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February 24th, 2020
Guest Post by Matt Shealy Did you know that not getting enough sleep not only is detrimental to your physical health but can also lead to poor or risky decision-making? That’s right, shortchanging yourself on those Z’s can affect how your brain works and in turn, how you think and act. Many well-known accidents can be attributed to faulty decision-making caused by severe sleep deprivation, including the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, and the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. Lack of sleep leads to poor decision making Many studies have been done to understand the effect of sleep deprivation on our ability to make sound decisions. Here’s how sleep affects your decision-making abilities: Drives high-risk actions In a study conducted at Duke University, researchers found that an area in the brain involved in reward anticipation becomes selectively more active when high-risk, high-payoff choices were made by a subject that was sleep deprived. While the number of high-risk decisions didn’t increase with sleep deprivation, the expectation of being rewarded for making the high-risk decision was elevated. Such perception can affect the likelihood of a subject taking a particular action. Meanwhile, another study conducted by the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital of Zurich found that as sleep deprivation accumulates over the course of a week, participants tend to take on increasingly bigger and more impulsive risks. Reduces cognitive flexibility Sound decision-making requires the ability to change our thinking based on new information, which is also called cognitive flexibility. Researchers at the Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center found that cognitive flexibility is particularly affected by sleep deprivation, more so than other cognitive processes involved in decision-making. When we’re sleep deprived, our brain chemistry — namely, dopamine and adenosine — interact differently, causing cognitive flexibility issues. Essentially, sleeplessness short-circuits the brain, preventing people from making the right choice no matter how hard they try. Lowers the ability to avoid negative consequences Sleep-deprived participants in the Duke University study not only take higher risks but also exhibit reduced concern for negative consequences. This led them to take actions that are disadvantageous or didn’t even make sense under normal circumstances. When asked to self-evaluate, participants in the Zurich study consider the actions they took when sleep-deprived to be more risky than normal after they were given a few more hours of sleep. Is linked to attention deficits Lack of sleep is also linked to attention deficits and ADHD, especially in younger people. In fact, research had pointed to the possible reinterpretation of ADHD as a sleep-related disorder. Since attention and decision-making operate from a shared axis in the brain, it’s not surprising that the inability to stay focus is likely to affect how we make decisions. Leads to poor dietary choices Researchers in Sweden found that sleep deprivation can lead individuals to make poor food choices by impairing higher-level thinking while increasing impulsivity, hunger, and cravings. The bad news is that the foods we crave when sleep-deprived are often junk food that will cause brain fog, send us on a blood sugar rollercoaster, induce mood swings, and impair our ability to think clearly to make sound decisions. Improve decision-making ability with better sleep There’s no doubt that sleep deprivation is detrimental to our mental capabilities and abilities to make sound decisions. To make sure you’re at the to of your game every day, you need to get enough high-quality sleep every night. Here’s how: Choose a comfortable and supportive mattress that meets your needs. For example, some mattresses are designed for side sleepers while others are best for back pains. A typical mattress has a life expectancy of 9 to 10 years and an old mattress may impact the quality of your sleep. Stick to the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends, to regulate your body clock so you can fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. Design a bedtime routine to prepare your body and mind for sleep. For example, try reading a book and drinking a cup of warm herbal tea. This is very personal and there’s no right or wrong answer to what you should do before bed. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine. Wind down before you go to bed by doing activities that help relax and prepare your body for sleep. Take your work outside of your bedroom environment, so you don’t associate stress with the place you sleep. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and evening. Alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals can also impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Incorporate exercise in your daily routine and consider adding a yoga or meditation practice to help you relax at the end of the day. If sneezing, congestion, or breathing issues have been affecting your sleep, make sure that your room is allergen-free. You can also use a humidifier or air filter to help improve your breathing. Seek treatment for health conditions, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, that can affect the quality of your sleep. Minimize TV streaming, social media usage, video gaming, etc. in the evening hours. These addictive activities can easily encroach your bedtime. Eliminate naps during the day, especially late in the afternoon, if you have trouble falling asleep at night. Design a bedroom environment that’s conducive to relaxation and sleeping. Keep your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit and free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, eyeshades, earplugs, etc. to help you block out light and distractions. Avoid bright light during the evening because it makes your body thinks that it’s daytime. In particular, blue light from the TV, computer, and smartphones is known to affect the circadian rhythms. If you can’t avoid screens altogether, use a blue light filter to minimize your exposure. Keep a sleep diary, which can help you understand patterns that are affecting your sleep quality. You can then adjust your lifestyle, sleep environment, and evening routine to help you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. Final thoughts Many people downplay the importance of sleep in today’s hustle culture, but the reality is that if we don’t get enough sleep, we can’t make the right decisions so we can work smart instead of just hard! Getting high-quality sleep is one of the key habits of highly productive people. When you prioritize sleep and make it part of your success routine, you’ll be surprised by how much more you can accomplish during the day! Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Shealy specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
Fortune has shined upon you. You get the great opportunity to visit your sister and her family for the holidays this year — in Merry Olde England: home of all the royal babies, Love Actually, and a favorite saying of muggles like me, "Happy Christmas, Harry!" Thank the lord for the tech company that let your brother-in-law transfer there. But here's the catch: the last and only time you came for a visit to the countryside surrounding the River Cam, you were plagued with jet lag and felt like you missed out on so much fun while you were there, like wasting two whole days feeling groggy and sad while everything was shiny and happy around you. If you are only there for a week before you have to get back to work, jet lag can mess up 29 percent of your vaycay. This time you want to go in with a strategy. Your FOMO is being put to good use. From West Coast time to London time is only eight hours difference, but when you get to your final destination, it still feels weird inside. Our goals today: Learn about jet lag and what causes it Understand common coping strategies and helpful products Find out what you should do once you reach your destination Read advice from frequent travelers 1. What is jet lag? "If you’re taking a long trip that requires switching time zones, jet lag can often set in," explains Dr. Teofilo L. Lee-Chiong, MD, Chief Medical Liaison at Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care. "Jet lag results when we try to sleep off of the schedule of our body clock. Our bodies are used to sleeping at a certain biological time and then we transfer across time zones our bodies get confused." According to the Mayo Clinic, jet lag symptoms include: A general feeling of not being well Daytime fatigue Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking, or excessive sleepiness Mood changes Stomach problems Mayo also states that these symptoms will occur within a day or two of travel, if you have traversed at least two time zones. Symptoms are worse when you are traveling east, as opposed to west. When traveling east, you are "losing" time and when traveling west, you are "gaining." What is a circadian rhythm? According to the National Sleep Foundation, "Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's also known as your sleep/wake cycle." As with most of your body's other functions, it's not simple. “Hormone secretion, sleepiness, alertness, and hunger sensation, among other functions, depend on our internal clock,” explains Paulo M. Alves, MD, global medical director of aviation health for MedAire on The Healthy. Most methods for combating jet lag either aim at influencing your sleep/wake cycle, the hormone that's in charge, or mitigate the things that are thrown off by your cycle. Sunlight and melatonin and sunlight and melatonin Sunlight is important to regulating your circadian rhythm. The Mayo Clinic: "A key influence on your internal clock is sunlight. That's because light influences the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that helps synchronize cells throughout the body. Certain cells in the tissue at the back of your eye (retina) transmit the light signals to an area of your brain called the hypothalamus. At night, when the light signal is low, the hypothalamus tells the pineal gland, a small organ situated in the brain, to release melatonin. During daylight hours, the opposite occurs, and the pineal gland produces very little melatonin. You may be able to ease your adjustment to your new time zone by exposing yourself to daylight in the new time zone so long as the timing of light is done properly." How long does it take to adjust? "It usually takes about a day to recover for each time zone crossed," according to Mayo. Think about that. If you are traveling one time zone over, its an easy fix, but if you are traveling from Pacific Time to Greenwich Mean Time (in England), that is eight hours different. So, you would need eight full days for your body to naturally adjust. Here's the sad news: if you are traveling for just a week to visit family in England, there isn't enough time for you to just let your body re-synchronize. Dr. Alves suggests in The Healthy.com, “On a quick turnaround business trip, it is frequently better not to try to truly adjust to a new time zone, since a full adaption would be impossible from the physiological standpoint." For the most part, if you are on a short business trip less than a week, you can try to schedule meetings, etc, around your regular at-home schedule, and just sleep at the regular nighttime from your home time zone. What about a relatively short trip, where you want to be awake and present, having fun with the family, actually see your nieces and nephews open Christmas presents in the morning, participate in holiday activities, and go sight-seeing during the daylight hours? This is when we need to find some way to cope with the jet lag symptoms. It only makes sense. Alves says, “[I]f we want to maximize our stay on a touristic trip, it is better to try to adjust as quickly as possible, accomplished by exposing ourselves to sunlight and outdoor physical activity." Should you sleep on the plane? Dr. M. Rizwan Sohail, of the Rochester, Minnesota Mayo Clinic shares this advice in a Mayo article: "Switch to your destination schedule as soon as you leave home. Set your clocks to that new time when you get on the plane, and use it to guide your activities. If it’s nighttime in your destination when you’re in flight, sleep on the plane. If it’s daytime where you’re headed, stay awake during the flight. Once you arrive, stick to the local schedule." Some people find it hard to sleep on a plane. If that sounds like you, try bringing a few extra things in your carry-on: Earplugs Noise-canceling headphones A sleep mask A travel pillow, or the Flight Fillow, a product that helps turn a sweater or hoodie into a travel pillow. That way, you don't have to lug one around the airport. 2. Common ways to fight jet lag If you are able, slowly adjust your meal and sleep times the week before leaving. The UK's NHS suggests that, as much as your personal schedule allows, pre-trip, you can gradually adjust your schedule. Stay hydrated Dehydration can exacerbate the jet lag effect. It's not just that you are not drinking much during a flight, but airplane air is already dry. Typical commercial airlines can get down to less than 10 percent humidity, when we are more used to 40-50 percent. Staying hydrated can help you to fend off many of the effects of jet lag. Drink lots of water. It's no fun to use restrooms on a plane, but this is a price you can pay to have an easier adjustment. This can be easier said than done for those that aren't easily seated on the aisle. While window seats are better for germs, a study found that 43 percent of people in window seats didn't get up, 62 percent in middle seats did, and 80 percent in aisle seats did. Even more damning, a recent survey found that more than half of respondents would rather go to the dentist rather than tell a fellow passenger, "Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom." What if that gatekeeper is sleeping? Results from a survey about in-flight etiquette found that 80 percent of people thought it was okay to wake up a neighbor when you have to pee, but four in ten people said that it was only okay to do that once per flight. So our anxieties about getting up to pee during a flight are completely justified. So, what should you do to make sure you are properly hydrated on your flight to old Blighty? Stay away from diuretics, drinks involving caffeine or alcohol. They make you dehydrated. Drink water. The Aerospace Medical Association recommends drinking 8 oz every hour you are in flight. Be polite when you ask to get up and pee. You need to do it. Adult diapers are another option, but that brings in a different kind of anxiety about leaks and stinks. Be conscious of light As we learned earlier, light and our exposure to it, have a big effect on the circadian rhythm and melatonin production in your pineal gland. For this reason, its no wonder that exposure to natural light can help. The NHS suggests going outside after you reach your destination, so the natural light can help your body's circadian rhythm to adjust. More specifically, The Mayo Clinic says that if you are traveling east, try to get exposure to bright sunlight in the morning to help adapt. Likewise, on the way back, if you are traveling west, get that bright light exposure in the evening. Sunlight is not the only type of light that we need to be aware of. Collette Stohler, creative director and author of Passport To Fitness explains, "Exposure to blue light can suppress melatonin for up to three hours. Limiting screen time before bed and utilizing blue light blocking sunglasses will help adjust to a new time zone." There are several types of light therapy glasses that you can look into. Here are a few examples: Re-Timer light therapy glasses have been university developed and tested to help people adjust their internal clock. You can even start wearing them a few days in advance of your departure to help your body adjust. You can even use Re-Timer's Jet Lag calculator to better understand how and when to wear them on your trip, based on your normal sleep/wake cycle, your home location, and destination. Ayo Light Therapy Glasses are another option. This product started on IndieGoGo and was a winner of the Air France/KLM Innovation Challenge. KLM even sells them on flights. These blue light therapy glasses can help your mind and body adjust up to three times faster. Travelers enter their flight itinerary on the AYO app and get instructions on when to wear them, and for how long. These are just two of the products available on the market. If you are interested, check out products from Propeaq, Luminette, and Pegasi. When it comes to blue light exposure, Dr. Craig Tanio, cofounder of Rezilir Health and chairman of Maryland Healthcare Commission shares this suggestion in Reader's Digest: "Since the blue wavelength emitted from computer screens can trick our brains into thinking its daytime, download a program like F.lux to adjust the light from your computer to match the time zone of your destination." This can help you to adjust if you are using a computer on the plane or on the ground after arrival. The jet lag diet Trips to Discover suggests a jet lag diet, which starts the week before you leave and alternates between feasting and fasting days: Day 1: Breakfast high in protein and dinner high in carbs (eat these at your home schedule). Caffeine or alcohol only late in the afternoon. Day 2: Fasting and only light meals like fruits, veggies, salads, and soups Repeat for a week before you leave Protein makes you awake in the morning. Carbs make you sleepy at night. All the while, you are supposed to be working to move meals closer by increments to your destination meal times. The day before you leave should be a fasting day. Departure day, eat breakfast high in protein at the destination breakfast time. You can read more about the jet lag diet at tripstodiscover.com. The 16-hour fast Jordan Bishop, founder of How I Travel, suggests fasting to help beat jet lag. "At its core," explains Bishop, "the 16-Hour Fast means that when you're flying overseas, you don't eat for a period of at least 16 hours, with your first meal always being breakfast in the timezone of your destination. It comes in response to modern research showing that rather than adjusting our internal clocks to circadian cycles (patterns of light and dark), we're much more closely attuned to eating cycles. In other words, when we eat, we're signaling to our body that we should be awake; when we don't, we're signaling that we should be asleep. So what's the best way to tell the body that now is the time to wake up? Don't eat for a long period (16+ hours) and then....eat!" My Flight Pack An interesting product specially made to help fight both jet lag and travel fatigue is called My Flight Pack. It was created by Hannah Grant, a chef working with Tour de France athletes and performance cooking and Dr. Stacy Sims Ph.D., a performance nutrition scientist who worked for Standford and USA Cycling. Their research went into jet lag's impact on athletes who have to travel long distances to compete. They saw how dehydration affects the body when flying and subsequently collaborated on a couple of books. My Flight Pack contains three packets meant to be mixed with water: Prep, Rest, and Wake. The package even includes a soft flask to use. You take them in a different order, based on whether you arrive at your destination at nighttime or daytime. Arriving in London (destination) at daytime: Mix the PREP packet and drink it just before take-off, either at the airport or when you are already aboard. After your first meal is served or you are ready to nap, take RELAX. When you land, drink the third WAKE packet. Arriving in Lonon (destination) at nighttime: PREP Wake (mid-flight of after you take a nap) REST (before bed at your destination) Timeshifter App "As a travel writer and TV Host, I travel approximately 75 percent of the time," explains Collette Stohler, creative director and author of Passport To Fitness. "Sleep is as important to wellness as a healthy meal or workout, but it's often something we neglect. If you're traveling to a new time zone, try using the Timeshifter App. This App will help by providing hour by hour recommendations to help ease you into your new time zone. These recommendations will include exposure to light, caffeine (or limiting caffeine), and melatonin." It was even tested by NASA. Check out Elaine Glusac's recent New York Times article where she used the app on a trip from Chicago to Singapore. 3. When you get there Get active "As a frequent flyer/travel blogger/tour operator, my sleep hack is to not sleep when you land (unless you arrive late at night)," shares Laurel Robbins, Founder, Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. "If you find it difficult to stay awake, I recommend doing 5–10 minutes of heart-pumping exercise. I frequently do HIIT workouts that I find on YouTube. Not only does it help you stay awake but it always helps beat jet lag. If later on you are really tired, take a 20-minute nap and then go for a walk, or do some gentle stretching. It makes a huge difference." Stick to your bedtime beauty routine "I always find it easier to sleep while traveling when I feel clean and refreshed, since that mimics how I go to sleep at home," shares Alison Mooradian, Director of Marketing, at Busy Beauty. Its always nice to be able to bring your favorite beauty products in a carryon for easy travel. "Busy Beauty's Lavender Body Wipes, Cucumber Mint Face Wipes, and Ginger Grapefruit Deodorant Wipes are individually wrapped, TSA approved, and really effective at making me feel clean and ready to go to sleep — no matter where I am!" says Mooradian. Consider supplements for sleep and alertness: Melatonin supplements "Another great way to beat jet lag" says Jordan Bishop, "is using melatonin. Five mg of melatonin is a natural, healthy way to encourage the body to slow down and sleep, and it can be a lifesaver on those international flights." Melatonin can even help once you get back home from London. Dr. Lee-Chiong explains, "For many, falling asleep is a problem, but for some jet lag manifests by waking in the night ready to start their day If you still end up with some symptoms of jet lag after traveling, consider taking a dose of melatonin. This will help your body jump start the natural production of this hormone, and your sleep and wake cycles will quickly shift back to normal." This natural supplement can be bought at most American stores and is even available specifically dosed for kids. Many swear by it. However, others warn against taking it. Melatonin supplements aren't a cure-all, and they aren't always the best option for everyone. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health describes side effects, risks, and drug interactions. When it comes to safety, this is what the NCCIH says: "For melatonin supplements, particularly at doses higher than what the body normally produces, there’s not enough information yet about possible side effects to have a clear picture of overall safety. Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most people, but information on the long-term safety of supplementing with melatonin is lacking." It's best to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, even over-the-counter supplements like these. Over-the-counter options If you get to London and you have trouble going to bed when your host does, the Mayo Clinic suggests that "over-the-counter sleep aids such as Tylenol PM or Advil PM may help. Taking a relatively low dose of melatonin (0.5 milligrams) — one of the strengths available over the counter — also has been shown to be effective. Prescription sleep medications (Ambien, Lunesta, others) can be helpful as well, but because they can lead to drowsiness the next day, these should be taken only as a last resort." Jet lag recovery supplements If you need help getting over your jet lag, GlowJetter Jet-lag recovery supplements could be a good option. These supplements are packed with potent ingredients like adaptogens, ancient herbal remedies, essential vitamins and minerals that support the body through the rigors of international travel. Frequent travelers and wellness experts share their hacks for fighting Jet Lag John Breese is the founder of Happysleepyhead, a resource that helps people improve their sleep quality by offering the latest sleep-related scientific data, as well as honest reviews of mattresses, pillows, and other bedding accessories. He regularly travels for both business and pleasure. "Plan beforehand. If you have four to six days before your trip, gradually shift the bedtime towards the time timezone you’re heading to. If you’re going west, go to sleep an hour or two later. Fo eastern countries, do the opposite. In this case, your body will adapt and prepare for the new time, thus reducing jet lag symptoms upon arrival. Tie your activities to the local time. If you arrive in the morning or noon, don’t head straight to the hotel to catch some zzz’s. Instead, explore your neighborhood, try some local food, or start sightseeing. Thus, you can kill some time and load yourself with positive impressions, which may help you fall asleep more easily as the bedtime approaches. Eat after arrival. If you arrive in the evening hours, having a light dinner may help you fall asleep. Food is one of the major regulators of our circadian clock, along with the sunlight. So, by reducing your food intake on board and giving yourself a good meal upon arrival, you can sync your inner clock with the new time zone. Be sure to choose melatonin-rich foods — such as dairy, almonds, bananas, or cherries — for more pronounced sleep-inducing effects." ----------------------- Robert S. Herbst is an attorney, wellness expert, and champion powerlifter. He is a motivational speaker, humanitarian, and he even supervised drug testing at the Rio Olympics. "As someone who travels internationally frequently, my best tip to fight jet lag is to sleep whenever you can, on the plane, in the cab, etc. It never hurts to be rested and most people are sleep deprived in the first place. Once you reach your destination, set your watch and go to sleep at the local bedtime. Also, stay hydrated and stay away from alcohol and caffeine on the flight. Also, do not take melatonin supplements as it just messes with your normal hormonal balances." ----------------------- Chef Tariq Nasir is an American-Palestinian food and travel blogger, living in Jordan. Nasir has traveled all over the world and aims to bring people together through food. He even hosts a Facebook group to discuss Middle Eastern recipes. "Interestingly, I have found that the more you travel the more your body learns to adapt to jet lag, but I do think that it all comes down to resting your body. A rested body can endure so much more than a body running on no sleep. My method of going a long way is to choose a flight that goes at night so that I can sleep on the plane. Even if this is intermittent sleep, some is better than none. I may take a nap the afternoon before I go. I try to adapt my time to where I am, so if it's night on the plane I try to sleep; if it's day, I will stay up but maybe take short naps. Upon reaching my destination I go by local time, and take out of my mind any thoughts about the time in my departure city. I sleep when I'm tired and what I mean by that is that if I'm tired during the day I will take a nap but for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Exposing your eyes to morning sunlight works to get my body acclimated so I try to take a walk or sit in a bright area. Exercise can help as well. If awake at night, I stay in bed with my eyes closed for as long as possible dozing in and out of sleep." ----------------------- Marjorie Nass is a lifestyle and wellness coach specializing in establishing daily rhythms, including good sleep. For nearly 20 years, she has helped thousands of students get better sleep, relieve pain, and feel more energized. She has reached the highest level of certification, E-RYT 500, from the Yoga Alliance and offers personalized wellness programs and international retreats. "Start by defining the time difference and time zone to which you’ll be traveling. Several days before leaving, start going to sleep and waking up closer to that new time zone. When you get on the plane switch the time zone to your new destination. Adjust your sleep and meal times accordingly. Hydrate with room temperature water, which is easier on the digestive system that cold or iced. Aim to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day, plus an extra cups for every two hours of flying. Juice or coffee do not count towards this amount. Sip hot water every 10 minutes to hydrate more deeply. You may make extra trips to the bathroom, but that gives you the advantage of moving your body, helpful in managing jet lag. When arriving at your destination, get outside into daylight as soon as possible, preferably for a walk. The light, even if it’s cloudy, will help reset your circadian rhythms and adjust to the new time. Avoid napping and try to stay awake until the evening of the new time zone." ----------------------- Roger Southam is an independent business consultant and performance coach, who travels regularly for business and speaking engagements. "I can find myself traveling between Europe, Asia, and the USA and needing to be fresh almost instantly. My secrets to avoiding jet lag in whatever direction you travel is to set your clocks and watches to whatever time zone you are traveling to, the moment you step on the plane, including laptops. If it is daytime stay awake and if it is night time doze (it is impossible to get sound sleep on the plane). As the flight progresses, doze if the feeling hits but generally try to stay awake during the daytime of where you are going. Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water. I will consume as much as three liters while flying. Eat lightly and do not be tempted to snack or overeat while flying. When you land, adopt the time zone you have arrived at and stay up until normal bedtime and try to get your body into a normal routine straight away, treating the new time zone as the natural clock for your body. If you suffer jet lag, don’t fight it just let your body tell you what it needs. As long as you are not eating a bowl of soup when sleep hits you can generally be fine. Certainly, take an easy day the day you land so your body can adjust and relax into the new zone." ----------------------- Taylor Strickland, is a Legacy 600 Lead Cabin Flight Attendant at Alerion Aviation, an aircraft-management and charter company, based in Long Beach, California. She has worked for both commercial and private aviation companies and has been a flight attendant for seven years. "I always try to start adjusting my body to whatever time zone I’ll be traveling to a couple of days before the trip. I don’t fully transition, because normally I still have things to do prior to leaving for a trip. The small adjustment does help though! Being the only flight attendant on the aircraft, staying awake during the flight is important. Passengers can wake up during a flight and want something or, in the rare circumstances, there is an emergency, so it’s important to get proper rest prior to the flight to ensure you are awake and alert throughout the flight. Once I’ve reached my destination I may take a small hour or so nap, but then I find it best to immediately throw myself into that time zone. The best way to handle jet lag, for me, is to prepare as much as you can. Get rest prior, and try to keep a healthy lifestyle before, after, and during. Travel is stressful on the body to begin with, and more stress is added when you start changing time zones. The components of a healthy lifestyle—a balanced diet, consistent exercise, and a strong immune system—will help you overcome jet lag." ----------------------- Phew, you're home. Now its time to fight the effects of family jet lag. . .
Getting sleep over the holidays is a struggle for kids and adults alike. In fact, Mattress Advisor's recent study on holiday sleep loss reports that 14 percent of sleep loss is due to travel, and of those reporting that travel is an issue for their sleep, 46 percent said that sleeping in a different place is the reason why. "Sleep is essential to overall well-being and functioning," says licensed professional counselor (LPC) Erica Wiles, a contributor at USInsuranceAgents.com. "Without quality sleep, even enjoyable activities and experiences can lose their luster. It is awful to go on vacation or home for the holidays and spend the days feeling tired and groggy due to tossing and turning all night." I bet you can relate, am I right? Well, the time has come. The winter holidays are here. Family and friends want to see your face. Many of us have holiday travel coming up quickly. If you have had trouble getting quality sleep while on vacation, sleeping at a family member's house, or just not in your regular bed, here are some suggestions to help minimize your holiday sleep issues and keep your holidays full of luster-filled activities and experiences: 1. Stick to a routine "Many of us think: Since vacation is for relaxing, why should I follow my normal routine? However, this change can have the exact opposite effect on the body. It can actually place more stress on our body. For example, if we eat too late, our body will take extra time to digest our food and this will delay the start of our sleep cycle. If you eat meals at the same time as you normally would, you are sending signals to your brain telling it when it should release relaxing hormones and prep for your sleep cycle." — Joselyne John, RN, Sleep Expert of Online Mattress Review 2. Use a fan for white noise "We often travel and face the challenge of recreating our necessary sleep environment. I've been sleeping with the white noise of a fan ever since I can remember, and it's something I need to be hearing from an upright fan, ceiling fan, or AC unit wherever I am. If we are not sure if the room we're staying in during a trip will have a fan, and if we're traveling by car, we've considered bringing a Honeywell 10-inch fan that fits in the trunk or in a shopping bag. There are also travel-sized fans like the Honeywell 6-inch travel-sized fan that would fit in a suitcase." — Becca Siegel, @halfhalftravel Instagram and travel website "I travel a lot and, depending on where I am in the world, I often find myself kept awake by noisy neighbors, barking dogs, and other unwanted noises. Obviously, I always have earplugs with me, but one other thing that I've found helps is having a fan on to create some white noise. One of those things on its own usually isn't enough to allow me to sleep, but the combination of the two normally does the trick. Tip: You can search for hotel rooms with a fan in them using Trivago." — James Cave from Portugalist.com Travel Blog 3. Bring your own pillow "One of the main reasons for what’s known as the First Night Effect, the inability to get a good night’s sleep in a new place, is due to an evolutionary response. We subconsciously stay alert when we’re in a foreign place as a natural survival tactic. This means that making your new environment as closely resembling your bedroom as possible is one way to minimize this discomfort. Bring your pillow with you to give yourself the illusion that you’re not as far from home as your brain thinks you are." — Caleb Backe, Certified Personal Trainer and Sleep Expert for Maple Holistics "I need to travel a lot between Memphis and Dallas. So I developed a way to never lose any sleep, because if I do then I won’t be productive for the rest of the day. Bring your pillow. Pillows are often the reason why you are not getting a good night of sleep. Hotels have to keep a budget, so there is a reason why you don’t see great quality pillows in some hotels. If you need to buy 300 of them the costs adds up, so try to always have with you a good pillow to ensure that you have the best time in the night." — Arthur Ruth, the Vice President of Operations of Memphis Maids, a house cleaning service in Memphis, Tennessee 4. Get scentual "I lead small group tours in Europe (I live in Greece most of the year), so I travel a lot; There are new hotel rooms while I am working, visiting family and friend back home, stateside, etc. I have a lavender sachet that I sleep with when I am home. The smell reminds me that it is bedtime. I simply take this with me everywhere I travel. It is small and easy to pack, and I even tuck it into my carryon for long flights. It is a familiar sight and smell that tricks my brain into thinking I am in my bed and this helps me to drift off the sleep easily." — Patricia Hajifotiou, author of Travel Like You Mean It and owner of The Olive Odysseys "One of the best hacks to get better sleep on the road is to bring your favorite scents with you. Think of your go-to soap or shampoo or your pillowcase. That's because these familiar scents can help calm you, and, in turn, help you get to sleep more easily when you're in a new environment." — Christina Heiser, Saatva mattress and sleep health blog 5. Use earplugs "I'm a music festival reporter and travel writer for Music Festival Wizard currently working my way across Romania. I spend lots of time sleeping in hostels and noisy festival campgrounds. My number one travel hack is earplugs. I use Vibes because I can also use them at work, but really even the cheap ones work fine for blocking out noise when trying to sleep. If the earplugs aren't working and I'm still having trouble, I will use a white noise app along with a pair of Bose SoundSport earbuds." — Vito Valentinetti, Cofounder/Editor-in-Chief, Music Festival Wizard 6. Try essential oils "Clinical trials have shown that essential lavender oil helps people get to sleep faster and get higher quality sleep. Put a drop of essential lavender oil on a cotton ball and tuck it inside the pillowcase for sweet dreams. Begin the practice at home to associate the smell with sleep. You could prepare the cotton balls in advance and travel with the number you need in a baggie to avoid spills and save room in your suitcase." — Jeanine Joy, Ph.D., BestMattress.Reviews 7. No bedroom shuffling "Try to stay in one bedroom for more than one night to give your brain time to adapt to your new environment. If you’re in the same city for a prolonged period of time, try to make your base in one location rather than moving around repeatedly. The longer you stay in one place, the more likely your brain will feel at ease." — Caleb Backe, Certified Personal Trainer and Sleep Expert for Maple Holistics 8. Use an Echo Dot "My husband and I tend to have problems sleeping in new places when we travel. My husband had some major sleep/burn out problems a few years ago. When the echo dot came out, I bought one and we have been taking it along with us. When we are about to go to sleep we ask Alexa to play some sleep ambient sounds. You can pick between beach, rain, and other sounds so it's quite convenient. It will play for about an hour and then shut off and by that time we fall sound asleep, without fail. We used it on our trip to Vienna Austria." — Helene D'Souza, travel and flood blogger at Masala Herb 9. Get a sleep mask "A comfy sleeping mask, but not just any! The sleeping mask should feel comfortable on your skin and should have no pressure on your head." — Matt Kiefer, founder of Les Boutique Hotels 10. Listen to sound therapy apps "I travel a lot, so I'm always trying to get some sleep on planes, trains, outdoors, etc. And the one thing that I've found that helps me sleep while traveling is also what I use to be able to sleep well in hotels, family member's homes, etc. I use a sound therapy app, specifically the Rainy Mood app, so that my sleep environment is the same every night - no matter where I'm sleeping. I listen to the app at home every night. When I'm on a plane or train, I listen to the app on my phone with some earbuds, and it sends my body the cues it needs to successfully fall asleep. The same with hotels, friends' homes, etc. I've even converted my parents and my siblings families to the same app and now they have an easier time sleeping when away from home!" — Shawna Newman, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Active Weekender "My wife and I travel a LOT and one of her best strategies is a white noise app on her smartphone. Play it when you go to bed to drown out unfamiliar and unaccustomed noises. Vary the sound volume depending on the noise level. In NYC, a little louder." — Charles McCool, Travel Happiness Advocate, McCool Travel page on Facebook 11. A sleep bracelet can help "As the holidays come around the corner, Americans all over the country are beginning to organize their holiday plans and book travel. Whether you’re traveling only a few hours or cross country, getting to sleep in a plane can be extremely difficult. Get to sleep and stay asleep in planes, trains, and cars with Philip Stein’s Sleep Bracelet. Harnessing a proprietary natural frequency technology, Philip Stein’s Sleep bracelet emits subtle frequencies that the body picks up on, thus increasing the production of delta waves (sleep frequencies), helping you fall asleep faster and deeper. With an ultra-soft pajama strap and breathable holes, Philip Stein’s Sleep Bracelet was thoughtfully designed to ensure comfortable, restful sleep time and time again." — Will Stein, President of Philip Stein Common reported outcomes include falling asleep faster, feeling more refreshed in the morning, and sleeping for a longer duration. 12. Consider CBD supplements "CBD is a natural cannabinoid found in the hemp plant, taken as a supplement it will relieve anxiety, reduce stress and invoke a general feeling of calm, an ideal state to get a good night's sleep. Before bed, you can spray it under your tongue or nibble a spiked caramel. More people are opting for CBD rather than sleeping pills because it does help you sleep without waking up to scary side effects: waking anxiety or grogginess. Anti-anxiety and sleep meds have side effects, CBD does not. CBD is completely non-intoxicating and so will not affect your ability to be 'on' the following day." — Boronia Fallshaw, Founder, Mello 13. Try meditation "Mindful meditation and relaxation may also be helpful. Practicing this to relax will take practice and should be done repeatedly before leaving on a trip. Sticking to a nighttime routine even when traveling is important, especially when traveling with kids. Stick to the routine as much as possible and create a quiet and calm atmosphere to the greatest extent you can during travel. This may be hard if everyone is sharing the same room, but it is worth a try." — Erica Wiles writes for USInsuranceAgents.com and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) 14. Try headphones made for sleep "SleepPhones® feature a luxuriously soft headband that contains thin removable speakers to play music, audiobooks, meditation, white noise, or talk radio. They are fully padded with nothing sticking into the ears and are so much more comfortable than other headphones out there. Our product was developed by a family doctor who needed a way to listen to soothing music after taking patient calls in the middle of the night. SleepPhones® have helped thousands of people all over the world sleep and live better — and they are FDA listed as a medical device. We know how important it is to find time to unwind in the midst of our hectic lives. SleepPhones® are ideal for not just sleeping, especially in loud or unfamiliar environments, but also meditating, chilling out to white noise or nature sounds, or catching up on a good book or podcast." — Doug Blair, SleepPhones 15. Add some Melatonin "How many times has your doctor told you that if you have trouble with sleep that melatonin can be a great natural alternative to help you fall asleep - especially if you need to sleep on a long plane ride? Enter Solves Strips® Melatonin Strips. Made with 3mg of melatonin and a great peppermint ﬂavor to keep your breath fresh! These strips are speciﬁcally formulated to help you get to sleep quickly, obtaining a faster and deeper sleep, increased REM sleep, and a reset of your body clock. Solves Strips are oral thin film strips that replace the need for pills, which is the traditional delivery methods for Melatonin. Simply place the strip on your tongue and letting it dissolve! Solves Strips are convenient, easy to transport, and ready to take without water — which is handy on a plane and means they are great for taking in a carry on. They are also designed for convenience — another reason that makes them great for travellers." — Michael Kuhbock, VP Sales and Marketing, Solves Strips 16. Give your mobile devices a bedtime "As someone who travels for work at least 30 times in one year, getting that much-needed amount and quality of sleep is probably impossible for me if not for one thing I do every night: shutting off any gadgets I have after 10 p.m. — no matter where I am or I should be in, be it during a holiday trip or a day-off at home. The reason for this is quite simple. Blue light from laptops, phones, and similar devices practically sends a signal to our brains to remain active. Getting off on those when you're about to sleep instead sends a signal to your brain to do the opposite, which is to rest and recharge in preparation for whatever you need to do for the next day without getting tired mentally and even physically that easily." — Mia Clarke, Editor, InvertPro 17. Stay active during travel "Work out — usually, this is not an issue since you are on the road and that means, your body was active over the day and used up energy. Just in case, working out is a great way to put your body to rest." — Matt Kiefer, founder of Les Boutique Hotels 18. Use a sleep mask and built-in headphones "We live in a world of non-stop, over-stimulation. People are constantly on high-alert, bombarded with text messages, emails, work updates, social media posts — you name it. When you’re constantly on edge, it can be a challenge to slow yourself down, to relax and, more importantly, to sleep. Our Sleep Mask Headphones help you disconnect, recenter, relax and recharge. Whether you need to catch some Z's between calls, take a short break from a difficult day, grab a quick nap between errands, or just guarantee a terrific night’s sleep — our Sleep Mask Headphones are a great solution. The mask allows you to control two of the most important factors in creating quality rest: light and sound. Our high quality sleek speakers, 3D eye contours, and ergonomic nose cover allow you to relax into sleep no matter where you are. They are also great for napping, airplane travel, meditation, listening to ASMR, audiobooks, music, podcasts - whatever your heart desires!" — Brody Elkins, Let's Just Sleep, a sleep consultation company "Made from a gloriously soft blend of velvet and elastic cotton, Joseche’s sleep mask is heavily padded, so it doesn’t feel like it’s digging into your eyes or nose as you wear it. It straps around your head using an adjustable, comfortable velcro strap, and at 26.5” in length, has plenty of surface area to block out all light. The built-in Bluetooth and wireless speakers are an ingenious addition if you like to listen to music to help you sleep. Simply connect your phone and play away. Volume and connection controls are found on the front of the mask. All-in-all, it’s an innovative eye mask, very comfortable, and will allow you to sleep any time, in any place." — Dale Johnson, Co-founder, Nomad Paradise 19. Eat foods that promote sleep “Diet can impact the quality and quantity of sleep you get and this is especially true when you are traveling and already prone to poor sleep. Packing snacks that help to promote sleep is a wise step in ensuring you get the rest you need on your trip. Almonds and walnuts are simple and safe snacks to travel with that will also help you to fall asleep. They contain melatonin which is the chemical that will enable you to sleep soundly. Bananas also contain melatonin and are a fruit that travels well because they are shelf stable and do not require refrigeration. Avoid eating simple carbohydrate foods while traveling. This type of carb will reduce serotonin which is an essential chemical for sleep.” — Lisa Richards, Nutritionist, The Candida Diet 20. Don't stress about your snores "Traveling over the holidays is great for some...but for others, it can be quite anxiety-inducing, especially if you're a chronic snorer and have to deal with the embarrassment of annoying everyone around you. Or worse, if you suffer from sleep apnea and use a clunky CPAP machine, traveling anywhere is a total nightmare. But it doesn't have to be! Enter the Good Morning Snore Solution! The Good Morning Snore Solution is a small anti-snore mouthpiece that is doctor-developed and clinically proven. The mouthpiece uses an ingenious method called tongue stabilization to gently open the entire airway with few (if any) side effects. Unlike other anti-snoring methods, tongue stabilization does not contribute to jaw pain, user discomfort or long-term bite misalignment. The Good Morning Snore Solution is incredibly small and compact, and can be purchased with a handy travel case. The Good Morning Snore Solution is a highly reviewed, safe, effective and minimally-invasive way to prevent snoring. Made in the USA, it is also a registered medical device — cleared by FDA, Health Canada, EU CE, ARTG and is manufactured according to ISO certified medical device manufacturing practices to meet the highest standards of quality and compliance." — Tomi Ajele, MPowrx Health and Wellness
Only 53 percent of people stay home for the holidays, with the rest opting to spend time with family, friends, or on vacation. The same Mattress Advisor survey found that where you sleep affects the quantity of sleep you get. However, this survey sampled more than 1,000 adults. What happens when you throw kids into the mix? It isn't pretty. "My baby won’t sleep away from home is by far the biggest fear I hear from other parents in regards to traveling with kids," shares travel blogger Stephanie Graves. With the holidays around the corner, this worry resurfaces for many families, especially parents planning trips to visit relatives. This is certainly a valid concern for families across the country. Certified pediatrician, Dr. Tanya Altmann "identifies sleep as one of the most important factors to a child’s (and a family’s) well-being, often determining sleep issues (which can be especially troublesome during holiday travel) to be the root of many concerns for children." How much sleep do kids need? Getting enough sleep is important for kids. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children need to spend quite a few more hours in dreamland than adults do. Here is the breakdown by age group: Newborns (0–3 months) — 14–17 hours Infants (4–11 months) — 12–15 hours Toddlers (1–2 years) — 11–14 hours Preschoolers (3–5) — 10–13 hours School-age children (6–13) — 9–11 hours Teenagers (14–17) — 8–10 hours Younger adults (18–25) — 7–9 hours Adults (26–64) — 7–9 hours Older adults (65+) — 7–8 hours At home, having different bedtimes for people of all ages is fairly easy to manage, but it's harder to do when staying away from home. Let's delve into this advice from travel and sleep experts that can help make a family holiday go as smoothly as possible, sleep-wise. Pre-trip planning, practice, and packing There's lots you can do before your holiday travel to make the experience go more smoothly. Plan sleeping arrangements in advance "Although it is possible that your baby won’t sleep as well as at home," says Graves, there are a few tips to help boost your chances this holiday season. When planning your travel arrangements, Graves suggests asking for an upgrade if you are staying at a hotel, "If a two-bedroom suite is available, jump on it! That way, the baby can sleep peacefully once the rest of the family returns. Or, if they are struggling in the night then not everyone has to have to suffer." If you have a little one, she says to "Request a pack-n-play or crib in advance. You want to make sure they don’t run out, and then also have them assemble it for you." Having this accommodation for your baby or toddler ready can be one less thing to worry about. Evaluate your routines and practice Another useful strategy is to evaluate your sleep routines in advance of an upcoming trip. Patricia DeAngelis is a certified Sleep Sense™ consultant and founder of SleepGrace. She works with parents of babies, toddlers, and school-aged children to help them develop healthy sleep habits. "In order to sleep well during the holidays when you are on-the-go," DeAngelis advises, "children and adults alike need independent sleep skills. They need the ability to fall asleep without any sleep prop such as the television or computer (for adults) or bottle-feeding, pacifier, rocking, etc. for children. When either children or adults do not have independent sleep skills, they struggle to sleep well anywhere other than where they are accustomed to." How can you work on this before we have to head to the in-laws' house? "The best way to ensure quality sleep before a trip," says DeAngelis, "is to make sure your children are able to fall asleep independently and sleep 10–12 hours per night. If you have not sleep-trained your children, then choose one method and stick to it for a couple of weeks in advance of your trip. If you have tried to sleep train before and it has not worked, ask a pediatrician or sleep consultant to help diagnose your child's sleep situation." Getting this professional advice in your planning phase, and following it, can help to improve the holiday experience for the whole family. Pack your comfies "The more relaxed you are as a family, the easier it will be to sleep well while away," DeAngelis says. To help promote the feeling of relaxation, "Bring your favorite pajamas, blanket, and even a travel essential oil diffuser to create a comfortable environment that will help you and your children relax before bed." Sleeping on planes, trains, and automobiles How far do you have to travel this year? If Grandma Betty lives down the street and you can enjoy eating seven of her famous gingerbread cookies and then sleeping off the sugar crash at home, consider yourself blessed. However, if you are planning to go over the river and through the woods and across state lines with the kids in tow, you might need to think about how your kids are going to fare, sleep- or nap-wise, both on the way to your destination and back home. Here are a couple of solutions that can help: Flyaway kids' bed Flyaway Kids Bed photo courtesy of Flyaway Designs. This inflatable mattress from FlyawayDesigns works with economy class airline seats. It lets kids stretch their legs and sleep mid-flight. The product is accepted by more than 50 different airlines around the world and is easy to bring in your carry on. Car seat ponchos The American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents that buckling up in a car seat while wearing bulky coats and cold weather gear can be unsafe. So, what's the alternative? Birdy Boutique offers hooded blanket ponchos that allow for the carseat to be buckled underneath the poncho, while your little one stays warm and cozy. "Our hooded blanket ponchos are just that, plus kids can take them off and put them on with one hand! On the airplane or in the car, kids can snuggle up with them to feel safe and warm," says Joanna Jozwik Serra from Birdy Boutique. Handling the first night You've reached your holiday destination, hopefully not too jet-lagged, and you are ready for beddy, but your family is still having trouble getting those sugar plums to dance in their heads. Dr. Lina Velikova, MD, PhD, a medical advisor at disturbmenot.co understands your stress. In fact, she says, you are fighting ingrained survival instincts. She explains, "First, it is perfectly normal to have a restless sleep the first night in the new environment. There’s even a name for this: the first night effect. This effect is a survival mechanism. One of the two brain’s hemispheres remains active as it is in the waking state and watches for any dangers lurking around. It’s not conscious, and there’s not much to do to prevent this. Some people have it more prominently than others, especially those who have other sleep-disturbance conditions like sleep apnea, where deep sleep is already disrupted." To help overpower this survival instinct, Dr. Velikova has some suggestions to fight first-night sleeplessness: Recreate your home environment — Try to have the light coming from the same direction as you have it at home. Make it peaceful — Make sure to block the noise coming from the outside of the room." Have as few changes as possible — Stick to your regular sleeping routine. Go to bed your usual time, perform the same bed-time ritual you usually do. Having as few changes as possible will help your brain get the signal that it’s time to sleep. Bring your pillow — If possible, bring your pillow on the trip. Having your head positioned in the usual way may help you sleep better and adjust to the new environment more relaxed. Turn off blue light (from your screens) — Blue light emitted by displays such as tablets or phones can promote the creation of cortisol, a hormone that promotes wake state. It can get in the way of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and make falling asleep more difficult. Stick to familiar routines as much as possible Humans, young and old, like routines. We like to know what to expect and how to deal with things. Routines are a huge part of parenting, and that shouldn't stop just because you are away from home. Mealtime routines Joselyne John, RN, is a certified sleep coach and a sleep expert for Online Mattress Review. She emphasizes the importance of keeping mealtimes routine, "It’s important to keep your kids on a set mealtime as well. While having happy, excited children is amazing, it’s not so great at midnight. Remember, the later they eat, the later you eat, and then the later you sleep." Pre-bedtime routines As Dr. Velikova mentioned, blue lights can affect our sleepiness. Certified pediatrician, Dr. Tanya Altmann agrees. She advises, "Avoid stimulating activities such as television, tablets, video games, and strenuous exercise an hour before bedtime as they can make it harder for a child to fall asleep. Bedtime routines "Try to keep the same bedtime routine as much as possible, such as bath, pajamas, book and bed," advises Dr. Altmann. "Limit the routine to 45 minutes and be consistent so your child knows what to expect and won’t keep asking for more." Graves suggests "evacuating" older kids during bedtime rituals for younger ones. She adds, "My husband and the older kids always use this opportunity to visit the resort hot tub while I lay the baby down." If they wouldn't normally be in the same room during your bedtime routine at home, it's probably best to keep it that way. Wakeup routines "The best way to maintain healthy sleep during the holidays is to go to sleep and wake-up at the same time each day," DeAngelis advises. "By keeping your internal clock on a consistent schedule, your body knows when to expect sleep and will not be overtired. Naptime routines "If you have a child under five years old," advises DeAngelis, "give them the opportunity to take a nap between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Naps help prevent children from getting overtired and may prevent fussiness or tantrums because they will wake up refreshed and ready to participate in more holiday activities through the evening." Daily exercise "Make sure your child is active during the day, so they are tired at bedtime," says Altmann. "Not only is daily physical activity important for the brain and body, being active during the day will help kids fall asleep faster at night." Adjusting your environment One of the biggest issues for kids and parents alike is sleeping in a new environment. DeAngelis recommends bringing a few products to help make the adjustment to a new sleeping environment easier for the whole family. "A static sound machine and dark environment are two necessary ingredients for a restful sleep in general, but especially on vacation. The sound machine helps drown out minor noises that naturally occur when multiple people sleep in the same room and the darkness induces increased melatonin in the body, which aids the quality of sleep." Her go-to noise machine is "the Dohm Sound Machine for adults and children alike." As for creating a dark environment for melatonin release and easier sleep, she recommends "choosing a place to stay that has blackout curtains (like hotels) or swapping out regular curtains for blackout curtains." And for the wee ones under three years old that need more hours of sleep, she recommends the Snooze Shade. Compatible with all major portable crib brands, this shade is made of breathable mesh and helps your baby or toddler sleep while you can still follow your normal bedtime routine with older kids because the lights don't have to be off in your hotel room. If you've tried everything else "If you’ve tried all of this and are still having challenges getting your child to fall asleep at night," Dr. Altmann advises parents, "talk to your pediatrician about a melatonin supplement like new Natrol Kids Melatonin, so you can be prepared for when bedtime is anything but routine." "Use of melatonin supplements can help balance the naturally occurring melatonin levels in your body, establish normal sleep patterns, and help you maintain better overall health." Natrol's product is approved for kids ages four and up. We hope these suggestions will help you and your family get enough sleep and enjoy your time together this holiday season. Seasons Greetings from BestCompany!
"Our lives are seemingly becoming busier and busier on a daily basis, and getting the rest your mind and body need on a nightly basis can prove to be difficult," says Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach and cofounder of the sleep website Tuck. "While the National Sleep Foundation states that each adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, what is often overlooked is the quality of said sleep." However, quality sleep is about more than just closing your eyes. "Many times," says Fish, "the biggest culprit for lack of quality sleep is your sleep environment, i.e., your bedroom. To give yourself the best chance to get a consistent quality night of sleep, it is recommended that you turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary of sorts. While this may sound daunting, some simple changes can make the world of difference." You'll get better results when your environment is tailored to the task at hand. Here are nine expert design ideas to help improve your sleep environment and boost the quality of your sleep. 1. Add some greenery Léon & George Chair Group with Plants via Léon & George Studies have shown that just being around plants benefits your health and well-being in several ways. Texas A&M includes the following benefits of greenery in that list: Accelerated healing Improved memory and concentration Improved interpersonal relationships Increased feelings of compassion Reduced stress and improved moods You don't have to go outdoors or hiking to benefit. Psychology Today says that the benefits to your health, comfort, and happiness are even improved by potted plants. Indoor plants offer purified air, reduced anxiety, and a host of benefits. Houseplants can be purchased at supermarkets, nurseries, and home improvement stores; however, they are also available to order online, from the comfort of your own home. For example, Léon & George offers living houseplants pre-potted in custom ceramic pots that design-lovers will appreciate, all delivered straight to your door. Purchases come with lifetime plant doc support and the company plants a tree for each plant sold. 2. Make it dark "Both natural and artificial light can prevent or stop the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin," adds MacDowell. "One of the best ways to make sure that you're getting not only the right amount of sleep but the best quality of sleep is to block out as much light as possible," advises Sharron Saunders from CB Carpets & Blinds. In fact, a National Sleep Foundation survey found that 73 percent of respondents considered a dark room to be an important factor necessary for a good night's sleep. There are several ways to block external light with window coverings. "Creating a dark environment is one of the best ways to cue the body that it's time to relax and to sleep, says Katie Golde, Editor and Head of Sleep Research for Mattress Clarity. "Investing in blackout curtains will without a doubt maximize your sleep in your bedroom. These are similar to standard curtains but they're thicker and more opaque so they can block out as much light as possible." Fish adds, "Blackout curtains will block out any light pollution from cars going by, or if you are fortunate enough to be able to sleep past the rise of the sun, block the light of the sun from entering your room." "To ensure that you're getting the best quality of sleep and blocking as much light as possible," Saunders suggests combining blinds and curtains. "Having both of these will mean that you're able to obstruct the light's path to you and keep it on the outside of your bedroom. Having perfect fit blinds or even a made-to-measure roller blind will help to keep the room as dark as possible. These are ideal because there are so many options available, especially after the 'black-out blind' design has had such a success. These are usually made of thicker material in order to keep the room as dark as it can get. With this, light can sometimes slip through the cracks slightly and so a curtain on top of the blind is an ideal way to keep things dark." Light is also an important indicator for your body's sleep-wake cycle. With that in mind, Durkin shares this suggestion: "Dimming the lights about an hour before bed will tell your brain it’s time to shift into sleep mode." She recommends 60 to 70-watt bulbs for your lamps to help trigger your body's cycle. Along the same lines, Nash suggests trying to remove the feeling of artificial light to help relax. She suggests using warm or natural-toned bulbs and downward-facing lamp shades. "By creating a warm and inviting bedroom environment," she says, you will inevitably sleep better." Fresh take: You should take care to avoid melatonin-suppressing blue light, too. Durkin suggests, "Avoid distractions by removing all electronics from your room, including your digital alarm clock. If that's not possible, get one that emits amber light instead of blue light." The National Sleep Foundation even suggests a 30-minute reprieve from electronics before bedtime. "It should also be noted that over 50 percent of adult Americans get up at least once per night to use the restroom," says Fish. "If your phone is by your nightstand, you are going to be subconsciously tempted to pick up your phone to check email, scroll through Twitter, and whatnot. This temptation could easily be avoided by charging your phone in another room." 3. Regulate the temperature Temperature is an important factor when it comes to quality sleep. Dr. Christopher Winter, MD, writes in HuffPost that "most studies agree that a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleeping, with temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees disruptive to sleep. Body temperature has also been linked to the amount of deep sleep an individual gets during the night, with cooler body temperatures leading to more deep sleep." Skin temperature, sweating, and rapid temperature changes can reduce sleep quality. "[M]any men and women suffer from sleep disturbances often caused by temperature regulation issues," explains environmental sleep specialist Anita Mahaffey, CEO, and Founder of San Diego-based Cool-jams, Inc. "Some of the most common reasons for temperature regulation problems include alcohol consumption, menopause, male and female hormonal fluctuations, diabetes, thyroid issues, obesity, certain meds, and a condition called hyperhidrosis," says Mahaffey. "All of these issues can lead to sleep temperature incompatibility in people of all ages." So, what can we do? Adjust the thermostat. Carefully consider your sleeping attire and bedding. Mahaffey's company, Cool-jams, aims "to help the sleeper achieve the optimum sleep temperature range." She adds, "Our sleepwear and bedding is a great way for folks who get overheated and sweaty to stay cooler and drier." The brand uses specially selected materials to help people sleep cool, offering bedding, pillows, and mattress pads, in addition to pajamas for men and women. Even your mattress can be chosen to help with your individual sleep needs. "If you’re a hot sleeper, choose a mattress designed to keep you cool and bedding made of wicking fabrics," says Rose MacDowell, Chief Research Officer for Sleepopolis. On the other hand, she suggests, "Cold sleepers can choose warmer materials like memory foam, microfiber and flannel sheets, and faux fur throws that make going to bed an experience to look forward to." 4. Clean your room Kim Jones' Clutter-Free Bedroom photo by Jama Finney Photography via Kim Jones L+K Home Organization "Cluttered bedrooms are chaos for our minds," says Sherri Monte, who co-owns an interior design and professional home organizing firm in Seattle called Elegant Simplicity. "When there are things everywhere and there's an absence of organizing systems we are overstimulated, less efficient and become stressed because we can't find what we need. All these things make it difficult to envision your bedroom as the relaxing sanctuary it should be." "To get the maximum about of sleep, it helps to not sleep surrounded by clutter," agrees Kim Jones from L+K Home Organization. "Even though your eyes are closed, it is the last thing you saw when going to sleep and your body is filled with anxiety. It is also the first thing you see when you wake up." What should we focus on when decluttering? The top of your nightstand, dresser, and other bedroom furniture are hotspots for clutter. Jones, the author of a recently released book, The No-Nonsense Home Organization Plan: 7 Weeks to Declutter in Any Space, suggests keeping these surfaces clear of piled-up mail, but that doesn't mean you need a plain, non-descript bedroom where everything is hidden in a drawer. Your bedroom should still be functional. For example, she suggests limiting your nightstand to "a book, your favorite picture, a lamp, and an alarm clock." All four have a purpose. She shares this outlook: "You want your bedroom to feel and look like a personal sanctuary or that you are staying at the nicest five-star hotel — where you don't have laundry piled in the corner that you know you need to get to, at some point." It's more than just a cleaner room. Removing visual cues that bring you anxiety can help improve your sleep. Florida-based interior designer Pamela Durkin helps puts negative bedroom clutter into perspective. She shares this suggestion: "Get rid of clutter; a messy bedroom can affect your ability to relax. Remove guilt-inducing items like unfolded laundry and treadmills." As Beth Nash from Alexander Joseph suggests, "Creating a clutter-free, no mess, no work, well-organized room will put your mind and body at ease allowing you to rest easier." 5. Re-think your mattress Your mattress can be an important factor in maximizing your sleep. Monte shares: "As an interior designer, we're focused on the way the bed looks from headboards to bed linens but if getting the best night's sleep is important then so is the mattress you sleep on. Where else do you stay in one spot for six to nine hours at a time without moving? It better be comfortable." A comfortable bed is key to ensuring good sleep, agrees Golde. "Not only sleeping on a mattress that provides neutral head, neck, and spinal alignment but in a bed that's the appropriate size. I would prioritize making space for a Queen or King-sized bed if you sleep with a partner. Snoring, movement, sheet stealing, and extra heat are all sleep disrupters that can be remedied with a little extra space." 6. Upgrade your bedding "A poll carried out by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that maintaining a clean bedding environment can lead to more restful sleep," says Karin Sun, founder of Crane & Canopy, a luxury bedding company. She adds, "Scratchy, thin, or poor quality bedding can be detrimental to great sleep. For the ultimate comfort and luxury, choose cotton sateen bedding, crafted from premium extra-long staple cotton, in a 300–400 thread count. Exceptional foundational elements like silky-soft sheets, chic and cozy duvet covers, and comfy pillows both look stylish and promise the sweetest dreams." "Freshly washed linens can make sleeping much more pleasurable," adds Durkin. "Try spraying them with lavender or vanilla linen spray. The best sheets are 100 percent Egyptian cotton. Their long fibers produce lightweight yet durable sheets." 7. Keep it quiet "Making sure that your room is quiet is key to a good sleeping pattern and deep sleep," says Aaron Cambden from Fairview Estates. "If you're a light sleeper, a quiet space to sleep is even more important because you'll be waking up every few minutes otherwise." He has a point. Noise, or the lack thereof, is an important factor in creating the optimal sleeping environment. A 2018 scientific review even found that "all forms of noise" should stay below 35 db. What can we do to help? "[I]n the interest of keeping things quiet, sound dampening is an important part," says Cambden. "You can do this through a number of ways but the easiest way is to hang the right features and fixtures on the wall — whether that means that you need to be hanging a few pictures, putting up a set of curtains, or even creating an accent wall to add character and absorb the sound." Another option is to help muffle exterior noise. Fish suggests, "A white noise machine will help muffle the sounds that could tend to wake you overnight. Whether it is your neighbor’s dog barking at a squirrel at midnight or a delivery truck lumbering up your street at 6 a.m., a white noise machine can mask those sounds and allow you to stay in a deep sleep to get the rest you need to attack the next day." Switching up your bedroom layout and design can also help. "If you have noisy neighbors or sleep next to a loud utility room, minimize the disruption by pulling your bed away from the wall," advises MacDowell . She also suggests using thick carpet or area rugs to help reduce noise, "Carpet can not only decrease noise from downstairs neighbors, but it can also create a cozy, soothing environment that helps you fall asleep faster." Win. Win. 8. Update your color scheme Quiet and muted colors are a good design scheme for a bedroom, says Durkin, "These produce a reduced heart rate, lower blood pressure, slower respiration, and constricted pupils — all conditions that signal it's time to rest." What color are your walls? This is important. "Not to be all boring but vibrant colors are best in bedrooms for textiles and decorative accents," advises Monte. "Painting your walls with bold colors could make it difficult to get a sound night's sleep. That's not to say you can't bring color into your bedroom. Instead, use soothing colors in the soft or muted colorways." What about your bedding? Sun suggests neutral and calming colors. "Color choices in your bedroom can largely affect how calm you feel and how well you sleep. While bold colors, particularly warm-toned reds and bright pinks, can look lovely and stylish, they can also evoke feelings of unrest or agitation. For the most serene sleep, adorn your bedroom in shades of soft greens, breezy blues, and temperate greys." Another tactic, is decorating with your emotional center color, says B.P. Greycastle, author of Your Name and Colors Key to Your Beauty, Career, Personality, Romance, and, Success. Decorating with your emotional center color helps by "releasing hormones that allow for the reduction of stress and allow for better sleep," says the author. His book explains, "how our color-coded names determine our personality character traits and talents of our seven energy centers. Eastern philosophies refer to these centers as the seven chakra centers, and I refer to them as our seven energy/personality centers. If you look at an endocrine gland chart, those seven centers are in the same exact place so what the eastern philosophies are really talking about is our seven endocrine gland centers." 9. Create a sitting area "One of the rules of good sleep hygiene is to reserve the bed for sleep and sex only," says MacDowell. "Why? To avoid associating the bed with waking activities such as reading, working, or watching TV. Instead, create a relaxing sitting area in your bedroom for pre-bed activities and go to bed only when you’re ready to sleep." Dreamy bedroom recipe Heather Bise is the founder of Bise Bespoke. She works as a design curator for short-term rental properties and even teaches a three-day AIRBNB Bootcamp for people wondering if they have what it takes to be an Airbnb Superhost. Bise shares with us her recipe for a dreamy bedroom:
Do you dread sleeping in your own bed? Do you get jealous when you see other people coming in to work rested and refreshed? Do you feel guilty for longingly watching mattress commercials? Are you jealous of the people pretending to sleep in the ad? Have you had more than three dreams in the last month featuring a BRAND NEW MATTRESS? Do you find excuses to sleep an extra day at a significant other's place, your in-laws' house, or even on the living room couch, just to avoid your mattress? It's time to face the facts: You're cheating. . . on your mattress. It's time to end the relationship, get a new mattress, and enjoy some well-deserved sleep at your own home. For those of you in denial, here are 12 signs that you need to look for a new mattress. 1. Your back or neck hurts "If your back or neck is stiff or hurts when you wake up, but feels better as the day goes on, it might be because of your mattress," says Meg Jacobini, Mattress expert at RAVE Reviews. How often is this happening? "If you wake up with aches and pains two, three, or more times a week, that's a really good sign it's time for a new mattress," says Christina Heiser, content manager at luxury mattress company Saatva. "As a mattress wears over time, it'll provide less support than it used to at the beginning, which could leave you with a sore neck or back in the morning." 2. Everywhere hurts For some of us, the aches and pains cover more than just your back. Laura Mogen is a professional mattress reviewer, sleep enthusiast, and editor-in-chief of mybestmattress.com. She suggests that "waking up with soreness in your back, shoulders, and hips" are all signs that it's time to get a new mattress. When you are waking up with aches and pains, it might be your mattress, not you, says sleep researcher Jeanine Joy, Ph.D. from bestmattress.reviews, "Many people assume their morning aches and pains are a sign of aging, but they’re more likely to be a sign of an aging mattress." "Mattress quality is an important part of getting an optimal night's sleep," explains chiropractor Dr. Tauberg. "Having a quality mattress allows for your body to relax more completely during the night which allows your body to recover and for you to sleep better. When your mattress starts losing support it becomes harder to stay comfortable for long periods of time as the body is having to rely on muscles and joints to properly provide support. When this starts to happen waking up with pain or stiffness is common." "If you're beginning to notice aches and pains when waking that you didn't use to experience, this indicates the materials are beginning to degrade," says Jessica Ruiz-Jones, Lead Mattress and Sleep Product Expert with The Sleep Judge. If these new pains are happening "night after night (particularly at the shoulders or lumbar region), the structure of your bed has likely been compromised," agrees Sleepopolis content director Logan Block. 3. You can't get comfortable Do you find yourself wiggling around more than normal trying to nestle into a comfy position? "Inability to find a comfortable position" is a great indicator that it's time to start thinking about a new mattress, says Mogen. It could mean that your mattress is too old or that it wasn't right for your sleep position in the first place. "If you wake up in pain, it could mean that your mattress is not supporting your body while you sleep," says sleep researcher Joy. "This means your muscles are working to support you, which leads to soreness. If you have the wrong mattress for your primary sleep position it could cause soreness as well." What is your primary sleep position? Side, back, or stomach? "Side sleepers need softer cushioning in the shoulders and hips so that they can sink in without creating pressure points or causing pain or numbness," says Joy. On the flip side, "Back and stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress," she says. "Medium-firm is the best for most back and stomach sleepers." It's also one of the most common mattress comfort levels available. For example, all of Purple's mattresses are rated as medium-firm. 4. You feel sleepy during the day "If you’re often sleepy during the day even though you spend enough time in bed, you may need a new mattress," advises Joy. "Adults generally need seven to nine hours of sleep each day." If you are putting in the hours, but still sleepy, your mattress may be the culprit. Writes Chris Nguyen at SleepStandards, "The average lifespan of a mattress is about eight years. More important than any statistic is how you feel sleeping on your mattress. If you need to toss and turn or feel tired after waking up, then you should consider a new mattress." If you feel sleepy during the day, your sleep quality may be declining as your mattress ages. Alesandra Woolley is Mattress Advisor’s executive editor and a certified sleep science coach. She shares, "A study published by the U.S. National Institute of Health found that subjects who slept on a new mattress improved their overall quality of sleep." But how will you know the difference? Sleep researcher Joy suggests keeping a sleep journal or using "actigraphy to track the quality of your sleep on your old mattress." That way, you can have something to compare your sleep quality to, like a snapshot of your sleep quality on the questionable mattress vs. a new one. 5. You wake up multiple times each night "Quality of sleep and duration are solid measures for evaluating your mattress," advises Vinay Amin, Health and Wellness Expert and CEO of Eu Natural. "If you're waking up several times per night due to discomfort or wake up with joint pain despite not having injuries, it could be due to having an old mattress or the wrong one." 6. Your body has changed If your mattress isn't comfortable anymore, it's time for a change, says Jacobini. "This may seem pretty obvious, but you might not notice if it’s a gradual change that occurs over the years. The change could be due to normal wear and tear, but could also be because of changes in your body, from weight gain or weight loss, pregnancy, or surgeries. Whether it’s the mattress or your body that’s changed, there is no reason to hold on to a mattress that is uncomfortable — invest in a new one." In addition to weight changes, surgeries, and pregnancy, other physical circumstances could cause your old mattress to no longer be ideal. Joy explains, "injuries or illnesses may make it advisable to sleep on a softer or firmer mattress. This can sometimes be accomplished by changing the foundation or adding a mattress topper, but those solutions are usually not the optimal choice." The optimal choice is a new mattress, but these are great frugal solutions for people who aren't financially ready to invest in a whole new mattress. 7. You keep migrating to the middle "As mattresses age, they lose support, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep and a healthy back," says Jacobini. "When one part of the mattress is dented or softer than the rest, it’s time to let it go." In addition to losing support, (innerspring coils or high density foam), your mattress could also be gradually losing comfort layers (upper layers of softer, fluffier materials, like a pillowtop). Ruiz-Jones explains, "Along with aches and pains, often comes sagging of the comfort layers. This is a telltale sign of degradation, and you should replace it soon before you start to notice yourself falling into new crevices during the night much like you would a hammock." If you love hammocks and don't get it, here's an example: Melanie Musson, a writer for USInsuranceAgents.com shares a personal experience that may seem all too familiar for some of us: "You know it’s time to get a new mattress when you’re always falling to the middle! The first time I slept in the bed that my husband had before he met me, I said, ‘I feel like I’m falling into the middle.’ And for ten years, I said every night, ‘I keep falling to the middle.’ But mattresses are expensive, and this was not an old mattress. So we kept it. Finally, we got a new one and every night, I am in awe that I’m not falling anywhere! Now, we have a fifth-wheel camper, and it has a lovely king size bed which should feel quite roomy, but in this bed, my husband and I both fall to the middle. It’s my lot in life, apparently. So the size of the bed is wasted because we’re pancaked together taking up a combined foot in width. It’s time for a new mattress!" How can you assess this lack of support on your own? How much of a dip is too much? Brett Thornton serves as Director of the Revive mattress brand, sold exclusively at Living Spaces. He explains, "Although we typically think about mattresses in terms of comfort, the most important thing is the support our mattress is giving us. Once your mattress starts losing its support, it is time to move on. The best way to see this is generally by looking for dips and sags in the mattress. A dip is caused by one of two things. Either your support, whether coils or foam, has broken down and no longer pushing back to its original shape, or the comfort layers on top are compressed and not providing the loft they once did. In either case, this will cause your body to be unaligned and will most likely lead to soreness in the lower back or hips over time." Block from Sleepopolis says, that the "dreaded mattress dip ... typically pops up in the area in which you sleep the most. It should be pronounced and noticeably different from the rest of your mattress." What can you do about it? "We would recommend flipping your mattress at least once every three months in order to even out the distribution," advises David Ewart, Director and Lead Mattress Buyer at Pavilion Broadway, a designer furniture and mattress retailer. "If even after flipping your mattress, there are still gorges appearing, then it’s probably time to buy a new mattress. Generally, the feel of the mattress is far more important than how it looks. Your mattress should gradually adjust to the people sleeping in it, without losing shape entirely." However, not every mattress is flippable these days. While you can still rotate your pillowtop or hybrid mattress, this isn't a preventative measure that everyone can use. How bad is bad? "To know if you have a sag," says Thornton, "take your sheets off and put a broomstick or large stick on the bed. If you can fit two fingers' distance between a dip in your bed and the stick you should look into either checking in on the mattress warranty or move on to a new set." "If it is still under warranty," advises Joy, "most older warranties require an indentation of 1.5 inches before warranty coverage will kick in. Some newer mattresses only require half that, at .75” deep." Read your warranty thoroughly. It could save you hundreds of dollars. As a budget-friendly tip, Ruiz-Jones, sleep expert from The Sleep Judge suggests a lower-cost solution: "you can often buy a mattress topper to get a few extra months or even years out of a saggy or otherwise compromised sleep surface." 8. Looks aren't everything, but they matter "Beyond thinking about how your mattress makes you feel, examine how it looks," suggests Heiser from Saatva (reviews). "The appearance of the mattress can also let you know that the mattress has seen better days," explains Joy. "If it appears lumpy or there is a visible indentation where you regularly lay, it may mean your mattress is worn out." What indicators should you be looking for? In addition to big dips in your bed (#7), "Rips, lumps, or springs poking through are more signs you're ready for a new mattress," says Heiser. "Visual flaws such as sagging, tears and holes," are also good indicators says Mogen. What else? Katie Golde, Editor and Head of Sleep Research for Mattress Clarity, suggests physical appearance is a good thing to monitor. When "your mattress is showing physical signs of damage, whether it's from fluid or liquid-related accidents or sagging from overuse or jumping or something else," it could be time to upgrade to a new model. "The other thing to look at is the top quilt pattern for sweat stains," says Thornton. What's the harm in a little sweat? "Moisture will get into the padding layers and break them down over time, so if you have a lot of stains you may be due for a new mattress," he clarifies. Multiple liquid stains on your mattress cover could just be showing you the tip of the iceberg, with much more structural damage underneath. 9. You can't sit on the edge Do you ever sit on the edge of your bed when getting ready in the morning or tying your shoes? Have you ever sat down on the edge of a friend or relative's bed and been surprised by a lack of support? Thornton suggests that a lack of edge support is a good indicator of your mattress's age creeping up on it. He explains, "If the firm seating edge has broken down, this means that the entire edge system may be compromised and you are probably losing support, especially if you sleep next to the edge of the bed as many couples do." 10. You've had your mattress forever "According to Mattress Advisor, you should change your mattress every 7 to 10 years," says Woolley. "Mattresses age like people do. They can sag as your body leaves impressions, which can lead to aches and pains." "If your mattress is nearing the end of that [7 to 10 year] range and you find yourself waking up with more pain and stiffness, have a harder time getting comfortable, or you are having a harder time falling asleep, then it may be time for a new mattress," advises Dr. Alex Tauberg DC,CSCS, CCSP®, EMR, a Pittsburgh Chiropractor. If mattresses last up to 10 years, why do warranties sometimes last longer? "For starters," says Ruiz-Jones, "mattresses don't last forever. Although a 20-year warranty may give the impression you'll get two decades of use, the warranty ensures workmanship of certain parts, not comfort." The 7 to 10-year rule isn't exact for every mattress on the market. "This will vary based on the material and build (all-foam/springs/etc) but seven years is a great general guide," suggests Carolyn Burke, a certified sleep coach and outreach manager with The Sleep Advisor. "That being said, if you are noticing sagging, rips and tears, lumps, memory foam that doesn't reclaim its shape, or a flattening of the mattress, you will want to consider replacing it. If a bed used to bring comfort and good sleep and no longer is, you might also want to think about replacing it or adding a topper to get that good sleep magic back." 11. It makes noise "Your mattress can also provide audible signals it needs to be replaced," says Ruiz-Jones. "Squeaks and creaks aren't normal and can signal foundation issues. This is often associated with changes in weight. If you or your sleep partner have gained a significant amount of weight, it's always good to be on the lookout for potential side effects on your sleep surface." 12. You're not alone anymore If humans aren't the only living organism going to bed with you at night, shop for a new mattress. Woolley warns, "They can become breeding grounds for dust mites and mold and mildew." AND BEDBUGS. Nguyen suggests that a good sign that it's time to shop for a new mattress when "Your mattress has more dust than an abandoned attic." "No one likes to think about creepy-crawlies living in their bed, but the truth is that after many years, it’s quite probable that they’re in there," says Jacobini. "Getting your mattress professionally cleaned can prolong its life, as will the use of a mattress protector. No matter how hard you try, though, your mattress won’t live forever." Not only are dust mites gross, but if you are allergic to them (as 10 percent of Americans are), it can cause sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy skin and eyes, coughing, and more. "Dust mites may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma," according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Dust mites are gross but bed bugs are worse. It's time for a change if your mattress has "a bed bug infestation brought back from your travels," says Joy. Wiser words were never spoken. The bottom line Let's be clear. We don't suggest breaking any vows, but you deserve to sleep happily ever after. Don't be afraid to sleep around. "Another good way to look at your own mattress is to sleep outside your home for a night or so and see how much more comfortable you feel sleeping on other mattresses," suggests Mattress Clarity's sleep expert Katie Golde. As my mom always said, "There are a million mattresses in the sea." (paraphrasing) The mattress of your dreams is out there. You just have to keep looking. Check out our mattress reviews to see what's good, what's bad, what's in your price range, and what you should look for.