Sunday, February 24, 2008

Guide to choosing a mattress

Selecting an appropriate mattress can greatly aid in getting better sleep. In today's article, I'll show you how to pick a mattress that best suits your needs.

There are many factors to consider when buying a mattress, such as type, distribution of pressure, skin microclimate, hygiene, size, firmness, edge support, long-term stability and price.

Type - There are spring mattresses, foam mattresses and air mattresses.

Spring Mattresses
In general, Spring Mattresses can be divided into two sub categories, continuous coils and individual coils. The guage of the coils determine it's thickness, which affects firmness and support. In general, thicker coils mean a firmer support. The number of coils also matter, with more expensive mattresses typically having more coils.

A firm bed is good as it provides proper support for the back while sleeping.

Foam Mattresses
A good thing about foam mattresses is that they change shape when under pressure, allowing the mattress to fit to the body's shape and distribute the body's weight evenly. This can help prevent bed sores. They are also made from materials designed to prevent allergies.

Air Mattresses
Air Mattresses are inflatable mattresses ideal for bringing outdoors. Their light weight makes them easy to clean and very portable as they can be deflated. Air mattresses come in a wide range of prices with some even more expensive than good spring mattresses.

Try to pick a mattress that best suits your needs. It's okay to spend more than what you would normally spend as this is a very important investment. You are going to spend a third of your day sleeping on this bed so make sure you pick a good one. Generally, you get what you pay for. You might want to test out your mattresses before buying them. Pick one that offers good support, does not make loud creaks and feels comfortable.

I hope this has helped you. Feel free to leave a comment. Have a good rest!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stages of Sleep

Every person has about 6 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Yet not all sleep is the same. Today we'll be take a look at the different stages of sleep and how they affect the quality of our sleep.

Stage 1 - We usually enter this stage when we just go to bed. In this stage, you are drifting in and out of consciousness. Breathing is slightly slowed and muscles start to relax. Stage 1 sleep consists mostly of theta waves and brief periods of alpha waves, similar to those present while awake. Stage 1 usually only last a few minutes before either waking up or going to Stage 2.

Stage 2 - By stage 2 we are usually fully unconscious. This stage lasts around 20 minutes. The brain starts to produce bursts of rapid, rhythmic brain wave activity called sleep spindles. Body temperature decreases and heart rate slows.

Stage 3 - Slow delta waves start to appear. Stage 3 is the beginning of deep sleep. People who are awakened from deep sleep usually feel disoriented. Much growth and healing occurs in this stage.

Stage 4 - Delta waves dominate this stage. This stage is the longest of all stages and the deepest stage of sleep. Sleepwalking, snoring and sleep apnea usually occurs at the end of this stage of sleep.

REM Sleep - Most dreaming takes place at this stage. When we enter REM sleep, our heartbeat quickens and eye movement occurs. Brain activity increases and muscles are paralyzed to prevent us from acting out our dreams.

Note that sleep does not progress through these stages in order. Sleep starts at stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, 3, and 4. After stage 4 sleep, stage 3 and then stage 2 sleep are repeated before REM sleep begins. When REM sleep is over, the body usually resumes stage 2 sleep and progresses deeper again, in a cycle. REM sleep will gradually increase in length as the cycle repeats.

Since much restoration takes place in deep sleep, it is important for us to sleep in large blocks rather than to spread out our sleeping. Ensuring uninterrupted sleep is therefore crucial to getting better sleep. Try to minimize disturbances to your sleep to get a better night's sleep. Sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea may affect your quality of sleep, so try to get them treated.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How to take a power nap

If you've been having insufficient sleep for a few days, you might be starting to feel its debilitating effects. When you desperately need to re-energize yourself, taking a power nap might be a good idea.

A power nap is a short nap that spans from 20 to 30 minutes. It can be used in addition to normal sleep to improve alertness, or to recover from the lack of sleep. As the nap is short, one does not feel the usual lethargy caused by sleep inertia after waking up. A power nap is an efficient way to get some rest and can even be used in a busy workplace during a lunch break.

Power naps give you many of the benefits of normal sleep while only taking a fraction of the time needed.

How to take a power nap:
  1. An hour before you nap, do not take caffeine and avoid heavy meals.
  2. Find a good, warm, quiet spot where you won't be disturbed for half an hour.
  3. Get a chair or something comfortable for you to rest on.
  4. Set your alarm to go off in 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. If you have eyeshades, use them as darkness can help you fall asleep faster.
  6. Shut your eyes and try to relax. Hopefully you'll be able to fall asleep.
If the environment is too noisy, consider earplugs or use music to drown out the noise.

In conclusion, a power nap can be useful in helping you get more sleep and rejuvenate your body if conditions permit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Falling asleep quickly

It's 2AM in the morning and you want to fall asleep but just can't seem to. You toss and turn on your bed but the harder you try, the more awake you seem to become. You've tried everything you can think of and still can't get that rest you so desperately need.

Sounds familiar? Everyone has, at some point in their lives, experienced insomnia. Maybe it's the night before a test, an important business meeting or a job interview. And we all know how frustrating it can be - feeling exhausted and irritated the following day.

Here are some ways to help you fall asleep quickly.

  • Medication - I would normally not recommend this as it is not a natural way to fall asleep and thus not good for the body in the long term. Taking sleeping pills can be habit-forming, you build up tolerance quickly and stronger ones leave you sleepy the next morning. However, I have to admit that sleeping pills are one surefire way for you to fall asleep. If all else has failed, then you can use this as a last resort. An exception to this would be Melatonin, which is actually produced by the body naturally as well and is a safe sleep aid you may want to try.
  • Aromatherapy - I have yet to try this but I've heard that it can produce some good results. Lavender and jasmine essential oils can induce relaxation and a state of restfulness which can aid in falling asleep.
  • Music - Listening to soft music can help you to relax and fall asleep. I find classical music to be very relaxing. Don't use headphones as they are unsafe while sleeping, instead, turn on the radio or cd player and tune in to soft, relaxing music.
  • Visualization - Picture in your mind a beautiful scenery or landscape. Perhaps a cool, lush waterfall from the amazon rainforests. Or a spectacular breathtaking view of the rockies. Whatever it is, try to make it as vibrant as you can. This can be exhausting mentally and you should soon fall asleep. Contrary to the popular belief, counting sheep doesn't really seem to help much.
Of course, your greatest enemy is frustration. The more worked up you get, the harder it is to fall asleep.

So if you still can't fall asleep, get up from your bed, go to the kitchen and make a glass of warm milk, then get a book and start reading for about 15 minutes. When you begin to feel more relaxed again, you can try to go to sleep again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Five steps to a better sleep

Today, I will reveal five steps that you can take to get better sleep. After reading the article "Five Reasons to Get Better Sleep" you should be convinced on the benefits of getting better sleep. Even if you aren't convinced, I encourage you to just try them out for a week or two. You'll be surprised at the results - less chronic pain, aches are gone, feeling more alert....

Ready? Here's five tips on how to get better sleep.

1. Beds are for sleeping. Just because it's comfortable or convenient to carry out your daytime activities on your bed doesn't mean you should. This includes eating, watching TV or doing your work. Not only do such activities bring unwanted pencil shavings and bread crumbs, they also cause you to associate the bed with these activities, something that can be very distracting when you want to sleep. In fact, if you're reading this article with your laptop on your bed now, consider moving to the desk before you continue.

2. Don't leave work hanging when you go to sleep. I'm not saying that you finish all your work before you go to bed - that would be difficult at best and impossible for some. Instead, you should have peace in your mind before sleeping. What I mean is that you should stop your work, write down all the things that you have left to do or want to take note of on a piece of paper or a notebook. For instance, if you're waiting for a reply email from your colleague, just write it down so you won't forget it and then don't bother about it until you wake up the next morning. Or if you're halfway arranging the bookshelf, write down the place where you stopped and continue the next day. Worried about something? Write it down to get it off your mind. In this way your mind will be worry-free when you go to bed ensuring a good night's sleep.

3. Maintain a daily routine before you sleep. A good way to get better sleep is to follow a set of rituals before you go to bed. As much as possible, aim to sleep around the same time every day. Consider your ideal amount of sleep, the time you have to wake up, and then plan your bedtime. Try to follow through as much and as often as possible to keep your body clock in sync. About 20 minutes before you sleep, stop your work and start winding down. If you like you could do a little quiet reading of your favorite book or drink some warm milk before you sleep. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages as they tend to keep you alert and make it harder to fall asleep. Warm milk is good as it calms the body.

4. Make your bedroom comfortable. Doing so will improve the quality of sleep. This is a very important factor that tends to be overlooked. The place where you sleep is very important as you will be spending quite a few hours there. Make sure that the room is properly ventilated and not too warm or cold. A good temperature to keep your room at is around 25 degrees Celsius. Again, make sure your bed is free of clutter and the bedsheets are well laid. Change your bedsheets and pillowcases regularly. Doing so will provide a more comfortable and hygienic sleeping environment.

5. Don't stimulate your mind before sleeping. Plan your activities of the day such that you do less stimulating activities before you sleep. This doesn't mean that you just idle your evening away, rather, do activities like folding the clothes or playing the piano. DON'T watch horror movies before you go to bed. Avoid watching action films or playing action games before you sleep, as your mind will be too active to fall asleep.

I hope that with these five tips on how to get better sleep, you will be able to get better sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed. Thank you for stopping by. In the next few articles, I will discuss more on other sleep related topics that can help you improve your quality of sleep.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Five reasons to get better sleep

In our first article, I will explain to you why you might want to get better sleep. We'll be focusing on the ways and means to achieve that in our next article but for now, lets just find out why we should improve the quality of our sleep.

Why should we get better sleep, you may ask. Why not spend those hours making money by working or pursuing our hobbies? After all, if we feel fine in the day, isn't that being more efficient with our time? Well getting adequate and quality sleep is very important to our well being in many ways.

1. Sleep restores our bodies.
There is much evidence that proper sleep restores and rejuvenates our body. Often we feel rested after a night of quality sleep. There is scientific evidence that sleep can affect the rate that wounds heal. Sleep deprivation can hinder the healing of injuries.

2. Sleep can improve memory.
Getting better sleep may be beneficial to memory. Studies have shown that working memory is affected by the lack of sleep. Working memory is important as it supports high-level mental functions such as reasoning and decision making. In one study, subjects which were well rested performed 38% better than subjects with insufficient sleep in a series of cognitive tests.

3. Sleep strengthens our immune system.
Proper sleep has also been shown to help our immune system fight infections. Sleeping enough increases the amount of white blood cells in our body and can help in warding off illnesses.

4. Much growth occurs during sleep.
Sleep, especially slow-wave sleep, affects growth hormone levels in adult men. In a study of 149 healthy males aged 16 to 83 in the year 2000, it was found that those who had a high percentage of slow-wave sleep also secreted high levels of growth hormones, unlike those with a low percentage of slow-wave sleep.

5. Sleep improves our mood and concentration.
If you're feeling grumpy or uptight, maybe it's time for you to get a night of quality sleep! When one is well rested, his senses will be heightened and his mind clear and refreshed. Getting better sleep will allow you to think clearly and concentrate better on the tasks at hand. It also makes you feel better!

Convinced? Getting better sleep is certainly better for you! In our next article you will learn how to get better sleep. Stay tuned to this blog!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Find out how to get better sleep today

Hello and welcome to Get Better Sleep, a blog dedicated to help the exhausted get a good night's rest! Here you will find tips and tricks you can employ to get more sleep. We will show you ways and means to fall asleep quickly and improve the quality of your time in bed. Ward of fatigue and be refreshed and alert throughout the day! If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to leave a comment on this blog! Get a better night's sleep today!