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 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 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.

2017s10 Best Sleep Trackers

Personal sleep trackers can provide a fascinating insight into the mysterious third of your life you spend asleep.

It might not be as accurate as a professional assessment, but a sleep tracker can give you useful information about the quality of your sleep, and then help you take steps to improve it.

I tested a wide range in 2016, and continue to do so in 2017 on an ongoing basis. And in this review I’ll be giving you my opinion of the most popular devices and how they compare.

Some of them are also activity trackers, so although I’ll provide an overview of the activity tracking features, the main focus will be on the sleep tracking aspect.

Contents
Key questions

How accurate are personal sleep trackers?
Which type of sleep tracker to choose?

Non-wearable sleep trackers
S+ by Resmed
Emfit QS
Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor
Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
Sleepace Reston
Sense with voice

Wearable sleep and fitness trackers
Fitbit charge 2
Jawbone Up3
Fitbit Blaze
Fitbit Surge

How accurate are personal sleep trackers?

As much as I’d love to tell you that you can find sleep trackers that are 100% accurate, it’s unfortunately not the case. The technology is improving at a fast pace, but there are still limitations to personal sleep tracking.

As most sleep professionals will tell you, it’s probably best to see personal sleep trackers as a way to get a broad idea of how you’re sleeping, rather than hoping to replicate the finer details of a professional sleep study in the home.

It’s also a great motivator to focus more on your sleep and try to improve it. Many sleep trackers do include useful sleep coaching on their App, encouraging you to pay more attention to your sleep patterns and lifestyle.

Sleeping or not moving?

A concern people sometimes have with trackers is the issue of mistaking lying awake and just not moving much, such as when watching TV in bed, as being asleep.

It’s not a problem if you usually fall asleep quickly, but what if you have insomnia but don’t move much, or enjoy relaxing in bed at night?

In my experience, this does happen sometimes, but can be easily fixed by manually changing the data on the App the next day. It’s also a reminder not to watch TV or surf the internet in bed, and only go to bed when you actually feel ready to sleep.

Having said that, I do find that once I’ve fallen asleep, most devices do a pretty good job of tracking when I’m restless or wake up in the night.

If you’d like to know more about this issue, you might find it helpful to read my article looking at how sleep trackers work.

Which type of sleep tracker to choose?

I think it’s more helpful to see this article as an overview of sleep trackers, highlighting their unique pros and cons. You can then make your decision based on what you want from your device.

For example, if you like the idea of having activity tracking as well as sleep tracking, a Fitbit or Jawbone could be a good choice.

If you don’t want to wear a device on your wrist at night, or aren’t interested in activity tracking, you might prefer a standalone device, such as the Emfit QS, Beddit, S+ by Resmed, Withings Aura or Sleepace Reston.

If you’re interested in finding out how factors such as noise, light and temperature affect your sleep, take a look at the S+, Beddit, Sense or Withings Aura.

And if you like the idea of having a light and sound machine to help you fall asleep and wake up gently, the Sense and Withings Aura can do that.

So with those points in mind, let’s take a look at the different sleep trackers.

Non-wearable sleep trackers

These are dedicated sleep trackers that you don’t wear on your wrist. There’s no activity tracking during the day, and they tend to provide more detailed sleep data.

They do sometimes have the same problem as wearable trackers in thinking you’re asleep when you’re in fact awake and just being very still. There’s also the issue of your partner skewing the results if they decide to snuggle up on your side of the bed.

However, I do find they tend to be more reliable than wearable devices on the whole, especially if you sleep alone.

1) S+ by ResMed Personal Sleep Solution
Sleep tracker that works without physical contact

Conceptually, the S+ by ResMed is a potential game changer, being the first personal sleep tracker to work without requiring any physical contact.

All the other devices are either worn on the wrist or have a measuring device on your mattress or pillow. The S+ just sits on your bedside table and monitors your sleep and bedroom environment from a distance.

I’d be skeptical that this were even possible, if it weren’t for the fact that RedMed is a well-respected sleep technology company that makes sleep apnea devices. So how does it work? Well, basically by sonar. Or as the ResMed website states:

patented non-contact radio frequency technology to monitor your breathing and body movement while you sleep

Where it really shines is in gathering a wealth of information about what you did during the day, bedroom environment and sleep, and then combining all of that data to try to help you sleep better.

Pros

Reasonably accurate tracking of light, deep and REM sleep stages and wakings.
Compares your sleep score against the average for your age and gender.
Measures light, noise and temperature in the bedroom.
A nightly questionnaire about factors like alcohol, caffeine, activity and stress levels helps correlate your daily behavior with your sleep.
Encourages you to leave a text or voice memo to clear your mind and relax before sleeping.
Synchronizes with your breathing to play relaxing sounds through your phone.
Smart alarm wakes you gently during a light stage of sleep.
Provides personalized sleep coaching advice based on your sleep pattern, bedroom environment and lifestyle.
Detailed results and sleep graphs on a very clear phone App, with even more on the website.
Printable sleep report you can take to your doctor.

Cons

You need to tell it when you’re physically in bed and about to try to sleep.
Uses a lot of mobile phone battery, but does have a USB port to charge during the night.
Needs to be paired with your phone throughout the night.
You have to use your phone to control it.

Verdict

When it came to measuring sleep, I found the S+ to be respectably accurate. The amount of data it gives you in the morning is fascinating, with detailed sleep graphs full of useful information.

It’s difficult to personally confirm the amount of time you spend in different sleep stages. But the nights when I felt I slept badly, and woke up feeling less alert, seemed to be reflected in less overall or REM sleep.

What I really liked is the fact that it takes a holistic approach to the sleep coaching. Over time, it uses the questionnaire answers and environmental factors to make clear, logical and actionable suggestions for improving your sleep.

So you’re not just left with ambiguous sleep scores and confusing graphs, but told exactly how you can make lifestyle changes to sleep better.

If you can forgive the need to stay synced to your phone all night, it’s an excellent sleep tracker which might actually make a difference to your sleep.

2) Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor
Non-wearable sleep tracker with heart rate, breathing and snoring monitoring

The Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor is a dedicated sleep tracker which consists of an unobtrusive thin strip which lies under your bed sheet to track your sleep, with an accompanying App to use on your smart phone.

It tracks a wide range of interesting sleep information, with some useful additions in this latest version 3, such as snoring, bedroom temperature and humidity.

It also monitors heart and respiration rate, which is especially useful if you’re worried about your health or suspect you have a sleep disorder such as apnea.

Pros

The accuracy is generally good, especially if you sleep alone.
Lots of different tracking data: your heart rate, breathing and snoring, time asleep or restless and times out of bed, bedroom humidity and temperature.
Easy to set up and use.
Thin measuring strip which you don’t feel when placed under a sheet or mattress protector.
Automatically senses when you go to bed and try to sleep.
Smart alarm system wakes you up at the best point in your sleep cycle.
Great App with a wide range of sleep data to inspect, with an overall sleep score and tips to help you improve your sleep.

Cons

The measuring strip has to be plugged into the mains during the night to work.
If you sleep with a partner they can disturb your results. Equally, if you roll away from the strip to the other side of a wide bed, it might affect the results.

Verdict

The Beddit sleep monitor provides lots of fascinating data about your sleep, and the accuracy overall is good, especially compared to most wearable activity trackers.

However, if you sleep with a partner, there’s a possibility they might influence the tracking if they end up on top of the measuring strip.

Overall, I think if you sleep alone, the Beddit is an excellent way to get a deeper insight into your sleep and health. If you share your bed though, I’d recommend using a wearable device instead.

3) Emfit QS
Ideal sleep tracker for sports people

Made by the Finnish company EMFIT, the QS is one of their 3 under-mattress sleep monitors. It’s designed to be used by athletes specifically, though anyone with a keen interest in their sleep and health can benefit from the extra details it provides.

Like the S+ by Resmed, it’s completely contactless. A measuring strip goes under your side of the mattress (not the bedsheet) and takes readings using ballistocardiography, with a highly sensitive compression sensor.

You get a vast amount of data, including the standard sleep tracker measurements such as heart beat, breathing rate, restlessness in bed, time spent in light, deep and REM sleep.

However, it then goes several steps further, providing measurements that athletes will find invaluable, such as whole night heart rate variability (HRV), total recovery and recovery efficiency.

The HRV measurements can help you decide which days to train, train harder or rest. And helpfully, the trends over the weeks and months can help prevent overtraining.

pros

Very sensitive measuring device provides accurate data, especially heart and breathing rate.
Huge amount of tracking data, helpful for everyday use and sports people interested in maximizing their recovery and training schedule.
Choice of either uploading results to your smartphone or computer via WiFi, reducing the chance of Bluetooth connectivity problems.
Measuring strip sits under your mattress, so you have 100% contactless sleep monitoring.
Unobtrusive with no manual interaction needed. Just set it and go, and check the data in the morning.

cons

Some people may not want a WiFi device on next to their bed all night.
If you sleep with a partner, they can affect the results if they roll over your measuring strip.
Huge amount of data and not enough sleep coaching advice. You need to be proactive to understand the data and take action based on it.

Verdict

The Emfit QS is one of the most accurate sleep trackers available, doing a great job of monitoring your total sleep time, restlessness and wakings. It also seems to be remarkably accurate at measuring heart and breathing rates.

It’s potentially a very helpful tool if you’re a sports person, capable of helping you take those all important decisions around training intensity and rest days.

But I do wonder how helpful it is for the average person who won’t want to check every morning to see if they can do an intense workout that day or not.

Having said that, it could be useful if you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing or movement disorder, or major changes in heart rate during the night. The results it provides could be helpful to present to a doctor for discussion.

Overall, if you’re the proactive type who enjoys working through complex data to get a detailed understanding of your sleep and health, this could be a great choice.

But if you’re just looking for simple sleep tracking and some helpful tips to improve your sleep, this tracker could be a bit overwhelming.

4) Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
Bedside sleep tracker with light and music to help you sleep

The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System isn’t exactly a subtle addition to the bedroom, but it makes up for that with its wide range of features. As well as monitoring your sleep, it includes a light and sound unit to help you relax and fall asleep, and then wake you up gently in the morning.

It consists of three main elements: a strap which you sleep on top of to monitor your movement, a bedside unit which measures environmental factors and also creates light and sound, with a mobile phone App where you’ll get your results.

Really it’s more than that though, combing a range of bedroom devices; it’s an all-in-one sleep tracker, alarm clock, reading lamp, sleep machine and wake-up light.

Pros

The bedside unit plays music on a timer to help you sleep and wake up.
The unit emits a fading glowing light on a timer. The specific red wavelengths are designed to help trigger melatonin production, the hormone that tells your body clock it’s time to sleep.
The smart alarm function can wake you up slowly during light sleep.
It tracks your time awake, time restless, time it took to fall asleep, time spent in light, deep and REM sleep.
Monitors your heart and breathing rate, as well as movement during the night to give a better picture of your sleep.
Environmental sensors monitor room temperature, light and noise. The App then tells you if these factors disturbed your sleep.

Cons

Complex App with no sleep coaching telling you what to do with all the potentially useful data.
Limited choice of music input. You can use the in-built sounds or Spotify premium, but not iTunes, your mp3 or mobile phone music database.
The instructions, touch interface and data interpretation are confusing.
It’s expensive compared to other sleep trackers.

Verdict

The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System is a complete sleep system which aims to do so much more than most other devices. The fading light and sound features might also help you fall asleep quicker and rise peacefully.

Similarly to the Beddit and Sleepace, the accuracy of some elements of the sleep monitoring can be questionable if a partner rolls onto the strip. And the many results that you do get leave you to work out for yourself what you should do about them.

But you do get a wealth of fascinating data about your sleep, so for those with money to spend and a keen interest in their sleep, it can give you a deep insight into your nightly slumber.

5) Sleepace Reston
Dedicated bedroom sleep tracker – ideal if you sleep alone

The Sleepace Reston is one of only a few dedicated sleep trackers. Considering that’s its sole purpose, you would understandably have high expectations of its accuracy. Especially as the company says they use medical grade sensors in the device.

Instead of wearing the tracker on your wrist or around your chest, it has a long, flat belt which sits underneath your sheet or mattress protector. The end piece, which houses the technical bits, neatly clips out of the way onto your sheets using magnets.

Pros

Measures your sleep in far more detail than activity trackers: time asleep, time awake, number of wakings, times turned over in bed or got out of bed, quantity of light, mid and deep sleep.
Measures your heart and breathing rate, monitoring for sleep apnea and heart pauses.
Provides you with lots of technical data, sleep coaching advice and tips.
Fantastic App interface.
Excellent battery life.
Made from a soft, flat felt casing that you shouldn’t feel underneath you.

Cons

May slip out of place if you move about a lot in bed.
Doesn’t automatically sense when you go to sleep or wake up, so you have to manually start and stop the recording session.
If your partner rolls onto the recording belt, it might skew the results.

Verdict

The Sleepace Reston provides a serious level of depth of sleep assessment in the home. The range of results, graphical representations and recommendations for improving your sleep are quite impressive.

There’s one potentially major problem, which many of the bed systems share: if your partner rolls onto the belt or you roll off it, it might affect the results.

I think if you sleep alone though, you’ll get a detailed view of what’s happening in your sleep with the Sleepace. For those who love analyzing details, facts and graphs the excellent App will definitely keep you busy the next morning.

6) Sense with voice sleep system
Detailed bedroom environment monitoring with voice commands

The Sense is quite a unique sleep tracker, with a stylish design that looks much better on the bedside table than some of the clunkier standalone devices.

With sleep tracking, environmental sensors, smart alarm and sound machine, it’s a unique take on home sleep monitoring tech.

Sense comes with two pieces to monitor different factors. A futuristic little orb sits on your bedside table, checking your bedroom environment is right for sleep. Then you have a small disc which clips onto your pillow and records your movement during the night.

It can also play a range of mellow sounds to help you sleep. And it can be programmed to wake you during light sleep with mellow lighting and tones.

This second generation version now has voice commands to add to the hand wave commands. So you can speak to access functions such as the alarm or get feedback on your night’s sleep.

Pros

Beautiful design, small and unobtrusive on a bedside table.
Measures and gives recommendations for bedroom temperature, humidity, ambient light, noise and air quality.
Measures time asleep, time to fall asleep, wakings, times restless, and time spent in deep, medium and light sleep.
Fun and colorful glow features. Wave your hand over it to see a green glow for ideal bedroom conditions, red for bad and orange needing improvement.
Good smart alarm feature. You set an ideal wake time and it will wake you at the best point in the 30 mins before to ensure you wake happily.
Good App with overall sleep score, sleep timings and interruptions due to factors like noise.
Helpful Sleep coaching, even comparing your sleep to other Sense users.

Cons

The microphone doesn’t record noise – it just tells you that there was noise.
No snooze function on the alarm.
Not the most reliable sleep tracking.

Verdict

I liked the Sense for its environmental monitoring features, voice commands and motion controls, and wide range of light settings and effects. I think the slow wake-up light alarm is a great feature, and found it helped me wake up calmly.

The sense actively sets out to help you sleep better. So if you’re a sensitive sleeper like me, I think it’s potentially really useful to have an easy way to check that your bedroom environment is right each night.

Overall, if you’re interested in a cool piece of tech which gives you useful advice about setting up your bedroom each night, and an excellent alarm, you might find the Sense surprisingly helpful.

However, if you’re looking for the most accurate sleep tracking possible, I think there are better options, even if they don’t have all the cool feautures the Sense does.

Wearable sleep and activity trackers

Wearable sleep trackers have had some bad press because of accuracy concerns. The main problem is that they primarily work by actigraphy.

This means that if you don’t move, they have to rely on other measurements, such as your heart rate, and in-built algorithms to decide if you’re asleep or not. And they don’t always get this right, especially at the start of the night.

For me though, the main plus is having a combined activity and sleep tracking device that looks great on your wrist, and probably has other useful or fun features too.

I think it’s about managing your expectations. If you’re an active person, and just want an overview of your sleep along with some coaching advice, it’s a better option than a bedside sleep tracker.

But if you’re not interested in activity tracking, or how activity can improve your sleep, don’t want anything on your wrist in bed or really want to ensure you get the most accurate readings, it’s perhaps best to stick to one of the standalone devices.

1) Fitbit Charge 2
Great all-rounder with sleep and activity tracking

The Fitbit Charge 2 is an interesting and fun hybrid of wearable tech. Part activity monitor, part sleep tracker and with some smart watch functions, it does a bit of everything.

I was a fan of the original Charge HR, and the latest version has even more to like. There are some new and improved features, but what struck me most were the visible elements.

I thought the previous model’s display was somewhat lacking, so it’s good to see a bigger and more elegant touchscreen. And it now has stylish steel sides to the body, along with different strap options.

It doesn’t attempt to tell you about your sleep stages as some other trackers claim to be able to do, but the key sleep tracking it does provide is reasonably accurate.

Additionally, a constant heart rate monitor gives you an extra measurement which sets it apart from a lot of the competition.

Pros

Tells you your total sleep time, along with how many times and for how long you were either restless or completely awake.
The heart rate monitor is accurate – I’ve compared it to my pulse rate and it’s spot on.
The digital display allows you to choose your preferred time format, along with one or two extra tracking options such as pulse, distance or steps on the home screen.
Accurately measures steps, distance, floors climbed and calories burnt.
Modern design and comfortable to wear.
Can sync with your phone to give you incoming call, text and appointment alerts.
Silent vibrating alarm to wake you, but not your partner.
Relaxation function teaches you a mindfulness breathing exercise.
Easy to use, along with a good App interface with interesting graph displays.
Steel body and interchangeable wrist bands.

Cons

No GPS feature for activity tracking.
Not waterproof. No shower or swimming, but rain and sweat are ok.

Verdict

The Fitbit Charge 2 is a sleek-looking activity and sleep tracker which has just the right amount of functions to make you want to use it day after day.

The heart rate monitor is accurate, helping to provide you with more accurate sleep data. It’s also useful for activity tracking and keeping an eye on your heart rate throughout the day.

I like the fact that it keeps the sleep monitoring to the important basics, without trying to do things which wearable sleep trackers aren’t particularly reliable at.

As with most sleep trackers, I did find it sometimes confuses lying in bed reading with sleeping. But the Fitbit App allows you to change the time you fell asleep manually, ensuring your results are as accurate as possible.

Once I actually do go to sleep though, I find it’s good at recording my total sleep time and wakings. In the week I tested it, it accurately recorded every time I got out of bed.

Overall, this is a great all-rounder either as an entry into wearable devices or an upgrade to a previous model. If you’re interested in having a bit of everything, with activity and sleep tracking as well as smart watch functions, it ticks a lot of boxes.

2) Fitbit Blaze
Advanced activity and sleep tracking smart watch

What makes the Fitbit Blaze interesting is that it’s the first Fitbit which feels like a smart watch, yet still maintains the excellent activity tracking functions that the company is so well known for.

Like the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Surge, it covers a wide range of tracking functions, presented beautifully on the easy to use Fitbit mobile phone App.

It does a reasonable job of sleep tracking in my experience, providing a detailed insight into your sleep quality through the combination of movement sensors and constant heart rate monitor.

Like the Charge 2, it keeps things simple where sleep tracking is concerned, checking how much sleep you got and how restless you were, and providing a couple of goals to improve your sleep.

Pros

Wide, 1.66 inch LCD color touchscreen.
Automatic sleep tracking.
Records the total time asleep, number of times restless or awake and total time restless.
Accurate activity tracking, measuring steps, distance, calories, floors and heart rate.
Accurate and continuous heart rate monitor.
Dedicated activity tracking modes, such as running, cycling, weights and cross-training.
‘Fitstar’ App on the watch shows you exercise routines you can do.
Smartwatch features including calls, texts, calendar alerts, music control and range of sleek-looking watch face displays.
Breathing App to help you relax.
Wide range of colors, strap materials and styles.
Excellent battery life.
Easy to use App, presenting the results in a fun and engaging visual way.

Cons

No built-in GPS. You can sync it with a mobile phone to track your route if required.
It’s not waterproof, so can’t be used in the swimming pool or shower. It can withstand light rain and sweat though.
Even though it’s thin, it does look wide on the wrist.

Verdict

I wore the Blaze for 2 weeks and was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the activity tracking. And on most nights, it reliably recorded when I fell asleep and woke up, as well as when I got up in the night.

As is often the case though, if I lay in bed reading or just not falling asleep, it didn’t always pick that up, so I occasionally had to adjust the time in the morning.

The Fitbit App is great, not just because it’s easy to understand and interpret the data, but also because it gives you goals, challenges and awards. And that’s a good motivation to improve both your activity levels and sleep.

My main concern is the size of the Blaze – it’s thin, but very wide and the spaces between the metal casing and the body seem a waste of space. So if you’re looking for a subtle wearable device, this isn’t the one for you.

Overall, the Fitbit Blaze is an activity tracker that you can rely on, with a range of interesting features. The sleep tracking isn’t bad, with the great Fitbit App alongside, but you do need to keep an eye on the data if you don’t fall asleep straight away.

3) Jawbone UP3
A low cost, light-weight and subtle tracker

It may not look like it, but Jawbone claim that the up3 is one of the most advanced personal sleep trackers. They say it builds a picture of your sleep using a range of advanced sensors, such as bioimpedance. It measures your heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response.

The idea then is that the sensors can distinguish between being awake and the light, deep and REM sleep stages. Not many devices can claim to be able to do this accurately, and although it may not be perfect, it appears to do a reasonable job when you check the App in the morning.

However, just like the Fitbits, it sometimes thinks you’re asleep when you’re just not moving. But considering the light-weight design and apparent lack of features, it’s impressive that it provides you with as much data as it does.

Pros

Automatic sleep monitoring.
Advanced sensors giving a detailed assessment of your sleep, including time spent awake, in light, deep and REM sleep.
Accurate activity monitor measuring essentials like steps taken, distance traveled and calories burnt.
Long battery life (up to 7 days).
Stylish and light-weight bracelet design.
A great App provides detailed results and is easy to use.
Useful and personalized sleep coaching tips to improve your sleep.
Low price.

Cons

No screen display to provide you with information during the day.
Less detailed activity monitoring than many other devices.

Verdict

I found the UP3 was of mixed accuracy during the week I tested it. When I got up in the night, it reliably recorded it every time. And the nights when I felt like I slept badly were shown as being more restless and with less total sleep time.

However, there were a couple of times when I know I was awake for long periods in the middle of the night, but this wasn’t reflected in the data. The App only seemed to suggest lots of restlessness, rather than the fact that I was wide awake for at least an hour.

The activity tracking did seem accurate though. I wore it alongside 2 Fitbits one day, finding they were all pretty much in line for measurements such as steps and heart rate.

Where the UP3 does shine is with the impressive sleep coaching, which is more complete and personalized than most competitors. Even though I had to manually change some of the sleep data on occasions, I think the App and sleep coaching is more engaging and meaningful than the Fitbit App.

The UP3 is also the lowest priced of all the trackers in this review, so if you’re looking for a starter device rather than a high-end tracker, it’s worth considering.

4) Fitbit Surge
Sports watch with plenty of features

The Fitbit Surge is one of the most powerful in the Fitbit activity tracker line. It’s bigger, packed with more features and of course more expensive than many other wearables.

While the Fitbit Charge 2 has a couple of smartwatch features, the Surge (like the Blaze) goes a few steps further with a large touchscreen display, along with some control of your phone on your wrist.

The inclusion of a constant heart rate monitor and GPS tracking gives you a lot of information about your daily activity levels, even charting your routes on google maps. Really, the GPS is the main feature which makes it more of a sports watch than the Blaze, even though the Blaze is a newer model.

Pros

High-tech hybrid of a smart watch and activity tracker with lots of features.
Choice of manual or automatic sleep tracking. If you disagree with the time you fell asleep or woke up, you can manually correct it on the App.
Tells you the time spent asleep, awake or restless.
Get in-coming phone caller IDs, read text messages and control music from your wrist.
Customizable and modern digital display unit with touch screen and side buttons.
Continuous heart rate monitor.
GPS tracking to accurately measure distance.
Great for runners as it measures distance, steps, pace, splits, elevation and route.
You can specify the activity you’re doing and it will calculate calories burnt accordingly.

Cons

It’s a large device, so if you have a small wrist it might look a quite big.
The battery drains quickly if you have GPS enabled. It will last about 5-7 days without, and about 5 hours with GPS.

Verdict

The Fitbit Surge is ideal for runners and anyone interested in the fine details of their activity tracking. However, if sleep tracking is more than just a side note to you it doesn’t quite measure up to some of the more complex sleep trackers I’ve looked at.

If you want a piece of wearable tech which does a bit of everything though, then the Surge is definitely up there among the best when it comes to the range of features and options it has.

It’s one of the only devices which can claim to incorporate smart watch, heart rate, activity and sleep tracking, and GPS capabilities.

Source: www.nosleeplessnights.com/best-sleep-tracker/
Image: Same

Science Is Now Helping You Get Longer Sleep

What Do The Theory of Relativity, Google, and A Nobel Prize Have In Common?

Why, they were all discovered/inspired by dreams of course! Sleep may not solve everything, but it sure solves a lot. Unfortunately for most of us, getting enough sleep can be, er, challenging to say the least.

Maybe, like me, you went into the whole parenting gig thinking that the phrase “sleep like a baby” indicated actual sleep was going to be had by all. You might even have taken some optimistic sleep/snuggle photos when your sweet babe arrived . . .

. . . followed by some, um, more realistic ones . . . OMG i NEED sleep…

Studies show that sleep makes us smarter, more creative, stronger, happier, more productive, and it even keeps us looking younger, so how do we get it when circumstances are not ideal? (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5, source 6, source 7)

As a mama of three, I’ve done quite a bit of research on getting deep, restorative sleep, and things have gotten better as I’ve implemented what I’ve learned. Here’s what I’ve found most helpful:

1. Get Sunlight First Thing In The Morning

Our circadian rhythms – which orchestrate the ebb and flow of cortisol and melatonin – are tied to light and darkness. (source) Cortisol helps us get going in the morning, and melatonin tells our body when it’s time to wind down for bed. Problem is, most of us are out of sync.

To get back on track, we need to spend 15-30 minutes in bright sunlight early in the morning. In one study, workers who got regular sunlight tended to be more physically active during the day and got more sleep at night. They were also found to be generally happier and reported fewer health problems, which is a nice bonus.

Although the workers in that particular study got light throughout the entire day, other research indicates that early morning light produces the best effects. (source 1, source 2)

SLEEP HACK #1: INDOOR BRIGHT LIGHT

So let me guess, you don’t roll out of bed, yawn daintily like Julie Andrews, and then go out in your front yard to sing about how the hills are alive with the sound of music. That’s okay, you can still get the benefits of early morning light.

Going outside for 15-30 minutes of sun isn’t practical for my family most mornings, so I bought this daylight lamp and put it on the kitchen table. My kids sit under it and work on art projects while I start breakfast. My plan was to join them and sit for 30 minutes or so planning my day, but I felt frustratingly tethered to my chair and stopped doing it.

Instead, I invested in these space-age looking blue/green light glasses, which allow me to move around the house while receiving light therapy. They’re AMAZING – within three days of using them my brain felt lit up like a Christmas tree. I was able to think clearly and feel focused for long stretches of time instead of short bursts – which is what’s been typical for me since becoming a parent. (That’s not just me, right?)

They’re CNN’s #1 gift pick for travelers, have been featured in Forbes, and were developed by a university – I’ll be posting a full review of them soon, but for now you can find them here.

Another option is this wakeup light, which simulates sunrise in your bedroom. It was developed by Phillips, who “carried out extensive research with leading light therapy experts into the relationship between light and well-being. That research showed a positive correlation between dawn simulation and how people feel when they wake up. Waking up to gradual light, like a sunrise, is hard-wired into the human brain. As light falls on a person’s eyes, a message is sent to their brain that stimulates production of cortisol, known as the energy hormone. Waking up to dawn simulation has also been proven to help keep a person’s internal body clock in sync. It helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, promoting better sleep and reduced stress levels – unlike waking up in the dark to a sudden noise like a traditional alarm clock.” (source)

My experience with early morning light: When I lived in the city I slept with blackout curtains so that light from my neighborhood didn’t interfere with my sleep. It helped, but it also meant that my body never experienced a natural sunrise. Now that I sleep out in the country with no light pollution, I experience a natural sunrise every morning. I don’t wake at sunrise (thank goodness), but the gradual addition of light to my room has had some interesting physiological effects. For one – and this is probably TMI – my cycles aligned with the moon. Crazy, right?

2. Avoid Blue Light At Night

We need sunlight during the day to keep our circadian rhythm on the right track, but sunlight at night? Now, that’s just downright confusing to our bodies.

Unfortunately, computer screens, t.v.’s, phones and even regular light bulbs emit blue light, which the body perceives like sunlight. According to some studies, blue light exposure after sundown can suppress the release of melatonin, which tells our body it’s almost time for bed. But that’s not all it does – melatonin is vital for health, and low levels can cause more problems than just a rough night’s sleep. According to Chris Kresser L.Ac , low melatonin levels have been:

“shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair immune system function, and possibly lead to cardiometabolic consequences such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease. (11, 12, 13) With serious consequences like these, preventing melatonin suppression should be a top priority in anyone’s healthy lifestyle.”

But what’s that – you’re not ready to give up screen time after the kids go to bed? Yeah, me neither, and for that matter I’m not going to turn off all the lights and sit in darkness either. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce blue light exposure anyway, and research has shown them to be very effective. (source 1, source 2)

SLEEP HACK #2: BLOCK THE BLUE

Here are three tips for reducing blue light at night:

Bright light suppresses more melatonin than low level light, so dim the lights in your house around sunset. I also dim my computer screen, but that’s optional.

To block blue light coming from ambient lights and my t.v. screen, consider wearing amber-hued glasses at night. Uvex sells a very inexpensive version, but they scratch easily and can make the screen seem a little fuzzy while watching movies or shows. After using them for a long time I finally invested in these – screens appear crisp and clear with them on, and they’re more comfortable, too!

3. Optimize Your Levels Of This “Miracle Mineral”

Magnesium fuels about 300 biochemical reactions in the body. In addition, it helps to relax achy muscles, mitigate the effects of stress, and calm the mind by supporting the production of the neurotransmitter GABA.

Sleep problems are often a symptom of magnesium deficiency. We’re not exactly sure why, but we do know that this “miracle mineral” relaxes achy muscles, and calms the mind by assisting with the production of the neurotransmitter GABA and mitigates the effects of stress, so that may be part of it.

This study also suggests that magnesium may improve sleep quality by increasing melatonin levels and decreasing cortisol levels.

There are many kinds of magnesium, and getting a variety is important because they have different functions in the body. For sleep, I rub this magnesium oil onto my skin before bed. Because Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and a little calcium are essential for magnesium absorption you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got adequate amounts of those as well. (Note: According to Kristen Michaelis’ book, Beautiful Babies, magnesium levels show more improvement when Vitamin D is obtained through sun exposure rather than oral supplements.)

4. Sleep On A Good Mattress

Duh, right? But seriously, this makes a huge difference. When we sleep on an uncomfortable bed it creates pressure on our hips, back, and shoulders, and we have to move frequently to redistribute our weight. If we don’t, areas under pressure lose circulation and tissue gets damaged. According to the Mayo Clinic, ”Bedsores — also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers — are injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin.”

Obviously, our bodies do whatever it takes to prevent this damage from happening. Since we don’t typically move around while remaining in Stage 3 and 4 sleep, we have to come up out of that deep, restorative sleep back into lighter sleep to shift our weight. These “micro-arousals” may inhibit or stop the release of human growth hormone during deep sleep. (source)

In other words, frequently shifting our weight during sleep may prevent us from getting adequate amounts of deep, restorative sleep.

My favorite non-toxic mattress company has solved this problem by creating a mattress that is both soft (for pressure relief) and firm (for proper spinal alignment). I know, it’s always been an either/or choice, but their solution is the real deal.

They have a 60 day, risk-free trial, so if you’re interested in trying them you can have a bed delivered to your door, worry-free. If you decide it’s not for you they will pay to have it shipped back to them. (You do have to pay for shipping to your house and use a mattress protector during the trial period if you think you might want to return it, but if you love yours half as much as I love mine you won’t even consider it.)

5. Give Aromatherapy A Try

In this small study, lavender essential oil placed in a diffuser improved quality of sleep for individuals who suffer from mild insomnia, and this study concluded that lavender essential oil improved quality of sleep in ischemic heart disease patients. Here’s how I use it in my routine:

My personal preference is to place a relaxing blend (like lavender, mandarin, ylang ylang, valerian and neroli) into a diffuser right before bed. I have one that I carry from room-to-room with me throughout the day, but eventually I’m going to get this one for my bedroom. It’s beautiful, don’t you think?

A good rule of thumb is diffuse for 30-60 minutes, then take an hour off, then repeat if desired. Many diffusers have a timer that you can set to shut off automatically.

6. Get Grounded

A practice called “earthing” is thought to help regulate our hormonal ebbs and flows with a mechanism similar to early morning light. In a study conducted by Ghalv, M.D. and Dale Teplitz, M.A, earthing reduced overall levels of cortisol and fine-tuned the secretion cycle so that levels were highest in the early morning, which is when it’s most needed.

7. Set A Caffeine Curfew (And Stick To It)

Caffeine has a life of it’s own – a half-life, that is. Sip that cuppa joe (with 200mg of caffeine) at 3pm, and chances are pretty good that 100mg will still be active in your system at 9pm. Everyone metabolizes caffeine at a different rate, so do some experimenting and find out when your cutoff point should be. (source)

8. Avoid Light Pollution

So, the irony of the above photo is in order to avoid the problems associated with too much light at night, we need to do more than cover our eyes. We now know that our skin senses light in ways we used to think only the eye could, so light can disrupt our circadian rhythm even when we’re wearing a mask.

Blackout curtains are a much better option, and they don’t just come in black. Check out some of the colors that are available here.

Also make sure to cover any lights on your alarm clock or other electronic devices. I throw a clean cloth diaper over our white noise machine/alarm clock every night before bed.

9. Chill Out

“’When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down,’ says H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, who wrote a chapter on temperature and sleep for a medical textbook. ‘Think of it as the internal thermostat.’ If it’s too cold . . . or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point.” (source: WebMD)

Experts say the ideal sleep environment for most people is between 65-72F, so find what works for you. I recommend wearing loose, light pajamas to bed so you don’t overheat.

However, if you find that you’re having trouble sleeping because your feet are cold, put on a pair of warm socks. According to this article, research shows that as you get sleepy, your “body’s temperature regulation system redistributes heat from your core to your extremities. Having cold feet demands more from this system and upsets the natural release of melatonin, a hormone related to a proper sleep-wake cycle.”

10. Let The List Go (Just For A Little While)

Do you feel overwhelmed by “to do” lists or other distractions at night? A handful of studies show that meditation and/or relaxation can help you let go and relax. I’ve found belly breathing throughout the day to be helpful, and I also love to listen to relaxing music and/or podcasts while winding down at night.

11. Flex Your Muscles

Though it can take up to four months, exercising for 30 minutes three or four times a week may lengthen the amount of time we sleep while and improve overall sleep quality. (source)

Though I confess I don’t always work it in, my two favorite types of exercise are rebounding and kettlebells. I use this rebounder, which doubles as a playground for my kids when it’s too cold to play outside. (It also folds in half, which I like because I can store it under my bed.) I also have this kettlebell and this kettlebell DVD, which is good for beginners like me.

12. Sip Don’t Slurp

Though alcohol can sometimes help with falling asleep, it actually hurts overall sleep quality by disrupting normal sleep patterns. (source) Researchers are not exactly sure why that is, but some theorize that it has to do with the inhibition of melatonin secretion and/or it’s ability to cause spikes in blood sugar that jolt us wide awake at 2am.

Whatever the reason, if I opt for a big girl beverage (like this this hot buttered rum or spiked eggnog), I make sure to enjoy it early in the evening so that it doesn’t interfere with my sleep. And of course, I sip rather than slurp.

13. Brew Sleepy Tea

Brew up a relaxing herbal tea like chamomile or kava kava, which studies suggest may help with falling asleep. (source 1, source 2) I like to add in a few additional things to my tea to make it more potent:

– 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed gelatin. It’s rich in glycine, which is very calming, and also contains other amino acids that are thought to help with sleep. (source)
– Honey to taste, which may help with glycogen synthesis
– A pinch of salt, which some experts believe helps reduce excess cortisol in the body

14. Take A Hot Bath

While our bodies are designed to sleep best in a relatively cool environment (usually 65-72F), this study found that a hot bath 1.5 hours before bed decreased sleep fragmentation in older adults suffering from insomnia.

15. Try Pink Noise

Are you thinking, “Whoa, what was that?” Good! It’s called pink noise, and it’s essentially white noise that has been filtered to be less harsh.

Researchers think it helps sleep because the “steady drone of pink noise slows and regulates your brain waves, which is a hallmark of super-restful sleep.” (source)

In this German study, “pink noise appeared to prolong deep sleep and to increase the size of the subject’s brain waves during that period, as evinced by their EEGs.” According to the writeup, “The slow brain waves that characterize deep sleep are implicated in information processing and memory formation, and sure enough, on the mornings after those brain waves appeared to have been enhanced, the participants remembered a higher number of word pairs (an average of 22, as opposed to 13).”

In another study conducted by Jue Zhang, Ph.D., an associate professor at China’s Peking University, “An impressive 75% of study participants reported more restful sleep when exposed to pink noise. When it came to brain activity, the amount of “stable sleep”—the most restful kind—increased 23% among the nighttime sleepers exposed to pink noise, and more than 45% among nappers.” (source)

“To experience the benefits of pink noise in your own bedroom, Zhang recommends fans or noisemakers that produce steady, uninterrupted sound or that imitate falling rain or wind,” writes Prevention Magazine.

16. Respect The 10-2 Window

I recently heard Dr. Alan Christianson – author of the upcoming book The Adrenal Reset Diet – say at a small gathering that our bodies are hardwired to do most of their intensive healing/repair work between the hours of 10pm-2am. This may be because in more primitive environments, this window of time is the safest for us to be out of commission.

Remember, we don’t move in the deeper stages of sleep, so we’re more vulnerable. It’s probably best to get that kind of sleep out of the way while predators are still groggy from waking up for their “day,” so that when predators are fully awake and prowling we can run away if needed.

Another interesting phenomenon Dr. Christianson mentioned was the second wind. Have you ever been soooo done with a day that you were ready to go to bed at 6pm, only to find yourself wide awake and scanning Facebook at 10:30 pm later on? Chances are, your body released hormones intended for intensive repair (aka beauty sleep), but because you hadn’t gone to bed yet you experienced it as an energy rush instead.

Now that I know what the second wind is, I try to avoid it, and I’ve noticed it makes a big difference as I work to heal my tired adrenals. I want all those lovely hormones to repair my body and help me feel good, not keep me up watching cat videos on Facebook.

17. Turn Off Wifi At Night

In his new book, Overpowered, Dr. Martin Blank of Columbia University argues that EMF exposure is having a profoundly negative effect on our bodies, especially when it come to DNA repair. Dr. Blank doesn’t recommend complete avoidance, but suggests instead that we take precautions with them just like we do with other activities – like wearing seat belts while driving.

Since much of our most important DNA repair activities happen while we sleep, it may be wise to turn off sources of intense EMF exposure during that time.

Note: In addition to turning off wifi, I would also keep cell phones out of the bedroom. However, if it was absolutely necessary to keep it nearby I would put it in airplane mode.

18. Drink Cherry Juice

According to one study, adults suffering from insomnia slept an average of 84 additional minutes after consuming tart cherry juice two times per day for two weeks. Some parents rave about cherry juice as a children’s sleep aid, including my friends Genevieve of Mama Natural and Cara of Health Home & Happiness.

Source: www.mommypotamus.com/sleep-tips/
Image: Pexels