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Author Archives: Dana Fry
Few things will snap you out of a glorious slumber than the feeling of tiny fingers prying your eyelids open and a small voice uttering “Mommy are you awake?” It’s a moment where your heart melts and you want to commit a crime at the same time. Little does this tiny human know that despite the fact that you are in fact awake (now), that you have already been awake several times throughout the night. Was that a cough? Better go check. What was that sound? Better go check. Is she too hot? Too cold? Better go check? Did I finish my wine? Better go check.
In order to be a mom, or a functioning person for that matter, getting good sleep is totally necessary. And I don’t mean good sleep as in “I got a full 40 minutes, Buddy-the-Elf” style of sleep, I’m talking 8 hours of sleep, the type where you actually haven’t had caffeine since 4 pm, didn’t drink too much wine, and you got off of your screen at a reasonable time before you went to bed. Will the stars ever align for those things to actually happen? Not while Netflix keeps putting out new releases. However, one thing that actual experts agree on is that sleep is crucial to holistic health and for some insane reason, sleep seems to be the one thing we all compromise on, because one more episode won’t hurt, will it?
On my search for this mystical thing called sleep, I wanted to reach out to my friends and co-workers and see if they feel like they are getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep (I had to look up how many hours of sleep we actually need to get) and it is no shock that 99% of them agreed that they sacrifice their sleep because of their addiction to Netflix, video games, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and cat videos on YouTube. Okay, that last one is me. Here’s what the staff of pillows.com (you know, the “experts”) had to say about their own personal quests for quality sleep.
Question: How many hours of sleep per night do you average?
Jordan: “On average, I sleep 6 hours a night.”
Chelsea: “I try my best to get 8-9 hours. I always make sure that I turn off the lights by 10:30 pm AT THE LATEST!”
Q: What is your ideal sleep environment?
Faydra: “Dark and quiet, squishy supportive pillow for my head and two body pillows for optimal pillow nesting.”
Toni: “Next to the ocean, listening to the waves.”
Q: Would you say you need more sleep?
Omar: “I think I need uninterrupted sleep more than more hours of sleep. I’ve tested it and 6-7 hours seems to be a good number for my body. But, unintentionally, I always seem to drink a lot of water before bed so I sometimes get up multiple times during the night.”
Chelsea: “I think I could invest more time for sleeps on the weekends. I tend to let go of my strict sleep schedule on Saturday nights. However, during the work week’s I’m very good at getting enough sleep.”
Q: Do you think technology gets in the way of your sleep?
Chris: “I do think that technology can get in the way of a normal sleep routine if you are trying to go to sleep at a decent time. Having a phone or laptop near the bed might lead to staying up much later than needed. Although I do have insomnia and sometimes staring at a screen watching a video or reading can make my eyes heavy enough that I am forced to close them long enough to doze off.”
Toni: “Yes! I sleep with the phone by my side and any text or noise letting me know I have a new email wakes me up.”
Q: Do you need white noise to sleep?
Chelsea: “I love white noise and absolutely need it. Sometimes when I can’t go to sleep, I’ll put on a show like “The Office” and fall asleep to the sound of Michael Scott whispering in my ear.”
Q: If you could give yourself one sleep goal to achieve this year what would it be?
Chris: “My one sleep goal for this year is to start meditating again when trying to sleep. Meditation relaxes my very active mind and can sometimes calm it enough to allow me to get some sleep. I used to meditate often before bed, but I have not done it in a while. It has helped before and I am sure that it will help again.”
Dana: “Spend time reading more before bed rather than being on my phone wasting time.”
Q: Do you have bad habits that interfere with your sleep?
Faydra: “Other than video games and my Instagram addiction, I would say no.”
Jordan: “The only bad habits I’d say I have are staying up to catch the last seconds of a TV show/movie and not going to bed at a more reasonable time.”
Can any of you relate to our staff? We all want more sleep but also want to finish that last episode or beat one more level. So, where do we go from here to make sleep a priority in 2018? Of course, my first spot to find all the answers would be Pinterest! Here is a list of 21 tips for better sleep but I have to warn you that I’m pretty sure that #2 is contestable.
We at pillows.com are going to commit to sleeping better together! Wait! You know what I mean! We’re going to hold each other accountable to getting quality sleep. In our own beds, separately. Oh man, I need more sleep.
You know why Saturdays are so awesome? It’s because we all get to sleep in. Not just sleep in past the alarm, but sleep past 2 if we want and stay in our pajamas all day! There’s no judgment because you are catching up on the sleep you missed out on during the week, right? WRONG! Catching up on sleep is a myth like a unicorn or a leprechaun or a season of Grey’s Anatomy where Meredith doesn’t almost die. According to Dr. Kiljeet Gill, one of our biggest priority in getting better sleep is consistency. Makes sense, right? I mean, we need consistency to see results, consistency in our diet and consistency in our relationships. Sleep is not like vacation days, we can’t just cash in on sleep when it fits our schedule, we need consistency.
On my quest of ascending the mountain of discovery, I realized I needed an expert to help guide me on the journey. I kind of like a sleep Sherpa, so I called Dr. Kiljeet Gill, a sleep expert, to help me understand how to make sleep a priority in 2018.
Q: What is the number one mistake people make in prioritizing their sleep?
Thinking they can catch up on sleep on the weekends. You need to be consistent in your sleep.
Q: What is the magic number of hours to sleep?
7.5 hours a night consistently.
Q: Can you recommend any natural ways to help catch some ZZZZ’s?
I recommend taking a warm bath or shower before bed to lower your core body temperature. Turn off all electronics two hours before bedtime and try not to watch the clock.
Q: What is the ideal sleep environment?
Cool and dark is the best. Make sure you feel comfortable.
Q: Is technology damaging our sleep habits, and if so, how can we correct these habits?
Yes, technology can be interfering with our sleep. I tell my patients to turn off electronic devices two hours before bedtime. Using our screens before bed is giving our brains too much stimulation and making it harder to fall asleep.
Q: What are the most common health problems caused by not getting enough sleep?
Hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. There is a clear link between poor sleep habits and overall poor health.
Q: What would be your best advice to young adults who are in college or even new to the workforce that are not making sleep a priority?
Not giving your body the rest it needs will actually interfere with your overall performance. Not getting proper rest can lead to you making bad choices, it can also put you at risk while driving.
Q: At what point should someone seek help from a Doctor for their sleep problems?
Seek medical help if you snore or have trouble breathing while sleeping. Also, seek medical attention if you feel like you have insomnia and need sleep aids or have a significant Starbucks habit.
Q: What would you say is the biggest reward for making sleep a priority?
People forget that your mood is easily affected by your quality of sleep. Get enough sleep more constantly each night and you might see a big improvement in your mood. Also, alertness is a big reward for making sleep a priority. We all function better when we are more alert and can make sound and wise decisions.
I was so thankful that Dr. Kiljeet Gill from Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group took the time to talk to me and even more thankful that she never mentioned the consumption of wine and how that could possibly interfere with better sleep, even though I already know the answer to that question. Insert sad face here.
So, after talking to Dr. Gill I started doing my own online research to see how many people struggle with sleep in our country. The huffingtonpost.com (find the direct link below) had an article about this that was shocking. It says more than one-third of U.S adults don’t get enough sleep! Take a look at this bar graph they made to show us how many hours Americans average a night.
That is a tremendous amount of people who lack sleep. I wanted to dig deeper into my own group of friends on Facebook to see why they are not getting their 8 hours of sleep. Hopefully you can relate to these answers. They mentioned Kids, Caffeine, hard time staying asleep, bladder issues, health problems, making other tasks a priority over sleeping, insomnia, Netflix, noisy neighbors, worry about work, wanting to enjoy the quiet after the kids go to bed, stress, catching up on housework, and a snoring spouse, to name a few. Forget about those scary scenes of a zombie apocalypse, we already are a bunch of sleepless zombies just trying to make it through life.
Where do we go from here? We all have legit reasons why we don’t get the proper amount of sleep. Well, the pillows.com team wants to encourage you to make sleep a priority in 2018, add 8 hours of sleep to your goal of getting healthier this year.
Health.com gave us 11 surprising health benefits of sleep:
- Sleep improves memory
- Getting enough sleep makes you live longer
- Sleep curbs inflammation
- It spurs creativity
- It makes you a stronger competitor
- Sleep gives you the attention, alertness and sharp memory you need to get better grades
- Healthy weight
- Sleep lessens stress
- Sleeps helps to avoid accidents and depression.
We all want these things! Let’s not sacrifice our sleep and our health for things that don’t bring us health and joy. Keep these benefits of better sleep in your mind when you pass on going to that party, watching that last episode, or drinking that 4 pm coffee. Exercise, eat well, and SLEEP, that is the magic combination for a healthier YOU! So, add sleep to your new year goals and go ahead and snooze, your body will thank you!