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Spring Cleaning: Mattresses

Beautyrest Silver level 1Welcome to our second installment of Spring Cleaning!  Last week, we discussed pillows but this week we are on to mattresses!  Cleaning your mattress may seem like a daunting task, but I can assure you that it will pay off in the end.  Mattresses are one of the most used objects in our home so it’s no question that every once in a while they need some love in return.  And plus, mattresses tend to collect some pretty creepy, crawly things that I’m pretty sure no one wants sleeping with them every night.

So, here are a few tips for how to freshen up your sleeping space:

  • Vacuum it! – While this advice may seem silly, it is a very efficient way to keep dust and dirt off of your bed.  Just use the upholstery attachment to give your mattress a quick clean.spring cleaning mattress
  • Specialized cleaners – Upholstery cleaners are great because they help get rid of dust mites and are made especially to clean surfaces that come in contact with skin.  Enzyme cleaners are useful for getting rid of any bothersome stains, especially those caused by urine. Spot clean your mattress with your cleaner of choice by spraying the spots moderately. Then with a clean, cold, wet sponge or cloth, dab the spot to pick up the cleaner and the stain.
  • Lay your mattress in the sun – Giving your mattress a “suntan” will help dry out any mold or mildew that may have accrued over time.  Moisture in mattresses is unavoidable, but laying it in the sun should solve some of the problem. Also, using a mattress protector can help protect your mattress from moisture and stains. If laying your mattress outside isn’t an option, you can lay your mattress in a room with lots of natural light with the windows open.
  • Common disinfectants – These should help kill any of the spores from mold and mildew that linger after you’ve dried it out and vacuumed it.
  • Citrus cleaners – These fruity cleaners are perfect for removing stains caused by colorful drinks, as well as other unidentified mattress stains.  But remember! After you spray, be sure to blot, not rub, the cleaner out of the mattress with a clean towel.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda works great for deodorizing your mattress and removing stains such as urine. Click here for useful instructions on how to clean stains such as urine with baking soda to clean and deodorize your mattress.
  • Get a new one! – Feel like you can clean and clean, but your mattress will never be quite what it once was?  Maybe it’s time to break up with your mattress.  Talk to our sleep experts to find the perfect replacement.

For further reading on cleaning your mattress, check out our blog post on how to clean your mattress.

Hope this installment of Spring Cleaning clears up some of your mattress cleaning mysteries!

Cheers and sleep well.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness March 2017.
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Spring Cleaning: Pillows

Spring cleaningSpring is here and you know what that means!  Spring Cleaning has arrived!  For the next few weeks, our experts here at Sleep City will be giving you helpful tips on getting your sleeping space into tip top shape, and they may even have a few deals for you too!

So, let’s get started.  The topic of the day:  Pillows

Did you know that 10% of a 2 year old pillow’s weight is made up of dust mites??  Gross, I know.  If you think that the state of your pillow is past help, you may want to think about investing in some new pillows altogether!  Pillows should generally be replaced every 2 years, or as soon as you feel that they are harming your sleep rather than helping it. If you can’t remember when you got your pillow try the “fold test”. Fold your pillow in half and let go. If it unfolds then it can be cleaned and slept on. If it does not unfold then it’s time to ditch it for a new one.

For those of you who still have pillows that are in relatively good shape, a tune up may be just what the doctor ordered.  Here are some helpful tips and tricks for cleaning your down or fiberfill pillows and memory foam pillows

Cleaning Down and Fiberfill Pillows

  • Check the label!:  This goes for all types of pillows.  If your pillow still has a care label attached to it, your best bet is to simply follow those instructions.  Then again, we all know how annoying those labels are (I generally cut mine off immediately) so if that’s the case, hope it’s not lost.
  • Repair tears: Before washing your down or fiberfill pillows, make sure there are no holes or tears in them. If there are, stitch them shut. You don’t want a washing machine full of cotton or feathers.
  • Throw it in the washing machine:  For all down and fiberfill pillows, the best way to clean them is to toss them into the wash on a gentle cycle with warm water.  We recommend throwing two pillows in at once to ensure the washer stays balanced. Set your washer to rinse twice. 
  • Tumble dry: On a gentle cycle, with very low heat for 20 minutes.  Throw in a dryer ball to help plump them up and keep the fill from clumping. After 20 minutes, fluff your pillows. If they are still wet dry them for longer.

Cleaning Memory Foam Pillows

  • Keep the pillow covers clean:  This is especially important for foam pillows as those cannot be washed in a washing machine. Many foam pillows do have a case that they come in though, which can generally be cleaned in a washing machine, just check the care label. 
  • Get out your vacuum:  Make sure your vacuum is on the lowest setting and use it to suction dust from your foam pillows with its upholstery tool.
  • Tumble dry:  On a gentle, air only cycle for 20 minutes, a spin in your dryer should do a foam pillow some good.  
  • Spot clean:  Use a damp, sudsy towel to spot clean areas of your foam pillow, but be careful to make sure it is completely dry before placing it back on your bed.
  • Hand wash:  This is your best bet when it comes to foam pillows, but be careful!  When foam pillows become wet they tear very easily.  Some foam pillows will have instructions for hand washing.  If so, follow them. If you don’t have instructions, place your pillow in lukewarm water with a some mild detergent (not too much). Press down on your pillow to soak up the soapy water. Then with cold water carefully rinse your pillow until the water is no longer soapy and runs clear. After hand washing air dry on a clean, flat surface inside or outside on a sunny day.  

Tune in next week for our next installation of Spring Cleaning!

Cheers and sleep well.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in March 2017.

 

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In honor of the Winter Olympics, the experts here at Sleep City just wanted to remind everyone (particularly athletes) to make sure they are getting enough sleep!  It’s no secret that athletes need even more sleep than the recommended amount.  7-9 hours just isn’t enough when it comes to .  Here’s how not getting enough sleep can affect you:

  • Decreased energy
  • Foggy mind – this results in worsened decision making and slower reaction time.
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The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation – Infographic

The dangers of sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation may seem like a common aspect of every day life, especially in today’s busy culture, but it can lead to many serious issues.  Sleep recharges your life, and by simply getting enough of it, you can greatly diminish your chances of getting sick, injured, or even gaining unhealthy weight.  It even improves your memory function!  Furthermore, by getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, you can lessen your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and many other serious health issues.  For further information on sleep and how to get more of it, read our blog.  

Sleep deprivation, whether chronic or acute, can have serious consequences.  Below is an infographic highlighting a few of the issues most commonly associated with sleep deprivation.

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Dreaming: Three Theories

brain dreamingThere is no doubt that sleep is vital to living a healthy life.  Not only is it key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle (in fact, those of us who are good about our sleep often have a healthier weight than those of us who struggle to sleep regularly), but it works wonders for your mental processes as well.  Although most scientists still debate the specific reason for why sleep is so important, there are many theories that explain why we do it.  During sleep, the brain is shown to actually restore and replenish energy stores for the next day, in addition to strengthening your immune system.

Sleep is also believed to be adaptive, having evolved to tune out the external world when the threat of danger is at a minimum.  This explains why some animals sleep at night, others sleep during the day, and others sleep according to their own peculiar cycles.  Only a few animals, such as frogs, exhibit states that cannot technically be considered sleep.  Fun fact:  Dolphins have uni-hemispherical sleep patterns, meaning that their individual cerebral hemispheres take turns sleeping!

Sleep is also extremely important for facilitating learning.  Sleep strengthens neural connections, which are at the basis of learning.  Studies have shown that in memory testing, participants perform better having slept in between tests  than those who did not.  Other studies have shown that during exam weeks, students experience an increased amount of REM sleep, supporting the idea that when a greater amount of mental consolidation is necessary, sleep, especially REM sleep, is vital to the brain and body.

So what exactly happens when we sleep?  Most people can answer this pretty easily:  Dreams happen when we sleep!   However, many people don’t know that there are in fact two different types of dreams, REM dreams and non-REM dreams.  The defining difference is that while REM dreams are often characterized by very bizarre and surreal events, non-REM dreams generally involve dull and mundane events.  So, next time you wake up from a dream about folding your socks, you can be sure your were in the middle of non-REM sleep!

But what exactly are dreams? The theories to explain dreaming have many similarities to the theories that explain sleep.  The first theory is called the activation-synthesis theory.  This theory states that during sleep, random brain activity occurs.  These random neural firings then activate parts of the brain that would normally be interpreting sensory input.  As a result, your brain must find a way to make sense of this random brain activity by synthesizing it with previously stored memories.  Evidence against this theory states that if this were true, our dreams would actually be much more bizarre than they already are and share even less similarities with waking life.

The second theory results from the work in the field of psychoanalysis done by Sigmund Freud.  Freud presented the theories of manifest content and latent content.  According to his research, dreams actually contain messages that are generally hidden from the conscious awareness but represent unconscious conflicts within the mind of the dreamer.    This theory can be broken down into two parts:  manifest content, which is how the dream actually manifests itself within the dreamer and how it is remembered once the dreamer wakes up, and latent content, which is what the dream symbolizes to the dreamer.  Although there is no real support for Freud’s theory, it does offer an interesting insight into the endless ways the brain may be working and also how it could be interpreted.

And finally, the evolved threat-rehearsal theory contests that similar to how we have adapted to sleep at night, we have also evolved to experience dreams that simulate life-threatening situations thereby allowing people to rehearse, and also learn from, the particular situation.  According to this theory, dreaming may in fact be a direct result of evolution.  Several facts support this theory, specifically that dreaming is associated with the amygdala which is activated by real dangers.

While sleeping and dreaming have yet to be definitively defined, they are indicative of the endless possibilities behind the mystery of the human brain, which is pretty cool!

Cheers and sleep well.

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Sleep Positions: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Your sleep position may be causing you unnecessary sleeplessness, but we have a few tips for improvement…

The Good:  Side sleeping

Side sleeping is generally considered to be the most neutral sleep position because it compliments the natural curve of your spine, especially if you’re sleeping on the right mattress.

Our experts suggest placing a pillow between your legs.  This will help keep you on your side throughout the night, as well as improve the natural alignment of your spine.

The Bad(ish):  Back sleeping

While sleeping on your back can be really good for you (for those of you interested, see our blog post), for certain people, it can also be dangerous.  Sleeping on your back results in your tongue falling loosely to the back of the throat, which increases snoring and can be very dangerous for those suffering from Sleep Apnea, a sleep condition that causes temporary breathlessness.

If you can’t help but sleep on your back, try placing a small pillow beneath your back and another under your knees for your best night’s sleep.

The Ugly:  Stomach sleeping

If you’re a stomach sleeper like myself, you often wake up in the middle of the night to the sensation of your arm being “asleep” instead of you.  This is a result of the position of the neck when sleeping on your stomach, which consequently puts an excess of pressure along your arm, causing you to experience the uncomfortable sensation of pins and needles.  People who sleep on their stomachs wake often during the night and as a result, often miss out on the great night’s sleep that they are looking for.

To correct, our experts suggest using a pillow to raise your hips, and you might even trying not using a pillow for your head at all.

Infographic:  What does your sleep position say about you?
sleep positionCheers and sleep well.

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The Myth Behind the “Morning Person”

Ever since I was little, I have always been considered a “Morning Person.”  I would wake up at 5 am every morning before going to elementary school so that I would have time to read for an hour or two.  I suppose I was a bit of a nerd.  I used to take great pride in this, and still do to an extent, because for some reason it made me feel more grown up and “beyond my years” as a 12 year old.

What’s always been funny to me about this is that often when people talk about being a Morning Person, they speak of it like it’s something a person was born with.  Now, I can’t say that being awake early has ever been particularly difficult for me, but to my knowledge, it’s also not something that is inherent in my biological makeup.  Rather, being a Morning Person has a lot more to do with ritual and having good sleep hygiene.

Many people ask me what I do that makes it so much easier for me to wake up at 7 am on a daily basis without a problem.  I think that when people ask this question they expect a response like, “Oh, I wake up and go on a jog.  It always wakes my body and mind up.”  I did in fact try this technique for a short time.  It was absolutely miserable.  If I remember correctly, it only lasted for about 5 days.

The answer is incredibly simple:  I go to sleep at a decent hour.  I always have and, hopefully, I always will.  For me, sleep has always been a priority, regardless of how much homework I have or what is on TV, or even what party is going on around the block.  At 10 or 11 when I’m starting to feel drowsy, I get ready for  bed, have a cup of tea, and read a chapter or two of a book.  For me, this ritual works extremely well, but again it is not for everyone.

Sleep is a unique thing.  Some of us need a lot of it, some of us need less.  Some of us sleep in increments, some of us sleep in a solid block of time.  Some of us wake at the drop of a pin and some of us can sleep through a natural disaster.  Just because my sleep ritual works for me, doesn’t mean it works for everyone, which is why learning about good sleep hygiene is so important to your health and well-being.

I can assure you from experience that there is no magic formula that results in one becoming a Morning Person.  Sometimes it’s all a matter of what is in your head, other times it’s a result of an old mattress, or even as simple as sleeping on the wrong pillow.  Regardless of what the the issue is, if you spend enough time addressing your sleep problems, there is almost always a solution.

Cheers and sleep well.

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For Teens, Sleep Loss May Increase Risk of Depression

The dangers of sleep deprivation
Teens who suffer from sleep deprivation are also more likely to suffer from depression.
Teens who suffer from sleep deprivation are also more likely to suffer from depression.

While teens are naturally more inclined to suffer from depression due to the turbulence of the teenage years, studies have found that a lack of sleep leads to an even greater risk of depression.  In addition, teens who already suffer from depression are nearly four times more likely to suffer from sleep loss as a result of depression.

Unfortunately, most teenagers don’t get the sort of sleep their bodies and minds require.  In fact, it is suggested that teenagers get around 9 hours of a sleep each night and yet, only 7 out of 1o teenagers actually meet his requirement.

For parents, it is important to ensure that your teen is getting the sleep they require, regardless of how much homework they have or how many extra curricular activities they are trying to do.  Sleep is a vital part of everyone’s lives and yet, it is often the one aspect that we allow ourselves to cheat on, especially during our teenage years.

In order to help promote better sleep in your child’s life, read our post, Sleep Tips for Students, and talk to your children about establishing better sleep hygiene.  Talk to our experts today if you feel that your teenager may be in need of a new mattress.  Perhaps the key to their sleep is as simple as buying them a new pillow.  Whatever the answer, we are here to help you find it.

Cheers and sleep well.

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5 Ways to Take Your Guest Bedroom to the Next Level

Your guest bedroom should be a place of relaxation and comfort.
Your guest bedroom should be a place of relaxation and comfort.

Creating a welcoming guest bedroom can be tricky.  Often, the guest bedrooms in our homes get tossed by the wayside.    If you often welcome company into your home, spending some quality time with your guest bedroom may be the next step in making you the Host/Hostess with the “mostest.”

Here are a few tips to help take that neglected guest bedroom to the next level.

  1. Try sleeping in your guest bedroom every once in a while.  Yes, I know.  A daunting task if there ever was one. But, this trick may prove to be super useful.  By spending a night in your guest bedroom, you may notice some quick and easy fixes to spice up the room.  Remember, it’s the little things in life, right?
  2. Accessorize your bed with a variety of pillow options.  This will ensure that no matter what firmness of pillow your guests prefer, they will have an opportunity to find the perfect pillow.  Your annoying aunt and uncle who ALWAYS forget to bring their own pillow will be super appreciative.  Don’t worry Aunt May, I’m not talking to you.
  3. Invest in multiple sources of light.  Try not to have only one side of the bed lit.  No one wants to hear an argument over which side of the bed your guest gets to sleep on.  A happy guest is worth a thousand lamps, right?
  4. Keep the scents to a minimum.  Ever walked into a house and been overwhelmed by the smell of it?  Well, imagine trying to fall asleep in that.  Candles are always appreciated, but offer a variety.  That way, your guests can chose the smell they wish to overwhelm their nostrils with.
  5. Finally, make sure your mattress is up to par.  Yes, I know, beds are expensive.  But, isn’t a happy guest priceless?  At Sleep City, we offer a wide range of mattresses, always at an affordable and competitive price.  I’d recommend a Beautyrest Recharge, for a hybrid mattress that won’t break the bank.  Just ask one of our friendly sales associates to help set you up with the perfect guest bed!

Well, that’s all folks.  For more reading, check our our blog post, How to create an unforgettable guest bedroom.

Cheers and sleep well!

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Breakthrough Sleep Apnea Treatment Could Help Millions

Sleep apnea, a condition that affects some 18 million Americans, may have finally met its match.

Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea affects around 18 million Americans

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, “people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer”(Sleep Apnea). Usually, the person suffering does not even realize they have stopped breathing!  This issue results from the muscles around the neck relaxing and, as a result, obstructing the person’s breathing.

Thankfully, the New England Journal of Medicine recently revealed that they may have found a solution for this troubling condition.  By stimulating the upper-airway in the neck, researchers found that it “led to significant improvements in objective and subjective measurements of the severity of obstructive sleep apnea” (Upper-Airway Stimulation for Obstructive Sleep Apnea).  Their results showed that not only was the severity lessened, but the overall “quality of life” of the participants improved.  The data explains that the average number of events decreased from over 25 to just over 7 per hour.

So, for those of you suffering from this exhausting condition, have hope!  A good night’s sleep is not out of reach.

In addition, there are a number of ways to lessen the severity of your sleep apnea all by yourself.  For starters, make sure you’re sleeping on a good mattress.  Be sure it isn’t too old and is giving you the proper support needed for a good night’s sleep.  Another trick is to prop your head up.   It’s not hard to find a perfect pillow to keep your airways as open as possible.  Some experts even suggest sewing a tennis ball into the back of your pajamas in order to avoid sleeping on your back!  And, whether you suffer from sleep apnea or not, one of the best ways to achieve a good night’s sleep is to establish good sleep hygiene in your lifestyle.

Cheers and sleep well.