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  1. Maybe it’s because I live in the city of lakes which is also located in the land of 10,000 lakes that drew me to the idea of Float Therapy. Float Therapy is a rebranded term for what used to be called isolation therapy or sensory deprivation therapy. It is a practice where you float in a sort of large bathtub that is filled with salt water. Float therapy is a form of mediation. I did my first float session at the Float Foundation in Minneapolis which coincidentally is on the other side of Lake Harriet from my house. I found a Groupon deal for a float session and thought I would give it a try. A 90 minute float session costs $69 while a 60 minute costs 61.99. After purchasing you can book a time via their online calendar on their website. My go to method of relaxation and meditation is the Sol Tec Lounge in my house which is sort of the opposite of the sensory deprivation method where layered music is played along with vibrations to keep you present and avoid distracting thoughts. What are the benefits of float therapy? Here’s a roundup of some symptoms that float therapy claims to alleviate: Stress relief Muscular pain Rheumatism Chronic pain Fatigue Fertility High blood pressure Migraine headache Jet lag Anxiety Insomnia Back pain Depression Pre-menstrual tension Post-natal depression Float therapy also promotes the following: Problem solving Creativity Increase energy Increased feelings of well being The float tank is sound proof or as sound proof as can be, and the temperature of the water is skin temperature so that you aren’t too hot or too cold. The epsom salt allows you to float effortlessly. If you haven’t floated like this before, it is an experience worth having. Here’s a picture of the float room that I used. Behind me is a private shower as well to use before and after using the float tank. I didn’t feel clausterphobic in the float room because the ceiling was high enough at my head. It slopes lower towards my feet but I didn’t find that to be a problem. I booked an hour and a half float session becuase with meditation it takes a while for me to properly relax and I wanted to make sure that I had adequate time to adjust given the new environment. These rooms have a button where you can have a soft light on or push it again for total darkness. I played around with both but ultimately found the darkness to be preferable and less distracting. This float chamber also has a neck support which you can use to help stabilize your head. I don’t think it’s necessary but I ended up using it for most of my session to fell a little more secure and to ensure water didn’t get in my ears. Inside the chamber there is also a dial which can be used to play quiet, relaxing music. I tried that out for a bit and found it enjoyable since it was so faint it wasn’t really distracting. It took me about 20 minutes to fully relaxing during my session. I think that’s because I was just enjoying the experience of floating and total relaxation. For an hour and a half session, this went faster than I expected. There’s no need to worry about over staying your welcome either. The light outside the chamber will turn on to alert you that your session is over. After your session you can rinse off with a shower with soap and shampoo included: I really enjoyed my float therapy session. Since I did it in early March in Minnesota, it was kind of a hassle to get undressed, shower then get dressed again and go off into the cold. However, the warm float tank really took the chill off and took me away from the winter doldrums. While I found the float therapy session to be relaxing, I didn’t have as productive a meditation session as I normally have in my Sol Tec Lounge. It could be that I am used to my form of meditation over this one. Using the Lounge in my house is much more convenient as well. I highly recommend trying float therapy. I think many people will benefit from just being able to tune out the world and all its distractions for an hour. While I didn’t fall asleep during float therapy, I slept very well the night I did my session.
  2. Do you have trouble falling asleep or often wake up in the middle of the night? Or do you often feel drained and exhausted in the morning instead of rested and refreshed? You are not alone. Millions of people across the world have sleep problems. Everyone needs good sleep, and deep sleep is even more important as it affects your health and body. When you get the adequate amount of deep sleep, you will wake up refreshed and with restored stamina, making you ready for anything the day throws at you. What is Deep Sleep? So what is deep sleep? Well, the simplest answer is that it is one of the stages in the sleeping process. This stage is also known as slow wave sleep, delta sleep and more recently, N3. Deep sleep is a time when repairs take place within the body and energy is restored for the day ahead. This stage of sleep plays an important role in maintaining your health as it boosts the immune system, stimulates growth and repairs any damage to tissue and muscles. Deep sleep also has a number of benefits, including: It can help in keeping your heart healthy. During deep sleep, your heartbeat slows down and gives your heart the opportunity to repair itself. Lack of deep sleep can trigger the production of cortisol and adrenaline which increases blood pressure. Deep sleep allows your body to rest and slows down your heartbeat, thereby lowering blood pressure. During deep sleep, the brain repairs itself and the body produces hormones as well as neurotransmitters that help in promoting new brain cell production. This brain repair prevents different mental disorders. By maintaining healthy brain function, deep sleep can significantly help in preventing memory loss and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. When you are in the deep sleep stage, the protein inside your body repairs damage caused by free radicals, microorganisms and other factors like harmful substances and toxins. Apart from this, deep sleep helps in improving digestion, preventing diabetes, fighting inflammation, alleviating stress and anxiety, preventing obesity, promoting healthy weight, restoring energy, enhancing immunity and more. Tips to Get Deep Sleep If you have trouble sleeping and want to get deep sleep, here are a few tips that you might find helpful: Disconnect Yourself: Many people have trouble sleeping because of work. You should disconnect yourself and relax a few hours before bedtime. Switch off your smartphone and other devices after 8 pm. It will provide great results. Listen to Soothing Music: Listening to soothing soft music before hitting the sack can do wonders to help you get deep sleep. It will reduce stress and anxiety and lower your blood pressure. Breathe Deeply: Deep breathing exercises and meditation helps to relieve stress and improve sleep quality. Find out a few breathing exercises and try them out before you get into bed. You can try this exercise – first, close your eyes and slowly inhale through your nostrils to count to 3 while expanding your stomach. Hold for 3 seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth, while counting to 6 and keeping your stomach flat. Repeat 5 times. Pick a Good Pillow: You should never underestimate the importance of having a good pillow to lay your head on. The right pillow can have a significant effect on your quality of sleep. Use a medium-soft pillow if you are a side sleeper, and a firm pillow if you prefer sleeping on your back. Reduce Light Level: When you reduce the level of light that you are exposed to in the evening, it can encourage the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin and ease your body into sleep mode. So, if possible, get a dimmer switch and turn down your lights in the evening. Drink Milk or Eat a Banana: Bananas are an excellent source of melatonin and tryptophan, an amino acid. Warm milk is also quite rich in tryptophan. If you have problems getting good sleep, you should eat a banana or drink a glass of warm milk before bedtime – make this a pre-bedtime routine. As you can see, deep sleep plays a critical role in your health and well-being. You need to get deep sleep in order to be able to function the next day properly. Without it, you will be easily tired, and you will definitely experience a dip in your productivity. To make sure that you get deep, restful sleep every night, try out the tips mentioned above.
  3. From the neurophysiologist’s point of view, dreams are said to be the results of rapid eye movement (REM) when a person sleeps or is in a semi-conscious state. We see vivid images that keep flashing one after another to suggest a sequence of events that either make sense or don’t at all. The father of modern psychiatry, the legendary Sigmund Freud in his historical work, Interpretation of Dreams, stated that dream content is motivated by our longing for wish-fulfillments, and dreams are often instigated by daily events that precede the dream. He called it the “day residue.” In adults Freud observed, dreams occurred from “latent” dream-thoughts present in their unconscious or subconscious minds. The Interpretation of Dreams: What Dreams Convey Your dream may be a collection of simple images like a grand event, the reappearance of a dead relative or friend or even a euphoric you winning the lottery jackpot. However, dreams don’t tell simple stories always. This is more so because people from different backgrounds and cultures report having the same dreams. In a recent study on dreams, it was found that most members of the sample group saw the following fourteen most common images while dreaming. Being Chased: A very commonly reported dream. May be interpreted as a result of anxieties within us that we go to sleep with. Often, it’s not the fear of being chased actually, but what we’re running from causes such images to be seen. Dream of being chased help us understand that we may not be addressing important issues in our waking lives that require immediate attention. Vehicles: Be it a car, train, airplane or ship, any vehicle that we see in a dream reflects what direction we would like our life to take. Moreover, these are also suggestive of the quantity of control we think we have over the path ahead. Vehicles empower us to make transitions and point towards a definite destination. They are also known to highlight obstacles we think we are facing and need to overcome. Water: Water is a typical symbol of our unconscious minds or emotions. The state of the water — clear or cloudy; calm or turbulent — often gives insights into how effectively we manage our emotions. Classroom or School: Yet another very common situation. We often find ourselves in a classroom, confronted with a difficulty which we aren’t prepared to take. A classic case of the “dream pun” or the mind using a concept or word and defining it differently. The unwanted “test” that we face indicates that we have to learn from past mistakes. Reported mostly by people who have left school long ago. People: When you see other people while dreaming, take it as a reflection of the self’s different aspects. People who flit by in dreams may relate to special characteristics that need development. When you see specific people, you are directly relating to interpersonal issues or existing relationships that need to be worked upon. When you dream of your lover, in particular, it denotes a certain detachment. Death: Often perceived as a negative occurring, it often directly relates to dramatic changes that may happen in the dreamer’s life. It could indicate the ending of one thing and the beginning of another new phase in your life. Paralysis: When you dream of turning paralytic, your body actually assumes a paralytic form as you dream and this prevents it from performing any action or actions that occur in the dream. Dreaming paralysis is interpreted as an overlap between the REM and waking stages of sleep. It also indicates that the dreamer lacks control in his waking life. Falling: Reported quite frequently by dreamers. However, not all dreams about falling are negative or scary. Slow falling indicates a smoothness and serenity as also the letting go. However, images of falling from great heights indicate that something in our waking life is completely beyond our control. Flying: Indicates how poorly or effectively we control our lives and our confidence levels in achieving our goals. When you fly high, you are euphoric. Flying low or skimming and getting caught in obstacles like power lines indicate frustration somewhere deep down. Even images of babies, food, houses and sex seen in our dreams, have their own stories to tell. A baby usually represents something new — a new project, idea or development. Food symbolizes hunger for new insights and information while a dreaming of a house can be read as different aspects of dreamer’s degrees of consciousness. Last but not least, sex, as Freud put it, is best interpreted as an outlet for sexual expression, and close connections with others.
  4. Benefits of Sleeping Naked What if someone told you that by doing one simple thing every night, you could beat stress, build self-confidence, and have an overall healthy life? Would you be intrigued? Or would you laugh, and call that person crazy? You are not alone. Most people would laugh it off if they were told that sleeping naked could dramatically improve their health and life. It isn’t surprising that a mere 8% of the world’s population sleep naked, while the rest wonder about its benefits. A Google search will reveal the huge number of ways you can improve your life, but none of them is as simple as stripping to your birthday suit before going to bed. It takes a little effort and has several benefits that you may not have ever imagined. Read on to find out the great things sleeping in the nude can do. You Sleep Better Naked We have all heard that sleep is good for the brain. But a new study shows how exactly sleep benefits the brain. When we are asleep the brain removes toxic proteins from neurons, which accumulate when we are awake and do the neural activity. But the brain is only able to remove these proteins when we get quality sleep successfully. Sleeping naked helps us sleep better by lowering our body temperature. When the skin temperature is low, we sleep deep and wake up less at night. This results in high-quality sleep that improves brain function. It Cuts Down Stress How stressed we are usually depends on the amount of cortisol released by our body. This hormone leads to several issues like anxiety, unnatural weight gain, and sleep disorders. Cortisol production is higher when the body is overheated. It has been seen that the release of cortisol is regulated and reduced when our body temperature is low. One of the best ways bring down body temperature is sleeping without clothes on. When cortisol production goes down, it reduces stress and keeps you healthier. It Boosts Male Virility You must have heard that men who wear loose boxer shorts have better sperm quality than those who wear tight underpants. According to a 2015 research, men who sleep naked have even better sperm quality than those who wear loose boxers. This is good news for men who are planning to start a family or add to an existing one. Sleeping without clothes on also increases happiness between couples. The skin on skin contact brings couples closer, leads to spontaneous sex, and aids in overall health. It Regulates Growth Hormones If you have always feared those dreaded wrinkles and crow’s feet, then you should be sleeping in the buff. Melatonin and growth hormones are responsible for keeping your skin in great condition and looking youthful. The best way to regulate your growth hormones is to keep your body temperature below 70°F. Sleeping without clothes keeps your body temperature regulated and balances your melatonin and growth hormone levels, slowing down the aging process. It Boosts Self-Confidence We all know that self-confidence is crucial to success. When you are confident, you take on challenges more easily and are more likely to succeed in every role in life. It means you are comfortable in your own skin and not afraid to be the real you. When you sleep naked, you grow more comfortable with your body and more confident in your own skin. This affects your overall self-esteem and makes you a more confident person. It Is Good For Your Skin Sleeping in the buff lets your skin breathe. We usually wear layers of clothing throughout the day, and it restricts the body, especially the armpits, feet, and private parts. Taking off your clothes at night airs out these parts and aids in better blood circulation, leading to glowing skin. Letting your skin breathe, particularly in summer, prevents fungal infections, rashes, and itchiness. It Is Simply Easier Sleeping naked is so much easier than deciding what to wear to bed. You don’t need to buy pajamas or lingerie, don’t have to worry about washing extra clothing, and you also save money. Who wouldn’t love to save some money, as well as a lot of space in the wardrobe? Stripping off your clothes and simply hopping into bed to sleep makes life easier. It Makes You Feel Free Know that feeling of lying naked in bed, free from all your clothes? Yes, that’s what we are talking about. That’s also the feeling sleeping naked gives you. Imagine taking off your bra after a long day, or getting out of your underwear while going to sleep. You feel free and unconstrained. Without clothing on, your body feels lighter, just like it’s meant to be. Now imagine being between the sheets in your birthday suit. How great is the feeling? That feeling of being light and free automatically makes you smile and makes you feel good after a hard day at work. If sleeping au natural can make you smile and feel good more often, then why not? It Reduces Sleep Distraction How many times have your uncomfortable lingerie or the tight waistband of your pajamas woken you up from sleep at night? Plenty of times, we are sure. It takes something as small as the drawstring of your pants to ruin your night’s sleep. When you sleep naked, there is no chance that uncomfortable clothing is going to disturb you at night. Strip off your clothes, and slip between soft sheets for the most peaceful sleep and a fresh morning. It Makes Sleeping Easy During Summertime When the mercury soars, it becomes difficult to sleep comfortably. If you don’t have the convenience of an air conditioner, you must be familiar with the trickling sweat or the itchy skin that keep you up at night all through summer. That’s when sleeping in the buff is the most comfortable. Even when the bedroom feels stuffy, your bare skin will give off heat and keep you cool. You may not even need the AC anymore when your body becomes cool and you sleep comfortably, no matter how sultry the summer is. Sleeping naked has benefits that you may not have considered before. Apart from letting your skin breathe and helping lower body temperature, sleeping in the buff aids in overall better sleep by removing distractions and makes you more comfortable in your skin. Of course, it isn’t always advisable to sleep naked, especially if it’s too cold or if you are sick. At all other times, go commando to make the most of your forty winks!
  5. How does lack of sleep effects your brain in short term? Likewise, what happens to our brains when we don’t get adequate sleep for a prolonged period? Everybody knows that sleep is essential for our bodies and brains to function at their best. Otherwise, why would we be spending one third of our lives doing it? Chronic sleep deprivation puts us at a higher risk of various disorders and long term health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, to name just a few. It has also been amply demonstrated that the lack of sleep has a negative affect on our cognitive performance. At the cognitive level, the lack of sleep impairs our ability to focus, make judgements, consolidate information and learn new things. In the words of Dr Michael Breus, The Sleep Doctor, “It’s difficult to identify a cognitive skill that isn’t affected by sleep, and compromised by sleep deprivation.” Yet, while the effect of sleep and the lack of it on our cognitive performance is very well documented, much less is still known about how exactly sleep affects the brain on the cellular level. However, as brain science rapidly advances, more and more studies appear that begin to fill that gap. Here are four of the most prominent studies of recent years and their findings that looked closely at our sleep deprived brains. Sleep Allows Your Brain Cells To Repair Themselves A study published earlier this year in Nature Communications found that sleep is essential for the brain’s ability to repair itself. More specifically, scientists found that during sleep essential DNA repair processes take place in the brain. In the course of the study, the researchers from Bar-Ilan University observed zebrafish, species that are characterized by having transparent heads. With the use of a powerful microscope, the researchers were able to observe the brain of the zebrafish during sleeping and waking, and took time-lapsed images of individual neurons. They were then able to see that during sleep the process of DNA repair kicked off in their brains, reversing the DNA damage accumulated during the day. According to the researchers, human brain cells also regularly accumulate DNA damage not only from exposure to radiation and other undesirable conditions but also as a result of the normal brain activity. Sleep allows for these cells to be repaired. One of the study’s authors, Professor Lior Applebaum, explained why this complicated process takes place while we sleep, by comparing it to repairing potholes in the road. Speaking to Independent, he said: “Roads accumulate wear and tear, especially during daytime rush hours, and it is most convenient and efficient to fix them at night, when there is light traffic.” The researchers think that this finding might explain the essential role of sleep for all animals with neural system including humans. Sleep Deprivation Kills Your Brain Cells In a study that was published in 2014 in the Journal of Neuroscience researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine made an alarming discovery that lack of sleep can result in irreversible loss of brain neurons. The study was conducted on mice, whose brain is known to be surprisingly similar to the human brain. The mice were put on a schedule similar to the one that is used by people who work night shifts or long hours. In each 24 hour period, the mice got only 4 to 5 hours of sleep. The results were astounding. After just three day of this schedule, the sleep-deprived mice lost 25% of brain cells in part of the brain stem, the damage that seemed to be irreversible. According to the study’s authors, because of the similarity between the brains of mice and humans, it is very likely that the human brain suffers from the same loss of neurons when deprived of adequate sleep. This is something that researchers planned to further investigate by conducting autopsies of shift workers. Sleep Helps Brain ‘Detox’ Another study published in Science around the same time, found that during sleep a sort of detox process takes place in your brain, as it gets rid of harmful waste products, including some that have been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) who used high-tech imaging to look into the brains of mice and found that their brains behaved very differently when awake and asleep. Specifically, the waste removal process happened ten times faster when the mice were sleeping, flushing out among other things the toxic protein amyloid-beta that is associated with Alzheimer’s. The clean up process observed by the researchers happens with the help of the cerebrospinal fluid that flows through the spaces between neurons flushing waste into the circulatory system. During sleep, the researchers found, brain cells contract, leaving more space for the cerebrospinal fluid to do its job a lot more effectively. Sleep Enables Brain Cells to Communicate Effectively In a fourth study on brain and sleep published recently in Nature Medicine, researchers found neurological explanation to the mental sluggishness that is so familiar to any of us who’ve ever had to take an exam, drive a car or perform any other cognitively demanding activity while sleep deprived. Specifically, the study authors found that lack of sleep severely impairs the ability of brain cells to communicate effectively. In the study, 12 participants who were preparing to undergo surgery for epilepsy (unrelated to the study) had electrodes implanted into their brains and were asked to stay up the entire night. Several times throughout the night, researchers asked them to categorize images of faces, places and animals as fast as possible. They noticed that as people got drowsier, their reactions got slower. The researchers monitored the brain activity at the same time, paying particular attention to neurons in the temporal lobe, which regulates visual perception and memory. They were able to see that the slowed down response time was due to the less effective communication between their brain cells. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) explained in a statement: “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly. This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.” This of course has direct consequences in everyday activities such as driving, and thus can have a fatal affect. “Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much,” Fried said. “Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers.”
  6. It’s your best friend’s birthday, and you finally decide to head to the new Italian restaurant that you had been eyeing for a long time. You dine with mindless abandon– from garlic pasta, spicy sausage, homemade tomato sauce to tons of wine. When you return home fully sated, you have only one thing on your mind– long, deep, restful sleep. But the moment you lie down in bed, it hits you like a train. What? Acid reflux. We have been in such a situation many, many times, when we have gobbled down food and washed down alcohol like there’s no tomorrow, only to stay awake all night with a tummy ache, discomfort, and heartburn. Acid reflux is extremely common, and that’s mostly because of our eating habits. Of course, there are people with weak digestive systems who are more prone to acid reflux, but it almost always happens because of the things we eat or drink. Among the many reasons that can disrupt sleep at night, there is acid reflux. Anyone who has ever experienced acid reflux will be acutely aware of how difficult it makes sleep. You keep tossing and turning, drinking water, pacing up and down the room, downing digestives in hopes of making it better, but it isn’t easy to get rid of. The result is that the next morning you aren’t just sleepy, but also not feeling your best. All because of the birthday dinner that you so enjoyed. Acid reflux can be prevented, but there are times it happens suddenly. Don’t be surprised if you get acidity even without eating a heavy Italian meal for dinner. There are various reasons why acid reflux happens, but no matter why it happens, it always makes falling asleep an impossible task. Because acid reflux is so common, a number of manufacturers have come up with a special pillow that are supposed to help with acid reflux symptoms and make it easier to fall asleep. With normal pillows, you keep stacking then but don’t get the support that you need to ease the heartburn. That’s why these special pillows are intended to help you sleep even when you have acid reflux symptoms. What Is Acid Reflux? Before we go into details about the pillows made for acid reflux, let’s first discuss what acid reflux is and why it happens. Although we know it by many names – acidity, indigestion, dyspepsia – it’s the same thing – gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The condition is characterized by a burning sensation and discomfort located in the throat, chest or stomach. Sometimes it also leaves a sour taste in the mouth, besides nausea, bloating, flatulence and belching. With all these symptoms it’s no wonder that acid reflux makes it difficult to fall asleep. What Exactly Is the Cause of Acid Reflux? Acid reflux is caused by hiatal hernia, a condition in which a part of the stomach pushes up towards the chest. This is the cause of acid reflux, when the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter push above the diaphragm. The diaphragm muscle is responsible for helping keep acid in our stomach. When a part of the stomach pushes up, and above the diaphragm, the acid moves up into the esophagus. The muscles of the diaphragm are supposed to be taut, keeping the opening leading from the stomach to the esophagus closed. During eating or drinking, these muscles relax to allow the food to pass to the stomach, and then they tighten again. In people with GERD, the diaphragm muscles are weak, and they don’t relax when they should. This prevents the esophageal muscles from closing completely and allows stomach contents to push back up the throat. This is what causes indigestion, bloating, heartburn and discomfort. Acid reflux is more common than any other condition. About 60 percent of the American population experiences acid reflux every year, with more than half of them getting weekly symptoms. Acid reflux clearly needs more attention than just popping digestive supplements. There are several factors that cause acid reflux. Some of the most factors are: Eating too close to bedtime Consuming acid triggering foods, such as alcohol, spicy or fatty foods, and caffeine Smoking Obesity Wearing tight clothing to bed As we realize, most of the factors that cause acid reflux are manageable. But since acid reflux mostly happens at night during bedtime, it affects sleep more than anything else. This is why the things we consume close to bedtime have a maximum effect on our digestive system. Do Wedge Pillows Work for Acid Reflux? There are quite a few treatments and prevention options for acid reflux. Taking antacids prescription medications and surgery are some of the means for those who experience regular acid reflux symptoms. However, none of these offer any immediate improvement and also have an animal of side effects. Popping an antacid when you have acid reflux during bedtime can offer relief but take a few hours to work. So until then, you have to keep tossing and turning or pacing around your room. There is however a quick and easy relief option when you experience acid reflux at night, and that is by elevating upper portion of your body while you are lying down in bed. The elevation is proven to be one of the quickest solutions for acid reflux because it prevents stomach contents from coming up to the throat through the esophagus. Several studies have found the usefulness of elevating your head or the upper portion of your body to get immediate relief from acid reflux symptoms. There are quite a few ways to elevate your head while you lay down, including stacking up the pillows and elevating the head of the bed. However, if you elevate your head simply by stacking a few pillows, you are creating excessive strain on your neck and spine, as well as creating pressure on your abdomen and aggravating acid reflux symptoms. Unfortunately, that is the way most people are used to elevating their head, but it isn’t of much use. This is when you should use wedge pillows that have been specially designed to keep the head elevated while supporting the rest of the body. While wedge pillows have a number of different uses, they are mostly used for elevating certain parts of the body such as the head the shoulders the back or the legs. As the name suggests, these pillows are shaped like a wedge and are a little firmer than regular pillows, which allows them to provide better support. Wedge pillows are also used for elevating the head for people who snore or have sleep apnea or need support during pregnancy. Wedge pillows are a simple, affordable, and risk-free solution to treat nighttime GERD quickly. It won’t make your symptoms disappear but will make sleeping at night a lot easier. It is also far safer than popping pills or undergoing surgery. Wedge pillows are available online and at major bedding stores. 5 Best Wedge Pillows for Acid Reflux? Wedge pillows are primarily manufactured for acid reflux relief. They are rising in popularity, and various manufacturers have started to bring out their own versions of the wedge pillow. But remember that there is a difference between ordinary wedge pillows and those that have been specifically designed for acid reflux relief. There are various cheap alternatives to wedge pillows available, but they are not capable of providing the support that therapeutic pillows do. That is why when purchasing a wedge pillow make sure it is meant for therapeutic use. Here we look at the top 5 wedge pillows capable of providing elevation and support. MedCline Wedge and Body Pillow Reflux Relief System This pillow is the result of a collaboration between Cleveland Clinic and medical device company Amenity Health. After Cleveland Clinic conducted a research to find if sleeping on the left side could improve symptoms of acid reflux, it collaborated with Amenity Health to create this system that contains a wedge pillow as well as a body pillow, designed to keep sleepers on the left side throughout the night while keeping their head elevated. This is one of those systems that prevent the sleeper from sliding down from the wedge pillow while providing support to the entire body with the help of the body pillow. The dual component system has a patented design to create an elevated and side sleeping position for relief from acid reflux. The system can also be used for snoring and sleep apnea. Because you aren’t going to slide down this pillow, you remain in the right position all night long and get maximum relief. If you aren’t naturally a side sleeper, then the patented arm pocket of the Advanced Positioning Wedge not only prevents you from sliding down the pillow but also prevents any pressure on arms and shoulders. The body pillow prevents you from rolling on to your back, and also allows you to keep your knees tucked to take the pressure off the lower back. The pillow can also be washed. Shop the Medcline Pillow FitPlus Premium Wedge Pillow If you are interested in a doctor recommended wedge pillow for acid reflux, snoring, sleep apnea, and CPAP devices, then consider FitPlus Premium. This pillow has an underlying polyurethane foam wedge with a 1.5-inch layer of memory foam on top to provide you with comfort as well as support. The pillow has been designed in such a way that it keeps your torso elevated and supported throughout the night in case of acid reflux congestion snoring sleep apnea and any other condition that requires elevation. The pillow has a gentle elevation that is meant to provide cervical alignment and support to the torso while providing an inclination of 7.5 inches. Aside from relief with sleep apnea acid reflux and congestion, this wedge pillow can also be used for elevation doing the reading, watching television and working. It has a soft cover that is washable and easy to maintain. You may also use this pillow for leg elevation or for inclining any part of the body. Design for both back and side sleepers, the highlight of this pillow is the cushioning that the memory foam layer provides. However, some customers have complained that the pillow is too high and a little too firm to be comfortable. Shop the Bed Wedg Fit Plus Wedge Pillow Medslant Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow A common complaint about wedge pillows is that they are too small or too narrow and do not offer enough room the spread or move about without sliding off. Most wedge pillows are the same size as a regular pillow designed only for the head and neck. However, wedge pillows are also meant to support and incline the torso, which isn’t possible if the size of the pillow is small. Even if a small wedge pillow is capable of providing the sleeper with enough inclination and support, it’s easy to slide off during the night because there is not enough room to move about. This is where the MedSlant Wedge Pillow is a winner. Not only is this pillow longer than usual but is also 28 inches wide which is half the size of a queen bed. Although this pillow elevates the torso up to 7 inches, the gradual slope does not make the incline too steep. Whether you are a back sleeper side sleeper or a combination sleeper who likes to move about during the night, this wedge pillow fits a number of different requirements. Made from a soy, polyurethane foam, it has a cushion of memory foam but also with a firm foundation layer underneath, with zero off-gassing. The zippered cover made of microfiber is easy to take off and wash and allows more breathability and airflow to keep you cool in any season. The size of this pillow offers you to adjust your sleeping position better, and also makes this a more suitable option for all kinds of sleepers. Shop the Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow from Medslant Bed Wedge Pillow by Xtra-Comfort If the size of the pillow is important to you, then another great option is the wedge pillow by Xtra Comfort. What makes this pillow stand apart from the rest is the incredible 12 inches of elevation. Yes, the adjustable loft of this pillow can be increased up to 12 inches, so you can remain supported and inclined for a number of different purposes, from sleeping to reading to working. Besides the torso, the legs can also be elevated using this pillow, and the high elevation is useful if you have a fracture or sprain. This folding pillow is made from dense memory foam, has a firmer feel than most other wedge pillows, and also offers more control because of the 3 in 1 design. The clever design of the pillow makes it useful for both the back and the rest of the body. The soft, microplush cover can be removed for washing, and the zipper keeps it snug and secure. There is also a handle on the cover, which can also be used for easy storage and portability. Because the pillow is large, the handle is useful. However, some users have said that the pillow is a little too firm and takes a little time to get used to. Shop Xtra Comfort Xtreme Comforts 7″ Memory Foam Bed Wedge Pillow The Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam Bed Wedge Pillow is made by layering two solid wedges, which make the sleeping surface soft and comfortable while accommodating both side and back sleepers. The sleeping position offered by this pillow not only allows the head and the neck to sink into the surface for better support and spinal alignment but also keeps the body inclined at a 30-degree angle. This helps reduce symptoms of acid reflux, sleep apnea and snoring. The pillow has a plush bamboo cover that facilitates not only excellent airflow but also provides maximum comfort to the sleeper. The pillow can be used to support other parts of the body, such as the back, the legs, and the knees. However, even though the pillow is mostly a great product for back and side sleepers that suffer from acid reflux, some users have complained about off-gassing and the pillow being too firm. Shop Xtreme Comforts How to Sleep If You Have Acid Reflux? Because acid reflux is more common than many other conditions, it is one of the biggest causes behind disrupted sleep. Acid reflux can happen at any time during the day but is notorious for striking at night, just when you’re trying to sleep. This happens particularly when you consume a big heavy meal close to bedtime or smoke or drink or have a natural tendency for GERD. In some people, everything they eat gives them acid reflux. And the problem compounds at night, just when you’re lying down in a supine position. In such cases, medicines are not much help, and surgery needs to be done in order to get rid of chronic acid reflux. Acid reflux or GERD is notorious for disrupting sleep quality. The heartburn, pain, and discomfort can keep you up for several nights if the problem persists. As a result, you are weary, sleepy, tired, and unable to feel comfortable because of the dyspepsia. There are actually people who go through this very frequently but don’t know what to do about it. Sleep position can have a vital role to play in managing nighttime acid reflux. As several studies have already found, elevation is the key to battling nighttime GERD. The point is to prevent the stomach from sending its contents to the throat through the esophagus. When you keep your torso elevated, the stomach acids are unable to come up towards the throat. When the acids reach the back of the throat or larynx, it prompts choking or a coughing fit, which wakes you up. You may also wake up when you get regurgitation when some amount of stomach acids come up into the mouth through the esophagus. All these aren’t pleasant things to experience when you’re trying to fall asleep. GERD or acid reflux is also known to be a risk factor for sleep apnea, a respiratory disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts through the night when the person is asleep. It is believed that the acids cause spasms in the voice box, blocking the airways and preventing air from flowing into the lungs. What makes matters worse is the mechanisms of sleep. Just the act of being flat on your back or side increases the risk or acid reflux. When you are in an upright position, sitting or standing, the force of gravity keeps the stomach acids from rising. When you are lying flat, it’s a lot easier for the stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. When a person is asleep, they swallow less frequently. As a result, the regular esophageal contractions that help keep food down in the stomach are slowed. When people are asleep, they also produce less saliva, which hinders the role it plays in keeping esophageal pH levels normal after acids are refluxed. That means you must revise your sleeping position in order to prevent instances of acid reflux. We need to lay down in order to sleep, and it can’t be changed. But what can be done is to keep the torso elevated to prevent the stomach acids from flowing back towards the throat. And what better way to achieve this than with the help of a wedge pillow? How High Should You Elevate Your Head? Although elevation is key in preventing the risk of acid reflux, there are a few do’s and don’ts of inclining your torso. First and foremost, remember that keeping your body supported during sleep is more important than anything else. If you fail to keep your neck, spine, and shoulders supported while you sleep, you are going to hurt your posture, and end up with aches and pains. That’s even worse than acid reflux. Before going out and buying a wedge pillow, remember that your torso shouldn’t be inclined any higher than six to eight inches. Yes, so that 12-inch pillow that you read about, keep the highest inclination only for the legs and stick to six to eight inches for the torso. Any higher and you have the risk of ending up with a stiff neck and sore back. Sleeping on your back is also a risk factor for acid reflux. When you sleep on your back, the pressure created on the stomach helps drive the acids back into the esophagus. That is why you must have noticed that lying flat not only increases the discomfort but also makes you prone to regurgitation. If you’re overweight or obese, the risk is even greater. Overweight or obese people should avoid sleeping on their back to prevent instances of acid reflux. Sleeping on the right side is also another factor that contributes to acid reflux. When you sleep on your right side, it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, which tightens to prevent acid reflux. The loosening of these muscles increases the chances of acid reflux. Sleeping on the right side has also been found generally disruptive to sleep quality. Even if you do not suffer from acid reflux, you should practice sleeping on your left side. In various studies, it has been found that sleeping on the left side is best for optimal sleep quality. Whether you have trouble falling asleep, suffer from constipation or are prone to snoring, sleeping on your left side can be much better for quality sleep. How to Manage Nighttime Acid Reflux? Nighttime GERD is most often caused by eating habits and aggravated by sleep positions. If you frequently suffer from nighttime acid reflux, try the following for relief: Don’t Eat or Drink Too Close to Bedtime: This means you should stop eating and drinking at least two hours before going to bed. Also, make sure to avoid caffeine after 2 in the afternoon because it is also a potential cause for acid reflux at night. Avoid Acidic Foods: There are plenty of foods that seem harmless but are actually acidic or cause acid reflux. From tomatoes to red wine to coffee to garlic, the list is never-ending. Make sure to avoid these foods before bedtime to reduce the chances of acid reflux. Lose Weight: Excess weight and obesity is often a trigger for nighttime acid reflux, because of the pressure created on the abdomen. Losing weight, in that case, is the best solution to prevent acid reflux. Wear loose clothing to bed: Wearing clothing that is too tight to bed constricts the stomach and makes digestion difficult. Remember to wear loose fitting clothing to bed, to reduce instances of acid reflux. GERD or acid reflux may be common, but it’s also easily manageable. Simply make some lifestyle changes and get a wedge pillow to elevate your torso and enjoy better sleep every night.
  7. Research published by the Annals American Thoracic Society states that the ill effects of air pollution may cause many people to lose sleep. Researchers have found that people living in regions with high air pollution are likely to face sleep problems compared to those living in areas with less air pollution. Low quality and lack of sleep have adverse effects on humans. It increases the chances of accidents and also makes them moody. If this becomes a habit, then it can be harmful to your health. People not having adequate sleep are more likely to suffer from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. How Air Pollution Affects your Airways Poor air quality could affect your upper airways and also increase the chances of sleep apnea. Dr. Ryan Donald, sleep medicine expert at The Ohio State University, said that they need to research more to conclude if poor air quality and sleep are interconnected. There are many reasons for sleep apnea. Air pollution causes congestion in upper airway but things like mold, dust, and pollen can cause allergies and increase the chances of sleep apnea. A study has found the association of air pollution and sleep but not a cause-effect relationship. Dr. Martha E. Billings professor of Medicine at the University of Washington stated that there is no direct relationship between air pollution and sleep, but yes, pollution causes people not to have a sound sleep. It makes them toss and turn while they are asleep. Billings said that more studies are required to understand the direct link between air quality and sleep. Air Pollution and Mood Adverse air pollution also affects your mood. A research published a few months back on people’s happiness pointed out that people living in more polluted areas are less happier. Researcher Siqi Zheng of MIT China Future City Lab stated that pollution has an emotional effect as well. Pollution makes people unhappy and makes them take irrational decisions. Researchers also noticed that people who do not like to live in air polluted areas, move to clean cities, and are likely to experience mood swings when they live in more polluted areas. Also, people living in cities with adverse air pollution are aware of and worried about their adverse health effects. Air Pollution and Health Problems Air pollution has a direct link to increased chances of respiratory problems like asthma and lung cancer. Studies have shown a relation between air pollution and many health problems. A study published in 2017 by the researchers of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, stated that every additional 10 micrograms of PM 2.5/cubic meter of air increased the chances of cancer by 22% in seniors. Another research stated that there are increased chances of premature birth if the pregnant woman is breathing highly polluted air. Other research stated that air pollution particles in the human brain could lead to dementia. Indoor Air Quality and Sleep Indoor air pollution could be more harmful than outdoor air. The outdoor air is around 4 to 5 times less polluted than the air indoors. People are becoming more careful about what they eat and drink but airborne chemicals enter your body easily. One of the best ways to improve indoor air quality is by having more organic options at home. One of the common airborne chemicals in our houses are toxic gases like Volatile Organic Compounds and PBDEs. It is next to impossible to find a house to stay in the United States that does not have any airborne chemicals present. VOCs are found in homes in different forms like paints, hobby supplies, dry cleaned clothes, aerosol spray, air fresheners etc. Your bedroom is the place where you could avoid toxic chemicals. Converting your bedroom into a healthy retreat can be a positive impact on your health and your children. Clean air helps you have a good night’s sleep and is significant for overall health. Quality Air Purifier Investing in a quality air purifier is the best thing that you can do to improve air quality. It is almost impossible to limit the toxins and pollution but an air purifier can help you breathe cleaner air. You should look for an air purifier that is tried and tested by the users. Go for the one that removes more than 99% of airborne contaminants that are larger than 0.3 microns. Also, choose the purifier that eliminates more than 2500 toxic gases and odors that surround you like ammonia, benzene, cooking odor, dry cleaning odor etc. I recently reviewed the Molekule Air Purifier that will eliminate VOCs and goes beyond what a standard HEPA filter can do. I highly recommend it. Frequently Asked Questions Can Air Quality Affect Sleep? The air pollution could affect the quality of your sleep. The researchers have focused on two parts – sleep quality and sleep efficiency. This is measured as the total number of hours you sleep and the times you wake up after falling asleep. Can Air Pollution Make You Feel Tired? The pollutants in the air cause an increase in fatigue. If you feel tired often, you should take some time off from working in poor air quality areas. One of the common symptoms of poor air quality is headache. How Does Poor Air Quality Affect Health? Long term exposure to poor air quality can lead to many health issues like: Development of chronic respiratory diseases Asthma A decrease in lung function Respiratory issues like irritation of airways, difficulty in breathing and coughing. Do Air Purifiers Help You Sleep Better? Yes, air purifiers improve your sleep. They purify the air by trapping more than 99% of up to 0.3-micron airborne allergens like pet hair, molds, bacteria, dust and dust mites. These are the elements that wake you up in the middle of the sleep. Thus, air purifiers help you sleep better. We hope to have helped you give a basic idea of how poor air quality may be affecting your sleep. Investing in a quality air purifier is the only solution so far.
  8. Even though often overlooked, sleep is undoubtedly the most important part of life. People can go without food for days, but the effects of sleep deprivation are quick to show. It’s not surprising that a good night’s rest has incredible benefits for both the body and the mind. How you feel during the day depends on the quality of sleep you get at night. Your productivity at work, your concentration, memory, and your mood and appetite also depend on the quality and quantity of sleep that you get. When you are deprived of sufficient sleep for a prolonged amount of time, the effects do not take long to show. A large number of people suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. And in most cases, they are not even aware of it. Most people who suffer from a sleep disorder go their entire lives without realizing why they never got sufficient sleep. Disorders of sleep are of various kinds, but they all interfere with the normal quality and quantity of nightly sleep. There are people who do not suffer from any sleep disorder but also do not get sufficient sleep. This is mainly because of a hectic schedule and making more time for work, home, and other social commitment. It is no surprise to find people doing with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep every night because they work too late and wake up early. When people have too much stress in life but not the required amount of sleep, it is a potential course for various health disorders. Productivity, memory, and concentration also suffer if nightly sleep remains insufficient for a long time. Why Is Sleep Important? Most imagine that sleep is a period of inactivity. This assumption is not surprising because while we are asleep, we do not get to know what happens inside our brain. That’s why we tend to think that while we sleep the brain is also asleep. But the brain and the body never sleep and keep working even while we rest. Some of the most important processes of the brain take place while we are asleep. It must be remembered that the brain cannot perform the rejuvenating and revitalizing functions while we are awake. These functions can only be performed when we go to sleep. Sleep can be divided into four stages, three of which are non-REM stages and one REM stage. All of these stages are equally important in ensuring sleep quality. While the first two stages are light sleep, the later stages are deeply relaxing and rejuvenating. The third sleep stage is a non-REM stage and lasts 10 to 30 minutes, but sleep here is the deepest and almost like a coma. It generally takes a long time for a person to wake up from this sleep phase. In this stage, the heart rate and the body temperature of the person are the lowest, muscle movements barely occur, and the breathing is gentle and rhythmic. It isn’t possible to turn or change sides in this phase because the body is immobile. Delta waves in the brain are produced in this stage, deeply relaxing to the body and helping it heals and recharges in this stage, because of the delta waves. This is the stage when bedwetting, night terrors, and sleepwalking occurs but the person has no memory of them when they wake up. The final stage of sleep is the only REM phase. Unlike the earlier three stages, the brain becomes active in this stage although the body is still immobile. The REM phase lasts for a short time, with most adults spending only about 20 percent of their sleep in this phase. This is when dreaming occurs along with the rapid movement of the eyelids from side to side behind closed eyelids. The heart rate, breathing, and body temperature begins to rise in this phase. The REM sleep stage is when the brain starts to become active, right before the person wakes up. This stage is extremely important in ensuring proper sleep quality. Because this is the deepest sleep stage, the brain recharges and prepares for the day. The REM sleep stage is important because this phase boosts learning, memory, and cognitive functioning. When this stage is hindered, the brain doesn’t get to complete these processes, leaving you foggy and disoriented when you wake up. Alcohol is notorious for hindering REM sleep, preventing you from restorative sleep no matter how long you’re asleep. Importance of A Sleep Study It goes without saying that being part of a sleep study is expensive. Then why would anyone want to take one? That’s because there’s so much that a sleep study can reveal about your health and your sleep quality. If you have untreated sleep disorders, a sleep study can be eye-opening and lead you to take your sleep more seriously. Sleep studies can be performed either in a labor at home. However, if serious sleep disorders need to be diagnosed, then the study should be performed at a lab because brain waves will be monitored. The great thing about a sleep study is that it’s able to diagnose a problem in an hour or two whereas a doctor will require a series of tests to find out the same over a few months. Because sleep studies are conducted by sleep experts, if they diagnose a sleep disorder, they can begin treatment immediately. This means you can recover quickly. Is Sleep Study Worth The Cost? Although sleep studies are on the expensive side, most insurers have started to recognize the health risks of untreated sleep disorders and also have good coverage costs. You should check with your insurance company to find out if they offer coverage for a sleep study. In many cases, it can be very affordable. A sleep study depends on the type of sleep disorder. An affordable alternative to taking a sleep study in a lab is to take a home sleep test, which is only a fraction of the cost.
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