The holiday season is officially among us, including Christmas feasts to New Year's celebrations. It is no secret that this season brings a surplus of food and drinks, which makes it easy to eat and drink your day away.
While most people are aware that the holiday’s can put a strain on their waistline, many do not realize how this season can also affect your quality of sleep. Heavy meals can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, so here are a few of our best tips to keep in mind this holiday season.
Do Not “Save” Calories
A common myth around heavy meals is to starve yourself during that day if you are planning on having a big meal later. This actually has the opposite intended effect. Showing up to a meal with an empty stomach can actually make you eat more and lead to an crash later on. The best way to prepare yourself for a heavy meal is to eat light, scheduled meals early on so that you will have greater control over your food intake later.
While it may be tempting to grab everything on the table once dinner is served, try to keep your portion size down. Large portions make it harder for your body to digest, which leads to a rougher night’s sleep later on. According to an expert nutrition coach, an average meal takes between one to three hours to properly digest, but a large meal can take between eight and twelve hours. Do your future sleepy self a favor, and focus on your portion size this holiday season.
Timing is Key
In addition to preparing your body and keeping your portion size down, timing of your meal is one of the most important factors when eating a big meal. Because it takes so much additional time for a heavy meal to digest, you’ll want to eat early. If you eat too late, your body will keep you up as it digests. To ensure a quality night of sleep, plan ahead and make sure your holiday feasts are early!
With these tips, your holiday celebrations will be fun, tasty, and promote a better night’s sleep!
Looking for that right holiday present for a loved one? Try a Jonathan Stevens mattress, custom made just to their liking!
Did you know that you spend around ⅓ of your life in the bedroom? Your bedroom should make you feel relaxed, at home, and should be the most comfortable room in your house. A messy bedroom however, can actually keep you up at night according to recent studies.
Your brain naturally wants to clean up clutter, which means that a messy room will subconsciously work against your natural instincts and cause anxiety. A study by St. Lawrence University proved that those with more clutter in the bedroom had more sleep disturbances throughout the night as opposed to those with less clutter.
The study goes on to explain that the more clutter in your space, the less functional and comfortable your bedroom is. A messy bedroom is considered “unusable” in the study, which therefore can increase cognitive dysfunction, depression, and stress as your sleep health also worsens.
Not only does clutter make it harder to fall asleep at night, but it can make you feel restless the next day. Cleaning a messy bedroom will not only relieve the tension in your mind, but it will allow you to take advantage of your bedroom’s intended benefits.
Keeping your room tidy is important in order to get a good night’s sleep, but some other tips to keep your sleep environment healthy are:
- Stay off your phone or other technology before bed.
- Keep the room dark and cool.
- Use a fan or other device to help with sound elimination.
- Eat and/or drink lightly before bed.
Above all, the environment you sleep in can either positively or negatively affect your sleep. A mattress that is too old or not working properly can also lead to restless nights, so be sure to check out the Jonathan Stevens Mattress Co mattress selector here!
September is National Yoga Awareness Month, and Jonathan Stevens Mattress Co. is taking a deeper look at the benefits of yoga and how it can help you sleep. Whether you are 15 or 50, yoga is an activity that is made for all ages and all experience levels.
Before we get into how yoga can improve your sleep, you may be asking yourself, What exactly counts as yoga? Yoga is defined as an ancient spiritual science that includes breath control, simple meditation and the practice of specific body postures. A common misconception of yoga is that you have to bend your body in all sorts of positions in order for it to be yoga, when in reality, yoga could be a simple meditation routine before bed.
The main goal of yoga is to boost your relaxation and bring the mind and body together as one cohesive unit. In fact, a recent study at Harvard proved that yoga before bed can actually help beat insomnia because it puts your mind and body in a relaxed state. The study also found improvements in other aspects of sleep, such as sleep efficiency and wake-up time.
There are several yoga poses that are great for beginners and perfectly designed to soothe your mind and body. Here are a few of our favorite poses to try before bed:
- Head-to-knee pose (“Janu Sirsasana”)
- Bound angle pose (“Baddha Konasana”)
- Wide-angle seated forward bend (“Upavistha Konasana”)
- Thread-the-needle pose
- Reclined twist post
- Legs-up-the-wall post (“Viparita Karani”)
Check out the article linked to see visual depictions of each pose, as well as step-by-step instructions. While performing yoga always make sure to keep your mind clear, dim the lights for optimum relaxation, and don’t forget to watch your breathing!
Tried yoga and still feel like your sleep isn’t as good as you want it? It may be time to find a mattress made custom for you and your sleep needs! Check out Jonathan Stevens’ online mattress selector here.
There are many benefits associated with waking up early in the morning. Whether it is having more time to ease into your day, or enjoying a relaxing breakfast before a hectic day at work, the morning is full of possibilities. According to The Body Clock Guide to Better Health, only 1 in 10 people are naturally early risers. However, there are plenty of proven tips and tricks designed to help you become a morning person.
While an alarm clock may seem like the most conventional way to wake up early in the morning, many people find that they have trouble resisting the urge to hit that snooze button and get out of bed. Instead, try sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, and using your alarm as more of a guide until your body naturally adjusts. After a few weeks of going to bed at the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning, your circadian rhythm will begin to adjust naturally, and it’ll be easier to wake up.
However, if you are a night owl who is used to waking up at noon every day, waking up at 8 am every day may not be the easiest thing to do cold turkey. Try to ease into an early morning routine by waking up 20 minutes earlier each day until you reach your desired wake up time.
Another way to help make you a morning person is to avoid the urge to nap. While napping may feel good in the moment after a long day, it actually throws off your body’s natural rhythm and makes it harder to fall asleep later on. If you are in the pattern of taking frequent naps throughout the week, try to take one less nap a week until you are in the routine not to nap at all.
If these tips still aren’t doing the trick, here are a few other methods designed to help you become a morning person:
- Eat healthy throughout the day, making sure you are not going to bed too hungry or too full.
- Exercise in the morning.
- Leave your shades open to allow more brightness into your room.
- Come up with a morning goal to motivate you to get up. This could be different breakfast recipes to try, or even a new workout.
- Make sure your room is cool (around 65 degrees) as cooler rooms are proven to promote better sleep.
- Try to eliminate all noise from your room.
If you find that you are still having trouble waking up early after implementing several of these tips, it may be a sign that it is time for a new mattress! Check out Jonathan Steven’s online mattress selector here.
Have you ever wondered why you feel extra refreshed after a vacation, and find yourself sleeping so much better the days following? Studies prove that a change in environment can actually promote a better night’s sleep. Whether you take a day off and relax for an extended weekend, or spend a week on vacation, a temporary change in environment is linked to an increased quality of sleep.
The summer months are known to be the peak vacation season. Several families choose the summer months because the kids are out of school, but even millennials without children tend to take vacations in the summer to take advantage of outdoor activities and the warm weather. Some vacations can be more relaxing than others, like going on a tropical vacation versus going camping, but the main takeaway from any type of vacation is your refreshed return from a change in your routine.
Not only does a vacation promote a change in environment which helps for better sleep, but it is a much needed break from all of your daily responsibilities. You are able to leave those stressful activities behind for a few days, and give your mind and body that much needed break.
Another reason that summer vacations are linked to better sleep is because of increased outdoor activity. Although it is possible to spend time outside when you are not on vacation, many people’s jobs, school work, or other priorities tend to get in the way of that. Studies show that being exposed to sunlight in the early hours of the day improves your daily night’s sleep. Sunlight helps to regulate your body’s biological clock and keep it on track. Of course, make sure when you are in the sun to take the proper precautions and protect yourself with SPF.
Outdoor activity not only promotes more sunlight, but it causes people on vacation to typically get more exercise. Daily exercise is also linked to an improved sleep quality. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going to a gym, but it could mean a run on the beach or even a walk through town. Vacations work well for our bodies because they tend to get us moving around more, and in different ways than our normal routines.
Summer still has another month remaining, so it is not too late to squeeze in that last minute vacation. Upon return, not only will your body and mind feel refreshed, but you will come back sleeping better. If you found that you slept noticeably better on vacation than you do normally, it may be time for a new mattress.
The only thing we can think of that is better than a vacation is a great night’s sleep, so why not kill 2 birds with stone!
Have you ever been exhausted all day, practically counting down the minutes until you can go to bed, and then the second your head hits the pillow you find yourself having trouble falling asleep? Sleep is something that is often easier said than done, with your stresses of the day lingering when trying to fall asleep. However, a great relaxation technique to help combat sleep problems is a pleasant smell.
A scent you like is extremely effective at promoting relaxation and helping to aid sleep. In fact, not only is aromatherapy becoming increasingly more popular, but it has been recognized by the Alliance of International Aromatherapists as having both psychological and physical benefits.
The great part about aromatherapy is that there are endless combinations of scents, meaning that there is a scent for everyone. A scent that one person may absolutely love, another person may hate, but it is easy to test out what scent works for you. Some of the most popular scents that have been linked to relaxation and better sleep are: lavender, vanilla, jasmine, chamomile, sandalwood, clary, clary sage, rose, and valerian.
Essential oils in a diffuser is an easy way to incorporate a pleasant smell into your nighttime routine, but there are also a lot of other methods you can try. Some of our favorite picks are:
- Creams and lotions
- Scent sticks
- Pillow sprays
- Bath oils
- Body washes
- Aromatic spritzers
- Scented pillows
- Scented mattress and pillow protectors
- Scented laundry detergents
Not only can a pleasant smell help with relaxation and sleep, but a bedtime scent can actually make your bedroom more inviting. Pleasant scents are linked to better moods, which will translate into a better sleep for you that night. There is nothing better than a good night’s sleep so, on your next sleep, try incorporating aromatherapy or another one of our picks!
Have you ever noticed that your sleep changes based on the weather?
Spring is finally here, which means warmer weather and a change in your sleep habits. The outside environment plays a huge role in our sleep routine. There are many factors that affect sleep that we can control, like a comfortable mattress for example, but weather is not one of them. Here are a few things that may change the way you sleep this spring.
Sunlight is one of the most noticeable changes in spring. The days get shorter in the fall and winter months, which means we often go to work before the sun even rises. Less exposure to the sunlight means less Vitamin D, which can negatively affect our sleep-wake cycles. Vitamin D produces serotonin, and when our body does not get enough seratonin, we experience greater daytime drowsiness. This then can make your body feel tired earlier than your usual bedtime. Luckily, spring brings more sunlight, and more sunlight means a better night’s sleep.
Another factor that changes in the spring season is temperature. After long winter months, a warmer spring temperature is much anticipated. However, studies prove that we actually sleep better in colder temperatures. Our body temperature naturally cools down as we prepare to sleep, and so cold air supports the body’s sleep environment.
Not only do we feel physically uncomfortable when the weather is hot and humid, but it is harder for our bodies to be comfortable during sleep as well. Warm air temperatures can prevent our bodies from settling into a deep sleep.
Whether you are a heavy or light sleeper, thunderstorms can interrupt your sleep. Although winter months typically bring a lot of snow, snow fall doesn’t tend to wake us up from our sleep like a thunderstorm does. It is common for people to enjoy falling asleep to a relaxing rainfall, but most people would agree a loud clap of thunder or a bright flash of lightning is not what they had in mind.
Springtime means that everything begins to bloom again after the cold winter months, but the new season also brings new allergies. Tree and grass pollen are common allergies in the spring, and often cause stuffy noses, itchy eyes, and sinus irritation. These symptoms may seem minor, but they can affect the quality of your sleep more than you would think.
While spring is a great break from the cold, the change in weather can cause some sleep issues. Some ways to help combat these issues and save our sleep routines are:
- Try and go to bed at the same time every night
- Keep the temperature in your house as cool as possible
- Invest in a fan next to your bed
- Stock up on allergy medicine to clear your sinuses
- Use white noise to try and drown out storms
With these tips and the added sunlight during spring, you are on your way to a better night’s sleep!
Back to school can be a stressful time for families. With kids needing an average of 9-10 hours of sleep a night, not getting enough sleep can only add to any already stressful situation. That’s why it’s important to start establishing a sleep routine early and stick with it!
Setting a Sleep Schedule
When establishing a sleep schedule, it’s more effective to make small changes gradually rather than big changes all at once. A good starting point is to get to bed 15 minutes earlier and wake up 15 minutes earlier the next morning. For example, if lights out is at 8:00 in the summer, try making sure everyone is ready for bed by 7:45 a month before school starts, then 7:30 the next week, and so on. By the end of the month, you’ll have naturally set your kids’ bedtime back an hour.
It can be easy to slip into the old summer schedule on weekends—especially when it’s still light earlier in the evening. However, it’s important to maintain the routine even on the weekends and not use Saturdays as a day to sleep in or catch up.
Creating a Sleep Environment
Once the kids are ready for bed, it’s important to create a calm sleeping environment to unwind for the day. One way to make sure kids are unwinding is to enforce an electronics curfew an hour before bed. Electronics can create light exposure, which increases mental activity instead of settling kids down. Instead, replace time on a phone or tablet with reading a book to your child or telling them a story.
After they’ve wound down, create a cozy sleeping environment by making sure lights are dim and the room is between 68-72 degrees for an ideal sleeping temperature. Try to limit outside noise by adding soft music or white noise to the room.
Morning and Daytime Matter Too!
It can be easy to hit the snooze button and let kids sleep in a little extra in the beginning, but it’s important to stick with the plan. To help kids shake grogginess, consider a natural sunrise alarm clock, or open the blinds. These tactics are also proven to benefit their overall mood in the morning!
Your sleep routine is important, but it can be a lot easier to adjust to if you establish a daytime routine too. Ideally, kids should be cut off from caffeine after lunch, or at the very least, three hours before bed.
What other tips do you have for bedtime routine? Share them below!
If you’re one of the lucky ones without air conditioning at home, or you’re hesitant to rack up a hefty electric bill, you might be looking for some ways to keep cool at night. Sure, fans are always an option, but what else can you do?
Here are some of the best tips that we found:
- Frozen Peas - pull a bag of peas out of the freezer on your way to bed. Lay down and place them on your forehead or under your pillow, depending on just how warm you are.
- Bamboo Sheets - bamboo sheets retain significantly less heat than polyester, silk, or even cotton. Beyond material, color can make a difference too—stick to the lighter ones and avoid deep blues and browns. Browse our collection of bamboo sheets today!
- Give Yourself the Chills - gently run your fingers along your arm and you’ll feel chills in an instant!
- Cold Showers - cooling off with a cold shower before jumping into bed will lower your body temperature. It won’t last all night, but it should help until you fall asleep!
- Repurpose the Towel - take the towel you used after your shower, and soak it in cold water for 10 minutes. Then, wring it out and hang it in front of your open window. Any breeze coming in through the window will run into the cold towel, delivering cool air to your room.
- Shut the Blinds - prepare for warm nights by thinking ahead throughout the day. Close your blinds during the day to prevent warm sunlight from filling the room with heat.
- Unplug Electronics - electronics give off heat, even when turned off. Unplug them to stop the electricity from flowing and causing heat. Plus, you’ll save on your electric bill!
- Rethink Meals - filling up with a hearty dinner of steak and potatoes before bed is sure to leave you feeling warmer than normal. Stick to cold or room-temperature meals like salads or sandwiches. Plus, avoiding the stove and oven will prevent additional heat in the house.
- Mattress Protectors - some mattress covers use new performance material that will also help you sleep cooler. Our OmniGuard® Advance mattress protector is quiet and cool, while providing premium protection for your mattress. You can purchase them online or in any Jonathan Stevens store.
What other tricks have worked for you?
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Starts with Knowing the Difference
Chances are you’ve had trouble sleeping at some point in your life. In fact, for some of us, poor sleep is just … normal. But what if what you believed to be “normal” about lack of sleep was actually abnormal? Breaking down the walls between fact and fiction might just be the ticket you need to get a better night’s sleep. So, what are these sleeping myths?
Myth #1 - Snoring on a nightly basis is normal and nothing to worry about.
Myth #2 - Your physical health does not affect how well you sleep.
Myth #3 - Daytime fatigue just means you need more than 8 hours of sleep at night.
Myth #4 - You can train your body to function on less sleep.
#1: The Schnoz Dilemma
Snoring loudly every night can very well be not normal at all. In fact, in general, it’s a sign that you’re not receiving the correct airflow through your nose and throat, which disturbs your sleep and causes daytime fatigue. A quick fix? Try switching your sleeping position from your back to your side, skip the after-dinner alcohol, and keep the pillows clean. If these remedies aren’t working, it may be a sign that you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which can be very harmful to your heart and potentially life threatening. Consult your doctor if someone has noted you stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping.
#2: Weighing In
The amount of restful sleep you are receiving can be traced back to the condition of your physical health. Poor health—such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes—coupled with lack of exercise, factor into a poor night’s sleep. Recent studies show that lack of sleep negatively affects weight, and those who slept less tended to weigh more. Start with a walk around the block before you head in for the night and see if that helps.
#3 Counting Sleep
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “catching up” on sleep. So, when you find yourself fatigued during the day, tacking on an extra 1-2 hours of shuteye that night isn’t going to do you any good. Sleep works with quality over quantity, and 10 hours of fitful sleep will do less good than 6 hours of restful sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get about 8 hours of quality sleep per night, so it’s best to set up a sleep routine and stick to it. A solid routine will help ensure you’re getting those quality hours that count.
#4 To Cheat … Or Not to Cheat
Is it possible to train yourself to get by on less sleep? Not really. If we are consistently getting little sleep each night, our sleep “debt,” as it’s referred to, cannot be adequately repaid. The more sleep that is lost, the less chance to get it back, and the more likely we are prone to obesity, diabetes, and depression. You can make yourself get up earlier, but your body’s natural reaction to lack of sleep will show during the day, specifically through extreme fatigue and lack of mental and physical functioning.
Sometimes your lack of sleep may be due to an outdated mattress or pillow. At Jonathan Stevens, we know the importance of not only getting the correct quantity of sleep, but also the correct quality of sleep. If you are ready to change how you sleep at night, get a head start by taking the Mattress Finder Quiz, and then stop by any of our 8 convenient locations to talk with one of our experts.
Did you know that if you make a resolution in August, you’re the most likely to stick to it? Sure, everyone seems to ditch the new years plans by February, but making a change at the end of summer can be easier to keep. Looking ahead to a busy fall and trying to squeeze the last bit of summer fun into your schedule, why not make a resolution to fix your sleep habits?
People often say that they wish they could get more sleep. We’ve previously discussed why that’s important, and how much sleep you really need to be bright and happy, but how do you go about fixing your sleep schedule when it’s broken? Let’s take a look at a few things to consider as you plan your new night and morning habits, and we’ll throw in some handy tips on how to reach that better night’s sleep.
Your Evening Routine
What you do at night before you go to bed can have a big effect on when you nod off and how well you sleep. Most people know how much caffeine will interrupt their night and when they should stop drinking it, but take a close look at your schedule if you’re finding it hard to settle down at night. Maybe that afternoon coffee is giving you some energy longer than you think.
Are there other foods and drinks to avoid in the evening? Yes. Many people find that spicy foods can affect their quality of sleep, or cause indigestion and discomfort that keep them awake. Alcohol is also a typical culprit of poor sleep.
Having a late dinner may interfere with your internal clock as well. With all of our commitments and not enough hours in the day, it’s easy to push dinner later into the evening with preparation and cook time, but try to keep dinner at a reasonable hour. Eating too late might make it harder to sleep, and you should allow time to digest food before lying flat in order to prevent indigestion and heartburn.
Do you find that you linger on the couch or in the kitchen when you know you should be in bed? Try this tip: set a bedtime alarm. A little reminder can go a long way. If it helps, put an alarm in your phone for 20 minutes before when you want to go to bed and use that time to wind down. Get tomorrow’s outfit ready, start the dishwasher, or do that last little bit of chores before heading to bed.
Go to bed at the same time every night. It’s easy to throw off several days of sleep by staying up entirely too late over the weekend, thinking you’ll just sleep later the next day. Don’t mess up your ability to fall asleep Sunday night by staying up too late Friday and Saturday.
Are you guilty of screen time in bed? Computers, TV, and other devices have been found to keep us up later and make it harder to fall asleep. Most experts agree that settling down with a book before bed is much better than looking at a device. Not much of a reader? Try listening to a book on tape or a podcast.
Your Morning Routine
It’s crucial to set yourself up for a good night with a consistent evening routine, but making sure you have a wakeful and consistent morning routine will also help you feel energized during the day.
First, check out your alarm clock. Does it do the job? Many people use their smartphones as an alarm, but dead batteries and volume settings can be an issue if you don’t set your alarm right. On the bright side, many smartphone alarm clock apps have built-in features to rouse the heavy sleeper. Are you difficult to wake up? Chronic snoozers can get an app that makes you solve puzzles and answer questions correctly before it shuts off, increasing the likelihood that you’ll wake up all the way and stop snoozing.
Speaking of snooze, multiple snoozes can mess up your day. Studies show that snoozing leads to feeling more tired later in the day, and getting an overall poorer quality of sleep. When you doze for a few minutes, your body starts getting into a new sleep cycle. Waking up repeatedly makes you groggy, which can be hard to shake. Some studies show that the grogginess from snoozing can last as long as 90 minutes! You’re better off going to bed a little sooner and then getting up at your first alarm.
As far as “regular” alarm clocks, the new versions are filled with options that are anything but traditional. Rolling alarm clocks are truly for the relentless snoozer who actually needs to be drawn out of bed in order to wake up. Other more gentle options emit light similar to the sun rising, and play soothing noises at an increasing volume to help you wake up slowly.
Get up at the same time every morning. Sleeping in on Saturday sure sounds like a good idea, but when you are not tired Sunday night because you’ve spent the weekend sleeping in and staying up late, you will not be happy!
Have you ever heard that you should avoid exercising at night because it can interfere with sleep? It turns out this may not be true. A study in Sleep Medicine based on the 2013 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll found that participants who exercised at night reported no negative effects on their quality of sleep. The catch? People who work out in the morning still report the best sleep. Adding a workout to your morning routine should help you sleep well and have energy all day. Whenever you can work out, try to get some exercise. There are big benefits to moderate exercise, including deeper sleep.
If you set yourself up for a restful night with a predictable evening and a cheery morning, but you’re still waking up tired, it might be time for a new mattress. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your energy levels, but talk to Jonathan Stevens if your old mattress just isn’t cutting it. We’ll help you find the perfect mattress for your sleep oasis.
Everyone knows the obvious benefits of sleep: you feel well-rested and energized, you’re happier, and you can focus. Did you know that a lack of sleep can have some alarming side effects, like increasing everything from headaches to your risk of stroke? Even a week of sleep deprivation (six hours or less) can cause big problems that are hard to recover from. Plus, your risk for some major health problems can raise—even double or quadruple that of a good sleeper. Here are some interesting benefits of getting a good night’s rest, and surprising effects of not enough sleep!
Good Sleep May Decrease Diabetes Risk
Studies suggest that insufficient sleep can alter the way the body processes glucose. This inappropriate processing of sugar is one of the factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Pair that with the fact that good sleep helps people have energy to exercise, maintain a healthy weight by resisting junk food cravings, and burn body fat, and it’s easy to see the link between poor sleep and diabetes.
Cardiologists can tell you that not getting enough sleep can lead to heart problems. Symptoms like high blood pressure and even heart attack have been associated with lack of sleep. When you’re not sleeping enough, your body is stressed and releases cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.” This hormone makes your heart work harder, and takes a toll on your cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Sleep Reduces Stroke Risk
Here’s another alarming effect of lack of sleep: even without other risk factors including family history or being overweight, regularly sleeping fewer than six hours a night can increase your risk of stroke by four times that of someone who gets the recommended amount of sleep. This may be because a lack of sleep causes the symptoms that raise the risk of stroke, but are usually associated with better-known conditions like smoking, diabetes, blood disorders, and high cholesterol. Insufficient sleep can lead to increased blood pressure, higher weight, inflammation, and stress hormones, which may be setting up the correct circumstances for a stroke in older adults.
Sick and tired of being sick and tired? One of those may be causing the other. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to catching colds, and have trouble kicking colds, flu, and other infections. Not only do you need sleep to recover from illness, but you need sleep to prevent getting sick.
Sleep More for a Trimmer Waist
Taking a nap isn’t going to burn many calories or give you washboard abs, but adequate sleep has been linked to having a healthier weight. The flipside of this is that not getting enough sleep is linked with gaining weight, and being overweight. When you don’t sleep enough, ghrelin (a hormone) production is increased. Ghrelin increases your appetite. The hormone that tells you when you’re full, leptin, decreases with decreased sleep as well. You’ll have lower energy, be hungrier and stressed, making it harder to prepare healthy meals and resist the urge to eat easily available junk food. According to Prevention, sleep deprivation can even affect the way that your body keeps weight on. You might be able to lose weight, but you won’t lose as much fat as someone who is well-rested.
Part of the problem with a lack of focus caused by insufficient sleep is that most people operate heavy machinery every day. Driving without good focus, and with a slower reaction time, increases your chance of a car crash. Many sources find that driving tired is as risky as driving under the influence. People who sleep six hours per night are twice as likely to get in an accident as the full night (eight hour) sleepers. According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, less than five hours of sleep a night quadruples your odds of getting into a car accident!
Sleep Improves Physical Performance
A lack of sleep won’t leave you with much energy to hit the gym, but the good news is that getting enough sleep can improve physical performance in many ways. You’ll be faster, with better coordination, quicker reaction time, and your muscles will recover more easily after a hard workout. A 2013 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that, after a night of bad sleep, muscles had reduced strength and power during the following day’s workout. Plus, later in the day and in the afternoon, the effects were the worst as your body is already tired from lack of sleep and being up all day.
Sleep is Nature’s Mood-Booster
Sure, you may not wake up with perfect hair and makeup like on TV, but the feeling of waking up well-rested (something most people don’t usually get, or only sneak in on the weekend) is great! You can’t help but be in a better mood when you have slept enough. Sleepiness, however, leads to more emotional reactions to negative situations, higher stress with less ability to focus on problem solving, and even a poor memory surely to leave you in a fog. Tired and cranky? It’s no wonder! Sleep can help relieve your crankiness.
The Effects of Pain
Did you know that not getting enough sleep even makes you react differently to pain? A study in the journal Sleep found that people were not as able to handle a pain stimulus when they lacked sleep. They’re not sure why this is true, but people who slept nine hours were able to tolerate the discomfort 25% longer. Sleep, in turn, is a natural pain reliever that helps people experiencing pain to recover and cope better.
Have Better Relationships
This one is a bit more anecdotal as there aren’t studies to back it up (yet!), but some sources note that better sleep will also lead to improved relationships. It makes sense that, if you’re tired and cranky, you’re going to have more disagreements and be prone to dissatisfaction with life in general. Rest and a clear head will help you be optimistic instead of finding fault with your circumstances and the people around you.
There are so many more benefits to sleep. Even minor things like nicer skin and a sharper memory can have a profound impact on your quality of life. Make sure that you’re going to bed with enough time to fall asleep, and can sleep at least seven to eight hours before waking.
A recent article in Newsweek chronicled the ways in which Americans are suffering—often due to our own choices and habits—with sleep problems. One of the biggest problems is the lack of total sleep hours that we get on an average night. Earlier in the 1900s, sleep averages were about eight hours per night. Americans averaged 7.1 hours per night in the 1970s. We now get an average of 6.1 hours per night. This abysmal look at sleep length begs the question, how much sleep do you actually need? And how much sleep do you need to be sharp, and not just getting the bare minimum to function?
The answer is easy to determine as an average, but sleep researchers point out that everyone is different. Often what works for one person is not enough (or too much) for someone else. Generally, you can estimate how much sleep a person needs based on their age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommendations are:
- Older Adults 65+: 7–8 hours
- Adults 24–64: 7–9
- Young Adults 18–25: 7–9
- Teenages 14–17: 8–10
- Older Children 6–13: 9–11
- Children 3–5: 10–13 hours
- and more for younger children
With these recommendations in mind, one this in clear: six hours, the national average, is simply not enough sleep for most people. In fact, sleeping only six hours per night can add up to big losses.
How Much Sleep We Actually Get (and the Consequences)
A study published by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers tested people running on four, six, or eight hours of sleep per night for fourteen nights. Researchers discovered that performance on cognitive tests “continuously declined for the four- and six-hour groups, depending on the amount of sleep” and “even for the six-hour group, the cognitive deficits were equivalent to two nights of complete sleep deprivation.” Surprised? While sleep deprived, most people actually underrate their sleepiness and are unaware of how poorly they are functioning. Because of this, it’s easy to see how many people could be experiencing sleep deprivation and not realize it.
There are some people who claim that six hours (or less) is enough sleep for them to be productive, but research shows that this is rare, and isn’t due to conditioning or getting your body used to sleeping less. It appears to be a genetic mutation and exists in less than 3% of the population. For that 3%, they can sleep six hours a night and perform cognitive tests as well as most people who sleep eight hours per night. They recover faster from further sleep deprivation and just plain don’t need as much sleep. But, chances are, if you’re sleeping less than seven hours a night, you’re not as sharp as you could be.
What is the Right Amount of Sleep for You?
So how do you calculate the amount of sleep that is right for you? You can narrow down how much you should be getting, but really trial and error will be key, along with the option of using a tool that may give you insight into your own habits. Try keeping a sleep journal and note what you were doing in the evening, when you went to bed, when you woke up, how many times or how much you awoke during the night, and how you felt the following day. WebMD has a good example of how to keep a sleep diary to determine your patterns and ideal amount of sleep.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Was I able to be productive today?
- Did I have to drink caffeine to feel awake?
- Did I have to drink caffeine in the afternoon to feel sharp again?
- How was my focus while driving?
- Did I lose my train of thought frequently?
- Was I able to handle everyday stressors?
- Was I able to eat normally and control my food cravings?
- Did I have to re-read material at work or ask people to repeat what they’d said because I didn’t follow?
- Was there a time I felt “zoned out?”
You may find that it’s easy to determine what amount of sleep is right for you. For instance, if you sleep on the weekend and awake feeling refreshed after sleeping in, maybe around eight or nine hours of sleep, but you otherwise sleep seven hours during the week and hit the snooze alarm several times, then you know that you should leave nine hours per night for quality sleep.
Other ways to determine how much sleep you need involve a bit of technology that’s relatively new. Many smart phones come with sensors that allow apps to record levels of motion and disturbances. Sleep Cycle is an app that not only tracks your sleep patterns, but keeps the data for analyzation, and allows you to set an alarm that will wake you when you’re naturally having a lighter period of sleep. Unlike a traditional alarm clock which wakes you at a certain hour, this app gives you the option of an easier transition to wakefulness with no need to repeatedly hit the snooze button. Just be ready to sleep with your phone in your bed and not on the bedside table.
It really is crucial to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Other than the obvious reasons like staying sharp at work and being able to handle stress, other health factors show the serious damage that can be done when you’re not getting enough sleep. According to Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago: “data shows that with sleep loss, there are changes in the way the body handles glucose, which could lead to a state of insulin resistance (pre-diabetes).” Dr. Zee adds “there is also evidence that lack of sleep alters appetite regulation, which may lead to overeating or food choices that can also contribute to overweight and obesity.”
Of course, if your bed is keeping you from getting enough sleep—or from getting deep, restful sleep—an easy solution is to replace your mattress. Even if you think your sleep is alright, if your mattress is old or low-quality, chances are you could be sleeping a lot better. A new mattress will give you the support that you need for your back and joints, and the comfortable softness that allows you to drift to sleep easily and stay asleep all night. Try the Jonathan Stevens mattress finder to find your perfect mattress.
Being pregnant can be a wonderful, magical time, but for most women it is not without at least a few symptoms that are less than magical. One notoriously irritating symptom is poor sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation's Women and Sleep poll, 78% of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. Hormonal and physical changes and limitations can lead to sore hips, back pain, heartburn, restless legs, and insomnia. To get the best sleep while pregnant, here are a few tips to help.
Sleep on the left side and/or at an incline to help ease heartburn. According to the American Pregnancy Association:
Heartburn occurs when the valve between the stomach and the food pipe (esophagus) are unable to prevent the stomach acids from passing back into the esophagus. Pregnancy can increase the frequency of heartburn because the hormone progesterone causes the valve to relax. This allows the stomach acid to pass into the esophagus and irritate the lining.
Some women experience such severe heartburn that they resort to sleeping in a reclining chair. This is less than ideal for many reasons! Your doctor may have suggestions on how to treat your heartburn with prescriptions or over the counter medication, but sleeping on an incline and on your left side can also help stomach acid stay down and give you some better Z’s. Also, avoid spicy food, late meals, and midnight snacks which can make heartburn worse.
Use a body pillow. There are several brands of body pillow made specifically for pregnancy (including the popular Snoogle, and Boppy maternity pillows), but even a basic, long body pillow can help. The purpose is to ease hip and knee pain by going between your knees, under your belly to support your back, and to give you something to wrap your arms around if you prefer. You might find that this becomes a habit for comfortable sleep even after having the baby.
Keep cool. Hormonal changes can make a normally chilly sleeper into a total furnace regardless of the time of year. According to a 2010 study from the University of Pennsylvania, hot flashes affect more than half of pregnant women. The hormone to blame is primarily estrogen, which tends to soar during pregnancy.
To sleep cooler, wear lightweight materials and use a lighter blanket. Consider sleeping with a fan (some people also like the white noise a fan creates). If you’re normally a hot sleeper, visit a Jonathan Stevens store to try a Cool-Gel memory foam mattress specially made to give you a cooler night.
Try not to worry. Pregnancy can cause a lot of stress as you consider the future and wonder how your family will adapt. Anxiety and depression are common during pregnancy, and should be discussed with your doctor. If you’re simply trying to wind down and stop worrying so that you can get better sleep, try getting your thoughts out. Write down your thoughts at night or talk to someone about your concerns. Discussing your worries with someone who understands can help ease your mind, and make the transition to sleep easier.
Treat pain. According to Parents magazine, you can also try a warm shower before lying down. Their expert, Kellie Flood-Shaffer, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, in Lubbock, Texas, suggests treating nighttime aches with acetaminophen, which is considered safe during pregnancy.
The National Sleep Foundation also suggests:
- Drinking lots of water, but not too much before bed
- Getting screened for sleep apnea if snoring and paused breathing occur
- Talking to your doctor if you believe you’re experiencing Restless Legs Syndrome
- Get out of bed if you can’t sleep, do something relaxing, and try again
- Use a nightlight in the bathroom instead of turning on the light, which can be too arousing and cause you to wake up more during bathroom breaks
- Nap during the day if you need to, but make sure naps are early and brief so they don’t prevent nighttime sleep
Why is it especially important to get good sleep during pregnancy? Poor sleep has been linked to negative outcomes for birth and mood in pregnant and new mothers. A study found in the November 1 issue of the journal SLEEP (2011) found a link between risk for preterm birth in women who had sleep disruptions during their first and third trimesters. “This supports the growing evidence that poor sleep is an important risk factor for preterm birth,” said Michele Okun, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Learn more from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Plus, University of California at San Francisco researchers found that women who slept fewer than 6 hours per night had longer labors and were 4.5 times more likely to have cesarean deliveries.
It’s important to get plenty of rest and to give some extra time for sleep, especially if you’re frequently getting up during the night. Relax and enjoy preparing for your family’s new addition!
Snoring, a phenomena experienced globally might seem ubiquitous enough but look closely and you will find a health hazard lying underneath in the form of sleep apnea. These sleep disorders interrupt a person’s breathing during sleep and in apnea, one’s breathing can even stop repeatedly, over hundreds of times. The natural consequence of this is the deprivation of oxygen to the body. One major cause of snoring or sleep apnea is a blocked nasal passage or airway and this can be fixed to a certain extent with the right kind of mattress and pillow. Jonathan Steven’s specially designed mattresses suit any kind of sleeper from sideways to on the stomach, helping the airway remain open throughout the night.
Who Is At Risk
Although sleep apnea can happen at any age and even to children there are certain risk factors such as being male, overweight and above 40 increases the chances. Some other indicators are having a large neck size, larger tongue, tonsils or a smaller jaw bone. Family history of sleep apnea, GERD or sinus complications due to allergies too increase the risk.
The Effects Of Snoring And Apnea On The Health
There are a growing number of health problems associated with sleep apnea and sleep disorders attributed with excessive snoring. Prime concerns are stroke, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, ADHD, depression and more. In fact, the daily symptoms of this condition include poor performance in daily activities, at school or work, inability to react to situations while driving, during studies and so on.
Change Your Sleeping Habits
While the exact treatment of sleep apnea aren’t certain yet but your sleeping habits are a good indicator of how well you manage snoring. To start with, sleep always on your sides. This will prevent the airway from blocking due to one’s own body weight. To prevent yourself from sliding onto the stomach or back, sew a pocket to the back of your pajama and put a tennis ball in it. This ought to prevent you from straightening up. Also, keep your head portion raised as opposed to the legs of the bed by either using special cervical pillows or putting bricks under the bed.
Left untreated, sleeping disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea gradually grow and eventually lead to a plethora of health complications. It all starts with sleeping at the right times, on the right mattress and in an appropriate environment.