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How to Pick the Perfect Pillow

How to pick the perfect pillow
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When I wrote an article on pregnancy pillows, I received a lot of requests for a Pillow Guide to general pillows, thus here is your definitive directory of how to choose the right pillow for you that will take you to dreamland.

How to pick the right pillow

Often ignored, the two most important things for a refreshing sleep is pillow and mattress. We spend a lot of time and money in choosing that fancy iDealBed 4i custom adjustable bed or that expensive Tempur-pedic mattress, but pay very little attention to the pillow. Just like the mattress, the pillow also plays a very crucial role in the quality of our sleep and our overall wellbeing. So come, let’s do some pillow talk!

Can the pillow make a difference?

How to pick the perfect pillow
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Having a comfortable sleep is key to a happy and successful day. Nothing kick starts the day better than a peaceful slumber. Sleeping in the correct posture with the help of the right mattress and pillow is essential to wake up without body pain or discomfort. The correct posture should bring into line the body from the head, neck, shoulders through the spine maintaining the curve in your lower back to the knees.

A bad pillow can worsen headaches, give you nightmares and lead to stiffness and numbness while a good pillow, that supports your shoulders, neck and head, will give you a good night’s sleep.

How to make the right choice?

The right pillow is a personal preference but before you make that choice, you should identify your sleeping style or position.

  1. Side Sleeper

This is the most common position generally people sleep in. Interestingly, sleeping in this style produces a major distance between your shoulder and ear and hence a thick or firm pillow is recommended as it provides the much desirable care to your neck and head.

2. Back Sleeper

In this sleeping position, the pillow should be soft enough to support the natural curve of your spine and hard enough to sustain your head at four to six inches off the bed. The wrong pillow will give you a stiff neck in the morning or a backache to crib about all day.

3. Tummy Sleeper

This sleeping style requires the least amount of support but adds some additional stress to the back and neck. A thin or flat pillow would be ideal for this neutral position. Some people who sleep on their tummies do not even use pillows.

Different types of pillows based on the pillow filling

Once you have identified your sleeping style, the next step is to look out what the pillow is made up of. The wrong type of pillow filling can lead to sleep deprivation and I’m sure you don’t want that. If you are the one who does not care about the pillow filling, don’t worry you are not alone. Most people are not aware nonetheless, there is a wide variety of pillow fills available in the marketplace.

Down pillows

Down pillows are made of either goose or duck fibers. They are extremely soft and light. Given the raw material used, down pillows are expensive and come in a combination of down, feathers and other synthetic materials. However, one has to be careful regarding sensitivities and allergies to down. Allergic reactions may occur in some people when the down filling is of low quality and dirty leading to discomfort.

Cotton pillows

Cotton pillows are universal pillows easily available in all stores. They are naturally hypoallergenic and do not attract mold or dust mites easily. They can be purchased in a firm or a soft form whichever suits you right.

Memory Foam pillows

This filling material is fast gaining popularity in the last few years. Memory foam pillows adapt to your individual contour by retaining your body heat and mass. They align themselves with the shape of your head, neck and shoulders. These pillows are a good choice but since they retain heat, one has to make a smart decision.

Wool pillows

Wool pillows are made of wool and are very firm so most ideal for side sleepers. They, like are cotton pillows, are resistant to dust mites and mold while also being hypoallergenic. Wool pillows regulate the body temperature by absorbing moisture from your head and neck.

Latex pillows

Latex pillows like memory foam take the shape of your crown while being steady and comfortable. They give extra support to the head and control movement during your lovely sleep.

Different sizes of pillows

Besides the fill, you should also take into consideration the size of the pillow. Too large or too small pillows affect the relaxation they are required to provide. A standard-size pillow should be just correct such that it aligns the head and neck along with the shoulder and spine.

Specialty pillows

There are some specialty pillows that can be considered.

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Cool pillows

Cool pillows are made with tiny cool beads that whisk away the night sweat and hot flashes one feels. The part where your face touches the material is always cool.

Cervical pillows

These are recommended by doctors. They provide additional cushioning and stability to the neck area.

Water pillows

This type of pillow is preferred by physical therapists who believe that these pillows use water to make a personalized level of support and thickness.

Maternity pillows

These come in a range of shapes and sizes and are used by women during pregnancy. I have gone in to great detail on maternity pillows elsewhere. (link below)

Related article: Types and Benefits of Pregnancy Pillows

Snuggle into a soft and comfortable pillow or a firm and relaxing one, the choice is up to you! When you invest in the most accurate pillow, you will notice a drastic improvement in the quality of your sleep. Now head straight to the store and take your time selecting that masterpiece for your head.

Sweet Dreams!

How reading before bed improves quality of your sleep

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As a child, you probably had your parents reading you stories before you went to bed. And after growing up a little more, you more than likely had them telling you to go to bed early in order to read a book on your own before sleeping. That is because reading before bed has lots of benefits and can play a huge role in shifting your sleeping patterns in a good way. Reading before bed can help improve the quality of your sleep for different reasons. Here are some of the main benefits of reading before bed:

Training your brain to read before bed

Your brain is a muscle. Just like any other muscle, your brain needs to be trained in order to improve its performances. Reading is one of the best work outs for your brain. It isn’t as simple or as natural as it seems to be. Reading solicits many of your abilities, such as your ability to:

  • Connect words to form meanings,
  • Picture scenes in your head, and
  • Imagine scents and sounds,

These naturally represent a lot of work for your brain. Challenging your brain in such a way every night can only have positive consequences on its condition. Besides, unlike other work outs, reading isn’t extenuating nor repetitive. It is quite enjoyable in the sense that it helps you relax and at the same time exercise enjoyably.

On top of this, it has lately been discovered that reading (before bed or not) can be a tremendous way to prevent Alzheimer, since training your brain on a daily basis can help facing the threat of memory loss. What’s more, reading before bed can also potentially help you reduce or even completely stop snoring.

Benefits of reading before bed

1. Stress buster

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According to many studies, reading before bed can reduce stress by 68%, thus helping you sleep much more peacefully. That sounds quite logical in the way that reading takes your mind off your worries and whatever may stress you out when you are about to sleep. When you focus on the story you are reading, your mind clears up and you naturally relax and let loose.

As we have said before, reading engages your imagination, which makes tension fade away to make room for a much more tranquil state of mind.

Moreover, it has been discovered that reading before bed is one of the best ways to cope with insomnia. It can also be a way to deal with jet lag if you’re a frequent traveler! It is definitely a tip you can add to the list of tips we talked about in the article about the different ways to handle sleep deprivation and the benefits of adjustable beds.

2. Makes you replace electronic devices with books

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Earlier when we talked about sleep deprivation and adjustable beds, we mentioned how blue lights can disturb your sleeping patterns. When you get into the habit of reading before bed, you naturally get into the habit of no longer using your electronic devices before bed, which has one of the best effects on the quality of your sleep, as this helps you rest better when sleeping.

Melatonin and bright LCD displays hamper sleep quality

When using your phone or any other electronic device emitting blue light, your production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleeping patterns and makes you sleepy, decreases and gets limited. That way, your brain stays alert and awake, instead of getting fuzzy and wanting you to sleep.

Turn-off phone notifications

Besides, having your phone around will be nothing more than disturbing as notifications will always keep you awake. It is much better to turn it off and grab a book instead that will make you cut ties with reality.

Of course, using your devices to read is no excuse. Remember, it is not about what you do with your phone, but rather about how the light of your phone or your laptop keeps you awake.

3. Improves your creativity

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Last but not least, reading before bed is one of the best ways to boost your creativity. Being exposed to so many words and phrase structures every night will do wonder to your brain and its ability to come up with new ideas and new concepts.

The more you read, and the more universes you discover, the more personalities you get to become familiar with, the more stories you try to imagine the end of. You get to learn about various perspectives and points of views which opens your mind, and you get to reach worlds that you may have never ever pictured before. When reading, your mind creates images you never thought of before, and the stimulation of so many of your senses improves your creativity skills.

On top of that, reading before bed can also have an influence on what comes after falling asleep: your dreams. Sleeping with a book in your hand or on your face will likely make you dream about the recent castle the main character was locked in, or about the latest tempest the crew of your novel was facing. No matter what, you will definitely not be dreaming about reality!

Correct posture for reading in bed

Adopting the right posture while reading in bed is extremely important. Sitting in an incorrect posture can sprain your neck, back, arms or any combination of them. This is why it’s very important that you adopt the right posture when reading in bed. You need to keep your back and head straight while reading; this will help you preserve your neck and back for decades of reading down the lane.

If finances are not a ‘deal breaker’, I highly recommend that you opt for an adjustable bed with pillow tilting. Pillow tilting is only seen on high-end adjustable beds even as of 2018; however, our best rated adjustable beds like the Glideaway adjustable beds and Leggett and Platt Prodigy 2.0 come with built-in pillow tilting feature.

How to Stop Snoring – 9 Tips and Tricks

How to stop snoring
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Snoring is a very ordinary problem. Believe it or not, everyone does it occasionally. Even you might have done it sometime but perhaps no one has confronted you. Sleeping with a snoring partner can be frustrating.

What causes snoring?

How to stop snoring
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Snoring is caused by vibrations. When we are asleep, the posterior area of the throat narrows due to muscle relaxation. Because of the now smaller opening, the air gets less space to pass and therefore causes the surrounding tissues to vibrate. These vibrations result in the sound of snoring. Some people also snore because of nasal congestion. So basically, snoring is a sound formed by the airflow that causes tissues to vibrate during sleep.

Related: 11 Best Sleep Hacks

How to get rid of snoring?

Snoring is not something to ignore. It surely affects not only your sleep but also your partners. Snoring can be an underlying symptom of health problems such as (i) obstructive sleep apnea (a potentially serious sleep disorder), (ii) stress, (iii) obesity or (iv) some mouth, nose or throat abnormality. Below are a few tips that will help you or someone you know stop snoring.

  1. Nasal strip

Nasal strips are very common and easily available in stores. These are strips that can be stuck on the nose. They help to open up the nasal passage and lessen the airflow battle. This makes breathing easy and keeps snoring at bay, or at least reduces the decibels.

  1. Sleep position

For people who snore, sleeping on their side is an ideal option. When you sleep on your back, the tongue falls on the back of the throat blocking the normal air passage from the throat. This can be avoided by sleeping on your side. You can keep a keep a full-length body pillow behind you or simply try the tennis ball trick. In this trick, you can stitch a tennis ball on your t-shirt back or on your pajamas. This will assist you not to roll on your back in your sleep and can make an effective change in snoring.

  1. Head elevation

If you have a mild snoring problem, then you can raise up your head using a thick pillow to keep the nasal airway clear of obstruction. Generally, raising the head up by four inches is good enough to tackle the problem. You can also try using adjustable beds that recline your head up without causing neck problems. Learn about the Glideaway adjustable bed for all types of head elevating possibilities.

  1. Install a humidifier

Closed doors and windows, especially during winter results in dry air. Dry air sucks up the moisture from the throat and nose creating dryness and congestion. A humidifier removes the dry air and comforts the tissues of nose and throat for normal breathing. Experiment by adding a few drops of essential oils and feel the magic!

  1. Herbs and essential oils

Essential oils such as peppermint oil unblock the nasal or chest congestion helping you to keep away from snoring. This oil has been proven to be an effective aching throat reliever and liberates nasal passage from jamming. Goldenseal is an herb used for common cold and stuffy nose. It can be consumed in capsule, powder or liquid form.

  1. Avoid alcohol and smoking

Alcohol eases out the muscles at the rear of the throat that might cause snoring. If you want to consume alcohol before bedtime, ensure that there is a gap of minimum two hours between the two activities. Besides alcohol, smoking is another culprit of bedtime snores. Smoking annoys the inner lining of your airway and causes mucus pile up. This aggravates the problem of the blocked air passage and snoring.

  1. Allergies

Allergies give rise to blocked airflow through the nose causing you to breathe through your mouth. A bedroom has many allergy triggers specifically pet hair, dust mites or bedding material that irritates your beak. These increase the chances that you might snore. It is important to maintain cleanliness and good hygiene. Treating allergies using medications can give you a quiet night sleep.

  1. Correct abnormalities

Some people might have a nose, mouth or throat abnormality since birth while some might have experienced an accident leading to one. In any case, it is recommended to correct these abnormalities by surgical treatments which will help to stop snoring.

  1. Lose weight

It is not that only people with more weight snore, thin people snore too! When lying down excess weight around the neck narrows the throat and disrupts the regular airflow even further. This increases the likelihood of snoring. Maintaining a good body weight aids in less or no snoring and improved sleep in addition to other health paybacks.

10. Buy an adjustable bed

Modern adjustable beds such as the Leggett and Platt Prodigy 2.0 have an in-built anti-snore feature. Basically this posture raises the head resulting in cessation of snoring. Spending $2 – 3K on an adjustable bed may not be the most cost-effective way of tackling snoring for most people. However, if you’re up for it, adjustable beds are a great solution for snoring.

Try these tips that will do the trick and help you tackle your problem of snoring. If the problem still persists then you may require medical attention. Some machines and surgical procedures including but not limited to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP), Palatal implants, Somnoplasty, Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) etc. widen the airway channel permanently.

Getting rid of snoring is a good idea in the long run for yourself and your beloved giving you both a healthy sleep and a far healthier relationship.

16 PROS and CONS of Adjustable Beds

Split-king adjustable bed

Everything under the sun has a bright side AND a dark side. Adjustable beds are no exception to this rule. While there’s plenty of good about them, there are also a couple of noteworthy drawbacks about them. Let’s discuss all of them below.

After you finish here, don’t forget to check out our 10 BEST Adjustable Beds – Reviews, PROS, CONS

Adjustable Beds – PROS

  1. Relief from pain – users of adjustable beds consistently report relief from pain resulting from back problems, arthritis, neck problems, frozen shoulder, and cramping. People with spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative spondylolisthesis have found adjustable beds particularly beneficial. In addition, adjustable beds are also known to relieve people from insomnia, breathing/sinus/allergy problems , snoring, swollen legs, asthma, heartburn/acid reflux, heart/circulation problems, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
  2. More comfortable than conventional beds – inclines of no more than 30 – 45 degrees (semi-Fowler’s position) are most popular. Best rated models nowadays have programmable memory positions as well. That way you can reach that favorite sweet spot with the touch of a single-button instead of having to long-press up and down buttons.
  3. Convenience factor – lets you sit-up in bed at any incline/angle you want (infinite number of ergonomic rest positions). This makes watching TV, playing video games, reading a newspaper/book, typing on a laptop, having breakfast in bed, nursing/breast feeding, and even jumping in and out of bed a whole lot more convenient compared to a conventional bed
  4. High ‘intimacy factor’ – we’ll not go into details here and let your imagination run riot
  5. Independence – move without disturbing your sleep partner. Especially with split-queen and split-king types of adjustable beds, one partner can raise/lower his/her bed independently of the other. Your favorite position may be 20 degrees elevated and his/her may be 12 degrees; no problem! You can have your own elevation without annoying your partner
  6. Built-in massage – many adjustable beds come with a built-in massage feature nowadays. Higher-end ones come with advanced features like different modes of massaging, timers etc.
  7. Low maintenance
  8. Up to 25 years of limited warranty (full warranty generally <5 years) – the steel frame, upholstered parts, motor, mechanical components etc. etc. have different warranty periods
  9. USB chargers for phones, tablets – don’t make your purchasing decision based on the number of USB chargers, however, if you can get one without having to spend extra, it’s certainly worth it because you’re likely to use them on a daily basis
  10. Lumbar Support: Some models of adjustable beds like this one has something known as Lumbar support. As the name suggests, these beds have a separate bar jotting out to support your lumbar area; can be very helpful to those of you with lower back pain

Adjustable Beds – CONS

  1. Your current mattresses may not work – this type of adjustable mattress works best with adjustable beds while spring mattresses don’t
  2. More expensive than conventional beds
  3. Time consuming – there isn’t a pre-set miracle position that is the perfect sweet spot for every person on planet earth. You’ll need to play with it a few days (or nights) to find those custom angles that soothe you (and your partner) the best. With these adjustable beds, the angles matter more than the size! In contrast, conventional beds are ‘plug and play’
  4. Mechanical failures – whenever there are motors/electronics involved, there’s always the possibility of them failing. TVs, radios, cars, KitchenAid mixers, air conditioners, you name it… all of above can have mechanical failures at some point. Adjustable beds are no exception. However, the popular consensus is that, if they fail, they fail within a short period of you starting to use it. Because most adjustable bed manufacturers provide at least 1 year of comprehensive warranty, those defective units that are bound to fail, will likely fail within the warranty period. So, even though adjustable beds are not fail-proof like conventional beds, you have little to worry about because of the warranties offered by their manufacturers.
  5. A touch of danger – if you poke your hand between the bed foundation and the frame while it’s being lowered, potentially, your hand can get injured. This won’t happen with a conventional platform bed. However, many modern adjustable beds have built-in safety features to prevent your hands getting caught.
  6. Heavy weight – especially the high-end adjustable beds can be pretty heavy (over 100 pounds). This can be a problem during setup. Imagine your bedroom is upstairs and your delivery man leaves the bed on the curbside. You may need help to carry it upstairs and to twist and turn it until you get everything set up the way you want.

Attractive features you shouldn’t be fooled by

  1. Fancy fabric covers – be it fabric, leather, rexin, or wooden, DO NOT make your purchasing decision based on ‘outer looks’
  2. Sleek legs – legs can be seductive whether they’re of women or otherwise
  3. Elegant remote controllers
  4. Better mattresses – you don’t have to buy a bed + mattress combo. You can buy just an adjustable bed base and shop for that perfect adjustable mattress elsewhere

The most important features to look for

  1. Wall hugging feature – so that you’re always lined up with the night-stand
  2. Programmable memory positions – factory preset memory positions may not suit you well
  3. Pillow tilting – most adjustable beds have only head tilting and foot tilting; only a handful of them have pillow tilting
  4. Anti-Trendelenburg position – especially if you suffer from acid reflux, back problems or you’re a senior citizen that deserves the best. Read our Glideaway adjustable bed review to find out more about this position
  5. Quiet motors – some motors are loud and must be avoided by all means
  6. Backlit remote controllers – Because you won’t have to turn on your night lamp every time you want to play with your remote. It’s also a good idea to go with a fairly large-sized remote controller. Smaller remotes can get easily lost among those pillows, bed sheets, and comforters. Yes, they do get lost quite a bit, that’s why most remotes come with the ‘locate remote’ feature these days.
  7. Lifting capacity – while some beds can lift up to 800 pounds (in addition to the mattress), others cannot ‘lift’ over 400 pounds. For a queen bed holding two persons, this can be a problem. Pay close attention to this feature
  8. Steel legs – steel legs are always recommended over aluminum legs when it comes to adjustable beds
  9. Battery backup in case of power failure – can come in handy especially if you live in an area with frequent power failures
  10. Compatibility with your existing bed frame – why spend for another frame if the base is compatible with your current frame?
  11. Customer support – not every adjustable bed manufacturer stands by their word. Given that this is a relatively delicate piece of equipment, it’s wise to go with a company that is tested and proven
  12. Reputed manufacturers – the market is full of cheaply manufactured adjustable beds imported from _________ (fill in the blanks). Their price tags are very attractive and they work just fine while their young! But these age very quickly and doesn’t take too long to have mechanical failures. This is why we highly recommend that you opt for an adjustable bed from a reputed manufacturer.

11 Best Sleep Hacks to catch some Zs

11 Sleep Hacks for Better Sleep
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Have you ever felt that your eyes have some weight pinned to them that is forcing them shut or the words on the computer screen have started to become a blur? You are not alone. Majority of people in today’s world feel the rush. Even if we get a full 8-hour sleep, we always wake up asking for 5 more minutes! To not get punked by the brain fog and get on an express train to Zzzzville, follow these super simple sleep hacks to hit the hay in peace and wake up fresh as a daisy.

11 super simple sleep hacks for a great night’s sleep

  1. Take a hot bath

A hot bath before bedtime has shown a positive impact on sleep quality. A cozy warm bath increases your body temperature. Then, when you hop out, the body cools down quickly which mimics your brain function to drop the body temperature just before you fall asleep.

  1. Lower the room temperature

It is better to keep our sleeping environment cool as we would sleep in nature. The temperature of the bedroom should be between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. If the temperature is above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees, it can disrupt bedtime. However, different individuals react differently to the same temperature. To regulate your body temperature, use your feet. You can put on a pair of socks that keep you warm if you feel too cold or just put your feet out of the comforter in case you feel too hot.

  1. Darken the environment

Light is one thing to keep out of your bedroom when you would like to indulge in a restful slumber. Our circadian rhythms are so strong that any light from outside (or inside) can disturb our sleep. Invest in good blackout curtains or try using a sleeping mask to evade all lights. Blue-light emitting devices such as electronics should also be left out in the living room.

  1. Aromatherapy

To beat insomnia and ensure a good night’s sleep, try essential oils such as Lavender, Chamomile, Lemon etc. that have noted benefits for sleep. These and other essential oils have been used for many years to cure digestive problems, bacterial infection, pain…and off course sleep!

  1. Pen down what’s bothering you

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Stress and anxiety are the biggest enemies of a peaceful sleep. If you have any problems in personal or professional life, get it out of your head and write it down on a piece of paper. This will help you drift off in dreamland pretty smoothly.

  1. Breathe / Meditate

Follow a simple breathing technique suggested by Alina Gonzalez, the writer for Byrdie – the 4-7-8 method. Start by simply breathing through your nose for 4 seconds, holding your breath for the next 7 seconds and exhaling through your mouth for the remaining 8 seconds. Repeat as necessary to find yourself asleep in no more than a few minutes.

  1. Eat and drink right

Dinner should ideally be no later than 2-3 hours before you go to bed. Your body is not supposed to be digesting while you are asleep. If you are up late and it has been 4-5 hours since your last big meal, eat a small snack before bedtime. Protein is not easy to digest, perhaps a small bowl of cereal or a slice of toast should be good. Carbohydrates have been proven to digest fast and can increase your chances of getting restful sleep.

Many people find a sleep killer in coffee; however, it makes no difference to others. Therefore, it’s best that you first determine if you are a friend or foe of coffee and then act accordingly!

  1. Avoid movies and intense shows

With the availability of streaming television and on-demand movies, it is easy to get drawn towards late-night binge-watching sessions. This delays your sleep by approximately two hours and then you have to wake up for work next morning resulting in a drowsy day. Yet, if you do enjoy watching movies at night, plan it in such a way that it is not right before bedtime. Also, it is advisable to avoid intense TV shows, horror movies, action-packed sitcoms that induce stress and negative emotions. Both of these have a bad effect on your sleep.

Related: The Power of a Good Night’s Sleep

  1. Keep your bedroom quiet

When you intend to relax on your bed, I am sure none of you would want to hear whirring electronics or ticking watches. Try to keep your bedroom as quiet as possible. You might want to consider some sort of white noise to avoid every occasional noise-making move that becomes more evident and disruptive. For snoring bed partners, keep a pair of earplugs handy.

  1. Choose the right mattress and pillow

It is essential to sleep on an appropriate mattress to ensure complete relaxation at night. Sometimes, tossing and turning may be less about you and more about what you are lying on. Choose the right mattress for you according to the size, firmness, and material.

Further, just like the mattress, choosing the right pillow is also vital. Now, this is a personal preference but there are some universal rules to follow. (i) A soft pillow is advisable for people who sleep on their back as it will help support your spine’s natural curve. (ii) A thick pillow is recommended for people who sleep on their side as it will provide the much needed care to the head and neck (iii) A flat pillow would be great for people who sleep on their stomach as it will take away the extra stress that position puts on the neck and back.

  1. Regularize sleep

Try to maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule even over the weekend. I know waking up early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday sounds like cruelty to most of us but it helps as far as sleep is concerned. This preserves your body’s natural clock and avoids the so-called social jet lag that makes it difficult to sleep on Sunday nights and suffer Monday morning blues.

Follow either one of these sleep hacks or feel free to combine and you will notice an improvement in your sleep. Part of these hacks is instant fixes, while the others require you to train your body and cultivate healthier habits. Maximum rest during sleep is crucial for your overall well-being. So, get in your pajamas and tuck yourself away in sweet dreams!

via GIPHY

Coffee, Sleep and Me

When I woke up this morning, I headed straight to the kitchen to pour me a steaming hot cup of joe. Early morning meetings are a task and what better to rely on than caffeine to help you kick-start a day.

It can be either a strong cup of Earl Gray tea or a foam-covered espresso or even chocolate, we all have our own customs of caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a type of stimulant drug that promotes alertness and wakefulness, but you need to be careful as an overdose can have a detrimental impact on you!

Caffeine behaves as an opponent to the adenosine receptor. Adenosine is a hormone in the body that promotes sleep. Caffeine in coffee suppresses the adenosine receptor to keep you from falling asleep. It is the most consumed drug in the world. As per longstanding studies, 54 percent people in the world consume coffee and 43 percent consume tea. America, alone, accounts for 85 percent coffee consumption with average daily consumption of about 300 mg per person.

Is Coffee, a friend or a foe?

Coffee or caffeine is an effective alerting agent and stimulates the body’s nervous system along with an effect on the digestive and circulatory system. The most common and known effect is that of wakefulness. Besides, it also creates an ephemeral upshot in blood pressure levels. It boosts your mood, physical and mental performance during the day.

Further, it may reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and depression. Some evidence also indicates that caffeine may help protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

However, high doses of caffeine can negatively impact your body. The aftermath includes the following:

  • Increased breathing rate
  • Muscle tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and sweating
  • Heightened heart rate

People who reduce or stop their coffee intake are succumbed to (i) low energy levels, (ii) bad moods, (iii) headaches and even (iv) sleepiness. Further, coffee and sleep have an undesirable co-relation as the former reduces the quality and quantity of the latter.

Coffee and sleep

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According to a study published in Science Translation Medicine, a cup of coffee in the evening slowed down the circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock, by delaying the production of sleep hormone melatonin by 40 minutes. The result – it’s difficult to snooze off.

The body has a natural sleep cycle. It is very important to understand this sleep cycle. It has two periodic phases of sleep – NREM (non-REM or non-rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement). At night, the body alters between these two phases. A hormone that is vital for growth and development is only released in the last stage of NREM sleep. Caffeine disturbs this sleep cycle.

The effect of caffeine on sleep

Human reaction to the effects of caffeine on sleep is variable. Many pieces of research have concluded that the impact of coffee on sleep is dependent on various factors such as sensitivity levels, age, time of consumption and genetic variability.

Related: 8 ways to handle your lack of sleep

Age and sensitivity

A few studies have evaluated the relationship between age and caffeine on sleep. A study was conducted on 22 young adults (20-30 years old) and 24 middle-aged adults (45-60 years). The study concluded that middle-aged adults are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than younger adults. It showed that the middle-aged adults had reduced sleep period and poor sleep quality than young adults. Age and caffeine had an impact on their brains which resulted in superseding the daily natural indication to wake up and eventual fragmented sleep.[1]

Time of consumption

Some researchers propose that the impact of caffeine are less marked in those who drink coffee on a regular basis than those to drink coffee occasionally. Results from a survey published a couple of years ago inferred that sleep quality was bad in those who believed that they are dependent on caffeine in any form. It was also associated with a decrease in proper daytime functioning, poor sleep quality and high levels of disturbance during the night.

Genetic variability

Though there is less evidence in this area, research on genetic variability and effect of caffeine on sleep indicates that metabolism of caffeine and sensitivity to caffeine differs from person to person. More details on this topic are available elsewhere.

How much caffeine consumption is harmless?

Caffeine is harmless if its intake is moderated. It is noteworthy to remember that the source of caffeine can not only be coffee, but also tea, energy drinks, sodas, and chocolates. For a healthy adult, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day is considered harmless. So 400 mg of caffeine would mean

  • Four 8-ounce cups of coffee
  • Two energy drinks
  • Six 12-ounce sodas

Caffeine is not a foe if consumed thoughtfully, such that it does cause any damage to your normal sleep cycle. Those heavily dependent on coffee should scale back and track their intake amounts. The ones looking for mental stimulation should resort to a sunshine break rather than a coffee break. Natural light is a powerful stimulant whose exposure can increase productivity, elevate attention span and mood while upturning focus and energy.

[1] https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-overview/caffeine-and-sleep/

How to deal with jet lag

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What is Jet Lag ?

If you are used to being adventurous, and happen to enjoy traveling to places that are far away, then you must be familiar with jet lag.

Jet lag is the condition you find yourself in when your body’s clock gets disturbed after traveling across many time zones. That is how your body ends up needing sleep during daytime and staying alert and awake at night.

Here are the most common symptoms of jet lag

  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • anxiety
  • headache
  • mood-swings

Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent such symptoms to ruin your holidays. Here are some tips for you to deal with jet lag.

Related reading: iDealBed 4i Custom Adjustable Bed Review

6 tips to deal with Jet lag

1. Be cool about it

Just like we mentioned on this previous article talking about sleep deprivation and the benefits of adjustable beds, taking things easy is the first step to feeling better about sleep issues.

Anyone can experience jet lag. It is a condition that can easily affect anybody who isn’t prepared for it. The first step to not letting the jet lag symptoms ruin your vacation is to accept your situation as it is. So what if your body desperately needs sleep despite the shining sun outside? You can always get your body clock to function normally after a day or two. Stay cool about it and it will pass smoothly.

2. Be wise when choosing your schedule

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If you want to avoid suffering from jet lag at all costs, then you must be smart about the organization of your flight. Try to always aim for flights which will enable you to arrive in daylight. That way, you will be forced to stay awake until nightfall, which will help set your body clock based on the country you will be in. If you know you can’t handle that, try to divide your trip in two or three shorter ones. That will help your body slowly adapt itself to the different time zones without being completely destabilized.

3. Say no to coffee

When flying, the best thing you could do would be drinking water as much as possible in order to stay hydrated. At the same time, try to avoid drinking coffee as much as possible.
Caffeine disrupts sleep by stimulating your nerves as well as by increasing the urge to urinate. It may go further than that and create symptoms of anxiety or restlessness that will worsen your condition during the flights, thus worsening the jet lag.

4. Pay attention to your diet

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You may have not expected this tip to appear in this list, when in reality your diet plays such a huge role in how you handle jet lag symptoms. As we have mentioned before, you need to make sure to drink plenty of water, and at the same occasion avoid drinking alcohol, caffeinated drinks. You need to also avoid eating heavy meals, for they can mess with your sleeping patterns and thus make your jet lag symptoms even worse than they already are.
One interesting and extremely helpful thing you can do would be trying to synchronize your meals with the time zone of the country you are flying to. Even if eating breakfast when the sun has already set might feel weird at first, know that it will effectively prepare your body for a radical change in the way it receives aliments.

5. Get your body moving

Whether it is during the flight or on arrival, you need to make sure to not let your body rest. It doesn’t mean that you have to extenuate yourself, but keeping your blood flowing will help you adapt easier to the new time zone.

In the plane, doing some stretching will make your muscles feel less sore after multiple hours of you not moving in your seat. Don’t hesitate to walk until the toilets that are the farthest from you (while making sure you are not disturbing anyone) to get your legs moving.
When you arrive to your destination, rather than sleeping in and napping to catch on all the sleeping hours you missed, force yourself to go out. Visiting your surroundings is a great way for you to tire your body out so that you are sure that you will pass out on your bed as soon as you come back to the hotel or the accommodation at night.

6. Avoid sleeping pills

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Even if sleeping pills sound like some magical remedy, they actually may cause you more harm than anything else. Taking a sleeping pill doesn’t help regulating your body’s clock in any way. If anything, sleeping medications will only make you feel a bit dizzy or fuzzy, which is something you do not want to have to deal with during your trip.
The best way to regulate your sleep is to do it naturally. But if you are in a desperate need to get some sleep at night, one pill will not be harmful. Make sure to contact your doctor first though.

All you need to know about nightmares

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Have you ever woken up gasping, your heart hammering in your chest, your hands shaking and sweat running down your back and your forehead? That is probably because you had a nightmare. Nightmares are quite common, in the sense that every single one of us has had a nightmare at some point in their lives. Nightmares are usually defined as ‘scary dreams’, and can severely disturb one’s sleeping patterns. Just like there is a significance to dreams, there is a significance to nightmares too!

There are two types of nightmares: garden-variety nightmares and post traumatic nightmares.

Why do we have nightmares?

Unlike what many people may think, nightmares can be beneficial to our health, whether they are garden-variety or post traumatic.

Nightmares are necessary for healthy sleep

Nightmares have been shown to be necessary for many reasons.

  • First of all, just like dreams, in general, nightmares are a way for you to get to learn more about yourself. Each nightmare has a meaning and each nightmare is a way for your body, your mind and your subconscious to tell you something about yourself.
  • Secondly, nightmares can be a huge source of inspiration, as they usually are organized as a story with its own plot and very graphic images. Many artists have produced art based on their own nightmares, as the universes seen in such dreams go beyond one’s imagination and can be borderline fascinating – despite being scary.
  • Nightmares are a way for your mind to train you for further incidents that may eventually happen in the future.
  • Nightmares happen frequently to people who suffer from PTSD or other disorders like anxiety and depression. It is a way for your subconscious to make you live again and again what is causing In you the anxious feelings, in order for you to get used to them and be more and more exposed to them so that you can overcome them.

Effects of nightmares on your health

It may be true that as stated above, nightmares can have a positive impact on you. However, nightmares can also be linked to many negative consequences on your body and may hinder not only your sleep, but your well-being in general.

  • Nightmares can be one of the many reasons of sleep deprivation, which we have talked about in this article talking about lack of sleep and the benefits of adjustable beds. Some people who cannot tolerate the anxious feelings brought upon them by nightmares start avoiding going to bed in order not to dream, which ends up in a dangerous condition of lack of sleep.
  • Nightmares are mainly characterized by the intense fear one can feel during their sleep. Naturally, that ends up leading to a very restless, fitful dream, since the emotions are felt and deeply affect the mind. Hormones like adrenaline are produced, which is kind of not compatible with the resting, calm and peaceful side of sleep. This explains why people who experience nightmares tend to sleep less than people who don’t.
  • It has been shown that nightmares have been linked to suicide, even if the relationship isn’t clear yet.

When the effects of nightmares get out of hands, it is important to fight treatments. 

How to treat nightmares and their negative side effects?

When nightmares become repetitive and affect your health, here are some ways to handle them:

  1. The first basic step you should take to prevent nightmares would be setting a comfortable sleep routine. You can check on our websites the different ways to improve the quality of your sleep. You can also try to invest in an adjustable bed that works like magic on your sleep. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to read our Sleep Number Bed Review.
  2. Understanding the meaning of your nightmares may help with accepting them, which makes them automatically less scary, and even chase them away once and for all.
  3. Writing your nightmares down may be helpful for you to decipher them. It also can help you get them out of your brain, and take a more objective look at them, lessening thus the fear and the panic.
  4. It is possible to change the ending of your nightmares, so that they can become less frightening. In order to do that, you can try to imagine during daytime the ending you would like for your nightmare. Doing this task everyday will eventually lead to your nightmares changing, enabling you to sleep more peacefully.
  5. If your nightmares are caused by medication, try to talk to your doctor. You may find a way to reduce the dosage of your medication.
  6. If your nightmares are caused by other mental disorders, it is only natural for you to treat your mental illnesses in order to prevent those nightmares.
  7. Finally, if you can’t find any solution to stop your nightmares, make sure to get professional help!

In conclusion, nightmares are not as bad as we think they are. Don’t panic just because you have one every now and again; it’s just part of normal physiology!

How to identify your sleep deprivation

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Sleep deprivation can affect anyone, from young teenagers to mature adults. It is a situation that should be dealt with as soon as one can, for it can have negative effects on your health – both physical and mental.

On this previous article, we talked about how to improve sleep quality and how adjustable beds can be a way for you to handle sleep deprivation. But to be able to find ways deal with sleep deprivation, you have to first find out whether you are indeed suffering from it or not.
In order to do so, here are signs that you are in an urgent need of sleep.

Major signs of sleep deprivation

You’ve gained weight – You are always hungry

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When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain tries to get the energy it needs from food. The less you sleep and the more your body produces the hunger hormone. That is how you end up craving food more than usual, which leads on to you gaining weight. Weight gain is accentuated by the consumption of sweets and heavy meals since not only don’t you pay attention to what you eat – that takes way too much energy for someone who hasn’t slept properly – but you also crave that specific kind of food that makes your stomach feel full extremely fast. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can also result in a slower metabolism, hence the weight gain.

You have to deal with mood swings

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How do you feel after a good night of sleep? Fantastic, right? Well it is the exact opposite of how you feel when you are not getting enough sleep. You tend to be more impulsive, more irritable and more short-tempered. That is quite natural in the way that when running low on sleep, you find it a bit harder to control yourself, and that’s why you find yourself snapping quicker than usual.

The main issue with this is that these mood swings may become more severe and turn into serious disorders. Sleep and mental health are tightly linked, which is why lack of sleep easily impacts one’s mood. It is also why it is so common to have people who suffer from anxiety who also happen to deal with sleep disorders.

Related articles – Best Adjustable Bed For Acid Reflux (Heartburn/GERD)

You find yourself falling asleep when driving

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One of the first signs of sleep deprivation is you falling asleep at the wheel without even noticing. When you don’t get enough sleep, your mind doesn’t care whether you are driving or not, when it feels like you are in the right place and the right moment to sleep, it forces you to fall asleep.
In such cases, try to avoid driving, or ask a friend to drive instead.

It is hard for you to concentrate

As indicated before, lack of sleep directly affects your brain’s performances. On top of mood swings, sleep deprivation can also cause a tremendous lack of focus, which results in many other issues such as:

  • Memory problems

    Since your concentration drops and you become less attentive to your surroundings, your memory suffers in the sense that you become much more forgetful than usual. Your keys, a phone call, or even worse, an appointment, all those responsibilities get forgotten and add on stress that keeps you up yet again at night.

  • Making mistakes

    On top of that, you start making unusual mistakes, that can even turn into accidents sometimes. Since you are easily distracted and you have a hard time focusing on the tasks at hand, you tend not to pay attention to everything, and thus errors pile up and make you panic, which causes you to make more mistakes and panic even more – and that’s how you find yourself in a vicious circle.

  • Tripping

    It sounds ridiculous, but not sleeping enough can cause you to miss one step or two when climbing the stairs, or even trip on your own feet when walking. That is because your brain needs more time than usual to process the information it needs to have you walking in a straight line without falling.

You get sick frequently

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There is a reason why your doctor asks you to sleep as much as you can whenever you catch a cold.

Not getting enough sleep may cause your immune system to weaken.  That results in you getting sick more often than usual. It is because your body doesn’t have the energy it demands to help your body fight off diseases and infections. Not only that, but when asleep, your body produces proteins called cytokines that help you fight inflammations. Naturally, not sleeping induces a drop in the production of those proteins. That is why you may find yourself frequently getting sick, which indicates a serious condition of sleep deprivation.

Benefits and Types of Pregnancy Pillows

Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman’s life. Those nine-months make you the center of attention by each member in the family and is rightly so, as it demands focused care and comfort. The mother-to-be has to make sure that her baby remains safe and gets appropriate luxury.

As much as the baby needs support and comfort, the mother also has to safeguard her health. Leg cramps, back pain and inadequate sleep are common difficulties reported by pregnant women. It is crucial to get proper rest during the night to help the mother’s body cope with the physical changes that she encounters on her journey. To guarantee a good and relaxing sleep, many women these days use pregnancy pillows.

What is a pregnancy pillow?

A pregnancy pillow is a pillow made especially to understand and provide comfort to the changing outlines of a pregnant woman’s body and offer support to the complete body in various sleeping situations. These pillows are larger than the general pillows and are available in U-shape, wedge shape or bean shape. It is very useful in the third trimester of the pregnancy period and can be used later while nursing.

Pregnancy pillows are not as expensive as adjustable beds, but are a necessity for pregnant women, just like adjustable beds are for seniors.

Benefits of pregnancy pillows

  1. Unimaginable comfort

Being uncomfortable while sleeping is an inevitable part of pregnancy. A pregnancy pillow provides the essential support that your body requires for the neck, shoulders, stomach and back. A good pregnancy pillow relieves the pressure on the spine, hips and back while improving their alignment for the correct posture. It prevents women from sleeping on her stomach which is dangerous for the baby and helps them lie in a comfortable half-fetal position which is considered the most appropriate position for a restful slumber.

  1. Improves blood circulation

Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women should sleep on their left side as the baby begins to grow. This not only helps the baby to get in the ideal position for the birth but also has a positive influence on the blood circulation. Suitable circulation of blood in the body promotes relaxation in hip and back areas of the body.

  1. Relieves heartburn

Heartburn is yet another common problem that pregnant women face. As the baby grows in size, it leaves less space for the internal organs resulting in heartburn and uneasiness. You can use the V-Shaped down alternative pillow to ease the heartburn, acid reflux and minimize water retention levels by elevating the upper body while sleeping. This is much cheaper than the alternative of using an adjustable bed to relieve heartburn.

  1. Keeps away from allergies

Hormonal changes during the pregnancy period can make women prone to develop allergies, skin rashes or respiratory hitches. The pregnancy pillow helps to overcome these hitches. Choosing a well-designed pillow with hypoallergenic quality gives you the luxurious support you need.

  1. Lowers heart rate

When a pregnant woman hugs the pillow, it automatically lowers her heart rate and she feels calm and composed. It is vital for the women to have a good grip on her emotions during the gestation period for a healthy and happy baby.

  1. Lowers snoring

Considering the pregnancy pillow prevents the women from falling on her back, women who generally snore can get rid of the habit easily.

  1. Postpartum usage

Given the versatility of the pregnancy pillow, you can use it very much after childbirth. It can be used to support the baby while breastfeeding and can also be used as a barrier when you make the baby lie down and they might roll over and hurt themselves. Even men suffering from a backache can make use of this pillow to get rid of the pain.

Types of pregnancy pillows

There are several types of pregnancy pillows available in the market depending on different shapes and sizes. Each variety of the pillow caters to a different set of needs. You can see a few common ones below to choose the right one for you.

  1. C-shaped pregnancy pillow

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These pillows are in the shape of the letter C and provide complete support to the head, tummy, back and legs. If a woman likes to sleep in a riding or half-fetal position, this pillow is the one for her. You can place your head on one end of the C, the legs of either side of the other end and slide your back into the curve.

  1. U-shaped pregnancy pillow

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As the name suggests, these pillows are in the shape of the letter U and are perfect for those who prefer sleeping on their back but can’t do so because of the increase in their belly size. It supports the whole body, including the back and the tummy. The sleeping position in a U-shaped pillow is very similar to the C shaped one.

  1. Wedge-shaped pregnancy pillow

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Commonly known as a maternity cushion, this type of pillow is the smallest one available which can be used during and after the pregnancy. The two sub-types of wedge pillows are (i) round wedge pillow and (ii) triangular wedge pillow. It can be placed behind the back or under the tummy which provides obligatory support while sleeping side-ways or on your tummy.

  1. Full-length pregnancy pillow

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These pillows are long and provide a cushion to the entire body. It is like a lean giant teddy bear that you can hug and sleep. It gives good comfort to the hands and legs while also supports the grown stomach. The two types of full-length pregnancy pillows are (i) straight full-length pregnancy pillow and (ii) flexible full-length pregnancy pillow. They are designed to embrace and cuddle however they cannot be placed behind the back.

Related: 4 Tips to Improve Sleep Quality

You should also look at points such as stuffing material, the degree of softness, size of the pillow, removable covers, noise and smell before you finalize that one pillow for you which will provide utmost comfort when you enter the pudding club.

I understand that a pillow may seem immaterial in the larger perspective but it is an important accessory that can provide comfort and support for sleep in those nine months. Having a good night’s sleep is vital for the well-being of the mother and the baby.