Sleep Comfortably is a website devoted to reviewing the products and covering the topics that we believe will help you to sleep better. From giving you the low down on what’s the best pillow to buy if you have a bad neck, to recommending the best pillows for people who sleep on their sides, we want to make sure you get a peaceful and pain free nights sleep. Here are a few of the things we’ve been looking at recently.
Tips on How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
How you feel during the waking hours depends on how well you sleep, which is why getting sufficient sleep is absolutely essential. Rather than take sleeping pills though, you’ll be able to sleep easily by making changes to your routines and habits. Here are some tips and advice that might help.
How to Develop the Right Sleeping Habits
Start by sleeping at a regular time. Go to bed at approximately the same time every night, and to avoid tossing and turning, go to bed only when you feel tired. Once you’ve chosen a time, stick to it and don’t give in to the temptation to stay up late, even on the weekends. If you really must change your sleep time, do it in 15 minute increments so your body gets used to it.
Going to bed at the same time every night also means you need to wake up at the same every day. An alarm clock isn’t necessary if you’re getting sufficient sleep, but if you need an alarm clock to wake you up, set your bedtime early. Again, it’s important that you sleep and wake up at the same time every day, so resist the urge to sleep more during the weekends.
If you need to catch up on some sleep, it’s better to take an afternoon nap than sleeping later as this won’t disrupt your sleeping pattern. For the purposes of sleeping soundly at night however, it’s best to keep your naps to no more than 30 minutes.
Essential Tips for Better Sleep
Resist the urge to sleep before bedtime or before your scheduled nap, and if you find yourself dozing off, do something that will wake you up like preparing your outfit for the next day, washing the dishes or taking a shower. Because changing sleeping habits isn’t easy, you need to set aside a couple of weeks to find the ideal sleeping time. It’s not easy, but if you persevere your body will get used to it.
You’ll also have an easier time sleeping by boosting your body’s melatonin production, and this is done by exposing yourself to as much light as possible during the day. Not getting enough light during the day and exposing yourself to lights at night disturbs your body’s melatonin level and makes sleep harder to come by, so you need to change that.
You can start by exposing yourself to more light and sun during the day, so spend as much time as possible outdoors during the day. You should also exercise outside if possible and let as much light in your workplace as you can. If possible, move your desk near a window and keep the blinds or curtains open. During the evenings, you should turn off the computer and TV when it’s bedtime, and don’t use a tablet or another backlit device as it will keep you awake.
Finally, use only low-lit bulb lights in your bedroom and turn off the lights when you’re about to sleep, as it sends a signal to your body it’s time to sleep.
How to Choose the Best Mattress for Your Sleeping Style
Of course you can only sleep comfortably if the mattress is the right type, and contrary to what some believe, the best mattress isn’t necessarily the softest or most expensive one. A number of factors actually have to be considered such as your sleeping position, the material and the general overall quality of the mattress.
What you need to remember is that people have different needs, so there’s no one size fits all solution. Your end goal therefore, is to find a mattress that makes you comfortable, whether it is soft, medium or firm, it’s up to you. The best way to approach this situation is to “test sleep” on the mattress for about 20 minutes in your regular sleeping position.
The mattress must also be a fit for your physical frame and it must conform to the natural curve of your spine and distribute body pressure uniformly. This isn’t easy to determine though since body pressure points vary, but the general rule is if your spine doesn’t sag when you lie down, then the mattress is all right.
That last point is very important and well worth keeping in mind, because if your spine is always sagging when you sleep, pressure builds over time and this could lead to severe back problems later on, and for this reason, it’s better to sleep on a medium-firm mattress than a very soft one.
Mattress for Side Sleepers and Back Sleepers
Side sleepers put up to seven times more pressure on their hips and shoulders, so it’s important that they choose a mattress that can provide sufficient pressure point relief and support. Given their needs, the best mattress is a soft one, and one that conforms and cushions the pressure points while offering support for the rest of the body.
Softness is key here because if the mattress is very firm it will increase pressure on your spine and cause misalignment. In short, side sleepers need a mattress that provides just the right type of support without making you feel like you’re on a hammock.
For back sleepers, the emphasis has to be support for the body and in particular the lower back. If you study the shape of the lower back, it curves in naturally, so you need a mattress that provides support for this shape and thus allow the muscles to relax.
Balance is important here because the objective is to keep the spine’s natural curve. A mattress cannot be too soft because it will cause your lower back to sag, but if the mattress is too firm it will produce pressure in the lower back muscles. To avoid problems, a medium-firm support mattress is the ideal choice. These mattresses are made up of different materials, but the most popular are latex and memory foam as they provide enough support for the lower back and the spine.
Mattress for Stomach Sleepers and Combination Sleepers
Stomach sleepers are not very common, but if you’re among them, there are mattresses available designed for you. The most appropriate mattress for stomach sleepers is one with a firm surface so your chest and hips don’t sink in, which could cause back pain.
Of course you don’t want a mattress that’s too hard, but it’s essential that you buy a mattress that won’t cause your chest to go down lower than the rest of your body. Just like the other mattresses described here, the best way to determine if it’s right for you is to test it first. If you’re buying the mattress online and can’t test it in person, make sure the mattress has a return policy so you can send it back if necessary.
A combination sleeper is someone who sleeps in different positions, and if you’re one of those you need to get a medium-firm memory foam mattress because it can provide just the right amount of support and pressure relief. A soft mattress isn’t a bad option, but if you spend some time sleeping on your stomach, you might end up sinking in the mattress for an extended period.
As far as material goes, the best option is memory foam because it provides just the right amount of firmness while keeping the motion from moving to the other part of the bed. This feature is also handy for couples because even if one person moves, the motion isn’t transferred to the other side of the bed.
Other Factors to Consider When Buying a Mattress
Do as much research as you can. You need approach this in a systematic manner so start by asking what type suits you best. Consider your sleeping position, the mattress size you require, what materials you prefer and so on. Second, read product reviews and listen to what people who bought the mattress have to say. If the feedback for the mattress is good, then you should feel confident about buying it.
Second, don’t buy mattresses before 2007, as they’re nowhere near as comfortable as the newer products. In addition, older mattresses don’t meet safety regulations and requirements with regards to fire resistance. Third, the price tag doesn’t really say much because as pointed out above, you need to look at specific features to ensure it meets your needs.
You may have also noticed that most of the major brands offer hypoallergenic mattresses, and what this means is the mattress doesn’t absorb dust mites or other allergens. Of course cleaning the mattress helps ensure the material doesn’t produce any allergic reactions, so get a mattress that’s easy to maintain.
Finally, listen to what your body is telling you. It’s not up to the manufacturer, the reviewer or anyone else: it is entirely up to you. If you feel comfortable with a specific type of mattress, then that’s the right one, no matter what anyone says. The bottom line is you need to do some research to find the best mattress so you won’t make a mistake with the purchase.
How to Find the Best Pillows for Sleeping
The quest for the perfect pillow can be a challenging one, but those who have found great sleeping pillows would say that the rewards are worth the effort. Finding the right pillow could result reduced aches and pains and the all-important good night’s rest, with all the benefits that brings. But where do you begin? Even the options within a single department store can get overwhelming. When pursuing the perfect pillow, the following factors will help you find the pillow of your dreams.
Knowing whether you primarily sleep on your stomach, back, or side is an important first step in your pillow quest. Some pillows are even specifically designed for certain types of sleepers. Side sleepers need the firmest and thickest pillows, because their sleeping style creates a larger gap between their bodies and their mattresses that needs to be filled. Back sleepers need a moderate degree of firmness to keep their head and neck aligned with their spine. Stomach sleepers need the thinnest and least supportive pillows, because too much thickness or support would put their head at an uncomfortable angle. Knowing whether or not you move frequently might be helpful too, as some pillows are more conducive to frequent movement than others. For example, a memory foam pillow tends to form to one position very well.
As mentioned above, your sleeping style has a lot to do with the level of firmness you may need. However, there is still some degree of personal preference involved. If you find yourself folding your pillow in half, fluffing it, or adding an extra pillow, you probably need to find something firmer than your current pillow. Do you enjoy the idea of sinking into a fluffy pillow, or do you prefer to be perched atop a supportive pillow?
Filling material has a lot to do with firmness as well as other aspects of your sleeping experience. Feather and down pillows are often the softest options, providing both support and softness. These luxurious pillows cradle your head on a cloud of soft feathers, and also provide one of the most natural filler options. Though some people report allergic reactions to real feathers, feathers are sure to be free of any unpleasant smells that sometimes come with synthetic pillows. This type of pillow also breathes well, which makes it a good option for those who are always looking for the cool spot on the pillow. This tried and true filler also boasts a long life.
Synthetic fillings are often designed to mimic down, but can often offer more customized firmnesses. This option is hypoallergenic as well as machine washable. This option can provide a good balance between softness and firmness, as it can be firmer than feather pillows but less dense than memory foam.
Memory Foam: Memory foam pillows offer maximum support, and for this reason are also billed as good options for those who suffer back and neck issues and those with snoring problems. Conforming to the exact outline of one’s head and neck, these pillows surround and stabilize. Their density can sometimes trap heat, and their materials have sometimes been noted to have an unpleasant smell. However, these pillows never need to be fluffed or adjusted, and they hold their shape well.
Size and Shape: You might initially think that a pillow is a pillow, but there are some different options for shape and structure. The size of the gussets on the side, for example, can contribute to the angle of your head and the amount of space the pillow will fill. Those with larger gussets have higher sides. Some unconventionally shaped pillows can also be found to meet various needs. Those who need extra back support, such as pregnant women or those with back problems, can find pillows with a whole extra attachment meant to support their back. Pillows designed especially for extra neck support can be found as well. There are even pillows made to put between one’s knees, which can provide comfort for those with hip or knee discomfort.
What the Best Sleeping Pillows Have in Common
So there are filling materials, sleeping style, firmness, price, shape, and even smell to consider when purchasing a pillow. With all of these factors to consider, is there anything that the best sleeping pillows have in common? The number one link between the most comfortable pillows is support. No matter what they’re filled with or how soft or firm they are, they need to be dense enough to provide support to both your neck and head.
Hand-in-hand with support comes the fact that the best sleeping pillows are also in good condition. Many once-supportive pillows can lose their shape and support over the years, but it happens so gradually, sleepers often don’t notice. Many experts suggest the fold test to see if your pillow can stand up to the task of supporting your head: fold the pillow in half and place a moderately weighted object, such as a book or a shoe, on top of it. When you remove the object, see if the pillow opens up on its own. A pillow that stays folded is likely not firm enough to provide the support it should. The best sleeping pillows will not be flat, floppy, foldable, bunchy, or uneven, because those factors mean that your neck and head won’t be fully supported. Good condition also means the pillow is clean, as a buildup of dust and sweat could irritate allergies or contribute to the breakdown of the pillow’s materials.
The best sleeping pillows are also likely to be at least moderately priced. You certainly don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality pillow, but no $10.00 pillows appear on top pillow lists, either. Very cheap materials may feel soft yet supportive at first, but they tend to wear out and break down quite quickly.
Overall, though, the most important commonality among the best sleeping pillows is that they’ve been carefully selected for the needs and preferences of the person who will use them.