What if there was a way to completely and momentarily escape the world around us? What if there was a way to only hear what is going in our head and experience nothing else? And, if there was a way to encounter all of this, what would it be like? Would it be relaxing? Would it mend mental wounds that prevent rest? Well, perhaps we might not need to ask further. Perhaps we might have a way to experience it first hand and find another way to help us sleep at night. However, the method to experience this potential phenomenon is straight out of a Sci-Fi thriller. Your best night’s sleep might be waiting inside of a Isolation Tank.
Behold! Today’s modern isolation tank! Not quite as intimidating as the movies portray, but almost as equally mysterious as they depict. The Isolation Tank was first invented in 1953 by neuroscientist John Lilly as a way to study response in the brain to a limited sensory output. “The tank immersed the user into a totally dark and silent environment in which sound and vision as well as other sensory inputs were virtually eliminated.” writer Dr. Christopher Winter notes. “The theory at the time was if all sensory inputs were cut off to the brain, the brain would reflexively go to sleep.” John Lilly would later go on to describe himself and these users as “psychonauts,” a fitting name to describe those who choose to float in this void. These aptly named Psychonauts would float on to push the boundaries of our perception involving conscious thought and question the definitions of sentience while senses are isolated. What started out as a scientific study on our minds and consciousness, by Lilly, became a sudden realization of the potential Isolation Tanks could have on our ability to recover mentally. This recovery could also lead to, supposedly, the best sleep of our lives.
With everyday life there is stress. Stress of work, stress of school, stress of exercise, etc. The main point is that stress is almost inherently in each and every aspect of our everyday. This stress weighs heavy on our minds and bodies and not exhausts us physically but also mentally. Prolonged exposure to these stresses without relief and recovery can lead to more serious problems. The Isolation Tank hails itself as a way to allow the mind to relax and, in a way, begin to heal itself or, at the very least, escape the stress for awhile. When floating in the tank, the water is the same temperature as our skin, the lights are completely off, and the capsule is sound proof. All these factors leave the active mind without the subconscious processing of the senses, and in other words, leaves the floater with their thoughts and nothing else. With just our thoughts and nothing else being registered, we may be able to peer into our minds and fix what is broken or calm what is hectic. At the very least, a user can calmly float and take a well-deserved nap.
Without actually trying one yet, I cannot say that the tank is a divine gift from above that has cured what keeps me up at night. Though I must admit, the list of what tank users have reported being relieved of makes me want to sign up immediately. The image of just floating carefree and detached from reality sounds like the goal of most vacations; even if it is for an hour or so. If you are stressed, exhausted, or just need a quick getaway, perhaps looking up your local float tank center and becoming a Psychonaut could be the perfect fit for you.
Have you been thinking about trying a memory foam/latex foam pillow or mattress? There are some variables that you need to consider before a purchase. What kind of foam is suitable for my needs? Is there really a difference in feel between latex foam and memory foam? Will I have to deal with any kind of odor when I buy the mattress/pillow? Are there different types of memory foam? Are there different types of latex foam?
Hopefully, this guide will provide you with the answers that you need to make an informed decision, and lead you to the mattress/pillow of your dreams!
We’ll start with memory foam. With the rise in demand for easily shippable mattresses, memory foam has become an excellent solution. This material can be vacuum-sealed and rolled into a relatively compact box for cheaper and more efficient shipping. Once the seal is released just sit back and watch it expand into a mattress that is designed to hug all of your curves and cradle your body throughout the night. The same concept applies for pillows. Memory foam pillows are designed to mold to your head and neck to relieve pressure points, so you wake up without the usual aches and pains that you can sometimes get from a more traditional pillow or mattress.
There are three common types of memory foam to choose from, each with their own unique qualities.
Traditional/Viscoelastic Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam was initially made in the 1970s for NASA. They used memory foam to cushion the astronauts during their turbulent ascent. In the early 90s, memory foam mattresses were put into production. These mattresses are made out of a petroleum-based, polyurethane foam. Once the mattresses began successfully selling, pillows were made to give the body a full cradling feel. Traditional memory foam is designed to for motion isolation as it conforms to the body.
There are some downsides to traditional memory foam mattresses. The first is that this material tends to retain heat which can make you overheat and sweat. Quite often this problem can be remedied with a gel topper that keeps the surface of your mattress cool. The second most common complaint about this material is an off-gassing odor, but if given time to air out, the smell usually dissipates.
Plant-Based Memory Foam
If you suffer from allergies or have really sensitive skin, plant-based memory foam might be the perfect solution for you. At least a portion of “green” memory foam is manufactured with plant-based oils. With fewer chemicals being used to make this memory foam off-gassing isn’t as much of a concern. This foam is also made with an open-cell design so it is much more breathable than the traditional memory foam, which helps it redirect heat away from the body. The primary downside to plant-based bedding products is their higher price tag. They can often be difficult to find in your local mattress store, but many internet retailers do ship directly to the customer.
Gel-Infused Memory Foam
One of the newest types of memory foam, gel-infused memory foam, was made to combat the retention of heat that its traditional counterpart is known for. Gel-infused memory foam can either be topped with gel pockets or millions of gel beads are directly injected into the foam itself. Both are made to dissipate heat away from the body keeping you cool throughout the night. This gel technology is still being improved to ensure that no matter how much you move around you stay cool and comfortable, but with every new product, manufacturers are getting closer to that goal.
Known for its durability and responsiveness, latex foam is a more eco-friendly option over memory foam. There are three different types of latex foam; natural latex, blended latex, and 100% synthetic. Natural latex is harvested from rubber trees and is perfect for people who suffer from allergies.
Natural latex is harvested from rubber trees and is perfect for people who suffer from allergies. Although they do exist, it can be difficult to find pillows and mattresses that are made with 100% natural latex due to high manufacturing costs. Blended latex pillows and mattresses are much more commonly found in retail stores. Generally, manufacturers will “top” their products with natural latex and make the rest with synthetic latex. A less eco-friendly way of manufacturing pillows and mattresses is to use 100% synthetic latex foam. The most common type of synthetic latex is called SBR, or styrene-butadiene rubber. Synthetic latex foam is also not as durable as natural or blended latex, so the lifespan of your mattress or pillow would likely be much shorter.
There are two primary methods of processing latex: the Dunlop process and the Talalay process. The Dunlop process is the original way of making latex foam. It is produced by pouring the latex in its liquid form into a mold and it baked in a vulcanization oven. Then it is washed and dried at a high temperature to help it retain elasticity. This process makes the foam dense and very springy. Dunlop latex doesn’t mold to the body as easily as memory foam.
The Talalay process is a little bit more involved. The partially fill the mold with the liquid latex, and then they seal it and vacuum expand it. The mold is then frozen. This makes the foam become a gel. Once it’s reached this stage, it is baked in a vulcanized oven. this process makes for a more bouncy and less dense foam.
Both processes create a similar feel. They are both more bouncy and responsive than memory foam, so they generally create a firmer feel in mattresses and pillows. This can be great for sleepers with back problems that don’t want to sink as much into their mattress. Because latex foam is a little more breathable than memory foam it tends to help you sleep a little cooler.
No one material is better than the other, but each has its own unique qualities that can help you achieve a deeper, more restful 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.