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Tag Archives: sleep awareness
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.
With Sleep Awareness Month in full swing, everyone here at Pillows.com has sleep on the brain even more than usual. (And that’s saying something because, as you know, we’re pretty passionate about the subject!) It’s true though: being in the business of sleep, we’re constantly staying on top of the latest sleep research and hunting for the newest and best products to add to our store, and this month is no exception.
As pillow and bedding experts, we think it’s important to discover everything there is to know about the products we sell. And if you’ve ever talked to one of our customer service reps on the phone, you know how much we love sharing everything we learn! So in the spirit of pillow education, we thought it was only fitting to kick off this month’s series of blog posts with a little history lesson: the history of the pillow. So lay back, fluff up your favorite pillow, and dive in!
Think your pillows are rock hard? Think again!
Believe it or not, humans have been using pillows since around 7,000 BC, or about 9,000 years. However, you probably wouldn’t want to use one of these ancient pillows today, as they were made of solid stone! Instead of enveloping your head in a soft cushion like the modern pillows we know and love, these “pillows” featured chiseled grooves for the sleeper’s head and neck to rest in.
Sounds uncomfortable, right?! It gets better. Because without one of these pillows to keep your head off the ground, you would have had to worry about bugs crawling in your hair, mouth, nose, and ears as you slept. Talk about a rock and a hard place! The number of pillows a person owned was also symbolic of his or her social status. (So we like to think that much hasn’t changed!)
As it turns out, pillow technology didn’t improve much in the 5,000 years between 7,000 BC and 2,000 BC. Like the Mesopotamians, the ancient Egyptians also had a penchant for hard pillows, sticking with stone and wood as their construction materials. Unlike their Mesopotamian predecessors, however, they weren’t even intended for living people! Instead of using them for sleeping or bug protection at night, ancient Egyptians really only used these pillows to prop up the heads of the deceased after death, as they believed the head to be sacred.
Hard pillows were also all the rage in ancient China. (Like parachute pants and mullets, we’re seriously hoping this isn’t a trend that makes a comeback.) The ancient Chinese version of this torture comfort device consisted of a range of materials including bamboo, jade, porcelain, wood, and bronze. In addition to being hard and unforgiving, they were also highly decorative. But instead of using pillowcases like we do today to protect and adorn their pillows (microfiber, anyone?), they usually covered them in carefully painted designs.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the first soft pillow!
It wasn’t until the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations came along that humanity first discovered the pure joy that is resting your head on a nice, soft pillow. In addition to feathers, these ancient Greek and Roman pillows were also stuffed with reeds and straw. (While a vast improvement over stone and wood, we’d obviously recommend down or advanced synthetic fibers as filling instead of the reeds and straw, but who are we to judge?!) Like the Mesopotamians, ancient Greeks and Romans also saw pillows as a status symbol, and they even borrowed the practice of putting them under the heads of deceased loved ones from the ancient Egyptians.
While we have the ancient Greeks and Romans to thank for saving us from laying our heads on pillows made of stone, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that modern pillows began to really take shape. And the rest, as they say, is history!
The modern pillow—so many choices!
With so many different materials found in pillows today, choosing the right one to suit your sleep needs can almost be overwhelming! Luckily, that very process is the topic of our next Pillow Talk blog, so check back next week as we walk you through the details! And if you can’t wait that long, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-720-6973 to talk to one of our bedding experts personally. We’d be happy to guide you!
Until next time: sleep well, live well, and be well!