Monday, October 21, 2013

The Future

This is more of an advertisement than a traditional blog, and we will get back to talking all things sleep in future posts.  Late last week, we were approached by our landlord.  The pharmacy next to us is looking to expand, and our space fits the bill best.  We will be moving our store.  Here's how we see the timeline.  Over the next 30 to 45 days, we will be reducing our inventory drastically.  We are intending to sell our display beds and pillows as well.  It only makes sense to start everything fresh.

With the sudden approach, we do not have a new store lined up.  That will take some time.   Since we have worked most all days in the last three years, first we need a vacation.  That does not mean we cannot meet the needs of our customers, existing and in to the future.  We also want to take time to evaluate what makes sense as our next move.  We have seen where our sales have come from, and that will help.

There is no real timeline on reopening, at this point.  We will continue to process orders on a timely basis, and we are able to accept new orders as well.  It also gives us a chance to reduce expenses in the short term improving the value we can offer our customers.  The economy is still ailing, and political turmoil has hindered economic growth, so lower expenses make sense.

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We do appreciate our customers, and we will be there for you if you have questions or problems.  We will work with our vendors to ensure you have no issues.  We are a different type of mattress store, and that is why we usually call ourselves a bed store.

We intend to be back in our local market!  We appreciate our neighbors, and look forward to helping them sleep better, now and for years to come.  Interested in a great Comfortaire bed or Sleep Harmony bed?  Visit our web site for information on how to order.  We ship across the United States, and still offer the best value in sleep.  Perhaps you would like to help us as we help you?  That is possible as well by visiting our crowd funding promotion at Indiegogo.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gel Infused Foam

The history of bedding is replete with innovation and enhancements to make a great night's sleep attainable for the masses.  Consider that the earliest humans had no bedding stores, so they had to make do with things that were available to them.  Our early ancestors slept on the ground, and there are some today that as push back to the sales process still say they could do that.  Early sleepers slept on grass or moss.  Then came the elevated beds, to get some distance from some vermin that were getting in to the materials.  In the middle ages further enhancements included putting these materials in a sack, or using feathers instead of grass kept it more tidy.  In the late 1800s, not that long ago, innerspring replaced these materials to give a more consistent feel, and a longer lasting bed.

Then the improvements on springs, enhanced the sleep surface.  Cotton batting, and later foams softened the feel of this technology.  In the 1960s, experimentation began with other technologies, first to hit the market was water.  Water offered a pliable surface that would mold to the individual sleeper, and these alternatives had moderate success.  Latex foams were also coming in to their own with some beds becoming all foam.  In the late 1980s two new technologies were introduced, memory foam and air technology.

The technologies often overlapped, foam on top of springs, soft side water beds, waveless water beds are all hybrids of different technology.  Memory foam found success and the innovator, Tempurpedic has grown vastly in size.  Air also found acceptance, and firms like Sleep Number and Comfortaire were born.  Today there are four basic technologies, and they have all enhanced their products over the years.  As an example, Tempurpedic combined their foam with air, and Sleep Number and Comfortaire have found ways to add memory foam to their products.

A few years ago, Serta introduced the first gel foam bed to the market.  It was an almost instant success, and bred a number of copies.  The Serta bed was gel infused, offering a cooler sleep surface.  Cool sleep has become the new goal, in fact we had a customer in our store the other day with a thermometer in hand to see how the beds warmed, or didn't warm more specifically.  Our store recently added a gel latex bed to our mix.  Right now, we can only find it from one manufacturer, but with success, we are sure more will be coming.  Do they work?

All things made by man are in some ways imperfect.  However, these materials seem to be offering a cooler night sleep than previous beds.  Our customer, also found that some of our materials did very well in his test.  The thing is, if you think you can turn off the air conditioner and rely on the bed to keep you cool, it won't.  And many of the new fabrics are what are called temperature regulators.

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These temperature regulators, like Outlast, are designed to regulate temperature, not always cool.  When Outlast first hit the market some sales people would encourage customers to feel the cool, which when you first lay on them they are.  Outlast pulls heat from the sleeper and stores it.  When the metabolism starts to lower, it releases the heat back, regulating temperature.

Getting back to the gel products, we found that the gel foams stay cool to the touch for an extended period.  The gel seems to repel heat producing a cooling effect.  At first there was only gel memory foam.  As we noted earlier, we introduced a gel latex bed recently.  The latex in this particular bed is talalay latex, which has always been a product that encouraged air flow.  When the gel was added it produced a great feel, and stayed reasonably cool.  Some prefer the feel of latex, it is similar to the feel of the recliner in the family room.  Rather than sinking deeply in to it, it does offer posturization, but springs back nicely when you move.

These materials will help the average person sleep a bit more comfortably, it is important to choose which one based on your personal preferences and needs.  There are some people who may get hot even with these great materials, there is hope for them as well.  Some add ons have been marketed that actually allow for active cooling, or heating.  The most popular, and we feel the best, is circulating water that is either heated or chilled in a device under the bed.  These are energy efficient semi conductor machines that are small, yet effective.  There is also one recently offered using air to warm or cool the mattress, this seems like it might be good, but this early model has limited range of temperature change, and is not thermostatically controlled.

What ever your needs, now may be the best time to find a new bed, these awesome materials make it hard to believe the technologies can get much better, but we are sure they will!  Even if you are not in the market right now for a new mattress, stop by and try some of these materials, learn what is available to make it easier when it is time to replace your mattress.  What ever your needs are, as always, we hope you....

Sleep Well!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mattress Toppers, Are They Worth It?

We all see them in major retailers.  The memory foam mattress topper.  They seem to be inexpensive, especially compared to a new mattress, but are they worth the money?

The quick answer is it depends.  It depends on what you intend to use them for, and this is critical.  If you are looking for a mattress topper because you have an old mattress with little support left.  If you are looking for a topper because you have heard good things about memory foam mattresses, the answer to that question is no.  But why?  While memory foam is very comfortable, and offers a great night's sleep, it can't do it all by itself.  The reason memory foam mattresses are gaining in popularity is because of the system, not just the memory foam on top.  The major memory foam bed makers have anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of memory foam as the top layer.  Under this layer is the support structure for the bed.  Most use more foam, just a different kind, and mostly latex for the support in the mattress.  And that is specifically why the answer is no.  If you have an older bed, which is no longer comfortable, putting a layer of foam on top will not correct the support issues of the mattress.  Of course it will be softer, but it will rarely solve the problems you are attempting to solve with the topper.

So when is a topper a good idea?  OK, we all want to save some money right?  And that is the primary driver for the topper sales, extending the mattress to avoid buying a new one.  That is the wrong way of thinking of it.  If you are looking to save some money with a topper, and get a good night's sleep, consider buying the topper when you buy a mattress.  We hear the question now... How does that save money?

Let's use our store as an example.  We sell a very nice air technology bed with 4 inches of memory foam as the comfort materials.  A queen set is $2999.  We also sell an entry level bed with a couple inches of latex comfort material.  A queen set is $1150.  That's a wide gap.  Let me just note that getting the memory foam option from the factory will provide a higher quality memory foam than is generally available, especially at discount stores.  That being said, for a couple hundred dollars you can get a 2 inch topper, and it will work well with the lower priced bed, just not as long, and not as conveniently.  The big point is that you have saved money over the more expensive bed, and have great support for the topper.

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To be completely honest, the topper will not last as long.  You may have to replace that topper every 5 years.  Either of the beds mentioned come with a 25 year limited warranty, and can last for much longer than that.  25 divided by 5 is 5, so the total cost of going the topper route is going to be around $1000 over 25 years.  if you add that to the initial cost of the bed, it nears the price of the more expensive bed, especially considering the foam in that bed is twice as thick, and a higher quality foam, and generally a bit more dense.

It's up to the customer in our store.  We want to sell the support end any way.  With the proper support, you may not even need the topper to begin with.  And our entry level beds in queen start around $500, so just a few hundred dollars more than the topper alone.  The support of the bed is what eliminates, or at least minimizes, aches and pains.  It's the support that helps our customers sleep all night and awake refreshed.  It is the support that will limit tossing and turning.  It is the support that is important in a new mattress, and the first thing to go in spring beds.  That is why they want you to replace every 8, while we say this may be the last mattress you will HAVE to buy.

At any rate, that is our take on mattress toppers, it depends on where you are financially as to whether it makes sense for you.  But again, toppers will not fix a broken support bed.

We hope that helps...

Sleep Well!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Mystery of Buying Sheets

Sheets seem to be available everywhere.  Go to the Home Show, and there is a guy hawking 2000 TC Egyptian Cotton sheets for a ridiculously low price.  Go to Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, Kmart, Macy's, Dillard's, Mattress Stores or almost anywhere, you find sheets.  It seems every so often there is a story about sheets.  All any of us want are sheets that will feel good for the long haul and not pill, oh and we don't want to pay a high price for them. 

There are four things that will determine the quality of sheets. Let's take a moment to look at all four.

First, and this is what most people concentrate on, is thread count.  Thread count will tell you how tightly woven the sheet is as long as they are being truthful.  There is no standard for thread count, except it is the total amount of threads in a one inch square of the fabric.  Some manufactures define thread as all the ply's in the yarn that makes the sheet.  If he uses 6 ply yarn, and has 100 yarns then he claims he has 600 thread count sheets.  Most people if they looked at the sheet would see 100 thread count.  Then there is the physics of space.  There is only one square inch, there is a maximum number of threads that will fit.  In most cases that is a maximum of just under 600 thread count.  That tells us that anyone who has a higher count is fudging.  Or maybe worse, using a thinner thread than would be best for the sheet.  Any time someone stresses the thread count, they are either lazy, or that is their sheet claim to fame.  Buy from better stores, and know that most are competitively priced for the quality of their sheets, in other words you get what you pay for.

Second is the material that makes the sheets.  There are cottons, wools, synthetics like polyester and blended.  Depending on what you want out of the sheet the type of material is important.  Some of the best cottons in the world are grown in Egypt.  But not all Egyptian cotton is necessarily the same varietal.  Like anything else, there are quality strains and lesser strains.  The same cotton grown in the US may be branded as Supima. Supima is a self regulating association that makes sure the cotton is pima quality.  Always look for this key word when shopping cotton sheets:  Long Staple.  The staple is the length of individual fibers, and the longer the fiber the less likely it will pill.  The natural fibers like cotton or wool will allow more breathability in the sheets and help make the surface a little less warm.  Synthetics will perform the best coming out of the dryer with less wrinkles.


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Next is the weave pattern of the fabric.  In sheets, the two most popular are sateen and percale.  Each weave imparts different qualities into the sheet material.  Sateen is the softest weave, but it is also the worse to come out of the dryer.  There is something to be said for the feel of the sateen weave!  Percale is a stiffer weave, less wrinkles and more crisp feel on the bed.  Mostly the weave is just personal preference, one is not better than the other.  When you find sheets that feel good to you, make note of the weave.

Lastly, it is the over all feel and durability of the sheets.  Assuming we found the best cotton, it is important how we feel as we lay on them.  Most of the time, better quality translates into better feel.  When you find a brand that feels good, go back to it over and over, unless they disappoint you.  Only time will tell durability, and how we maintain the sheets will impact the durability.  Most people will wash their sheets about once per week.  Sheets should be washed separately from other items to avoid pilling.  If you want, an iron can make them nice and smooth.  Keep in mind that some weavers treat their fabric with enhancers that will wash out after a few washes.

Hope that helps, to recap the four things to look for in sheets is: Thread Count, Weave pattern, Material, and feel.  With the internet there are many resources available from consumer reviews, to the BBB, to consumer organizations.  Use them and find a great sheet!  That way you will...

Sleep Well!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to Get a Great Pillow

Let's see a show of hands, who has a closet full of pillows that didn't quite work for you?  Pillows seem to be one of the hardest things in the world to find, that help you sleep well.  We see infomercials on TV touting the greatest pillow ever.  We see all kinds of stores that sell pillows.  There are many different fills, and covers.  But it's so darn hard to find one that works for us.  We believe there is a methodical way to help find the right pillow, follow along, let us know what you think.

In some ways, the art of finding the right pillow has been lost.  Consider a pillow as a wearable item, and we believe it will help.  A pillow is used to stabilize your head, and support your neck.  Like feet or waistline we all have different dimensions of head and neck.  Because of this it is important to determine fit.  Another consideration is the materials in the fill.  Fill materials are many, from down (feathers) to polyester, to memory foam, to latex foam, to even things like buckwheat.  Is that any different from different fabrics in clothes?  Or materials in shoes?  Perhaps the best way then to buy a pillow is somewhere at which you can "try it on."

Consider a department store that also sells mattresses, or even a mattress store.  Why there?  Because to try on a pillow you need to lay on it, which is hard to do in a store that doesn't have mattresses.  Also, discount stores tend to sell on price alone, so anything a vendor can do to lessen the price, the more likely he will get shelf space. That means lesser quality fill materials, lesser quality cover fabrics.  Lesser quality will not perform as long, or as well as higher quality materials.


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So you are in the store, now what?  Ask for samples that you can test out in the store.  Find a mattress that is similar in feel and construction to the one at home.  Now just as you would go in to a changing room or sit on a stool to try out shoes, lay on the pillow.  To fit a pillow properly, the pillow should support your neck, and cushion your head.  As you lay on the pillow, in your preferred sleep position, a good fit will allow your head and neck to be in a good posture position.  If, for instance, you are a side sleeper, your head should not be cocked to the side, rather it should be in alignment with your spine.  If there is too much or too little fill in the pillow, it will stretch your neck, and over 8 hours you will not feel comfortable.  And it will cause neck pain in the long run.

That's where, now let's talk about fill material.  There are three main materials used today:  Down, Polyester, and Foam.  All of these are good choices.  All of them, if fit right will offer a good night's sleep.  The fill material comes down to what feels best to you.  So our advice is to try examples of all of them.  Down is a very natural material where the structure provides good support.  Polyester was originally used for those who were allergic to down, and are sometimes called down alternative.  Both can be adjusted to provide support to the neck by moving the materials around.  Foam comes in two basic forms:  Memory and latex.  These two have different feels and different support qualities.  Latex will work more like down or polyester pillows to provide support to the neck.  Memory foam reacts to body heat and weight to mold more automatically to the support you need.  Latex and memory foam will also retain heat more than the other styles of pillow, which is important to consider.

The cover material wouldn't seem to be important, but in a way it is.  The cover material should be as natural as possible.  There are many good cottons, some wools, and even bamboo materials that are very good choices.  These materials will help dissipate heat.  Other man made materials sometimes will retain heat, which is not good in a pillow.  So while it does not go toward support, it will go to the comfort of the pillow.

Last consider the size.  The four main sizes of sleeping pillows are travel, standard, queen, and king sizes.  Most people buy the pillow based on the size of their bed, so that it fills the area when the bed is made.  Frankly, standard and queen will both fit either full size or queen beds, so choose the size that feels the best.  King size pillows are much longer than standard, almost twice as long. Sometimes the standard size, or queen size are more comfortable to some people, if you have a king size bed, buy the standard size, but save the old pillow for when you make the bed, that way you get the best of both worlds.

We hope that this helps a little in your quest to find a great pillow!  A great pillow can help you to....

Sleep Well!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day Sales or Are They?

This is one of those holiday weekends that we get excited.  It is a furniture holiday.  For whatever reason, people tend to buy more furniture during this holiday than others.  And all the retailers know it.  Let's take a look at what's going on around here, discover the hype, help you find a great deal.  This is a web crawl if you will, and it is interesting the hype we found.



"Our Lowest Price Ever!"  This is hype, but true.  Yesterday their lowest price was $299.  With 420 coils, and a firm rating this bed should draw some attention.  The warranty is 5 years!  And probably covers any dip in excess of 1.75 inches.  Manufacturers rarely write warranties they expect to have to perform on.  As a result, this manufacturer thinks the mattress should last the average person 5 years.  Considering this firm suggests you replace every 8, it doesn't even make it that long.  They of course will have a better (more expensive) deal waiting nearby.  And their rating at the BBB is F, but they are the largest retailer of mattresses.

Next let's surf on over to our next one.  See what we can find there.


This one is scary, huh.  No pricing on the main page, but it is the best sale ever!  Oh, and they have some cool videos to watch.  When we went deeper, their current sale is pretty comparable to last months.  And they do have great beds.  Graphic hype, but this is one of the better beds available, you get what you pay for.  You will not find any $297 Queens here, but you will find beds that are substantially better.

Here's another one.  This store sells furniture and mattresses.  What do you think?


Here again we see a lot of hype.  An extra up to $100 off.  But off what?  Wow, if we could get that $297 mattress for $100 off, that would be a deal!  And it's "factory roll backs".  What a deal, well maybe.  One of the problem with spring makers is that they have dozens of different models, and rarely can you find the same model from a different store to compare the price, they only true way to know if it is indeed a good deal.


This is another low price store.  Wow we have a new low price!  $94!  That's 50% off!  They are so proud of the brand, that they forgot to name it.  And, better hurry because there are limited quantities!  Which if we translate hypeze means, we bought 2 just to get you in the store and sell you a better, more expensive, brand name model.

As mentioned in other editions, we own a small mattress store in the St. Louis metro area.  We try not to hype.  We try to be different.  All of our beds are on sale, just like these major players, but we won't lead you to believe that they will be gone soon, we will order them for you.  Every one of our sales is the best, only because we strive to put the lowest price possible on our great mattresses.  And we maintain those prices until the manufacturer increases prices.  We constantly have people asking when the sale is over, and we tell them that this sale is available to you until the manufacturer raises prices.  That's what we consider value.  $94 or $297 or any other price is not value unless it is for a good bed.  Instead of a 5 year warranty, ours comes with a 20 year limited warranty, and our manufacturer is rated very high in reviews, and by the BBB (A+), but they do not have a $297 queen bed.  However if you are looking for a bed that will last 4 times as long, our queens start at $699.  To match the expected longevity is it not logical to take the $297 (for 5 years) and multiply by 4?  Would not the value of that $297 over 20 years be $1188?  Is $699 less than $1188?  Is it also better to not have to go shopping again for a number of years?

And yes, we are having a Labor Day Sale, if you like you can see it here:  Hannah's Labor Day Sale.  Otherwise, enjoy your holiday and...

Sleep Well!



Sunday, August 25, 2013

School Days and Sleep

It is important that kids get enough rest.  At young ages, they are easily distracted, and frankly do not even consider sleep an option a lot of times, they just drift off when ever they are tired.  The problem is that when they are young, it is important to set habits that will follow them through their lives. 

If our kids do not get the proper amount of rest, they will be tired during the day.  This alone will cause them to lose valuable teaching time by not being in peak condition to learn.  But it goes farther, at night when we sleep, our brains process information from the previous day.  It stores the stimuli in either short or long term memory.  That process can get jumbled without the proper amount of time (sleep) to complete the process.  So what can we do?

How about first a consistent routine.  Our bodies, and theirs, are programed on a roughly 24 hour clock, broken into 12 hour segments.  If we are not consistent, then our bodies get confused and when we do sleep it is not the best quality.  This is also what causes jet lag.  A certain bed time and wake time is important (and it should be 7 days a week, 365 days a year).  Then our bodies will react and thrive. And the benefit to a consistent sleep schedule will carry forward in to adulthood, which can improve their abilities to work productively and make the most money for their skill set.


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When we are sleep deprived, our bodies make products related to stress, which among other things can cause us to gain weight, and be less productive than if the stress is controlled or eliminated.  In the case of kids,  we know that many are concerned about childhood obesity, while other things like overall activity would help improve that, a simple thing like a consistent bed time can help them be more active, because they got great rest.  In kids we have a great way to judge productivity, maybe better than adults do, its called grades.

So getting the proper amount and quality of sleep may help two of the biggest problems our kids face today, obesity, and grades (could all the ADHD be sleep related as well?  Is it not?).  Grades will affect their choice of college, or job opportunities as will their appearance.  So as my Mom always said "It's your bedtime, no discussion..."

Sleep Well!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back to School Sleep

The time is nearing, it's time for the children to go back to school.  Another exciting year of learning and fun needs a good base to build on.  It's a little exciting here as our first grandchild, and namesake of our business is heading to kindergarten.  The other night we got to meet the teacher, and that is another blog entirely!  Things have certainly changed since we went to kindergarten.  More importantly, it is time to review things that will help your child thrive in school.  Click on the links to see more detailed information about individual subjects.

This blog is about sleep so we will concentrate there.  And we feel that sleep is critical to effective learning.  It is during sleep that we process stimulus (learning) from the just finished day.  Ineffective sleep, or too little sleep can impact the ability to retain knowledge, and affect grades.  Schools do a pretty good job of not overloading the hours kids are there, and as parents or grandparents, it is important that we give those we love the best chance to excel.  When it come to sleep, here is what you can do.
  • Set a bedtime for school nights and encourage the same time throughout the week.
  • Make sure there is wind down time prior to bed time to make sure that sleep starts on time.
  • Get home work and projects done earlier in the day, so as not to cause the sleep hormones to short circuit.
  • Make sure the bed and room are optimal for sleep.
  • Set expectations early, to form a habit for later years such as college.
  • Encourage a "normal" wake time as well, as tough as that will be with teens!
  • Make sure that the kids get the appropriate amount of sleep for their age.
Setting bed times, wake times, with the right amount of time in between is important.  The sleep cycles must complete in the normal time associated with them over the course of a night.  If the bed time is too late, then the child will not perform well.  We understand that there are video games to be played, TV to watch, or computer related activities that attempt to steal sleep.  Please be firm about the bed time, in 20 years they will understand, even though they are angry now.  I remember once, my mom said "I don't care what the other kids are doing, you're going to bed!"  What a declaration of love, thanks Mom!


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Proper sleep can help your child learn, but it can also help the teacher with classroom discipline.  Well rested children do less things that were not thought through.  Enhancing the environment of learning.

Sleep can also help them perform better in sports and PE.  Sleep is when the body is conditioned to respond to the needs of the muscles.  While it will not add muscle mass, it can help coordination.

Finally, make sure the kids are not too busy.  We all want them to experience everything, but that will impact sleep and they will be less able to perform at all things.  Let them choose, encourage them to do what they are good at doing.  And don't let the schedule affect total sleep or bed times.

They are only young once, and life offers no do overs, so help them do it right the first time, and start with sleep. 

Sleep Well!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Neck Pain II

So we talked briefly about neck pain.  We spend 8 hours a day in bed, so that is why a pillow is so important.  After all, we should get a good start on the day.  To recap, when in bed the pillow needs to support your neck and allow your head to assume a normal posture position.  This takes the strain off the individual vertebra.  It allows your joints to relax, and may promote some rejuvenation leading to lesser pain.

What about when we are not in bed?  We use our neck all day, and it can become fatigued.  If we take care in how we perform our daily duties, we can often side step future problems.  Let's look a at few scenarios.

Office workers today use a lot of computers.  Computers have made generating reports, completing sales, and accounting much easier than in the past.  Early in the computer age, computers were brought in to the office and set on desks, sometimes that is still the case.  We need to look at the ergonomics of computers.  Today's screens tend to be flat panel, so they are easy to move.  Pay attention to the location of the screen, it should be at eye level as you are sitting in a good posture position in the chair.  If you have to lift your head up or down to view the monitor, it is not aligned properly.   That alignment is critical, because of the amount of use it gets.  If you find yourself massaging your neck during the day, consider moving the monitor.  Maybe use those useless phonebooks to raise it off the desk surface, or if the stand adjusts change that adjustment.


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Construction workers often find themselves in peculiar positions.  If you have to look up or down too long at your work, this too can create stress on your neck joints and muscles.  There is no way to avoid all positions, but if you can adjust a work table or ladder to bring your work in to a more eye level position, it would help take the stress off.  Any breaks you get be sure to try to maintain your neck in a good posture to relax those muscles and joints.

So we get home at night, we do our chores, then we relax before bed.  Many of us will surf the net, or read, or watch TV to relax in these situations.  Do it with your neck in mind.  Make sure any screens are eye level, avoid long periods of time when you have to lift up or bend down your head.  Adjust the height of the screen to encourage a good posture.  At home, we can also use a pillow or comfy chair to support our head and neck in a good posture way, relaxing the joints and muscles.

While some neck issues are medical in nature, many of our "pains" are just the way we live our lives.  And even those medical issues might be helped by attempting good posture.  And while some pain is part of the human condition, we can strive to minimize the every day pains due to living.  We hope that this gets you thinking some, and that it might help you to be more pain free in your life.  If you have any tricks, why not leave a comment below.  Until next time....

Sleep Well!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Types of Back Pain

Today let's talk about the causes of back pain. Back pain can come from a number of reasons, the following list is not all inclusive.
  • Overwork
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Injury
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Age
We can overwork our back causing muscle soreness. This is the easiest to “cure” our backs will normally go back to a non-pain condition if we rest long enough. And the plus to this type of pain is that the overwork may help strengthen our back muscles which can keep future pain away.
 
Stress can also cause pain. When we are stressed our muscles will tighten. It happens in our head, the stress headache, and it can happen in other parts of our body as well. This type of pain can usually be controlled with a mild analgesic and can lessen as we control the stress. However, keep in mind a continual stressful condition can harm much more than our back. If you find yourself in continuous stress, seek help to eliminate it from your life.
 
Genetics can play a role as well. Genetics would determine structure of the vertebra in the back, and imperfections can lead to pain. In this situation there is generally only a few ways to deal with it. Constant pain medication or surgery. If the pain is bearable, consider other homeopathic ways of dealing with the pain. It has been our experience that there is a high level of failure in back surgery.

Injuries, whether on the job, in a car or other transportation vehicles, or any other way in this world can cause pain as well. Some injuries are mild and with some aspirin and time will heal nicely. Others are more serious, and as with genetics, the very worse injuries need to be deal with medically.

In the United States, we tend to have a problem with obesity. Obesity will foul the mechanics in the vertebra and cause injury to the spinal column due to extra stress on the joints. Sometimes just losing the extra pounds will help. While doing that, find ways to support good posture. Back support is available, along with our favorite, a great bed! Posture will allow your body to rest between stress periods.

Lack of proper exercise is another cause of back pain. The reason for this is our muscles work integrally with our vertebra to maintain a minimal stress position. When you ignore the muscles in the back, they will atrophy, or weaken, preventing them from doing the job. Add exercises designed to work the back muscles to strengthen them.


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And of course as we age, parts wear out. Things like osteoporosis or other degenerative diseases can weaken the bone, or wear down the discs that cushion them. Some medications can hasten this, like steroids. Talk with your doctor to determine the cause. This is probably the worse pain to deal with, and often the saddest for those who love you. There are some things you can do, from taking supplements, or changing diet, to surgery. Unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing that can correct the problem, then you will have to manage the pain. Again, talk to your doctor about proper pain management.

While doctors were mentioned a few times above, there are other providers to consider. Acupuncturists, and Chiropractors come to mind. And if you have read here before, we generally like to recommend the least invasive treatments first. Saving the most invasive treatments like surgery for if nothing else works. There are also some machines that gently stretch and align your back. Less invasive treatments also are less expensive, and have a quicker recover time. However you handle the scourge of back pain...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Your Back Hurts, Now What?

Your back hurts now what? As we were reading through the news recently, we discovered several interesting articles. One of them in particular, piqued our interest.  It was an article about multi-disciplinary treatment of lower back pain.

This is typically what we like to recommend.  Primarily because we don't believe any one discipline has all the answers.  It is that belief that has motivated us in our quest for back pain relief. If one were to go to a medical doctor, perhaps some invasive technique would be used like surgery, or even spinal shots. If one went to a chiropractor, surgery would not be performed. We believe that no one discipline offers all the solutions for every back pain sufferer.  Sometimes it takes a combination approach to be successful.

 And while we admire all the practitioners, our main scope is to try the least invasive treatments first. 
 Sometimes surgery is indicated, sometimes surgery fails.  If surgery fails, we look at it as irreversible.  So we would urge people to try other things first.  The way we got into back pain management was through our store.  We sell mattresses and bedding, and we have experienced back pain.

Perhaps the least invasive thing one can do, is to sleep on a new, better bed. If this doesn't help the pain, it is reversible.  There are other technologies, or treatments that can be tried next.  There are products out there like machines that hang you upside down, allowing gravity to take the pressure off  the spine.  There are products that manipulate the body to stretch muscles.  And these products are generally cheaper than surgery as well.



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 The next least invasive thing would be a massage therapist, followed by a Chiropractor.  Chiropractors manipulate the bones to try to get to alignment, when that happens the patient can then maintain it with good posture.  After Chiropractors there are Acupuncturists.  Then Doctors and Osteopaths.  If you climb the ladder as such, perhaps all that is left is surgery.  Isn't good to know that that surgery was necessary, rather than unnecessary?  We believe so, that's why we like this approach.

Many people will suffer back pain in their life, many of those can manage the pain, or improve it by listening to their bodies.  By maintaining great posture from an early age, we can avoid a lot of issues.  When pain shows up, don't ignore it and hope it's going to get better.  Except in the mildest cases it will not.  Be proactive. 

Here's hoping that this helped some, and as always...

Sleep Well!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fibromyalgia and Sleep

Fibromyalgia is a disease that can impact sleep.  It can mimic arthritis, but is generally more related to muscles, a deep pain, and it generally is more widespread than arthritis.  Because of the pain, this disease will impact sleep, both quantity and quality.  So what should we do?

There are many who say they sleep enough at night, but feel fatigued when they wake.  The pain from Fibro is probably impacting the sleep cycles, preventing them from staying in the sleep cycles long enough to be productive.  Lack of sleep over a long term can affect other parts of your health.  So the trick would seem to be how to get enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep and the right kind can help your body to handle the pain better.

Sleep can be elusive, but is necessary, so it is important to learn to sleep better.  Sufferers from fibro need to be sleep experts.  And of course (here come the shameless self promotion), your bed can make a major impact.  If the bed conforms to you, it will spread the pressure out over more of your body, lessening it at any given point.  Less pressure means you can sleep better.  Our store sells beds that, if purchased correctly can mitigate pressure.  Whether it is our great Comfortaire air chambered beds, or our amazing Sleep Harmony foam products, good sleep can go a long way to helping you manage this issue.

Of course there are medical treatments to help with the pain, and since pain is the primary culprit, these would be a good thing, especially in more aggressive cases.  One thing not to rule out is other more natural ways to help your body sleep better.  For instance, low impact and aerobic exercise.  Exercise can do two things:  Help keep the stiffness in check, and help your body sleep better.  Just remember, you do not want to exercise close to bed time because it will bring up your body temperature, and increase your blood flow and tendency to be awake by decreasing certain hormones.


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If exercise is good for people in general, then it is crucial for the sufferers of fibro.  Diet can also impact your sleep, and with all health related issues, a good balanced diet is a very good thing.  The pain and lethargy of fibro will sometimes cause sufferers to not want to cook or exercise.  It is our spirit that can help keep us going.  And, if it helps that is even more encouraging.  A good body weight would also mean that the muscles have less work when at rest, which may help.  Strong muscles may also help over ride some pain, perhaps not all, but is it worth a try?

Most of fibro treatment is managing the disease.  We have not heard of a cure.  And that can be frustrating.  So a positive mental attitude is also important.  That may be the hardest part of this regimen, after all, chronic pain never goes completely away.  If you live with a person suffering, first understand it is real pain, then help support a healthy lifestyle, and perhaps get a book of jokes to try to keep your partner's attitude up.

The last thing for this post is to control stress.  Stress seems to be part of the equation, and many of us do not handle stress well.  Stress also increases our propensity to eat bad, and to save energy by not using any unnecessary movements, IE exercise.  So study stress management, and exercise to increase endorphins, the body's natural pain killers.  Find ways to control stress levels in your life, again different people react differently, but there is a method that will work, don't give up trying!

There is much we are learning on this disease.  It is important to keep watching the news on this, especially if you or a loved one suffer from it.  We hope that in the near future there will be strides towards eliminating this, and help those inflicted with it.  But until then...  try to...

Sleep Well!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Internet Reviews

Just a quick vent today.  I was out on the Internet earlier.  I like to see the competitive landscape, since we are in the mattress business, we need to know we are aggressively competitive in the market place.  I ran in to a similar product to what we sell.  And like most in our particular end of the mattress universe, this was another air adjustable bed site, which I only briefly explored earlier.  This particular site had a YouTube video on how to assemble their mattress, and I thought it would show insight in to how their beds were made.  And it did.

Have you ever noticed how at the end of a YouTube video, there are always options that show tie ins to the video you just watched?  This one did too.  I clicked on a random video, and up pops a review, actually a second review by the same person, of Sleep Number Beds.  As some or all of you may know, I am not a fan of Sleep Number Inc., they are my largest competitor, and they seem to be able to suck up a vast majority of sales.  And my attitude has always been:  good for them, and I explore to see if there is anything that might help us.  Before I go any further, let me just state, Sleep Number makes a great mattress.  And, the mattresses we sell are made by the second largest name in the industry, Comfortaire.  There are similarities between the 2, I believe the Comfortaire product is just a little better in materials and value. 

This reviewer starts out by saying he doesn't like Sleep Number, he doesn't like Tempurpedic, he doesn't like iComfort by Serta, he doesn't like "cheap" spring beds, and he doesn't like water beds.  Ladies and gentleman, that leaves only one technology he does like, and that is springs.  He does admit that you have to buy high end springs at about "$4,000 to $10,000" to find a bed he does like.  And while we think better beds is a good idea, they do not have to cost that much.  He lists off a litany of complaints against Sleep number.  And frankly it sounds like most of his problems were of his own doing.  One he mentioned twice was a broken screen on the remote, and it can happen, but usually there is some force involved.  We only wish that his complaints were true, it might help our business. 


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Rather, often when I hear complaints like these, one of two things is going on.  Either he works for a high end spring maker, or he is mad at Sleep Number and in his own way is trying to damage their business.  And honestly, like most of us, they are not perfect.  It reminds me, and this is the point of this article, that always read with a grain of salt anything on the Internet.  Having said that, there are several good sources to look to about all beds, the BBB and SleepLikeTheDead.com.  Both of these have legitimate reviews good and bad of the beds, as well as, in the BBB's case, letter grades.  Both these sites look at the industry, not from what they like or don't but rather how the company treats their customers.  Does Sleep Number have complaints?  Yes they do, and they tend to have more than #2 Comfortaire, probably because they sell more.  There is not a spring maker that comes even close to the rating of either Sleep Number or Comfortaire, in fact Mattress Firm, who sells primarily springs and foam has an F with the BBB, compare that to Comfortaire's A+, or the fact that our store has never had a complaint lodged with the BBB.

Our industry has some public relations to do, there is a little apprehension from customers and they generally think of us like a used car salesman, but at least we're above politicians!  There are some very fine beds out there, and they don't cost $10,000.  In fact most chiropractors would recommend air or foam products over springs when it comes to keeping your posture in a good position, and eliminating pressure points.  There is clinical research to back that up.  And most importantly, there are a lot of people out there who are pleased with their air adjustable bed.

So save money, and consider air technology to...

Sleep Well!

Monday, June 10, 2013

You read About the $175,00 Matress, What About the Other Extreme?

Admittedly, the $175,000 mattress story sounded good for a blog on sleep.  Sometimes it's just a gift!  One thing we also look at is the other extreme.  You've seen the ads "Queen Mattress Sets $299".  And while something is better than nothing, some times maybe going to WalMart and getting a blow up camping mattress might be better!

There are certain costs in making a mattress.  Material, especially good material, is not cheap.  Steel for the spring costs something, and frankly there is not many people who make the steel springs, so the cost will not fall because of competitiveness.  Foam costs as well.  So how can the BIG BLASTING WAREHOUSE STORE sell beds that cheap?

Honestly they can't.  There are some things, like paper towels, toilet paper, and mattresses, that have a pretty standard cost structure.  And that's what we dislike so much about those selling these extremely cheap mattresses.  Some time take a look at paper towels in the store.  Use your smart phone and divide the price by the number of towels.  Bet you will find that the name brands and the store brands are about the same price.  Now go in to a store that sells the cheap mattress.  Ask them the coil count, bet it is much less than the quality brands we have all heard about.  Check the warranty, bet is much less than those same brands, and there is probably exclusions that will keep this warranty from ever applying.

Look at the amount of foam.  Unfortunately, you can't open these beds up and see the quality of the foam, it is not pretty.  Feel the fabric.  Lay on the bed.  The point we are trying to make is that the only way to make these mattresses cost so little is to take shortcuts.  Lower quality, less life expectancy, and purchases more often.  When we started in mattresses, most manufacturers suggested replacing your mattress every 10 years.  Now I see commercials that state:  "Replace Every 8".

We have talked to people who are shopping again, and say their beds is 3 or 4 years old, some even younger.  So let's take the $299.  Now since they will not last as long as a good mattress, let's adjust.  Since the standard is 10 years on good mattresses, and these seem to last about 3, would it be fair to use a factor of 3? (10/3=3.3333)  So now take the $299 and multiply by 3.  That's almost $900!  Now look in that same store at mattresses costing $900, and lay on them. 


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Longevity is one thing, comfort is the second thing.  The better mattresses will just feel better.  So while you are considering the cheapo mattress, realize it will not feel as good either.  But that's part of the reason... You see, you went to that store, didn't you.  You laid on the cheapo and didn't like it didn't you?  The Sales person showed you a better mattress, didn't they.  And more often than not, you bought the better mattress.  It achieved it's main objective, it brought you into their store.  And of course, since they had the cheapo, you assumed all their mattresses were spectacularly priced.  It's marketing.  WalMart does it, Kmart does it, Sears does it, as well as most other retailers in the world.  And it isn't just beds.

Grandma said it best:  "you get what you pay for."  And while we are capitalists, and believe that we should all compete in the market, this is not serving the customer well.  Buying on price alone is not a great way to buy. 

Now what if we had a mattress that had a 20 year limited warranty, and is constructed in such a way that it may last 30 or more years?  Using the same math would you pay $3000 for a bed?  Would that bed be a good value at $2000?  Or how about that bed at $1000?  We sell that bed, it's a Comfortaire, and some models are less than $600.  Is paying twice as much for a bed that will last 3 times as long, has higher quality materials, improves sleep, is more comfortable, supports better,  a value?  Let us know...  Until you do...

Sleep well! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kids Sleep

Have you ever been in a mall at 8 or 9 PM? After being in retail for as long as I have, my answer is yes. It is amazing to me to see the number of really young children there, even in strollers. Now, it is important to note that most all of the kids I'm talking about are accompanied by their parents, and this is what we need to talk about today.


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It is important that kids get enough rest. At young ages, they are easily distracted, and frankly do not even consider sleep an option a lot of times, they just drift off when ever they are tired. The problem is that when they are young, it is important to set habits that will follow them through their lives.

Improper sleep in adults is a major concern. We sleep too little these days, how many seem to boast about "I got 5 hours sleep, and feel great". And maybe they do, however, lack of sleep like many things will eventually cause health concerns. It is important to get our kids in the proper habit. But what is the proper habit?

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How about first a consistent routine. Our bodies, and theirs, are programed on a roughly 24 hour clock, broken into 12 hour segments. If we are not consistent, then our bodies get confused and when we do sleep it is not the best quality. A certain bed time and wake time is important (and it should be 7 days a week, 365 days a year). Then our bodies will react and thrive.

When we are sleep deprived, our bodies make products related to stress, which among other things can cause us to gain weight, and be less productive than if the stress is controlled or eliminated. In the case of kids, we know that many are concerned about childhood obesity, while other things like overall activity would help improve that, a simple thing like a consistent bed time can help them be more active, because they got great rest. In kids we have a great way to judge productivity, maybe better than adults do, its called grades.

So getting the proper amount and quality of sleep may help 2 of the biggest problems our kids face today, obesity, and grades (could all the ADHD be sleep related as well? Is it not?). Grades will affect their choice of college, or job opportunities as will their appearance. So as my Mom always said "It's your bedtime, no discussion..."

Sleep Well!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Early Summer Pain

We have talked some about back pain and neck pain, this time of the year brings aches and pains every year.  Whether it is stooping to plant flowers or vegetables.  Cutting grass.  Planting the crop.  Or just a long three day weekend. These days find us getting more active again after the long winter. 

Of course if your in the Northeast on this Memorial Day, enjoy the snow, spring is right around the corner!  For the rest of us, this is just a reminder to start the season off right.  It may have been a while since you did significant yard work, start slowly.  Lift in the correct way, with your legs, not your back.  And give your body time to recover.  Sleep right, you knew that was coming, right?


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Proper sleep can help your body recover, and make this season much more pleasant.  We do things when we are able to go outside that are fun, active and hard on our infrastructure.  And get the kids involved, even if they are in the middle of a video game!  And, to save your sanity... Turn off the smart phone, work will be there tomorrow. 

If you over do it, and many will.  Try to remember posture.  Posture will help recover faster and get you back to the fun.  Be prepared for muscle aches and strains.  And enjoy this Holiday Weekend!  I'm off to start the grill!

Until next time...

Sleep Well!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sleep and Economics

I had a friend the other day who said he was not getting a bed anytime soon.  Even though his wife has fibromyalgia, and their mattress is over 15 years old.  This was my reasoning to him...

I asked why he was delaying the inevitable, he said it was because of the economy.  He is worried that his good job at a local powerhouse is in danger.  He mentioned another friend who was laid off recently.  He said "what if my job is next."  That is all valid reasoning.  It is important to not over stretch ones economic well being.  I asked him to truly tell me how likely he was to lose his job.  Turns out if he lost his job, we would probably be worse off than during the great depression of the 1930s.  His unit was making money, and he was in the top tier in sales productivity.  No company in their right mind, short of liquidation would let him go.

So I asked him if he was upside down on his mortgage.  He said no, he and his wife had managed to have the mortgage down to about $15,000 on a $200,000 house.  Did he have any debt?  No again, they stopped using credit cards years ago, the mortgage was their only debt.

Certainly then he must be concerned with his retirement, after all we are the same age, and retirement is much closer than we thought.  He has a fully funded 401K and other investments.

So I asked him what if he had the fibro?  He said he would still wait.  Wow, willing to endure that kind of pain, just because he did not want to spend the money.  I asked him how well he slept last night.  He said he slept fine, he could sleep on the floor if he had to, after all, it is nice and firm.

So I asked him how much sleep he gets through the week.  He answered that he gets 5 hours per night, that's all he needs.  I said why so little? As you know if you have read previous entries here, that is not enough sleep for most of the population.  And, since he was a friend, I lectured a little...

The bottom line, there is no good reason not to buy a new mattress in his situation.  He has the money to buy it, he is not stretched too thin, and his wife would appreciate the consideration.  Our macro economy is not good.  Most capital goods people, like mattress companies, appliance companies and car companies are seeing thin sales.  This is the best time to buy.  They have not raised prices, they are working on thinner margins.  In the case of our major vendor, Comfortaire, they have not had a price increase in over a year and a half.  When the economy starts percolating again, and it will ( do you doubt it? ), prices will start to edge up along with sales.  Waiting now only causes poor sleep and a higher price later. 

You spend roughly a third of your life in bed.  In contrast, you spend maybe a couple hours in your car.  And while I understand wanting a nice car, your productivity, overall health, and earning potential would be better served by driving an older car, and sleeping in a better bed.


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Now for the advertisement:  We are Hannah's Better Beds.  We sell Comfortaire and Sleepharmony mattresses.  They are among the best available from any manufacturer.  We offer value everyday.  A Comfortaire mattress could potentially last the rest of your life, if you take care of it properly.  Comfortaire has an A+ BBB rating, and Hannah's has not had one single BBB complaint in our entire existence.  Comfortaire mattresses are rated among the best by sites like SleepLiketheDead.com, yet they are competitive in price to the better spring entries from the likes of Serta, Sealy, Beauty Rest and the rest.  Generally they are less expensive than even entry level Tempurpedic mattresses.

Thanks for reading, and as always...

Sleep Well!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lose Weight, Sleep Better

What? Did you read that right? Yes you did! Besides exercise and calorie control the way we sleep can determine the success of any diet.

Us News and World Report published an article on just this phenomena. In it they report that not getting enough sleep can do several things. They sight sources that tell us that those who get less than 6 hours of sleep at night are more likely to be obese. Lack of sleep can add to your Body Mass Index or BMI. Lack of sleep will stress the body, putting it in the protective mode ingrained in our DNA. When stressed the hormones secreted will cause us to be more efficient in storing calories, adding fat because it senses lean times. It is all about survival. Hormones controlling appetite were effected. And the cravings were not always healthy, seems the body was calling for carbs and starches more than for healthier fruits and vegetable products. Most diets try to regulate carbs, fats, and or starches to try to boost metabolism.

Hmm, so it seems the metabolism is effected as well. Lack of sleep can lead to an over all lethargy, too tired to go to the gym, maybe I'll take a nap after work or school. Less activity means that the extra calories from those cravings will end up as fat. The research they site says that there was an 8% drop in resting metabolism, which could mean an extra 10 pounds over a year's time.

Both the cravings and metabolic drop can lead to diabetes or pre-diabetes. Seems according to the research that the pancreas stopped reacting normally to meals. And we know that obesity can lead to diabetes. Could it be that simple? Just get a good night's sleep? When you combine a regular schedule, with the proper amount of sleep and diet and exercise, yes.

Let's talk for a minute on "regular" schedule. Our bodies have a biological clock, that clock tells us when to wake, when to sleep, and when to eat. When we ignore the clock we stress our bodies. So not only is the quantity of sleep important, but when you sleep is also important. When we look back at a somewhat more pure time, around 1900, before the electric light, TV, Computers and the Internet, the average adult slept on average of 9 hours. Obesity was much less a problem. And what's more our biological clock is built on nature, we tend to want to sleep when it is dark, and do waking activities during the day. And consider there is very little change day to day when the sun comes up, yes over the year it does change, but it is literally minutes a day. The point here is that we need to go to sleep and get up at about the same time every day. And the bonus: Monday mornings will be more manageable.


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This blogger also believes that the biggest meal of the day should be early, like breakfast. Way back in the 1900's we were also more of an agrarian nation, and we ate what was available. No running to the store, no prepared cereals and such; as a result things like bacon and eggs got into our diet, but because of the work, few farmers were obese. The lightest meal should be the last meal of the day, the reason being that our bodies then have the ability to metabolize the calories, rather than storing them.

We have many advantages today. We have a better handle on good nutrition, and finally more people are studying sleep and it's effects on our bodies. To sum up: get the proper amount of sleep at the same time each day, eat sensibly, and work or exercise to lose the extra pounds. Take a look at their article for more information by clicking here.

Sleep well!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Neck Pain

A slight diversion today.  Most of the time lower back pain can be crippling, neck pain is quite debilitating as well.  While there are medical reasons for neck pain, often times it is caused by the same things as lower back pain.

I am not a doctor, so I want to tend to stay away from medical diagnosis.  The mechanics of our neck is similar to our back, after all it is the top part of our spine.  The neck supports our head, one of the heaviest parts of our body, especially when considering over all weight and volume.  Like our back, our neck likes to be in a posture position.  There is a natural curve to it, and our muscles work to keep it in posture.  If we do things that may force it out of posture, then the joints will be stressed, as well as the muscles, and the result is pain.

This blog wants to promote good posture, it is one sure fire way of helping to manage pain naturally.  Since we spend one third of our life in bed, it is a good place to look.  Our mattress will help promote spinal alignment, especially in our lower back, but the pillow we choose does the same for our necks.  Consider the shape of your head and neck.  The head and shoulders are much wider than your neck.  Because of this when we sleep, especially if we are a side sleeper, we can find our neck in a non posture position for that third of our life.  This puts pressure on the joints, and makes our muscles work overtime to compensate.  A proper pillow can help our bodies to keep that posture position.

So, you ask, what is the best pillow for support?  When it comes to pillows, there are two basic kinds:  Foam and filled.  While there are some cross overs, all pillows are made of some sort of fiber or natural fill, or solid foam.  The filled pillows come in many different configurations.  There is Down, polyester, foam pieces, and other materials like the buckwheat hull pillows.  These pillows will allow your head to fall deeper into them, and if you lay on them right, support your neck.

Foam block pillows come in two basic designs:  Contour and standard shaped.  The foam can be memory or latex, but the commonality is they are one solid piece.  Memory foam will mold to your shape, and many believe that these memory foam pillows are very good at supporting your necks posture.  Latex will do much the same, the advantage of latex is that is is usually a little less warm.  The contour pillows offer support for your neck, immediately, where the standard shape needs time to mold to your individual shape.  And like the filled pillows, these pillows can help you maintain neck posture, as long as you sleep on them correctly.


Neck Support!
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What is the correct way to sleep on a pillow?  A pillow is designed for your head and neck.  One thing we often see is that when testing a pillow in our store, a good percentage of people will put their shoulders on it as well.  If that describes you, we would recommend that you take your shoulders off the pillow, your shoulders should be supported by you mattress, not the pillow.  If you use it under the shoulders, it takes all the support away from your neck, causing strain and muscle contraction.  In your normal sleeping position your head should line up with the rest of your spine in a normal posture position, in other words, your head should not be propped up.  on fiber filled pillows you can scrunch the bottom of the pillow to support your neck, the foam pillows will do this for you.  When purchasing a pillow, just like any other product, the pillow should fit your body.  You can't know if it fits if you purchase from a catalog or online.  Even many stores just have the pillows stacked on counters, and the best you can do is feel it.  There are a few stores, primarily mattress stores that actually let you sample pillows on a mattress.  If you take this route, make sure the mattress feels similar to yours at home.

So what's the bottom line, which pillow is best?  There are a lot of great pillows out there, the best is mostly a personal choice.  While the foam pillows may offer an easier support system, if you tend to sleep hot, or like to scrunch, these may not be the ones for you.  In the case of fiber filled, they tend to let a lot of air pass through, and will sleep a bit cooler.  But the best pillow is the one made of the materials you prefer, and promote good posture for your neck.  If that is foam, then it's the best pillow, if it is fibers, then it is the best pillow, it all depends on you.

In the future, we will talk more about neck support, and talk about Smart Phone neck or Game boy neck, or even Computer / TV neck.  Until then...

Sleep Well!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Back Pain, Chapter 3

Back pain is bigger than just one blog, in fact it is immense.  We are trying to saturate the subject over several posts, and today's is the third installment.  We covered mattress shopping as a means to help put our bodies into a good posture position.  Today we want to look are non sleep related helps.

We know back pain, it used to own us pretty good.  There wasn't a day that my back didn't hurt.  But when I finally started looking at it, and stopped assuming that it was just not going away, I was able to take a whole lot less pain killers.  The reason I have concentrated on sleep, and the reason we now own a mattress store is that our sleep surface was the best change we ever made.  There are other things, and let us talk about them.

Chiropractic care is a good thing.  If you can find a good Chiropractor, they can lead you in a way to find the cause, while they alleviate the symptoms.  For many years all alternative medicine types were taken for granted, finally the mood in the country is changing, and Chiropractic is a good thing.  Now keep in mind there are still some practitioners that claim things that are incredulous, but most honestly try to help their patients be more pain free.  They learn body mechanics, and can be a well spring of help in identifying your problem.

Osteopaths are similar.  They also study body mechanics, and can help identify problems.  They tend to deal in a more medicine world, an osteopath may also be a trained physician. 

Medical doctors also work with pain.  A medical doctor can also be a surgeon, and there are times that surgery is the best course.  Never ignore any possibilities.  However, since surgery is very invasive, if possible, we recommend trying less invasive treatments first.

Along with these professionals there are a myriad of products on the market that claim to help.  Some are better than others, and for these products we recommend that you talk to friends that may have tried them.  If you do find something that helps, please review their product for the sake of others.  The more information you can find, the easier the decision, and a personal recommendation is a great help.


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There are basically two ways to attack the pain.  The first is to mask it with drugs.  While drugs can be useful, particularly in extreme cases, they do not go to the cause of the pain.  The second are mechanical devises or wearable devices.  These would include clothing worn to maintain posture, or machines that manipulate your skeleton.  Isn't it better to try to find the cause of pain and correct it than to just take pain killers forever?

Again the important part is finding out what is causing the pain.  Keep a journal noting what you are doing before you feel pain.  Once you see a trend, analyze that activity.  Let's use an example.  We will assume that we have discovered gardening is causing us pain.  We need to look at how we garden.  Are we lifting heavy plants or fertilizer bags incorrectly?  Are we stooping in odd ways?  It could be something as simple as the shoes you wear while gardening.  Attempt to change habits or wear different shoes and see if it helps.  Learn the proper way to lift, and get help with really heavy things.

We hope that helps you to start on a road of recovery.  And of course we are available at our store to help.  If you know of a product or service that has helped your pain, let us know in the comments.  We want you to have less pain, and we will do our part!  Until next time...

Sleep Well!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

More About Back Pain

So when we wrote about back pain, we didn't expect it to be so popular.  To date, that particular entry has been viewed by four times as many people as any other blog we have written.  We did a search for back pain and blogs and what follows is a screen shot of just the blog results.

 

There seems to be an infinite number of results for that search, and with good reason.  According to ABC News, 6 of 10 people report back pain.  And that's a lot of people!  Back pain is even worse when we realize that almost everything we do involves using our backs.  Even sitting still requires our back muscles to hold us in place.

And if we have a chronic condition, it really impacts our lives.  Why do so many experience back pain?  Depends on who you listen to, however, most people really don't care, they want it to go away.

The causes of back pain are many.  It may be because of our jobs, or because of our body mass, or even the posture that we keep ourselves in.  It could be related to injury, or even genetics.  And the big one, in our view, aging.  The problem is, that unless we can repair the damage, the pain will continue, and in some cases intensify.

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How can we repair it?  Again, depending on the source, many different things.  We do propose a consistent and quasi scientific approach.  Remember the old joke:  Doctor my back hurts when I do this.  And the Doctor replies Don't do that!  We actually feel that is relevant advise.  We also believe that the human body is an amazing machine.  For minor to some extreme problems, your body will strive to fix itself.  Tissue regeneration, and other things can help, as long as you do not continue doing what caused it in the first place.

We like to suggest to start with the most natural approach to back pain.  Keep in mind that you should at least mention it to a medical professional, they will have insights that you will not.  Pain in general is a warning sign that something is wrong, back pain is no different.  The first thing to do is determine what is causing the pain.  Once you have isolated the cause, then you can consider what to do.  Obviously, if the cause is an accident, medical attention is critical. 

The natural approach is our primary choice simply because for thousands of years it was the only choice, and our bodies have a significant arsenal to deal with it.  The biggest weapon in that arsenal is sleep.  During sleep our brains are regenerated, information is committed to certain memory centers, and our physical body is addressed.

Muscles freeze during sleep, at one point you are paralyzed.  This mechanism helps the body find and deal with minor injuries of the previous day, but also more severe injuries.  Doctors even induce coma to help with certain injuries.  A coma is very similar to sleep.  Here's the hitch, though, if sleep is causing the pain, it won't fix it until you figure out why.

Doctors, Osteopaths, and Chiropractors all would probably recommend to sleep on your back.  They would probably go farther to tell you to use a pillow under your knees.  But why?  What they are trying to do is to get your body in a good posture position.  Taking the stress off the joints, allows the body to start repairs.  We go one step farther, we suggest you look at your sleep space.

Since the late 1800s, Innerspring mattresses have provided us with our sleep surface, and today 70% sleep on springs.  That is not bad, as long as all those decades of experience doesn't influence your decision when you buy a mattress.  There are many myths about mattresses that we all take as fact.  Spring beds can be a great surface.  Too many of us buy them wrong.  Hard is not firm, there is a minute difference.  Firm indicates that the surface helps your body maintain posture.  Hard just indicates the feel. 

Today, there are alternatives to springs, and many have been developed since the 1960s.  If you have pain in your back, especially in the morning when you rise, do research on what each technology can do for you.  Please do not exclude any technology until you have experienced it.  For 25 years, I traveled for a living.  Driving town to town all over the Midwest.  Staying in a different motel most nights (by the way, I am glad those days are over).  As a result, I slept on many different beds.  Springs were the most, but water beds, memory foam beds and air beds were also in the mix.

I found, as an example, I did not do well on memory foam, water beds made me cold, if I forgot to turn on the heater, and some motels had really bad spring beds.  That was my experience, yours may be different, after all we are individuals.  So what style of bed would work best for you?  Here's the natural approach:  Check the styles out in stores, the ones you think you may do well on keep in mind.  Once you have a idea of what you would like to try, consider a weekend trip with your spouse or significant other.  Find a motel or hotel that has the style you want to try.  Spend a couple nights on it.  Evaluate how well it worked, or didn't work.  Repeat.  Two things come from this approach, your social life is helped, and you can experiment relatively cheaply.  Build your perfect bed in your mind.

Once you have the style in mind, continue shopping.  Look for models that feature what you want.  If you are a side sleeper, you will probably like lots of comfort materials on top.  Back and stomach sleepers prefer much less.  Do not buy a "fashion" bed, or in other words, a bed that is popular because of a TV show, or a brand name.  Brand names can be useful, but do not assume all offerings in a brands catalogue are the same.  The trend today is "Good, Better, Best" marketing.  Use a retailer that is genuinely interested in you, not in up selling.  You can tell by observing how they approach the sale, keep in mind that they all want your business and will ask for it.  Are they overly hyping one brand over another?  Are they trying to sell you on the lowest price?  Do they listen to what you say? 

The last step is to try to find a store that has a return policy.  We are making a good guess, but you never know.  Continue to evaluate how your pain is feeling for several weeks, if it is improving, you made a great choice.  If not, it is time to try other things to help it. 

Since back pain is a popular subject, watch for our next entry as we continue to explore ways of helping us live pain free lives, naturally.  Until then...

Sleep Well!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

50% off! And a Few of Our Favorite Ads.

How Can They Do It, It's Crazy!

Sound like a bed ad you have seen or heard?  We thought so.  But not at our store.  We try our best to offer the best product, and the fairest prices, everyday.  You will not see a 50% off sale here, our regular retails and sale retails are just too low to do that.  In fact, some of our beds are priced below the 50% off marketing geniuses, all day, everyday.

We Guarantee the Lowest Price!

Another good one right?  Most stores have limits on the geographic area.   Most stores require the same exact model, most manufacturers make many different models for this reason.  Those price guarantees are mostly worthless.  Our store does not restrict the geography, and we will match prices even to a different manufacturer, as long as the item specifics show it is substantially like the model we carry.

Queen Mattresses $399*!

Then in the small print it says "each piece when bought as a set."  Not sure of those stores but our most expensive, normal foundation is $299 everyday.  And we have platform bases for about $199.  Our least expensive queen mattress is $699, for a high quality, long lasting mattress.  Same price, but a better bed.

Free TV with Purchase!

Bottom line on this one is that you pay a higher price for the bed, to get a free TV.  Buy them separate, you will get a better bed, and a better TV.

Best Price of the Year!

Probably is, however, it is the price they have sold it at all year.  Nothing special about the price.  All stores need to make a profit to pay rent, utilities and labor.  Instead shop a store that has lower overhead.  How do you know?  Just look at it.  We, as an example, have a nice store.  It is clean and light.  We do not have fancy ceiling work, we do not have a special lighting scheme, we do not have a fancy pressure mapping system to help you choose your bed, we let you decide by what is important, how it feels.  Your back is the best pressure mapper around.

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There are marketers out there, but the cost to all retailers is essentially the same.  Whether you are the largest retailer in the nation, or a small family business in St. Louis.  We know of a retailer that spends fully 50% of what you pay for a bed in marketing.  We don't, guess who has the better value?

We also use a business model that keeps overhead as low as possible.  Doing that takes inventory costs out of the equation.  We do not have a CEO or a broad management base.  We just read a story of a public company, the CEO makes over $2 million in compensation.  They have 400+ stores, so that works out to about $5000 per store.  We do not have share holders.  We sell great products, but because of our overhead, we will save you money.

What we do instead, is educate ourselves in the art of great sleep.  We are not afraid of offering sleep tips.  We are also not afraid to admit our limitations.  We like hearing from past customers, whether good or bad.  We love to help solving sleep or mattress problems.  We have never taken a customer frivolously, and we never will.  We have never had a BBB complaint in over 2 years in business.

Here's what we mean by that.  We shop our competitors regularly.  One such trip recently, we were particularly interested in Tempurpedic mattresses, as we were preparing to launch our Sleep Harmony line.  The Sales pro was nice, but for some reason he had to get us away from Tempurpedic, and have us try a different memory foam bed by a different manufacturer.  It was obvious to us that he made a better commission on the other bed.  We don't care.  We make enough on what ever bed you purchase and are not looking to squeeze a few extra dollars from the sale.  We have set our commission schedules to favor no one brand or bed.  Meaning you get what YOU want here.

Is it time to change the way you shop for a bed?  We think so.  And by the way, want to see that this is how the industry works?  Check out this video by a store in Michigan.  Wish we would have thought of his word:  "Beducation"  That's what its all about!

Sleep Well!