Sweet Dreams

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

Tag: Health

Be Smart About Sleep

Small changes to your habits and lifestyle can have a big effect on sleep.


You might have heard some women talk about their biological clocks in regards to fertility; all living creatures have another type of internal clock, called the circadian rhythm. It refers to the 24-hour cycle of activity and sleep affected by the change from light to dark. A part of the brain called the hypothalamus manages the circadian rhythm, or pattern, by processing information (like when your eyes detect light) and creating sleep patterns. This sleep-wake cycle gives you the cue to go to sleep.

If you have trouble with sleep and insomnia, slightly adjusting your routine and habits may help.

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How Often Do We Dream?

You may be shocked to discover exactly how many dreams you have while you’re fast asleep.

Dreams may be a secret window into your feelings, act as inspiration for a creative project, and even help you solve problems.Whether you recall many of your dreams or none at all, read on to find out how many dreams you’re actually experiencing during any given night.


How Much You Really Dream Each Night

Just because you don’t remember dreaming doesn’t mean you’re not doing it! You generally dream at least four to six times per night, usually during the most active REM stage of sleep if you’re over 10 years old. (Kids younger than 10 dream only about 20 percent of the time in REM sleep.) You usually dream longer as the night goes on because the REM stage of sleep can be anywhere from five minutes early in the night to as long as 34 minutes towards the end of your sleep session. So if you snooze for, say, eight total hours a night, two of them may be spent dreaming.

Why You Forget Your Dreams

You may not think that you’re a big dreamer because most of us forget 95 to 99 percent of our dreams. Why you don’t recall most of your dreams remains a mystery, but one theory is that it’s simply because you’re not concentrating on them while you’re snoozing. (People who think dreams are important and are more interested in them are likelier to recall them—probably because they are motivated to pay attention to their dreams). Another theory is that our lack of recall is partly due to the hormone associated with memory (norepinephrine) being turned off while we sleep, so our brain doesn’t actually encode our night visions into memories.

How To Better Remember Your Dreams

A trick to keeping your dreams from leaving your mind as soon as you wake up is simply to tell yourself that you want to remember your dreams as you’re falling asleep. Keep a dream journal by your bed so you can jot down everything that you can remember about your dreams the second you wake up—before thoughts about the day ahead clutter your mind. Write down everything (even if you can recall only vague images or snippets of your dreams) in order to train your brain to better remember them in the future.

This article was originally published on Sleep.org. You can view the entire post, here.

Good Quality Sleep May Build Healthy Hearts

Are you not getting enough sleep, or are you getting too much? If your answer to either of these questions is “yes,” you may be at risk of heart disease.istock_000036755352_full_custom-cb55a8e6cfe01c165d5289669ef2464eca7498f6-s800-c85

Just the right amount of good-quality sleep is key to good heart health, according to researchers at the Center for Cohort Studies at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital and Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. Poor sleep habits may put you at higher risk for early signs of heart disease, even at a relatively young age.

The researchers studied more than 47,000 young and middle-aged men and women, average age around 41, who answered questions about how long and how well they slept.

Then they had tests to measure their cardiovascular health. Early coronary lesions were detected by measuring the amount of calcium in the arteries of the heart. Stiffness of arteries was measured by the speed of blood coursing through the arteries in the upper arm and ankle.

Calcium buildup and arterial stiffness are two important warning signs of oncoming heart disease.

Findings showed that adults who slept fewer than five hours a night had 50 percent more calcium in their coronary arteries than those who slept seven hours. Those who slept nine hours or more a night had even worse outcomes, with 70 percent more coronary calcium compared to those who slept seven hours.

Sleep quality also made a big difference. Adults who reported poor sleep quality also had more calcium buildup in their arteries, 20 percent more than those who said they slept well.

Dr. Yoosoo Chang, co-lead author of the study, says there was a similar pattern when they measured arterial stiffness. The findings suggest that poor sleep quality, too much sleep and too little sleep all play a role in heart health.

Overall, Chang says, the best heart health was found in adults who slept, on average, about seven hours a night and reported good sleep quality.

The findings of this study are “profound,” says Dr. David Meyerson, a Johns Hopkins cardiologist and spokesman for the American Heart Association. “You wouldn’t imagine that too little sleep, too much, or not sleeping well is going to influence your blood vessels so quickly or so early in life.”

Of course, this study doesn’t prove that the sleep problems are causing the heart problems. That’s a question that needs a lot more study.

As for why this happens, Meyerson says there are numerous potential factors, including hormones, metabolic factors produced by sleep and chemical changes in the body during sleep that can increase blood pressure. “All of that goes into our overall health,” he says, “but we just don’t know yet how all the mechanisms really and truly work.”

Meyerson says the findings of this study should be a heads-up for health care providers and cardiologists to discuss sleep habits with patients when they evaluate cardiovascular risk and overall health status.


This article was originally published by NPR. You can read the post, here.

Sleepys on The Dr. Steve Show

I had such a fun time working with “The Dr. Steve Show,” on a segment that was all about sleep!  I love getting together with people to talk about all things sleep, especially since it’s a topic that affects each and every one of us.  I brought my friend, Dr. Robert Oexman of the Sleep to Live Institute, along with me for the show.  I’m letting my sleep geek-ness show a little bit, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to two doctors discuss sleep topics and how to find the perfect mattress.  In case you missed the segment from “The Dr. Steve Show,” which airs nationally, here is the clip:

I’d like to thank my friends at “The Dr. Steve Show,” and WPIX who reached out to me and made this opportunity possible!


Contributor: Emily Barrett, Snooze Director

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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

Sleep Is Not a Luxury

It’s almost eight months since I started my journey as the first-ever Sleepy’s Snooze Director.  I have learned so much about sleep and mattresses; I can’t help but reflect on what I’ve learned.  It’s not all too often that you’re able to have a job that is not only professionally rewarding, but also beneficial to your health.  This job was created as a way to express the importance of sleep and how it affects your life, but I still feel like there is much more to be done to make sleep a priority in everyone’s lives.

I think that the main battle we have to overcome as sleep enthusiasts is to define sleep as a necessity, not a luxury.  Our society glorifies (and almost demands) sleep deprivation as a normal thing.  Students are frequently pulling all-nighters to get through their demanding schedules of classes, jobs and coursework (not to mention extracurricular as well).  Also, many people are forced to take on shift work to make ends meet.  Then there are the people with the mantra, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” who make it no easier to believe that sleep is crucial.

I believe there is hope for our cause though.  I’ve been seeing “Sleep” sections on some of the most visited websites, such as Yahoo, The Huffington Post and WebMD.  There is also Sleep.com which is a website entirely devoted to sleep.  This is great because now people have access to sleep information whenever they want.  It’s just a matter of getting people to realize that their sleep troubles are actually problems with real solutions.  All too often I’ll hear someone say, “Oh, I’m just a light sleeper,” and they accept the fact that they don’t sleep well.  To them I say, “Get help!”  When your TV isn’t working, you get it fixed.  When your tooth hurts, you go to the dentist.  If you’re not sleeping well, talk to your doctor!

What are your views on sleep?  Is it a necessity or is it a luxury?  What are you doing to advocate the importance of sleep in everyone’s lives?  Do you ever talk to your doctor about your sleep problems?  I want to hear from you, so make sure to leave a comment below so that we can have a great conversation about this.  It’s in my opinion that if we don’t start to openly talk about sleep and our problems with sleep, then we won’t be able to change the public perception of sleep as a luxury.


Contributor: Emily Barrett

Spin it! Flip it! Rotate it! Make it a Game?

We’re talking about flipping/rotating your mattress. The handles on the sides of your bed are not there to just look pretty… they do have a purpose. At least once every 3 months, you should rotate your mattress with a spin, and if you don’t have a fluffy pillow-top then you should flip it top to bottom once every 3 months as well.

To rotate: (for reference: towards the headboard will be referred to as point A, and the footboard will be referred to as point B)

Stand at the foot of your bed– start at point B and pull your mattress away from the headboard – turn it one quarter to the right (your mattress and frame should look like a plus sign) – walk over to the right side and assist point B to the headboard. Point A should now be at your footboard, and your mattress should complete a 180 degree turn.

To flip: (for reference: the top part of your bed will be referred to as side #1 and the underneath part of your bed will be referred to as side #2, the left-side #3 and the right-side #4)

Start at the right side of your bed and use the handles to pull the bed towards you, half-way out. Push the bed towards the ceiling, #4 should be closest to the ceiling and #3 should be the only part of your mattress that is touching any part of the frame. Walk over to the left side of your frame and reach up to pull #4 towards you. Side #1 should now be underneath and #2 should now be your surface area for sleep. This is best done with two people but can still easily and safely be done with just one.


**Flipping and rotating regular will increase the longevity of your mattress.


Contributor: Cassandra Broadway



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