Beating Those 3pm Blues

Every day around 3pm my desk is unoccupied.  You can usually find me in the café buying a large coffee or at the vending machine getting a bottle of soda.  Yes, I admit it.  I am a victim of the 3 o’clock slump.  Whether my day is hectic or uneventful, I can’t help but feel a lull in my energy in the middle of the afternoon.

Why does that happen?  According to the National Sleep Foundation, our circadian rhythm varies throughout the day causing us to naturally feel tired at certain times.  “Adults’ strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00-4:00 am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm”.  We’ve talked about how the hours you work can affect your sleep patterns, but there are other factors in your workday that can be encouraging that sleepy afternoon feeling too.

If you spend the majority of your day looking at a computer screen (guilty!) it could be contributing to your need for that 3pm latte.  Researchers at King’s College London University conducted a study to see how frequently viewing a computer screen at work affected participants IQ scores.  The results were alarming.  Over a course of 80 trials, they found that those who spent the day constantly checking their messages during work had an IQ drop of 10 points throughout the day, that’s equivalent to missing an entire night of sleep!  In an age where we feel the need to constantly check our email, Facebook, and Twitter for updates, it’s not hard to figure out why there’s a line at the coffee shop in the middle of the day.

How long do you take for your lunch break?  If you’re laughing at me because you can’t remember the last time you actually took a lunch break, then it’s time to start.  Career and workplace expert, Michael Kerr, told Forbes magazine how beneficial it is to take a break in order to combat afternoon exhaustion.  He says, “It’s critical to make the most of lunch and remind yourself taking a proper break you will accomplish more in the long run, and that productivity and creativity will increase, while your levels of stress and fatigue will diminish”.  And this doesn’t mean eating quickly at your desk while you check emails.  As I mentioned above, it’s important to give our minds a break from our screens.  Get up from your desk, find a spot free of screens and distractions, and take time to relax while you eat before diving back into your work.

So how can we cure these 3pm blues?  I say take a hike.  Leave your iPhone at your desk, turn off your computer screen, and go for a 10 minute walk.  The time away from your screens will help to rejuvenate your tired mind and promote the blood circulation in your body, causing an increase in energy levels.

Just make sure your walk doesn’t lead you to the café.  This tip might be a hard adjustment (especially for me), but it’s time to put down the coffee.  Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 8 hours, which means having a cup mid-afternoon can make it harder to fall asleep at night.  Instead, try a snack that’s high in protein, like nuts or low-fat yogurt.  The protein will provide you with sustained energy, giving you that little boost you’re looking for without affecting your sleep.  Get more suggestions for energy boosting afternoon snacks from The Huffington Post.

Marcum Workplace Challenge  - Last night, Sleepy’s sponsored the 8th Annual Marcum Workplace Challenge, where over 8,000 participants came together to raise money for three great charities – The Long Island Children’s MuseumLong Island Cares -The Harry Chapin Food Bank, and the Children’s Medical Fund of New York.  Sleepy’s had over 100 participants running and walking the 3.5 mile course.  It was a great night for everyone and we can’t wait to do it again next year!

Some members of the Sleepy's team who ran and walked the Marcum Workplace Challenge to raise money for 3 great charities.

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and Snooze News.

 

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

Posted in Sleep, Sleepy's, Snooze Director | 1 Comment

Sniff Your Way to Better Sleep

In order to get a great night’s sleep, all five senses must be taken care of.  We make our rooms dark and close our eyes to shut out the light.  We listen to white noise or the waves of the ocean from a sound machine to relax us.  We brush our teeth before bed so our mouths are fresh and clean.  We are most comfortable using sheets and blankets that are soft to the touch.  What about our sense of smell?  If you’re neglecting your nose, it could be hindering your ability to sleep.  Here are some fragrances that can help us fall asleep faster and get a more restful night’s sleep. 

If your stress level is through the roof and you’re having trouble falling asleep, lavender can help ease your mind.  According to Prevention magazine, a study from the University of Southampton in Britain showed that the scent of lavender helped its participants to sleep 20% better than they did without lavender exposure.  Another sleep study conducted at Wesleyan University found that the scent of lavender acted as a mild sedative and “has practical applications as a… method for promoting deep sleep”.

Another popular sleep inducing scent is chamomile.  Chamomile has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including insomnia.  The National Institute of Health refers to chamomile as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer.  It soothes your mind, eases your emotions, and even helps to relax your muscles, making it easier to fall asleep.

Can’t remember what you ate for breakfast?  Roses could be the answer.  As reported by the New York Times, a study conducted in Germany found that smelling roses can increase the formation of memories.  In this study, the scent of rose was released into the air while its participants were in a state of deep sleep.  Upon waking up, they were asked to recall cards on a computer screen that they had memorized the day before.  The study found that those who slept in the rose scented air “scored an average of 97 percent on the card game, compared with 86 percent when they played the game and slept without being perfumed”.

Scents can do more than make us sleepy, they can help keep us awake, too.  A study from the University of Cincinnati found that the scent of peppermint made its participants more alert and increased their productivity.  So, before you reach for that 3pm cup of coffee, try using peppermint to keep your mind focused.

Not sure how to incorporate these scents into your bedroom?  Try using essential oils, a concentrated liquid version of your preferred scent.  Put a few drops of oil on a tissue or a cloth and tuck it under your pillow.  You can also use an oil diffuser that will pump the scent into the air.  Another option is to take a warm bath before bed using scented scrubs and lotions, like the ones in this spa kit.  The bath will not only leave your skin smelling great, it will also help you fall asleep faster too.  When in the bath the warm water raises your body temperature, but once out of the bathtub your body temperature falls, causing you to fall asleep more quickly.  Try incorporating a soothing scent into your bedtime routine to keep all five senses satisfied and sleepy.

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and Snooze News.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

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Time to Get Some Beauty Sleep

Let’s admit it – we all want to look good.  Americans spent over $50 billion dollars on cosmetics last year alone!  Between all the “miracle creams” and “1-step problem solvers” out there, it’s enough to make your head spin.  What if there was an easier way to look your best?  According to a new study, there is.

We know the benefits sleep has on our minds, bodies, and moods, but a new clinical trial suggests that sleep is good for our skin, too.  Estee Lauder and University Hospitals Case Medical Center teamed up to find out how your sleep, or lack of sleep, affects the way you look.  The result?  More sleep equals younger, better looking skin.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the study consisted of sixty women between the ages of 30 and 49.  The women were then split into two groups, good sleepers and poor sleepers.  Those who qualified as poor sleepers slept less than 5 hours per night.  “The study involved a visual skin evaluation and participation in several non-invasive skin challenge tests including UV light exposure and skin barrier disruption.  Additionally, participants filled out a sleep log for one week to quantify sleep duration”.

As a result, poor sleepers were twice as likely to show signs of natural aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, reduced skin elasticity, and uneven skin tone.  They also found that poor sleepers have more difficulty repairing skin damage from outside influences, such as sunburn.  Poor sleepers also retained water for a longer period of time than those who slept well, causing an increase in inflammation.

So, if you want to look your best, put down the Botox and pull up those bed sheets… it’s time to get some beauty sleep!

Speaking of beauty sleep – Sleepy’s recently donated two Simmons Beautyrest mattresses and beds to the beautiful Hampton Designer Showhouse, which benefits the Southampton Hospital.  Look at these amazing designs by Kemble Interiors, Inc.  For more information and to see more designs visit the Hampton Designer Showhouse.

Photo by Marco Ricca.

Photo by Marco Ricca.

Photo by Marco Ricca.

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and snooze news.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

As I’m sitting at my desk, looking out the large glass windows, I can’t help but yawn.  With a title like “Snooze Director” you might think that this is common practice, but with blogs to write, meetings to attend, and Twitter feeds to follow, there is no time for sleepiness in my day.  I tried to figure out what was making me so abnormally tired today…  I got 8 hours of sleep last night, I ate breakfast this morning, and I haven’t done any strenuous activity yet today.  So what could it be?   As I sat here analyzing my morning routine my eyes were drawn back to the window.  Today is the first day this month that the sun isn’t shining and the thermometer hasn’t hit 80 degrees.  I think we’ve found the root of the problem.

There is a direct link between the weather and your ability to stay awake.  You’ve probably noticed that when it’s sunny and warm, you’re cheerful and awake; but when it’s cloudy and cold, you’re tired and sluggish.  We’ve discussed what the optimal sleeping conditions are for your best night’s sleep – cool, dark, and between 54 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit – so it makes perfect sense that when the weather outside mirrors the conditions of your bedroom, you tend to get sleepy.

Whenever I wake up to a text from my fiancé that says “perfect sleeping weather” I know it’s raining before I even open the curtain.  But that’s not just his opinion, science says it too.  The two main hormones that regulate our sleep/wake cycles are melatonin and serotonin.  Melatonin helps us fall asleep and regulates our sleep cycles throughout the night, while serotonin stimulates wakefulness and lifts our mood.  When our eyes sense darkness, we release melatonin.  So on a cloudy day, although consciously we know that it’s daytime and we have to be awake, subconsciously the chemicals in our brain are telling us it’s time for bed.  On the other hand, when our eyes sense light, serotonin is released and melatonin production decreases.  This is why we are more alert and happier on bright and sunny days, while cloudy days make us want to crawl back into bed.

So, if you find yourself drinking an extra cup of coffee today, blame on it on the weather.  Just make sure you enjoy that cup at least six hours before bed.

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and snooze news.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

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Which Came First, the Job or the Sleep Deprivation?

Despite the countless studies and research stating how important sleep is for our overall health and well-being, a good night’s sleep is still not a priority for Americans.  In a world where an 8-hour work day is short and 6-hours of sleep are a lot, it’s no wonder that Americans are sleep deprived.  Shift workers have their own sleep obstacles to overcome, but what about those of us that work a 9-5 shift?  Could the amount of sleep you get be directly affecting your job?

Sleep deprivation causes a myriad of symptoms including an inability to concentrate, morning headaches and memory loss… all of which can negatively affect your job performance.  In a poll from the National Sleep Foundation, 29% of people admitted to falling asleep at work or being overly tired at work, while another 12% said that they have gotten to work late because of a lack of sleep.  Even if you’re not nodding off at your desk, getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night could dramatically affect how well you perform at work.  Getting the proper amount of sleep positively influences your mood, keeps your mind focused and helps to create more positive social interactions, which will all result in a more productive day at the office.

Do you bring your work troubles home with you?  If you have trouble falling asleep at night, stress could be the culprit.  Are you trying to sleep but ideas for next week’s presentation keep running through your head?  Jot them all down.  Nancy Rothstein, The Sleep Ambassador, suggests you “empty your head when you go to bed.  Don’t bring your work worries to sleep with you”.  Keep a pen and a pad of paper on your nightstand to write down any late night ideas or stresses.  Writing down your worries will free your mind to focus about other, more soothing thoughts before bed.

Sleepless in Chicago: A recent study conducted by Sleepy’s revealed the top ten Chicagoans most in need of a good night’s sleep.  Topping the list as the “Sleepiest Chicagoan” is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who’s high-pressure, high-profile job may attribute to his loss of sleep.  Sleepy’s recently opened 10 stores in the Chicago area, “marking the brand’s first foray outside of the East Coast”.  You can see the full list of sleepy Chicagoans and more information about Sleepy’s expansion here.

Where in the world is Sleepy’s Snooze Director? 

Today, I visited Sleepy’s Syosset showroom where I met Mattress Professional Fred Hall.  Fred was extremely outgoing and very kind.  He told me all about Sleepy’s One Day Sale, going on now!  Today only save up to 75% and every Sealy’s Beautyrest is on sale!  Visit a showroom near you or shop sleepys.com for these great savings!

 

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and snooze news.

 

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

Posted in Sleepy's, Snooze Director | 1 Comment

A Sleepover With Mother Nature

“Of course, not everybody likes camping trips. I do not myself enjoy them much, because I’m not outdoorsy, or at any rate, I’m not outdoorsy overnight-without-a-mattress-wise. There’s a limit to the outdoorsiness to which some academics can be expected to submit.”
― G.A. Cohen

While camping might not be for Mr. Cohen, for others it is a summer tradition not to be missed.  There is much to love about camping… the fresh air, campfires, sleeping under the stars, and of course the s’mores.  But, perhaps Mr. Cohen has a point – there has to be a way that we can get a better night’s sleep while camping, even without our mattress.  For those of you who plan on pitching a tent this summer, here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors.

Before you head out on your trip, be sure to do your research.  Check local weather forecasts for any impending heat waves, rain storms, or other inclement weather conditions.  Knowing the weather before you go will help you determine what equipment you’ll need to pack and what you can leave at home.

Just as the conditions of your bedroom effect how well you sleep, the sleeping conditions of your campsite are equally important.  For your best night’s sleep be sure it is dark, cool, and dry.  While nature will take care of the darkness for you, your tent can help you control the other conditions.  If you’re expecting rain, a good quality tent will ensure that you stay dry all night long.  If rain isn’t in the forecast but you’re worried about a heat wave, a screened tent will allow heat to escape from the tent while protecting you from pesky mosquitoes and other bugs.

Sleeping bags are a staple for any camping trip, but they don’t provide much cushioning between you and the earth.  To avoid sleeping on rocks and sticks, elevate your sleeping surface.  Since you can’t transport your mattress to the campsite, use a memory foam mattress topper instead.  Mattress toppers are lightweight and comfortable and it will provide an extra layer of protection between you and the ground.  As an added bonus, memory foam helps to trap heat, keeping you cooler while you sleep.

Forgo using your sound machine to fall asleep and focus on the sounds of nature that surround you.  The singing of crickets, the hooting of an owl and the rush of a flowing stream make up the soundtrack for your outdoor adventure.  These sounds will provide you with natural “white noise”, which can help you to relax and decrease stress, making it easier to drift off to sleep.

Whether you’re venturing into the woods or setting up camp in your own backyard, make sure comfort is your main priority.  Getting a good night’s sleep will help you enjoy your camping trip and give you the energy you need to explore the great outdoors.

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and snooze news.

 

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

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Hot Deals on Cool Beds!

Where in the world is Sleepy’s Snooze Director?  It’s almost 100 degrees outside, and inside our showrooms the deals are just as hot!  Today, I visited Sleepy’s New Hyde Park Showroom, where I met Mattress Professional Mike Luyster.  Mike was very patient and extremely knowledgeable, and he showed me some of the great mattresses we have on sale right now.  If you shop now, you’ll get our Hot Deals on Cool Beds special savings!  Save up to 65% on select beds in store and online at sleepys.com!  Whether you’re in need of a Plush, Pillow Top, Foam, or Firm mattress, be sure to stop by a showroom near you for some really hot deals on our coolest mattresses!

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and snooze news.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

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BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. Time to Get Up!

There are few sounds in life more irritating than the “beep, beep, beep” of an alarm clock in the morning.  It’s a painful reminder that you need to get out of bed and start your day.  Yet, it’s one of the most common household items, with 89% of Americans waking up next to an alarm clock.

What if we could make the wake-up process more enjoyable?  There is an array of new alarm clock technologies that not only help you wake up more easily, they can make it more fun as well.

How about waking up to the sunrise… or an artificial sunrise, that is.  Progressive alarm clocks make no sound but gradually turn your room from dark to light.  They mimic the actual rising of the sun and slowly add light to your room until it reaches the brightest point – the time you set to wake up.  The artificial light signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up, and is far less jarring than the beeping of an alarm clock or blasting of a radio.

Have you traded in the alarm clock on the nightstand for your cell phone instead?  Well, now there’s an app for that… or several apps for that.  Just type “sleep cycle” into the App Store search and you’ll find over a hundred applications, all claiming to wake you up at the most optimal time.  They claim to set off an alarm at your lightest point of sleep based on what time you fall asleep, an average sleep cycle, and what time you need to wake up. I downloaded one of these apps today, and I’ll be trying it out over the next week.  Check back here for an update to see if the app made waking up any easier or if I felt a difference in the morning.

Are you constantly late in the morning because you don’t hear your alarm?  If you’re a heavy sleeper, there’s an alarm clock for you, too!  How about one that rolls off your nightstand and hides?   Or a clock that forces you to do bicep curls first thing in the morning?  If that won’t wake you up, perhaps the clock that shakes your bed is for you.  If you’re looking for a fun way to start your day, or you need an extra push to get up in the morning, check out these quirky alarms that are sure to get you out of bed!

Now that we’ve discussed some different alarm clock options, it’s time to ditch the snooze button.  It’s so easy to reach over the side of the bed, with your eyes half-open, and hit the snooze button for “just 5 more minutes”.  But these short intervals of shut-eye are making it harder for you to wake up.  As stated on sleep.com, hitting the snooze button is not giving you quality sleep which is just as detrimental as getting less sleep.  Dr. Edward Stepanski says, “You waste hours and hours a week by hitting the snooze button.  Instead, set your alarm for 20 minutes later—that’s how much sleep you actually get when you abuse the snooze button for an entire hour”.  So, disable the snooze button and set your alarm to go off 20 minutes later than usual, you’ll wake up more refreshed than if you got those “5 more minutes”.

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and snooze news.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

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Are You “Out Like a Light” or “Up All Night”?

How long does it take you to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow?  According to the National Sleep Foundation, it should take an average of 10 to 30 minutes to fall asleep.  This time allows you to unwind from the day, relax, and put your mind at ease before falling asleep.

But what if you fall outside of this 10 – 30 minute time frame?  Having difficulty falling asleep or falling asleep too quickly can say a lot about your quality of sleep and overall health.

If it takes you less than 5 minutes to fall asleep, it could be a sign that you’re sleep deprived.  This is very common among shift workers and those with a significant sleep debt.  Sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, decreased immune system, and an increased chance of disease.  If you’re in sleep debt, it’s important to pay it back as quickly as possible.  If you’re not sure what your sleep debt is, use the Sleep Debt Calculator and find out.

Everyone has experienced a night of lying in bed for what seems like hours, staring at the ceiling, waiting for sleep to wash over you.  Between the stress of work, kids, money and everyday life, it’s normal to have an occasional loss of sleep.  However, if it takes you an unusually long time to fall asleep on a regular basis, it could be the sign of a more serious problem.  “Having trouble falling asleep at night” tops the list of symptoms for insomnia.  There are a number of other influences that can also give you trouble when you’re trying to fall asleep including outside distractions, caffeine, anxiety and certain medications.  If you have concerns about insomnia, or any other sleep disorder, talk to your doctor.

If you want to decrease the time it takes you to fall asleep, exercise could be the answer.  According to a 2013 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, your exercise, or lack thereof, directly correlates to your ability to fall asleep.  24% of people who don’t exercise have difficulty falling asleep every night or almost every night.  On the other hand, over 60% of people who exercise regularly claim to rarely or never have difficulty falling asleep.  If you’re up all night counting sheep, you may benefit from a few extra minutes of exercise each day.  Walk around the block, take an extra flight of stairs, or do 10 more minutes on the treadmill… it could save you a few precious moments when you’re falling asleep.

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and snooze news.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

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Pillow Talk

You’ve decided it’s time to replace your old, worn out, pancake-thin pillows.  That’s great!  But where do you begin?  This is where I come in – I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to help you find your perfect pillow.

Have you ever heard the saying, “there’s a lid for every pot?”  Well, now there’s a pillow for every sleeping position.  The most important factor to consider when picking out a pillow is ensuring that your neck and spine stay in their natural alignment while you sleep.  This means that each sleeping position requires a different type of pillow.

If you’re a side sleeper, then you’re not alone.  57% of people fall asleep on their side according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.  While on your side, the fetal position tends to be the most comfortable because it allows your spine to curve naturally.  You’ll need a pillow that supports your neck and spine, while also distributing the weight of your head evenly, like the Bed Gear pillow specifically designed for side sleepers.  For extra comfort, Dr. John Schubbe suggests using a rolled-up towel or smaller pillow under your waist to raise it slightly, making your spine into a straight line.

For back sleepers, extra support under your shoulders is necessary to alleviate pressure on your back and neck.  Using the right pillow is especially important in this position because it can help reduce snoring.  Pillows shaped like a wedge, such as the No-Snore Deluxe Pillow, are ideal for back sleepers because they align your neck and spine, opening up your airways and dissipating any snoring.  Dr. Schubbe also suggests placing a small pillow under your knees for added comfort.  Lifting your knees will mimic the natural C-curve of the spine, similar to the side sleeping fetal position.

Stomach-sleepers tend to have the most difficulty finding a pillow that’s right for them.  You need a pillow that’s thinner so it won’t arch or turn your neck.  The Bed Gear pillow designed for stomach sleepers is ideal because it conforms to your facial features and helps to prevent airway constriction, all while still supporting your neck.  For extra relief from back pressure Dr. Schubbe says, “place another relatively flat pillow under the stomach to help the spine keep its natural alignment”.

So how many pillows should you use?  The number of pillows you sleep on depends entirely on your own personal preference.  Personally, I like two pillows under my head, while my fiancé is comfortable sleeping with only one.  No matter what your number is, just make sure that your neck and spine stay in line and adjust the thickness of your pillows accordingly.

When choosing your new pillow, remember that comfort is the key.  Make sure that you’ll love your pillow for at least a year or two (that’s about how long a pillow will last before you’ll need to replace it).  For a more in-depth explanation of how to determine when it’s time to replace your pillow, check back here for my first Snooze News video, coming soon! 

For more information follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SnoozeDirector, like Sleepy’s on Facebook, and be sure to check back here for more sleep tips, tricks, and Snooze News.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

Posted in Pillows, Sleep, Sleepy's, Snooze Director | 1 Comment