10 Reasons Why Good Sleep Is Important

A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health.

In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising.

Unfortunately, the Western environment is interfering with natural sleep patterns.

People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.

Here are 10 reasons why good sleep is important.

1. Poor Sleep Can Make You Fat

Poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain.

People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep.

In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.

In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese, respectively.

The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise.

If you’re trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial.

2. Good Sleepers Tend to Eat Fewer Calories

Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories.

Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation.

This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.

3. Good Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity

Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function.

This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance.

All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation.

A study on medical interns provides a good example.

Interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.

Another study found that short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication.

On the other hand, good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults.

4. Good Sleep Can Maximize Athletic Performance

Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance.

In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental wellbeing.

Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in elderly women.

A study in over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength and greater difficulty performing independent activities.

5. Poor Sleepers Have a Greater Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

It’s known that sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors.

These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease.

A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night.

6. Sleep Affects Glucose Metabolism and Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Experimental sleep restriction affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity.

In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to four hours per night for six nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes.

These symptoms resolved after one week of increased sleep duration.

Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population.

Those sleeping less than six hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

7. Poor Sleep Is Linked to Depression

Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders.

It has been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality.

Poor sleep is even associated with an increased risk of death by suicide.

Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.

8. Sleep Improves Your Immune Function

Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.

One large two-week study monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with the cold virus.

They found that those who slept less than seven hours were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more.

If you often get colds, ensuring that you get at least eight hours of sleep per night could be very helpful. Eating more garlic can help as well.

9. Poor Sleep Is Linked to Increased Inflammation

Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body.

In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage.

Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases.

One study observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well.

Researchers are even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in individuals with long-term inflammatory issues.

10. Sleep Affects Emotions and Social Interactions

Sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially.

Several studies confirmed this using emotional facial recognition tests.

One study found that people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognize expressions of anger and happiness.

Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.

The Bottom Line

Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.

You simply can not achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.


Originally found on Healthline.com
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How To Clean Your Mattress

Mattresses are on the receiving end of dead skin cells, sweat, stains, dust mites, and all manner of lovely things. Despite linens and mattress pads, you still need to periodically clean the thing you sleep on every night. Follow these steps, and rest easy in the knowledge that your bed isn’t crawling with ick.

1. Vacuum

After removing your mattress cover, take a pass with the vacuum cleaner first. You’ll get rid of those cracker crumbs from late night munching sessions, along with any other dirt, pet hair, and dust that’s accumulated over time.

2. Spot Clean

How you clean, and what you use, will depend on the type of stain you’re dealing with. Unless you spilled red wine or coffee in bed, chances are good that they are protein-based stains of the bodily variety (we’re talking the good stuff here: sweat, urine, blood). They also probably aren’t new, which means they’ll be tougher to remove after having set and chemically bonded with the fabric.

Here are a couple of options:

  • Treat stains with a combination of hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and baking soda. Mix them into a spray bottle and treat the stained area. Blot and/or rub with a clean rag.
  • Use non-toxic, natural enzyme cleaners, like Simple Solution, that chemically break down stains and odors.
  • Make a paste of lemon juice and salt. Apply the mixture to the stain, and let it stand for 30–60 minutes. Wipe off salt with a clean towel.

3. Deodorize

Sprinkle a light layer of baking soda over the entire surface and let it sit for a long time — at least a couple of hours. It will absorb any excess liquid from the stain removal process, and leave your mattress smelling fresh and clean. Vacuum off the baking soda, making sure to get into any crevices to remove the powder.

4. Air it Out

Perhaps the best thing for your mattress is fresh air and UV sunlight. Not everyone will be able to haul their mattress down the stairs and into the backyard (hi city folk!) but if you can, it’s a great way to naturally eliminate bacteria. Plus you’ll get extra household Brownie points for cleanliness.

5. Cover & Protect

If you don’t have a mattress cover, now is a good time to pick one up. They are an important line of defense against future dirt and stains, and can be thrown into the washing machine on a regular basis.

What Happens to You When You Don’t Sleep for Days

All-night study sessions, important business deals, new babies — most people will experience a taste of sleep deprivation at some point in life. While the occasional lack of sleep may not seem like a big deal, the impact of sleep deprivation can be intense and its effects can linger. In extreme circumstances, sleep deprivation can ultimately lead to death.

“As a society, as families and individuals, we have not yet fully appreciated the importance of sleep,” says Terry Cralle, RN, a certified clinical sleep educator in Fairfax, Virginia. “Sleep, along with diet and exercise, constitutes the very foundation of good health.” In fact, she says, the three are so interconnected that each needs to be a priority.

Chronic poor sleep puts us at increased risk for serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. During sleep, our bodies secrete hormones that help control appetite, metabolism, and glucose processing. Poor sleep can lead to an increase in the body’s production of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. In addition, skimping on sleep seems to throw other body hormones out of whack. Less insulin is released after you eat, and this along with the increased cortisol may lead to too much glucose in the bloodstream and thus an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

But how much sleep do I really need? Everyone is different, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. (1) And contrary to popular belief, sleeping an extra hour or two on the weekends can not make up for the lost sleep you may be experiencing over the course of a busy week. It could also throw off your internal body clock and possibly lead to Sunday night insomnia. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is the best way to regulate the body’s clock.

While pulling an all-nighter (or longer) might seem like a feat worth celebrating, here’s a look at what you’re putting your body through.

At 24 Hours: Impaired Coordination, Memory, and Judgment

Scott Kelley, a 10-year Army veteran, knows about sleep deprivation. With multiple deployments under his belt, Kelley has had many instances of being awake longer than 24 hours in the field. “There were several occasions in Afghanistan and Iraq where I had just finished up 15 to 20 hours of working, got back to my hooch, and then either a rocket attack would come in or a critical mission would be called,” he says.

Kelley’s military training and adrenaline-filled environment seemed enough to keep him focused and alert at this early stage of sleep deprivation. But what happens in more normal circumstances is surprising. The consequences of sleep deprivation at 24 hours is comparable to the cognitive impairment of someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent, according to a study published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. (2) “Judgment is affected, memory is impaired, there is deterioration in decision-making, and a decline in eye-hand coordination,” Cralle says. “You’re more emotional, attention is decreased, hearing is impaired, and there is an increase in your risk of death from a fatal accident.”

At 36 Hours: Physical Health Starts to Be Negatively Impacted

Now your health begins to be at risk. High levels of inflammatory markers are in the bloodstream, says Cralle, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, hormones are affected — your emotions can be all over the place.

Once Kelley reached 36 hours without sleep, his head started buzzing as though he were dehydrated, and he began to lose motivation. His responses were dependent on his training, and in some instances, he functioned on autopilot and lost chunks of time. Once, he was called back to duty just as he was about to go to sleep after 36 hours on the job, he recounted. “After a quick briefing, I grabbed my gear and flew out by helicopter, got dropped off in the middle of nowhere, and hiked out to the FOB [forward operating base]. The next day, we rode back through the most dangerous road in central Afghanistan, but I don’t remember leaving the FOB or hardly anything that happened until I got back to the base.”

At 48 Hours: Microsleeps and Disorientation

After two days of no sleep, Cralle says, the body begins compensating by shutting down for microsleeps, episodes that last from half a second to half a minute and are usually followed by a period of disorientation. “The person experiencing a microsleep falls asleep regardless of the activity they are engaged in,” she says. Microsleeps are similar to blackouts, and a person experiencing them is not consciously aware that they’re occurring.

Kelley experienced microsleeps during this phase of sleep deprivation. “Around 48 hours or so, my mind starts to slip into neutral sometimes, and I find myself staring off into the distance if I don’t maintain focus,” he says.

At 72 Hours: Major Cognitive Deficits and Hallucinations

Expect significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception, and other higher mental processes after many sleepless hours, Cralle says.

“Even simple conversations can be a chore,” notes Kelley. This is when the mind is ripe for hallucinations. Kelley recalled a time he was on guard duty and repeatedly saw someone standing with a rifle in the woods, ready to sneak into camp. Upon closer inspection, he determined he was actually looking at a branch and shadows.

Involuntary Sleep Deprivation: Causes and Symptoms

Not all instances of sleep deprivation are voluntary. Insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, night terrors, sleepwalking, and other problems can affect sleep. See a sleep specialist if you experience any of the following, suggests Cralle:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring, gasping, or choking during sleep
  • A restless sensation or jerking in your legs at night
  • Impaired ability to perform regular daytime activities
  • Struggling to stay awake when inactive, whether at a traffic light, while watching television, or reading
  • Needing caffeinated beverages or sugar throughout the day to stay awake
  • Feeling tired or falling asleep while driving
  • Needing sleep aids on a regular basis

Originally found on: Everyday Health written by Mikel Theobald

How to Take Care of Your Mattress

Don’t Make These Nine Mistakes

By the end of an average year, you’ll have spent nearly 3,000 hours lying on your mattress, so it pays to take good care of what is typically an expensive purchase. A well-chosen, well-cared for mattress is crucial to your health – it keeps your spine properly aligned, your body well supported and your sleep blissful and uninterrupted by aches or pains. Still, many people ruin their mattress long before its time by making the following nine mistakes.

Never Rotating the Mattress
The days when you needed to periodically flip a mattress over are long gone, as mattresses from the past decade or so no longer have double-sided springs. But that doesn’t mean you are free and clear once the delivery guys set up a new mattress in your bedroom. Make it a habit to rotate your mattress top to bottom at least every other month, and you’ll delay the inevitable appearance of valleys and sags due to body weight.

Not Using a Mattress Pad
If you don’t cover your mattress with a protective pad, you’re leaving it defenseless against its mortal enemies: moisture, skin flakes, dust and body oils. Still, this is one of the most common ways people ruin their mattresses. If you’re avoiding a mattress pad because you remember the hot, crinkly, plastic covers from decades past, you’ll be pleased to discover that today’s numbers are far more comfortable and breathable, and many are thickly padded for extra comfort and are dust-mite resistant. Wash your mattress pad at least two or three times per year to keep it fresh.

Jumping on the Bed
Whether it’s your kids using the bed as a trampoline, or you guilty of standing on your mattress to reach a shelf or hang a picture, the strain is too much for your bedsprings to bear. And if you have a platform bed, standing or jumping on the mattress is an even bigger no-no; the wooden supports might break, sending the mattress and you to the floor.

Not Bothering with a Bed Skirt
Sure, dust ruffles are mostly decorative and an excellent way to add a splash of style to your space – just choose one that matches an accent color in your bedding or room. But beyond that, the hanging fabric helps keep dust, pet hair and general grime from migrating under your bed, where it tends to build up not only as dust bunnies, but also as a potent source of allergens. So whether you prefer a ruffled bed skirt or a more tailored design, if you have a mattress sitting on a foundation, a dust ruffle will help protect the underside of your mattress. Wash the bed skirt at least once a year to remove accumulated dust and hair.

Letting Pets Sleep Underneath Your Bed
It probably seems like a cozy den to Fido or Mittens, but letting pets sleep underneath your bed means lots of pet fur along the bottom of your mattress, and an increased likelihood of a sniffly nose for you. Not only that, but your pet might rip through the thin fabric protecting the bottom of the foundation. Instead, give your pet a cozy bed of his own. You’ll both sleep better.

Neglecting to Clean Your Mattress
Mattresses need periodic cleaning just like the rest of your room. At least twice per year, but preferably once each season, strip your bed of all the coverings, and then vacuum the top and sides of the mattress thoroughly with your vacuum’s upholstery tool. Pay particular attention to the seams of the mattress, where dust mites especially like to hide. If you’d like, sprinkle a little baking soda on the bed before vacuuming to help remove odors.

Leaving Your Mattress Unsupported
If you have a platform bed, check the slats periodically for cracks, sags or weakness. If you have a foundation, (you might still refer to it as the box springs, but these days, it’s just a wooden support – actual springs are a thing of the past) do the same: look for cracks or damage to the frame. A mattress without proper support is going to sag and bend under your body weight, and that means YOU aren’t being properly supported, either.

Keeping It in the Dark
Help keep your mattress odor-free and dust mites in check by periodically exposing your mattress to fresh air and sunlight. Just pull off all the bedding when it’s laundry time, and let your mattress air out for a few hours.

Leaving Spills to Dry Out
It happens; your potty-training toddler has a nighttime accident; you’re enjoying a romantic glass of wine in bed with your significant other, but it spills; or someone in the family has a bad case of stomach flu and can’t make it out of bed in time. Regardless of the source, liquid and your mattress do not mix. Anytime moisture is spilled onto your bed, remove the sheets immediately, and use a towel to blot up the liquid as much as possible. If necessary, use a commercial cleaner or baking soda to remove residual odor or stains. Then either allow the mattress to air dry before remaking the bed, or use your blow dryer on its low setting to speed things along.

Even with the best of care, mattresses are generally ready for replacement in five to ten years. You’ll know it’s time for a new one when the mattress has valleys or sags, you aren’t sleeping well or you are waking up with aches, stiffness or tingling.


Originally found on TheSpruce.com, written by Michelle Ullman

How to Keep Your Bed as Cool as Possible This Summer

It’s hard to get a good night’s rest when it’s too hot to sleep—and since we’ve already started seeing “record high temperature” headlines in the news, it’s time to figure out our nighttime cool-down strategies.

Earlier this year, we put together a list of tips and tricks to help you make your bed as warm and snuggly as possible. Now that it’s summer, here are our tips for cooling your bed—and yourself—down before it’s time to turn out the lights.

If you have air conditioning:

  • If you aren’t already running your air conditioning, turn it on a few hours before bedtime. Some of us run our AC all day (or, at least, keep it running whenever we’re at home) and that’s great! However, if you are the type of person who prefers to sweat it out, do your sleep a favor by turning your AC on a few hours before bed. It’ll cool your home and your body, preparing you for a better bedtime.
  • Instead of turning your AC up a few degrees before going to bed, turn it down. According to the National Sleep Foundation, we sleep best when we’re in a 65-degree room—so if you’re keeping your AC thermostat in the mid/high 70s, try turning it down before bed and see if your sleep improves. Yes, your electric budget might go up, but the extra sleep will probably be worth it.
  • If your air conditioner has “sleep mode,” use it. In sleep mode, you can set your AC at a sleep-inducing cool temperature before bed, and the AC will slowly raise the maximum allowable temperature overnight (or in some cases turn itself off after a few hours). You’ll be asleep, so you won’t even notice!

If you don’t have air conditioning:

  • Your home will stay cooler at night if you keep it as cool as possible during the day. During the mornings and evenings, open windows to let air flow through your home. During the afternoons (or before you leave for work, if you work a 9-5), close the windows and pull down the blinds to keep the cool air in and the hot summer sun out.
  • Create a makeshift swamp cooler by spraying a sheet with cold water and hanging it in front of an open window. Make sure you’ve picked a window that has a breeze coming through it!
  • Create another makeshift swamp cooler by putting a bowl of ice in front of a box fan or oscillating fan.
  • If you can’t cool your home down, cool your body down instead. A cold shower right before bed can help lower your body temperature just enough for you to fall asleep.
  • If all else fails, wet a bandana in very cold water, wring it out so it doesn’t drip all over your pillows, fold it into a rectangle, and drape it over your neck. Having something cool that close to your major blood vessels will help cool your whole body. (Don’t have a bandana? I’ve made do with a cold, damp sock.)

Sheets, covers, and pajamas:

  • We’re assuming you’ve put your flannel sheets in the closet, but if you’re still sleeping on silk/satin/T-shirt material, it’s time to swap those sheets out for 100% cotton. Cotton sheets absorb sweat without absorbing body heat—the perfect combination.
  • You’ll also want to wash your sheets regularly (by which we mean every week, if not every few days). They’ll feel cooler against your skin and they’ll smell better!
  • If you sleep under a duvet, you’ll want to get a heavier-weight duvet for winter and a lighter-weight duvet for summer. If that’s out of your price range, you can always buy heavier and lighter duvet covers, and swap them with the seasons.
  • You might already know this tip, but you can also skip the duvet/quilt/blankets entirely and sleep under a top sheet. (Some people can sleep without anything covering their bodies, but most of us need some kind of cover when we go to bed, first because it “feels like bedtime” and second because our core body temperature drops as we fall asleep, and the cover prevents the temperature drop from waking us up.)
  • In terms of pajamas, you want something light, loose, and preferably cotton. Or… you could always sleep naked!

Other tips:

  • Memory foam mattresses often “run hot,” which is great in the winter but can prevent quality sleep in the summer. Try buying a mattress cover or mattress topper specially designed to keep your mattress cool.
  • A room that is too humid can be just as stifling as a room that is too warm. It might be time to invest in a dehumidifier.
  • If you have a ceiling fan, make sure you’ve switched it to its “summer” setting. (Yes, many ceiling fans have two settings, and they’re designed to help keep your home either warm or cool depending on the season!) Don’t know whether your fan is set to “summer?” Check the blades—in summer, they should move counter-clockwise.
  • Switching from a “curled up” sleeping position to a “starfish” sleeping position can help cool your body down, in part because starfishing allows airflow to the armpits and groin (both of which are notoriously warm, sweaty places).
  • Don’t forget your hydration! One of the best ways to cool down is to drink a glass of cool, refreshing water—and even though you may have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, it’s way better than waking up headachy and dehydrated.

Source

Tips for Choosing a Mattress If You Have Back Pain

The jury is still out on whether a firm or soft mattress is the best option for people whose back pain keeps them up at night. That said, most health experts in the know say the choice is yours—that the mattress that makes you feel most comfortable is likely your best option.

And what does research say so far? That medium firmness seems to yield the most painless sleep.

For example, The Lancet published the results of a randomized controlled trial that assessed 313 people who had a backache while in bed and when they got up. The researchers randomly placed participants onto either a firm mattress or a medium firm mattress, and after 90 days evaluated them for pain reduction and disability.

The medium firm mattress won. Study participants in the medium firm mattress group had significantly less pain and disability throughout the study compared to participants in the firm mattress group. Here’s what the researchers had to say:

“A mattress of medium firmness improves pain and disability among patients with chronic non-specific low-back pain.”

Dr. Michael Perry, medical director of the Laser Spine Institute in Tampa, Fla., agrees that a medium firm mattress is generally the way to go. But he firmly (no pun intended) adds that one size does not fit all in the choosing of a mattress by those with spine pain.

A number of other factors play a role, as well, he says.

Your Medical Status
Selecting the mattress that’s best suited to your spinal condition is about more than just how hard or soft the item is, Perry says. You (and your doctor) need to consider your medical history in some detail, so that you can tailor your purchase to your needs.

Before purchasing a mattress, Perry recommends asking yourself the following questions: What medical conditions do you have? What is your current diagnosis or diagnoses? What, if anything, have you been treated for previously?

It makes a difference. For example, symptoms of spinal stenosis tend to present themselves when you are standing and walking, but not when you are lying down. For this reason, the question of mattress firmness is not a big issue in people with spinal stenosis only. If this is you, choose a mattress that makes you feel comfortable.

But if you have degeneration along with your stenosis, that’s a different matter, Perry says. In this case, or if you have spinal arthritis without stenosis, disc problems or non-specific back pain, you do need to consider the relative firmness or softness of your mattress. “People with these conditions do better with more support, i.e. a firmer mattress,” Perry says.

Perry also says that while everyone needs some support when they sleep, people who have undergone multiple back surgeries often need less, relatively speaking. After several surgeries, the tissues have been altered and may be stiffer, he says. In this case, a softer mattress may be more comfortable.

 

How Old Is Your Mattress?
Dr. Perry warns that mattress springs break down over time, which makes your bed softer. “This can aggravate a patient’s back,” he tells me.

Based on this, does it makes sense for you to get a new mattress, or can you reduce pain and stiffness with your old one? While this is likely to vary among individuals, medical research may help shed some light on the question:

A study done in Oklahoma and published in Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics measured the pain, spine stiffness, and quality of sleep in 22 adults to whom they gave a “prescribed” (and new) bedding system for 28 days.

When they compared the ratings with participants’ ratings of their personal bedding systems for the same amount of time, they found that the prescribed bedding systems helped to improve all three measures significantly.

Your Sleeping Position
What position do you usually sleep in? This makes a difference in the type of support you need from your bed. Dr. Perry has some recommendations for back sleepers, side sleepers (whom he calls fetal position sleepers), and stomach sleepers:

  1. Side Sleepers Most people are side sleepers, Perry tells me. They sleep in the fetal position with their knees drawn up toward their chest. But this position tends to put pressure on your hips and shoulders. For side and fetal sleepers, Perry recommends a slightly softer mattress, such as one from the Tempurpedic brand. The foam the Tempurpedic mattress is made of conforms to your body, especially in the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, he says.
  2. Stomach Sleepers But for the stomach sleeper, soft mattresses such as the Tempurpedic may irritate the back. “A soft mattress encourages your abdomen to sink into the bed. The position that results is known to increase the arch in your low back and cause pain,” he asserts. Perry suggests that a medium firm bed surface is good for stomach sleepers. The idea, he says, is to derive support from your chosen mattress, but without the abdominal sinking experience. By the way, the sinking effect is amplified if you have a large abdomen. For thin people, sinking may not be as much of an issue.
  3. Back Sleepers And finally, if you sleep on your back, Perry recommends putting a thin, rolled towel or pillow under your knees and low back for support. Pillowing under these areas will likely help support them, as well as provide you with more comfort, he says.

    The same group of Oklahoma researchers mentioned above did another study that affirms Perry’s assertions. The study, which was published in Applied Ergonomics in 2010, involved 27 patients with low back pain and stiffness upon arising.

Researchers divided the participants up according to their usual sleep position. Participants were assigned to a medium firm mattress with a combination of foam and latex layering that was based on their preferred positioning choice – choices that correspond to Perry’s descriptions as noted above. The participants were rated for sleep comfort and quality every day for three months.

The researchers found that the patients’ back pain and stiffness improved with the new mattresses. For this reason, they concluded that sleep surfaces do relate to sleep discomfort and that it is possible to reduce your pain by replacing your mattress with one uniquely suitable to your particular spinal condition.

Individual People Deserve Individual Mattress Choices
Different people need different things but in general, support is better, Dr. Perry concludes. If you have back pain, the best way to go about buying a mattress is to do your research and base your final selection on your particular need for both support and comfort.

 


Originally found on verywellhealth, written by Anne Asher, CPT .

70 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever

Meet the Surefire Ways to Wake Up Recharged Every Single Day

Do you feel well-rested on a daily basis? If you simply laughed at that question, you’re far from alone. More than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep these days, and it’s not without consequence. People who don’t get enough shut-eye don’t just feel the unpleasant effects of fatigue; sleep-deprived people run the risk of experiencing extreme irritability, weight gain, short-term memory loss, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. It’s crazy to think that all these risks can be solved—or at least reduced—simply by sleeping better. So what is it that you can do to achieve your best sleep ever? Keep reading these 70 sleep tips and start snoozing better immediately.

how to sleep better

1 |Drink cherry juice before bed.

Tart cherry juice contains a natural amount of melatonin and it might be the key to tacking on some necessary minutes to your REM sleep cycle. A study in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that drinking cherry juice before bed helps to add an average of 84 minutes to a person’s sleep. 84 minutes? We’ll take it. And for more pre-bedtime habits to adopt, check out the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets For Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.

how to sleep better napping

2 | Don’t nap more than 20 minutes during the day.

Oversleeping during a nap might just be your downfall. If you’re catnapping for 20 minutes or more, it’s time to rethink your strategy, as your midday siesta could be the reason you’re not sleeping well or through the night. And if your sleep troubles are coming from 35,000 feet, master the 10 Best Tricks For Sleeping on an Airplane.

alarm clock how to sleep better

3 | Have an alarm signify bedtime.

Whether you set an alarm on your phone, through FitBit, or download a specific sleep timer app, having an alarm go off at, say, 10 p.m. is a really great way to remind you to wind down at the same time every night. Once the alarm goes off, start adhering to your night routine.

wash face how to sleep better

4 |Have a night routine.

Your night routine is the list of stuff you do each night to prepare for bed. It also helps your body recognize that bedtime is coming and it’s time to start shutting down. Brushing your teeth, flossing, washing your face, removing your makeup—these can all be a part of your nightly routine. And for more ways to optimize your shuteye, learn the 40 Ways to Sleep Better in Your 40s.

Salmon Fillets sleep

5 | Eat more fish.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that fish—sockeye salmon, in particular—can help promote better, more restful sleep. Fish contains high levels of Omega-3s, a fatty acid that helps you drift off to dreamland. (If you can’t stomach the flavor, spring for some Omega-3 capsules instead.) For more healthy eating tips, learn the 50 Foods That Will Make You Younger.

woman sleeping

6| Learn your sleep position.

According to the Better Sleep Council, there are six major sleep positions. Once you learn yours, you can optimize your sleep by picking up the right pillow for your back and neck. To learn what pillows your should rest your head on, bone up on the 10 Best Pillows for a Better Night’s Sleep.

habits after 40

7 | Change your circadian rhythm.

By using an app like Alarmy or Step Out!, which force you to do some mental gymnastics (like solving a math problem) before turning your alarm off, you can, over time, reset your circadian rhythm. After using the app enough, you’ll naturally stop hitting snooze every single morning. (Don’t pretend you don’t do that.)

man opening window sleeping

8 | Let some air in.

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology revealed that leaving your door or a window open—despite that action potentially spitting in the face of years of ingrained habit—will help air flow, reducing levels of carbon dioxide, a known sleep inhibitor.

stock photo of woman with weight blanket

9 | Get a heavier blanket.

study in Occupational Therapy and Mental Health found that weighted blankets can help promote better sleep by copying the feeling babies have while being swaddled—except for adults. Shoot for a 12-pound blanket; according to researchers, that weight has the best results.

how to sleep better man reading

10 | Turn off electronics an hour before bed.

You’ve heard it time and time again: The short wavelength blue light that our technology emits is not good for us, especially when we’re trying to go to bed. An hour is a decent amount of time for the body to wind down, so be sure to turn off all electronics an hour before you’d like to be asleep. If you’re having trouble with this, learn the 11 Easiest Ways to Curb Your Smartphone Addiction.

exercise how to sleep better

11 | Do high-intensity exercise.

A few minutes that qualify as “vigorous activity” can really do wonders for your shut-eye. Active people, generally, report feeling more fulfilled after a night’s sleep, according to a 2013 National Sleep Foundation survey.

sleep meds how to sleep better

12 |  Use sleep aid medication sparingly.

Once and a while, it’s okay to seek help if you’re having trouble falling asleep. You can take a Tylenol PM, NyQuil (if you’re sick), a dose of melatonin—but try to use these aids only sparingly. Some sleep medicines are addictive and might have side effects. Always use caution when using a pill to induce slumber—it might make you groggy the following morning too, and that’s never fun. For more on proper sleep, read about how our correspondent did cleaning sleeping for two weeks, which changed her life. 

quitting smoking how to sleep better

13 | Quit smoking.

Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant, so it exacerbates insomnia and keeps you awake even longer.

wine how to sleep better

14 | Cut back on the drinking, too.

Alcohol, that is. Avoiding alcohol is good for sleep on all fronts—the tactic helps combat sleep apnea and pesky snoring that either makes your sleep uncomfortable or keeps your partner up. Sure, alcohol can help you pass out quicker, but when you’re under the influence, you’re more likely to staccato wake-up throughout the night. For more on snoring, learn the 5 Reasons You’re Snoring Every Night—And How to Stop It.

woman reading book on bed how to sleep better

15 | Read a book before bed.

For bookworms, reading can be a great stress reliever, which is why it’s recommended to read before you hit the hay. In 2009, University of Sussex researchers found reading reduced stress by 68 percent, causing people to be more relaxed and thus more susceptible to sleep.

white noise machine how to sleep better

 
16 | Get a white noise machine.

White noise machines can make falling asleep so much easier for certain people. If you like your sleeping space to be quiet but not eerily so, a white noise machine is a great investment.

smaller portions how to sleep better

17 | Eat smaller meals.

Eating heavier meals, especially right before bedtime, is not a good idea—unless you want to toss and turn all night. The body isn’t supposed to be doing double time while it sleeps, so make sure you’re all digested before you start to snooze.

working from home how to sleep better

18 | Create a separate space for work.

The bed is for sleeping and sex. That’s it. Your bed (or your bedroom, for that matter) should not also moonlight as your workspace. Get that desk (and your laptop and your planner and all those cords) out of there and create a separate environment to work in. Once these lines are drawn, the body will know that when it’s in bed, it’s either going to be rewarded with sex or sleep. Oh, and speaking of sex: if you’re looking to really spice things up, consider buying one of these. 

meditation how to sleep better

19 | Download a meditation app.

There are tons of great apps out there (and podcasts, too, for that matter!) that can help you catch some Zzz’s. Headspace, for example, is primarily a meditation app, but the soothing sounds of the recordings are also great to fall asleep to.

dog on bed how to sleep better

20 | Don’t sleep with pets.

Cuddling with Fido is so much fun (and so Instagram-worthy!) but studies show that people sleep loads better when they don’t share the bed with their pets. That’s not to say pets aren’t entirely devoid of health perks, though: Learn the 15 Amazing Health Benefits of Adopting A Pet.

man on bike how to sleep better

21 | Don’t exercise too close to bedtime.

A late-night workout could cause you to feel wired, making it harder to fall asleep. Finish all vigorous exercise at least three to four hours before you hit the pillow.

caffeine pills how to sleep better

22 | Avoid pain relievers with caffeine in them.

Coffee isn’t the only sly dog that contains caffeine. Some pain relievers—such as Excedrin Migraine and Midol—pack caffeine in their pills. So, if you’re popping one to banish pain, it might also be banishing your chances of sleep.

sleep on your back how to sleep better

23 | Sleep on your back.

When you sleep on your back, you’re keeping your body’s natural curve aligned and aren’t challenging it in any way. As such, it’s widely known as the healthiest sleeping position. Why not give it a go?

get rid of night lights bedroom how to sleep better

24 | Discard night lights.

You want the room as dark as possible to promote the healthiest possible sleep. The more light, the more room there is for sleep disturbances.

how to sleep better

25 | Invest in dark curtains.

When you sleep, the room should be pitch black. You know that saying about a “cold dark place?” When it comes to sleep, it’s true.

how to sleep better

26 | Wake up the same time every morning.

The best thing you can do is create a sleep routine and stick to it. That means going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Once your body gets into this routine, you’ll have an easier time both falling asleep and waking up.

pepper how to sleep better

27 | Avoid spicy food at night.

Staying away from the hot sauce not only will help you fall asleep quicker but it will also keep nightmares and bad dreams at bay. Another win-win!

junk food how to sleep better

28 | Avoid junk food at night.

Ice cream, candy bars, gummy worms, chips—junk food has been proven to alter your brain waves. And while you’re sleeping, that’s an especially bad thing. Aside from working harder to digest while you’re asleep, the body might also become susceptible to nightmares—which could prematurely wake you up—because it’s working overtime.

how to sleep better

29 | Stop drinking coffee after 2 p.m.

Newsflash: Coffee is chock-full of caffeine and caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you energized and awake. Ensure that coffee’s effects have worn off by the time you hit the sack by avoiding coffee after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. And for more on the relationship between coffee and sleep, read up on How The “Coffee Nap” Trend Could Change Your Life.

keeping body temperature cool how to sleep better

30 | Keep your body temperature cool.

A natural drop in body temperature sends a message to the brain that it’s time for the Sandman to come. Keep your temperature cooler at night by investing in a cooling pillow or spritzing your face with cool water.

moving tv into living room how to sleep better

31 | Get rid of your TV.

You don’t need to take it out to the curb. Just take it out of the bedroom. Your room is for sleeping and sex. TV is just a distraction that emits more blue light.

get off your phone how to sleep better

32 | Turn your phone completely off at night.

Airplane mode is the runner-up here, but it’s better to turn your phone completely off and stow it away in a drawer. That way, you won’t be tempted to check it if you wake up during the night. Plus, the blue light won’t keep you up.

alarm clock how to sleep better

33 | Wake up with a regular alarm clock.

Digital alarm clocks have a glow (and a snooze button). Waking up with a regular alarm clock requires a bit more effort from you, which will get you up quicker.

how to sleep better

34 | Keep your clock out of view.

But you need to be able to see the time when you wake up! Wrong. If you keep waking up in the middle of the night to glance at the clock and ascertain how many more hours or minutes you have left until you need to get up, hide that clock away in a drawer or face it the other way.

back pain how to sleep better

35 | Leg pillows relieve back pain.

If your back is aching, how can you be expected to have a lie in? Situate a pillow between your legs, while laying on your side, to alleviate any stress on your back. And for more ways to eradicate any spinal stress, read our Comprehensive Guide to Conquering Lower Back Pain Once and For All.

bedroom how to sleep better

36 | Protect your mattress from allergy triggers.

No one wants to think about what kinds of creepy crawlies could be infiltrating your sleep haven, but it’s true: Mold and dust mites (and their droppings) can make their way into your mattress. If that’s the case, they could be triggering your allergies, which makes it that much harder to doze off. Solve the problem by sealing your mattress, pillows, and box spring with air-tight, dust-proof covers.

working outside how to sleep better

37 | Get outside after waking up.

The bright morning sunshine sends a message to the body: It’s time to wake up and stay up! Stay outside for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to reap the full benefits of the morning rays.

dont eat late how to sleep better

38 | Finish eating at least an hour before bedtime.

Small, low-fat snacks are usually digested by the body in about an hour, so, as a general rule, you should stop eating about an hour before bedtime. For bigger meals, however, you’re going to want to finish those up a couple of hours before bedtime.

eat in bed how to sleep better

39 | Don’t eat in bed.

How restfully can you possibly sleep if you keep getting poked in the ribs by the rice cake crumbs you left in the bed earlier?

lavender pillow how to sleep better

40 | Invest in a lavender pillow mist.

Why count sheep when you can just reap all the benefits of aromatherapy by sniffing lavender? Spritz some lavender mist onto your pillow before bedtime. The scent is scientifically proven to slow your heart rate and blood pressure, prepping you for sleep.

tea before bed how to sleep better

41 | Drink chamomile tea before bed.

Chamomile has long been used to combat insomnia, as it triggers an increase of a chemical called glycine, which relaxes your muscles and nervous system.

dim the lights how to sleep better

42 | Dim the lights 2-3 hours before bed.

Dimming the lights two to three hours before bed is a great way to signify to your body (and brain) that you’re winding down and preparing for a restful night’s sleep.

how to sleep better get a fan

43 | Turn on a fan or air conditioner.

If a white noise machine doesn’t float your boat, you can always try turning on a far or an air conditioner, which doubles as a way to circulate the air in the room better. Win-win!

Drinking Water how to sleep better

44 | Don’t drink water at least two hours before bed.

Or any liquids, for that matter. One thing that’s sure to keep you up all night is the recurrent urge to get up to pee. Nip that right in the bud and cease drinking all liquids two hours before you go to bed.

blowing bubbles how to sleep better

45 | Blow bubbles.

Yes, really—like a child. Research out of Johns Hopkins University indicates that blowing bubbles before bed can help you fall asleep faster, due to that fact that this innocuous activity has outsize benefits on relaxing both the body and the mind.

how to sleep better

46 | Use lavender bags in the laundry.

Lavender bags are available at Trader Joe’s or on Amazon. When you’re doing your laundry, simply throw your sheets and comforter in the dryer along with a lavender bag. The smell will linger each time you curl up in your nest, surrounding you with the scent of slumber.

how to sleep better

47 | Try earplugs.

If your hearing is super sensitive or you’ve got a noisy, snoring sleep partner, earplugs might do the trick, as they’ll help block out the surrounding sounds and get you to focus on what’s going on internally.

remove jewelry how to sleep better

48 | Remove any jewelry before bed.

Sometimes, if you fidget and wake up throughout the night, your jewelry is the culprit. Take anything bulky off before you shut your eyes; that hulking wrist-watch could really stop you from getting the optimum amount of sleep.

journal how to sleep better

49 | Jot down whatever comes to your mind.

If the reason you’re having trouble getting a wink is because you keep thinking of things you want to write down, don’t dismiss them and say, “Oh, I’ll write them down in the morning.” Write them down now. Once you get it all out, you’ll be able to sleep more peacefully because you won’t worry about forgetting.

waking up how to sleep better

 
50 | Avoid sleeping in on weekends.

Adhering to a strict schedule is important all seven days of the week. If you have to wake up every week day at 7 a.m., but sleep in until 10 a.m. on the weekends, it’s really going to disrupt your wake-up pattern the following week.

how to sleep better

51 | Adjust room temperature to 60-67 degrees.

The best temperature for optimal sleep is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Farenheit. If you’re either too hot or too cold, you’ll wake up constantly throughout the night to adjust your blankets and clothes.

how to sleep better

52 | Trade your mattress in after 7-10 years.

Forget the company warrantee. Your health (and the quality of your sleep!) is more important. The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting a new mattress every seven to ten years. Any longer than that and you won’t be getting the support or comfort you need from your mattress.

wears socks to bed how to sleep better

53 | Wear socks.

Believe it or not, your brain relies on your feet to signify that it’s bedtime. The warmth of socks is what triggers this message in your brain, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

how to sleep better

54 | Nix the underwear.

Confining your genitals can lead to yeast infections and vaginosis—and that’s sure to keep you up at night.

bedroom how to sleep better

55 | Paint your room with a matte finish.

Never high-gloss; always matte. Matte paint finishes are allegedly better for fighting off insomnia.

blankets for better sleep

56 | Use separate blankets if you’re sharing a bed.

If you spend the entire night in a blanket tug-of-war with your partner, there’s a solution for that: Separate covers. Fight less, sleep more.

journal before bed how to sleep better

57 | Journal before bedtime.

Writing down your thoughts before hitting the sack is a surefire way to begin the process of emptying your mind. If there are certain tasks you have to do the following day that you can’t stop thinking about, it will ease your mind to get them down on paper before turning in for the night. That way, you won’t worry about forgetting the tasks and you’ll have a to-do list ready to go the next morning as a reminder.

how to sleep better

58 | Do some stretches before turning in.

Stretching does wonders for relaxing your muscles, which is exactly what you’re looking for if you’re winding down before bed. For the best stretches to bring into your bedroom, learn the Yoga Moves That Will Transform Your Sex Life.

how to sleep better

59 | Take a warm bath before bed.

When it comes to sleep, body temperature is crucial. That’s why taking a bath before getting your beauty sleep is a recipe for a good night’s rest: Your body temperature will raise in the tub and then, as soon as you climb out, it will cool down quicker, signifying to the body that sleep is near.

how to sleep better

60 | Wash your pillow and sheets.

Don’t even give dust mites (and other allergens) a chance to mess with your sleep cycle. Be proactive by washing your sheets once a week with hot water on a hot dryer cycle. Wash your pillows four times a year with the change of the seasons.

how to sleep better

61 | Go to therapy.

Or at least consider it, especially if you’re having some serious insomnia issues that stem from more than just buying the right pillow mist or getting comfortable. If you are having an exceedingly difficult time shutting off your mind for bed, talking through your issues with a therapist might be of great benefit.

how to sleep better

62 | Try progressive muscle relaxation.

It’s just a fancy way of saying “focus on each muscle group, tightening each for 10 seconds, then continuing onto the next group.” Laying in bed, start with your feet. Tighten the muscles of your feet and count to 10. Then move your way up the body: Tighten the calves, the thighs, the glutes, the abs, all the way up to the muscles in your face. Progressive muscle relaxation is proven to help people with insomnia fall asleep.

how to sleep better

63 | Snack on cheese and crackers.

You already know that heavy meals before bed will keep you up but did you know that if you’re hankering for an evening snack, cheese and crackers are your best bet? The cheese fills you with tryptophan, which induces drowsiness, and the complex carbs in the crackers make a perfect pairing.

how to sleep better

64 | Find the perfect position.

The best position is one that supports the natural curve of your neck. That way, you don’t wake up stiff, unable to turn your head.

how to sleep better

65 | If you snore, sleep on your side.

Snoring is a pain for the partners of snorers, but believe it or not, the annoying sound can also keep up the very person doing it. If you’re guilty of wheezing while you sleep, try sleeping on your side, as the position alleviates the pressure made when the tongue collapses to the back of the throat. Also try Breathe Right strips, which are effective at cutting out snoring.

how to sleep better

66 | Check your medications.

Do you take beta-blockers for high blood pressure, or antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft? One potential side effect of such medications is insomnia. Go over your prescriptions with your doctor to see if there’s anything in there that’s affecting your shut-eye.

how to sleep better

67 | Always remove your makeup.

First of all, it’s the best possible thing you can do for maintaining health skin. Second of all, if fake eyelashes are hanging off your face all night while you’re resting, you’re not going to sleep too well. Just take it off.

Woman with her hair up

68 | Don’t sleep with your hair up.

Especially if you are prone to headaches and migraines, sleeping with your hair tied up isn’t a good idea. Experts suggest avoiding tying your hair up in the center of your head (as in, a messy bun or a tight, top-of-the-head ponytail). If you want it out of your face while you sleep, a low, loose pony is your best bet.

how to sleep better

69 | Avoid protein before bed.

Late-night meals high in protein might be affecting your sleep, as protein reduces the amount of serotonin—the amino acid that helps you fall asleep—your body makes. Protein is also more difficult for the body to digest, so you’re causing your body to do overtime while it’s resting, which can keep you up at night.

doctor visit how to sleep better

70 | Visit your doctor if insomnia persists.

It’s okay to seek medical help if sleep truly does evade you. You could possibly be dealing with a disorder like sleep apnea, restless leg, or narcolepsy.


Originally found on BestLife and written by Stephanie Osmanski.

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