Monthly Archives: April 2017

Meditation and the Fight for a Deeper Sleep

In today’s world, we are constantly surrounded by constant noise and distractions. Most of us also carry large burdens of stress upon our shoulders, and look to sleep to relieve the weight. Unfortunately, all of these circumstances can end up making sleep difficult and even impossible for us at night. According to the CDC, one of out every three people will not get enough sleep each night. In a lot of cases, these people (such as myself) suffer from insomnia and other sleep depriving ailments. In lieu of these statistics and to observe Sleep Awareness Week, the Pillows.com team has decided to look into and evaluate different methods that may be the keys to unlocking that perfect night’s sleep. One such key could possibly be found within meditation to combat insomnia and general restlessness.

 

Meditation: Not just for monks

Since the 1970’s Americans have been gradually experimenting with the calming art of mediation. More and more people are putting aside the notion that meditation is solely a Buddhist or Hindu practice and tapping into the stress-relieving powers it holds. This practice has been coined “Mindfulness Meditation” and it’s practitioners have had great success in stress relief and deeper uninterrupted sleep. The goal of this Mindfulness Meditation is to create the release of a “relaxation response” in the mind of participants. The “relaxation response” is a term used for the deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. “‘The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress,'” Dr. Benson, the creator of the relaxation response term is quoted saying. Dr. Benson further goes on explain how one might achieve this response in quick and simple steps.

 

Step 1: Find a nice and quiet space

Before the meditation begins, it is recommend that you find a quiet place away from the noise and distraction of the busy world around. Dr. Benson suggests that the individual should allow for about 20 minutes of time to spend meditating. So close the blinds, shut the door, and get comfy because it’s time to begin the relaxation.

 

Step 2: Find your Focus

“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” Dr. Benson says. Finding your focus with meditation will lead to release of the relaxation response. This can be achieved with very simple ways of focusing. Some examples of things to focus on are your breathing, making a sound like an “Om”, saying a short prayer, repeating a positive word, or even repeating a phrase. These can all be done silently in your head or out loud all while inhaling and exhaling slowly.

 

Step 3: Just. Let. Go.

One of the biggest and most crucial technique to use is letting go. When meditating, there shouldn’t be any worry about how you are doing and if you are doing it right. Just breathe. If your mind starts to wander away from the meditative focus, take a deep breath and begin refocusing on what you were doing before. The idea of meditating as a whole is to let go. Let go of the stress that keeps us up at night. Let go of the weight that drags our energy down throughout the day. Let go and fade into a sleep that is calm and carefree. There is no wrong way to meditate if you are achieving this weightless relaxation.

 

Step 4: Repeat daily

The results may not come immediately. Like most good things, patience is key. But! If you can keep this up and create that Relaxation Response on a daily basis, there just might be the best night’s sleep of your life waiting to be found in the focus of your meditation.

Inhale. Exhale. Just let it go.

 

References:

Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep

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5 Unique Ways To Help You Fall Asleep

We all have our own unique bedtime routines, but some are more “out-of-the-ordinary” than others. Below we will explore how these techniques might help you relax and fall into a deep sleep.

Use A Weighted Blanket

As babies, our parents swaddled us tightly in blankets. This feeling helps babies sleep because it simulates the tight space of the womb. It also prevents babies from restless movement and twitching, promoting a deeper sleep. The same concept applies for adults. Weighted blankets are filled with a variety of things from rice to poly pellets. The weight that these blankets apply to your body simulates the feeling of being swaddled. It is especially good for adults who experience continuous restless nights.

 

Text Source: Reader’s Digest (http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/sleep-tricks)

Try To Stay Awake

This may seem counterproductive, but trying to force yourself to stay awake can trick your brain into getting drowsy. Sort of a reverse psychology on yourself. Studies have shown that keeping your eyes wide open and keeping your body completely still with no electronics or lights on can actually help you fall asleep faster. I tried this method a couple of times this last week, and sure enough, the longer I tried to stay “wide-awake” the faster I fell into a deep sleep.

Text Source: Life Hacker (http://lifehacker.com/you-may-actually-fall-asleep-faster-if-you-try-to-stay-1693693901)

Watch And Listen To ASMR

This is probably one of the most interesting relaxation techniques out there, but over the past few years, it has been gaining in popularity over social media. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and is defined as, “a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds” (Sleep.org) These responses can be triggered by very simple sounds that we hear every day such as the tapping of rain on a tin roof or the sound of writing with a pencil on paper. These sounds start a tingle at the top of your scalp, and as it travels down your body, your mind relaxes and you can drift to sleep.  Now, this hasn’t been proven to work for everyone, but for those of us that it does, it is a great way to relax. If you are interested in listening to ASMR videos there are hundreds of them on YouTube. Below is an example of one of the popular ASMR videos by ASMR Darling.

Text Source: Sleep.org (https://sleep.org/articles/what-is-asmr/)

Video Source: YouTube (https://youtu.be/WX6SPJxurLo)

Roll Your Eyes

Research has shown that this simple trick can trigger the release of melatonin in your brain. All you need to do is close your eyes, and roll your eyes down and then back up. Do this a few times. Rolling your eyes like this mimics the beginnings of REM (Rapid Eye Movements).

Text Source: Restful Insomnia (http://www.restfulinsomnia.com/eye-roll/)
Text Source: Mirror (http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/unable-sleep-eleven-ways-you-2300449)

Make A To-Do List About Your Next Day’s Tasks

If you are like me, you worry about what needs to be done the next day. One way to ease your concerns a little is to write down your to-do list on a piece of paper.  Writing each task down makes you feel like you are more in control of your day. So, you can rest easy at night knowing that you have a plan of attack for the next day.

Text Source: Huffington Post: (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-kushnick-psyd/5-rarely-seen-tricks-for-_b_10153342.html)

 

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Mother’s Day Buying Guide

It’s time to start planning for Mother’s Day! Finding that perfect gift for your mother or grandmother can be a daunting task. If you are tired of sending flowers year after year, bedding is a soft and cozy alternative. Not sure what she might like? Not to worry! This bedding guide will walk you through the different options of bedding, and provide links to products that might delight your mother on her special day.

Pillows

Give your mother the gift of a peaceful night’s sleep with pillows that support and cradle her head. In this section, we’ll break down our pillows on Pillows.com by fill. Each fill offers its own set of support levels.

Feather/Down

Feather and down pillows are probably some of our best selling pillows. These pillows have a cloud-like feel and compress under the head. If your mother is a little “old-fashioned”, she might prefer a feather and down option. They are offered in varying support levels as well. Generally, a good rule of thumb for determining the support level of a feather and down pillow is to look at the ratio of feathers to down. A 100% down pillow is going to be the softest and most compressible pillow you can get, whereas the firmest is a 95% feather/5% down or 100% feather pillow. Below are some pillows under each support level category:

Soft: Pacific Coast Feather Company Natural Down Pillow (Good for stomach sleepers)

Medium-Soft: Phoenix Down 50% White Goose Feather/50% White Goose Down Pillow (Good for stomach and back sleepers)

Medium: Manchester Mills Down Dreams Pillow (Good for side back, and some stomach sleepers)

Medium-Firm: Pillowtex Triple Core Pillow (Good for side and back sleepers)

Firm: Down Dream Classic Firm Pillow (Good for side sleepers)

 

 

Photo by Ted Gotwals

Polyester

 

Polyester pillows have several advantages over the traditional feather and down pillows. The first is that they are great for people who suffer from allergies. Many people are allergic to the dust particles that tend to cling to feathers, and polyester doesn’t retain dust.  The second reason why polyester is a good option is that it doesn’t need frequent fluffing like its feather/down counterparts. Polyester has a more springy quality to it, so it helps the pillow maintain it’s loft and form. Below are some pillows under each support level category:

Soft: Pillowtex Down Alternative Pillow  (Good for stomach sleepers)

Medium-Soft: Restful Nights Conformance Supreme Pillow   (Good for stomach and back sleepers)

Medium: Down Alternative Eco Pillow (Good side, back, and some stomach sleepers)

Medium-Firm: Dream Surrender Pillow (Good for side and back sleepers)

Firm: Dream Surrender Firm (Good for side sleepers)

Extra Firm:  Infinity Pillow (Good for side sleepers with a wider shoulder width)

Memory Foam

Memory Foam is certainly an acquired taste for many sleepers. These pillows tend to be firmer and a little warmer than the traditional pillows. Of course, memory foam technology has come far in recent years. Many manufacturers are making memory foam more dough-like, and some introduce cooling gel to combat the heating qualities of this material. Below are some of our favorites:

Soft to Medium-Soft: Malouf Zoned Dough Low Loft Plush Memory Foam Pillow (Good for stomach and back sleepers) This pillow is also offered in High Loft Plush, Low Loft Firm, and High Loft Firm)

Medium: Technogel Deluxe Pillow (Side and back sleepers)

Firm: RemFit 400 Series Pillow (This pillow is adjustable, so it can potentially be good for all sleep positions)

 

Comforters

Another excellent Mother’s Day gift is a new comforter! Depending on where you mother or grandmother lives, she may need a comforter to fit the climate. Below are some great comforters for summer, winter, and fall:

Summer

These comforters are very lightweight and feel more like a blanket or throw. They are excellent for summertime sleeping or for areas that stay warmer for longer during the year.

Down Comforter: Phoenix Down Brussels Comforter

Polyester Comforter: Tempo Duvet Insert

All Season/Fall

These comforters are very versatile and are great for the fall, or climates that generally stay in the mid-range temperatures.

Feather and Down Comforter: Pillowtex Classic Weight Feather and Down Comforter

Polyester Comforter: Malouf Down Alternative Microfiber Comforter

Winter

These are the heaviest comforters that keep you warm, even in the dead of winter.

Down: Down Lite Premium White Goose Down Comforter

Feather and Down: Pillowtex Arctic Weight Feather and Down Comforter

Although we carry many different pillows and comforters, these are some of our favorites. Hopefully, this guide can lead you to find the perfect gift for your mother or grandmother! Happy Mother’s Day!

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