Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is supposed to affect over 22 million people.  Many people are not sure what it is, so they actually do not know if they suffer from it.  Perhaps it is time to set out a little information, but keep in mind, if you suspect you or a loved one might have Apnea, please get the proper help.  Sleep Apnea if left untreated can lead to heart issues, diabetes, and even accidents.  The primary reason for this is that those who suffer do not sleep properly.  Sleep Apnea interrupts the sleep stages resulting in things like drowsy driving and affects the overall health.  It can also cause death when asleep.

Let's review the stages of sleep.  Stage 1 is that point when you might feel alert, but you are drowsy and your body is preparing for sleep.  Stage 2 is the early light sleep, during Stage 2 a loud noise will awaken you, however your brain waves are slowing.  Stage 3 is when Delta waves start, although there are still other brain waves present.  By Stage 4 Delta waves are almost exclusive, this is sometimes called deep sleep.  The last stage is REM.  During REM breathing becomes more rapid, irregular and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly and limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Brain waves during this stage increase to levels experienced when a person is awake. Also, heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, males develop erections and the body loses some of the ability to regulate its temperature. This is the time when most dreams occur, and, if awoken during REM sleep, a person can remember the dreams. Most people experience three to five intervals of REM sleep each night.

Sleep Apnea interferes with this healthy sleep cycle.  And that interruption will affect our memories and the ability of our body to recharge.  This is why health issues may develop.  REM in particular can affect learning and memory.  Some researchers have found a link between obesity and poor sleep.  Students may not be able to learn as easily.

In 1900 nearly all Americans slept 9 hours each night.  Today about 30% sleep 6 hours per night.  If you add sleep apnea to the mix, many more are not getting proper sleep.  This runs the risk of massive proportions.  Which is why we need to get a handle on Sleep Apnea.

It is very treatable.  In mild cases something as simple as a better bed may help.  Sleeping slightly elevated may help mild cases.  For the worst cases a doctor might prescribe a C-PAP machine to keep air flowing into the lungs.  We would like to suggest that even in those cases, a good bed or elevation might help as well.  There are Sleep Clinics popping up every day, and if you suspect Sleep Apnea, check with your doctor, doctors can be your best resource.  Do not ignore the symptoms. 

Sleep Well!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sleep 101

Ah sleep. Sleep is the time to relax our bodies, refresh, re-energize and recoup from the day. For most of us, we see sleep as a time when nothing of consequence happens. Today, though, sleep researchers would claim otherwise. That we do use our brains while we sleep. And the quality of sleep matters.

So what happens to our bodies as we sleep? Is the process consistent? It is, which makes the first question easier to answer. We all know intrinsically if we had a great night's sleep, or not. It is the 'not' that can negatively affect our entire day. Everything from lethargy, to concentration difficulties. Scientists have found that lack of sleep can shorten our lives. Yet many doctors have limited education in sleep science. Until recently, some medical schools have not even required course work for graduation. WE NEED TO SLEEP, IT IS NOT AN OPTION.

Your True Alternative
Neurotransmitters in the brain control our sleep. While we sleep we experience five sleep stages. It will take up to 2 hours to cycle through these stages, after which the cycle repeats itself. Stage 1 is that time when your eyes want to close, but if a noise happens, you will wake easy, this stage is preparing our bodies to sleep, systems are shutting down. Our eyes may still move during stage 1, however in stage 2 that movement stops. Our brain's activity slows down considerably from stage 1. During stage 3 delta waves appear. Our brains are asleep. The lowest brain activity occurs during stage 4, sometimes called deep sleep. It is very difficult to wake someone in stage 4 sleep. During stage 4 there is no evidence of muscle or eye movement. The final stage is REM sleep. REM sleep is characterized by rapid eye movement, and rapid breathing. Heart rate and blood pressure increases. Muscles are temporarily paralyzed which means we cannot move, tossing and turning disrupts REM sleep. And we dream. Age will determine how long we stay in the various stages, as well as the total hours of sleep needed to produce quality.

That is why your sleep surface is important to your over all health. When we sleep bad, it affects more than mood, or concentration. It can affect other things as well, such as weight control, and the ability to learn and function at peek levels. So that being said, the first thing to consider is your mattress. Innerspring manufacturers build their mattresses to last approximately 10 years. After that, the support is not where it needs to be and our sleep can be disrupted. They know that our bodies change over time, so 10 years is the optimum time to provide value in their product. Foam is a little better, it reacts to your body, and can last much longer, but it still is unable to change dramatically over time. Air sleep, like the mattresses by Comfortaire, allow for changes to occur as needed, thus making the bed the longest lasting value in the market today.

Sleep Well!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Healthy Backs Need Good Posture

Posture is the position we hold our bodies in which most effectively balances us against the force of gravity. We need to practice good posture to help remove stress from our joints and maximize the effects of our muscles. The better our posture, the less strain on ligaments, muscles, and joints, reducing pain and improving our quality of life.
At Hannah's, we want to concentrate on our sleeping posture. After all, we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed, without good posture, we can cause ourselves back and neck pain, especially in the morning as we awake. Some focus on sleep position, however, whatever the position, you can achieve good posture, if you know how. What we need to do is maintain the natural curve in our spine, and keep the line of the spine in it's normal straight position. Depending on your bed, you may find that your hips are being pressured out of position. Depending on your pillow, you may find that your head angles differently than when you are standing up. Both of these can cause stress on your body. Eliminating these stresses should be the first attempt to lessen or eliminate back pain. In fact, most orthopedists and chiropractors would suggest that a pillow be added to the leg area, between for side sleepers, or under the knees for back sleepers. This simple act will help your body to achieve posture while you sleep.

Always select a mattress that encourages good posture. There are a number of good ones out there, one thing they have in common is that they put their effort in producing a good mattress, not a commodity that can be squeezed for cheap shipping, or inferior foam to save money. This is why it is important to research the brand you are interested in. We would like to suggest Comfortaire. Over 90% of our owners experience lesser pain than prior to sleeping on our bed. And Comfortaire mattresses will change with you as your body changes, something that no other style of bed will do. And at Hannah's we will take the time to help educate you in good posture on the bed.

Sleep Well!

All About Sleep

Importance of Sleep
Sleep is an important element of human flourishing and well-being, both subjectively and objectively. Sleep is necessary for a healthy and balanced life. We need to sleep long enough (quantity) and well enough(quality) to function well during waking hours. Nearly all physiological and behavioral functions in humans occur on a rhythmic basis, which in turn leads to dramatic diurnal rhythms in human performance capabilities.   Most adults need around eight hours of sleep to function well. Although many people claim they require less, doctors who study sleep find only 10% require significantly more or less sleep. Recent findings indicate that the chronic lack of sleep and untreated sleep disorders may be factors in the development of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Why do we sleep?
 Why did Mother Nature make us need to sleep every night?  Physiologically, sleep has several functions. It is an active process during which biochemical and neurobiology functions take place. Contrary to popular belief, the brain does not "shutdown" during sleep. Sleep may be a way of recharging the brain.  One idea is that it is a time for accelerated repair of neurons and to exercise important neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate due to lack of activity. Sleep appears necessary for our nervous systems to work properly. Too little sleep leaves us drowsy and unable to concentrate the next day. It also leads to impaired memory and physical performance and reduced ability to carry out math calculations. If sleep deprivation continues, hallucinations and mood swings may develop. Without sleep, neurons may become so depleted in energy or so polluted with by products of normal cellular activities that they begin to malfunction. We typically spend more than two hours each night dreaming.  Only during the 1950s when researchers first described rapid eye movement (REM) did scientists begin to carefully study sleep and dreaming. They soon realized that the strange, illogical experiences we call dreams almost always occur during REM sleep.There are typically five stages of sleep during a normal night's cycle. Diagnostic tools, from X rays and electroencephalograms(EEG) to CAT scans and NMR imaging, revolutionized procedures, diagnoses, and treatments of sleep disorders in the latter half of the 20th century. Likewise, advances are occurring at an unprecedented rate in the 21st century and scientists are learning more and more about sleep all the time. Scientists still have an inadequate understanding of the physiology of sleep and the pathology of sleep disorders. Further, although neurodegenerative diseases associated with abnormal sleep, nobody knows if there is a cause-and-effect in place, and if so, which way it runs.

Sleep for HealthAccording to National Institutes of Health, "sleep and sleep-related problems play a role in a large number of human disorders and affect almost every field of medicine....At least 40 million Americans each year suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems."  Factors to consider in assessing sleep include sleep disturbance,
  • sleep adequacy, somnolence, quantity of sleep, snoring, and awakening short of breath or with a headache.
  • About one-third of Americans have symptoms of insomnia but less than 10% of those cases are identified by their doctors. Sleep deficit has become one for the most pervasive health problems facing the United States.
  • Insomnia, can result in case accidents and industrial mishaps. Other common sleep disorders include apnea, chronic snoring, narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome.
  • Even if you don't have a true sleep disorder, you can improve your sleep habits and enjoy the benefits of better sleep.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving leads to more than 100,000 motor vehicle crashes per year in the United States. Even small disruptions in sleep can wreak havoc on human safety and performance.
  • Sleep is important for athletic performance, as shown in scientific studies and in anecdotal evidence.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sleep and Obesity

There are some alarming statistics out there: 2 out of 3 Americans are considered obese according to the Centers for Disease Control. Let's take a few minutes and explore some of the reasons for this statistics.
Much of it is common sense. 100 years ago, there were no lights, few cars, and generally people moved much more than the lifestyle of the modern America. Simply put our level of activity is much less than it was in the past. Whether it is sitting in front of computers, or just couch potato time on our days off, coupled with increased stress of constant communication and the never ending job day, we just don't as a nation, get enough activity. Health clubs are booming, with some people waking at early morning hours to 'work out' because that is the only time they can.
Enter problem number 2, lack of sleep. Since the invention of the light bulb, and the subsequent wiring of our nation, we have been getting much less sleep. It is down from almost 9 hours at the turn of the last century (1900) to 7 or less today. Because of obesity, an estimated 18 million Americans experience sleep apnea. Sleep apnea infringes on what sleep we do get. Just a 10% decrease in body weight can lead to a lessening of the severity of sleep apnea.
Our bodies have an internal clock that can't really be cheated, with out consequences, like obesity. Stress on our bodies causes it to retain fat, a natural reaction built into our DNA. It is a crazy circle, we are fatter, which causes us to sleep less soundly, which makes us fatter. We need to break the circle, to get healthier and more productive within the current socialital culture we find ourselves in, because we can't really change that on a massive scale.

First, we believe the most important first step is to improve our sleep. We need to care for any thing like sleep apnea that may be robbing us of vital sleep. Sometimes it is important to consult a medical professional, especially in extreme cases. There are treatments that can lessen sleep apnea's affect on our sleep. There is also something to say about our sleep surface. Sleep Apnea can be helped if you maintain a positive air flow through positive posture. Our beds can augment other medical devices and improve your sleep, making it more productive. More productive sleep will encourage more waking activity, which can improve obesity. Keeping a consistent schedule will also help. Put sleep on your calendar at the same time every day.

Controlling the amount and quality of our sleep will help break the circle. A quality sleep surface like a Comfortaire mattress can help.

Secondly, it is important to watch your waking life, heating healthy, and of course exercise will be the second leg of attack against the national scourge of obesity.

We welcome you to our store to explore the options of better sleep, whether it is due to obesity, or any other cause, we want to help.
We believe we have more options to improve sleep than any other store in town.

Sleep Well!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Want to Sleep Better?

It is once again time for a shameless commercial for our business.  The business is how we continue to write these blogs.  So visit Hannah's Better Beds either on the web or in person.  We are located in Chesterfield, MO, part of the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area at Olive Blvd and Woodsmill Road.  We specialize in Comfortaire, and we are the Largest Comfortaire Exclusive Dealer in Missouri.  We have more Comfortaire choices for you to test out than any other store we have found.  Comfortaire mattresses were introduced in 1981.  As part of Park Place Mattress Co., Comfortaire has the staying power to back your purchase for years to come.  Park Place was founded by the Orders Family in the 1930's, and today is still a family run business located in South Carolina. 

Comfortaire has recently received a Certipur Certification for many of their products.  Certipur is voluntary certification with two sides.  Side one is a commitment to constantly self certify that the components off gas minimally (very strict off gassing requirements), this ensures that your bed does not have any chemicals that are deemed harmful.  Comfortaire certifies that there are no CFCs or ozone depleters in our foams or adhesives. Further, Comfortaire does not process foams or adhesives with dichloromathane, n-propl bromide, BHT Polyol Additives, or PBDE additives.  The second side is voluntary independent laboratory testing to back up the internal certifications.  All of this makes sure your new Comfortaire bed is safe from harmful chemicals.  Look for the CertiPUR-US tag when you shop for a bed.  If you would like to learn more, you may visit CertiPUR on the web.

Now about Hannah's.  Hannah's was founded two years ago.  Our mission is to help people sleep better.  That's why we don't offer products that would impede sleep.  There are others out there who will import compressed mattresses from China, only because they are cheap, and they can move a lot of them.  We stand behind our product, we want you to be happy.  Comfortaire produces among the longest lasting beds available today.  They do this two ways, quality materials, and modular engineering.  There is no reason your Comfortaire bed can't last as long as you want it to, the components are high quality, and if those components ever fail there is a 20 year limited warranty, and even outside the warranty, individual components can be replaced.  The only reason to buy a new bed is to upgrade to newer fabrics, technology, or materials.  Because of this, we rely on our customers to tell their friends, neighbors, and relatives about their experiences with Comfortaire, and Hannah's. 

Hannah's promises to be what we have labeled "econocentric".  What that means is that we will source products as close to St. Louis as we can.  If a quality line of products, like our pillows are manufactured here, we want them in our store.  Next we love our home state, Missouri.  Leggett and Platt in Carthage, MO is our preferred vendor for adjustable bases.  If a product is not available in Missouri, then the Midwest like mattress protectors from a Chicago company called Protect-A-Bed, and then our country, the United States, Comfortaire manufactures the mattresses in South Carolina.  If after all that, the products are not available, then we will look overseas.

We think that makes sense, we want to help the local economy first, and keep some of our neighbors employed so they can experience a great nights sleep.  

We also want to be different.  Up until now, there have been two types of Mattress Stores.  Those that will do everything they can to capture information, to use it to telemarket you as many times as they can, trying to get your business; and those who have clerks who will pressure you while in the store trying to get you to buy.  We know how phone calls interrupt your life.  WE WILL NOT DO THAT, IN FACT, UNLESS IT IS TO RETURN A CALL FROM YOU, OR CONFIRM A DELIVERY APPOINTMENT YOU WILL NEVER HAVE YOUR PHONE RING FROM US.  We are however, at your service, we want you to call us with questions, our number is (314)205-1166.  Whether it is about your bed, bedding accessories, or sleep issues; we are here for you.  We regularly shop around, and there are a lot of great products at many stores available to you.  If we don't have it, or can't get it, we will refer you to someplace that may be able to help, even if that is our biggest competitor.  It's simple customer service.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Insomnia, a cure?

There are too many people to count who suffer from chronic insomnia.  And as with other problems of health, you would expect to find someone who is promoting a cure for it.  Too often these 'cures' lack scientific study, and as the snake oil of yesteryear, are more concerned with taking your money.  That being said, there is some research out there that suggests there is at times a deficiency in vitamins and minerals can affect sleep.

Calcium and magnesium can help relax the nervous system, so strategically taking these minerals after supper can help promote sleep, and of course they are the building blocks of other parts of our body, so it may be worth a try.

Vitamin B6 and B12 are mentioned in several places.  Vitamin B6 can help your body make serotonin which is a regulator of sleep.  B12 deficiency can cause some sleep issues.  The B vitamins do have a maximum recommended amount, so pay attention to how much you take.

Of course your doctor can suggest, based on his working with you and testing the best course of action.  We prefer to try more natural things first, but there is a point when chemicals are the only answer left.  What ever solve the insomnia problem, it is important to solve it.  Sleep has a major impact on quality of life.

Sleep Well!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Just Do Something

If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.

 ~Dale Carnegie

Our last post was a quote from Ben Franklin.  It inspired us, so we searched for more quotes.  The above quote is from Dale Carnegie, a little more contemporary to our times.  And it is absolutely true.  There are times in our lives when we suffer insomnia.  Insomnia can be a health nightmare, at times it seems almost incurable, and to those who suffer it, it can be scary.

Thing is, insomnia is a natural reaction to stress or danger.  Our minds are telling us we may be in danger if we lose our alertness.  Sometimes, that feeling is over stated.  There are times when insomnia actually can keep us alive, it is the other times that are much more frustrating.  Those are also the times when we need to root it out and end it.  Lack of sleep over long periods can devastate our well being and health.

The key is to figure out what is causing the insomnia.  It can come from various sources like mental stress at work or home, or even from drugs we are taking whether via prescription or street drugs.  The point is to figure out what is causing the insomnia, and repair it. 

If it is mental stress the cure is eliminating the source.  That does not mean quitting a job or leaving home, but figuring out the underlying problems and dealing with them.  If it is at work, perhaps talking to a manager or coworker can put things into perspective, thereby eliminating the source.  If at home talk to your spouse or parents again to find the underlying problem and fixing it.  Sometimes in some cases perhaps a counselor would be helpful, help is what you need to solve the problem.  If you can't seem to fix it yourself, please seek out a professional.

If it is chemical, seek medical help.  If a prescription is keeping you awake, talk to your doctor and let them know about the problem.  See if there are ways to deal with it or different medicines that might work as well and bypass the problem.  If it is illegal drugs, STOP.  If you can't, talk to your doctor and get clean.  Save your life now, before it is too late. 

For more common insomnia, what Mr. Carnegie suggests is great advise.  If it is not chronic, and you find you can't sleep, get up.  Do something, just try to do something that will help you relax and set the mood for sleep.  Light reading, sitting in a comfy chair with a bit of decaffeinated, non alcoholic beverage might be useful.  Meditation or stretching might also help. Try to stay in dim light to allow your body to prime your sleep.  Try to avoid sleep aids, some will not do anything but knock you out, and their presence may impact your moving through the sleep cycles which is very important.  At times it becomes a cycle, we can sleep so we worry about it, then the worry keeps us from sleeping.  Break the cycle, get the proper amount and quality of sleep. 

Perhaps it is your sleep environment, even your bed.  Our business promotes healthy sleep by providing great beds.  Our hope is that you sleep well, to live a long happy life.

Sleep Well!