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.


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.


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.


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!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mattress Myths and Economics

We write another blog about economics, so we thought it might be alright to talk about the economics of mattresses.  We also are finding some myths out there about what constitutes a good mattress. so without further ado...

Mattress economics is quite simple.  Stores have mattresses and you need somewhere to sleep.  That's when it gets complicated.  There are at least four separate technologies out there to choose from.  The oldest is Innerspring.  Most myths developed around these spring mattresses, and frankly a number of them are true.  The biggest is the bed needs to be firm.  This is true, but only if you are talking about springs, and only if you know the definition of firm. 

Firm as it applies here means a high coil count, not just a harder surface.  The coil count in a mattress determines how many points of contact it will make with your body.  The more points of contact, the more support the bed will have.  Stiffer, but fewer in number coils do not offer as much support as higher count springs, but the less springs, the less raw materials, and the less it costs to produce.  Laying on a spring bed and choosing it because it is harder than other test beds is a mistake.  Weed out the low coil count beds and then test what is left.  A great spring bed will support your posture with a large number of coils reacting to the weight of your body, that is support.  Too hard and it will throw your body out of posture and you will wake with pain at some point.

While this is true of spring beds, the opposite is true of other technologies like water, air or foam.  The truth is that for these beds softer is some what more supportive as it will allow your body to find equilibrium on the surface.  If you think you might want a softer sleep, like you get in the trusty recliner, consider these other technologies, you might find they suit your needs better.

Another myth, promulgated by some of our brothers is that you should replace your mattress every 8 to 10 years.  This one is more or less true for spring beds.  Spring mattress manufacturers design their beds to last about 10 years for the average sized consumer.  If you are heavier than that average, your bed will last less, and if you are lighter your bed will last longer.  They use 10 years for a reason as well.  Our bodies change over time.  The support we need on a mattress will change as our bodies change.  The average length of time where the current support will not be optimal anymore is 10 years.

Hannah's Better Beds

With higher coil gauge and coil counts, and better materials, there is no reason a spring bed couldn't be engineered to last 25 to 30 years.  But the cost would be high, and at about 10 years your body will need different support anyway, which is an economic waste of money to throw away a good bed.  The same is true of foam beds.  Honestly, there are only two technologies that lend themselves to long usage, water and air.  Both of these technologies have the ability to change the support level as your body changes.  As a result the most reputable manufacturers of these technologies use better foams and fabrics and they can last 20 or more years, some of the best will last indefinitely, as you can change parts and avoid buying a whole new bed.  Water beds are somewhat out of vogue, as air beds are climbing in popularity.  Tempurpedic, a foam company, is launching an air base bed for this very reason.

The last myth of this post is that if your bed isn't quite right, you can just add a topper to it and it will last another 5 years.  This is untrue for all technologies.  Hope springs eternal, but the fact is foam toppers, like pillow tops offer comfort, not support.  If you are waking with back or neck pain, the support in your mattress is gone.  Putting a topper on it will not correct the issue.  And all "valleys" in the bed do not mean the support is gone, it can be just the foam, in this case a topper might help, but will not give you long term repair.

Beds have three major parts inside that cover.  They have a base level, a support level and a comfort level.  Some manufacturers to save money eliminate the base level, as the customer doesn't feel it.  Spring beds base level is a box spring, or a foundation with springs in it with a hard surface.  Foam beds use high density foam as a base level, other foam as the support level, and a comfort level that is designed to feel good, like memory foam or latex foam.  Some sagging comes from inferior foams, or even layered foams and batting.  Seems the demand was for higher mattresses, and so some added loft by making the top layer too high.

I have had laments about not being able to flip mattresses any more.  Flipping would make them last longer, but in consumer research, manufactures have found people don't flip anyway, so why add the expense.

Mattresses are a commodity.  As such they are extremely competitive on price.  Two things add to the price, raw materials and promotion.  That's right promotion.  I know of at least one company who spends about half of the wholesale price of their beds to buy advertising.  So when you shop, and you think you might like a certain mattress, check out all offerings.  The best deal may not be the easiest to find, because they don't promote as heavily.  In the case of springs, while there are a lot of brands, there are probably three spring makers, who sell to all the brands.  In the case of foam and air, check out the quality of the components.  Most air manufacturers make "modular" beds, there is no reason to not look under the hood to see the foams and other parts.  Judge these beds by their components.

Hope that helps a bit.  As you do research, and that is most common any more, use sites like the BBB, Angie's list or specific sites like Sleep Like the Dead.  You can tell a lot about the quality by the number of complaints ( or lack there of) lodged against different technologies.  Hope this helps you to...

Sleep Well!