Effects of Sleep Deprivation

There are plenty of articles full of information about the positive effects of a good night’s sleep. Certainly you don’t need to be a sleep specialist to know our physical, mental, and emotional well being are either positively or negatively affected by our sleep patterns. Ask a parent of a newborn, a college student during finals, or a freshly hired shift worker how they’re feeling after an extended period of sleepless nights and they’ll undoubtedly tell you they need a month of undisturbed slumber to “catch up” on their lost hours of sleep.

Circumstances of life can often have an adverse affect on our sleeping habits. Through no fault of our own, we can find ourself in a position where keeping up with healthy sleep habits are impossible. While some of the affects of these periods of poor sleeping habits are obvious (bags under the eyes, decreased ability to focus, extreme fatigue), how many of us know just how negative poor sleeping habits can be for us?

For example, extended periods of sleep deprivation can cause:

Accidents

Traffic accident statistics are irrefutable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says over 100,000 traffic accidents are the direct result of fatigue in the U.S. annually. While much of the focus is on educating the public on the dangers of drunk driving on our nation’s highways, driving while fatigued should not be forgotten. Taking a break on long road trips, including naps at a rest stop or stopping at a hotel for the night, or taking turns driving with friends or family members are just some of the easy steps to get your rest and prevent potentially tragic accidents.

Workplace safety can be affected by sleep depravation. Chronically fatigued workers often equals an increase in reportable safety infractions, loss of productivity, increase in sick days due to accidents on the job, or worse. Keeping ourselves healthy in body and mind is a vital component in a safe work environment. Healthy sleep habits go a long way towards achieving that environment.

Aging

Have you ever taken one look at someone and instantly concluded they haven’t experienced REM sleep in a long time? Ever seen that person staring at you from a mirror? For many of us, we won’t notice how bad our sleeping habits are until we take close look at the reflection looking back at us. Sagging skin, puffy eyes, dark circles, and even fading skin pigmentation can all be an effect of chronic sleep loss.

One physical effect of sleep loss is the release of hormones the body needs during periods of stress like cortisol. Excessive amounts of cortisol is known to break down the protein the skin needs to keep it smooth and elastic; collagen.

Sleep deprivation can also affect the body’s release of human growth hormone. As we age, these hormones can increase muscle mass as well as keep the skin from thinning. Sleep loss reduces the amount of these hormones the body needs. Over time these hormonal imbalances can take a noticeable toll on our physical well being. Regular sleep habits are certainly much less expensive and more preferable to hormone injections or surgeries to keep our skin looking young.

Weight Gain

As if we needed any more help in this area, sleep loss can also be a factor in adding on extra pounds. According to a study conducted in 2004, people who habitually experienced sleep loss in excess of six hours a day were more 30% likely to become obese than people who slept seven or more hours a day.

The connection appears to be a reduction in peptides that regulate appetite. The conclusion researches have come to is loss of sleep actually stimulates the appetite including cravings of foods high in fat and carbohydrates. Anyone who has pulled a few all-night TV sessions with a bout of insomnia can testify to the accuracy of this study. You don’t hear of too many people watching infomercials at 2:00 in the morning with a bowl of celery and carrots. In point of fact, this research has even effected weight loss programs, many of which have begun to include improved sleep habits in their curriculum. Apparently, the old saying is true: when you snooze, you may actually lose.

These are just a few of the affects sleep deprivation can have on the body over time. Obviously the need for sleep is fairly important, not just for our daily routine or productivity but for our overall health and well being. So, the next time you’re faced with an extended period of time with loss of sleep, you can make informed decisions on your long-term sleeping habits. All of us have seasons of sleepless nights. The important thing is to not let a season become a lifestyle. After all, there really is nothing that can beat a good night’s sleep…

Enter Our Bed Hogs Contest

Matresses For Less Wants Your Pets!

What better way to end the hot Houston summer than by winning a brand new mattress from Mattresses For Less! Winning is easy. If you are a Houston area resident, simply send us a picture of your “Bed Hog” doing what they do best. Dog, cat, or canary; it doesn’t matter what kind of pet hogs your bed. Just take a snapshot of your favorite “bed hog” and upload it to our Facebook page. Your picture will be voted on by Facebook friends and family members so the more you share your picture the better your chance to win. The submitter with the highest vote count will take home a brand new queen-sized iComfort mattress for you and your favorite bed hog to enjoy for years to come.

So don’t wait! Send in your picture and get in on this incredible opportunity today!

Entering is easy! Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Go to the Mattresses For Less Facebook page and click on the “MFL Bed Hogs Contest” button as shown below:

Step 2: “LIKE” us on Facebook (if you’ve already “liked” us, skip to step 3):

Step 3: Take your picture and upload it onto our Facebook page with this simple-to-use form:

Rules and Disclaimer:

1. Only fans of Mattress for Less may enter this contest. To become a fan, simply “like” the Mattresses For Less Facebook Page and you’re ready to go.

2. Only one entry per Facebook user will be admissible so be sure to take your best photo.

3.Keep the pictures family-friendly. Any questionable content will be removed and the user disqualified from the contest.

4. Winner will be notified via Facebook private message, email, and an announcement on the Mattresses For Less website

5. Mattresses For Less will not ship prize to the prize winner. Winner must claim prize from the Mattresses For Less store. Only Houston area residents will be eligible to win the contest.

6. Have fun and good luck!

Is It Time To Replace Your Mattress?

So, you’re out of town on business and you check into your hotel. You’re tired from the long trip and in need of a good night’s sleep but it has been your experience that you just don’t sleep very well unless you’re at home. Regardless of this fact, you settle in for the night with a good book or a little television until you drift off. The next thing you know the alarm is going off. Despite your assumptions about your sleep habits, you awaken refreshed, refueled, and ready to start the day.

You’re halfway into dressing for your big business meeting when it dawns on you; you’ve just had one of the best night’s sleep in years. You rack your brain trying to remember when you slept that good at home as you search the hotel bed for clues to solve your “Rested In Seattle” mystery. Was it just that you were so tired? Was it the food you had for dinner? Is the hotel pumping sleeping gas through the ventilation system? It isn’t until you see the new mattress that the final pieces fall into place.

For most of us, buying a new mattress is not very high on the priority list. In fact, mattress shopping usually doesn’t enter our brain until it becomes painfully obvious the old mattress isn’t doing the job it did 25 years ago when it was new. However, it may surprise you to know that the age and condition of your mattress goes a long way in determining how well you sleep each night. Simply put, the older the mattress, the less rest you’ll have.

The reasons for this should be fairly obvious but, again, most of us think nothing of trying to get a good night’s sleep on a mattress that should have been retired several presidential terms ago. If the age of the mattress or increasingly sleepless nights aren’t sign enough that a new mattress purchase may be in your immediate future, here are a few more signs that your mattress needs replacing:

Pain
One of the more common symptoms of a worn out mattress is chronic joint or muscle pain. Certainly this isn’t an exclusive sign since pain can be caused by many ailments that have nothing to do with your sleeping surface. That said, many of us have been told by our friendly neighborhood chiropractor that our mattress may be the reason for our recurring back, neck, hip, or joint pains. Studies have proven that the position of our bodies during sleep either positively or negatively affects our physical well being. If you’re experiencing chronic joint or muscle pain and your mattress is over 10 years old, you may have found a primary culprit in your search for permanent relief.

Lumps & Sags
This one should be fairly obvious but the number of people who sleep on mattress that are physically worn out would fill the Astrodome to standing room only capacity. As mattresses age and wear out they tend to sag, especially in the middle. If you start the night on your end of the bed and wake in the middle with your partner, pets, and pillows you’ve definitely got a sagging problem. Another sign of a worn out mattress is the accumulation of “lumps”. These small piles of fabric are the result of the mattress’ interior materials bunching up into very uncomfortable sections along the sleeping surface. Basically if observable signs of wear and tear are affecting your comfort, you’ve got a mattress that isn’t “broken in”, it’s just “broken”.

Restful In Seattle
If you find yourself sleeping better in a hotel, a guest bed, or on a foldout mattress, you’ve probably got a mattress problem back home. It doesn’t take too many out of town trips filled with restful sleep to come to the conclusion that your old reliable bed at home is now just old. In most cases, the average mattress lifespan is at least 7 years and at maximum 10 years. If you’re like most of us and have a mattress that could have come over on the Mayflower, you’re a good candidate for a new mattress.

When you consider the importance of a good night’s sleep to our general health and well being, it is always a good idea to keep up with the age and condition of your mattresses. Anyone who has been deprived of a good night’s sleep over an extended period of time will tell you, there is literally nothing like a good night’s sleep. Don’t let your old, worn out mattress keep you from the rest your body needs.

The Power of a Power Nap

It’s 2:00 pm on a Wednesday. You’re in the office working hard on your latest project when you notice it is becoming increasingly difficult to focus; physically and mentally. You try to shake it off but as the minutes tick by your energy levels are marching steadily below peak productivity levels. You walk around the office, stretch, and even hit the coffee pot for 10th time today but the second you resume your work your body picks up where it left off. A string of yawns later and all of the evidence becomes clear. You’ve hit the afternoon wall and there’s nothing you can do about it.

At least, that’s what you think. Studies have shown for many of us, our natural circadian rhythms, or biological clocks, come with a programmed need for an afternoon recharge commonly referred to as a “power nap”. Napping has long been seen as the natural habitat for toddlers and retirees but the more we learn about sleep and how it is affected by our internal clocks, the more we recognize how much our bodies need that late afternoon recharge.

So with that in mind, here are a few tips to achieve the optimal results from an afternoon power nap.

  • Timing Is Everything – The best time for a power nap is between 2:00 and 4:00 pm; usually an hour after lunch.
  • Do Not Disturb – Get the most out of your down time. Close your office door, put up a “do not disturb” sign, and turn off all phones. If you don’t have an office, take your break in your car.
  • Don’t Forget To Set Your Alarm – A common mistake power nappers make is assuming they’ll automatically wake up in 15 minutes. Setting an alarm will guarantee you don’t sleep the rest of the day away.
  • Don’t Force It – If you’re not sleepy, don’t try to make yourself sleep. Listen to your body. It’ll tell you if you need a nap or not.
  • Atmosphere Is Everything – If possible, turn down/off the lights, put on some soft music and get as comfortable as you can. Simply leaning back in your office chair can be all you need for an effective power nap.
  • Don’t Overdo It – Fifteen minutes should be sufficient to power back up. Thirty minutes should be the maximum (if your employer allows that much time for an afternoon break). Anything over that and you’re entering into a different category of circadian rhythm issues.
  • Do Not Feel Guilty – The need for a nap isn’t a sign of laziness. It is a very basic technique to restore mental and physical acuity.

It is amazing what a few minutes of rest can do to improve the day. Studies have shown a simple 15 minute power nap improves productivity, rejuvenates the body, and is a benefit to overall health. So before you hit the energy drinks or the coffee pot, take a few minutes out of your day to listen to your internal clock. You’ll find out your body is very good at letting you know what it needs.

Listening To Your Internal Clock

The responsibilities and stresses of life have an incredible impact on our physical bodies. Over time, that impact can manifest itself in many ways that adversely affects our physical well being. The human body can only take so much before it needs to rest and recuperate. Most of us are aware of the need for sleep but many do not know just how much the body requires it.

As a matter of fact, the human brain is equipped with a specific mechanism to regulate what is known as our internal clock. The clinical term for this clock is the “circadian rhythm”. This biological mechanism is what regulates and controls our body’s daily routines and physical patterns like blood pressure, body temperature, and hormone release. Our need for sleep is also regulated by this internal clock and our ability (or willingness) to follow this clock is a huge part of our sleep patterns and overall health.

Our circadian rhythm is set when we’re infants; normally within the first few months of life. It is during this early stage of our lives that we develop our sleep schedule. Most Americans are “programmed” to sleep between midnight and dawn and a somewhat diminished interval in the afternoon. Anyone who has tried to stay awake all night can testify to the body’s reaction to that decision. Whether you sleep the day before or not, there is an inherent need within the body to sleep at night and that need is dictated by your internal clock.

While the clock can be reset to a different time (for example, for night shift work), most people find the transition to be (at best) unsettling and (at worst) impairing. While most can eventually change their sleeping patterns, the need for sleep at specific times is so rudimentary to our existence that we can feel the negative effects of that change for years.

Why is this circadian rhythm so important? Ignoring your body’s need for sleep should be an obvious problem. Without regular sleep intervals, our bodies will make the need for rest known in many forms of sleep disorders. Sleep studies have shown our circadian rhythm sleep patterns go a long way toward correcting, if not outright preventing, many of the sleep disorders that plague us. In other words, it’s not just important that you get some sleep; you need to sleep when the body is telling you to sleep. While there are times in our lives that the clock has to be ignored, habitually hitting the “snooze” on your internal clock has never ended well. That gentle head-bob while driving at night can quickly become a tragic incident if ignored for too long. Taking over-the-counter remedies for drowsiness like energy drinks, coffee, or legal amphetamines (like “No-Doze”) can delay the body’s need for sleep, but sooner or later, the rhythm is gonna get ya.

So, listen to your body. Anyone who has been deprived of sleep can testify there’s nothing that can recharge the batteries and reboot the brain like a good night’s sleep.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Are you frequently frustrated at how tired you feel in the morning, regardless of how early you went to sleep the night before? Do you have vague memories of waking briefly in the dead of night short of breath. You may be one of the millions of people world wide that suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is a sleep condition that occurs when your airways temporarily closes off while you’re sleeping. When this occurs your airway remains closed until panic signals from your brain cause you to wake or sputter, clearing your airway.

Most often the case is the person suffering from OSA has no recollection of waking the previous night but instead just feels strangely tired. This is due to the multiple times their brain was forced to make them wake throughout the night to keep from suffocating. It is difficult to identify the disorder if you live alone since you typically don’t remember the episodes so it often persists until the person considers they may have a problem.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a fairly common disorder that can happen to anyone but there are a few factors that can help cause it. People with a narrow jaw or a large tongue may naturally have a smaller airway which definitely assists in the development of OSA. Also those who suffer from obesity often are diagnosed with OSA since the extra weight on their neck can make it easier for their throats to close as they sleep. Alcohol and other depressants have been know to assist in the development of OSA since they can cause the pallet to relax more than it is supposed to while you sleep.

Although grogginess and lack of a proper nights sleep is a serious issue for anyone as it can effect your mood and your performance during the day, but if OSA persists it can lead to much more serious problems. For instance, because of the continued lack of oxygen as well as the frequent stress signals the brain is forced to put forth, people with OSA are more prone to heart failure and strokes.

If you think you may have OSA, consult you physician immediately and have them perform a sleep study on you to determine the exact cause of your symptoms. If they find you have OSA they will most likely put you on a continuous positive airway pressure  (CPAP) machine that will keep your throat open while you sleep. Once you have your Obstructive Sleep Apnea remedy and you are ready for your first solid nights sleep in a while, make sure you are sleeping on a mattress that will keep you rested the entire night. Mattresses for less has hundreds of the most comfortable mattresses available all available to be delivered to you at your convenience. Make tonight the best nights sleep of your life with a quality mattress from Mattresses for Less!

Understanding Narcolepsy

Unless you have actually dealt with someone who is diagnosed with narcolepsy, it is common to think of the disorder as excessive sleepiness during waking hours. Although this is a symptom of narcolepsy daytime sleepiness is not all the disorder entails and can actually be attributed to a number of separate sleep disorders. Narcolepsy is a rare disorder that plagues 1 out of every 2,000 people and is characterized by a mix of daytime sleepiness, bedtime hallucinations, cataplexy, and sleep paralysis. Unless you have the whole cornucopia of symptoms chances are you don’t have narcolepsy.

Bedtime hallucinations occur due to the continuation or early startup of the REM cycle of sleep bleeding into a waking state. Hypnogogic (before sleep) and hypnopompic (directly after sleep) hallucinations can seem very real since you are essentially seeing parts of the dreaming world in your bedroom right before or right after you fall asleep. These hallucinations are not necessarily specific to narcolepsy and happen to a lot of people at one time or another. They are typically visual hallucinations but can also be auditory or even tactile in nature.

The most clearly related symptom to narcolepsy, cataplexy, is found in 75% of narcolepsy patients and is a dead give away. Cataplexy occurs when the patient experiences a strong emotion which causes them to lose muscle control and go limp, often causing them to fall onto the ground. This symptom is often thought of as sporadically falling asleep but during a cataplexy episode the patient is in fact awake the entire time. The most common emotion associated with these types of episodes is laughter but embarrassment, anger and any other strong emotion can trigger this response.

The last symptom of sleep paralysis is narcolepsy which we have discussed at length in the past. Sleep paralysis occurs when a person wakes from REM sleep and is unable to move their extremities. This occurs when the signals from the brain that occur during REM sleep which temporarily paralyze your muscles to keep you from acting your dreams out continue into your waking state. This can often be very frightening and a person may continue this paralysis until some outside stimulus jars them from that state.

If all of these symptoms are not present it may not be safe to assume that it is narcolepsy. If it is in fact narcolepsy there are many treatments available that curb the effects of narcolepsy. Either way you should consult your doctor and see what options are available to you.

Help For Bruxism

Ever heard this one before? You’re sound asleep getting your much needed rest after a hectic and stressful day when you hear a sound coming from the other side of the bed. At first you think there may be something trying to dig through the floor of your bedroom. You wake your partner and the sound immediately stops. It is then that you realize the sound was caused by them; specifically by a common sleeping disorder known as “Bruxism”.

Bruxism is the clenching and/or grinding of teeth during sleep. Many people are afflicted with this sleeping issue and don’t even know it until either someone else identifies it or inherent symptoms arise. Most notable among common Bruxism symptoms can range from common headaches or pain in the jaw or ears to mysterious tooth pain and even tooth loss over an extended period of time. Not everyone who grinds their teeth in their sleep has any physical symptoms but at the very least it can be difficult for your significant other to get a good night’s sleep because of it.

The physical effects of Bruxism vary depending on the severity of the case. The cause of Bruxism isn’t universally known but studies have shown most cases develop during periods of intense stress. This observation can be troublesome as many people who suffer some of the more painful effects of Bruxism often attribute their headaches and jaw/ear/tooth pain to stress rather than some other more physical ailments. This conclusion often leads to the patient ignoring their Bruxism which can easily lead to more headaches, ear aches, jaw pain, tooth pain, tooth loss, and a sleep deprived partner. The good news is, in most cases, Bruxism is easily treated with few simple home remedies for light cases to Dental treatments for more acute cases.

Once discovered and identified, the first question that comes to mind is “how do you stop from grinding your teeth?” There are several treatments available ranging from simple home remedies to help from dental health professionals. Home remedies would fall under “stress management”; simple exercises to help you relax before bedtime. Massaging the jaw muscles or even taking over-the-counter sleep aids can be all you need to end the nocturnal grind. If the simple remedies don’t solve the problem, a visit with your dentist can provide clinical remedies from custom designed mouth guards to dietary supplements and even botox. For the most serious cases of Bruxism, there are orthodontic and surgical procedures available but a dental physician obviously needs to be involved.

With all of the medical advancements available today, there are more ways than ever to help with this very common sleep disorder. If you have any questions or need more information, consult your physician or dental health professional and get on the road to a restful night’s sleep…for everyone.

 

 

Five Ways to Prevent Snoring

Regardless of how heavily you sleep, if your significant other has a snoring problem it is often very difficult to get a good nights sleep. According to the Vancouver Sleep and Breathing Center 59% of people claim that their partner snores. If you aren’t one of those people but often notice your partner is grumpy in the morning, there is a good possibility that you are in fact the one that snores. Snoring itself is not a serious problem but it can be associated with sleep apnea as well as simply putting a strain on your relationship. Here are just a few ways to prevent this common menace to ensure that you and your significant other sleep well every night.

1. Take care of your health

  • It may seem like a general tip but keeping healthy can help prevent snoring in most people. Obesity is a very common cause of snoring due to the amount of excess fat compressing the airway causing it to vibrate when breathing. Smoking is another unhealthy activity that can cause snoring, as well as a plethora of other more serious health problems. Working on your overall health by exercising and cutting out smoking from your routine will help alleviate your snoring problem.

2. Sleep on your side

  •  This is a more simple solution that works for some people with less severe snoring problems. Laying on your side actively opens up your airway letting you sleep snore-free. It is important to note that latex or memory foam mattresses are preferable to side sleepers since they provide the most comfort.

3. Try breathing exercises

  •  A great way to prevent snoring is by strengthening your breathing muscles. Just like musicians and opera singers, you should try simple breathing exercises to work out your larynx, making it more difficult for your throat to close up while you sleep.

4. Dental appliances

  •  There are certain retainer-esque devices you can buy that helps pull your tongue forward that will open up your airway to prevent snoring. These devices can actually help mild cases of sleep apnea as well. There is a possibility of discomfort but these devices can be fitted to your mouth by a dentist or bought over-the-counter.

5. Open your sinuses

  •  Stuffed up sinuses can be a major contributor to you or your partner’s snoring problem. If you think this may be a reason you are in luck as it is a fairly simple problem to fix. There are tons of over-the-counter medicines that will flush out your sinuses and help you breath easier when you lay down for the night.

Try these tactics to eliminate you or your partner’s snoring habits so you both can get a healthy amount of sleep each night. If these don’t work it might be a good idea to seek a medical option but before you go to that extreme you may just want to try a more comfortable mattress. Come to Mattresses for Less and look through their extensive inventory of extremely comfortable mattresses so you can catch some Z’s regardless of how loud your partner is.