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Here at 1800Mattress.com we believe in the importance of a good night's rest. We have compiled numerous expert articles covering common sleep disorders, tips for better sleep and the importance of your mattress. Please browse through our Sleep Articles and learn all you can on ways to have your best night's sleep.
Simply put, a sleep disorder is any condition - physical, mental, or emotional - that prevents someone from getting a good night's sleep. Not all sleep disorders are serious, but left untreated they can have make life very difficult and can lead to serious health problems.
Sleep remains something of a mystery to scientists, though its importance to general health and well-being is an uncontested fact. What we do know about sleep is that the average person needs about eight hours every night, with more for children and young adults and less for seniors.
Healthy sleep occurs in four stages that eventually lead to the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of deep sleep. Cycling through these stages takes approximately one and a half hours to complete. Sleep disorders, of which there are over seventy varieties, interrupt the completion of natural sleep cycles. Generally speaking, sleep disorders can be broken into three basic categories:
Causes of sleep disorders include genetic inheritance, diet (such as excessive consumption of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol), stress, anxiety, mental illness, and underlying disease, all of which can create disruptions to circadian rhythms (your "biological clock") which is controlled from an area in the brain called the hypothalamus.
Simple sleep deprivation is not usually considered a disorder by itself. It merely indicates that someone has not been getting enough sleep. But sleep deprivation and its symptoms- impaired judgment and memory, slowed reaction times, and difficulties with hand-eye coordination - may be symptomatic of a more significant, and chronic, sleep disorder.
Types of Sleep Disorders
There are five fairly common types of sleep disorder. They are:
There are medical tests that can diagnose sleeping problems. Generally, these tests search for specific signs of a suspected condition. Doctors will assess your medical history, and as a first step may ask you to keep a sleep diary noting daily activities, diet, and sleep habits to identify contributing factors to sleeplessness. Doctors may then use more sophisticated diagnostic techniques, including:
Treatments for sleep disorders vary from condition to condition. First steps usually include improving sleeping habits (also called "sleep hygiene") by reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, improving diet, modifying exercise habits, and implementing sleep-inducing rituals and relaxation techniques.
More clinical treatments include medical devices and medications (stimulants for narcoleptics and sedatives for insomniacs).
If you suspect you suffer from a sleep disorder, talk to your primary care physician explaining your symptoms as well as surrounding circumstances. What is your diet like? Do you exercise? If so, when? Do you work a lot? Dayshift or nightshift? Are you under an unusual amount of stress? By providing your physician with an accurate profile he or she can help you diagnose and treat your situation.
Ultimately sleep is critical to your health and well-being. Lack of sleep can impact you physically, mentally and emotionally. Try to get eight straight hours of sleep each night. And if you can't, talk to someone about it.
Chronic sleep deprivation, or insomnia, makes you prone to errors at work. It slows your reaction time and impairs your concentration. It can even put you in danger if you doze off while driving, and it makes all kinds of accidents more common. As many new mothers know, lack of sleep can make you short-tempered and cranky, even with those who need your patience the most.
Insomnia affects more than 70 million Americans and one in six adults considers sleep problems a serious issue in their lives. Yet many of us are hesitant to bring sleep issues up with a doctor. In our workaholic culture, people brag about how little sleep they're getting, because it is seen as the sign of a motivated and efficient person. But the fact is that most people's bodies rack up a "sleep debt" without a good eight straight hours of sleep a night. And that debt can be hard to pay down: sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk for depression, obesity, high blood pressure and lower productivity at work. It should be considered a serious health problem. Those co-workers who are so proud of getting only five hours of sleep a night might need to spend longer at the office to get the same amount done.
Insomnia doesn't just mean an inability to fall asleep at night. If you wake up frequently, have trouble getting back to sleep, wake up too early or just feel fatigued when you wake up, you could have insomnia. Short-term factors like a move, the loss of a job or other major life stresses can bring on a bout of insomnia. Chronic or longer-lasting problems can also be caused by emotional conditions or ongoing physical discomforts.
Talking to your doctor is always the right first step. But the following good sleep habits can also get you on the path to eight straight restorative hours of peace:
Keep the bed and the bedroom about sleep
It's easy to fudge this one, but sleep habits are important. Your body and mind make powerful connections and associations that can be hard to break. If you're not sleeping well, you may already associate your bed with anxiety and the stress of watching the minutes tick by on your alarm clock. You want to try to train your body to associate the bed, and even the bedroom, with rest and rest alone. Use your bed for sleep and sex only. That means no reading in bed (not even US Weekly!). Don't do work or any other wakeful activities in the bedroom, keep computers and TVs in another room. If you can't sleep, get out of the bed and read until you feel sleepy (go back to that US Weekly in the living room). If you tend to let your mind churn through your to-do list while trying to sleep, try writing everything on that list down before you go to bed (but make sure to keep the list safely on your desk).
Make sure your bedroom is geared towards a good night's rest. Darkness is important: get blackout shades, or a sleeping mask. Make sure it's not too hot and not too cold. Add whatever elements make you more comfortable.
Try behavioral adjustments and relaxation techniques
Behavioral therapies and relaxation techniques include restricting your time in bed to however many hours you are successfully sleeping (even if it's only three or four). That way, whenever you are in bed, you're asleep. Then your can extend your time in bed by fifteen minutes a night until you reach eight straight hours. The point is to train your body to associate bed with sleep and nothing else. However, this is a harder technique to stick with, and it might be worth consulting a sleep professional or other resources before you try it.
Have a routine
Take a bath, listen to music in a comfy chair, read a book or do something that helps you unwind every night. Go to sleep at the same time every night, and get up at the same time in the morning. If you can't sleep, try not to nap during the day. You're trying to get your body on a sleep schedule, and naps interrupt those circadian rhythms.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol - especially late at night
If you can't avoid alcohol and caffeine completely, avoid caffeine after noon and avoid alcohol after early evening. Coffee and cigarettes stay in your system much longer than you might expect. Alcohol might put you to sleep at first, but it wakes you up when it leaves your system later on, disrupting those rhythms.
Exercise early and often
As with so many other health concerns, exercise can make things better. Regular exercise has proven in some studies to be as effective as sleeping pills in curing insomnia. But it's important not to exercise late in the day or in the evening. Give yourself three or four hours to unwind from a work-out before you try sleeping.
Often mis-perceived as a condition limited to the overweight, sleep apnea actually affects men and women of all ages and body types. Suffers of sleep apnea are troubled by disturbed sleep brought on by irregular breathing while they are at rest. This causes them to wake up many times a night (as often as twenty to thirty times every hour). These constant disturbances prevent the body from cycling through the necessary stages of sleep that provide them with the rest they need. This leads to a sense of chronic sleepiness, which in turn can impair judgment, hand-eye coordination, concentration, and can contribute to depression.
In more serious cases, sleep apnea can increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. About half of people diagnosed with sleep apnea have heart conditions. If there's an underlying heart condition, repeated apnea episodes can trigger potentially lethal cardiac events.
There are two forms of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. In regular breathing, as you inhale the throat passage narrows. During inhalation, relaxed muscles in the throat can cause the airway to close entirely, preventing air intake. This in turn lowers oxygen levels in the blood, which triggers a response in the brain to awaken the body to restore breathing. These awakenings are often so brief as not to be noticed by the sufferer who may awaken believing they slept peacefully, despite feeling tired in the morning.
Central sleep apnea is far less common than the obstructive variety. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send the proper signals that control breathing. This often leads to awakening at night with either a shortness of breath or a headache. People with central sleep apnea are far more likely to recall waking up in the middle of the night.
Risk Factors Associated with Sleep Apnea
There are certain factors that increase your risk of suffering from sleep apnea. For obstructive sleep apnea these include:
Central sleep apnea has its own set of characteristic risk factors. They are:
Physicians will use a number of methods to diagnose sleep disorders based on your signs and symptoms. These include Nocturnal Polysomnography, which tests your heart rate, leg movement, lung and brain activity, and blood oxygen levels while you are asleep, and Oximetry, which measures oxygen levels in the blood while you sleep. If you have sleep apnea, the doctor will see a dip in oxygen levels during apneas and a rise when you awaken.
If your doctor suspects that you have sleep apnea, he or she will likely recommend you visit a nose and throat doctor to rule out blockages, and a cardiologist or neurologist to look for signs of central sleep apnea.
Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea vary. Among the most common is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), in which air is delivered via a mask worn over the nose and mouth during sleep. If a CPAP machine proves uncomfortable to sleeping, some oral devices can be used to help keep the throat open during sleep. There are several surgical procedures aimed at removing excess tissue from the upper airway.
Options for treating central sleep apnea are more limited. Treatment usually consists of a CPAP machine or other oxygen delivery devices while sleeping.
In addition to medical treatment, if you suffer from sleep apnea you can take measures to manage the condition by losing excess weight, avoiding alcohol and nicotine, testing out different sleep positions to see which ones allow you to breathe normally, and keeping your nasal passage open at night using saline solutions (do not use decongestants or antihistamines without first consulting your doctor as these are generally for short-term use only).
Narcolepsy is sometimes misdiagnosed or mistaken for depression, a seizure disorder, fainting, or dismissed as simply the result of an extreme lack of sleep. It is actually a chronic neurological condition caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep cycles normally. Sufferers experience an overwhelming and uncontrollable desire to fall asleep at various points during the day. When the urge becomes overwhelming, narcoleptics will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes- and in rare instances, several hours.
In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness which can also be attributed to conditions like hypersomnia, sleep apnea, and depression, narcoleptics frequently present the following symptoms:
Cataplexy - a sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone
Vivid hallucinations - during sleep onset or upon awakening
Paralysis - brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep
Other characteristics include restless nighttime sleep, active behavior during sleep, such as sleepwalking, talking in one's sleep, and acting out during dreams by flailing, kicking, and shouting while asleep.
The sleep patterns of a narcoleptic differ from normal sleep cycles. Whereas regular sleep moves through four stages of deepening sleep into the REM (rapid eye movement) phase, narcoleptics move directly into REM sleep. Often the line between waking and sleep is blurred, and causes them to manifest REM-like characteristics such as loss of muscle tone, inability to speak while falling asleep or immediately after waking, and the vivid hallucinations and dreams mentioned above.
Narcolepsy can significantly disrupt someone's life. The sleep attacks of the narcoleptic aren't restricted to quiet times like reading. They can also occur while eating, driving, or during other active times which can lead to accidents, injuries, social problems, impaired memory or concentration, and depression.
The causes of narcolepsy are still largely unknown. Only 2% of people with narcolepsy have a close relative with the condition, which suggests that factors other than genetics are at play.
Signs of narcolepsy develop in the earlier part of life, usually between ages 10 and 25, but have been known to manifest before age ten and well into the thirties. The symptoms of narcolepsy are chronic- they vary in severity, but they never go away permanently. About one in every 2,000 people in the United States suffers from narcolepsy.
Screening and diagnosis of narcolepsy usually begins with a sleep questionnaire which charts an individual's sleep patterns against the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Other tests are used to screen out various sleep disorders including a polysomnogram which measures electrical activity during sleep and a multiple sleep latency test or MSLT which measures how long it takes someone to fall asleep during the day.
There is no known cure for narcolepsy. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and includes drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and antidepressants, which suppress REM sleep and alleviate the symptoms of cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and sleeping/waking hallucinations.
In terms of self-care, lifestyle modification can play an important role in managing the symptoms of narcolepsy. These behavior changes include:
If you find yourself excessively sleepy during the day regardless of how much sleep you get at night, speak to your physician. Even if it's not narcolepsy, it's important to get some help so you can get the sleep you need where and when you need it.
Often confused with narcolepsy, hypersomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness. This often manifests itself as a deep or prolonged sleep from which it is difficult to awaken. Hypersomnia's onset can be very gradual and often goes unnoticed at first. The symptoms of hypersomnia are similar to narcolepsy, depression, and sleep apnea.
Often confused with narcolepsy, hypersomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness. This often manifests itself as a deep or prolonged sleep from which it is difficult to awaken.
Typically appearing early in life- often before age 25 - hypersomnia's onset can be very gradual and often goes unnoticed at first. People with hypersomnia will often sleep more than twelve hours in the evening and still nap frequently during the day.
The symptoms of hypersomnia are similar to narcolepsy except that the sufferer does not present the cataplexy or sleep paralysis common to narcoleptics. Nor does the victim of hypersomnia experience immediate REM (rapid eye movement) upon first falling asleep as narcoleptics do. Hypersomnia is also often be misdiagnosed as depression or sleep apnea.
There are two major categories of hypersomnia. Primary hypersomnia (also called idiopathic hypersomnia) and recurrent hypersomnia. Both are characterized by the same symptoms differing only in their frequency and regularity. The sleepiness associated with primary hypersomnia happens over long periods of time. Recurring hypersomnia's symptoms can last for days and recur many times over the course of a year. The major difference between the two types is that recurring hypersomniacs go through symptom-free periods in between bouts. Sufferers of primary hypersomnia experience symptoms nearly all the time.
A third variety of hypersomnia called Klein-Levin syndrome differs in that victims will often sleep in excess of 18 hours per day. This is often accompanied by irritable, uninhibited behavior, including indiscriminate sexual advances and the urge to eat uncontrollably. Klein-Levin syndrome is very rare.
Up to 40% of people are suspected to present symptoms of hypersomnia at one time or another. Causes of hypersomnia may include:
For a diagnosis of hypersomnia sufferers must meet certain conditions according to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
To make a diagnosis doctors will often begin with questions and may then move to a series of tests designed to screen out other possibilities. These tests may include blood work, computer tomography scans, poylsomnography, and an electroencephalogram or EEG.
To date there is no cure for hypersomnia. Victims of this condition can manage symptoms through prescription medications including stimulants, antidepressants and similar drugs. In some instances physicians may recommend a continuous positive airway pressure treatment or CPAP that involves wearing a mask while you sleep which delivers a continuous flow of air into the nostrils. The pressure from inbound air keeps your breathing passages open allowing you to achieve a more restful sleep.
Methods for managing symptoms and maximizing the restorative benefits of sleep include practicing good sleep hygiene, limiting napping to one period, no more than 45 minutes, preferably in the afternoon and avoiding common sleep disrupting factors like shift work, alcohol ad caffeine.
Good mattress hygiene can both contribute to a restful night's sleep and save you some serious headaches, and it's now more important than ever. These days mattresses are made with a lot of smart technology. They tend to last a long time, and it's not unusual to get ten or more years out of a high-quality mattress. Because your mattress can have a long life span, it has a lot of time to gather dust, debris, mold, moisture, and other things that can create health hazards.
The ugly truth is that when you sleep, you can sweat off a lot of moisture (as much as a pint a night) and slough off a lot of hair and skin. If you make a habit of snacking in bed, then you add crumbs of food to the mix. Lastly, most homes are now climate controlled, and so bedrooms are at a comfortable temperature year-round, both for you and for small spores, molds, bacteria, and even insects.
Allergies and Dust Mites and Bed Bugs, Oh My!
Given the ideal environment your bed and mattress offer for sleep, what other residents are likely to take up residence in your bedroom and what impact can they have on your health?
Many people suffer from allergies - to pollen, to food, to animal dander, and to dust. Many allergies also stem from dust mites. Dust mites are very small insects that can be found in homes around the world. They are tiny relatives of spiders and ticks that have eight legs, no eyes, and are more or less just a stomach on legs. Dermatophagoides farinae is the scientific name for household dust mites. It's unpleasant to think about, but dust mites eat the skin that falls off people every day (and night). They eat enough of it to produce twenty or so small pellets of fecal waste. Humans can breath in this waste and it can cause allergic reactions. These reactions in turn can make you feel tired, irritate respiratory function, and lead to a lousy night's sleep.
There can be millions of dust mites in a single mattress. And dust mite infestation in homes is not uncommon- as many as 44 million American households are thought to have dust mite problems.
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are another unpleasant tenant in bedrooms with unhygienic sleeping conditions. Their name is cute - it even shows up in a nursery rhyme (good night, sleep tight) but dealing with them is far from cute.
They are small - usually just a fraction of an inch long - and nocturnal, hiding during the day. At night they come out and attach to human beings. They inject a coagulating agent and numbing substance and not unlike a large mosquito will suck the blood out of sleeping people. Most of the time people awaken with small itchy welts. Sometimes they can have allergic reactions leaving large hives and severe skin irritation. In extreme cases bed bug bites can cause anaphylactic shock in reaction to the substances they inject while feeding.
Treatment and Prevention.
Bed bug bites usually heal themselves and treatment with ointments (like cortisone) can minimize discomfort. If you have an allergic reaction, see your physician. Similarly, treatment of allergies due to dust mites is often over-the-counter symptom relief from antihistamine.
Once you've treated the symptoms, you should move on to eliminating any current infestations and preventing new ones. If you suspect you have bedbugs or dust mites, put your pajamas and bed sheets in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Then wash them in hot water. This should kill any organisms on your clothes and sheets.
Next give your bedroom (and house) a thorough cleaning. For bed bug infestations, consult an insect exterminator.
To prevent future infestations:
Believe it or not, all of these problems could simply be symptoms of an ailment that affects millions of Americans - Bad Mattress Syndrome. Choosing the correct mattress can profoundly affect the quality and amount of sleep you get at night. So it may be time to throw out that sagging futon you've been using since graduation and get yourself a brand new mattress.
A good night's sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, yet an estimated 70 million Americans don't feel that they get enough sleep. "Americans spend one-third of their lives sleeping, so it makes sense to invest in a sleep set that can improve your comfort and overall health," says Scott Bautch, DC, DACBOH, spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association. "Many people don't realize the reason for their neck or back pain is literally right underneath them- it's their mattress and pillow." In fact, remarkable 63% of people with acute back problems, reported improvement in back discomfort with a new mattress.
In order to choose a mattress that will maximize your sleep comfort, make sure to find one that provides uniform support from head to toe, and make sure that there are no gaps between your body and the mattress. The mattress should also be the right size for you and your partner to stretch out and not be cramped, since too little room will prevent you from sleeping well. You should also change your mattress every 5 or 6 years as it will tend to sag and lose its form.
When choosing a mattress, you have two basic choices: spring mattresses or foam mattresses. Spring mattresses possess coils inside of them thatcreate firm mattresses, which could be the solution to some neck and back problems. Coil mattresses come in two varieties: open coil or open spring mattresses possess exposed coils, and are the most common type of spring mattress. They have a border wire that gives the mattress a firm edge and helps retain its shape and prevent sagging.
Pocket spring or pocketed coil mattresses are encased in fabric in order to help prevent movement of the individual coils and hopefully provide a more comfortable sleeping experience. If there's two of you in bed at night, then this type of mattress is ideal for situations where there is a significant weight difference between you and your partner. As the firmness of your mattress is one of the key factors in your comfort and therefore in your selection, the thickness or gauge of the coils is important. A heavy gauge will create a stiffer mattress, while a lighter gauge will create a more flexible mattress. Furthermore, coils reduce the movement of a mattress under a sleeper's body, so they may be an especially good choice for restless sleepers or people suffering from insomnia.
Foam mattresses, on the other hand, are filled with layers of foam of different width and volume.The thickness of the foam affects how stiff the mattress will be. The best-known types of foam mattresses include tempurpedic, visco-elastic, or so-called "memory mattresses" which adjusts to your body temperature in order to provide a perfect "fit." Your body heat interacts with the foam in order to soften it, and the mattress re-moulds itself to your body's contours while you sleep. Tempuredic and visco-elastic mattresses help to maintain correct posture and align the spine. They are hypo-allergenic and have anti-microbial properties, and they are therefore ideal for people who suffer from allergies or any type of skins sensitivities.
When shopping for a mattress, make sure you don't forget to buy a box spring to go along with it. Both a box spring and a good bed frame provide added support and extend the life of your mattress, preventing sagging and mold. You can have the best mattress in the world, but if you don't use a good box spring and bed frame, you may still experience neck and back problems due to sagging or insufficient firmness.
Finally, when choosing a mattress, remember that the pillow you choose to accompany it may be just as important to the quality of your sleep as your choice of mattress. The best pillows are ergonomically designed to help reduce pain and keep your spine in natural alignment. While lying on your side, your head and neck should remain level with your middle and lower spine, and when lying on your back, your head and neck should remain level with your upper back and spine.
If you continue to have problems sleeping, experience pain and discomfort at night, or have difficulty falling asleep, you should see a chiropractor or a general practitioner to discuss what else you can do to get the your "Eight Straight".
Buying a mattress involves more than just flopping down on the samples in the showroom to see how they feel. When selecting the mattress that's right for you, there are several important factors that will affect both the quality and the amount of sleep you get. If you take the time to select the right mattress and accessories, you should find yourself sleeping like a baby.
Information and patience are key when shopping for a new mattress. Make sure you take the time to try out different mattresses so you can find the one that"s right for you.
Selecting the right mattress can be a key to your overall health. If you feel stiff or out-of-sorts when you wake up in the morning, a sagging or inappropriate mattress may be the culprit. Mattress size, firmness, and design, as well as your choice of pillow and bed frame, all contribute to the quality of your sleep.
You spend over 2,500 hours a year sleeping, so it comes as no surprise that your choice of mattress can have a deep impact on your everyday life. Mattress technology has made great strides in recent years, and you now have a better selection of mattresses to choose from than the last time you went shopping for a mattress. If you're willing to spend the time necessary to do research and hold out for a mattress that meets your needs, you can find a mattress that's a perfect match for better sleep and improved all-around health.
The first thing to check when buying a mattress is the most fundamental and obvious: general comfort. This requires taking the plunge and lying down on the mattresses that you are considering, and taking the time to see how your body adjusts to them over a substantial amount of time. Depending on your personality, this may sound either tedious or fun, but you need at least five minutes on each mattress before your body can properly adjust to it and help you figure out if it's the right mattress for you.
The other major question in selecting a mattress is choosing between the two main categories: spring or foam. Spring mattresses contain coils (somewhere between 300 to 800 per mattress), which can take the form of either open or pocketed coil. Open coil or "open spring" mattresses possess exposed coils, and are the most common type of spring mattress. They have a wire or rod border that gives the mattress a firm edge, helps retain its shape, and prevents sagging. Pocket spring or pocketed coil mattresses are encased in fabric in order to help prevent movement of the individual coils and provide a more comfortable sleeping experience. They possess small springs that respond individually to respond to body weight. If a couple is sleeping in a bed, then this type of mattress is ideal for situations where there is a significant weight difference between you and your partner.
Since the firmness of your mattress is one of the key elements that will determine your comfort, the thickness or gauge of the coils in a particular mattress is important. A heavy gauge- and a lighter coil-will create a stiffer mattress, while a lighter gauge will create a springier mattress. Coils alsoreduce the motion of a mattress under a sleeper's body, so this type of mattress may be an especially good choice for restless sleepers or people suffering from insomnia.
Foam mattresses, on the other hand, are filled with layers of foam of different width and volume. The thickness of the foam affects how stiff the mattress will be. The best-known types of foam mattresses include tempurpedic, visco-elastic, or so-called "memory mattresses" which adjusts to your body temperature in order to provide a perfect "fit." Your body heat interacts with the foam in order to soften it, and the mattress re-moulds itself to your body"s contours while you sleep. Tempuredic and visco-elastic mattresses help to maintain correct posture and align the spine. They are hypo-allergenic and have anti-microbial properties, and they are therefore ideal for people who suffer from allergies or any type of skins sensitivities.
If your body needs something less conventional, you will find some excellent alternatives. You can even still buy a waterbed! Another option are air-chamber mattresses, which are filled with air. These air pressure can be changed at will until you find the exact firmness that suits you, and might be an excellent choice for a guest bedroom that may house different sleepers with different needs.
Many people are surprised to learn that their choice of mattress can have a profound affect on their day-to-day health. If you suffer from back or spine trouble, you should talk to a doctor about whether a firmer mattress might help. If you suffer from allergies, then you may want to consider new organic and natural material mattresses that are now on the market.
Finally, when shopping for a mattress, never forget that your sleep comfort will not depend on your mattress alone. You should also consider other components of your sleep space, such asyour bed frame, your mattress pad, your bed sheets, and your pillows. In particular, a box spring is an important complement to your mattress. A box spring and a good bed frame provide added support and extend the life of your mattress, preventing sagging and mold.
While the wide array of different manufacturers and price points in the mattress market may be confusing, there is actually little correlation between price and customer satisfaction. It"s a matter of individual needs and tastes, and the more time you spend trying out individual mattresses, the more likely you are to find the ideal mattress for you.
Do you have low back pain? If so, maybe it's time to start searching for a mattress that matches your back. Take a look at our Top Ten tips for finding a mattress that will make your back happy- whether you're awake or asleep.
1. Your specific likes and dislikes will help you to figure out which mattress is the best for you.
There are many different choices, so be aware that no one style or type of mattress can help everyone the same way. Picking a mattress is an individual process. When you find a mattress that gives you the best night's sleep possible, a sleep that you wake up from feeling refreshed as opposed to feeling stiff and sore, you have found the right mattress for you. People with low back pain should have high standards for comfort and support and should choose their mattress based on these factors. Doing so will allow the best possible night's sleep.
2. When choosing a mattress, make sure you ask questions until you fully understand your different options.
The physical components of your mattress are important to consider. First of all, each mattress has inner springs, called coils, which provide the support. The number and arrangement of these coils can vary, giving each mattress a different feel and support system. There is also the depth of the mattress to keep in mind, which usually ranges somewhere between 7 and 18 inches. Another decision to make is the thickness of the padding on top of the mattress. Each of these things is important to the process of picking a mattress so try out each type and find what works for you.
3. Back support is one of the most important aspects of a mattress.
A good mattress should fit your body's curves and spine alignment to provide the most support possible. This support will help you wake up in the morning without muscle soreness and stiffness. Although there have not been many clinical studies about the effects of mattresses, one study has determined that medium-firm mattresses are usually better than firm mattresses when it comes to relieving back pain.
4. Your mattress should provide you with both back support and comfort.
Although back support is crucial to someone with low back pain, overall comfort should be just as important. A mattress that is overly firm can leave you with aches and pains on pressure points after a night's sleep. For those who are concerned with back support and want a firmer mattress, thicker padding on top can provide more comfort and a good solution. However, a medium-firm mattress is typically more comfortable since it allows your shoulders and hips to sink in a bit, and according to the study, may provide more back pain relief as well.
5. Figure out if it's time to end your relationship with your mattress.
It is important to know when it is time to part with a mattress. If your mattress seems to be sagging in the middle, or is no longer as comfortable as it once was, you should probably start looking for a new one. Placing boards under a sagging mattress or adding more padding to increase comfort should not be seen as a solution, but a short-term fix. Make sure you start researching and looking for a replacement mattress.
6. When shopping for a mattress, you should focus on value and quality as opposed to price.
Despite what people may think, price does not always equate to quality. An expensive mattress does not guarantee that it is comfortable or supportive and vice versa. It may be true however, that mattresses with more springs on the inside and padding on the top are likely have a higher quality and price. One way to go about buying a mattress that you want is to keep an eye out for sales and promotions, and to compare the prices of the mattress at different stores.
7. Don't be fooled by what the ads say.
Advertisements that say a mattress is "orthopedic" or "medically-approved" should not necessarily be trusted or taken into account. As mentioned before, there have not been many clinical studies or medical conclusions about the effects of mattresses and low back pain. Use good judgment and ask questions to make the best decision.
8. Don"t buy it until you try it.
It is important to test out a mattress before you commit. There are different ways of going about this including sleeping at different hotels or friends' houses, or just at the mattress store. While shopping for a mattress, you should lay on each one for a few minutes to get a feel for it. If you normally share a bed with someone, don"t forget to bring that person along to make sure it is a good fit for you both.
9. Buy your mattress from a store or company that is reputable.
Take into account the different services that a store or company offers including warranty, delivery options, removal of your previous mattress, return policy, etc. You don't want to be stuck or dissatisfied in any way.
10. Maintain the quality of your new mattress.
To help keep your mattress like new, reposition it around every 6 months or so to make sure that it is evenly worn. You should also rotate it 180 degrees and flip it lengthwise on a regular basis. Also, as The Better Sleep Council suggests, do not put your mattress on a box spring or foundation that is not made to go with with it. Following these suggestions will make your give your mattress a longer life.
Children need sleep, but they often fight bedtime. Parents are exhausted, worried, and confused. What are normal sleep habits for newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children and teens? What is keeping their children awake at night? What is the best way to teach healthy sleep habits? With nearly 70% of children under 10 years of age suffering some form of sleep disorder, how do parents know if their child has a serious health problem? Here's the place to find some answers.
Children & Sleep: Getting Your Baby to Sleep Like a Baby
You've tried lullabies, rocking chairs, late night drives around the neighborhood and your baby still doesn't sleep. At 3 a.m., your infant starts crying and won't go back to sleep unless you bring him into bed with you. Your toddler gets up at 2 a.m. and turns on the TV, loud! Homework keeps your fifth grader awake past 10 p.m. And your teens are up until midnight and then sleeping through 8 AM algebra class.
One Sleepless Child, One Tired Family
When a child has sleep problems, parents and even siblings also suffer, both from sleep deprivation and worry. Children can suffer the same sleep disorders as adults. Snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other sleep disruptions in children have been linked to extreme moodiness, accidents, behavioral problems, learning disabilities and even Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD).
What's Keeping Your Child Awake At Night?
Newborns (1-2 months):
Babies are not born with a pre-set sleep-wake cycle, their tummies organize their schedules. Newborns sleep 10½ to 18 hours a day, usually one to three hours at a time and waking when they're hungry.
Infants (3-11 months):
According to the National Sleep Foundation, "Circadian rhythms begin to develop at about six weeks, and by three to six months, most infants have a regular sleep-wake cycle." Infants sleep 9-12 hours, including one to four naps.
Toddlers (1-3 years):
Toddlers have figured out that things happen at night, and they don't want to miss out. They're also mobile and can climb out of bed. They want their independence, but also want to be with their parents. So it's tough to get toddlers to sleep the 12-14 hours " including one good nap" that they need every day.
Preschoolers (3-5 years):
Good-bye afternoon naps! Most five-year-olds are up all day and sleep 11-13 hours a night. Active imaginations can trigger more nightmares and fears about sleep. And of course, TV and playtime are much more appealing than going to bed.
School-aged Children (5-12 years):
Serious sleep problems can begin here. School kids are busy and barely have 10-11 hours for sleep. Computers, TV, and videogames, particularly those with violent content, are sleep distractions. Junk food, caffeine, and stress can also keep school-aged children up at night.
More work, more play, and more socializing combine with stress and biology to make it difficult for teens to get 8½ to 9¼ hours of sleep. "Circadian Rhythms change in adolescence," says Jodi Mindell, Associate Director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Philadelphia. "Teens' brains and bodies are geared to stay up later at night and sleep later in the day."
What Can Concerned (And Sleep-Deprived) Parents Do?
Know your child and the guidelines for how much sleep they need at every age. Trust your judgment about what's healthy for your child. Most importantly, help your children to establish good sleep habits early in life. Sure, you'll struggle through the first few weeks with your newborn. But at 3-11 months, infants know the difference between day and night and are on a sleep cycle similar to their older siblings and parents. The are also ready to learn to go to bed and to sleep through the night. Remember, however, that helping you infant to do this will take time.
What's The Right Approach To Sleep Training?
This depends on your baby and your lifestyle. Some experts say it's good to comfort your child to get them back to sleep and to even bring the baby into the family bed if it means you will all get back to sleep. On the other hand, there's the "self-soother" theory. You may have heard of Richard Ferber, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital in Boston and author of Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. His approach, dubbed "Ferberization," is rooted in the American Academy of Pediatrics theory that babies sleep best when they soothe themselves to sleep. Ferber suggests a loving bedtime routine, putting the baby to sleep awake and waiting before responding when the baby wakes up crying.
Develop a bedtime routine:
The best nightly routines - bathing, feeding, calming and bonding - according to Laura Davis and Janis Keyser, authors of Becoming The Parent You Want To Be, are enjoyable for parent and child and should be consistent every night. Pediatrician Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby, recommends the "Five S's - swaddle, shush, swing, suck (a pacifier) and hold your baby turned on his or her side or stomach." All the experts agree on one thing: to learn to soothe themselves to sleep, infants should be put to bed when theyre drowsy, but not asleep.
Create a safe, sleep-friendly environment:
Keep the bedroom cozy, but not overheated, quiet and dark. Choose a crib with a good safety rating and firm mattress. Take precautions to reduce risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by putting infants to sleep on their backs.
blockquote>If your infant wakes up at night, have a consistent response. If you pick up or feed your baby, always do it in the darkened bedroom. Your infant will respond to changes in light, and needs to know that nighttime is bedtime. You also need to decide if you will bring your baby into your bed, and stick to that decision.
Know when it's time to call the doctor:
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that it's time to call your pediatrician if your baby is consistently fussy, having breathing problems, snores loudly or if you see behavioral problems during the day.
Wake up. Schoolwork. After-school activities. Dinner. Homework. Socializing. TV. For many students, high school and college alike, this cycle is standard practice five or more days each week.
Now add to this some other aspects of student life. High stress is common among students. So are late nights "cramming" for tests. And for many students there doesn't seem to be time for exercise. Then there are work-study and part-time jobs, tending to family (for married students) and of course some socializing - usually late night.
Given the increasingly stressful lifestyle of many students, its not surprising getting more sleep is in high demand and short supply.
The result, Accumulated sleep deprivation. The body really needs seven to eight hours of sleep, and adolescents need even more. But the average student gets 6.9 (down from 7.5 in 1980). The math is simple: if you sleep 6 hours a night, for seven nights straight, you accumulate 14 hours of sleep debt. This lack of sleep has been linked to numerous ailments ranging from a weakened immune system, to diminished physical performance, to difficulty focusing, learning, and retaining information- exactly the skills required to be a good student.
Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem. A 2005 National Sleep Foundation study found that 50% of respondents reported not getting enough sleep at least one night a week and 17% claimed lack of sleep almost every day. For students, however, the sleep-deprived lifestyle is often seen as a matter of sheer willpower. But in clinical studies, students trying to "power through" consecutive nights (or weeks) of reduced sleep experience slowed reaction times and exhibited a host of other performance problems. 20 hours of cumulative sleep debt can bring about symptoms that closely resemble being drunk.
Which brings up the matter of alcohol. On college campuses binge drinking isn't uncommon. The sleep that follows binge drinking is not restorative sleep because it doesn't allow the body to cycle through the natural stages of sleep.
So what's a student to do to raise their grades in the sleep department? Listen to your Circadian rhythms. Short naps (under 30 minutes) are okay to get a quick fix of rest, but prolonged and regular napping during the day throws your body out of synch with its natural sleep intervals. This makes getting to sleep harder at night and can also lead to restless sleep.
Next comes exercise. In addition to keeping you looking your best, regular exercise reduces stress and helps the body fall to sleep. Just give yourself 4-5 hours between workout and bedtime.
Avoid too much caffeine, especially at night. This means more than just coffee. There's caffeine in many teas, a lot of colas and sodas and in chocolate too.
Lastly, avoid studying in bed. Reserve your bed just for sleeping. You brain will make the association which will help it (and you) power down at nighttime.
One way to improve your approach to sleep is to think of sleep debt like credit card debt. If you just pay the minimum fee (in sleep) each day (or week, or month), you build up debt. Eventually you become buried in it and that when things start to break down. The occasional late night or long day is unavoidable, but try to pay back your sleep debt in full as soon as possible.
It can come from trouble at work. It can come from personal relationships. It can come from dissatisfaction with the way you look or even come from steady doses of evening news. At some point everyone comes under stress or feels heightened anxiety. Often this leads to restless nights spent tossing and turning as your mind whirls a mile a minute. You awaken sleepy and irritable and try to begin another day.
It can come from trouble at work. It can come from personal relationships. It can come from dissatisfaction with the way you look or even come from steady doses of evening news. At some point everyone comes under stress or feels heightened anxiety. Often this leads to restless nights spent tossing and turning as your mind whirls a mile a minute. You awaken sleepy and irritable and try to begin another day.
The occasional sleepless night due to stress is common. But too many nights without restful sleep can compound the effects of stress and endanger your health. The detrimental effects of prolonged sleeplessness include:
These conditions may seem more like nuisances than "health problems" but if you're driving a car, operating heavy machinery, or working with hazardous equipment, these can expose you to significant risk. Stress also contributes to medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and recurring migraine headaches.
There are also the social and professional implications of lack of sleep due to stress. Relationships with spouses, children, siblings, friends and co-workers can suffer when stress leads to sleeplessness and the behavioral problems that come with it. Not surprisingly, troubled relationships then compound the stress, which accentuates the symptoms.
Common Stress-Related Sleep Issues
Heightened stress and anxiety can manifest themselves in a number of sleep-related problems. These problems can affect everyone, regardless of gender or age. Some of the more common sleep problems provoked by stress are:
Insomnia:This is characterized by inability to fall asleep, frequent awakening in the middle of the night, and early awakening where you don't feel rested and refreshed. Insomnia is not uncommon, but if it is prolonged (more than a day or two) it could indicate a significant sleep issue.
Though most common in young children, nightmares can happen to anyone. Frequent and recurring nightmares can leads to disturbed sleep patterns and the symptoms and consequences of sleep deprivation.
Excess Daytime Sleepiness (EDS):
Symptoms of EDS include a tendency to doze off during the day - often when watching television or reading. Chronic EDS may indicate a larger sleep related condition and a physician should be consulted.
Dealing with Stress and Sleeplessness
The conventional wisdom is to reduce stress and a good eight straight hours of sleep each night. Of course, that is easier said than done - especially given the inevitable stress that comes with everyday life. So what can you do to promote healthy sleeping habits and stave off the consequence of sleeplessness?
Monitor your diet:
Minimize or eliminate the use of caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine is often used as a quick fix to sleepiness, but it only masks symptoms and makes getting real rest more difficult. Alcohol, sometimes used to relax, actually interrupts healthy sleep patterns. Also, do not eat or drink too much near bedtime.
Regular exercise can help your body regulate its internal biological clock. Exercise also reduces stress and anxiety. However, you shouldn't exercise too close to bedtime. Allow a minimum of three hours between workouts and heading to bed.
Adopt bedtime rituals:
Regular rituals at bedtime cue your body that it is time to unwind, and help to relax you in preparation for sleep. Television can be too stimulating, especially with evening news reports on such stressful issues as terrorism, recession, and crime. Instead, listen to soothing music or read. If you find yourself taking longer than 15 minutes to fall asleep, get up and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.
Talk it out:
If you're under stress, talk to someone about it - a friend, a co-worker, your spouse or family. Often getting stress '"off your chest" reduces it effects. Remember that everyone feels anxiety, and you are very likely to find a sympathetic ear.
Seek professional help:
If you're having trouble managing the stress in your life, or simply can't get enough sleep despite your best efforts, talk to your physician. Your family doctor will be able to point you in the right direction to find help whether you can benefit from therapy, medication, or both.
A good night's sleep can go a long way to coping successfully with stress, while. restless nights can compound its impact and make each day that much more unpleasant. People suffering from sleep deprivation due to stress often experience the symptoms of sleep deprivation, but don't identify them as stemming from their lack of proper rest. Awareness is the first step to solving the problem. Pay attention to your sleep habits, and if you feel them beginning to slip, take measures to get back on track, and back into bed.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing art that is based on the insertion of long, thin needles under the skin at specific points along the surface of the body. It is based on the idea that the life force, or qi, needs to flow with ease and harmony throughout the body. The needles are meant to regulate the flow of vital energy by unblocking it along crucial pathways, or meridians. Once this energy is flowing properly, the body is better able to return to the state of balance necessary for all aspects of health, including restorative sleep.
Despite the squirm factor, many people cite enormous benefits from acupuncture, sometimes in situations where Western medicine has been unable to help. If you have trouble sleeping and good sleep hygiene isn't doing the trick, acupuncture is worth trying. It's also a good alternative to sleeping pills, which can have side effects and prove habit-forming. There are even some studies that suggest that acupuncture might be more effective than prescription sleeping aids. Acupuncture is increasingly covered by many health plans in America, and can sometimes even by provided by Western M.D.s.
You may be still skeptical, but you don't have to believe in acupuncture in order for it to work. Acupuncture needles are also generally thinner than the needles used for injections, so it's usually possible for people who "hate needles" to bear it. Most patients feel minimal pain as the needles enter the skin, and then nothing once the needles are in. As all things Eastern, like yoga and meditation, become more and more popular in the States, acupuncture has been used to treat a wider and wider variety of ills, everything from infertility in women to doggie arthritis. Curing insomnia seems like the least miraculous of the claims made for this healing art.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses a whole-body approach. Like your regular doctor, an acupuncturist will usually want to help you determine root causes for your insomnia. He or she will take a full medical history, looking at emotional conditions as well as exercise habits, asking about everything from your family situation to if-and-when you eat Pop Tarts. He may even ask you what time you tend to wake up. Qi is supposed to flow through different parts of the body at different times. If you always wake up between one and three AM, that's a time when energy is usually flowing through your liver, and an acupuncturist might ask you about your drinking habits. Fatty foods and stress might also have an acupuncturist paying special attention to your liver system, which in acupuncture is not just an organ but a series of meridians connecting to your liver. Late-night eating, on the other hand, might direct her to your spleen system.
Much of the advice from Eastern-oriented practitioners may overlap with Western ideas about good sleep habits, for example, East and West both preach exercise in the early part of the day but not in the evening, and suggest that you avoid spicy foods or high-sugar snacks late at night. Your Chinese healer will probably try to get you to stop drinking caffeine just like your doctor, but she may also prescribe a regimen of needles as well as cupping, massage, or herbal remedies. The herbal remedies sometimes seem strange or implausible to the Western palate, but the massage is usually a welcome addition to any treatment regime? and Chinese healers often have cheaper rates than fancy Western spas!
If you're ready to test the waters of unblocked qi, the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture can help you find an acupuncturist near you, as can the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Your health care provider might also have acupuncture specialists in their list of covered providers.