Benefits of Adjustable Beds

Adjustable beds have come a long way in the past decade with the help of research and science.  Newer adjustable bed designs help sleepers find relief from a myriad of ailments, pains and problems associated with sleeping on an old mattress and frame.  More and more studies are showing the therapeutic effects adjustable beds can have on the body. Adjustable beds remove the one size fits all approach to sleeping and allows each individual to customize to their specifications.

Common sleeping problems are solved with adjustable beds.  For example, an adjustable bed can improve breathing for lung expansion, alleviate back pain, and even offer relief from acid reflex or heartburn.  The relief from these problems means a better night’s sleep and leaving you feeling more energetic throughout the day.  Below is a chart from orthopedist for a better look on why adjustable beds are beneficial.1

In addition to alleviating pain and discomfort, adjustable beds are great for improving your nightly activities like reading and watching TV.  You can lay with your back propped up and not have to worry about hurting your back.  Adjustable beds are quickly becoming preferred by a variety of consumers for their bedrooms.

The health benefits of adjustable mattresses are evident and directly connected to how comfortable and supportive they are for your body.  Sleeping on your back at an incline allows your body to maintain proper circulation and posture while sleeping.

We are Houston’s adjustable bed headquarters! We have by far the largest selection of adjustable beds in the Houston area.  We have over 70 different mattresses and base combinations to choose from.  Our knowledgeable experts and our vast selection allow you to find the mattress perfect for you!

Alternate Sleep Cycles

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Most people believe that there is only one way to sleep: go to sleep at night for 6-8 hours, wake up in the morning, stay awake for 16-18 hours and then repeat. This is called a monophasic sleep cycle, which is actually 1 of 5 major sleep cycles used throughout history. The other 4 cycles are considered “polyphasic sleep cycles” because they require multiple naps to be taken throughout the day.

The most important part of every sleep cycle is the Stage 4 REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which provides the benefits of sleeping the brain needs above all other stages. When changing over to a polyphasic cycle, the lack of sleep tricks the body into entering REM sleep immediately, instead of approximately an hour later like in monophasic sleep.

Uberman Cycle

The Uberman Cycles requires 20-30 naps every 4 hours, resulting in 6 naps each day. This cycle is highly efficient and usually results in feeling healthy and refreshed. Many Uberman-users report increased ability to lucid dream as well. Because this schedule is so rigid, it’s impossible to miss naps without feeling extremely tired.

Everyman Cycle

This cycle has one longer “core” nap that is supplemented with several 20-30 minute naps. The most successful cycles can include one 3 hour nap and three 20-minute naps or one 1.5 hour nap with four or five  20-minute naps. This cycle is easier to adjust to than the Uberman, and allows for more flexibility in nap times and in skipping naps when necessary.

Dymaxion Cycle

This cycle was invented by Bucky Fuller based on his belief that we all have two energy tanks: the first is easy to replenish whereas the second tank (second wind) is much harder to replenish. He began sleeping for 30 minutes every 6 hours (only 2 hours of sleep a day!) and reported feeling “the most vigorous and alter condition I have ever enjoyed.” This is by far the most extreme of the 4 polyphasic sleep cycles, but also the most efficient.

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Biphasic/Siesta Cycle

The biphasic cycle consists of sleeping for 4-4.5 hours a night, and then taking a 90 minute nap around noon. It’s not very different from the monophasic sleep cycle, but still more efficient.

If you’re considering switching to an alternate sleep cycles, eating healthy meals and avoiding fatty foods can make the adjustment much easier. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor before switching to an alternate sleep cycle. Make sure you have 2-3 hours of freedom to adjust to the cycle so work or school are not affected by the change.

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.