Articles from November 2013

How to Get More Sleep

Often times when our lives get busy, sleep is one of the first things we cut out. However, sleep is essential for good health and the ability to stay focused and alert. Here are a few ways you can catch a few more zzz’s in the midst of your busy life.

How to Get More Sleep

1.     Turn Off The TV

Skipping out on just a half an hour of TV at night will give you a little more time to sleep. It will also help you fall asleep faster because the blue spectrum light from the television can stimulate your brain, prevent production of melatonin and keep you awake longer. If you need noise to fall asleep, consider using a radio instead.

2.     Take A Nap.

 If you find that you are tired during the day, a quick 20 minute nap will not interfere with your nighttime sleep. Taking a quick nap can re=energize your mind and body, and help you to be more efficient. Be sure to keep your nap time limited to 20 minutes. Taking a long nap will actually have the reverse affect and cause you to feel more tired, as well as interrupt your restful sleep at night.

3.     Turn Down The Lights.

Turn off a few lights or dim them if you can in the evening. Turning down the lights will simulate a natural sunset and help your body feel sleepy sooner in the evening, prompting you to go to bed earlier.

4.     Use The Snooze.

A habit of hitting the snooze button may not be healthy, but it won’t hurt you to use it when you really need it. Hit it just once, and those 9-15 minutes may be just what you need to make it through the morning. Whatever you miss in your morning prep time wasn’t as important as those few extra minutes of sleep on that particular day.

5.     Don’t Read In Bed

When you read in bed you may be tempted to stay up longer than you would have if you were reading in another room. If you like to read to relax, sit up in another room and set a timer for when you want to finish. That way you won’t get caught up in the book and avoid going to sleep. This will also help you fall asleep easier when you climb into bed, because when the only thing you do in your bed is sleep, getting into bed sends signals to your brain that it is time to sleep.

Try one of these five tips to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep. A few minutes here and there can add up over time. You may find yourself less stressed and more productive during the day when you are getting the proper amount of sleep.

What tricks do you have for getting enough sleep at night?

Image: “Sleep, Don’t Weep” momo

5 Great Holiday Gift Ideas

Holiday Gift Idea

With Christmas just around the corner you may be starting to think about what you will give your loved ones. It can be hard to come up with a thoughtful gift for everyone on your list. Here are a few suggestions for great gifts for your friends and family.

Handcrafted Gifts

Unique gifts that are handcrafted are always a great way to show your love and appreciation for others. Since the holiday season is often a time for parties, a handcrafted wooden bowl is an excellent gift for a host or hostess. Christmas tree ornaments are a thoughtful and inexpensive gift for coworkers or employees. When you buy a handcrafted gift, you can be sure that your loved one won’t get anything else like it!

Down Blankets

For the friend or family member who is always cold, a down blanket, down comforter or down throw is another great gift idea that will help them stay warm and cozy throughout the cold winter months. Whether it’s placed on their bed or as a throw over the couch, everyone loves to snuggle under the warmth of down.

Family Games

With our lives as busy as they are, it’s important to take time to gather together. Board games and card games are not only fun and relaxing, but it’s a great way to spend quality time with family and friends, as well as build memories that last forever. 


Bed sheets may seem like an unusual Christmas gift, however, if you know the recipient well enough, a nice set of sheets can be a very thoughtful gift. Bed sheets are one of those items that people typically don’t buy for themselves, or at least it’s on the bottom of their wish list, so you can treat someone with a nice quality set of sheets. There are many fabrics you can choose from, but winter time is the perfect time to pamper someone with warm flannel sheets. They’ll think of you every time they slip into their soft warm cozy bed.


An attractive throw is great addition to any décor. Throws can be draped over the back of a couch or chair, not only during the holidays but all year round. A holiday tapestry throw is a useful and festive way to celebrate the season.

Plan Your Gifts

As you begin to plan your gifts, consider things that would not only be fun and useful to have around the home, but personalized to the recipient. Everyone loves to know that you took the time to find just the right gift for them. Make your holiday special by making it special for someone else.

Image: “Gifts” Jennifer C.

How to Get Rid of Bedding Dust Mites

Did you know that if you are allergic to dust mites, it’s not the actual dust mite you are sensitive to, but the fecal matter they leave behind?  Yes, it is a bit repulsive to think about that, but it’s a fact of life.

During its 80-day lifespan, each dust mite produces about 1,000 allergen waste particles.

And to make matters worse, dust mites reproduce very rapidly and each egg-laying female can reproduce 25 to 30 new mites per week.House dust mite - Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus

So how do you combat those nasty little critters?

Although we can never eliminate dust mites altogether, there are ways you can kill dust mites on your bed sheets to get some short term relief.

1) Wash in HOT water (at least 130 degrees). The hot temperature will kill the dust mite.

OR –  to conserve on hot water….

2) Wash your sheets in cold water, dry, and then place sheets in the freezer for 24 hours or until needed. Washing in cold water alone will not kill dust mites (as unbelievable as that seems), but the cold freezer temps will.

Because dust mites rapidly reproduce, if you have a sensitivity to them, it is important to launder your bedding at least once a week.

Another very important and effective way to combat bedding dust mites is to invest in a dust mite proof mattress pad or mattress encasement. Mattresses are a breeding ground for dust mites, so it is essential to create a barrier so that they cannot harbor within your mattress. Bed linens can be washed regularly to eliminate the critters, but the only way to eliminate them from your mattress is to keep them out altogether with a dust mite proof mattress protector.

Photo courtesy of Gilles San Martin

What To Do When You Wake Up at Night

Waking up in the middle of the night can cause you to be groggy the next day. Many people wake up and toss and turn for hours. Laying awake staring at the clock as the hours tick by can be a huge nuisance. It can also interfere with your everyday health and well-being.

Get Out of Bed

There are several solutions to help you get back to sleep and prevent night time waking. Trying to force yourself to sleep may not help the situation. Instead of tossing and turning, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Read until you feel sleepy or drink a warm cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile. Avoid watching TV or looking at computer screens because they can stimulate you and prevent you from being able to fall asleep.


If you are waking because of stress get up and make to do lists so that you don’t have to think about your tasks while you are trying to sleep. You can also write in a journal if there is a specific problem plaguing you. To help eliminate stress at night, start a soothing bedtime routine that can include stretching, reading, or eating a light snack. A consistent routine will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.



Waking can also be a result of environmental disturbances. Your bedroom may not be providing the right atmosphere for you to stay asleep. Investing in curtains that block out light and using white noise or ear plugs to eliminate sounds, is beneficial in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep as dawn approaches. Also, make sure your room is the right temperature throughout the night  – not too hot or too cold.

Health Problems

If your waking occurs for long periods of time and over the course of more than three consecutive days, you may have a sleep disorder. Sleep apnea, which disrupts breathing during sleep, is a common problem among adults. It could be the cause of an underlying health condition which you should discuss with your doctor.

When to Get Help

Solving a night waking problem may be as simple adding an extra blanket to your bed or starting a night time routine. However, if the problem persists and is having a negative impact on your daily life, you should consult a doctor for help. At times even a counselor or psychologist can help, if your waking is related to a specific stressor or traumatic even. Don’t let wakefulness add to your stress. Try some new techniques for sleeping and get help when you need it.

Photo “Sad man holding pillow” courtesy of Vic.  

The Risk of Sleeping Pills

4164837356_5bc691d9feEveryone has a few tough nights of sleep from time to time, but you may want to think about trying some other options before you turn to sleeping pills for help. Recent studies have showed that there are more risks associated with sleeping pills than previously thought.

The Study

 The British Medical Journal Open reports that even people who took sleeping pills rarely, 18 times or less a year, still had a 3.5 times higher risk of death than those who did not take any sleeping pills. The research followed hypnotic drugs used to aid sleep, such as the popular drugs Ambien and Lunesta. 

The research also showed that there was an increased incidence of cancer within the group of people followed using the hypnotic sleeping pills. The publication concluded that increased incidence of cancer and mortality were not “attributable to pre-existing disease”  

Increase in Sleep Disorders

According to studies, six to ten percent of Americans were prescribed sleeping pills in 2010. And, and estimated 50 to 70 million Americans face insomnia or other sleep disorder. Sleeping disorders are on the rise, and it is important to address both causes and cures. It may be that many Americans are facing an increase in stress that causes sleep disorders. Or, maybe decreasingly healthy lifestyles, with less exercise and less nutritious food choices are leading to more sleep related problems. Other causes may include, shift work, excessive screen time, and smoking.

Addressing the Cause

Whether or not sleeping pills actually cause higher mortality rates, there are very serious risks that come with their use. If you are suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorder, be sure you discuss with your doctor all of your options before using a sleeping pill to help you get more rest at night. Try to pinpoint why you are unable to sleep, and see if you can address the cause before using a sleeping pill. Be aware that there are also serious risks associated with insomnia including, danger of sleeping while driving, increased risk of diabetes, and increased risk of heart disease. Insomnia should not be ignored, and it is necessary to get help if you experience it consistently.

Photo “Big giant ouchie” courtesy of Sarah G

Tips for Choosing a Comforter

 comf-setA comforter may be the most important part of your bedroom decor. Not only does it dress up the centerpiece of your bedroom, but it also provides warmth and comfort at night. Choose a comforter that is both cozy and attractive. Be sure to find something that fits your style. A quality comforter will be the centerpiece of your bedroom for a long time.


Comforters are made out of several types of materials. They are typically have a front and a back panel with some type of fill in the middle and are then quilted to keep the fill in place. The fill is what makes them different from a blanket. Comforters can be made from cotton, down, wool, synthetic materials and more. Your temperature preferences, climate and other needs will help you determine what kind of comforter is best for you.


Quality cotton comforters are soft and comfortable. They are usually more easily washed than the other materials. They also come in a greater variety of colors and patterns. If your climate is fairly moderate, cotton comforters should provide plenty warmth in the winter and keep you cool enough in the summer.

Wool, Down and Synthetic

Wool, down and synthetic comforters provide more insulation while sleeping. They are especially ideal for cold winters and chilly bedrooms. With the right comforter you can turn down the thermostat and save some money at night. Down is a great insulator as well as soft and fluffy, but may cause problems for people with allergies. Wool is excellent at wicking away moisture and keeping you both cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Synthetics are very similar to down comforters but can made to reduce exposure to allergens. All three of these materials typically only come in white. They are more difficult to wash so you will most likely want to use a duvet cover. Duvet covers protect the comforter and are easy to remove and wash. They can also add style and color to your bed.


Choosing a solid colored comforter or duvet cover will give you more options when selecting your decor. You can accent the comforter with patterned pillows, window treatments or even wall paper. A solid color will give you more versatility and allow you to change your decor more often without having to buy a new comforter. Some comforters are also reversible, allowing your to choose from two different coordinating colors each time you make your bed.

Remember to choose something that fits your style and will keep you comfortable. A great comforter will lead to a good night of sleep.


The Function of Mattress Pads

Mattress pads are often the unseen hero of a good night of sleep. They hide under sheets and go unnoticed, but they can lead to a restful night when chosen properly.


Mattresses are a big investment, so it is important to protect that investment with a good mattress pad. Mattresses are not easy to clean and can quickly fill with allergens such as dust mites. A mattress pad not only helps to protect a mattress from getting dirty, but it can also repel harmful allergens, creating a healthier sleep environment.


Mattress pads also act as insulators. They can help regulate your body temperature while you sleep so that you can rest well. Depending on their materials, they offer breathability and insulation to keep you cool in warm months and warm in cool months. You can even use a heated mattress pad for extra warmth, comfort and pain relief.


A mattress pad can also add an extra layer of cushion. They create a softer space for achy joints, necks and backs.


There are few things to keep in mind when you are buying a mattress pad. The first is to make sure you have the right size. It can be uncomfortable if your mattress pad slips off and bunches up during the night. There are varying sizes for queen and king, as well as twin size. For example: king size mattresses come in standard king (76 x 80) and Eastern King (78 x 80). Queen sizes are available in the standard 60” wide mattress to the Olympic Queen which is 66” in width. Twin size mattresses are typically 39” wide, however, they come in different lengths. The standard twin is 75” long, XL Twin measures 80” in length, and on occasion you will see the XXL Twin, which measures 84” long.


Next, think about what material you like. Most mattress pads are made of cotton. These pads are comfortable and easy to care for and wash. If you struggle with being too hot or too cold at night, you may want to consider a wool mattress pad. Wool pads help regulate your temperature by wicking away moisture and providing insulation for your body.

There are also mattress encasements that can help you combat allergens. Mattress covers that are made of vinyl and encase the entire mattress help to eliminate dust mites, however they can sometimes be loud and crinkly.

A Mattress Pad that Fits Your Needs

When you are choosing your bedding don’t forget to choose your mattress pad carefully. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t an important part of your comfort while you sleep. Invest in a pad that is comfortable and does the job you need it to. 

Photo courtesy of Cozytown Linens