Top Causes of Sleep Deprivation

Top Causes of Sleep Deprivation

We’ve all experienced the occasional night of inadequate sleep. But if you’re not getting enough sleep, night-after-night, sleep deprivation can occur. Let’s look at what sleep deprivation is, what its top causes are, and how it affects our bodies and minds. We’ll also offer up some solutions to help you get a better night’s sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a condition in which you can’t get enough sleep. If you are affected by sleep deprivation, you may struggle with symptoms such as depression, memory issues, weight gain, becoming accident-prone and getting sick more often due to a weakened immune system.

The causes of sleep deprivation vary from drinking coffee too late in the day to sleep apnea, during which a person repeatedly stops and starts breathing throughout the sleep cycle. Because of these variations in causes, it’s essential you get to the bottom of what’s depriving you of the sleep you need. If you are waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to go back to sleep, you may want to talk you’re your doctor or experiment with some easy solutions first.

Try to satisfy your caffeine cravings before 2:00pm for five days. Observe if you sleep better. In addition, stop drinking wine or beer at least three to four hours before bedtime. One of the most effective, yet difficult things to do is lock your pet(s) out of your bedroom. It’s unfortunate but true: sleeping with your pet, according to WebMD, is the number one sleep stealer outside of a medical condition.

You can also try switching out your foam pillow for a quality feather and down pillow like the Natural Comfort Pillow, to help you sleep better.

If nothing seems to be helping you get a better night’s sleep, you may need to have a sleep study done. This is the best way to record what happens to your body during sleep (e.g. sleep apnea) and explore solutions with your doctor.

Thank you for visiting Natural Comfort Pillow, and sleep well!

A Realistic Guide to Better Sleep Habits, Part 1

Better Sleep Habits & Light StimulationIn some of our previous articles, including Managing Stress for Better Sleep, and 5 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep, we offered up practical ideas and strategies on how to consistently get better sleep. In this series of articles, we’d like to dive a little deeper and talk about how to realistically and effectively integrate a handful of better sleep habits into our daily routine.

We understand that everyone is busy, and many of us are overwhelmed, so adding more things to your routine may seem daunting, if not impossible. But if you follow our advice, you won’t have to add a thing. Instead you’ll be replacing some old habits with a few new habits that promote better sleep.

Out with the Old, in with the New

It’s been scientifically proven that in order to change a habit, you’ve got to give up the old habit and replace it with a new, healthier habit. Deciding on what habits are most critical to replace is something that only you can decide, but here’s one that most people struggle with …

Light Stimulation
This comes in many forms, from our mobile devices, to our computers, TVs and of course the lights in our home. There are also forms of “deceptive” light stimulation that can inhibit a good night’s sleep. This usually comes in the form of light filtering through blinds or thin curtains, as well as night lights or even our alarm clock.

The solution is simple, especially if we implement it in stages — have the light in your home (or hotel room if you’re traveling) replicate what’s happening in the natural world. In other words, if it’s dark outside, it should be dark — or darker — inside.

This can occur in stages, starting around dinnertime and completing at bedtime:

  • At dusk, lower the light sources within the home.
  • Stop watching TV and using electronic devices about an hour before bed. While you’re watching TV close to bedtime, turn the lights off, and use night mode on your electronic device if it’s an available option. For your computers you can try Flux, a free app that you can load onto your Mac or PC that lowers your screen brightness automatically to help induce sleepiness.
  • Get in the habit of reading a good book an hour before you plan to go to bed. Make sure there’s enough light to read comfortably, but doesn’t replicate daytime “wattage.” This helps your eyes and brain disengage from the unnatural light of your devices, readying your for sleep.
  • Remove nightlights in your bedroom and get yourself some drapes that block out light. We recently put up curtains with a light-blocking layer and it’s incredible how much darker our bedroom has become.

The reason darkness is so important is because it is directly connected to your melatonin levels and biological clock — which expects your surroundings to be light in the day and dark in the night.

Our advice is to make these changes one at a time. It’s less intimidating, and much easier to do it in baby steps. If you do, you’ll be taking great strides in getting in sync with your biological clock and experiencing better sleep more consistently.

From all of us at Natural Comfort Pillow, we wish you a good night’s sleep!

Do You Fluff Your Pillow? A Guide to Better Sleep Through Proper Pillow Care

Pillow Care Natural Comfort PillowPillows come in all shapes and sizes. The good ones, like the Natural Comfort Pillow, can help you sleep better, reduce neck and shoulder pain, and even help with recovery after athletic activity.

We depend on our pillows to take care of us, night after night. The question is, are we taking proper care of our pillows so they can effectively take care of us? To follow is a list of easy, fun and effective ways to improve the performance of our pillows so they can help us sleep better consistently …

These tips are most effective with supportive pillows like the Natural Comfort Pillow, which is made from feathers and down, a 230 thread count cotton cover and a versatile bolster system.

Fluff Your Pillow!

We’re not talking any ordinary fluffing, here. To fully fluff the feathers and down in your pillow, we suggest putting it in the dryer before its first use (by itself) for 20 minutes on a warm or hot setting. When you do this, an amazing thing happens — the pillow puffs up, much like a kernel of corn when it becomes popcorn! It becomes so full and puffy that it can more than double in height! Don’t worry though, once you begin resting on the pillow it will immediately begin to contour to your body.

We recommend hand-fluffing your pillow 2-3 times per week to keep the feathers and the down properly spaced. We like to call this “active pillow care,” and it’s an important component in making sure your pillow gives you optimal results.

Break Your Pillow In

Because of the unique qualities of your neck, your Natural Comfort Pillow may need a week or two to adjust to your neck and create a custom fit. During the adjustment period, it’s OK to switch back and forth between your old pillow and your Natural Comfort Pillow, or simply fluff your new pillow before you go to bed each night.

During the break-in period, you may want to experiment with the different bolsters in our pillow. One side is for people with smaller shoulders, while the other side is for people with broader shoulders. Depending on your physiology, one side may prove more comfortable than the other.

Flip, as Necessary

So, this tip addresses proper use more than it does proper care. Since one side of the pillow is for side-lying and the other for back-lying, it’s important to make sure you’re using the appropriate side so you are supporting your head, neck and spine in an optimal manner.

How to Clean Your Pillow

Never wash your Natural Comfort Pillow. If it is in need of a cleaning, please dry clean only! Typically, all you’ll need to do is change your pillow case regularly to keep your pillow clean. One of the unique benefits of our 230 thread count cover is that it keeps the feather and down filling in while blocking out allergins (which have a tendency to build up in lesser-made pillows).

Learn more about the Natural Comfort Pillow,  and how it can help you sleep better, reduce pain and live well!

And remember, if you take care of your pillow, it will take care of you!

Thank you for visiting Natural Comfort Pillow, and sleep well!

The Connection Between Sleep & Migraines

The connection between sleep and migrainesIn previous articles, we’ve talked about how to reduce migraines through diet and how to decrease migraines by improving neck and shoulder health. In this article, we’ll cover the connection between sleep and migraines, as well as a handful of simple strategies to improve the quality of your sleep — which in turn can reduce migraine occurrence.

What is the Connection between Sleep & Migraines?
Did you know getting too little, or too much sleep can cause a migraine? Anyone who experiences insufficient sleep knows that it can be a vicious cycle, because lack of sleep is causing a migraine, which in turn causes poor sleep. Sometimes it may appear that you’re getting enough sleep, based on the number of hours you spend in bed. But if you’re waking up with a migraine, feeling run down and unrested, there’s a good chance that the quality of your sleep was poor.

If you’re experiencing poor sleep and migraines, it’s always a good idea to speak with your health practitioner. That being said, here are a few simple strategies you can employ to improve your sleep quality …

Experiment with Sleep Length
If getting five or six hours of sleep has you waking up with a migraine, you might need to get to bed (or stay in bed) an extra hour or two. On the flip side, if you’re getting nine or ten hours of solid sleep, but waking up with a migraine, try getting up an hour or two earlier.

Avoid Electronic Devices Before Bed
We know, easier said than done. But if you’re not sleeping well, isn’t it worth missing an hour of email, Facebook or your favorite game in exchange for a good night’s sleep?

Establish a Pre-sleep Routine
The more ritualistic you make your pre-sleep routine, the more meditative and calming it can become. It’s not just about what time you brush your teeth and what time you go to bed. It’s also about what you’re doing in those in-between moments.

Get Meditative & Mindful
Continuing on our previous point, things like deep breaths, reading a calming book or listening to soothing music can help put you in a more Zen-like state that’s more sleep friendly. Meditation and listening to binaural beats is also very effective.

Darken Your Bedroom
Get rid of night lights, and make sure your blinds and curtains block out most or all of the light emanating from outside.

Implement Standard Sleep Hours
Go to sleep and get up at the same time as much as possible. Once you’ve created a consistent routine, your body will have an easier time sleeping. This includes weekends!

If You Nap, Keep it Short
Naps should last between 15-30 minutes. Longer times may affect your sleep at night.

Avoid Late Night Stimulants
Stay away from coffee, soda or anything caffeinated. It’s also a good idea to refrain from intense exercise late at night. Heavy meals, alcohol and nicotine are also stimulants that can disrupt your sleep.

Become a Fan of Your Ceiling Fan
It’s a great way to create a natural sound dampener, which masks distracting noises during the night.

Check Medications
Some drugs can interfere with sleep. If you’re unsure, speak with your health practitioner to see what the side effects are regarding your medications.

Use a Supportive Pillow
As the makers of the Natural Comfort Pillow, we know how important a role your pillow plays in the quality of your sleep. A supportive pillow can help reduce the neck joint and muscle “triggers” that can pre-empt a true migraine. Learn more about how our pillow can help you sleep better.

Thank you for visiting Natural Comfort Pillow. We hope these tips help reduce your migraines and improve your sleep!

Regulating Your Sleep-wake Cycle for a Better Night’s Rest

Regulating Your Sleep-Wake Cycle for a Better Night's SleepDo you know if you have a healthy sleep-wake cycle? In our tech-centric world, many people don’t. The good news is there are easy ways to make a positive impact on your sleep-wake cycle, which can help you produce melatonin when it’s time for bed, as opposed to during the middle of your day.

Let’s define what melatonin is, and examine some of the ways you can better control when it’s released in you body.

What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that’s controlled within the body by light exposure, and it’s a key element in the regulation of a person’s sleep-wake cycle. Our brains typically secrete more melatonin in the evening when it becomes dark outside, making us sleepy. During the day, less melatonin is released because of daylight, causing us to be more awake and alert.

Modern-day Disruptions
These days, many people work in an office where there is no direct exposure to daylight. No windows means no sunlight, which can lead to more production of melatonin during the day. This is why so many people experience mid-day drowsiness. Then, when it’s dark outside, our eyes and brains get bombarded by the artificial light of televisions, computers and mobile devices — which can suppress our body’s production of melatonin and make it harder to sleep.

So as you can see, with the advent of modern culture and technology, we’ve got our sleep cycles pretty confused.

How to Reset Your Sleep-wake Cycle
Simple, effective strategies to get your sleep-wake cycle back on track include increasing your exposure to natural light during the day, and decreasing your exposure to light before you go to bed.

Ways to increase your exposure to light during the day:

  • Remove sunglasses, especially in the morning
  • Spend more time outside during the day. Take a walk during one of your breaks, or simply go outside and get some sunshine.
  • Exercise outdoors, or try walking your dog during the day instead of the night.
  • Fill your home or workspace with as much light as possible. Open those curtains and blinds! Moving your desk closer to a window is also an effective way to increase alertness.
  • If you don’t have access to natural light, try a light therapy box. It can simulate sunshine and is especially helpful during the winter when daylight is in short supply.

Ways to boost melatonin production at night:

  • Decide what time you want to go to sleep. If bedtime is 11pm, be sure to turn off all electronic devices by 10pm. At first, this may be difficult. Many of us have formed strong habits around these devices, so be kind to yourself as you develop new, healthier habits. In addition to lowering melatonin production, these devices can actually stimulate the mind, making you feel “wired,” even after a long day.
  • Wind down you day with an audio book, an actual book, meditation, or by listening to music.
  • If all of your books are electronic, and you must read on your mobile device, set the background to “night mode,” which essentially makes the background black and the text white.
  • Change out bright light bulbs with softer ones with lower wattage — especially in your bedroom.
  • When you go to bed, make sure your room is dark. The darker your bedroom, the better chance you have of sleeping well. To darken the room, cover electronic displays, use heavy curtains, or try a sleep mask.

We hope these tips help you have more productive days, and more restful nights.

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Thank you for visiting Natural Comfort Pillow!

5 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Tips for a Better Nights SleepConsistently getting a good night’s sleep is critical for physical and mental health, as well as your ability to be successful in your personal and professional life. Anyone who’s missed even a couple nights of restful sleep understands how debilitating exhaustion can be. Let’s take a look at five easy tips — including keeping a regular sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine — that can help you get a solid amount of sleep on a consistent basis.

Get Comfortable
Although this may sound obvious, getting comfortable goes beyond making sure you have cozy PJs. In order to be completely comfortable for a good night’s sleep, you’ll need to create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. To do this, make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. If there’s light coming in from an outside streetlamp, or a neighbor’s porch light, try room-darkening shades. If there’s any type of noise you’d like to filter out, try earplugs, a fan or an ambient-sound sleep app on your smart phone that can add just enough background noise (like rain, or ocean waves) to cancel out disturbances while helping provide a more optimal sleep environment.

Your mattress and pillow also make a big contribution to the quality of your sleep. In addition to better sleep, a supportive pillow like our Natural Comfort Pillow can also reduce neck pain, TMJ, migraines and a host of other issues.

Keep a Sleep Schedule
This tip may take a bit of retraining your habits — especially if you’re a night owl. What you’ll need to do is go to bed and get up at the same time every day — even on weekends. A consistent sleep schedule reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, promoting better sleep. That being said, if you haven’t fallen asleep within approximately 15 minutes, it’s OK to get up and something relaxing. The keyword here is RELAXING, so stay away from the temptation to work. Once you feel tired, go back to bed. Remaining in bed, stressing over falling asleep, may make it harder to actually fall asleep.

Stay Active During the Day
Physical activity isn’t just good for your overall health. It can also aid in better sleep. Consistent daily physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and experience deeper, more restful sleep. The time of day you have physical activity plays a role in how effective it is in helping your sleep improve. Exercising earlier in the day is optimal, making a morning run, or possibly a lunchtime walk, far more beneficial than exercising at night — which can leave you too energized to fall asleep. Other benefits of regular physical activity include more energy throughout the day and improved clarity of mind. Please note, before taking on any new type of physical activity, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor.

Create a Bedtime Ritual
A ritual is really just another way of getting yourself on a clearly defined schedule. Finding what bedtime routine works for you, and performing it every night, can go a long way in telling your body and your mind that it’s time to wind down. Reading, a warm bath, listening to relaxing music or meditating, are only a handful of tactics that can help you sleep better. Relaxing activities have a way of making us sleepy, priming us for restful slumber.

Part of your ritual can also include removing noise and excessive light from your sleep environment (in other words, turn off the TV).It can also involve fluffing your pillow, and setting your blankets in a specific way to make your bed more inviting.

Be Mindful of What You’re Eating
Going to bed hungry or full can affect the quality of your sleep. That being said, this is not an invitation to eat an entire container of your favorite ice cream. Instead, eat something light. It’s also a good idea to be mindful of how much you drink — starting at least an hour before you go to bed. This will help prevent the need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Having dinner earlier in the evening, and avoiding rich heavy foods within two-hours of bedtime, can help you sleep better. Heavy foods are harder to digest, and may keep you up. Spicy or acidic foods may cause heartburn, which can disrupt sleep. A simple cup of coffee, even when consumed hours before bed, can keep you up at night. Every person is different, so it’s a good idea to keep track of when you have your last cup, and how you slept that night. If you notice a trend of better sleep when you drink your coffee earlier in the day, why not make that part of your sleep ritual?

We hope these sleep tips help you rest more soundly. Please note that the tips on the Natural Comfort Pillow blog are not meant to replace the medical advice of your doctor.

Learn More About Our Pillow
Haven’t tried our therapeutic pillow yet? Learn more about how it can improve the quality of your sleep — and your life.

Thanks for visiting Natural Comfort Pillow!