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Sleeptember: What’s Your Snore Score?

Despite all the jokes, cartoons and comical depictions of snoring in pop culture, snoring is a symptom of a potentially life-threatening disorder called sleep apnea. The annual Sleeptember® campaign of the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) is helping bring attention to this often chronic, debilitating and overlooked sleep disorder.Let’s break some myths. You don’t have to be overweight, male or an adult to suffer from sleep apnea. ASAA says only a small percentage of those who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) get treated, yet if untreated, OSA can contribute to potentially fatal medical problems.The National Sleep Foundation warns that “sleep apnea can cause fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels. For people with sleep apnea, the combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation may lead to hypertension, heart disease and mood and memory problems. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of drowsy driving.”Here’s one self-test offered by ASAA to determine if you or a family member might be at risk:Are you a loud and/or regular snorer?Have you ever been observed to gasp or stop breathing during sleep?Do you feel tired or groggy upon awakening, or do you awaken with a headache?Are you often tired or fatigued during waking hours?Do you [...]

2017-08-30T09:37:44+00:00 September 14th, 2017|

Lazy Mom’s Day

The term “lazy mom” sounds like an oxymoron to me. Is there such a thing? And why is the first Friday of September Lazy Mom’s Day? I wonder who designated the date for this particular day since it is often the first week of school and one of the busiest times in many moms’ lives. That said, when we think of being lazy, most people think of napping, being a couch potato for the day, putting their feet up and leaning back in a recliner. We may lie in the sun on a chaise lounge or curl up on a cozy chair reading a book—you get the idea. Notice the common denominator? Our laziest, most comfortable moments take place on beds and upholstered furniture that are cushioned and cozy. Most often that cushioning is made with flexible polyurethane foam cushioning, ideally CertiPUR-US® certified foam—which I think is pretty cool. Laziness also often has a negative connotation. It seems rude to call Mom lazy. This quote from the New York Times was included in an article about the power of downtime in Scientific American magazine: “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable [...]

2017-08-31T12:10:16+00:00 August 31st, 2017|

What is Certified Foam?

Before the establishment of the CertiPUR-US® foam certification program, consumers looking for the comfort of knowing what’s inside the foam in their mattress and upholstered furniture--or rather, what isn’t--had no compass to guide them in the shopping process. CertiPUR-US has demystified a critical aspect of shopping for mattresses, mattress toppers, pillows and upholstered furniture, which typically contain conventional or viscoelastic (memory) flexible polyurethane foam for cushioning. CertiPUR-US-certified foams meet standards for content, emissions and durability, and are analyzed by independent, accredited laboratories. The CertiPUR-US foam certification program, administered by a nonprofit organization, was established in 2008 to combat substandard foams imported from other countries. In some cases, these substandard foams contained substances that had been banned in the U.S. or were listed by chemical watch groups as potentially being harmful. A group of foam manufacturers, in conjunction with environmentalists, academics, industry and consumer groups, and chemists developed a testing, analysis, and certification program specifically for these uses of flexible polyurethane foam. Now considered the industry’s most rigorous certification program for foam used in bedding and upholstered furniture, certified foams are: Made without ozone depleters Made without PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants Made without mercury, lead, and other [...]

2017-08-16T08:48:05+00:00 August 16th, 2017|

Furniture Industry Champions Child Safety

It’s called furniture tip-over, and one child dies every two weeks when a television, appliance or piece of furniture falls on them, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  Please share this infographic —these are horrifying but important-to-know statistics. Most of the deaths involve children between the ages of 1 and 5. Three-quarters of the time, it’s a TV or piece of furniture that falls on them; a quarter of the time it’s a dresser or table. These accidents happen most often in the bedroom. Anchoring furniture, TVs and appliances is a critical way to protect your child or children who visit your home. Three cheers to the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) for bringing public attention to this danger. AHFA supports the CPSC’s “Anchor It” campaign, and works to promote compliance with ASTM F2057-14, a voluntary furniture stability standard for freestanding clothing storage units, such as drawer chests, door chests and dressers, that are more than 30 inches high. Here’s a typical scenario: A child sees something on top of a bedroom dresser that they want. Maybe it’s a stuffed animal that’s out of reach, or Mom’s necklaces on a jewelry tree, or a photo of [...]

2017-07-26T14:49:01+00:00 July 26th, 2017|

Moving? Five Ways Not to Lose Sleep Over It

Planning a move? If so, you’re in good company—nearly 26 million Americans will relocate this summer, often prompted by a school break, a wedding or the prospect of fair weather (or at least no ice and snow).That doesn’t change the reality that moving is one of life’s biggest stressors. Along with the emotional turmoil of saying goodbye to friends, we are disrupting our routines and dealing with countless logistical details. However, you needn’t lose sleep over changing households. Instead, seize the opportunity to sleep better. Moving is an ideal time to rethink what you are sleeping on and make sure it is helping you get those much-needed zzzzzs.Here are five ways to make this part of your transition go smoothly:If you are taking mattresses with you, encase them in plastic to protect them during transport. Most truck rental companies like U-Haul keep protectors in stock for all mattress sizes.Starting fresh? If your mattress is more than seven years old, it’s probably time to replace it. Dispose of your old mattress properly. Find tips from the Better Sleep Council here.When mattress shopping, wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can easily slip off and don’t be shy—lie down for a solid 5–10 [...]

2017-07-19T11:00:37+00:00 July 13th, 2017|

Morning Lark or Night Owl

It comes down to this: If you have a party on a Saturday night, do you clean up right after the last guest has left—or do you leave the dishes until the morning? Read on for a link to a quiz which might surprise you in its assessment of your sleep habits. I’m a night owl. In fact, I tell friends that 6:30 only comes once a day for me—in the evening. You won’t find me awake at 6:30 a.m. unless I have an early plane to catch, something I try to avoid! Whether you do your best in the morning sun or when the moon is high can affect romantic relationships, job performance, school achievement and more. There’s science behind this, and genetics plays a role. Your sleep-wake patterns are affected by circadian rhythms, which the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (part of the National Institutes of Health) defines as “physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.” Can a night owl and morning lark find happiness in a romantic relationship? It may be one of the questions couples should ponder before getting hitched. [...]

2017-06-28T18:43:24+00:00 June 29th, 2017|

First Home: Making A Place Your Place

Two kids in our family bought their first homes this month. Whether renting or buying, moving into a new place usually means facing some empty rooms waiting to be filled with furniture, beds, art, rugs, decor—the stuff of life! Yes, it can seem daunting and a bit costly, but what a pleasure a beautiful home can be. It’s immensely satisfying to flip through design magazines, watch HGTV for ideas, browse furniture websites, look at Pinterest and create your own castle. Even if you can’t afford to make it all happen at once, it helps to have a master plan. Most of us are not super talented at designing the home of our dreams. Would you let an amateur paint your house, perform an appendectomy, give you legal advice, fix your car? Probably not. But it’s always surprising to me how many people don’t bring in professional interior design help when it comes to making their house a home. The American Society of Interior Designers offers an online find-a-pro directory. You may think designers are too expensive, but many offer consultation services on a limited-hour basis. I once asked a local designer to come to my home for just a [...]

2017-06-07T08:24:32+00:00 June 6th, 2017|

Choosing Baby’s Next Bed

Some kids start climbing out of their cribs early, but my daughters were pretty content to wait until age 3. That’s when we made the transition from crib to twin. My oldest daughter was so reluctant, we put her first big-girl mattress on the floor for a few weeks to smooth the way. Why do we automatically go from cribs to twin-size mattresses? A twin mattress measures 38” x 75” (a twin XL, often used in college dorms or for taller teens is 38” x 80”). A full (sometimes referred to as a double) measures 53” x 75”. Here’s a perhaps heretical idea I came to later in life: If the size of the room permits, I vote for getting kids a full size mattress. “You’re kidding?” I hear parents say when I suggest this, but think about it. Who’s lying in that bed? Think about how often a parent snuggles next to a child to read a bedtime story in a twin bed. It can be a tight squeeze, right? What about those watchful nights when kids have an ear infection or chicken pox or need comfort after a nightmare? Sometimes kids just want to cozy up with [...]

2017-06-06T10:37:52+00:00 May 24th, 2017|

Sleep Games for Insomnia

During my decade working with the Better Sleep Council years ago, our spokesperson was Dianne Hales, a prolific writer and author of the wonderful sleep book “How to Sleep Like a Baby.” There’s an entire chapter in the book devoted to cognitive-focusing exercises (aka mind games) that, in essence, bore you to sleep by using the left and right spheres of your brain simultaneously. It works! Counting sheep is the most famous example—your left sphere is occupied counting and the right sphere is busy visualizing sheep. Serta’s long-time advertising campaign is based on sheep for this reason. The idea is that Serta’s mattresses are so comfortable and sleep-inducing you won’t need to count sheep to fall asleep. Here are three sleep mind games that work for me: Think of famous people (your choice: celebrities, athletes, artists, musicians) whose first and last names begin with the same initial and go through the alphabet, letter by letter. For instance, Alan Alda, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Chaplin, Danny DeVito, Emilio Estevez, Farrah Fawcett, Greta Garbo... you get the drill. I never get too far past Marilyn Monroe before falling asleep. Don’t want to do double initials? Go through the alphabet sequentially naming athletic teams, [...]

2017-06-06T10:39:23+00:00 May 17th, 2017|

My Life on a Sofa

Family photo albums tell many stories—what clothes you wore in various decades, the hairstyle mistakes that now make you cringe—but often it’s the furniture that reminds us of the where and when. Going through old pictures recently with my adult daughter, I was struck not only by the wonderful family faces, but also by the backdrop, in particular our sofas over the years. Those sofas bore witness to many changes as my children grew and treasured pets came in and out of our lives. Sofas might be the most loved and abused pieces of furniture in our homes: spilled on by babies, toddlers and careless adults; clawed by cats and gnawed by dogs; flopped on casually by rowdy teenagers. Our couches see our kids through countless sick days and cradle us through life’s highs and lows. The only photo I can find of me pregnant with my first child is on a stylish linen sofa (purchased with the help of an interior designer family friend) in our first house. Not so stylish is the wild floral thing my three girls are sitting on while mugging for the camera. How did I ever think that sofa was beautiful? Maybe I never [...]

2017-06-06T10:40:36+00:00 May 10th, 2017|

Can Stress Make You Sleep Less?

It’s Better Sleep Month. This is a good time to focus on what’s standing in the way of getting your best rest. In our fast-paced, 24/7 world, with smartphones notifying us of every text and email, it isn’t easy to turn off the noise—literally and figuratively—and get to sleep. And, the cruel joke is that the less you sleep, the less likely you are to be able to cope with the problems creating stress in the first place. Talk about a vicious cycle. Now is a good time to re-evaluate and try some strategies to reduce stress and get the sleep you need. Here are a few tips to break the cycle: Don’t bring work into your bedroom. Make the place where you sleep a safe haven from the day’s angst. Turn off your phone. OK, maybe that’s impractical if you need to be available for a family emergency, but most phones can be set to ring only for designated callers. Get into a bedtime routine. Whether it’s a book, a warm shower, hot cocoa or gentle stretches, try to do the same things in the same order each night as a way to train your body to wind down. Take a [...]

2017-06-06T10:41:14+00:00 May 1st, 2017|