The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a bit of a confusing term.  Some may think it is a sleeping disorder similar to sleep walking where the victim unknowingly showers while they sleep.  Others may think that it’s a neurosis someone may suffer from that makes the person change their sheets every night before going to bed.  As helpful as showering while sleeping may be, and how annoying it would be to change the sheets each and every night, sleep hygiene is neither of these two things.  Sleep hygiene is a set of good habits to accomplish to prepare for a great night’s sleep.

I know how busy life can get and that we all have demanding schedules.  What I am going to suggest for optimal sleep hygiene is not adding more on to your plate, rather I am going to suggest changing the times or eliminating certain things from your daily routine.  You don’t have to take on every suggestion, but you’ll definitely want to try a few of the options to see if they help you relax, which prepares you for restful sleep.

Remember when you used to have a bedtime? I do, my mom would put me to bed at the same time every night when I was younger as she tucked me into bed with my Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal.  Now that I’m in the real world with a real job (yes, being the Snooze Director is a real job), it’s just as important to have a set bedtime.  Good sleep hygiene starts with having a set bedtime and wake up time that you adhere to everyday (even on the weekends).  Your body will grow accustomed to relaxing more easily as it gets used to falling asleep and waking up at the same time everyday.

Do you already pump iron at the gym? That’s great, but do you go after work or later in the evening?  That’s not so great.  You’ll want to get your workout done first thing in the morning or complete it no later than three hours before bedtime.  Right after finishing your workout, your body will experience an endorphin high that gives you an energy boost, which is why it is highly recommended to run through your exercise regimen first thing in the morning.

I remember when my mom used to help me get ready for bed, the routine consisted of a bath, putting on pajamas, reading a book together and then Winnie the Pooh and I were off to dreamland probably half way through reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  It’s just as important to have a relaxing bedtime routine even as an “adult,” (I still haven’t come to terms that I can refer to myself as an adult).  Taking a hot bath or shower before bed will relax your muscles and ease your way into restful sleep.  Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed and read a book instead or listen to relaxing music.

Now here are some things to avoid in your daily routine that promote quality sleep.  While napping can be helpful getting you through your day (if you have the opportunity to), just make sure that you don’t nap too late in the day.  You’ll also want to keep your nap less than 20 minutes, so that it won’t mess with your sleep cycle.  Having caffeine after 2pm is a big no-no; caffeine stays in your system for a long time and can turn your sleep cycle upside down.  Don’t forget that caffeine isn’t just a regular cup of coffee; it’s also in tea, decaf beverages, soda and chocolate.  If you’re having a hard time without your afternoon coffee, try drinking a cold glass of water or get up and walk around the office for an energy boost.  Lastly, if you think that night cap is helping you sleep, that’s not entirely true.  While studies have found that those with alcohol in their system fell asleep quickly, their quality of sleep was nothing to brag about.  Drinking too close to bedtime will keep your body up at night, which decreases the quality of sleep you’ll get because you spend less time in the REM stages of sleep.  As a rule of thumb, finish your alcohol consumption no later than three hours before bed.

All of these suggestions are to reduce stress and ease your mind and body into restful sleep.  Giving one or two of these a try each night will help you get to sleep quicker and stay asleep for longer.  Don’t forget the importance of a supportive mattress, when it comes to getting a great night’s sleep.  A mattress that was purchased more than eight years ago might not be properly supporting your body and will promote tossing and turning each night, which decreases the quality of sleep you get.  The body benefits tremendously from quality sleep.  Making a few small changes to your daily routine will help maximize the benefits of sleep for your body and mind.

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Snow Birds and Their Mattresses

Summer has come and gone, the fall foliage will peak in no time, and then before you know it, old man winter will be knocking at our doors.  You may still have the sand between your toes, but soon enough you’ll be applying layers of clothing rather than sunscreen.  While most of us will soon be stocking up on shovels and melting salt, many of the retired and senior citizens will be flocking the airlines and migrating to the warmer weather for the better of the next six to seven months. 

Winter is coming, don't get left behind!

Appropriately named the “Snow Birds,” these older generations have the right idea by heading to popular warm destinations where they may have bought a second home to wait out the wicked winter conditions of the Northeast.  Living in a secondary home shouldn’t mean sleeping on a lower quality mattress.  Sleep is always important, no matter where you are staying. 

Important questions that these snow birds should ask themselves upon arriving at their warmer weather home, “How do I sleep on this mattress?  How comfortable is this mattress?” And most importantly, “How long ago did I buy this mattress?”  Spending almost half the year on an old, unsupportive mattress does no good for the body or the mind.  Being that the snow birds are comprised of older generations, it is very likely that since the last time that they bought the mattress for their secondary home (or even since the last time that they have stayed there) that their bodies have changed, which means that their old mattress won’t comfortably support them for a great night’s sleep.  As we age, our bodies lose muscle mass and become more fragile, therefore our needs from our mattress will change more frequently than the 10+ years the mattress can last. 

Sleepy’s, the Mattress Professionals, is here to take care of the snow birds’ every need.  With over 700 locations across the Northeast, you can stop in to any of our showrooms to test which mattress works perfectly for you.  Sleepy’s delivers to all 50 states, so the new mattress that you pick out can easily be delivered to your home in the warmer destinations.  We will also remove your old mattress and install your new mattress upon delivery.  With loyal, quality mattress brands such as Simmons, Sealy, Serta and My Side (just to name a few), Sleepy’s is definitely the most trusted name in mattresses, providing you the opportunity to find the best mattress for you and that fits your budget.

The right mattress compliments a great night's sleep.

Sleep is always an essential need, no matter what age you are.  Not getting eight hours of quality sleep can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and depression.  To fully enjoy your golden years, you’ll want to be getting a great night’s sleep every night on a mattress that best suits your comfort needs.  Even if it’s the mattress in your second home in that warm destination, you should make sure that you have the proper mattress for the months that you’ll be spending on it while dreaming of sunsets on the beach and how great it feels to not shovel snow. 

I'm definitely going to be a snow bird when I retire.

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Sleepy’s On Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

As part of its ongoing  Bedder Days effort to ensure people are getting a great night’s sleep, Sleepy’s has joined forces with the ABC hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and made a donation to provide a family in need with brand new mattresses.  The Springfield, Massachusetts family suffered a devastating loss when their 11-year old son took his own life after falling victim to bullying at school.                           

The grief stricken family has not slept in their bedrooms (one of which was where their son was found), and have been sleeping on couches and rollaway beds for the past two years.  In an attempt to provide this family with restful, supportive and well-deserved sleep, Sleepy’s has provided six new mattresses for the children, mother and grandmother who all live in the home together.

The ninth season of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition begins Sunday September 25th at 8/7 central on ABC.  Be on the lookout later this fall for the episode in which Sleepy’s provides a mattress donation to the Massachusetts family.  Bedder Days partners with service organizations to bring basic bedding to people in need.

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Back Pain and Mattresses: My Interview with a Physical Therapist

I sat down with James Kalenderian, the owner and a physical therapist at SoundSide Physical Therapy in Locust Valley, New York.  James sat down with me to discuss the basics of back pain; what to do when when it first happens, who to see about the pain and what to do about your back pain.

Below is my interview with the physical therapist:

 

 

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Back to School Means Back to Bed

On August 24th, 2011 Sleepy’s hosted a blogger and press event at our showroom on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.  The event brought together notable parenting bloggers in the NYC area to get advice from the Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus.  The Sleep Doctor offered helpful tips to get children back to their school sleep schedule.

After a long summer of late nights and late starts, it is crucial to prepare your child for the dreaded early morning wake up for school.  It’s best to start this process ASAP for your child to be back to their school sleep schedule for the first day of school (it should be a gradual process).  Here are some great tips for you to try.

  • Light Therapy: Children have a hard time readjusting their sleep schedule because their circadian rhythm is off.  An easy way to reset their internal clock is with light therapy.  There are light therapy boxes you can purchase, but it’s a good idea to talk with your child’s pediatrician first to see which product would be best for your child.  For light therapy to work, all you need to do is have the light indirectly hit your child’s eyes.  Whether they’re watching TV or playing arts and crafts, you can set up a light therapy box next to them while they are doing their favorite activity.  TIP: You can use light therapy to eliminate the effects of jet lag and seasonal depression as well.
  • Aromatherapy: I’ve already told you how helpful taking a hot bath or shower before bed will make it easier for you body to relax in preparation for restful sleep.  Dr. Breus recommends adding relaxing scents to your hot bath/shower for maximum restful effects.  Lavender is the most common scent to induce relaxation.
  • Make Bed Time Earlier: This week, try and have your child go to bed 15 minutes earlier.  15 minutes is a small enough, yet effective, interval of time to start resetting your child’s sleep cycle.  For one whole week have your child’s bedtime 15 minutes earlier.  Then next week, have your child go to bed 15 additional minutes earlier; so that’s 30 minutes earlier than their summer bedtime.  It’s a noninvasive, gradual way to have your child in bed earlier and therefore rising earlier in the morning.

If your child is lacking sleep during the school year, it will affect their immune system.  Besides having a groggy child on your hands, they will also be more susceptible to sickness if they are sleep deprived.  If you try Dr. Breus’ sleep tips and your child is still resistant to wake up in the morning, their mattress should be evaluated (too old, not supportive enough) or they could possibly have a sleep disorder.  It is important to talk to their pediatrician if you think your child could have a sleeping disorder.

 

Contributor: Emily Barrett