foam.
  • Some of our mattresses, such as the Renaissance Euro Box Top, have bamboo covers.  Bamboo is soft, resilient, breathable, and renewable.
  • If you don’t mind man-made, but don’t want all the toxic chemicals, Comforpedic may be your brand.  Their entire line-up of memory foam beds are CertiPUR-US certified, which indicates that there are no toxic or questionable materials within their mattresses.  They are also great because they last for so long (they have 25-year warranties), you won’t have to replace (and throw out) the mattress for almost twice as long as a regular bed.
  • Concerned about polyurethane foams?  There may be some off-gassing, it’s just part of the process.  However, King Koil’s Everlast foam (which is in almost all of their beds) is 58% soy based, so it’s a more natural polyurethane than is offered by other brands.

There are many options to try to rid your life of unhealthy chemicals and processes, and more are coming out every day.  We will keep you updated as we get new “green” beds in.

Bed Recommendation for Scleroderma Sufferers

If you suffer from scleroderma, then you know that there are a bevy of often misdiagnosed symptoms, as well as so many complications that it’s hard to keep them all under control.  I’ve written articles about fibromyalgia, arthritis, and sciatica, but have never tackled a bed recommendation for such an intricate and difficult problem as this disease.

scleroderma bed recommendationThis all came about when a customer inquired about a bed recommendation for someone who suffered from scleroderma.  I did some research online, but found the most information by snooping around on the forums, and made a list of what people recommended the most.  Remember, I am not a doctor, and I don’t have this disease, this information is compiled from online posts of people who do suffer from the pain and complications of scleroderma.  These recommendations may, or may not work for you, but they’re worth a try.

  • The easiest problem to ease is GERD.  Acid can be kept in the stomach by elevating the head of the bed, and sleeping at an incline.  Of course, adjustable beds are great for this, they are recommended for acid reflux problems.  A great option is the Pro-Motion base, which has all of the movement functionality, but not any of the expensive extras.  However, as many contributors noted, if you need a pretty steep angle, and you’re a side sleeper, this configuration is not going to work.  Another great option is a wedge pillow, and there are longer versions that can be comfortable for side sleepers.  My bed recommendation is to use one with a memory foam bed (such as a Spirit Sleep or Comforpedic), because it will form to the wedge better, and not slip.Comforpedic: bed recommendation for scleroderma
  • Similarly, if it’s breathing difficulty that needs to be addressed, due to decreased lung function, sleeping at an angle can assist with this as well.  Again, adjustable beds are great, or the wedge option can work as well.
  • Finally, for this customer, the problem was pain.  Unexplained (and undiagnosable) bone pain can be the worst symptom to address.  The issue with this problem is that everyone will be comfortable on different beds, and one size does not fit all.  However, it makes sense to me that the goal of the bed recommendation should be pressure relief.  You can get good pressure relief from a thick pillow top (check out a Bernardsville Plush Pillow Top), or great pressure relief from a softer memory foam bed (the Balanced Days is an idea).  Another benefit of these softer mattresses and memory foam beds is that they increase circulation, which can help with stiffness and pain in the extremities.

It must be intensely frustrating to not only feel terrible and have it misdiagnosed, but then to find out that there is no tried and true treatment, and no cure.  You never realize how important comfort is until you don’t have it anymore.

One forum contributor said that they have been sleeping for the past two years in two hour intervals, throughout the day.  While this isn’t optimal (or possible for some with regular out of the home jobs), it is a sustainable way to get your rest.  The key is to take the time to find the most comfortable bed for you, and not to be concerned about price (you will feel better and can possibly get better quicker when you’re getting quality rest).

On a last note, wherever you decide to buy your mattress, wedge, or other option, make sure that they have an exchange or return policy.  We have both, and are more than willing to work extensively with any customer who has chronic pain like scleroderma.  Good luck, feel better, and if we can help, let us know.

Some Helpful Resources for you to Download –

Download Free Scleroderma Information Packet – Scleroderma.org

Download Sciatica Resource Guide.

Free E-Book – Foods for Fibromyalgia. Sign-up To Receive Your Copy Now!

Exercise for Arthritis – YouTube

Why Comforpedic is considered as the Healthiest Mattress?