Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sleep in the News

How is this for a headline?  Lack of sleep 'switches off' genes Made us want to read the story.

It seems that a lot of this article is topics we have already broached on sleep.  It is good to be vindicated!  In this article they report on a study done on sleep deprivation, or getting less than 6 hours sleep per night.  For those of you who claim you can thrive with less than 6, you might want to look at the science.

Over 700 genes were affected by the lack of adequate sleep.  These genes do things like regulate metabolism,and cognitive impairment.  The study also states that it throws off the 24 hour biological clock which is marked by our circadian rhythms.  Can this be good?

We suspect that it is not good.  The jobs these genes do affects our weight and mood.  It affects how well we do everyday tasks.  So it affects our lives.  In this blog we consistently teach good sleep hygiene.  Good sleep hygiene is not hard to do, and can make you more competitive in our world.  Good sleep Hygiene is simply planning to get as much sleep as your body needs, at regular times.  Setting a bed time and a wake time, with enough hours in between.  And then sticking to it!

For children good hygiene can last a lifetime.  Imagine your child with a better report card.  How much can this affect their lives?  Maybe better college and a better entry job.  Staying on the hygiene will make them as adults more productive at work.  Productivity is one criteria for promotion, promotion means more money.  And the earlier the promotion comes the more promotions there can be. 


Adults also benefit, like children from better attentiveness.  Meaning more friends, and better relationships.  Metabolically speaking, it is what can make them a beautiful person, inside and out.  Obesity is a plague these days, sleep is one weapon to battle it.

We applaud the authors of this study... and to you our readers...

Sleep Well!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Seasonal Sleep Disorders

We find it interesting that our most read blogs are the "How To" blogs, and we guess it is because most people do not spend a lot of time looking at how to buy beds or pillows or bedding.  And those are important skills.  We do, however, like to throw a little science occasionally, and this is one of those times.  Today we would like to talk about Seasonal Sleep Disorders.

This is a good time of year to discuss it, at least north of the tropics.  As winter is starting to wane.  Besides the cold that comes with winter, we also experience less daylight.  Because of the Earth's position on its axis toward the sun, our days are shorter now than in the summer months.  After the autumnal solstice, the days continue to get shorter all the way until December 21st the winter solstice.  With the shortening days our bodies experience a physical loss of the effects of the Sun.  Some people are affected much worse than others, and regions are affected differently, primarily depending on how far north of the tropics they are.  For instance, in the U.S. Alaska would be one of the highest affected regions, because of their northern exposure.  Even areas like Chicago and Detroit or the upper east coast states like Maine can experience this problem.  On the opposite end of the spectrum States like Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, and California (the southern part) are less affected.

Seasonal Sleep Disorder is usually described as a depression, some call it the winter blues.  Most people can tolerate it, but is is characterized by sleepiness, over sleeping, and general bad mood.  It can cause the victim to crave carbohydrates (finally an explanation of why we like Christmas cookies!), and weight gain can result.  Many find themselves trying to get ready for beach season, by an extra trip to the gym or even diet.  Part of this is normal.  Early man could not gather as many crops in the winter, so his diet probably changed to include more meat.  Over the eons that moved to our genes as a preservation reaction to winter.  Also during the cold, it was safer to stay closer to the fire and family to get enough warmth.  Keep in mind there were not even electric light bulbs way back then, so the most fun you could have was to sleep.  The good news is that Spring is coming, soon.

World Headquarters of Hannah's

So sleep plays a role.  And in the winter months it is still important to follow good sleep hygiene.  Keep a regular sleep wake schedule  The more consistent that schedule is, the better your body will fight the winter blues.  In some extreme cases doctors might use a sun replicating light or watch melatonin levels in their patients.  For years, we have followed a sleep wake regimen, and for us it has worked well to beat away the winter time blues.  And it does no harm to try!

Don't worry, dear reader, we will get back to the "how to" series shortly... until then...

Sleep Well!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sleep, Romance, and Valentines Day

It's getting close... It's the time of year all the advertisers will point you to your lover, your partner, your best friend.  Valetine's Day is coming.  Valentine's Day goes back to the early days of the Christian Church.  There are disputes on what started the remeberance, but today it is celebrated across North America, and Europe.  It is a day for lovers.  It is a day for romance.  But sleep???

Yes sleep!  What lover can truly care for their partner without considering their health?  And Sleep is tied directly to health.  We do not want to get too scientific here, this is afterall about love!  But that deep sleep after spending time with your lover?  This deep sleep can be some of the best sleep you can get.  Afterall, doctors recommend cardio exercise, and making love can offer more than the physical, but also mental exercise.  Love releases chemicals in to our bodies that can promote good health,  studies have shown commited couples live longer.

The Puritanical breeding most of us lived through, especially in the 1950s and 60s, causes us sometimes not to consider sex.  And it is an extremely private matter.  Other western nations are less Puritanical, and we all have snickered at commercials or TV clips we have seen eminating from them.  British TV as an example has some programs that probably couldn't air in the US, without editing.  Sex is a natural part of life.  As I'm writing this, I wonder if another of St. Louis institution's, Master and Johnson, ever had some of the thoughts of what is too far.  The importance of the issue causes me to throw caution a little to the wind!

As I was thinking about what to write, one thing that came to mind was a web site called sleeplikethedead.com.  While they have always been a go to link in our business, and we love the research they do, they also branch off into an topic they call "sex friendly".  Sometimes, actually most of the time, when we are talking to clients in our store, we bypass that part.  February is the month for lovers, so what the heck!  Just below is a screen shot from their site.  (of course it helps that our brand, Comfortaire, is highly rated on their site). 

I have also read that overall in the United States, people are choosing good sleep throughout the year over "sex friendly" beds.  And we do understand the thought behind that.  In a survey, the average American couple will make love between 3 to 4 nights per week, but we sleep 7.  There are some, like Comfortaire which are average for sex, and they sleep great. 

So I have a suggestion.  This year for Valentines Day put a dozen red roses and a box of finer chocolates on a Comfortaire bed.  Let the romance begin!

Sleep Well!

Friday, February 1, 2013

How to Shop for a Mattress III

Or how do you know the store your in is a good one?

First, let me say there are a great many very good stores out there.  Most of those store owners and managers take a particular slant in what they do.  There are a few bad apples, please don't be discouraged if you find one.

What should you expect from the representative?  That's not to hard to guess, but the primary thing you should get is empathy.  Empathy will indicate post sale customer service.  A number of years ago, I purchased a new car.  I did my research, and finally decided on the vehicle.  We went to the showroom and a sales guy approached me.  We told him what we were looking for and he took us to the model.  He asked appropriate questions to suggest the car we might like in that model line.  So far so good, he was doing a great job.  When we finally settled on the car we talked price, when we agreed, he closed the sale.  He was very efficient, and we were done pretty quick.  At this point we had a very good visit.  As we were leaving, he said, "It's Friday, and our porter has gone home.  I really would like to detail that car for you, can you bring it back early next week?"  That impressed us, and we scheduled a time.  Wow what an experience.  However, when I took it in at the agreed time, he saw me and asked:  "what are you doing back so soon?"  The balloon deflated... If you are offered something, expect to get it. (And sales pros, if you promise something, make sure you remember!)

Same is true of the mattress shopping experience.  The representative you meet in the store should listen to your wants.  As you have an initial discussion, they should be mentally looking at their inventory.  And they should make suggestions.  You should lay on those suggestions, and make sure you let them know if it meets your needs, or if you have additional needs.  You do need to respect their knowledge, but make them earn your trust.  If you watch carefully, to where they lead, you can judge if they are trying to help you or just maximize their sales.  Do they try to stick to one brand?  Are they showing you models that you told them you did not like?  These are key signs they are not working for you.

Do not hold back.  At times, I have talked to people that think they need to minimize the information they share, but then how can I help them find a model that best suits their needs?  Instead, at that point, we just wander all over the store.  And here's why that is bad:  If you lay on more than about 4 beds in a store, you will not remember all of them, it is sensory overload.  By telling the rep what you want, or desire, or what you are trying to accomplish, the rep can lead you to a minimal number of beds.  That means you can have less mental clutter and make a better decision.


If you are not sure what you want or need, it is OK.  Then talk about what your current bed is doing.  Are you waking with pain?  Do you toss and turn?  Does it sag?  Set expectations on how often you replace beds.  Remember most spring beds are designed to last no more than 10 years.  If you require a longer lasting bed, the rep should show you alternatives to springs that are designed to last longer.  I had a customer once, who was intent on finding a 2-sided mattress.  They lamented that most don't make them any more, but those lasted longer.  And you know what?  They were right when talking springs.  Flipping a spring bed can almost double its lifespan, but rare is the manufacturer that makes them double sided any more.  Why you might ask?  Because they are more expensive to make, and surveys have shown customers do not flip any way.  All mattress organizations are conscious of price, especially springs.  That is why ads always feature a lead item that can be had cheap.  Ever seen the ads that say Queen Mattresses $199 each piece when bought in a set?  (By the way, if you need a cheap mattress fine, but try to avoid these, they are a bad economic choice).  The stores that throw up the lowest price believe they will get the most visitors.  Their hope is that you will want things like a pillow top, and up sell you to a better model.

I was on a Chinese manufacturers site the other day.  He had queen mattresses at $65 cost.  Of course you had to buy 1000 of them, but that gives you some idea of how cheap the product can be.  With normal markups, these are the $199 mattresses.  Two things, I believe it is important to shop for quality, which these are not, and all things being even look first to mattresses produced as close to your location as possible.  We call it being econcentric.  Buying close to home helps your community thrive, and possibly keeps a neighbor employed.

Spend time on each of 2 to 4 beds that match your needs.  At least 15 minutes.  Test all of your normal sleep positions.  While the only way to know for sure is to sleep on it a couple weeks, 15 minutes or more will help you compare better.  Do you feel better after laying on it?  Then it is a good bed.  Feel the same or worse, look at another model.  Not happy on any in a store?  Be kind, explain that to the rep, they may not want to hear that, but it is murder waiting on the return visit that will never come, be honest.

By being honest, perhaps there is another model you have not tried that might suit you better, do you really want to spend a third of your life for the next 10 years on a bed that isn't perfect?  This also tests the rep's knowledge of sleep and beds in general.  A good rep is there to help you, and to make a living doing that.  I know that nothing is more satisfying than to have a past customer tell a family member or friend to visit me when they are looking for a bed, and I am not alone.

So let's end by saying good luck on your mission to find great sleep!  There are a great many good brands and stores that can help you along the way, take advantage of the good ones.  And as always...

Sleep Well!