The Difference Between Bed Bugs and Dust Mites

Bed bugs and dust mites are just a few of the most common unwanted guests in our home. They might be the cause of the little red bites that you can see all over your body. That’s not only itchy but it doesn’t look good too. So, what is the differences between these two?

Dust Mites vs. Bed Bugs

image of bed bug and dust mite

Dust mites are so small they are often microscopic. They are insect-like pests that commonly lives in the house. They usually feed on the shredded skin of people and pets. Dust mites loves a warm and moist environment and often thrive at temperatures between 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of at least 70 to 80%. The temperature at home is just right making it the ideal place for them to stay. They often find their way into the inner layers of your favorite furniture, carpets, bedding and even stuffed toys.

Meanwhile, bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that are visible to the naked eye. These insects live on the blood of animal and humans. Adult bed bugs often have a flat body but after feeding it swells and becomes reddish in color. Bed bugs do not fly but are fast crawlers and can move fast between walls, ceilings and floors. Bed bugs hides on luggage, clothing, mattresses and sofas. They often stay on the headboard or on the bed itself so that they have easy access to people when they feed.

Symptoms of Dust Mites

Like bed bugs, Dust mites is also considered as an allergen because it triggers an allergic reaction. Dust mites may die on the extremes of temperature, but their waste and bodies stay behind. Once a person inhales them or touches their skin, this can trigger an allergic reaction. Dust mite allergy may also trigger your asthma. Common dust mite allergy symptoms are the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy nose, mouth or throat
  • Itchy skin
  • Postnasal drip (A flow of mucus at the back of your nose that goes through the throat)
  • Cough

Symptoms of Bed Bugs

scratching bed bugs bites on legs

The bed bugs can bite anywhere on an exposed skin. They often bite the neck, face, hands, shoulders, arms and legs as they are not covered by clothing. People do not feel the bite itself until they develop symptoms such as:

  • A burning or painful sensation
  • Raised itchy bump with a clear center
  • Red itchy bump with a dark center and swollen sides
  • Small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing

The symptoms of bed bugs depend on the individual characteristics of the bug’s bite and the person who was bitten by it. It may also cause serious reactions and might require medical attention.

Treatments

putting anti-itch cream on hand

You cannot control how your body reacts to the allergen like the bed bugs or dust mites. It is still important to be ready when the need of medication arises. There are certain over-the-counter medications that may help reduce the reaction cause by the bites of the dust mites and bed bugs.

Antihistamines – these are readily available at the drug store and has a variety from pills to liquids and nose sprays. Antihistamines helps relieve the sneezing and itching of the nose and the eyes. It also reduces the mucus production therefore, lesser nasal stuffiness.

Anti-itch Cream – these are topical medications that helps lessen the redness and inflammation caused by the dust mites or bed bugs’ bites.

Decongestants – these are effective in relieving the nasal stuffiness. It helps shrink the lining of the nasal passages therefore making it easier for you to breathe through your nose. Some decongestants can make you feel sleep and might increase your blood pressure as its side effects.

If none of the medications above can relieve the symptoms you are experiencing, you might need to consult with the doctor to be given the appropriate medications and treatment.

Prevention

vacuuming under the bed

1. Cover your mattress with tight-fit fitted sheet and pillows qin zippered dust-proof covers. The materials of these are capable of preventing the dust mites and bed bugs to pass through. Meaning, it is allergen impermeable. Bed bugs are able to live for a year without feeding so make sure that you cover your mattress for at least a year to make sure all the bed bugs are dead.

2. Wash your bed sheets and linens regularly in hot temperature. Extremes of temperature can eradicate the dust mites and bed bugs that are lingering on them.

3. Use certified filter vacuum cleaners. Not all vacuum cleaners are effective against dust mites and bed bugs. Buying the right type of vacuum filter can help keep the mites and bug’s waste from getting to the air. Make sure to immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and dispose it.

4. Get rid of the clutter that surrounds your bed. Vacuuming and washing of sheets is not enough. Clean your surroundings first as to not invite more insects that can possibly pester you and live in your home. Also, a large amount of dust mites and bed bugs may be staying on the chairs, cabinets, pillows and carpeting so make sure you remove or clean anything that they can stay on.

How To Get Rid Of Dust Mites

Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night because of the bite marks all over your body? Did you try changing your bed linen but still to no avail? We listed down the most effective ways on getting rid of dust mites that will probably change your sleep forever!

What are Dust Mites?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one of the most common triggers of allergies and asthma attacks at home is the dust mites. Dust mites are tiny bugs that commonly lives on house dust. They are close relatives of ticks and spiders and cannot easily be seen by the naked eye. Dust mites fed on the shredded skin by the people and thrive on warm environment. This makes the bed or your mattress the ideal place for the dust mites to hide.

Dust mite allergy is a common problem of people with sensitive body. Symptoms of dust mite allergy include sneezing, runny nose, wheezing cough, red eyes, and even difficulty of breathing. These are common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.  Most often than not, the allergic reaction caused by dust mites can be reversed by your anti-allergy medications but if it persists, you may need to visit the doctor immediately.  

Ways to get rid of Dust Mites

Lower the Temperature and Humidity

Dust mites thrive on a warm and moist environment. Dust mites like it when the humidity of the room/house is greater than 50%. If it’s less than 50 percent, they may have a hard time living in the comfort of your home. The ideal room temperature is between 65 to 72 degrees Farenheit. Make sure to keep the humidity of your home low. You might want to consider buying a dehumidifier if necessary, to further decrease the humidity of your home.  

On days when the weather is dry, you may open your windows to allow good ventilation of your room. Aside from keeping your room smell fresh, opening your window also helps in reducing the humidity of your room.

Cleaning is your Best friend

As much as you love or hate cleaning, this might be your best friend when it comes to stopping the dust mites from thriving at your home. Cleaning your house thoroughly and dusting the areas that are often exposed at least 1-2x weekly will help in eradicating your enemies. You might also consider using a damp cloth to avoid spreading the dust mites in the air when you are dusting. Make sure to wash the cloth at high temperature or dispose it after use.

Hot Temperature is Recommended

As dust mites cannot survive in temperature more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, you may want to wash your beddings at high temperature. This will ensure that the dust mites that might be present on your cushions, linens or rugs will be eliminated and washed away by the heat of the water. Also, adding a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the wash will help remove at least 99% of the dust mites that are present in the beddings.

Freeze Them!

Some fabrics cannot be washed on high temperature like silk or stuffed toys. But this should not hinder you from eliminating the dust mites that are thriving in them. If these items can fit in your freezing, you might want to try this hack. Place the items on a container or a zip lock and freeze them for a day. Dust mites doesn’t love an extremely high temperature. The freezing temperature is enough to kill each one of them. After freezing it, use a vacuum and thoroughly clean each item to remove what’s left on them. If possible, you can still wash them in low temperature.

Diatomaceous Earth can do Wonders

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that can easily be crumbled to a fine white sand. It is often used as a pesticide as it absorbs the oils and fats from the cuticle of an insect’s exoskeleton causing them to die. It also has sharp edges which are abrasive and is not harmful for humans but deadly for insects – such as the dust mites!

You may sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth powder on carpet rugs, mattresses, beddings and sofa to better eliminate these unwanted visitors. Leave it for a few hours or better, overnight before cleaning it up using a vacuum. You can use it as often as you want.

Keep your Houseplants to a Minimum

Having houseplants does not only make your house feel and smell fresh but also keeps the air clean. Not all houseplants are recommended because some can trigger allergic reactions. You might want to consider on investing on air-purifying plants such as Peace Lilies, Golden Pothos, Philodendron, and Dracaena. Fun Fact: It can also help you have a better sleep at night!

Essential Oils

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants that captures the plants scent and flavor. It is more commonly used as an aromatherapy treatment either via inhaling them or applying it on your skin.  These essential oils have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties which can be used in eliminating dust mites. Make your own mite spray by using tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil and mix it with water. Spray them on areas where dust mites hide. The smell is not only refreshing but is also relaxing for the body.

Vacuum!!

Vacuuming is more important than you think it is. It is a great way of reducing the dust mites and also makes it easier for you to clean the house. Here are some tricks that can make cleaning with a vacuum easier:

  • Choose a vacuum cleaner that has HEPA filter to decrease the dust emission from it.
  • Vacuum at least 2x a week and thoroughly clean areas where dust often accumulates such as under the bed or near the door.
  • Wear a mask when cleaning to avoid inhaling the dust that was dispersed. If you are allergic to dust, hire someone who does not have allergies.
  • Wet vacuuming or steaming is effective in removing mites and their dropping on rugs and carpets.

How To Choose The Perfect Mattress

It is recommended to change your mattress every 8 years. Buying a new one is easy but getting the right one for you may be hard especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. We made a definitive guide in buying a mattress that will probably change your view with sleeping.  

Choosing a Mattress

There are several factors that one should consider for having a good night’s sleep such as comfort, stress, diet, the environment and even sleeping on the right mattress. To ensure that you buy the right one, here are some things you should consider:

Measure Up – Whether you already have a bed and just want to change its mattress, or you are just planning to buy one. It is important for you to know what size your mattress is as it comes in a range of sizes – single, double queen and king.

Know your Budget – A mattress is a long-term investment and you’ll probably use it for 8 years or more. Aside from that, you will also spend most of your nights here therefore you need to buy the best quality of mattress there is, but it should fit within your budget. Make sure to let the salesperson know so that they will be able to give you a good but economical one.

Bring your Partner – If you share a bed, it is important that both of you will agree on what mattress you will buy. You should also consider your preferences and agree on what to buy together.

Comfort – Make comfort your goal. It is the most important part of buying a mattress. We spend more time on the bed than in doing other things that’s why you need to buy a comfortable bed. A good mattress will not only support your body on whatever position you want but also helps keep your body in alignment. Try spending 10 minutes lying on the mattress in your sleeping position to know if it gives the right amount of comfort that you needed.

Allergens – If you have a quite sensitive body, you might need to consider looking for a mattress that has a hypoallergenic quality. This is to prevent any allergic reactions from whatever material that your bed might have.

Consider your Bed – Bed and mattresses should work together. Also, the bed should be able to accommodate whatever is the weight of your mattress and should provide a good foundation for your mattress

A Good Mattress

  • A good mattress helps keep you back in alignment and perfectly conforms to your body shape. It does not cause curvature of the spine or should not cause high pressure on your hips and shoulder.
  • It gives your back proper support and alleviates your back pain.
  • Has a good temperature and moist control. It should not cause you to sweat or be too cold.
  • Lastly, it lets you sleep comfortably throughout the night with no pain and body aches in the morning.

Mattress Types

Innerspring Mattresses

This type of mattress is readily available on the market and has a lot of styles to choose from. It has different range of firmness and is economical. Because of its wide range of brands and types, it is advised not to buy the cheapest innerspring mattress there is on the market as it may not have the same support like the others. For someone who has quite a heavy weight, spring mattress provides a firmer support making it easy to get in and out of the bed.

Memory Foam Mattresses

This type of mattress molds to the shape of your body as your weight shifts when you sleep at night. Also, memory foam was proven to reduce pressure points and relive back pain. Since memory foam is a good movement absorber, sleeping with your partner will not disturb you especially when they get out of the bed to pee. The only common complaint with this mattress is that it is temperature sensitive and might make you feel extremely hot during the night. Lastly, it has a arduous smell unlike the others.

Latex Mattresses

Latex might be one of the best materials for a mattress because it is not only firm enough but also provides support and comfort like the memory foam but in much affordable price. The only disadvantage of is its firmness so if you are not a fan then this might not be the mattress for you.

Air Mattresses

This mattress is advisable for couples who have different preferences when it comes to a mattress because of its unique quality of changing the firmness level of each side of the bed. Avoid making it too firm as it might cause you to wake up at night due to back aches.

Adjustable Beds

This bed is ideal for people who have a difficulty getting in and out of the bed or for those who often watch Television before going to sleep. Adjustable beds make it easier for you to move closer wherever you want to be. It also causes you to sleep flat on the bed which is not a good idea especially if you are suffering from sleep apnea or acid reflux.

Sofa Beds

The most convenient bed there is. It’s multifunctionality allows you to use it as a bed or a sofa whichever is needed. It is advisable for naps and such but not for long-term sleeping as the mattress of it is very thing and the springs are quite weak.

How Often You Should Change Your Mattress

Almost one-third of your life is spent sleeping on your comfortable mattress. It plays a valuable role in your everyday life and gives you the comfort you needed after a tiring day at work or after binge watching TV series. Sleeping on a comfortable mattress affects your everyday energy and mood. We listed down a few things that will help you determine if you need a change of mattress or not.

Signs that you should Change your Mattress

Do you still have a good night’s sleep?

If sleeping becomes uncomfortable for you and you wake up in the morning with body stiffness, aches, pains and even filled with tick bites all-over your body, your mattress may not be providing the level of support, comfort and protection that your body needs to have. A torn-out mattress will lessen your comfort while sleeping which may affect your day by feeling worn-out and sleep-deprived.

Does it cope with the changes in your body?

Did you a get a couple of pounds heavier or lighter compared to your weight a few years back? If you noticed a certain change on your body, and you think that your mattress is not able to support your body anymore, you might consider getting a new mattress. This can also be applied to a kid’s mattress which they outgrow as they get older. Mattresses can’t adapt by themselves to the growing body of a kid.

Does your mattress have a visible wear and tear?

If you can feel springs when you lie down and there are dips left on the mattress even after you got out of the bed. It is a definitive sign that you should change your mattress. You might also hear a creaking, squeaking sound when you go over the bed then that means that it is not on a sound condition and using it might harm your back.

Does your mattress keep you awake at night?

People age and so is your mattress too. As it ages, its ability to reduce the motion transfer like it previously did before declines. This causes much problem especially when it is a shared bed. It lessens the support it can give to two sleepers.

Is your mattress a home for dust mites or bed bugs?

Ever woke up feeling itchy all-over your body because the bed bugs made you a meal during the night? These bed bugs or dust mites loves to live in a warm and moist place and they also feed on dead skin cells. Also, a worn out and old mattress can accumulate a lot of dirt and allergens which can trigger allergic reactions and even asthmatic attack. There are many ways to remove these unwanted guests on your mattress but most of it doesn’t work when your bed has visible wear and tear.

Is your mattress older than 8 years old?

The sleep council strongly advice to replace mattresses every 8 years. During this time, the original comfort and support that it provided you previously has declined and can no longer maintain it. A mattress may just be hidden under a fitted sheet throughout its life, but we cannot remove the fact that it has become an important part of our daily lives.

If your answer is YES to almost every question above, you might need to consider saying goodbye to your old mattress and welcome a new and ergonomic mattress that will provide you good sleep for the next 8 years.

Tips for a Better Mattress Health

To ensure that your mattress will have a longer life than intended, here are some tips that you should follow:

  • Make sure that your bedroom is well-ventilated and always keep the windows open in the morning. This lets the air move in and out of your room with ease while providing a great temperature for your mattress.
  • When washing the fitted sheet, comforters and pillowcase, make sure to wash them on a hot temperature (about 60C or more). To make sure that any bacteria or germs living on the sheet will be eradicated.
  • You may use a mattress protector, waterproof or not. This will help prevent the mattress from being soiled by liquids or fluids that may seep through the inside of the mattress causing damage to its components. For better hygiene, regularly wash it.
  • During summer, where nights are warmer and a lot of sweating may have occurred, do not make your bed right away. Leave the bed uncovered and ideally, the duvet should be hanged somewhere where it will dry fast. In this way, the sweat that the sheet absorbed will dry fast lessening the chances of the bacteria from reproducing on the bed.

Benefits of Waterproof Mattress Protector

coffee spilling on waterproof matress protector

Ever experienced having tick bites all-over your body after a good night sleep? Or did your child pee while sleeping and you woke up in a smelly and wet bed? Worry not because we just found the perfect solution for saving your well-loved mattress.

What is a Mattress Protector?

Mattress protectors are used as a barrier around your mattresses to protect you from almost everything. The warm mattress is a good thriving environment for allergens like dust mites which can trigger asthma or eczema attacks. The mattress protector prevents you and your bed from waking up on a pool of pee and from having itchy tick bites all-over your body. Aside from that, waterproof mattresses also prolong the mattress’ life. It is a good investment because it ensures that you will have a comfortable sleep after a tiring day at work.

 Types of Mattress Protectors

mattress protector

Fitted mattress protectors – This type of protectors is easy to use. It is like a bottom sheet, so you just need to tuck them around the mattress. It is easy and quick to remove especially when it needs cleaning or changing.

Waterproof mattress protectors – this type of protectors is recommended as a protective cover for your child’s bed. It’s waterproof quality offers protection against any kind of spills and stains. Also, it reduces the ability of the molds to grow on your mattress prolonging its life.

Polyurethane mattress protectors – This mattress protector is soft and fine. Some of it has a waterproof option, depending on which style or brand you’ll buy. It is made with comfort in mind because of its breathable reverse which does not cause sleep interruption that is caused by other waterproof protectors.

Polypropylene mattress protectors – This mattress protector may be the lightest of all the others. It also provides the same use as the others and but its advantage is its low moisture absorption which makes it easier to clean and remove stains.

Choosing a Waterproof Barrier

Getting a waterproof protector may be life changing especially for first-time parents. It will lessen your laundry and also saves your mattress from drowning from your child’s pee. In purchasing a waterproof mattress protector, these are things you should consider:

  • Mattress pads with a vinyl barrier

This type of waterproof mattress cover is often not breathable but is much cheaper. Cleaning it may take more time than usual because of its design and also it is quite hot to sleep on because it has high moisture absorption. It also makes a squeaky sound or feeling when you move on the bed.

  • Mattress pads with a urethane barrier

This type of waterproof mattress barrier may cost more but it is the most comfortable as it allows heat transfer which means that it stays cool on summers and warm on winter. It doesn’t also make a sound when you move on the bed unlike the vinyl type. Cleaning it is easy as it is washed fast and dries quickly. Lastly, its quality ensures you that it will last for a long time.

Why buy a Waterproof Mattress Protector?

bed bugs bites
Bedbug bites

Protection against Soiling

Waterproof mattress protectors does not only provide a water-proof environment for your bed but also acts a barrier against dirt. Its designed to prevent invasion of the bed from bed bugs, bacteria and dirt that may cause you harm.

Allergy Control

Waterproof mattress protector is beneficial for people who have sensitive skin and is asthmatic because it limits their exposure from possible allergens. People who often wake-up with red tick bites all over their body will definitely benefit from this as bed bugs and dust mites flourish on areas where people live and thrive on shredded skin. For best protection, buying a waterproof mattress cover that provides total encasement of the mattress is recommended.

Cushioning

Waterproof mattress protectors are designed to provide extra cushioning and support to the sleepers. There are different materials that is used for waterproof mattresses like cotton, cotton cover with silk, feather and synthetic fibre filling. Quilting these mattress covers helps hold the filling in place and prevent occurrence of uneven padding. Remember that waterproof mattresses that provides extra cushion should not be washed on the laundry but should be dry cleaned only.

Prolongs the Mattress’ Life

Waterproof mattress cover provides extra protection for your mattress and prevents it from wear and tear. Hence, extending its life. Also, it prevents the fluids from going into your mattress which may cause damage on the coil springs and the like inside your mattress.

What Scents Keeps Bed Bugs Away?

Did you ever experienced waking up in the middle of the night because of itching? In the morning, you’ll see little red bumps all over your body because of the bites that you got the night before. This might be because of the bed bugs that has been living on your bed for quite a long time. Here are some proven ways on how to keep bed bugs away from you and your bed:

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small brownish insects that are oval in color which lives because of the blood of animal and humans like us. Unlike other bugs, they do not fly and goes around quickly because of their multiple legs. Bed bugs are a great traveler, they can go with you literally everywhere. They tend to latch on suitcases, clothes and linens causing them to spread more easily.

Where do Bed Bugs hide?

When bugs are not feeding, they usually hide in a variety of places where it is usually dark and tiny spaces.  Bed bugs are warm-blooded hosts that are attracted to a warm, moist environment (usually the skin of a mammal). Their usual hiding places are the following:

  • On the tags of the mattresses and box spring
  • Near the piping
  • On the cracks of the bed frame or headboard
  • On the seams of the chairs and couches
  • In between the folds of curtains
  • In drawer joint
  • On appliances and electrical plugs
  • Behind loose wall papers and hanging decors
  • Above your ceiling
  • Storage areas
  • On upholstered furniture and fixtures

When do Bed Bugs Bite

Bed bugs are active at night and bites people when they are sleeping. They feed for about 3 to 10 minutes from by piercing through a person’s skin and drinking the blood of a person using its elongated beak. Once they become full and engorged, they crawl away unnoticed. They often bite exposed areas of the body such as the ankles, arms and legs.

Scents that Bed Bugs Really Hate

There are many known ways of dealing with the problem of bed bugs. You may opt to hire a pest control or look for a natural alternative that can help you remove these unwanted visitors on your bedroom. Here are some natural alternatives that you can use to eliminate these bugs completely without the threat of health that chemical products have:

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is a popular oil extract nowadays at it is the most effective essential oil there is. It is readily available and can even be purchased online. Aside from being an effective face regimen, it is also known as a bug repellant. It is a natural oil that has strong antibacterial properties and more than that it has a smell that bed bugs hate.

Just combine the Tea Tree Oil extract with some water then put on a bottle spray. Spray the solution all over your mattress, chair or cushion to send away the bed bugs. Do this on a daily basis.

Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil is the most efficient bed bug repellant available on the market. People love the aroma of lavender while bed bugs hate it. You can just freely spray the oil at home or in areas infested by bugs to help eliminate them. The smell and taste of it will surely be hated by bugs enough for them to go away. Aside from that, the scent of Lavender also improves a person sleep so you can be sure to have a bite-free night ahead of you.

Diatomaceous Earth

Unlike the first two, Diatomaceous earth is a form of powdered and fossilized algae. It is often use by pest control as it does not only cover bed bugs but also cockroaches and ants. The powder causes these pests to die due to dehydration and also destroys their waxy exoskeletons, harming their body. Its poignant smell is disliked by the bugs. Just sprinkle the powder all over the place infested by the pests and you will surely eliminate these unwanted bugs.

Powdered Pepper

This one is sure to sit on your kitchen cabinet. It is often used in cooking to add a little bit of texture to the food. But aside from cooking, powdered pepper can also be used in the household to control bugs. Just sprinkle the pepper on sites where the bugs hide and the aroma of this will surely drive them away.

Lemon Juice

Lemon is not only a fruit that is filled with a lot of health benefits, but it can also be used at home. Lemon juice has an astringent property that is harmful to bed bugs. A freshly squeezed lemon juice is preferred when eliminating bugs. If you think the lemon is too concentrated, you may add a little bit of water. 

References:

www.epa.gov/bedbugs/how-find-bed-bugs

www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/bedbugs-infestation#1

What Is The Best Bed For Lower Back Pain?

man with lower back pain

Have you experienced an intense radiating pain on your lower back which often happened after lifting heavy objects or sudden change in body movements? As one age, it is expected for our body to undergo changes. One of the most common of which is lower back pain.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back starts on the lumbar region of the spine. To be more specific, it starts just below the ribcage. Low back pain is said to be the most common cause of job-related disability (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2020). It is one of the reasons why workers seek consultation from doctors.

The pain that one experiences may vary from dull to constant pain and from sudden, sharp to even shooting pain. The type of pain that one experiences depends on the root cause of the back pain. There are 2 types of back pain:

  • Acute Back Pain – also called as short-term back pain. This often last only for a few days to less than 12 weeks. It is the most common form of back pain and usually resolves on its own with adequate rest.
  • Chronic Back Pain – from the name itself, it usually last longer than 12 weeks to even years. The symptoms often persist for a year. It is not always caused by a medical condition. Mental problems may contribute to the persistence of the disease.

What Causes Lower Back Pain

Congenital Problems. There are medical conditions, such as scoliosis, lordosis or even spina bifida, which affects the development of the spinal cord. These problems may cause abnormal sensations to be felt such as lower back pain.

Injuries. Injuries such as sprains, strains and traumatic injuries are commonly acquired at work or through accidents. These injuries affect the tendons, ligaments or muscle to continuously contract which eventually causes pain.

Degenerative Problems. Examples of which are Spondylosis and Arthritis. Aging makes the discs on our spinal cord wear down and, in the process, lose its cushioning ability. Once this cushion between discs is gone, our movement causes friction between the disc which eventually causes pain.

Spinal Cord Problems. These problems may be caused by compression of the spinal cord or infections that affects the spinal cord. These problems usually put pressure unto the cord causing numbness, cramping and weakness. It is mostly felt when one is walking or standing for too long.

Kidney Stones. This is a common non-spine cause of lower back pain. Kidney problems often presents with lower back pain and the quality is sharp or stabbing. The only difference between kidney stones and spinal affectation is the laterality: Kidney problems only affects one side while spinal problems causes bilateral lower back pain.

Pregnancy. In women, it is a common misdiagnosis especially if they are unaware that they are pregnant. The raging hormones of a pregnant female causes body changes that presents as lower back pain.  

Sleeping Position and Lower Back Pain

sleeping woman

Sleeping and lower back pain affects each other. Improper sleeping positions causes a strain on the lumbar region of the spinal cord causing pain on the lower back. A mattress can either make or break the optimal alignment of your back.  A mattress that does not follow the natural curve of your back may cause even more straining.  When one is not comfortable with the mattress, they are sleeping on they may develop sleep disturbances and even insomnia.

A tip when sleeping to avoid back pain: sleep on your back. This is the ideal position when sleeping for people who experiences back pain. Sleeping on your back helps distribute equally your weight. This ensures that your body is in proper alignment and the spinal cord is supported. Also, add a good pillow as it is proven to be helpful in any sleeping position.  It supports the neck and at the same time maintains the proper alignment of the head. You may also put pillows in between your legs to prevent misalignment of your hips, pelvis and spine.

The Ideal Mattress for the Back

According to studies, the ideal mattress or bed for people who are suffering with lower back pain is medium-firm mattresses. They should avoid too soft or too firm mattresses. A soft mattress will follow the curve of your back but does not provide enough pressure to keep it in position while firm mattresses are hard enough and does not follow the natural curvature of the back. Both of which does not lessen the back pain but instead makes it severe. A medium-firm mattress was proven to minimize cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine pain by providing enough cushion and pressure to keep the back in its natural curve.

A medium-firm mattress with memory foam and latex may also be considered as it helps in the alignment of the back and prevents pain by giving the necessary support the back needs.

A Good Bed

nice and comfortable bed

A good bed should provide comfort, support, pressure relief and temperature and moisture control. Here are some points to consider when buying a mattress:

  1. Personal Preference– People are unique individuals and different mattresses works for different people. Of course, the best mattress is the one that gives you a good night sleep and wakes you up without any body aches on your body.
  2. Physical Composition – You may choose the number of coils, type of padding or even the mattress depth according to your taste. Coils or innersprings provide better support along with add-ons such as toppers or paddings.
  3. Spine Alignment -Make sure that the spine is in a neutral position. The perfect mattress follows the curves of the body and at the same time provides enough pressure to maintain the spine’s natural and optimal alignment.

10 Tips for Buying the Best Bunk Bed

The Advantages of a Bunk Bed:

1. Two beds. Each of our girls will still have their own bed to sleep on, giving them their own space.

2. More space. Bunked beds means more room in their small bedroom. It allows us to actually store toys in their bedroom. Two twin beds would leave about two feet of walking space between their beds. One full or queen bed would have taken up most of their room as well. Now our kids can keep toys in their room and we can have less toys downstairs!

3. If someone has an accident or gets sick in the middle of the night you don’t have to wake them both up to change the sheets (like you would if they shared a bed).

4. When the time comes, the bunk beds can be separated into two twin beds.

5. They can be a ton of fun for little kids to play on.

The Disadvantages of a Bunk Bed:

1. Safety concerns: Kids can fall off the ladder when climbing up or down. They could fall off the bottom or top bunk if they aren’t being careful enough. They can crack their head or body part on the wood or metal rails.

If the bunks don’t have a ton of space between them, the bottom child could crack their head on the bottom of the top bunk. Also, will the slats or boards support your bouncing child enough so that the mattress doesn’t fall through? Will the bunk bed be stable enough?

It is recommended by the AAP that the top bunk only be used by children aged six and older. They also recommend placing the bunk bed in a corner as to lessen the chance of falling out.

2. Making the beds. Not as easy when you can barely reach the top bunk, or have to climb on top of the bed to make it.

3. The child on top can likely reach the ceiling, light, ceiling fan, curtains or whatever else might be higher up in their room.

4. In the middle of the night whoever is on top can’t see the ladder very well and can have problems getting down by themselves, as they have a sleepy and tired body.

5. Tucking the child on top in may not be very easy if the bunk bed is very high. Or giving them their goodnight hugs and kisses.

We figured that the advantages of buying a bunk bed outweighed the disadvantages and were determined to find as safe and as comfortable a bunk as possible for our family.

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds. 10 Tips for Finding the Best Bunk Bed for Kids – A Bunk Bed Buying Guide

1. Can they separate into two beds?

We wanted ones that could, which pretty much ruled out most of the metal framed bunks. We like that bunks that are separable gave us flexibility, because as our children age and as our living situation changes (someday we’ll own a house, right?) it may be nice to have the option of having two regular twin beds, unbunked. However, not all separable bunks are made equal. One may look very different than the other when divided, which may or may not matter to you.

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

2. How much space is between the bunks?

This one was more important to me than to my husband. I didn’t want my kids to outgrow these bunks in just a few years because their heads were touching the bottom of the top bunk (or because they were kicking the bottom of the top bunk). I also thought it would be very nice if an adult (mom or dad) could sit on the bottom bunk without stooping or hunching over and cracking their heads. Maybe this won’t be as important to you, but it is something to consider.

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

3. How high will the top bunk be in your space?

Do you have low ceilings? Or a ceiling fan? Because then you might want to consider how tall this bunk bed will be, especially with the ceiling fan.

My kids showing how much space they have on the top bunk

4. To trundle or not to trundle?

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

This style of bed seems to be fairly popular right now as we saw several at various stores we looked at. However, since we are planning on using both of the beds every single day, the trundle didn’t seem to make sense. The purpose, for us, of getting a bunked bed was so we’d save floor space. Having to pull out a bed seemed to defeat that very important aspect. Trundle beds seem like a great option for a guest bedroom or occasional use.

However, I could see if you needed to fit three beds in a room, how having a bunk bed with a trundle would allow you more space during the day, yet allow three people to sleep in the same room.

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

5. What type of ladder or stairs will the bunk bed have?

Since our kids are still very young (under three), we ideally wanted a ladder that came out at an angle from the bunk bed or had stairs (with storage drawers in them) so they could climb up and down safely like this:

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

Some bunks’ access to the top is had only by climbing up on one of the ends (no real ladder). Will that affect where you have to place your bunk bed? Will the ladder or stairs take up too much space in the room? Is the ladder removable? Are the rungs of the ladder too far apart or the initial one too far off the ground? All important things to consider. I don’t think we could’ve easily fit stairs or a slanted ladder into our kids’ small room.

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

6. How high do the rails come?

Is there only one rail above the mattress? Or two? Or three? Do the rails cover the entire front or back or ends? On both top and bottom or just one? We definitely wanted high rails for our very young children to ensure it would be as safe as possible. Of course, a great way to have higher rails is to buy a smaller, bunk bed mattress that is only 6″ thick.

A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

Clearly, this “military style” bunk bed is NOT what I want for my kids.

7. How stable are the bunk beds?

Whenever we went to look at bunk beds in the stores, my husband was especially adamant about having to put the bed through a “shake test.” How much did the bunk bed rock? Part of the reasoning is that kids are hard on furniture. They will jump and bounce and yank and rock that bed, so the more it allows for that, the sooner the bed may “die” or fall apart or collapse. To gauge whether we thought a bed was fairly stable, we looked at how thick the corner pieces of the bed frame were as well as how it was assembled together and the materials used.

8. Aesthetics.

Do you like how the bed looks? Is the wood sanded and polished nice and smooth? Or is the wood gritty feeling? Do the drawers (if applicable) slide nicely in and out? Do you like the color of the wood or metal? Do you like how the bunks look when separated? If you like DIY projects then these may not be as important to you, but if you don’t want to have to worry about these things, it is important to consider.

9. Storage space.

Does the bunk come with extra storage space? Is there room under the bottom bunk for things? Are there drawers in the staircase? Does the bunk come with a desk or shelves attached? If you are looking into a loft bed these things are probably much more important to you. But, remember the space you plan on putting the bunk bed or loft in. Will there be enough room around it to access the shelves or desk or drawers provided?A great breakdown on bunk beds for kids! This mom discussed all the different factors you need to consider when going bunk bed shopping, like finding the safest bunk beds and the best place to buy bunk beds.

10. Cost.

We, like most people, always look for a great deal. And you’d be surprised how quickly the price of bunk beds can escalate, but also how unstable and unsafe the cheapest (~$150) new bunk beds can feel.

My suggestion is always to shop around. Figure out what features are most important to you of the nine points I listed above. Safety of course should be a top concern, so the materials and construction of the bed should be among your top priorities.

Do you feel more comfortable with a metal framed bed? Or do you really prefer wood? Also, when thinking about cost, remember that you will still need to buy bunk bed mattresses, waterproof mattress protectors, and bunk bed sheets and perhaps even bunkie boards.

Where You Can Buy Bunk Beds

There are lots of places that sell at least a few bunk beds including:

Amazon
Walmart
Sears
Custom Kids Furniture (Use code “Organize” to take $50 off any order over $299 – Love their selection of Toddler Bunk Beds!)
Zulily – They offer large (temporary) discounts on family-friendly items, including bunk beds (like from Donco Kids) sometimes!
Sam’s Club
Lowe’s
Target
Kmart
JCPenney has a few
Macy’s has 6 nicer wood ones
Bed Bath & Beyond (only a few options, but they are a great place for sheets, etc)
Beyond the bigger box stores, there are also your local furniture warehouse and regular furniture stores that will sell bunk beds too.

I highly recommend checking out the bunk beds in stores to see what you really like. It’s helpful to have your children find what they like and are able to climb up on. It’s also helpful so you can compare costs, writing down the name of the bunk bed and seeing if you can find it cheaper online or somewhere else.

Check out the whole article with images from the source link below.

Source: www.whatsupfagans.com/2013/01/things-to-consider-when-buying-a-bunk-bed/
Image: flickr.com

Some Ways To Sleep

It’s 2:49 a.m., more or less my bedtime, and I’m about to put on my Sleep Shepherd hat, a device designed to help the wearer go gentle into unconsciousness ($149.99). The hat is a stretchy black beanie, but where you might normally find a pompom there’s a plastic box the size of a Triscuit. If I were an alien, this would be the port through which I’d receive my instructions from the mother ship. The box has an on-off switch, and I’m going to turn it on so that the mechanism can commune with my head.

The hat measures activity in my cerebral cortex through three sensors sewn into the fabric—one covering each ear and a third handling the forehead. There are also built-in speakers that emit pulsing tones mimicking the frequencies of my brain waves. Gradually, the rhythm will slow down and, supposedly, so will my brain, entrained as if by a hypnotist. The noise sounds like the tone you’d expect to hear before a nuclear disaster. It’s supposed to be soothing, and, truth be told, I don’t mind it. The hat was invented by Michael Larson, a mechanical engineer at the University of Colorado. Larson told me, over the phone, that he came up with it to treat his daughter, who had an autoimmune disease that prevented her from getting enough deep sleep. The contraption apparently did the trick.

In my case, it’s hard to say whether it was the hat or causes non-millinery that ushered me into dreamland each of the nights I wore it: I always woke up to find the hat on the floor. But I don’t really have insomnia. Every so often, I will resort to counting sheep—actually, I count divorced couples I know, and sometimes, at 5 a.m., couples who should get divorced—but, in general, I do not want to fall asleep ever. I have spent my life staying up later than I should. As a child, I was convinced that turning in meant missing out on illicit fun. I tried to train myself to sleep with my forearm upright, my head propped on my palm, so that if my parents walked by my room they’d see that I never slept and therefore didn’t need a bedtime. My favorite TV show, I used to say, was “The Late, Late, Late, Late Show.” When I got older, I liked being up at night because it seemed more productive to work when nobody was calling or e-mailing, and by work I mean Netflix. Besides, I’d always thought, What’s the big deal about being tired as long as your job doesn’t involve flying a plane—or, I suppose I should add, responsibilities like getting dressed?

Unfortunately for me, regularly spending a chunk of the nighttime in a state of suspended consciousness and drool turns out to be a gigantic deal. According to scientists I spoke with, the quality of your slumber has more repercussions on your happiness, intelligence, and health than what you eat, where you live, or how much money you make. Not to be a downer, but chronic sleep deprivation, which Amnesty International designates a form of torture, has been linked to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, learning difficulties, colds, gastrointestinal problems, depression, execution (the sleep-starved defense minister of North Korea is rumored to have been shot after dozing in the presence of Kim Jong-un), world disasters (the Challenger explosion, the Three Mile Island meltdown), and non-disasters (the drop in the polls of Donald Trump, who is reported to get only three or four hours of shut-eye a night).

Many scientists have come to believe that while we sleep the space between our neurons expands, allowing a cranial sewage network—the glymphatic system—to flush the brain of waste products that might otherwise not only prevent memory formation but muck up our mental machinery and perhaps eventually lead to Alzheimer’s. Failing to get enough sleep is like throwing a party and then firing the cleanup crew.

A National Institutes of Health study showed that twenty-five to thirty per cent of American adults have periodic episodes of sleeplessness and twenty per cent suffer from chronic insomnia. On the advice of sleep doctors, fatigue-management specialists, and know-it-alls on wellness blogs, these tossers and turners drink cherry juice, eat Atlantic perch, set the bedroom thermostat between sixty-seven and seventy degrees, put magnets under the pillow, curl their toes, uncurl their toes, and kick their partners out of bed, usually to little avail. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four per cent of Americans reported having taken prescription sleeping pills in the previous month, and an additional who-knows-how-many use anti-anxiety medications like Valium and Klonopin. Never mind that some studies suggest that a pill can extend your sleep by as little as three minutes a night and reduce the time it takes to nod off by only eight to twenty minutes.

Evidently, it was ever thus. The ancient Romans smeared mouse fat onto the soles of their feet, and the Lunesta of the Dark Ages was a smoothie made from the gall of castrated boars. Charles Dickens apparently believed it was necessary to position himself in the precise center of a bed that faced exactly north, while the Glasgow Herald advised the worried wakeful to lather up their hair with yellow soap before bedtime, wrap their heads in napkins, rinse in the morning, and repeat every night for two weeks. In 1879, a Canadian medical journal recommended hemlock. Presumably, no repeating was required.

Lately, a dreamy abundance of gadgets, fancy pillows, expensive masks, and other non-sex-purposed bedroom paraphernalia have entered the marketplace. They promise a refreshing sleep, or, if that fails, at least an accounting of how much you snore. There would not be enough nights in the wild dark yonder for me to try all these products personally, but fortunately the anguish of others can be a journalist’s good fortune. A bunch of friends, sick and tired of staring at the ceiling, waiting for their mental power switches to flip off, signed on to sample sleep aids and keep diaries during their trials. As if stalled every night in the waiting room of the world’s slowest doctor, these insomniacs had regularly passed their nights memorizing the arrangement of notes on a guitar fretboard, nurturing grudges, hating themselves, thinking about world peace, pretending to be in a submarine, and worrying, Is it Alzheimer’s, or worse?

We will begin with the photonic devices, but first some background. Unless you live in a drawer underneath a lot of socks, your sleep patterns are cued by light and its absence. Photoreceptors at the backs of your eyes pick up light and send corresponding electrical signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, in your brain. (If you are not a great speller, you can call it the internal clock.) This master timekeeper regulates and synchronizes a host of other physiological systems, such as temperature and blood pressure, making sure that they all operate on the same roughly twenty-four-hour cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. In an ideal world, by which I mean an un-ideal world without recessed lighting and iPads, the sun sets, it becomes dark, and, presto, your pineal gland starts to release the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin (and a few other hormones). During daylight hours, melatonin production is reduced. Exposure to light, especially to the blue light of digital devices, discombobulates the clockwork.

As Mussolini mythically did for the trains, so Re-Timer light-therapy glasses can supposedly do for your sleep-wake cycle ($299). These white plastic-framed visor goggles, which call to mind a pair of welding glasses designed by Fellini, shine a faint blue-green light into your eyes in the service of winding your inner timepiece, treating jet lag as well as winter doldrums. Do they work? Meg, who is routinely awakened in the middle of the night by worries big and small, wore the glasses at home for the recommended thirty minutes a day for a week and then during a flight to the Philippines. The sight of her, she said, unsettled both the family dog and flight attendants. Finding herself getting tired earlier and sleeping through the night, she plans to keep using the glasses, although, she told me, in a year “they will have been relegated to that place in my apartment where the shiatsu back-massager cushion is stored, along with a lot of foreign coins.”

Inside the Glo to Sleep therapy mask—a pair of battery-operated blackout glasses—are four luminous blue hatched lines. Don’t get up; they are not emergency exits. They are “points of glo” ($39.99). According to the Glo Web site, if you meditate on them as their radiance fades to black (within ten to thirty minutes) you will be able to “switch off your mind!” This is good because, as we also learn, from Amazon, “sleep is a safe, natural and effective way to help you get the sleep you need.” A bedtime-challenged friend named Sarah used the mask for about a week, but confessed that she might not be the best judge, since she also dipped into her usual cornucopia of soporifics—melatonin, magnesium, B6, calcium, 5-hydroxytryptophan, ashwagandha root, magnolia bark, Passiflora incarnata, chamomile tea, Ziziphus jujuba, and hot baths—making me wonder if her problem with sleep was that she had no time for it.

On most nights, Sarah found the mask calming: “I would think about how the floating lights looked like blue sleeping pills, and that reminded me that I was supposed to think about nothing.” Other times, she found the thick foam of the mask stifling and hot. Her husband tried a less fancy model ($29.99). “Bob said, ‘There are no lights!’ ” Sarah reported. “This led to one of us doing something we almost never do: reading instructions. I think that reading instructions of any kind might solve my sleep problem.”

The NightWave Sleep Assistant, a black cube the size of a bottle of sleeping pills, shoots a pulsing circle of blue light onto your ceiling, in a sort of Dan Flavin version of the Sistine Chapel ($49.95). As you watch this visual metronome, you are supposed to harmonize your breathing to its beat until you conk out. According to my friend Peter, who tested it, “Unless you are lying on the upper mattress of a bunk bed at Camp Wananawandakanda, there is no way in hell that the blue light can ever show up on the ceiling. It’s just too far away.” Perhaps Peter lives in a house with cathedral ceilings, because Megan, who occasionally suffers sleep paralysis (a scary disorder that causes you to feel conscious even though your body is temporarily immobilized as in rem sleep), found the blue light so tranquillizing that she says she’d recommend it to restless friends.

But isn’t blue light the kind that we’re supposed to avoid in the dusky hours? Yes. It’s been demonstrated that blue photons suppress melatonin more than any other color does. This short wavelength is copiously emitted by digital devices and TVs, which mess up your internal clock. By phone from Australia, Keith Wymbs, the co-owner, with his wife, of the NightWave Sleep Assistant, defended blue: “The logical and scientific colors are red and amber. Technically, they affect body rhythms the least, but, based on feedback from early users, blue was found most soothing.” Similarly, Troy Anderson, of Glo to Sleep, told me, “We tried the mask with a red light, but both genders liked blue, because it was natural and clean.”

Yes, a display of flashing red lights could make you think that the police are arriving, but according to Fred Maxik, a scientist who designed illumination to help astronauts sleep in space, the real reason that so many companies go blue is that it is energy efficient and therefore cheap. As the founder of Lighting Science, Maxik has developed a line of white L.E.D.s that keep your circadian rhythms in sync. Here is a snippet from the sleep diary of Susan, who is prone to staying up until three in the morning listening to podcasts. She tested the Good Night bulb, which has less blue light than traditional lighting ($39.95): “I turned on the light. I watched 15 minutes of the latest terror news before turning it off and then I fell asleep. I slept until 2:00 (also nearly unprecedented), listened to a nice podcast about jihadi terrorists, and went back to sleep until 6:00. A really big sleep stretch for me.”

“Those who snore the loudest always fall asleep first,” Mr. Anonymous told me, which must mean that Mrs. A. makes a racket like a leaf blower with engine trouble. (A few years ago, it was reported that Tom Cruise slept in a soundproof room called the Snoratorium so that his wife could get a good night’s rest, a problem that later sorted itself out in a different way.) The SnoreMasker Pro is a pair of little white-noise machines tucked inside earplugs ($399.95). It promises to insulate you “from virtually all sound up to 70 decibels—about the sound level of a loud alarm clock.” The two pinkish plastic plugs could pass for Barbie’s prosthetic dream hearts. Before operating them, you must insert a lentil-size battery into each and then attach foam ear tips—an almost impossible task unless your fingers are as small as Ken’s.

When Mr. A. inserted the SnoreMasker Pro, he said that it sounded as if he were standing under a waterfall, and that, remarkably, he could not hear anything else. The Web site warns, “When you first try using your SnoreMasker Pro to sleep with your snoring bed partner, you need to make sure he or she understands that you cannot hear them talking to you. Some people might get mad, thinking their partner is just ignoring them, even though this isn’t the case.” Mrs. A. was more mature than that. Plus, she was out cold. Mr. A. said that, within minutes, it sounded as if he were standing under the waterfall with someone snoring. The next night, he tried a similar earplug, the T1-100 White Noise Sleep Aid and Tinnitus Masker, manufactured by the New Sound Company ($389). It performed great, if you like to fall asleep while listening to the loud whooshing of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon being deflated by someone snoring. The good news was that the alarm clock was irrelevant, because Mr. A. had been up for hours.

The Dreammate Sleep Inducer is a plastic watchlike item that you strap on thirty minutes before bedtime ($59.95). It sends out faint electrical pulses, which are supposed to jolt you into a state of calm and also stimulate three acupuncture points on the inside of your wrist, which trigger the release of melatonin. According to the Web site, it “obeys the Meridian Theory of Chinese Medicine.” Steve, who tried it out for me, said that it did not help him sleep. “But I sort of like the way it feels when it vibrates and gives me tiny shocks on the inside of my wrist,” he said.

I persuaded my friend Jane, who wakes up every morning at three-thirty, to try out the Bulletproof Sleep Induction Mat ($49.95). She is a fan of acupuncture, and the mat, roughly the size of a flattened porcupine, is similarly covered with short spikes—almost ten thousand of them, clumped onto rows of one-inch disks. Dave Asprey, the entrepreneur who came up with the idea for the mat, explained the logic of managing anxiety by causing it. “Have you ever seen what happens with a puppy when you pick it up?” he asked, over the phone from Vancouver Island. “It struggles and then gives up and melts into your arms.” In the same way, when you lie down on the mat, “your inner dialogue says, ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to die,’ but then your body realizes complaining isn’t going to help, and it says, ‘Be quiet and calm down,’ and you melt. You roll over, toss the mat off the bed, and sleep soundly.”

Or your inner dialogue could say, as Jane’s did, when she awoke in the middle of the night as usual and lay on the mat, “It was agony. I didn’t relax into it, and I didn’t see the point, and all the non-pressure points in my back screamed at me, ‘Why are you doing this to us?’ ”

Compared with the Sleep Number i8 smart bed I tried recently, my bed is an ignoramus ($4,799.97 to $8,549.97). My twentieth-century box spring just lies around, unequipped to inform me each morning over WiFi how well I slept the night before. The Sleep Number bases its report on the usual metrics, such as heart rate and body movement. That’s not its only trick: Have you ever tried to find a comfortable position in bed and concluded it was impossible unless you got rid of your shoulder? The air-filled Sleep Number minimizes pressure on your body parts by letting you adjust the firmness of your side of the mattress, while your bedfellow can use his own remote control to inflate or deflate his half of the bedscape to his liking. What’s more, our remotes allowed us to elevate the head and foot sections of our respective territories, providing all the fun of a hospital bed without having to be sick.

If you are hoping to excel at sleeping, you’ll need a high-performance pillow, Eugene Alletto, the C.E.O. of Bedgear, told me. (His observation that “many people have never been fitted for a pillow” was not exactly a shock to me.) You’ll also want sheets and a mattress protector made from “climate-control fabric.” Bedgear is one of several new companies that sell technologically advanced bed accessories. My friend Marshall’s Pillow ID—based on a Web questionnaire concerning his size, sleep position, and type of mattress—pegged him as a perfect candidate for the Dusk 2.0, a spongy cushion with a crimson border made from “nature’s most durable support material, derived from the frothed milk sap of natural rubber trees,” as opposed to fake rubber trees ($162). He took it to his mother’s house in the Hamptons, where the cacophony of nature tends to keep him up. After a week with Dusk 2.0, he said, “It’s the kind of pillow I like, mostly because it’s cold and firm. I also like that it is red and distinctive.”

On the other head, there is Pillo 1, a large, bouncy, latex-foam model from a company called Hall Innovations ($199). With a scooped-out hollow for your skull, the Pillo 1 would make perfect packing material for a cantaloupe. But, as a sleep aid, it disappointed my friend Penny: “I woke up that first morning with an acute pain in my neck, so I wasn’t willing to be a volunteer for this pillow anymore.” The directions indicate that, because it can take from three to four weeks to “break in” (whether it is the pillow or you that is broken in is unclear), you should use it at first for only one or two hours a night. Isn’t that like waking the patient to give her a sleeping pill?

Finally: relief for large-breasted women who like to sleep on their stomachs is here. It’s called the Billow Pillow, a large fan-shaped cushion with an indentation in the middle ($200). Roz, who met one of the criteria, took it to bed. “It’s really big,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how it ‘went.’ Figured it out. Head on the high part, boobs in the sort of depressed part under that.” She wasn’t a fan: “I like a smallish, soft, malleable pillow. This one was not at all moldable. I felt like my head was being bent at an unpleasant angle to the rest of my body.”

Picture an outsized balaclava designed by Claes Oldenburg for E.T. and made from swatches of gray Teletubbies. That’s what the Ostrich Pillow looks like ($99). Meant to be worn over the entire head and neck, it is stuffed like a beanbag chair and has an opening for the nose-mouth region, if breathing’s your thing; there are two holes to tuck your hands into should you want to lean forward onto, let’s say, an airplane tray table. The pillow claims to make napping possible anywhere—your desk, the dinner table, the Davos World Economic Forum—provided you don’t mind a sweaty head, extreme hat hair, and possibly being an unsuspecting crime victim. My friend Joan used it during a massage but sacrificed a few minutes of her hour trying to get the masseuse to stop laughing.

Before you get too cozy, consider this: although too little sleep can be deadly, too much of it can be even more deadly. A meta-analysis of sixteen studies involving around 1.4 million subjects suggests that someone who sleeps more than eight or nine hours a day has a thirty per cent higher mortality rate than the person who sleeps seven to eight hours. Why, then, do we believe that eight hours of sleep is ideal? Jim Horne, the former head of the Sleep Research Center in Loughborough, England, told me that the fallacy originated with a study in 1913—of school-age kids. “There is no evidence that we sleep fewer hours than our parents and grandparents did, or that we are any more sleep deprived,” Horne said. “It’s simply that they kept private matters to themselves.”

It’s not my place to call anyone a liar, but are you positive that you were up all night? We have data to show that you—I mean self-professed poor sleepers—often overestimate the extent of nighttime wakefulness. These days, you can wear on your wrist the Basis Peak Ultimate Fitness and Sleep Tracker, a chunky gizmo that Dick Tracy might like ($199.99). It takes note of not just calories burned and sweat levels (ew!) but also your tosses and turns and absences from bed. Using a technique that involves shining L.E.D. light into your capillaries and assessing the rebounding waves with optical sensors, it also measures the duration of each sleep phase (light, deep, and rem). In general, Basis Peak has received positive reviews from tech magazines for accuracy, especially for its heart monitor. “As for the sleep thing, I think it might be mostly bullshit,” said my friend Billy, who used the tracker for two weeks and ended up with wildly fluctuating “sleep scores” that he couldn’t explain. “It thought I slept for eleven hours one night, which can’t be true, and then twenty-three minutes another night, which also can’t be true.” But he couldn’t really see the point of knowing how much he slept anyway.

“The first thing you have to know about these devices is that they are anti-conjugal,” Victoria e-mailed from Washington, D.C. For several weeks, she and her boyfriend, David, tried two sleep-tracking gadgets. She used the Beddit Smart Sleep Tracker, whose sensor is lodged in a thin strap placed discreetly under the top sheet ($149); he used the S+, by ResMed, which picked up his sleep vibes via a transponder that sits next to the bed ($149.99). The high-tech S+ looks like something that might pick up and report fluctuations in the Shanghai stock exchange. The Beddit, Victoria reported, recorded “many fewer hours of sleep than I would swear that I actually slept.” She might have sabotaged the readings, though, by migrating toward David in her sleep. (Beddit recommends placing the sensor an unromantic six inches from the center of the bed or your partner.) Victoria’s attitude toward sleep is binary (“either I did it or I didn’t”); she had no use for the data Beddit provided about her respiration, heart rate, amount of snoring, and so forth.

David is a connoisseur of the unconscious, though, and revelled in the granular data disgorged daily by the S+. Victoria said, “David woke me up during his second week of S+ sleeping with a jubilant ‘Honey, I did it! I got a sleep score of ninety-eight!’ ” Although David is a little uncomfortable with the ongoing relay to ResMed headquarters of what goes on in his bed, he feels that the device has prodded him to prioritize getting better sleep. “When I wake up to a high S+ rating,” he e-mailed, “I know I’m going to feel pretty good that day.”

Cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (C.B.T.-I) is like the tough teacher in high school—she gives a lot of homework but you end up better for it. This pragmatic approach to combatting insomnia focuses on changing the behaviors and anxieties that keep you up. Several studies suggest that it is a more effective remedy than soporific drugs. A review that looked at data from twenty clinical trials found that C.B.T.-I cut the time it took the average subject to drift off to sleep by about twenty minutes and increased sleep duration by almost thirty minutes. But you have to work at it: subjects keep a sleep journal, practice relaxation techniques, and learn to be less anxious about their anxiety. Exhausted yet?

John, who is prone to waking at 4 a.m., enrolled in the five-week Conquering Insomnia program, which is taught online by Dr. Gregg Jacobs, a sleep specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School ($39.95). Jacobs provides personalized weekly feedback based on a patient’s reports. John said that he found the program “helpful but not life changing,” and that he learned a lot of new fun facts, such as that the most restorative sleep occurs during the first four or five hours of the night, and whatever else you manage is a bonus. “The two main takeaways,” he said, “are less stress about not getting a full night of sleep and a new focus on getting up at around the same time each morning.”

An eight-hour stretch of sleep may not even be natural. In his book “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past,” the historian Roger Ekirch cites more than five hundred references from diaries, court records, medical papers, and literature, demonstrating that our pre-industrial ancestors slept in two discrete parcels of time. After what a character in “The Canterbury Tales” called the “firste sleep,” you awoke around midnight for an hour or so, and might engage in, say, tending the fire, brewing ale, fooling around, committing petty larceny, praying. Then you would sleep again until dawn.

For coffee drinkers who overdo it, there are morning-after pills that contain rutaecarpine, an alkaloid that may speed up the rate at which your body breaks down caffeine. Or you could skip the caffeine and drink lettuce tea, a remedy for restlessness, including restless-leg syndrome. (It’s all over the Internet, so it must be true.) Dennis, who takes three naps a day, is always up for another (“Sleeping is so cool—it prepares you for the afterlife”), so he tested this remedy. Twenty minutes a day for three weeks, he boiled romaine lettuce to make his daily gallon of tea. At the end of Week Two, he got so weary boiling lettuce that he took a morning nap. Case closed.

Being well rested is important, but if you have a high-minded value system there is something even more crucial: looking well rested. So I tried the Eye Slack Haruka ($44.99), a new device from Japan that works like a vibrator for the cheekbones. You lean back, place the two boomerang-shaped pieces of pink plastic under your eyes, and wait as they jiggle away your under-eye bags in just three minutes a day. To my great surprise, they worked. My fat pouches disappeared—or, rather, they seem to have migrated southward an inch. In their place? An eye infection I lost sleep over.

Source: www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/02/08/in-search-of-forty-winks
Image: flickr.com

Is Making a Bed Your Guests Won’t Want to Leave a Good Idea?

You can’t blame them for sleeping in when their room is this comfortable.

If you have special guests coming in for the holidays, you’ll want them to feel right at home. We consulted a few experts to find out how to make the room as comfortable as possible—you may even want to steal a few of these tips for your own room.

1. Invest in the good stuff.

“When shopping for new sheets and duvet covers, play close attention to the material, thread count, and fabric construction,” says Karin Sun, founder of the affordable luxury bedding site, Crane and Canopy. However, don’t get too caught up in thread count, because it’s only one part of the bedding equation. Sun’s recommendation is a set of sheets made from 100 percent cotton and a thread count between 300 and 400. At the end of the day, the “hand feel” is the most important step of buying sheets, says Jessica Joyce, a spokesperson at Bed Bath & Beyond. If they feel soft to you, your guests will love them.
As far as a comforter, down ones are luxurious, but can also be pricey. You’ll get the same coziness from a down alternative comforter, says Sun. Plus, they “are not only more affordable, but also hypoallergenic and much easier to clean.” Pillows are important, too: “The best items to ensure a good night’s sleep are a quality pillow and mattress topper to provide optimal support for your back and neck,” says Joyce. Of course, the priciest upgrade would be to actually change your mattress. You may not have to do this, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends checking for major signs of wear or sagging spots. You don’t want guests waking up with a stiff neck. Try sleeping in the guest bed for a night to assess its comfort.

2. Craft the perfect pillow-to-bed ratio.

Having multiple pillows on the bed is both comforting and stylish. Try following a little bit of math, says Joyce. For a twin bed, stick with one Euro pillow and two standard pillows. For a full or a queen, layer two Euro pillows and four standard pillows. And for a king-sized bed, you should have two or three Euro pillows and four king pillows. Euro pillows are generally larger and more sturdy, so they sit closest to the headboard—they’re great for when guests want to prop themselves up in bed to read or watch television.

3. Pad the mattress.

“Mattress pads not only add warmth and comfort, they also protect your mattress as well,” says Sun. “This allows you to upgrade the quality of your bed without having to replace your mattress.” There are plenty of options for giving extra support for your mattress, including a fiberbed, a memory foam topper, or simply a mattress protector for a little extra cushion.

4. Do your laundry.

We know—this seems like a “duh” piece of advice. But the truth is, freshly laundered sheets just feel softer and more comfortable. Even if you recently bought a brand-new set, you should still wash them at least once.

5. Ditch the top sheet.

“These days, the only function of the top sheet is that it ends up as a tangled mess at the foot of your bed,” says Sun. “If you use a high-quality cotton duvet cover, which protects your comforter, you can ditch the top sheet for a cozy night’s sleep and a no-fuss morning when making your bed.” Although you shouldn’t expect guests to make their bed, if it’s easy for them to do, they might just sleep better. A 2012 survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who made their beds in the morning were 19 percent more likely to get a good night’s sleep.

6. Layer, layer, layer.

After the mattress topper and sheets, layer on a duvet cover with a fluffy comforter. Tip: Put the mattress pad over the mattress enhancer to ensure nothing moves around. Then lay a quilt at the foot of the bed. “Quilts are my new obsession,” says Sun. “They’re not only super soft but also versatile in style and use. They are perfect to provide warmth in case your guests get chilly at night and need that extra layer.” Bonus: If you want a foolproof tip for changing your duvet cover, see our tutorial.

7. Go the extra mile.

A comfortable bed is the most important, but there are plenty of little things you can add to the guest room to make it more welcoming. Leave empty drawers for guests to put clothes in, magazines for them to read, and toiletries in the bathroom in case they forgot something.

Source: www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/decorating/decorating-bedroom/how-to-make-a-bed
Image: Pexels