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Sleep Fact #1

Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. Unfamiliar noise, and noise during the first and last two hours of sleep, has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle.

The Truth About Bed Bugs

Some people enjoy sleeping alone, but sometimes it’s unavoidable or unwanted. Several members of the Cimicidae family have moved into the comfort of many homes across the U.S. and into their beds and other comfortable places.  Cimex lectularius, also known as the bed bug, is a parasitical bug that is mainly associated with humans, birds and bats. Although they parasitize with these different creatures, they adapt best to human environments 1.

There are many people that don’t know what bed bugs are capable of and why they choose to sleep in beds with other humans. Another question that has also risen to the surface is, what do they look like? The answer is this: They are a small bug that has a chestnut brown color to them, dorso-ventrally flattened, and the adult bug usually measures up to c. 5 mm across2. Bed bugs can look similar to other small insects such as ticks and fleas, but don’t get confused as to where each bug can hide or even sleep at night.

Bed bugs are known for spending most of their lifetime concealed in harbourages, including around the seams of mattresses, in bed-frames, behind head-boards, behind skirting boards, in furniture, inside electrical fittings, behind pictures and coving, in curtains, under fitted carpets and in wall voids2. These small creatures hide and sleep in other places that aren’t exclusive to peoples’ beds. They are also sometimes found on or in clothing and the seams on clothes, but they are almost never found on humans.

Whenever there is an unfortunate event of bed bugs being spotted on someone, one most know what the dangers of that situation are. After someone has been bitten, that person may or may not show a substantial, red, itchy reaction wherever the bite occurs. While some people have extreme and quick reactions to a bite, some people may never have any reaction at all2. This can be very fortunate in some cases, but knowing that someone has been bitten only means an early detection of an infestation in your home, apartment, office, etc. Although bites may sometimes become secondarily infected, research has consistently indicated that bedbugs do not transmit blood-borne infections, such as HIV or hepatitis2. With this being known, the worse consequence of a bed bug is only irritation, itchiness, and swelling of certain areas.

The infestation of bed bugs can be very annoying, irritating, and also very costly. After some people have experienced them moving into their homes, their only solution may be to throw out any mattresses, (a memory foam mattress naturally resists bed bugs) furniture, carpet, linens, and many other items that could have contained bed bugs. This only means that replacements are in need for any place or item that has been bothered by this insect. If you ever suspect bed bugs, we recommend contacting a pesticide specialist immediately. COMING SOON:Please read ‘How to Prevent and Control Bed Bugs’ for tips you can use to help prevent and control them in your home.

[1] Reinhardt, Klaus, and Michael T. Siva-Jothy. “Biology of Bed Bugs (Cimicidae).” Annual Review of Entomology 52. (2007): 351-374. PDF. 30 Nov 2010. <http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.ento.52.040306.133913&gt;.

[2] Boase, Clive. “Bedbugs – Back from the Brink.” Royal Society of Chemistry 2001 (2001): 159-162. Web. 30 Nov 2010. <http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2001/PO/b106301b&gt;.

Alcohol Before Bed: The Effects Of Alcohol On Sleep

Sometimes falling asleep is no easy task, and for many it’s downright difficult to do under any circumstance. Due to its sedative effect, alcohol is a common choice for those who have a hard time finding a way to fall asleep.  It’s important to consider the other effects, however, that alcohol will have—namely on the very sleep these people use it to achieve. Booze before bedtime may appear to ease the transition into dreamland, but what happens after that is well worth taking note of.

Adults function best with anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. The consumption of alcoholic beverages before bedtime, interestingly enough, will effectively serve to cut the number of hours actually acquired in half. In fact, drinking alcohol at any time three hours or less before bed can lead to both early waking and disruptions in the sleep cycle on the whole. The entire sleep process is advanced by alcohol intake: N-REM sleep [also know as “deep sleep”] increases, incrementally decreasing REM [or “Rapid Eye Movement” rest]. The problem is that you need both types, in very balanced doses. You may be surprised to learn that these facts don’t deter many: in recent studies, some 28% of insomniacs claimed to have depended on alcohol as a means for falling asleep, and fully 67% described the practice as helpful.

The difficulty with this nighttime “medication” approach is plain: alcohol can either make sleep disorders more frequent, or increase your susceptibility to acquire them. The most common sleep disorder that occurs as a result of the consumption of alcohol before bedtime is obstructive sleep apnea, and it’s one of the most destructive in regard to heart health. Drinking alcohol will narrow your air passages and thereby make it harder to breathe at night. As you gasp for the air that’s being blocked, your sleep cycle is deeply disturbed.When air is obstructed in the passages, your heart must work much harder to get the oxygen that it needs, which results in lasting health problems if it persists over a long period of time.

Studies have shown that the consumption of alcohol even just an hour before bedtime causes major disruptions in the second part of the sleep cycle, which will lead to early awakening. As mentioned earlier, drinking alcohol before bedtime will not only shorten REM sleep but increase deep sleep. The resultant physiological state is known as “REM rebound.” After consuming high doses of alcohol, the body becomes sedated, causing you to fall asleep quickly. After you begin to snooze, your body becomes adjusted to that alcohol running through your blood stream. By the time the second part of the sleep cycle is underway, however, your body has metabolized [re: eliminated] the alcohol from your system, and it will attempt to return your metabolism to normal levels. This is where that rebound begins to occur. Instead of successfully returning to physiologically-normal levels [gauged by certain sleep variables such as the amount of REM sleep acquired at night] your body will over-compensate and change its course in the opposite direction, which results in a sleep disturbance. Furthermore, this disturbance will disrupt the proportionality of the various sleep stages. When rebound and its associated disturbances occur, your body won’t feel fully rested the next day. We all know what that’s like: an unclear [or “foggy”] state of mind and a marked inability to perform simple tasks at an optimal and efficient performance level.

Several studies have evaluated next-day performance and alertness in healthy people who consumed alcohol before falling asleep. In one such study, young pilots drank alcohol between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. in quantities sufficient to result in BACs [blood-alcohol concentrations] of 0.10-0.12 percent right before bedtime. The following morning, over 14 hours after consuming alcohol and with BACs reset to 0, the performance of pilots in a flight simulator was significantly impaired when compared to their performance after imbibing a placebo. The lack of continuity and longevity of the sleep they experienced after heavy drinking is the same as what everyone will suffer when doing so: it simply makes people slower and less attentive the following day.

It’s clear by now that the effects of alcohol on sleep can be dire. Though you may believe it’s helping you sleep, the consumption of alcohol before bed will only result in next-day fatigue and an inability to remain alert… and can actually lead to a serious sleeping disorder. Aside from the havoc it wreaks on your system when frequently drunk at high levels, alcohol can also be dangerous to others around you. There’s no question that critical mistakes are made every day by folks in all walks of life due to the effects of alcohol consumption, whether in the intoxicated state or, like the pilots mentioned, well after you think you’ve “slept it off.” Remember that there are several alternatives to alcohol that are both healthier and more effective when it comes to getting the shut-eye you require on a nightly basis. For starters, you might try getting into a sleep routine, which is a tremendously effective way to train your body’s physiological nature into winding down at night. You’re probably already aware that you should avoid caffeine, dairy products, and smoking before bedtime. Finally, consider going to bed an hour or two later—it can help you go to sleep faster because you’ll be more fatigued. And bear in mind that your old mattress may be part of the problem… switching to memory foam will improve your body’s blood circulation and alleviate the pressure points associated with traditional innerspring mattresses so that you get more restful sleep each night. In sum, you can do better for your body than waking up with a hangover every day. It’s time to make strides toward getting some quality sleep without alcohol.

Even if you do own a fine memory foam mattress you must be sure to have good sleeping habits to help you fully enjoy it!

Alcohol Alert. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa41.htm. Retrieved on July 28th, 2009.
Alcohol and Sleep.Loyola Marymount Universtiy. http://www.lmu.edu/PageFactory.aspx?PageID=25070. Retrieved on July 28th, 2009.;

BedInABox.com Mattresses Certified By Hohenstein Institute

Hohenstein Institute
September, 2009

Case Study: BedInABox.com

When BedInABox.com, a leading manufacturer and e-tailer of premium memory foam mattresses, decided to position their new non-toxic memory foam as the healthiest and safest in the world, they came to Hohenstein Institute.

Bill Bradley, CEO of BedInABox.com believes the new “Clean Foam” movement is the most important next step for ensuring the continued growth and vitality of the memory foam mattress market. Hohenstein designed the test plan that would provide BedInABox.com with the most compelling data to support their product claims plus provide the certifications that would be influential with consumers.

All testing was conducted under one roof on Hohenstein’s campus in Bönnigheim, Germany and managed through Hohenstein’s USA office in Elon, NC. Through Hohenstein’s proprietary testing capabilities, BedInABox.com foams were analyzed for interaction with living skin cells.

The first phase of testing confirmed that contact with the foams did not cause any damage to the skin cells (cytotoxicity) which could result in skin irritation. The second phase determined that the foams did not elicit a stressful response from the skin cells which would indicate the potential for allergic reaction. By meeting both cellular response criteria, BedInABox.com memory foams were awarded Hohenstein’s “Skin Friendly” certification-the first in history.

Now BedInABox.com has independent, third-party verification to back up their claims that their memory foams are non-toxic and safe for the entire family. Their consumers can rest easy in more ways than one.