REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

Last week we talked briefly about a condition known as REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). This is a disorder characterized by a person physically acting out the dreams that they are having, with potentially dangerous results. Often when someone begins to show symptoms of this disorder they simply write it off as sleepwalking but there is a distinct difference to be made between the two.

When does RBD occur?

REM sleep behavior disorder occurs when the brain fails to send a signal to your spinal chord which would render it temporarily paralyzed when you drift into REM sleep. Since REM is the stage of sleep in which you dream and also exhibit similar brain wave patterns to your waking brain, if your body doesn’t shut down your limb functions your brain controls your body as if you were awake. This potentially means talking, yelling, running, flailing or any other physical activity that you might be dreaming about.

Typically the dreams that RBD sufferers act out are intense and vivid and can often turn violent.

Why does it occur?

The specific reason as to why RBD occurs is still uncertain. It is usually seen in middle-aged to elderly men and is often associated with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease. 45% of all reported cases of RBD are related to alcohol or sedative withdrawal while the remaining 55% is unknown. RBD also often precedes certain neurological deseases. 38% of patients diagnosed with RBD were later diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Can it be treated?

RBD can typically be treated with prescription medicine which eliminates the behavior a majority of the time. Even with proper medication it is a good idea for an RBD sufferer to make their bedrooms a safe environment in case they have an episode. If you were having a nightmare about defending yourself or your family against some kind of agressor, you wouldn’t want a weapon laying around for you to grab and unconsciously flail around at the imaginary agressor.

If you suspect you may have some form of REM sleep behavior disorder it is best not to wait it out. Seek out a doctor and get diagnosed before you unknowingly hurt yourself or others. And, of course, a great way to compliment any treatment for RBD would be to have an irresistibly comfortable mattress. Search the massive inventory at Mattresses for Less and find yourself a mattress that not even your dreaming self will want to get out of.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep (Part 2)

We started this two-part blog entry last week when we discussed how REM sleep occurs in you nightly sleep routine. This time we will be going into why the brain requires  REM sleep and what makes it so important to our health. The true function of REM sleep is not fully understood as of yet but there are some well supported theories of its benefits.

One of the most favored theories of REM sleep is titled the Ontogenetic Hypothesis of REM sleep. This hypothesis proposes that the purpose of REM, or active, sleep is vitally important for the development of the brain. This is thought to be true since the stimulation provided during the REM of newborn infants is responsible for forming the appropriate neural connections and nervous system development that they require to properly function and develop. This is shown further by studies in sleep deprivation in children showing that without the proper sleep they can serious behavioral and brain problems later on in life. Also, as you get older the amount of REM sleep you require sharply decreases. This of course implies that REM sleep becomes less important as we get older which may be the case but it certainly doesn’t mean we can do without it.

Another theory is that REM sleep directly benefits the retention of memories. Studies show that REM benefits procedural (memory associated with performance of particular actions) and spatial (memory of one’s environment) memories. Some theories propose that REM acts as a sifter for useless that helps you forget the things that aren’t important and reinforce the things that are. There is some serious opposition to these claims such as a particular case study where a man had little to no REM sleep due to a piece of shrapnel in his brain stem and yet it had no impact on his memory.

There is a theory that we move our eyes during REM sleep because it corresponds to the direction we are looking during our dreams. This is supported by studies that have shown that in dreams where a there is a defined goal, the dreamers eyes point in the directions of what he later described was happening in the dream. This theory is often seen as flimsy since those born without vision as well as unborn children both experience the REM phenomenon.

There are several other more narrowly accepted theories as to why we require REM sleep but scientists continue to remain indecisive on the topic. Regardless of the reason the fact remains that REM sleep is vital to the survival of all mammals and birds. The best way to get the necessary amount of REM sleep is to sleep on a comfortable mattress, preferably one from Mattresses for Less! Check out their massive inventory and get yourself into a ridiculously comfortable mattress tonight!

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep

We have mentioned in the past certain aspects regarding Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep but we have yet to properly explain what REM sleep really is and why it is truly important. Out of the stages of sleep, doctors and scientists agree that REM sleep is the most important. The questions we look to answer are “What is REM sleep”, and “How does it occur?”

Every night when you go to sleep you experience anywhere from 1-2 hours of REM sleep. REM sleep is typically spread out over the night but the majority happens in the early morning hours. The amount you get a night also varies with age. Infants spend a considerably greater amount of time in REM sleep than adults do. This is because REM stimulates the areas of the brain associated with learning so it is a vital part of an infants development.

REM is also the period of sleep in which the vast majority of your dreaming takes place. When you begin to REM sleep the area of the brain called the pons begins to send signals to the thalamus which relays the signals to the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the area of the brain that is associated with organizing information, thinking, and learning new things. The pons also sends signals to the spinal chord temporarily paralyzing the limbs so you don’t actually move with your dreams. A condition exists called REM sleep behavior disorder where the pons fails to send these paralyzing signals and a person will literally act out their dreams which can have disasterous results. Comedian Mike Birbiglia is one such person with REM sleep behavior disorder and he documents the time he jumped out of a second story window of a hotel in Walla Walla, Washington when he was dreaming a missile was headed for his hotel room. Such is the power of REM sleep. When a person is experiencing REM sleep they demonstrate similar brain patterns to a waking person. This is why REM sleep is often called paradoxical sleep and is the phase of sleep in which you sleep lightest.

REM occurs in mammals and birds but curiously not in cold blooded animals like reptiles. This is why you can see your dog running or whining in his/her sleep. The process of REM sleep is a complex physiological process that interacts with several locations in the brain, but scientists still disagree as to exactly why this happens. Now that we have talked about what REM sleep is, all thats left is why  it happens. Come back next week to find out the interesting theories on why it is the body requires REM sleep and the terrible consequences of neglecting those requirements.

4 Effective Natural Sleep Aides

For those of us who typically sleep on a regular schedule but every so often need that extra push to get to sleep, there are several options available that will help you fall into the sleep you desire. Over the counter drugs like NyQuil are sometimes a bit of an over-kill and it is at these times that you should turn to more natural, calming sleep remedies. Here are a few examples of the most commonly utilized natural sleep aides. ‘

1. Melatonin

 

Melatonin is a very popular solution for people who need help falling asleep. It is created in the pineal gland as serotonin and is converted to melatonin when exposure to light decreases. Its effects make you tired about thirty minutes after you ingest it so it is a good idea to plan ahead when taking it. A tasty way to receive melatonin is through cherries, which have high amount of the substance. People with certain serious illnesses or women who are pregnant are not recommended to take melatonin so consult your doctor if you have any doubts.

2. Valerian

Valerian is an herb that people have been using to go to sleep quicker for ages. Although scientific results regarding the herb have been mixed, millions of people continue to take it and swear by it’s effectiveness. Valerian is non-habit forming and does not cause any grogginess in the morning but its effectiveness is spotty. Many people claim that using it continuously for 2-3 weeks in a row sharply enhance the effectiveness of valerian root.

3. Kava

Kava is another herb that has helped people get the sleep the need for many years. Kava is more focused on easing anxiety so for those of you with anxiety related sleep problems kava is a great avenue to explore. Although this herb is effective at easing you to sleep, it is recommended to not take it for long periods in a row. There have been varied cases of people who have ingested large quantities of the herb over time resulting in liver problems so use kava in moderation.

4. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm has been around for ages and is a trusted member of the pro-sleep family of herbs. It is a member of the mint family and along with its sleep benefiting properties it also aides digestion. Most people prefer to ingest lemon balm in tea form as the herb doesn’t taste great by itself. Add 2 teaspoons into hot water and stir periodically for 5-10 minutes.

If none of these natural remedies helps your sleep pattern you may want to consider certain over the counter medicines. Ask you doctor which ones are appropriate for you to take regularly to avoid complications. If you don’t see the need for taking medicine or if the medicine still doesn’t work well, you may just need a new mattress. Check out the wide variety of top of the line mattresses at Mattresses for Less and get the sleep that you deserve today!

Dealing with Sleepwalking

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in your kitchen, confused as to how you got there? If you are a person who often finds themselves in random locations with no recollection of getting there, as I’m sure you have already realized, you are probably a victim of sleepwalking. Depending on its frequency and severity, this condition is often accepted with a certain degree of levity. However, if you are a chronic sleepwalker, you would be wise to take it seriously and take certain precautions before you accidentally hurt yourself or others.

If you know yourself to be a sleepwalker, there are some things you will want to avoid before you go to sleep that could be possible inhibitors of such behavior. The first factor often linked to sleepwalking is stress. Try and limit the amount of stress you encounter each day, especially in the hours leading up to sleep. This may seem obvious and stress is often unavoidable but if you live a high-stress life style you should consider taking a while before bed to relax and meditate to attempt to rid yourself of some of your excess stress. Also, as we mentioned before, you should avoid any high-stimulation media right before bed. No TV, computer, or mobile devices before bed will often give you a better nights sleep and prevent the restlessness that can lead to sleepwalking.

You will want to make sure all of your doors and windows are locked before you get in bed. If you are unable to leave your bedroom while you’re sleepwalking there is much less of a chance that you will hurt yourself. If you attempt to open a locked door while asleep, you probably won’t think to find a key.  If, by chance, your bedroom door does not have a key lock than you should think about installing a small alarm on your door that beeps every time your door is open. This way, if it is loud enough, the chime will wake you up before you continue on your sleepy journey.

You may also want to think about hiding objects in your bedroom that you could use to hurt yourself or others. Move any weapons or sharp objects that happen to be in your bedroom to a place that you either wouldn’t typically think to look or a place that is hard to reach. It is also a good idea to put your car keys in a similar place as it has been documented that some people wake up from sleepwalking in the middle of a joy ride.

All of the advice provided here is apt but you must keep in mind that we are not doctors. If you attempt these techniques and your sleepwalking persists, it is our recommendation that you seek out a physician as you may have a sleep disorder such as rapid eye movement behavior disorder. This can be quite dangerous if you do not seek help and get properly treated. But, before you try any of the advice provided above, you may just want to try a more comfortable mattress. If you force yourself to go to sleep on an uncomfortable mattress and your subconscious self keeps try to escape it, maybe your body is telling you something. Try one of the vast array of extremely comfortable mattresses at Mattresses for Less and its likely both your conscious self and your subconscious self will agree that you never want to get out of bed.

The Evolution of the Mattress

When you look at the vast selection of mattresses available at a mattress store, you probably don’t think much of the variety since thats what you have come to expect. In this day and age we have gotten used to the innovations in mattress technology that make our beds so incredibly comfortable. We are so used to comfortable mattresses that most of us take for granted the fact that things weren’t always this way. Mattresses have come a long way since man first got the idea to not sleep directly on the ground.

The idea of mattresses goes back as far as 10,000 years ago during the Neolithic period. Primitive, cave-dwelling humans, following a Flintstonian line of logic, used large rocks covered in animal skin and grass to sleep on. When there were no raised rocks to rest, sleeping on the ground on top of animal skins was also a popular option. From there, at sometime around 3,000 BCE, Egyptian royalty began the practice of purposely raising their beds off of the ground. Pharaoh Tutankhamen owned a raised bed made of ebony and gold. At this point it was only the royals and possibly some highborn people that had the luxury of an actual bed. Most people at this time were still sleeping on piles of reeds.

It wasn’t until the Roman empire that we see actual stuffed luxury mattresses. Still owned exclusively by the upper echelons of society, these mattresses were stuffed with cotton, feathers, and reeds and usually sat upon beds of precious metal. Some scholars believe that the water bed was also created by the Romans, although there is still some debate on the matter.

With the path laid by the Roman empire, the Renaissance period pioneered on and improved on the Roman model. This is the first period in time when people began to consider what material their mattress was made of, not just what it was stuffed with. They first stuffed a coarse sack full of straw and feathers and proceeded to wrap it in velvet or silk. And thus, silk sheets were created. These mattresses were typically raised on wooden frames, held together by leather straps. This innovation provided to the common people not only raised people above the ground away from the disease infested pests that often resided on their floors, but also heavily prevented harmful mold from growing.

In the 18th century, the cast iron bed as well as the cotton mattress made their first appearances. People began to experiment a bit more on what worked best as mattress filling. Horsehair and coconut fibers were often used in addition to wool and cotton. These new mattresses were also a less attractive space for bugs and other pests. Up until this time bugs were an occupational hazard when it came to sleep so this was a very important innovation.

The next large step in the evolution in mattresses didn’t occur until 1865 when the technology for the first coil spring mattress was patented. The patent was originally used for cushions in chair seats but was soon after transfered to mattresses. Also in the late 19th century, a design for a modern water bed was introduced and was used in hospitals to prevent and treat the formation of ulcers.

The 20th century provided a boom in mattress technology beginning in the 1930’s with the innerspring mattress. Many of the innovations in the 20th century stem from the chemical advancements from WWII. The most common material developed from these advancements is polyurethane foam. It wasn’t until the 50’s that foam mattresses hit the market and became popular. With the development of vinyl, the 60’s ushered in the modern water bed which was very popular until the late 1900’s ushered in pillow-top, pocket spring, adjustable, and air mattresses. Memory foam was developed by NASA in the 60’s but did not become commercially popular until the 90’s.

These days there are too many different variations of popular mattress designs to even count. Just as we as a species has evolved, our emphasis of the importance of comfort has evolved with us. The choices that are currently available to you when you’re shopping for mattresses are numerous and they can all be found in one place: Mattresses for Less. Come get your new mattress at Mattresses for Less and after they deliver it the same day and haul away your old mattress, once you lay down to go to sleep, think about how far mattresses have come and how glad you are to not be sleeping on a rock.

The Do's and Don'ts of Going to Sleep

In the past we have discussed several different sleep disorders that are relatively common and usually prevent the victim from achieving a full and healthy night’s sleep. These conditions can clearly lead to stress, exhaustion, and a much more vulnerable immune system since your body needs sleep to function 100% properly. However, you don’t necessarily need to have a sleep disorder to suffer from an incomplete or poor nights sleep. There are several habits that people adopt and get used to that, unbeknownst to them, act as inhibitors to a healthy amount of sleep. Here is a friendly list of things to avoid when going to bed, as well as a few pointers on pre-sleep activities that will aide your sleep process.

 

Within 2 hours of laying down to go to sleep you should avoid eating a large meal of any kind.  Eating anything hearty, especially spicy foods, can potentially cause discomfort and heartburn when you lay down to sleep which will keep you awake for longer than desirable. Also, eating a large meal before bed will force your digestive tract to work while your going to sleep which might not inhibit you from getting to sleep but it could very possibly affect the quality of sleep you get and the amount of times you wake up a night. It is also a good idea to avoid drinking anything right before bed to avoid late night bathroom trips that interrupt sleep.

Try to train your body to want to sleep at a certain hour by keeping a regular sleep schedule. By going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day, your body will eventually get used to this schedule and naturally feel tired and ready for sleep when you want it to, and alert and rested when you wake up. In this same vein, you should develop a pre-bed routine that will help you wind down and relax so you can slip off to sleep more quickly.

Watching TV or using your computer right before you go to bed is a bad habit to fall into. The flashing images on a backlit screen strain your eyes and provide an excess amount of mental stimulation that can often make it difficult to fall asleep. If you don’t give your brain an opportunity to wind down a bit before bed you may very possible end up staring at your ceiling for a time before you can get to sleep. Give yourself at least 30 minutes of visual-stimulant-free time before bed so you can drift off easier.

Make sure your room is at the right temperature before bed. The temperature in your bedroom will directly affect the amount and quality of sleep you are likely to achieve. It is a matter of opinion, but most people prefer to have their rooms a bit colder than the rest of the house. The slight drop in temperature in the bedroom allows you the opportunity to better utilize your blanket or comforter to warm yourself which is usually tends to be very soothing and makes it easy to fall right to sleep.

If you are a person who is inclined to take a nap during the day, this could be affecting the quality of sleep you are getting during the night. Taking naps during the day is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, millions of people take naps every day and are fine. The problem lies with taking naps that last longer than 30 minutes to an hour. Getting an excessive amount of rest during the day can confuse your body and make it feel like it doesn’t need rest when the time comes to go to bed. If napping is an activity that you enjoy, try to keep your naps before the evening and within the range of an hour or so in order to avoid a late night struggle.

One of the main problems that people with unsatisfactory sleeping habits experience is trying to sleep on an old, uncomfortable mattress. This seems obvious but you might be surprised the denial people go through in order to avoid the seemingly tedious process of replacing a mattress. Luckily for these people, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mattresses for Less makes the process, from shopping to shipping, more simple than they could imagine. You don’t even need to leave your computer!

Just go to MattressesforLess.net and browse their massive inventory of the newest, most comfortable beds available. Once you decide on your mattress you can place you order and it will be delivered to your home the same day! Don’t settle for an uncomfortable mattress because enjoying the place you sleep is the number one “Do” if you wish to achieve your full sleep potential.

The Purpose of Pillows

There are some components of a well-made bed that are associated with decor, and others that are associate with a good night’s sleep. There are obvious ones like sheets and comforters that provide warmth and a sense of security and protection. Other accoutrements such as bed-skirts or dust ruffles have a more practical purpose; namely to deflect dust particles that often gather in the space underneath the bed.

Do pillows have a real purpose in the overall sleep equation, or are they just another decorative touch? Do you even need a pillow to experience rest-full sleep? The answer may surprise you.

Pillows were designed to keep your head elevated and your neck in a neutral position. Together, you can sleep much more soundly. They have a considerable effect on the quality of sleep you get, and directly affect how rested and alert you feel in the morning.

Without a pillow, depending on how you sleep, you may wake up with head, neck, or back aches as well as temporary numbness to certain extremities. Pillows are designed to keep your spine straight while you sleep so without them there can be some serious discomfort and sleep problems.

Depending on what position you typically fall asleep in, you might need a particular type of pillow. For those of you who like to sleep on your back, you will probably prefer a pillow that is a bit thinner than normal since your neck doesn’t need much elevation to keep your back straight. For the side sleepers out there, you will probably need a thicker, firmer pillow since there is plenty of room needed to keep your head in the proper position. If you are someone who sleeps on their stomach, you probably need a very thin pillow or no pillow at all. The position we tend to doze off in is important to consider when shopping for the right pillow since it may be the difference between a normal nights sleep and a great nights sleep.

There are a wide variety of pillow types, the difference between them being the material with which they are stuffed. For back-sleepers the best choices are memory foam, kapok (from the soft fibers of the ceiba tree), or polyester fiberfill due to their softness and lack of resistance. There are many options for those who prefer to sleep on their side such as natural latex, organic wool, buckwheat as well as memory foam and polyester fiberfill since all of which are thick or supportive enough to keep your head properly elevated. Down feather or organic cotton pillows are best suited for stomach sleepers since they are very maleable and soft.

It is a good idea to wash you pillow case often and replace your pillow at least once every two years. Pillows will begin to gather all kinds of nasty things like mildew, dust mites, and mold which can lead to allergic reactions and discomfort if they go unwashed and do not get replaced. If you are sleeping on an old pillow, or even just a pillow that isn’t right for your sleeping style, you may be suffering from minor exhaustion.

Next time you are shopping for a pillow, think twice before just pulling one at random off of the shelf. Consider how you prefer to sleep and make an informed decision so you can optimize the quality of sleep you are getting nightly. Besides a comfortable mattress, a pillow that meets your particular needs can be the best tool to be as rested as you can be.