The National Sleep Foundation is celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week March 6-13. We’ve been wanting to write a blog about the importance of sleep for awhile, and this seems like the perfect time. Mattresses are a huge part of our business at Steinhafels, but we want to take a step back and really think about just how important a quality night’s sleep is to our overall health.
So we decided to go right to the experts. Dr. Louella Amos is a Sleep Physician. She specializes in Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Medical College. She works with patients to make sure the entire family, especially children, are getting a good night’s sleep.
Our first question for Dr. Amos was pretty simple: What does sleep really do for our bodies? We all know that if we don’t get enough sleep we tend to be drowsy, cranky, and lazy… but is there more to it than that? The answer is yes! Dr. Amos explains, “Nighttime sleep is really important for the body to recover from whatever happened during the day. Another function of sleep is really going back to the information we obtain during the day, the learning that goes on during the day–you need to process that. Certain stages of sleep are really important for memory, cognitive development, and processing information–that’s really important for children.”
Dr. Amos says the last main function of sleep is fighting off illness. “When we’re sick, you’ll notice you might want to sleep more, and that’s a normal response, because your body is saying it needs to relax and recover, and when you don’t sleep you’ll find you’re not going to recover as quickly.”
Now we know it’s not always realistic to get that glorious 8 hours of sleep (for adults) and 9+ hours for kids and adolescents. Schedules these days are packed with work, school, extra curricular activities, sports, evening events, etc. Often our kids are more busy than we are!! However, there are some ways to practice good ‘Sleep Hygiene’ as Dr. Amos calls it. (Adults–these are for you too!!)
1.) Turn off all electronic devices one hour before bed. This should give your mind time to wind down. Our brains produce Melatonin as it gets dark outside, so if we are exposed to extra light in the evening, our brain may not think it’s dark out, and that can delay Melatonin production.
2.) Set a bedtime and stick to it. Once you set a time, try to avoid caffeine 8 hours before that time.
3.) Exercise at the peak time to promote Restorative Sleep. Exercise is good in general for health, but we’re looking at timing. After school or right after work is ideal. Usually any time from 3 to 6 p.m. is a good time for moderate to vigorous intensity exercise. This will help tire your body so you sleep better and longer come bedtime. This is called ‘Restorative Sleep.’ But if you exercise too close to bedtime, it may take a little longer to fall asleep. If you exercise in the morning that’s fine, but it won’t really have that extra calming effect on your sleep later.
4.) Don’t go to bed hungry! This is especially important for kids. Hunger at night may wake them from their sleep. A small snack at night is fine, but clearly nothing with caffeine or too much sugar right before bedtime.
5.) Use the bed only for sleep. If you read before bed do it the old fashioned way–with a paperback book, and sit in a chair near your bed. This helps you only associate the bed with sleep. This is especially important for kids.
6.) Follow a Family Sleep Routine. Even if the adults and older kids stay up a little later, it’s important to sort of ‘shut down’ the house when the young kiddos go to sleep–turn off the music, lower the volume on the TV, dim the lights, etc.
The mattress staff at Steinhafels is dedicated to making sure we provide the highest quality at the best value. LeeJean Williams is the lead buyer for Mattresses and Bedding. We asked Williams what her number one priority is when selecting the mattresses to sell at our stores. She replied, “Comfort and to ensure a customer’s sleep system (pillow, mattress, and foundation) is providing the right support and spinal alignment.”
The good news is that, like everything, sleep ‘technology’ has vastly improved over the years. As Williams explains, “There is technology to help customers sleep cooler, provide the right amount of body support, and foundations that allow a customer to position the mattress to help reduce snoring, acid reflux, and pressure in the lower back.”
Sleep is such a personal thing. We all have different routines and techniques. That’s why there is such a wide variety of mattresses in the Steinhafels showroom and on our website. Dr. Amos admits she is no expert when it comes to sleep products and mattresses, but acknowledges that a good mattress and overall sleep environment is very important for overall wellness.
Dr. Amos suggests involving your child in the mattress selection process. She explains, “I’ve had children or adolescents who have developed a bad relationship with their current bed, or current surface. I think the children should sort of play a role in determining what they’re going to sleep on, so I’ve told parents to kinda make a clean slate. Try to take them when you buy a bed for them. Have them play a role in that. First of all, they’ll appreciate it and enjoy it, and then it’s kinda a new beginning.”
Of course there are some serious sleep issues that require more than just a good mattress: Sleep Apnea, Night Terrors, and Narcolepsy–just to name a few. In these cases you may need to see a doctor for yourself or your child.
The big takeaways we hope you get from this post: Sleep truly is important, shut down your technology at night, and try to follow a routine. Even if you sleep like a baby, we hope you got something out of reading this. Sleep is a vital component of overall health and wellness, and it’s a lot easier to have sweet dreams on a comfortable mattress.
Williams said it best when asked how she hopes customers react when they lie on their new Steinhafels mattresses for the first time. She says, “I hope they sleep like they have never slept before, and they wake up feeling like they just had the best night’s sleep of their lives.”
So get off your computer or mobile device, get in bed, and enjoy #SleepAwarenessWeek!!
Do you have any Sleep Tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!! Please post them in the Comments section below.