Natural Sleep Aids

While a few sleepless nights can be an annoyance to our daily routine, habitual sleep deprivation can have much longer-lasting affects on our overall health. Sleep depravation can be caused by many factors but for many of us, extended periods of sleeplessness aren’t a matter of “if” but “when”.

When those seasons of tossing and turning dawn there are a plethora of remedies to help us fall asleep, although not many of them are particularly healthy in the long term. Pharmaceuticals have their place and over short periods of time can certainly help combat the affects of insomnia but over longer stretches of restlessness, the medicines can often create unhealthy dependencies that can have far worse effects on your body and mind than the problem they’re trying to correct.

But, there’s hope! Whether your struggling with a lengthy stress-filled season of life or chronic bouts of insomnia, there are healthy, natural alternative measures available that can help you get the rest you desperately need without leaving you with nasty side effects or chemical dependency issues. Keep in mind the following list of natural sleep aids are suggestions for you to research and explore, preferably with the assistance of your physician. This list is not intended to be a replacement for your doctor’s diagnosis or treatment.

That said, Mattresses For Less offers the following suggestions for natural sleep aids:

 

Valerian

This is an ancient herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to help with insomnia, anxiety, and nervousness. Many people have had successful results with this all natural sleep aid but it should be noted that this product has not been conclusively studied by the medical community at large. One of the concerns most sleep specialists have with this (and all natural remedies) is the lack of consistency in the quality or quantity of the herbal remedies on the market today. So, while there are plenty of anecdotal evidence of Valerian’s effectiveness against sleep deprivation issues, anyone looking to this or any other natural sleep aid should do their due diligence in researching and asking questions before use.

Chamomile

 

 

Another ancient herbal remedy that has become quite popular among natural herbal remedy users, Chamomile is widely available in a variety of products from ointments to tea. As with Valerian, Chamomile’s effectiveness against insomnia has not been widely researched in humans although animal studies have proven it to be an effective sleep aid. Just do your research and if you have any questions, ask your doctor.

Melatonin

 

 

This product is actually a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the human brain. This hormone is widely believed to be critical to the body’s circadian rhythms which regulates our sleep patterns. There is evidence that synthetic melatonin helps with circadian rhythm disorders from jet lag to delayed sleep phase disorders but has not been fully tested or proven to help with insomnia.

 

 

 

 

 

While these natural remedies have not been fully tested by the medical community, the effectiveness of these products does have a rather large following. Keep in mind as you do your research that anecdotal evidence, while compelling, is not conclusive evidence of a product’s effectiveness. So if you’re considering using some of these natural sleep aids, Mattresses For Less strongly suggests you include your doctor in the conversation. If your research reveals nothing to concern either you or your doctor, these herbal remedies may be just what the doctor ordered to give you the full benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Mattress Types 101: Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses have been growing in popularity since their introduction in the 1990s, and for good reason. Created by NASA in 1966, memory foam has been used for everything from space shuttle seats to helmet padding for the National Football League. Universally praised for its “open-cell” structure, it provides unprecedented support and comfort than traditional foam padding.

As mattresses have evolved, it seems a natural step in technological evolution that our sleeping surfaces would incorporate this marvel of modern engineering. As with all mattress types, there is variety with the memory foam mattress with each version bringing varying levels of comfort and features.

The mattress experts at Mattresses For Less understand the need for consumers to do their homework on all of the sleeping surfaces available to them. With this in mind, they proudly offer the following information to better aid their customers in their search for the perfect mattress:

 

Traditional Memory Foam Mattresses

The most popular version of the memory foam mattress, traditional memory foam is what most consumers think of when shopping for this type of mattress. More dense than typical sleeping surfaces (like innerspring mattresses), memory foam is renowned for its ability to keep its shape (or “remember”) once used. This allows for a reduction of pressure points on the sleeper as the foam conforms to the body. This actually aids in circulation allowing for a better night’s sleep.

Another inherent trait with traditional memory foam is the reduction of allergens inherent in other sleeping surfaces. Memory foam inherently repels dust mites and microbial contaminants that are the primary cause of most allergy sufferer’s symptoms. This fact alone makes memory foam an extremely popular sleeping surface choice.

Motion transfer reduction is another benefit of traditional memory foam mattresses. No matter how restless you or your partner may be in the night, traditional memory foam limits how much movement is transferred to the other side of the bed.

Finally, traditional foam mattresses are tough. Warranties on traditional foam mattresses tend to last longer as the mattresses themselves have a longer life expectancy than non-memory foam sleeping surfaces. What this means to you is a noticeable increase in the life of your investment.

AirCool Memory Foam

Like the traditional memory foam, this type of surface also reduces pressure points as it conforms to the body as well as repels dust mites and other allergens. However, one of the common complaints against traditional memory foam mattresses is the temperature of the surface. Memory foam tends to store body heat making the surface temperature of the mattress uncomfortable, if not unbearable, for most consumers. The difference in this foam comes in the form of the open celled structure that allows for improved airflow and considerably less heat retention. A secondary benefit of this type of foam is the speed in which the surface responds to the shape of the body. While traditional memory foam mattresses can have a “quicksand” feel to it as it slowly conforms to the sleeper’s body, AirCool memory foam reduces that sinking feeling with its increased response speed. With the reduction in surface heat and faster conforming response time, many feel this type of memory foam is a substantial upgrade from traditional memory foam mattresses.

Gel Memory Foam

As with the previous types of memory foam surfaces, this version also reduces motion transfer, pressure points, and allergens. The biggest difference in gel memory foam from all others is found in the gel itself. Using the same substance found in many shoe inserts and sports equipment, this type of memory foam offers even more support and comfort than traditional memory foam. Surface temperature is reduced as well as it does not utilize the same heat retaining materials found in traditional memory foam. While all memory foam mattresses have a well-earned reputation for form retention and comfort, many consumers have found the gel memory foam to have the highest quality in terms of quality, comfort, and warranty (some as high as 25 years).

No matter what type of memory foam mattress you choose, the benefits of this particular sleeping surface are obvious. More comfort, more support, longer warranties, and less allergens are just a few of the benefits from a memory foam mattress. Without a doubt, these mattresses are among the best money can buy and certainly worthy of the investment not just in a new sleeping surface but ultimate in the health and well being that can only come from a good night’s sleep.

Stress Reduction Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

StressAn individual’s complete response to environmental pressures and demands.

If you’re old enough to read this blog then you’ve undoubtedly had a night or two of restless sleep due to stress. Every student on the planet has experienced final exam stress and can certainly testify on the affects that stress had on their sleep the night before. New parents can speak on the affects the stresses of a newborn has on sleep patterns. No matter what stressful situation we find ourselves in throughout our lifetimes, we’ve all had the displeasure of a few long nights of restless tossing and sleep-depriving turning.

 

In the simplest terms, stress is what happens when we respond to everyday life. All of the trials, tribulations, and tragedies that can, and often does, occur in our lives has a profound affect on us; physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. While we can often see how our stresses affect us during the waking hours, those affects do not disappear when the sun goes down.

A few of the more common signs of excessive stress on us includes, but is not limited to, depression, anxiety, hyper-tension, general apathy, poor concentration, and sleep depravation. For most of us, our sleep habits are in lock-step with our circumstances. When life is good, so is our sleep and visa versa. Generally speaking, most stressful circumstances we encounter have a short shelf life. However, there are those times where the stresses seem to have no expiration date and the nights can become endless exercises in somnolent futility.

Thankfully there are exercises designed to help people who have found themselves in a position of sleep depriving stress that can actually help put an end to the tossing and turning. As with all advice of this nature, these tips are not designed to be a substitute for medical treatment in the event of prolonged periods of stress. But for those of us who find ourselves with more than a few sleepless nights, Mattresses For Less proudly offers these helpful tips for stress management to help us get the most out of sleep:

Assess The Stress

As with most things in life, the first step in correcting a problem is identifying it. Whether it be ongoing physical pain, work related issues, relationship issues, or any combination of these common sources of stress, once we pinpoint the specific source of our stress, we can take the necessary steps to reduce them.

Misery Loves Company

During times of stress, nothing can help quite as effectively as a healthy support structure. Family and/or friends can be a source of immeasurable help in times of intense stress. While the temptation may be to isolate yourself when the going is rough, there really is no substitute for leaning on the people in our lives that mean the most to us.

Think Happy Thoughts

This may sound like it was lifted from a love-in from the 1960s, but there are plenty of psychological studies that prove the power of positive thinking. How we feel about any given situation is largely dictated by our thought processes. Whatever we focus on definitely affects our overall outlook on life. Pessimism and negativity are as helpful to stress levels as gasoline is to putting out a fire. But positive thought has the ability to reduce the affects of stress on our lives. There is a wealth of information on this subject. If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep depraving stress, you would do well to check out more information on positive thought management.

Work It Out

One of the best pieces of advice you’ll receive on the subject of stress management is relatively simple. Nothing can help you blow off steam faster or more effectively than exercising. Obviously if you have any physical conditions that may be exacerbated by physical exertion you’ll need to consult your doctor first, but if your physical health is not an issue, you’ll probably be surprised at how helpful a good workout is for stress relief.

Stress-Relieving Diet

When we’re in a stressful situation, the last thing we want is the added pressure of watching what we eat. Most of us will grab the nearest/fastest thing we can find or try to drink ourselves to a stress-free reality. Obviously a diet that consists of junk food, fast food, and alcohol will only speed up the negative physical affects of stress; to say nothing of affecting our normal healthy sleep patterns. A low sugar, low caffeine, low alcohol diet can actually help reduce our stress.

Delegate

One of the leading contributors to high stress in our lives is overwork. Many of us have a difficult time delegating responsibilities to others. It doesn’t take too many consecutive weeks of trying to be Superman or Wonder Woman before you realize we are neither. As much as is possible, pass the work load onto others to alleviate the stress levels in your life.

With just a few changes in schedule, diet, and a significant reduction of things on your plate, you can easily reduce your stress levels and return to a healthy lifestyle; including a healthy sleeping schedule. By following these simple steps, you may be surprised to find yourself sleeping soundly through the night again…

Mattress Types 101: Innerspring Mattresses

The rise of modern technology has had a profound effect on our lifestyles unlike any previous generation. Since the advent of the “space age”, we’ve seen technological wonders our parents and grandparents couldn’t imagine when they were kids. From space stations to smart phones, we’ve come a long, long way in a relatively short period of time, technologically speaking.

Modern technology has touched every facet of our lives, including our sleeping surfaces. Mattresses have evolved considerably over the last decade or two with plenty of advancements in how our beds are made debuting over the last few years. Gone are the days of sleeping on lumpy bags of feathers or spring-loaded devices that would seem more at home in a medieval dungeon than a modern bedroom. Today’s sleeping surfaces are testaments to engineering ingenuity with beds featuring state-of-the-art gel-filled coils to literal inventions spawned from NASA’s engineering successes.

With variety comes the difficulty of choosing which sleeping surface is right for you. Considering how big an investment new bedroom furniture is, you certainly don’t want to make a purchase without doing a fair amount of research. With this in mind, Mattresses For Less is proud to offer the following information concerning different types of mattresses to help the thrifty mattress shopper with their research. Today’s focus is a modern take on a classic type of mattress: the innerspring mattress.

An innerspring mattress has been around almost as long as there have been mattresses although the technology has drastically improved over the years. While most of us have slept on some variation on the innerspring mattress theme, you may be surprised to learn there is much more to these mattresses than covering a bunch of springs with cloth, sheets, and pillows.

Most innerspring mattresses are composed of three layers: the core, the foundation, and the upholstery layers.

The Core

The core of an innerspring mattress is the part of the mattress that supports the sleeper. The core consists of the “innersprings” usually made of steel coil springs. There are several variations of spring coils to choose from with each type bringing a different sleeping experience. The following list consists of a few examples of the coil varieties available:

Bonnell Coils:

Repurposed from the buggy seat springs from the 19th century, these are what most people think of when the phrase “innerspring mattress” comes up. These hourglass-shaped steel wire coils are connected by cross wire helicals forming the most basic of the innerspring mattress types.

 

 

 

Marshall Coils:
A much thinner gauge spring coil, these barrel-shaped coils are individually wrapped in fabric and are normally not interconnected. This design allows the coils to work independently instead of en masse for obvious benefits. Innerspring mattresses made with Marshall coils tend not to show the same types of wear and tear that Bonnell Coils often exhibit like sagging in the middle.

 

 

 

Continuous Coils:
This is an innerspring mattress style featuring rows of coils made from a single piece of steel wire. This style of innerspring mattress benefits from what is commonly referred to as a “hinging effect”. With this effect, the coils more easily conform to the shape of the sleeper’s body than the traditional Bonnell coils or even the individually wrapped Marshall coils.

 

 

 

The Foundation


This portion of the innerspring is the bottom section of the mattress set, or “box spring”. The foundation is made with extra heavy-duty springs as it must support not only the weight of the sleeper(s) but also of the core mattress as well. The box spring is made with a solid frame, usually made with wood as well as a high-density foam support beneath the coils for a more rigid foundation.

 

 

 

Upholstery Layers


As the name suggests, this section of the mattress is the fabric that covers the core springs and provides support and cushioning. Most upholstery layers are made up of an insulator layer made of a fibrous material, a middle section made up of cushioned materials like foam, cotton, or polyester, and a quilted section that comprises the actual sleeping surface. Together, these layers provides a soft, cushioned padding between the sleeper and the coils.
Put together, these components make up a major portion of the mattress sets offered by retailers across the globe. Obviously there is much more to a mattress set than meets the eye and if you find yourself in the market for a new set of mattresses, researching the benefits and liabilities inherent in each type of mattress is key to finding the perfect sleeping surface for you. We’ve all slept on uncomfortable mattresses over our lifetimes, but there truly is nothing that can compare with a good night’s sleep on a mattress set that seems tailor made for you.

 

Dealing With Night Terrors

It usually happens in the middle of the night. The kids have been in bed for several hours and you and your spouse are settling into your own REM sleep. Suddenly the house is flooded with screams of terror from one of your children. Blankets and pillows fly through the air as the two of you scramble to your child’s room to find them lying in bed screaming at the top of their lungs. Assuming a nightmare, you try to rouse them from sleep only to discover they are in a deep sleep, despite their screams. All efforts to snap them out of their terror-filled trance fail and you’re left to watch and worry until the terror subsides on its own.

Sleep specialists call these episodes “night terrors”. Different from nightmares, this particular sleeping disorder normally occurs in the transition between Stage 4 to REM sleep. What this means is during a night terror, the individual is actually asleep despite all evidence to the contrary. Many people who suffer from night terrors often appear awake, complete with open eyes, screaming, and movement of the extremities. In reality, they are in such a deep level of sleep that most sufferers of night terrors have no recollection of the event.

Cause of Night Terrors

While night terrors can occur at any age, most reported cases occur in small children. Statistical research reveals up to 15% of children report having experienced at least one night terror. Most of the scientific community believe night terrors are caused by an over-arousal of the central nervous system. While most children do seem to outgrow this condition, there have been recorded instances of adults who suffer from this disorder usually during periods of heightened stress. This, of course, can lead to other sleeping disorders, not the least of which is simple sleep deprivation.

Researchers have suggested a link between pediatric sleep apnea and night terrors. With this in mind, it is a good idea to have your pediatrician check your child for sleep apnea if they are suffering from night terrors. Sleep apnea can prevent the sufferer from getting enough rest. This restless sleep coupled with periods of stress can trigger episodes of night terrors in those who are most susceptible to them.

 

How To Handle Night Terrors

No matter who in our household is suffering from night terrors, the effects of an episode can be traumatic. At first there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done to stop a night terror event. However, with a cool head and a few common sense steps, the night terrors can be handled by anyone:

Try To Keep Yourself Calm
The first step in any potentially traumatic situation is to stay calm. Adding your own panic to a situation will do the exact opposite of what you want to do; namely help your loved one. Most likely the individual will not remember anything from the event although adults who experience night terrors report a feeling of comfort coming from calm, reassuring voices from their loved ones. With that in mind, offering words of comfort and safety in a calm, soothing voice is often a very helpful step you can take to alter the effects of night terrors.

Minimize The Stress
Research has linked intense periods of stress to most cases of night terrors. With that in mind, it is important that the stresses of life be lessened as much as possible. If it is a small child, major developmental changes like potty training or a change in their daily schedule should not be introduced during this time, if at all possible. Also keeping emotional stressors like yelling, arguing, or severe punishments (if it’s a child) to a bare minimum is extremely helpful. Eliminating T.V. for a period of time can also be a big stress-reducer. In short, do everything in your power to lessen the stress load on the individual suffering with night terrors to help lessen the effects, if not shorten the time period, of the episodes.

Do Not Use The Force
Trying to force an individual awake during a night terror episode can often be more traumatic for the sufferer than the episode itself. The natural inclination may be to “snap them out” of their terror, but most sufferers who are forced awake often suffer from extreme disorientation often to the point of temporary amnesia. As difficult as it may be for you, letting the episode play out is always the better choice.

Watch For Patterns
There are often discernible patterns to night terrors like the time of night each episode occurs. If you are able to determine a recurring pattern to their frequent terrors, waking the individual 15 minutes before the episode normally occurs will “reset” their sleep pattern and often prevent the terror from occurring.

Dealing with a loved one suffering with night terrors is not an exact science, and these tips are simply suggestions that may or may not succeed in helping, depending on the severity of the condition. As always, when it comes to any clinical sleeping disorder, a professional medical expert who specializes in sleep disorders is your best bet to find the answers you need to help you and your loved ones get the sleep you need.

Protecting Your Investment: Tips On Extending The Life Of Your New Mattress

You’ve done your homework, shopped around, and finally decided on the mattress set that fits your sleep comfort needs. You’re ready to make your purchase and get to the best part of mattress shopping; a good night’ sleep. That’s when the sales rep begins asking questions you may not have considered in your shopping. Words like “mattress encasements”and “mattress padding” begin to bombard your budget and the temptation to wave off the salesman’s suggestions for additional products and options to protect your mattress is at an all time high.┬áBut, before you say “no” to all of those additional costs, there are a few things you may need to know.

One of the most expensive component of any bedroom set is a high quality set of mattresses. Most studies tell us the life of an average set of mattresses is 7 to 10 years before natural wear-and-tear permanently reduces the positive effects of your new mattresses. Taking extra precautions to protect a big ticket investment like that is anything but frivolous. While most of us wouldn’t think twice about purchasing additional products, features, or even insurance to protect other big-ticket investments like a vehicle or our homes, few people think of mattresses in that same category.

But, with just a little care and proper application of a few “extras”, you can extend the life of that new mattress set well past the average expiration date. For example:

 

Mattress Pads/Toppers

A mattress pad is an additional layer of material designed to add comfort and protection for the surface of your mattress. There are many mattress pad types and materials to choose from depending on your needs or personal preference. Pads can come in cotton, wool, polyester, organic fabric, silk, foam, down features, or synthetic down materials. They also come in many different styles, for example:

Fitted Pads
More like a very thick fitted sheet, this type of pad usually has a layer of quilted material for additional comfort and protection of the sleeping surface. Elastic corners insure the fitted pad stays put.

Anchor Pads
The primary difference with this type of pad is the way it attaches to the mattress. Rather than elastic sewn into the fitted corners of the pad, the anchor pad has elastic bands that wrap around the mattress corners. This type of pad is easier to remove for cleaning purposes.

Memory Foam Pads
This type of pad is quite popular for its space-age materials. As the name suggests, this type of pad adds extra cushion to the sleeping surface that conforms to the curves of your body and retains that form for additional comfort and support. Since it is a pad and not a permanent part of the mattress, an additional benefit is protection of the mattress surface thereby extending the life of your mattress.

Egg Crate Pads
This foam material comes in the form of an “egg crate” and adds additional cushion and support for you and protection for the mattress surface. The difference between this pad and the memory foam is the egg crate does not retain any specific form.

Mattress Encasements

Maybe you’ve seen a mattress with a zippered cloth or plastic cover and wondered why someone would shrink-wrap their bed. The reason for this added step is simple; fully covering the mattress means full protection. While a mattress pad may protect the top of the mattress and the addition of a dust ruffle may help keep dust from accumulating underneath the bed, only a mattress encasement fully covers the mattress and/or box spring. If you suffer from chronic allergies or are simply trying to extend the life of your mattress, a mattress encasement is ideal.

So before you make your final decision on these seemingly frivolous extras, keep these suggestions in mind and remember, the quality of your sleep is largely dependent on the quality of your mattress. The best advice you can receive during your mattress shopping is be sure to include “mattress protection” in your budget. Not just to protect what you’re investing in a new set of mattresses, but in the greatest investment you will ever have; your health and well being.

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…