Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How Much Sleep is the Right Amount?

Ah sleep, it is a normal human need.  Even in stressful times, we all need sleep, how much is enough?  Can we sleep too much? How do I know what I need?  These are all questions that revolve around our natural bodies, and yes humans are part of nature.  There has been some study of what the right amount of sleep is, here are some generalizations.

The amount of sleep you actually need varies by age.  Infants will sleep 16 to 18 hours a day.  Their bodies are still forming, their minds are growing.  To use a computer analogy:  the operating system is loaded, now additional software is needed to help it function efficiently.  And that's what happens as we sleep.  Just like the computer needs to be rebooted occasionally, so to do our minds and bodies.  But sleep doesn't come with the push of a button.

Preschoolers need less sleep than new borns, probably 10 to 12 hours per day is the range most would consider right.  Again, they are still forming, learning new things constantly; and their bodies and minds need time to process these new things.  In an editorial aside, I find it strange that parents deprive these children of sleep by having them out after about 8 PM, you cannot treat them as adults, they need more sleep than you.  But go into your local mall, almost any day of the year and between 8 and close there are strollers galore, please consider what this does to your child's development.

School age finds another drop in the total amount of sleep children need.  Approximately 9 hours per day is what nature prefers.  Their minds are better able to assimilate information, body growth has slowed a bit.  Now is the time that sleep hygiene should be most important.  We learn from our parents and grandparents habits that can make or break our lives.  A consistent and enforced bed time should be one of these habits!  Failure to learn good sleep habits can doom the child to a lifetime of sleep problems an developmental issues.  Help them avoid these problems by being proactive.

Teens still require more sleep than adults, but they are testing boundaries.  They push the envelope on staying up to play video games, or watch TV, or even read or other hobbies.  It is still important to encourage them to keep a regular bed time, critically important.  Sleeping in on Saturday, while enjoyable for them, is not great hygiene, or habit for latter life.

Adults require from 7 to 9 hours per night of good sleep to recuperate from the previous day, and function at peak performance.  Did you know that before the electric light was invented Americans slept about 9 hours a day, in the century since our sleep has slowly eroded to about 6 or 7 hours on average.  I can hear now, there is some one out there saying "I do just fine on my 5 hours of sleep a night."  And perhaps they can fool themselves for a long while.  However, eventually sleep deprivation will cause health issues not unlike over eating or other activities we do that our body doesn't particularly like.

The key for all these separate groups is to keep a consistent schedule.  We don't always do that.  Why are Mondays so tough?  Most people tend to keep a schedule through the work week, but will stray from it on the weekends.  That screws up the internal biological clock, which will try to reset to the new schedule, only to have it change again on Monday, simply put our bodies crave consistency, when they don't get it they revolt, hence Monday morning.  If you want to feel better on Monday morning, try keeping a consistent schedule all 7 days of the week.  Maybe experiment for one month, see if it matters.

Sleep hygiene involves more than the total hours of sleep, but that is a matter for a future blog.  We can sleep for life, we can sleep better.  Listen to your body, it won't steer you wrong!

Sleep Well!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It seems there is a trend in retail business these days:  Check it out in the store, then buy online to save money.  This isn't always true.  Our business in agreement with our vendor, cannot sell online.  They have a corporate site, however, that does offer similar product under different model names.  Our price is always better than theirs.  You say, "but don't we save the sales tax?"  In a word yes, but do you know that most states require you to submit Use Tax on items bought out of state?  Failure to do that is breaking the law.  Granted it is almost impossible to enforce, but notice the word 'almost'.

Our beds are priced lower than theirs, saving often times more than their tax free product, and you don't break the law.  The big plus is customer service.  What is the name of your rep?  We tell you face to face.  If you have a problem with the product, we don't require you to call an 800 number with a phone tree, to talk to a faceless customer service rep, you talk to us, we answer the phone, or return messages.  Often times a quick visit to your house or our store can correct a problem.  We have 'fixed' issues that the customer did not know how to communicate properly to customer service, on the spot.  Or if necessary we can start the process to correct a problem.

So, better price, better service, less time seems like a better value.  Shop local, the jobs you save are your neighbors.  See how a real person CAN save you money and frustration.  And you can boast about your shopping abilities!

Sleep Well!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Definition of Value

We all see it, the ads touting they are the best "value" in town, but what is value?  Is it the lowest price?  Is it the highest quality?  Answer, not necessarily. 

Value and price do have a relationship.  Recently we bought an outdoor antenna, it was the lowest price one we could find.  Value not so much.  Seems the electronics were made in China, and they have lasted all of a couple days.  The merchant was gracious, replacing the bad part.  The replacement lasted just as long.  If it doesn't work, it cannot be a good value.  So lowest price was not the best value.

Is it the highest quality?  Again, not necessarily.  We are in the mattress business.  There are a number of high quality manufacturers out there, high quality does not equal value.

Value is a combination of price and quality.  It is an intangible for the most part, since it is hard to equate those two items.  That's what makes it hard to define value.  Each person has different expectations of value.  And value can differ for different purchases.  The antenna case, if the electronics would last a year or two, perhaps we would judge that as value.  However, the bottom line is, have your expectations been met?  The answer here is no, so it is a low value, with a low price.

Some mattress manufacturers trade on quality, but also their name.  They figure that the brand is worth extra money.  This is true to a point, because it makes it easy to spot quality if the brand stands for it.  It is a benefit to the consumer.  But digging a little deeper, often times we can find the quality at a lower price than its brand equivalent.  When a lesser known brand is trying to make an impact in the market, the best way is to keep quality high and prices low.  If there is an alternative like this, it should provide the best value.

In our case we use a lesser known brand, Comfortaire.  The major competitor has more mall stores.  The major brand has average quality, and over the last several years have removed components from their mattresses that the consumer would not notice in the show room.  These components do serve a purpose, they increase the longevity of the product.  Comfortaire has not removed these components, and their pricing is actually slightly less than the major.  They are the better value.

In the same segment, there are also those that sell, primarily on auction sites, a vastly inferior product to either the major, or Comfortaire.   However, they are extremely cheap on price and low on quality, which moves product; the consumer is not getting a value.

The good news is that in today's world we have more tools to explore value, the primary one is the Internet.  What ever product you are looking for a simple search for that company plus the word problems will give you an idea of other people's experience.  In our industry there are sites, like SleepLikeTheDead.com that will diagnose different offerings.  There are organizations like the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Reports that can give insight as well.

Any product you are looking to buy, first consider your own expectations.  Then  look for companies and their alternatives that you believe would meet those expectations.  Lastly, consider the customer service offered by individual companies offering what you are in the market for.

So value equals price and quality and customer service based on your expectations.  Now go out and find some value!