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What If We Slept On Rooftops?

8 Aug

What if the automobile or any mass transportation was never invented? Well, we would definitely have to live pretty close to our jobs.

What if the boxspring and cotton mattress were never invented? What if we slept on the rooftops of buildings because there was nowhere else to catch a snooze? Well, we wouldn’t be getting much sleep surrounded by tons of strangers while worrying about rolling off the side of the building, smashing aimlessly into the ground. And it would definitely not be cozy.

Sleeping on rooftops would not only make us anxious, tense and uncomfortable, but it would expose our personal flaws to the world. We would know which of our neighbors snores the loudest, who stays up the latest watching reality TV shows, and who talks in their sleep. And for those sleepwalkers, they would definitely be in for some trouble.

Next time you go to bed, appreciate the convenience of being able to sleep every night in the privacy of your own home, where you can go about your normal sleep habits without being judged by your neighbors.

If you are a Shifman sleeper, take a minute to appreciate the invention of the cotton mattress created in the 18th century because its quite a refreshing thought to know there is still a mattress company around that produces mattresses made with an abundant amount of cotton. After all, you could be sleeping as the Romans did during the Roman Empire, on raised pallets with fabrics stuffed with hay and leaves—or on the rooftop of your office building!

Happy Halloween

30 Oct

Have fun dressing up in your festive costumes, pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, telling scary ghost stories, and of course trick-or-treating. But if you’re up until the Witching Hour, don’t forget to get in all of your Zzzz’s…it could be a matter of life or death! I’m not joking.

Halloween_1Did you know that not getting enough sleep can not only cause health-related issues but also an early trip to the grave? Don’t be a zombie this Halloween. Be sure to get enough sleep! Learn the scary truth about how your lack of shut eye is affecting your body and mind.

The immediate effects of sleep deprivation are common and include feeling groggy, unfocused, and sluggish. Most of us feel these symptoms from time to time and they may seem unimportant, but not getting enough sleep night after night ends up causing more damage than you may think.

“Consistently sleeping less than six hours a night has been linked to impairments in cognitive functioning, specifically a loss of concentration, memory and hand-eye coordination. Patients with chronic insomnia report problems performing daily tasks and often have increased absenteeism from work and school. Poor sleep has also been linked to increased motor vehicle and workplace accidents,” notes Dr. Michael Thorpy and Dr. Shelby Freedman Harris of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Not only are you more prone to accidents when you don’t get enough shut eye but as your sleep deficit increases, so does the risk of some serious health-related issues, including: hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, glaucoma, cancer, and an increased risk of stroke and diabetes.   Looking for a possible cure?  Try sleeping on a luxurious, handcrafted two-sided Shifman mattress.

Have I scared you yet? This Halloween while you’re swapping ghost stories with your friends, be sure to share the scary truth about lack of sleep. As I said, it could be a matter of life or death.

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Up, Up and AWAY!

11 Jun

il_570xN.370110578_1hp1It’s summer and the vacation season has started, which means that you are more than likely in the midst of booking your flight to some getaway location. Perhaps you are planning a wine tasting tour of Italy, a scenic safari through the dunes of Dubai, or maybe even a trip to the beach in Tahiti to soak up the sun. No matter where the destination, don’t let your lack of sleep ruin it. After all, summer vacations are supposed to be all about fun and relaxation, right? One of the most common summertime sleep disorders is jet lag. Jet lag is a sleep disorder that can cause fatigue, disorientation, impaired concentration, lack of appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances, and headaches. It is brought on after traveling huge distances, across several time zones, and can last for days. What causes jet lag? Jet lag happens because rapid travel throws off your body’s natural rhythm or biological clock. “Cues such as light exposure, mealtimes, social engagement, and activities regulate our circadian rhythm,” says Allison T. Siebern, PhD, a fellow in the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center. “When you cross time zones, it disrupts those, and your internal clock and the external times are desynchronized. Your body needs to get on the rhythm of the new time zone.” How can you get away from home and still enjoy your vacation without the dreaded effects of jet lag? Here are a few tips to get you through those summertime, traveling blues.

1. Pre-flight tips:

  • About a week before your trip, slowly start to shift your sleeping and eating schedule to match that of your vacation spot. This will help your body cope with the time change.
  • Make sure that all of your trip preparations are done well ahead of time. You do not want to be stressed right before your trip. Stress can cause your body to produce more adrenaline, which prevents you from sleeping.
  • Make sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before your journey. You want to be well rested since getting quality sleep on a plane can prove difficult for most travelers.

2. All aboard! In flight tips:

  • Change your watch to match your destination’s time zone as soon as you board your flight. “This is mostly psychological,” says Siebern, “but it helps you get into the mind-set of what you’ll be doing in the place where you’re going.” Mimic the time of day at your destination location. If it is nighttime at your destination then sleep and if it is daytime then try to stay awake. This, along with resetting your watch, will help your mind and body prepare for the new time zone.
  • Hydration is key. Make sure to drink plenty of water right before your flight and during your flight. Airplanes are often dry atmospheres, which aid in dehydration. Dehydration can actually cause the same symptoms as jet lag and can add to the fatigue, loss of energy, and headaches that you feel.
  • Minimize sleep distractions. If you are a light sleeper make sure to pack earplugs or headphones, a sleep mask, a pillow, and a blanket for your flight.

3. You’re finally there! Make sure the first day is dedicated to getting your body on track so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation.

  • Watch your food and liquid consumption. Alcohol, caffeine, and large or spicy meals can interfere with a good nights sleep so avoid these your first day in your new location.
  • Make sure that when you are ready to go to sleep that all incoming light in your new location is silenced. Close your curtains, or blinds, and turn off electronics. Light has a direct effect on the body by signaling your brain to wake up and actually stops the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which responds to darkness.

Vacation is supposed to be a break from the real world. Don’t let the jet lag interfere! Start planning now so that your vacation will be a true trip to paradise.

Summer is Upon Us!

24 May

Grab your swim trunks and your “flippie floppies”! Summer is here! Okay, well maybe summer isn’t officially here yet but this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, which signifies the unofficial start of summer. If only mother earth knew! She might not be ready for summer, but I know I am! While summer is the best season, in my opinion any way, it also is the time of the year when Americans lose the most sleep. Even though we all love the warm weather, it plays a huge role in sleep deprivation. I decided to research the many reasons why Americans tend to lose sleep during the summer months and dug up some ways to combat those summer night sleeping woes.

Heat is one of the major reasons Americans lose sleep during the summer months. The temperature of your bedroom directly affects REM sleep. Why? “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. “Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point and causes you to wake up which in turn affects your quality of sleep. So how can you fix this problem? Simply turn up the AC right? Well if you don’t have central air or if you want to keep your electric bill down, like me, here are some tips to cool down those summer nights.

1. Keep your windows and shades completely closed during the day and then open your windows when you go to sleep at night. By doing this you will block most of the daytime sunlight from entering your room and in turn will lower the overall temperature of your bedroom.

2. You get a new wardrobe in the summer, why shouldn’t your bed? Just like you store away your winter coats and sweatshirts, put away your comforter and flannel sheets. Try using sheets made with natural fibers. Sheets made of natural materials are more breathable versus synthetic materials, which don’t allow ventilation. You can also try a light-colored sheet. Light shades reflect light rather than absorb it, keeping your bed nice and cool.

3. “Go to the mattresses!” Go to war against the summer heat by literally going to the mattresses. Just like the material of your sheets matter, so does the material used in your mattress. Go natural! Not only is this good for the environment but it also helps you catch some extra ZZZ’s. Mattresses made with natural materials keep you warm in winter and cool in the summer. Why? Because they are more breathable than man-made materials and help wick moisture away from the body. Looking for a natural, hand-made mattress? Shifman Mattress Company helps reduce the carbon footprint by only using materials that are natural, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, which is why the number one material used in their mattresses is cotton. They actually use up to 83 pounds of it in one mattress! With a cotton mattress in your arsenal you are ready to go to war again the heat of summer.

In addition to heat, sunlight has a direct effect on the body by signaling your brain to wake up. The light actually stops the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which responds to darkness. Long summer daylight hours can make sleeping difficult. In the summer the sun rises at around 5:30am! Doesn’t the sun know that summertime is for sleeping in? Unfortunately the sun doesn’t rise and set by the simple flick of a switch. So what can you do?

1. Use dark, heavy blinds and curtains. This will block most of the morning sunlight from seeping into your room and waking you up. It will also put you in control, not the sun, of deciding when you want to wake up.

2. Still too much light coming in? (What are you a vampire?!) Try using an eye mask. By using all three of these sun-blocking tools, you are ready to go to battle against the morning sun.

Summer is for fun in the sun and for rest and relaxation. By following these tips you are sure to kick off your summer right and keep you going strong all season long!

Aaahh!!! Bed Monsters

22 Oct

When I think about bed bugs, The Twilight Zone’s theme song immediately comes to mind.

Here’s why I’m slightly amused: as children we grow up worrying about the monsters under our bed. Our parents, clearly irritated by our “naive” adolescent anxieties, ensure us that there are NO monsters and we are coaxed to sleep. AND THEN ONE DAY in your 20s, you learn there has been a bed bug infestation in your city and you think to yourself: Wait a sec, there’s actually no difference between bed bugs and monsters… and everything you’ve ever learned growing up has been a complete and utter lie. At this point an existential crisis ensues, anxieties form and on top of it all, you might be sleeping with the enemy.

AT ANY RATE, bed bugs are pretty scary, and it is Halloween time, so let’s indulge, shall we?

First of all, if you’ve had a bed-bug outbreak in your home, you might be thinking: “Hey, I’m a CLEAN person. This is bologna.”  My answer to that is #1. Deli meat and bed-bugs have nothing in common. #2. Unless of course you’re feeding your bed-bug infested pet bologna in your bed.

What you need to know about bed-bugs:

  • Bed bugs are nocturnal parasites that feed on blood. (i.e. Vampires)
  • Bed bugs prefer dwellings inhabited by other animals or humans which is why they can be found in homes, vehicles, luggage, hotels, movie theaters, clothing AS WELL AS the nests of bats, birds and rodents.
  • Bed bugs use an adhesive substance to attach themselves to humans, pets, clothing or luggage.
  • Bed bugs are elusive and can sometimes go undetected.
  • Aside from bite symptoms, signs that you might have bed-bugs include fecal spots, blood smears on sheets, and molts.
  • Bed-Bugs were almost completely eradicated in the developed world in the 1940s, but sometime around 1995 they increased in prevalence. (You don’t really NEED to know this fact, I just thought it was really interesting).

What’s the difference between bed bugs and vampires? They’re both nocturnal, blood-sucking mattress dwellers. Except of course that BED-BUGS ARE REAL.

So how can you prevent bed bugs? Well, frankly, it’s not that easy. You certainly can’t live in a bubble your entire life. (Or maybe you could and then get your own reality show on TLC). The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that although bed-bugs are “successful hitchhikers” a few simple precautions can help prevent a bed bug infestation in your home.

AT HOME:

  • Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed-bug infestation
  • Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs and eliminates many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasements regularly for holes.
  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.

WHEN TRAVELING:

  • In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.
  • Check the mattress and headboard before sleeping.
  • Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.

With the Halloween backdrop upon us, it’s easy to make light of bed-bugs and the fear that is often associated with them. But, the reality is that they’re REAL and can be dangerous to your health. Keep in mind that bed-bugs aren’t just a seasonal problem; an infestation can happen at any time of the year. In fact, studies show that bed-bugs can live for an entire year without feeding! So be cautious when you travel and keep your home tidy.

And one day, when your kids are complaining about monsters under the bed, don’t lie to them, advise them: Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Go to Sleep! You need it.

10 May

Are you really getting enough sleep? Some people say they only need a few hours of sleep while others exclaim “they’ll sleep when they’re dead!” (Yikes!) As a society that focuses on working hard all day and night, we often pride ourselves on not getting enough sleep. We’ve even conditioned ourselves into thinking that we deserve bragging rights for pulling all-nighters!

So where does this basis of thinking stem from? Some researchers say childhoodand more specifically, those times we were reprimanded for acting out and sent to bed early. Think about it: our parents punished us by sending us to sleep! As a result, when we are conditioned into thinking that something is a punishment, we simply refuse to obey those constraints and immediately rebel. And the rebellion, in this case, is staying awake. The problem with this sorry scheme, however, is that we only hurt ourselves.

Daniel J. Buysse, a psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, believes that out of every 100 people who believe they only need five or six hours of sleep a night, only about five people really do.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one-third of Americans are chronically sleep deprived, receiving less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation puts these people at a higher risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems.

It’s important to remember that sleep plays a vital role in promoting physical health and emotional wellness. Staying awake to complete tasks can be quite a disservice to your health. So next time you feel yourself fighting the urge to sleep, stop rebelling and surrender yourself to the bliss and benefits of serene slumber.

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