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?


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.


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, 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.


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!

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!