Sweet Dreams

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

Month: March 2012

Is it Time for a New Mattress?

A mattress is a long-term purchase, so it’s easy to forget the basics such as the warning signs that you may need a new mattress.  Mattresses can come with warranties that last 10-20 years but sometimes you may need a replacement sooner than that.  So how are you supposed to know if it’s time for a new mattress?

The first sign is how old your mattress is.  If your mattress is between 5-7 years old it could be time for a new mattress.  Since the years have passed when you first purchased your mattress, your body has gone through changes whether they are natural (gain/lose weight, muscle mass, etc) or not (surgery, accident, etc) your mattress may not be properly supporting the recent changes that have happened to you.

If you find that you’re waking up with aches and pains or even more tired than you were before going to bed, that is another sign you may need a new mattress.  A mattress that doesn’t properly support you can cause aches and pains from building pressure points throughout the night.  The increasing pressure points also lead to tossing and turning throughout the night to find some sort of comfortable position which makes you feel exhausted in the morning because you didn’t get any sleep.

Finding a comfortable spot to sleep anywhere but in your bedroom is another possible sign you need to replace your mattress.  Sleeping on your couch, or recliner, or maybe even your car, is not conducive to restful sleep.  These pieces of furniture are not meant to support you for the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep like your mattress is made for.

Examine the surface of your mattress.  If you see the indentation from where you sleep and even if you regularly rotate your mattress it won’t go away, that is another sign you may need a new mattress.  Remember your mattress should always conform to you, not you to it.

We spend one-third of our lives in bed, so always make sure that you are being properly supported each night by your mattress.  Sleep directly affects your quality of life so make sure you invest in your health by getting a mattress that is comfortable and supportive.

I made a video about the signs when you may need a new mattress.  Check it out below!  When do you know it’s time to replace your mattress?  Leave me a comment in the comment section below to get the conversation going.


Contributor: Emily Barrett

The Pillow Test

Do you know when to replace your pillows?  Do you even know if you should replace your pillows?  Many of us might still be holding on to a beloved pillow that is near and dear to our hearts.  The one pillow that been on many road trips and has traveled from hotel to hotel since you can’t fall asleep on anything else.  But did you know that even though you think you’re comfortable, that pillow might not be properly supporting you after many years of use?

There’s a simple test you can use on your pillows to determine if they are still functional.  You’ll want to fold your pillow in half and place a light weight on it, such as a book or a shoe.  If your pillow unfolds with the weight on top of it, then your pillow is still supportive.  If your pillow remains folded in half, then your pillow needs to be replaced because it isn’t supportive enough.

Typically pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years.  Having a pillow protector pad will extend the life of your pillow because it will ward off mold and dust from building up inside of it.  The average head weighs about 8 pounds, so if you’re sleeping on an old, unsupportive pillow, you’ll be waking up with aches and pains.

How old is the pillow you sleep on?  Do you remember when you last replaced your pillow?  Tell me all about your pillow stories in the comment section below!

To see the Pillow Test in action, check out my video:

Contributor: Emily Barrett

Daylight Saving Time Begins March 11th

It’s National Sleep Awareness Week and Daylight Saving Time is this Sunday March 11th, so I figured now more than ever I should recap some of the most important sleep tips so that you can learn how to get quality sleep.  Especially since we’ll be losing an hour of precious sleep this Sunday, getting enough shut eye will be an issue for all of us.

Let’s start with the basics.  A dark, cool and quiet bedroom is the perfect environment that will promote quality sleep.  The darker the room, the better; room darkening shades can help you achieve optimal darkness.  And if you’re on the go, an eye mask will also help simulate a dark room.  It is recommended to keep your room between 60 degrees and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  If that sounds too cold to you, then bring extra blankets to bed so that you will feel warmer.  It’s beneficial to sleep in a cool room because it becomes easier to reach deep sleep when our core body temperature drops a little bit.  So although you may be wrapped up in your comforter, your head is still exposed and that’s enough to lower your temperature.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, don’t hit the snooze button!  Hitting the snooze button every 10 or so minutes for the half hour to hour before you officially wake up, isn’t helping you at all.  If you set your alarm for the time you actually get out of bed, you will have longer uninterrupted sleep, therefore you will wake up feeling more rested and ready to take on your day!

Ritualize your bedtime routine.  Completing a few relaxing tasks each night before bed will ease your body into a relaxed state and will be easier to fall asleep.  Whether you take a hot bath, wash your face or read a book, just make sure your bedtime routine doesn’t involve your electronics.  No TV, cell phones, tablets or computers at least two hours before bed.  The light your electronics emit ceases melatonin production, so you won’t feel tired and ready for bed if you’re checking your emails right before bed.

I also put two sleep tips to the test to see how effective they really are.  My first sleep tip experiment tested if exercising too close to bedtime would keep you up all night.  I found that when it comes to exercising affecting sleep, it really depends on the person.  I was fine with exercising late at night, but for other people it doesn’t work well for them.  My second sleep tip experiment was going without coffee for a week.  The results from this experiment proved to me that eliminating my regular coffee consumption helped me sleep even better!  I definitely believe that avoiding caffeine in the afternoon will help anyone sleep better.

What is your favorite sleep tip?  Do any sleep tips work for you?  How about, what sleep tips don’t work for you?  Tell me your sleep tip trials and tribulations in the comment section below so that we can get a conversation going!


Contributor: Emily Barrett

Sleep Positions and Your Health

I found a really interesting article on Sleep.com about “How Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Health,” and I thought I would share some of the key points with you.  We spend (optimally) eight hours each night in a primary position so there has to be some benefits and some negative effects for remaining in a single position throughout the night.  None of the negative effects are life threatening, they are more so a nuisance.  Here are the three most popular sleep positions and how they affect your health.

  • Fetal Position – While lying on your side with your feet curled up towards your chest and your chin pulled down towards your chest as well, the fetal position is one of the most common sleeping positions.  A benefit to sleeping in the fetal position is when you’re pregnant; sleeping on your left side will increase blood flow to the uterus.  With the increase in circulation, your baby will get plenty of oxygen and nutrients while you sleep.  The downside to the fetal position won’t be felt until the morning.  Spending all night curled up can cause aches and pains in your neck and back.
  • Back Sleepers – Whether you’re a soldier or a log, a back sleeper is more prone to snoring.  Also you may want to avoid sleeping on your back while pregnant because there is more weight stressing your lower back which also affects the veins that carry blood to your legs.  If you have the proper mattress, back sleeping is great for keeping your spine in neutral alignment so you shouldn’t wake up with aches and pains.
  • Stomach Sleepers – Sleeping on your stomach greatly reduces snoring, but if you have to use a CPAP machine every night, it won’t be very comfortable sleeping on your stomach.  Also, while in the early stages of pregnancy you may find it comfortable to sleep on your stomach, as your pregnancy progresses it will become more difficult and more uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach.

I had a great opportunity to make a video for Sleep.com and it was about sleep positions, personalities and how they are related.  There is great content on Sleep.com not just about sleep but also about your health.  There are two really cool features that I love on the site.  One is that you get to share your dreams with other Sleep.com visitors and the other is the Sleep Debt Calculator, which is a really handy tool.  Visit Sleep.com and leave me a comment on this blog on what you thought about the site!


Contributor: Emily Barrett

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