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Sleep Well For Better Health

Do you get enough sleep? Is it restless or restful? Continuous or interrupted? Do you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or wake up feeling tired? The latest research shows that there is a stronger connection than previously thought between quality and amount of sleep and a person’s health. However, many adults report having trouble sleeping at least once a week, and 10% of the US population suffers from insomnia most every night.

Sleeping well—that is, getting eight hours of deep, continuous sleep most nights—has been shown to protect people from developing a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, arthritis, obesity, heartburn, depression, anxiety, and diabetes. Statistics also show that inadequate sleep can be blamed for many motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents. Driving while “under the influence” of too little sleep can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Conditions unique to sleep itself form another list of complaints that include circadian rhythm disorders, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea.

Even if you consider yourself the picture of health, a short supply of sleep can subtly affect how you feel all day. It can mean you aren’t performing your best at work or in other daily activities, due to irritability, lack of motivation or difficulty concentrating. And when your obligations for the day are over, insufficient sleep can even affect how you enjoy your leisure hours. Our brains simply can’t function optimally without an adequate amount of sleep.

People who turn in early, saying they need to “recharge their batteries,” are not far off the mark.
In fact, our brains need time to process our day’s events. If you don’t find ways for your stressed brain to do this during your waking hours, it will do it while you’re trying to fall asleep or while you are actually sleeping, which will interfere with sleep quality, allowing more stress to affect you the following day and continuing the vicious cycle.

Finding ways to deal with worries and anxieties several hours before you head for bed will help your body and your brain sleep more soundly. Some coping strategies include exercise, reviewing the day with an understanding friend or spouse, or yoga and meditation. If you have children, realize that they have their own daily stresses, however small they may seem to adults. Don’t rely on video games or movies to help them fall asleep. Instead, discuss their day with them and try reading a low-conflict bedtime story together. Children who sleep well and long perform better academically and get sick less often than those who don’t.

Deep, restful sleep is as necessary for good health as proper diet and exercise. If you make improved sleep a priority, you are bound to feel your best right away, and you’ll be building your immune system so you can enjoy a long and healthy life.

12 Keys to Better Sleep

Insomnia—a condition that causes problems both with falling asleep and staying asleep—affects millions of people. Since sleep researchers point to inadequate sleep as a leading contributing factor to most major diseases, it’s obvious that it’s not just important but vital to sleep well. Fortunately, those same sleep researchers have also discovered the conditions that affect quality of sleep. Simple lifestyle changes can have you sleeping like a baby in no time. Here are ten things to do before you even think about asking your doctor for a sleeping aid or buying one over the counter.

1. Be consistent. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning (yes, even on weekends) helps your body get used to your sleeping pattern. After a while, it will “expect” to go to sleep at a certain time, and you may not even need an alarm clock to get up for work. (You’ll find that your day starts out much better when you wake naturally rather than being jarred awake by an alarm.)

2. Create a comfortable sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be quiet and dark. Even the slightest bit of noise or light—such as the ticking of a clock or a light left on outside—can disturb sleep, even though the sleeper may not be aware of it. Do what you have to: A sleep mask and room darkening blinds will screen out the light; earplugs and “white noise” like a fan can help with intrusive noises. The best temperature for sleeping is 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you don’t go above 75 or below 54.

3. Invest in good bedding. Getting a good night’s sleep may be as simple as getting a new mattress. Many people report that memory foam mattresses allowed them to completely relax and sleep deeply for the first time in their lives. Indulge in the very best bedding you can afford, too. Sheets with the highest thread count are soft and luxurious, and your blankets and comforters should also give you a feeling of being pampered.

4. Relax. Stress wreaks havoc on sleep. Find a way to distress before bedtime. Read something that is not too heavy, meditate, do some gentle stretches, or take a warm bath.

5. Watch caffeine intake. Caffeine stays in your system longer than you might imagine—up to eight hours. For better sleep, you should stop caffeine intake at least six hours prior to bedtime. Remember that cola drinks, tea, and chocolate all contain caffeine.

6. Food for sleep. While you shouldn’t go to bed with a growling stomach, a full stomach can also keep you up. If you need a bedtime snack, choose one that can actually help you sleep, and make it just a snack, not a meal. Milk is an old standby, and it doesn’t have to be warm. Other good choices: a handful of almonds or walnuts, a piece of fruit (especially a banana, peach or apricot), or half a cup of oat cereal with milk.

7. Nix the nicotine. Like caffeine, it is a stimulant and can keep you from falling asleep and cause wakefulness during the night. Of course, the best thing to do is stop smoking altogether, but if you haven’t been able to do that, at least stop a few hours before you go to bed.

8. Ban stimulants from the bedroom. Don’t watch TV, play video games, or eat in bed. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex. You don’t want your body associating it with thoughts of how you’re going to get to the next level of a game, and if you fall asleep in front of the television, your dreams are likely to be populated with unpleasant images.

9. Don’t rely on alcohol as a sleep aid. Even though alcohol can have relaxing effects that may help you fall asleep, your sleep is likely to be less restful. Alcohol intake is also associated with waking up during the night or waking up too early in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep.

10. Time exercise correctly. Exercise has many benefits, including better sleep, but most people feel energized after they work out, so don’t do it just before you want to go to sleep. You may need to experiment with exercise times to determine how it affects your sleep and adjust workouts accordingly.

11. Get pets their own beds. Cats and dogs tend to sleep in a more alert state than humans, so they move around frequently during the night. This can disturb your sleep. Some pet owners even report sleeping in positions that won’t disturb their pets! They’ll still know you love them if you have them sleep in their own bed or crate, and you’ll have more energy to play with them the next day!

12. Nap less, sleep more. A brief nap (10-15 minutes) early in the day can be refreshing, but napping on the sofa after dinner will only interfere with your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. If you’re tired enough to nap in the evenings, consider adjusting your bedtime.

Most people who have used these suggestions vastly improved their sleep quality and therefore their quality of life. Give them a month’s trial and see how much better you can feel.

Choosing the Right Memory Foam Mattress for You

Before you purchase a memory foam mattress, do your research. It’s important to choose the best value product from a responsible company that prides itself on both quality and customer service. After all, you’ll be spending a third of every day on the sleeping surface you choose.

Here are some important facts to consider before you make your choice:

• The mattress you choose should be made of top-quality materials. Look for at least a 5.0LB density in product descriptions. This high-density polyurethane material, developed by NASA for use by astronauts, offers a better “custom-fit” than other, low-density foam mattresses, and you can depend on it for lasting resiliency.

• Never settle for a low-grade imported foam product. While the price may be lower, the materials in these mattresses do not hold up over time, and they have likely been stacked in a warehouse somewhere for perhaps months, gathering dust, dirt and bacteria. The best manufacturers in the United States custom-make and deliver memory foam mattresses on a customer-by-customer basis.

• Look for at least a high-density base layer and a top comfort layer. Some higher-end models have multiple layers, but is not always the case. The high-density foam gives your mattress the support and longevity you need, while the comfort layer provides the “cuddle-every-curve” feeling that provides the ultimate in relaxation. Combined, you receive a combination of softness, support and durability for years to come.

• Choose a hypoallergenic mattress that is resistant to dust mites. Many people who think they have no allergies are actually very sensitive to the detritus that their mattresses accumulate over time. These sensitivities can seriously interfere with sleep even though many sleepers themselves don’t realize it and labels it as “bad Sleep”. What they do realize is that once the potential allergens are gone, they sleep much more soundly.

• Choose a mattress that is bacteria-resistant and comes with a washable zip-off cover or mattress protector to assure that your sleeping surface is refreshing and hygienic. A buildup of bacteria can result in odors that do not make for a pleasant sleeping environment.

• It may seem logical to “try out” a memory foam mattress in a retail store, but there is just no way a few minutes of lying on any mattress can give you an accurate idea of what it will feel like to sleep on it for a full night. The best way to find the right mattress for you is to “test drive” it in the comfort of your own bedroom. Many online companies offer money back guarantees, allowing you really get a feel for the mattress in the comfort of your own bedroom….and without a sales rep watching your every move while looking for a buying signal.

• It takes most people several weeks to adjust to a new mattress, and the company you choose to make your mattress should understand that and offer you a “comfort guarantee” that allows you to sleep on the mattress for up to 90 days, and to return it if you are not satisfied.

There is no doubt that memory foam mattresses are hugely popular, and with good reason. Many purchasers report sleeping well for the first time in their lives. Follow the guidelines here, and you too will choosing the correct memory foam mattress for you and begin to enjoy all of the advantages that this sleep system delivers.

Welcome to the Plushbeds Blog!

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The Plushbeds Team