Get the Good Night's Sleep You Deserve

Your stress level, your mattress, your bedtime and wake time all play a part in how much rest you get. Use these solutions to maximize your ZZZs.

Combatting COVID-19-Induced Insomnia

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With all of the anxiety and stress that has come with a global pandemic, it’s no surprise that people are losing sleep. Sleepopolis expert, Carleara Weiss, PhD, connects instances of COVID-19 insomnia to mental and emotional stress, adjustment to work from home and self-isolation. 
Dr. Weiss finds that consistency is key. She recommends the following tips for combatting your COVID-19-induced insomnia:
  • Create a sleep-promoting bedtime routine. Doing activities that signal to your body that sleep is near and practicing good sleep hygiene (habits and behaviors that impact your sleep health) are great ways to wind down. This includes going to bed at the same time each night or activities like reading a book or practicing mindfulness meditations. These calming rituals will also help calm your mind and positively impact your mental health.
  • Reduce digital device exposure. At least one hour before bedtime, try unplugging the electronics. This includes cell phones, TVs and computers. There are many benefits to unplugging, like decreasing blue-light exposure, which can block melatonin production and keep you up later, or maybe more uninterrupted time with your partner.
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques. It’s important to invest in a bedtime routine that you find relaxing. This could be meditation or prayer, breathing techniques, or taking a warm shower or bath. (Take a look at Headspace and Calm meditation apps, as well as Peloton’s Power of Sleep program.)
  • Daytime routines matter too. Not only should you go to bed around the same time each night, but have a plan for your day, too. Figure out what times work best for you to wake up, eat and exercise. “Our biological clock (or circadian rhythms) uses the timing for our activities such as waking up, eating meals, exercising and environmental cues such as light exposure to synchronize our metabolism, immune function and sleep,” says Dr. Weiss. This is crucial especially if you’re immunocompromised or stuck in the house quarantining. Your routine is everything.
  • Products to create a comfortable sleep environment. To help block out all the distractions, Dr. Weiss recommends trying sound machines, sleep masks or humidifiers. Noise machines and humidifiers can aid in your relaxation, while eye masks or even black out curtains will help create a dark space that’s optimal for sleep.
  • Temperature. Maintain a bedroom temperature of around 65 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Nobody wants to sleep hot or wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat from stress. Cool temperatures are ideal for sleep.
It could be tricky to implement all of these new practices at once, especially in a COVID-19 ridden world. Dr. Weiss recommends starting small, but being consistent. Utilize that one-hour period before bed. You can set an alarm to remind yourself when to set down the phone; soon enough you may find yourself meditating during all that new screen-free time you’ve found. You can also start making to-do lists for the next day, taking the worries from your head and putting them down on paper. Close off the night with a calming bath or shower that will lower your body’s temperature and help you get to sleep.
About the expert: Dr. Carleara Weiss has over 15 years of experience as an adult-geriatric nurse and is currently the Sleep Science Advisor at Aeroflow Sleep. She holds a Master’s in Science of Health Care and a PhD in Nursing, focusing on Behavioral Sleep Medicine and Circadian Rhythms.

The Best Mattresses for Arthritis

Characterized by tenderness, pain and swelling at the joints, arthritis can be a tricky condition when trying to get a good night’s sleep, especially if you’re dozing on a mattress that doesn’t actively relieve pressure across the body. So, how do you find a bed that’s actually been built to alleviate this pain?
While so many mattresses differ in terms of style, construction and price, those listed below have all been designed with pressure relief and support in mind. This means they’re tailor-made for assuaging the worst effects of arthritis pain during sleep.

Best Mattresses for Arthritis — Ranked by

Please note: The content in this article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or serve as a substitute for seeing a medical professional regarding any sleep problems you may have. Please see your doctor regarding any urgent medical issues.

Try a Sleep Calculator to Help Maximize Your ZZZs

We’ve heard it recommended countless times before:“Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night!”  While getting a certain number of hours of shut-eye is indeed important, normal sleep goes far beyond just clocking in and out. Instead, it’s characterized by length, quality, and timing, along with the absence of disturbances and disorders.
A sleep calculator may help get this timing just right and help you feel refreshed when you wake up.  
A Sleep Calculator App: How it Works
Based on your specific snooze situation, you might want to know the best time to sleep and wake up. The calculator does the math for you. Simply enter the time you want to wake up in the morning, and the app will tell you various times you can head to bed in order to complete a certain amount of sleep cycles
What’s a Sleep Cycle?
Let’s take a step back to explain what a sleep cycle actually is, along with what happens when our heads hit the hay at night. It turns out we don’t just fall asleep and wake up eight hours later, with no critical happenings charging through our system (how we wish it were that simple). Instead, our bodies go through a series of waves, called sleep cycles. There are five cycles in total, each lasting about 90 minutes.
The first four stages comprise our non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, while the fifth stage is when we move into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Let’s look a little bit more closely at each one.
NREM sleep: This is more than just our eyes staying still. However, the name does hint at the importance of NREM. These four stages are building up intensity toward our REM sleep. Across them, the body moves from really light sleep (Stage 1) to a super deep sleep (Stage 4). By stage 4, it’s really hard to wake someone up. Here’s a little bit more about each stage:
  • Stage 1 is considered the “transitional phase,” when we’re drifting in and out of consciousness.
  • Stage 2 is the “light phase,” which is when our heart rate slows down and our core body temperature decreases.
  • Stage 3 is “slow wave sleep.” Here, blood pressure drops, heart rate further slows, and our breathing becomes slower and more rhythmic.
  • Stage 4 is “deep sleep,” a stage that doesn’t want to be disrupted. Your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing are all very low.
REM sleep: At the end of our cycle, we actually enter a light stage of sleep. This is when, as the name suggests, our eyes dart up and down and all around, and is most likely when dreaming occurs. Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing all begin to increase.
Even though this stage is the most similar to being awake, it’s the furthest point from wakefulness in terms of the sleep cycle. It’s important to remember that we don’t go from being awake to being in REM sleep; rather, we must pass through all the stages of NREM first.
How Do We Move Through the Sleep Cycle?
It’s important to note that each cycle isn’t, well, cyclical. Instead, we move from being awake, to stage one, two, three, four and then three, two, one, before going into REM sleep. This cycle, which we like to think of as more of a “wave,” repeats over the course of the night. Many scientists recommend going through four to six of these waves, which would provide six to nine hours of shut-eye (remember, each cycle is roughly 90-minutes long). This is why the length of sleep is not what causes us to feel refreshed when we wake up. Rather, the key factor is the number of sleep cycles we complete. The difference between six hours and six hours 30 minutes can be huge; you don’t want to wake up in the middle of a cycle.
When to Wake Up: How Our Sleep Needs Change
As we journey through our own cycle of life, our bodies change and we need different amounts of slumber. Here’s a rough range of how much sleep we need depending on what stage of life we’re in, so you can use the sleep calculator based on age:
  • Newborns: 14 to 17 hours
  • Infants: 12 to 15 hours
  • Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours
  • Pre-Schoolers: 10 to 13 hours
  • School-Aged Children: 9 to 11 hours
  • Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours
  • Young Adults: 7 to 9 hours
  • Adults: 7 to 9 hours
  • Older Adults (65+): 7 to 8 hours
 Given these stats, a sleep calculator is best for adults who need up to nine hours of sleep.  (Because sleep needs for kids and teenagers are a bit different, their sleep calculators must also be unique. But stays tuned, sleep calculators for these age groups are currently in development.)
Why is Calculating Our Sleep Important?
It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s very possible to sleep for less time and feel more awake. That’s because it’s better to move through four full cycles (six hours of sleep) versus getting eight hours but waking up in the middle of REM sleep.
So, while duration is indeed important — a 90-minute siesta per night probably won’t cut it — the number of complete sleep cycles we go through could trump the number of hours we’re getting.
Calculating our sleep cycles might just be the missing link to our overall health. Optimizing our sleep and better understanding when to hit the hay and when to wake up could add tremendous value to our lives, providing us with more energy, reducing the risk of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, combatting weight gain and even improving our longevity.
Visit to try a sleep calculator.  

Please note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from your health care provider. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see a trained professional immediately.

Check out our pain resources for more great ways to better manage your sleep, pain and overall health.

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