Sweet Dreams

Having a good night's sleep takes more than just a bedtime.

Month: April 2011

Do You Feel Like You Sleep on a Cloud or a Rock? How to Pick the Right Mattress.

Finding the right mattress can be an overwhelming task, especially if you are currently sharing half of the bed with someone else: two bodies, two body types, two opinions.

When the big day comes to buy a new mattress, dress comfortably, and make sure you have ample time to really sit down and lay on all of the mattresses. If you are sharing the bed with someone else, it is important that you are both there to test out different selections.

Scroll down for important factors to consider before heading to the store.

COST: Think about your budget. A Queen set with box spring typically averages around $1200, with a new box spring (always replace your box spring as it may void a warranty using an old box spring).  If the mattress you are purchasing is for a guest bed than you probably don’t need to go for the most expensive set. Since it is beneficial to buy a new mattress every 6 years, spending $17 a month isn’t so awful considering how much time we spend in bed. Most of us spend 8 hours a day on our mattress, about 1/3 of our life, so it needs to be a place of rest and rejuvenation. The long-term benefits of a quality mattress far exceed the price tag.

STORE: Go to a reliable chain, such as Sleepy’s; the salespeople at Sleepy’s complete training courses to help you select the right mattress.  National stores carry quality brands of mattresses such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Tempur-pedic, Stearns + Foster, Laura Ashley and King Koil. A big secret that most consumers don’t know is that often these brands make a better quality product for the big chains, while making a similar product for the smaller stores with a degraded quality (you can read more about this at Consumer Reports).  The best mattress stores even offer a free sleep profile that can help you find the perfect fit. Many times you can even schedule an appointment on their website.

TYPE: Here is where it gets a little tricky : soft, hard, firm, pillow top, innerspring or foam mattresses. The most important thing is the hardness and/or the softness of your mattress. Too soft will cause your bed to collapse and too firm will cause space between your spine and the bed, thus putting strain on your lower back – you need to find something in the middle. A rule of thumb is that the heavier you are, the less foams you’ll need on top; while the lighter you are, the more foams your body will need. The goal is to find a mattress that will contour enough to let your hips drop in slightly while keeping your legs raised a little, creating perfect postural alignment.

While you are testing mattresses, roll over to your side and stay there for about 5 minutes. Notice if your fingers start to tingle. If they do, then that means that there is a lot of pressure being placed on your body, and your circulation is being cut off. Throughout the night, as your circulation is cut off, your body’s response is to move, commonly called TOSSING AND TURNING. So the more cushion you have on the mattress, the more it will reduce pressure points, causing less tossing and turning. The top layers of mattress cushioning are often what sell the customer since comfort is what most of us are looking for, so feel it out.

SIZE: Bigger is better; a healthy sleeper moves around 15 to 30 times throughout the night. Cramped conditions can make sleeping awkward, uncomfortable and altogether frustrating. As you and the person you are sharing your bed with get older, your sleep will become more restless and you may require extra room in bed.

Your mattress purchase is very important so don’t take it too lightly. Happy Hunting!

Contributor: Greg Longmuir

The Meaning Behind Our Bedtime Sayings

Who doesn’t want to know the meanings behind some of these quirky, sleepy sayings?

  • Hit the Hay (or, Hit the Sack)  – Go to bed. In the early 1900s, mattresses were stuffed with straw or hay Also, some people actually did sleep on haystacks in the barn. Mary and Jesus, anyone?
  • Between You, Me and the BedpostA secret; something that only the speaker, listener (and the bedpost if s/he could talk) should know. The earliest mention of this phrase comes from the 1832 novel Eugene Aram by Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s. “Between you and me and the bed-post – young master’s quarreled with old master.”
  • Woke Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed – Acting cranky. Dating back to the Romans, it was believed that waking into a house left foot first or putting on your left shoe first resulted in bad luck. The same was believed about waking up on the left or “wrong” side of the bed. In this case, waking up on the right side of the bed is literally the “right” side of the bed.
  • Sleep Like a LogTo sleep soundly and quietly; not tossing and turning. Dating back to 1883 from the classic Treasure Island “I slept like a log of wood.”
  • Sleep like a Baby To sleep soundly, untroubled by worries. Any mother will tell you this is a joke. Most babies cry and wake up every few hours, especially in their cribs. Sleeping like a log sounds more reasonable.
  • Politics Make Strange Bedfellows Enemies forced by circumstances to work together. We can thank Shakespeare (not Monica Lewinsky) for this one. “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” from The Tempest is most likely its origin. In 1849, Edward Bulwer-Lytton adapted “Poverty has strange bedfellows” for his novel, The Caxtons. About a year later, his phrase turned up as “Politics makes strange bedfellows,” written by Charles Dudley Warner, also known as the co-author The Gilded Age with Mark Twain.
  • Go to the MattressesPrepare for battle or adopt a warlike stance. The least common phrase, but most Americans know it from The Godfather when Sonny said, “You give ‘em one message: I want Sollozzo. If not, it’s all-out war: we go to the mattresses.” It originated in 1530 from a soldier who was delegated to defend the city of Florence, Italy; he hung mattresses on the outside of the tower to minimize damage from cannon fire. Subsequently, it was also used in the HBO series, The Sopranos.


Contributor: Greg Longmuir

Body’s Got (A Bad) Back

For years we’ve been told that firm mattresses are better than plush mattresses for bad backs, but that’s actually not true. Experts agree that the best mattress for back pain should allow a spine to cast the same natural curve people experience lying down as they do when they are standing. If a mattress is too hard, it will force the spine into an unnatural position; when it is too soft, it will sag and fail to provide adequate support.

You want your mattress to be just right, not too hard and not too soft. You want it to hug your curves while providing enough support. If you think your mattress is too hard, try topping it with 1½ to 2-inch thick padding – this allows for your spine to curve naturally. For mattresses that are too soft, there aren’t many solutions other than searching for a new mattress.

Even if you sleep on what you think is the world’s best mattress, you still might experience occasional back pain. Here are some tips to help ease those aches:

  1. Try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees. Many pregnant women do this to alleviate their pregnancy-induced back pain. Ask any pregnant woman, she’ll tell you it works.
  2. If you like sleeping on your back, try tucking a folded towel under your hips for extra support. A pillow under your knees might feel good as well.
  3. Invest in a body pillow and start hugging; this helps alleviate all-around pains.
    Sometimes all you need is a heating pad (to be placed on your lower back).
  4. Before bedtime, touch your toes and try other back, leg and arms stretches.


Contributor: Cassandra Broadway

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