Sleep is somewhat of an unsung hero. We spend over a quarter of our lives doing it – yet it rarely gets the respect (or attention) it deserves.
Of all the important things you do in a day, sleep should always be among the top of your list. It doesn’t take many hours of lost sleep before it begins taking a toll on your health, appearance, mood, motivation, and ability to get things done. When you sleep your body recharges itself, it releases important hormones, repairs cells, and flushes toxins from your organs.
Sleep is something that we should all strive to get right, but there is a long list of obstacles that can mess with that goal. You can be stressed, distracted, uncomfortable, and unprepared. You can lack a nightly ritual, or lack the commitment to follow it. You may be under bad influence, poor luck, or a victim of happenstance.
No matter what is holding you back from getting good sleep, there are things you can do to put the possibilities back into your favor. We asked three experts about what we could all be doing to sleep better, and this is what they had to say.
Getting the Most Out of Your Bed
Explained by Ryan Rotundo, Chief Marketing Officer at Zotto
The Common Signs of a Bad Mattress
You can feel an indentation or outline of your sleep position. Your mattress has been slept on for longer than 8-10 years (Some mattresses only last several years until they start to break down). You are not getting good sleep, waking up sore, tossing and turning throughout the night, waking with body parts that have lost circulation (typically shoulder, arms, hands).
Which Mattress is Right for You?
Rather than which type is right for someone, I would focus more on the mattress types with the highest overall satisfaction by the general public, which is memory foam. SleepLiketheDead.com is a good website for the most unbiased sleep info.
A New Mattress Takes Time to Adjust to
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to beds and they think they know exactly what they need and to some extent they are right. When your body gets used to sleeping on the same thing for a period of time it doesn’t like change. So when they get a new mattress it is important to let the body adjust to the new mattress before going straight back to their old bed. Adjusting to a new mattress can take 2-5 weeks.
My Perspective: I had all spring mattresses growing up and then some spring mattresses with a memory foam topper. When I switched to an all memory foam bed and dove into the science behind how we sleep, sleeping on anything else no longer made since. Memory foam is the best at contouring to our bodies and giving us support in the areas we need it while absorbing impact in other areas. With the recent advancements in memory foam capabilities, providing cooling and temperature regulating technology for the sleeper sets memory foam way ahead of everything else (sleeping hot was a common downside to old memory foam and latex beds).
What to Look for in a Mattress?
- Look for the CertiPUR-US symbol. (a list of participating companies can be found here)
- Look at the layers of the mattress to see what exactly the bed is made of. You are looking for high-quality memory foam and solid layers that will not break down easily over time. In memory foam specifically, you want 3-4 solid layers of foam. Stay away from beds with any “egg-crate” style layers (that will break down much faster than solid layers).
- Make sure the bed has at least a 10-year warranty. Also, make sure that warranty will cover any indentions over 1″ (1″ is the standard, but some companies will allow 1.5″-2″ and on a 10″ mattress that is huge!) (Side note: the Zotto mattress is warrantied against any indentation for 10-years.
- Look for a no hassle sleep trial longer than 50 nights.
- Look at the weight. When comparing memory foam mattresses specifically you know that most are 10″ thick and contain a cover, FR sock (fire-retardant sock), and foam (memory foam, latex, etc). The more the foam weighs the more it costs to produce it. A Queen memory foam mattress should be around 95-100+lbs. A Zotto queen is 97lbs.
Setting the Mood for Sleep
Expert advice by Sam Nicolino, President & CEO of Adaptive Sound Technologies, Inc. (ASTI)
Follow a Pre-Sleep Routine
Erratic sleeping patterns are the enemy of a great night’s rest. The body functions like a clock. It is called your circadian rhythm, and when it comes to sleep, it aids in releasing the right chemicals in your brain before bedtime to help you relax. However, if you don’t have a regular schedule (or bedtime), the body fails to initiate these chemicals effectively. In addition, certain stimulants tend to undermine the function of your natural rhythm chemicals, including certain light, caffeine, alcohol, and food consumption. The best way to overcome this obstacle is to follow a pre-sleep routine.
Tips for a Successful PreSleep Routine (by Sam Nicolino)
- Follow the same sleep and wake-up routine, even on weekends.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol four to six hours before bedtime
- Avoid TV and smartphones, etc. several hours before bedtime
- Avoid napping after 3 PM
- Eat dinner at least two hours before bedtime
In order for the body to rest most of us require several things. We require darkness, a comfortable body temperature, and minimum distraction. This has become increasingly difficult to achieve in the urban landscape, considering the brightness of city lights and noise pollution. There are also other factors, including the variations in mattresses, home insulation, room decor, and pre-sleep habits. While it may not always be possible to create the perfect environment, you can come pretty close if you focus on these five key points offered by Sam.
- Make sure your mattress is comfortable
- Keep TV’s, smartphones, etc. out of the bedroom
- Keep room dark
- Keep room cool (60 to 67 degrees F)
- Mask distracting sounds with a non-looping sound machine
If a new mattress is out of the question, there are a number of mattress pads that can offer a band-aid to the situation, and make your old mattress livable for at least a period of time. It is also important to make use of a temperature gauge in the bedroom and do what you can to maintain a consistently cool environment. In addition, blackout curtains can be used to block out unwanted city lights and noise. For the ultimate in sound reduction, we recommend using the Sound + Sleep Machine. From our own experience of using these machines, they can significantly reduce noise pollution, while offering a unique lullaby. For maximum noise reduction, Sam advises using pink noise, and it has also been found to enhance sleep quality, according to research.
Dealing With Sleep Disorders
Explained by Behrouz Hariri, Co-Founder, and CEO of Smart Nora & Ryan Rotundo
Is snoring a sleep problem that everyone should address?
It’s often assumed that snoring is only a problem if you’re sleeping on your own and not disturbing others. However, we’ve heard from former snorers and customers of Smart Nora who report that since dealing with their snoring, they’ve wake up an hour earlier, feel more well rested when they do, and some even report that they’re dreaming again!
How can someone identify and resolve a common sleep problem?
At its core, Smart Nora offers tangible improvement by immediately addressing the specific problem of snoring. When snoring is reduced, this benefits both the snorer’s sleep and the sleeping partner. We receive daily reviews from customers who are telling us how their overall sleep quality has improved and how that alone has provided many other health benefits, including better moods! As we add features to Smart Nora, including tracking and analyzing sleep and snoring data, customers will be able to consult with their family doctor based on the patterns that signal potential medical problems.
What Kind of Sleep Problems Can be Addressed by a Mattress?
Good mattresses can address all kinds of sleep problems; sleep apnea, tossing and turning, waking up hot and sweaty (my least favorite), pressure point relief, back and spine alignment, and much more. A good night sleep is essential for living a healthy life and a mattress that prevents a good night sleep is going to drag you down in all aspects of life.
3 Things Every Man Should Know for a Better Night’s Sleep
- Staying away from digital screens at least 30mins or more before bed
- A quiet room
- Get at least 7 hrs of sleep a night!
-Behrouz Hariri, Smart Nora
- Amazing sleep setup (good mattress, sheets, pillow)
- Calm environment (cool room, dark curtains, no disrupting noises/tv)
- Positive mental state (no caffeine after noon, good workout/exercise, clear thoughts/daily meditation).
-Ryan Rotundo, Zotto
- Wind down routine and time before bed – meditate, read a book, stretch, etc.
- Keep a notebook and before going to bed write down all the ideas, concerns, etc. that might keep you awake. You put them aside knowing that they won’t be forgotten and you can work on them the next day.
- Cuddle (a person or a furry pet) before and in bed to increase oxytocin. (See research here)
-Sam Nicolino, ASTI