how many pillows should you sleep with

How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

Do you like to sleep on a pillow stack or do you have one, flat-as-a-pancake, pillow that you’ve had forever? No matter how you like to sleep, the important thing is that your neck and body are aligned at night. Here’s all you need to know to choose a pillow that will help keep your spine in alignment and your body healthy.

Understanding Neck Alignment

When you are asleep, your postural goal should be to keep your spine in neutral alignment. This means that nothing is twisted or torqued sideways or up-and-down. It means that your spine is allowed to lay as it naturally wants to, without being pushed or pulled in any particular direction.

While your nighttime posture depends on quite a few things, like your mattress, your sleep position, and more, your neck alignment is primarily influenced by your pillow. A pillow that is good for you helps maintain that neutral position, while one that isn’t good for you will keep you out of alignment. Note that a pillow that works for you may not work for your partner or someone else.

Here’s how to tell if your pillow is doing its job.

For Side Sleepers

If you are a side sleeper, test your pillow by lying on it as if you were trying to fall asleep. First, make sure the pillow’s position is correct. The bulk of it should be in the small of your neck, with complete contact throughout the length of your neck. You should not have pillows under your shoulders or touching your back.

Next, have someone take a photo of you from the back and the front and compare it to the chart below:

 

 

You should be able to draw a straight line from your sternum, up your neck, and through the middle of your face. The line shouldn’t have bends or twists. These indicate a postural problem and that you likely need a new pillow.

For Back Sleepers

Again, lie down as if you were about to fall asleep. The basics are the same. The pillow should like mostly in the small of your neck and should make contact with your entire neck. However, you shouldn’t have pillows under your back or your shoulders. In addition, make sure that the back of your head is lying on the pillow and you don’t have it scrunched up and pressing against the top of your head.

Take a photo and compare it to the chart below:

 

 

The line you draw this time will curve, because your neck naturally curves. However, you don’t want the curve to be exaggerated or too shallow. If you’re not sure, take a photo of yourself with good posture while standing and compare it to the one you took while lying down. Your neck posture should look the same, or you may need a new pillow.

For Stomach Sleepers

Maintaining healthy neck position is very difficult if you sleep on your stomach because you usually have to twist your head sideways to breathe. Consider sleeping without a pillow or changing your sleep position to one that is healthier for your body.

How to Choose the Right Pillow

You’ll want to choose the pillow that keeps your spine in alignment. Needless to say, this may take some trial and error. Many pillow manufacturers understand this and will give you a trial period when you buy your pillow. Be sure to keep track of this, in case you need to return your pillow later.

If at all possible, take a potential new pillow home and sleep on it for several days before you make your decision. Most people know pretty quickly if a pillow is right for them. In addition to performing the tests above, many people notice neck and back pain within a night or two if a pillow won’t work for them.

Not sure where to start? Many back sleepers like memory foam, because of the way it cradles the neck and head. You could also try an adjustable pillow, where you can add or remove different kinds of filling until you find the combination that keeps your spine in alignment all night.

Do I Need More Than One Pillow?

 

 

Most people should be able to find one pillow that keeps their neck in alignment and is comfortable to sleep on. In fact, layering pillows can cause more harm than good. Sure, you may be able to layer several pillows to get the height of one good one, but these can slide or shift overnight. This can cause spinal damage and neck pain.

While it’s best to sleep with only one pillow under your head, many sleepers benefit from the use of other pillows elsewhere on the body.

  • Back sleepers often sleep better with a pillow under their knees. Ideally, this wouldn’t be necessary, but when we hunch over computers all day we often end up with excessive arching in the lower back. Raising the knees with a pillow helps reduce that arch and brings the spine back into alignment.
  • Side sleepers often like to sleep with a pillow between their knees. This helps keep the pelvis straight so that the top side isn’t torqued forward all night. Some side sleepers achieve this with a body pillow that they can also wrap their arms around, which can help with shoulder alignment, too.
  • Pregnant women can benefit from a body pillow or several different pillows to arrange as they will. This can help them deal with the various aches and pains that can pop up as the human body grows another human. As pregnancy progresses, many women find that a pillow under the belly offers needed support for the lower back.

You may have to experiment to find the pillow arrangement that works best for you and keeps your neck aligned. Take your time, and you should be able to find a pillow or pillows that will help you sleep well for a long time.


If you are in the market for a pillow, take a look at our in-depth pillow buying guides and reviews.


Sleep Trackers

Sleep Trackers – What to Know Before You Buy

Sleep trackers have been getting more and more popular over the last several years. At this point, there are sleep tracking apps, wristbands, mattress pads, and even rings. However, a lot of people take their sleep tracker’s data with a grain of salt. After all, how accurate can something be if it’s not measuring your brain waves to know when you’re actually asleep and awake.

Are you wondering if there’s any benefit to tracking your sleep? Here’s everything you need to know so you can make an informed decision.

Why Should You Track Your Sleep?

People track their sleep for all sorts of different reasons. Those with sleep disorders often use the data to get an objective point of view on how they are sleeping, so they don’t have to go with their own feelings and perceptions alone. Sometimes, they feel like they are sleeping better or worse than they actually are, and a sleep tracker can give more objective data.

Other people do it for just that: the data. Some people like to assign numbers to everything, so they enjoy knowing how much sleep they got, how much of it was deep sleep or REM sleep, etc. They may or may not find it actually helpful, but they enjoy looking at the information.

Finally, some people use sleep trackers to keep them accountable for getting enough rest. If you’re someone who likes to say up late or who ends up prioritizing other things over your sleep, then a sleep tracker can help keep you on track. It will give you useful data about how much you sleep, so you can make sure that you’re getting enough sleep and not making excuses for your lack of rest.

How Do Professionals Track Sleep?

 

 

There are several ways to track sleep. If you go into a lab for a research study and sleep there, they will use polysomnography (PSG) to measure your sleep. This involves attaching electrodes to your scalp so they can use EEG to measure your brain waves. They may also measure other things, like heart rate and body temperature, to make doubly sure that you are asleep when the EEG indicates.

Since most of us don’t want to sleep in a lab regularly (and don’t have that option), the best choice is actigraphy. Actigraphy is a measurement of how much you are moving, or how active you are. Actigraph devices are usually worn on the wrist, like some of the more common sleep tracking devices you might be aware of. While these don’t have the same level of accuracy as PSG, they are used in formal studies that measure sleep patterns and habits.

Monitoring the heart rate and/or skin temperature in addition to actigraphy makes the results more accurate. Some of the wrist-worn devices have been designed to add one or both of these features, as well. Since your heart rate accelerates and decelerates depending on what sleep stage you’re in, and your skin temperature changes, too, these devices can help ensure that the data researchers get is accurate. It also allows them some sense of which sleep stage a person is in, which actigraphy alone may not be able to do.  

How Do Sleep Trackers Work?

Most of the popular sleep trackers on the market today are worn on the wrist, and many double as a step-counter, exercise tracker, heart rate monitor, and more. There are also apps that claim to track sleep, as well as pads that you can put under your mattress to track your rest. These usually connect to an app or another device so it’s easy to get your results.

The majority of these sleep trackers rely on actigraphy, though some also combine heart rate technology and/or skin temperature monitoring to add to their accuracy. Most of the ones that include the heart rate or skin temperature are worn on the wrist, where it’s relatively easy to pick up your heartbeat and where they have direct contact with your skin. In general, if your sleep tracker has heart rate monitoring technology as part of its other capabilities (usually exercise monitoring), then it can also use that data to determine whether you’re asleep and what sleep state you’re in.

What Sleep Trackers are Available?

The Fitbit family of exercise trackers are among the most common wrist-worn sleep trackers. Some of these devices are limited to actigraphy only, but many of them now offer heart rate monitoring technology, too. Some of them offer information on your sleep stages, while others will only tell you when you were awake and when you were asleep.

A few of these devices have been shown to be about as accurate as EEG monitoring. While the main study on these devices was conducted by the company itself, and so should be interpreted with at least a bit of skepticism, it was verified by independent researchers, which adds credibility.

Among the apps available to monitor sleep, two of the most popular are Sleep Coacher and Sleep Cycle. Sleep Coacher asks you some questions about your rest, then makes recommendations for you to follow. It has you follow them for several days, then ignore them for a few, to see if you notice a difference in your sleep. It also requires you to keep your phone on your bed at night, so it can monitor your sleep, via actigraphy and noise monitoring, to give you an idea of what helps.

Sleep Cycle doesn’t give you recommendations for your sleep, but it does monitor your sleep and set off your alarm at a time that is good for you, based on what sleep cycle you’re in. It takes into account any movements you make, as well as any sounds it picks up from your or in your bedroom. You may have to experiment with where to put your phone to get this app to work at its best.

When it comes to sleep trackers that go on your mattress, Eight is popular. It is actually a mattress pad, and, in addition to monitoring sleep, it will also warm your bed and connect to various wifi devices that you might have. It also provides an alarm, similar to that in Sleep Cycle, that wakes you at a time that’s good for your sleep. There’s not much data on how accurate it is, but reviews indicate that people seem to think it helps them get a better night’s rest.

How Accurate are Sleep Trackers?

 

 

Since you probably won’t be hooking yourself up to a PSG device every night, we’ll focus on the accuracy of actigraph devices. However, most of the studies out there have been done on devices built specifically for actigraphy, and not on the popular wrist-worn devices that also track things like exercise, steps, etc. That said, there has been at least one study that included a Fitbit among the actigraph devices tested

Actigraphy alone seems to be generally accurate when it comes to healthy adults who have relatively normal sleep patterns. If, however, you have a sleep disorder, the devices become less and less accurate the more disturbed the sleep becomes. This is because people with sleep disorders tend to move around more in their sleep, which the tracker can interpret as being awake or frequent waking.

These trackers cannot be used to determine which sleep stage you are in. Since they rely on movement alone to determine sleep stages, the best they can offer is a very limited generalization. This does change if the tracker takes heart rate into account when determining sleep stages, since your heart rate changes depending on the stage you are in. However, even these trackers will only give you a general idea of how long you spend in each stage, since they aren’t monitoring your brain waves.

How Do I Choose a Sleep Tracker?

Researchers warn that even the most accurate trackers will probably not get your sleep duration perfect. Most of them either overestimate or underestimate how much sleep you’re getting. They may assume that you are asleep when you are lying still in your bed, wide awake, or they may assume that you are waking in the night when, really, you are just restless in your sleep.

Given this data, as long as you are using your sleep tracker to give you a general idea of how much and how well you are sleeping, it is probably a worthy device. After all, scientists use them all the time and rely on the data they offer. If, however, you want to know exactly how long you are sleeping and how long you are spending in each stage, they aren’t going to help you a lot. The technology just isn’t there, yet, to give you that level of accuracy on a device you can wear every day.

Eight Sleep Tracker

 

If you decide to get a sleep tracker, it can help you reach your sleep goals. It might help you do your best to note what time you fall asleep, what time you wake, and how long you are awake at night. Then, compare the data to your sleep tracker. Doing this for a few nights can help you determine how accurate your tracker is. Then, you know how much you have to generalize the results you get from it.

In the end, sleep trackers are valuable, especially if you aren’t sure how much sleep you’re getting or you want to hold yourself accountable to sleep more. Even though you can’t completely trust the results, they can help you remember to get more sleep and give you feedback about whether you are getting the sleep you think you’re getting. If these uses appeal to you and fit your needs, then it’s time to get your very own sleep tracker.


Best Military Mattress Discounts

At Best Mattress Reviews, we are all about helping active-duty, reservists, and military veterans get the recognition and rest that they deserve. We applaud your service and recognize that because of the critical work that you do, you might have specific sleep needs. We hope our sleep guides and informative reviews help active-duty military and veterans find the best bed for them.

Service to our nation can be physically and mentally stressful which means sleep is all the more important to you. The rigors of service in the armed forces can’t be underestimated. Even those that don’t serve on the front lines have far more physically vigorous jobs than most civilians. That means you need a bed that will support you, ease your aches and pains, and gives you the rest you deserve.

We appreciate those that served our country and those that are doing so now. We partnered with mattress brands that offer a discount not only to active duty personnel but also those in the Reserve, Guard, retired, and veterans that served in the past.

 

 

Discounts for dedicated active and former servicemembers

To help those that serve in our armed forces, Best Mattress Reviews works with key mattress brands to bring you savings and discounts on quality mattresses and bedding. We know that you don’t serve because it pays well – you do it because you’re dedicated. So, we want to help you get the best night’s sleep possible, no matter your budget, and that’s why we’ve partnered with brands to bring you discounts to respect your sacrifice and service.

Best military mattress discounts

Some mattress makers offer year-round discounts to eligible active-duty, retired, and prior-service veterans. Others offer sales tied to key holidays associated with the military such as Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. With Memorial Day right around the corner on May 28, 2018, it’s a good time to start mattress shopping and get ready to take advantage of the deepest veteran discounts you’ll find on a mattress all-year long.

This year, Veteran’s Day falls on Sunday, November 11, but is observed on Monday, November 12, 2018, as a federal holiday, so there should be two good shopping days for mattress discounts this Fall if you miss the Spring sale at Memorial Day. If you’re not ready to buy a mattress right now, that’s okay. There are many brands that offer a mattress discount or mattress coupon to veterans and active service personnel throughout the year.

If we can answer any questions for you about mattresses, sleep needs, or military discounts, please contact us via email or our social channels.

Mattress Companies That Give Back

Avocado Green

 

 

The Avocado Green is an all-natural latex bed with pure New Zealand wool batting and organic cotton covers. The bed is eco-friendly, sustainably sourced, and eco-INSTITUT certified to have no VOCs, heavy metals, or other harmful chemicals. Avocado’s price point is very reasonable for a quality latex bed. The price shown below is before the military discount is applied. They only ship to the 50 US states.

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King CA King
Standard Price $959 $999 $1,199 $1,399 $1,699 $1,699
Price w/ Pillowtop $1,199 $1,299 $1,499 $1,799 $2,199 $2,199

*This is the retail price before the military discount is applied!

Avocado’s military discount

Avocado Green offers a $150 discount on each mattress ordered. To get the promo code, go to the Avocado Green website, and click the chat icon that lives on the bottom right of the page. Tell them you’re military, and they will ask you to confirm via one of the following methods:

  • Photo of yourself in uniform
  • Photo of military ID
  • Copy of DD214
  • Email from your military account

 

 

You are eligible for Avocado’s service discount if you’re active duty, reserves, a veteran, or retired from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.

Brooklyn Bedding

 

 

Brooklyn Bedding offers three different product lines. Bowery is their all-foam bed while Signature is a hybrid (innerspring and foam), and the Aurora line offers cooling tech for those that sleep hot. All are well-reviewed by customers, and their array of products should fit every budget. They only ship to the US and Canada but will work with freight forwarding services for those stationed overseas.

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King CA King
Brooklyn Bowery $449 $499 $599 $649 $849 $849
Brooklyn Signature $599 $649 $799 $949 $1,149 $1,149
Brooklyn Aurora $999 $1,199 $1,499 $1,699 $1,999 $1,999

*This is the retail price before the military discount is applied!

Brooklyn Bedding’s military discount

Brooklyn Bedding offers a 25% discount off your entire order. To get the discount, load your products into the cart then click the red Troop ID icon to log into your ID.me wallet to certify your eligibility. If you don’t have an ID.me account, it’s easy to use and qualifies you for many offers.

 

 

You can enjoy the Brooklyn Bedding discount if you’re active military, a veteran, IRR, National Guard, retired military, a military spouse, or a dependent.

Eight Sleep

 

 

Eight Sleep’s three product lines of beds are available with and without smart tech to optimize your sleep experience. Saturn is a three-layer foam bed, Jupiter is a four-layer foam, and Mars is an innerspring and foam hybrid. The tech monitors 15 factors, warms and cools the bed, and integrates with smart home devices and sets smart alarms for optimal waking. They ship to the 48 contiguous states only.

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King CA King
Saturn/Saturn+ $349/NA $399/NA $499/699 $699/899 $899/1,099 $899/1,099
Jupiter/Jupiter+ $549/NA $599/NA $799/999 $899/1,099 $1,099/1,299 $1,099/1,299
Mars/Mars+ $749/NA $849/NA $1,099/1,299 $1,199/1,399 $1,399/1,599 $1,399/1,599

*The lower prices are without smart tech and all are retail prices before the military discount is applied!

Eight Sleep’s military discount

Eight Sleep provides a 10% discount off your mattress and bedding order. To access the discount, go to the military discount page and log into id.services to certify your eligibility. If you don’t have an account, confirmation is fast so long as you have appropriate documents on hand.

 

 

The Eight Sleep discount is for active duty military personnel, veterans, retired military, military spouses, and dependents

Drömma Bed

 

 

The Drömma mattress

Drömma makes an advanced memory foam bed that’s three layers thick. Unlike other memory foams, their materials sleep cooler and are eco-friendly. They use cooling gel and adaptive foams for pressure relief, and less motion transfer all in a thick 12” design. All their foams are CertiPUR-US certified for low VOCs, no heavy metals, and no toxic chemicals. They ship to all 50 US states with a $125 premium to Alaska and Hawaii, but no international shipping.

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King CA King
Price $574 $674 $849 $999 $1,099 $1,099

*This is the retail price before the military discount is applied!

Drömma’s military discount

Drömma has a military discount that you must hit while it’s hot. They offer 10% off, but you can’t access it while they are running other promos. That means it’s only off the regular prices. To access the discount, load the item you want into your cart, then click the Military Discount button. If there is another promo running, you will get a message saying the discount is temporarily unavailable.

 

 

The Drömma servicemember discount is available to active duty members, veterans, retirees, and reservists.

GhostBed

 

 

GhostBed makes two models of bed, the original GhostBed, and GhostBed Luxe. The original is a three-layer memory foam and latex mattress made for cooler sleep. GhostBed Luxe is a seven-layer mattress specifically designed for cooling with innovative phase change tech that dissipates heat and a cover with cooling fibers woven into the yarn fibers. Shipping is free to the 48 contiguous states, $600 to Alaska or Hawaii and no international shipping is available.

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King CA King
GhostBed $495 $650 $845 $895 $1,075 $1,095
GhostBed Luxe $995 $1,175 $1,350 $1,475 $1,785 $1,825

*This is the retail price before the military discount is applied!

GhostBed’s military discount

The military discount from GhostBed is $50 off. However, before adding the code to the shopping cart, look to see if there is a better discount. Sometimes GhostBed runs better promos of greater value, and the military discount doesn’t stack on top of other offers. The current offer should appear by default in the cart. If it’s better than the military discount, the “VET50” code will not register and it will say “expired” even though it has not. It’s a bit confusing, but you can call customer service and they can help.

 

 

GhostBed’s discount is for all active duty and veterans.

Leesa

 

 

Leesa has two product lines: Leesa and Sapira. Leesa is a foam bed while Sapira is a hybrid of pocket coils and foam. Sapira is a costlier version with more features such as less motion transfer, better cooling, and enhanced edge support. Both beds are well-reviewed by buyers and are well-suited to all sleep positions. Leesa ships to all 50 US states, but not internationally.

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King CA King
Leesa $525 $695 $855 $995 $1,195 $1,195
Sapira $995 $1,095 $1,295 $1,495 $1,795 $1,795

*This is the retail price before the military discount is applied!

Leesa’s military discount

Leesa offers a 15% military discount. To access the discount, start at ID.me. You must be Troop ID certified. If not, take care of that first. Then at the Leesa site, add items to your card, click for the military discount, and the site will verify your eligibility through ID.me then apply this discount to the cart. You cannot stack discounts, so be sure to see if there is a better discount on offer before you apply the military code.

 

 

Leesa’s discount is good for all active duty, veterans, and retired military from all branches of service

Saatva

Saatva, Loom & Leaf, and Zenhaven are all part of the Saatva family. The Saatva line is an innerspring and memory foam hybrid with an optional plush 3” Euro-top at no extra charge. Loom & Leaf is a premium memory foam mattress with an organic cotton cover and high-tech cooling gel. Zenhaven is their all-natural latex line that is flippable for firmness options and contains zoned support and an organic wool and cotton cover. Saatva delivers its products to the 48 contiguous US states only.

Twin Twin XL Full Queen King CA King
Saatva $599 $699 $899 $999 $1,399 $1,399
Loom & Leaf $749 $799 $999 $1,099 $1,499 $1,499
Zenhaven $1,299 $1,349 $1,699 $1,899 $2,499 $2,499

*This is the retail price before the military discount is applied!

Saatva’s military discount

Saatva offers $50 off each mattress purchase, and the discount applies to all their product lines. To access the discount, you must call them at (877) 672-2882 before placing your order. If you already placed the order, call them, and they will refund the $50 promptly. They need your military ID number for active and reservists, your DOD number, or other documentation.


3 Tricks to Sleep Well in a Hotel

You park the rental car, walk to the check in counter. You make small talk with the concierge as she hands you the room key. You’re in room 403. The elevator is down the hall and to the right. You swipe the key, open the door to your room. No surprises here: a bed, a desk, a toilet, a mini fridge stocked with mini beverages. You toss your luggage on the floor and sit on the edge of the bed.

Tomorrow is a big day, and you need your energy for it. Coffee alone won’t do the trick. No, you need sleep, and plenty of it.  

But it’s hard to sleep in a hotel room. The bed doesn’t feel right, someone’s always slamming the door, the curtains don’t block the streetlights, the pillows are too hard. Some nights, morning can’t come soon enough. We’ve all been there.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep in these alien environments. So let’s get to them, yes?

1) Keep it Dark

Our circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle that governs sleep and wakefulness – is regulated primarily by light. Bright light in the morning wakes us up, and an absence of light in the evening signals the release of our sleep hormone, melatonin. With melatonin there to help us, we can have restful sleep.

But when our sleep environment isn’t dark, our body thinks it’s daytime, and melatonin isn’t released. And dark means dark. Our eyes, even our skin cells, contain photoreceptors that are sensitive to even a tiny amount of light. So for optimal sleep, the room must be pitch black.

With this in mind, the first thing to do in a hotel is unplug anything that emits light. All those blinky diodes on the TV, alarm clock, etc. – shut them down. If you’re feeling extra-motivated, place a towel along the doorway to stop exterior light from seeping in. Finally, make sure you put on a sleep mask before hitting the hay. The eyes are the most photosensitive part of the body, after all.

 

Keep the Bedroom Dark

 

2) Keep it Cold

After light, room temperature is probably the most important factor for quality slumber. Everyone knows how good it feels to bundle under the covers on a chilly night.

But it’s not just a good feeling. If the room isn’t cool enough, REM and deep sleep are impaired. And when you don’t get enough REM and deep sleep, your brain function suffers the next day.

Luckily, most hotels have an air conditioner. Set it for a comfortably cool temperature – 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or so – and your brain will thank you the next day.

3) Pack Magnesium

Magnesium supports many functions in the human body, and sleep is no exception. For instance, magnesium supports two hormones – melatonin and adiponectin – that help you snooze. Low levels of adiponectin, in fact, can lead to sleep apnea, so it’s good to maintain healthy levels of that hormone. Magnesium also increases levels of a circulating protein called renin, also linked to sound sleep.

What about clinical evidence? In one study, just 500 mg per day of magnesium improved sleep quality in a group of elderly folks. According to another comprehensive review, magnesium supplementation is a proven way to reduce anxiety. That’s a nice benefit if you’re wound up after a long day of travel.

Bottom line – magnesium is a safe and inexpensive supplement to support sleep and relaxation on the road. Plus it takes up less space than your toothpaste.

 

Magnesium Supplement for Sleep

 

Recap

Let’s go over those sleep strategies one more time. Upon entering your room, turn off the lights, unplug the blinky things, and ready your sleep mask. This will create enough darkness to facilitate melatonin release. Then crank up the A/C until the temperature is cool enough to promote healthy sleep cycles. Finally, pop some magnesium to support sleep hormones, increase renin levels, and lower stress.

Do this, and when morning comes, your brain will be fresh, your body will be rested, and your energy will be primed. In other words, you’ll be ready for action.


Essential Oils and Sleep

Essential Oils and Sleep

Even if you’re not into essential oils, you’ve probably heard of them, and not only because three or four of your friends have started selling them. People make all sorts of claims about essential oils. They’re supposed to do everything from healing burns to fighting MRSA, balancing hormones, and more.

Researchers are still studying whether or not oils can help with all sorts of conditions, but they have concluded that some of the oils (jasmine, for example) can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. If you struggle with insomnia or you’d just like to get better rest when you’re asleep, it may be worthwhile to try an oil.

How Essential Oils Help You Sleep

When it comes to sleep, essential oils work mainly through aromatherapy. We all know just how powerful scents can be. A certain smell can remind you of a particular person or a whole period in your life. Scents work this way because they stimulate the amygdala and the limbic system, both of which work to control memory and mood.

They do this by controlling two bodily systems: the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system. The autonomic nervous system is the nervous system that exists outside of our conscious knowledge, at least most of the time. This system regulates respiration, heart rate, body temperature, digestion, and more. When it is excited, we feel anxious and may go into fight or flight mode. When it is calmed, we feel relaxed, happy, and at peace.

The endocrine system controls the hormones in the body, which in turn regulate everything from sexual function to mood, growth, and metabolism. In fact, there’s not much that the endocrine system doesn’t have a hand in regulating.

Together, these two systems can play a huge part in helping you sleep. If you can use the right aromatherapy tools, then, you can help yourself relax and feel good about who and how you are.

How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep

There are several ways to utilize essential oils for sleep. One of the most popular is to put them in a diffuser. You can purchase one of these online, most for less than $40. A diffuser is basically a small humidifier that also disseminates the oil. You put in the required amount of water, then add 5-10 drops of an oil of your choice. Turn on the diffuser and, within a few minutes, you should smell the oil throughout your room.

Diffusers come with all sorts of options. Some last longer than others, while others offer automatic shut-off after a certain amount of time. Many have a light that will change colors, or where you can pick one color to use as a nightlight. If you go this route, make sure that you choose a diffuser that is the right size for your room. Most of them will have a maximum square footage number in their product description.

If you don’t have a diffuser and you don’t want to get one, there are other ways to use essential oils for sleep. You can mix a few drops with water and put it in a small spray bottle. Spray your pillow and your sheets with enough time to let it dry before you go to bed. You should smell the oil wherever it was sprayed.

You can also use the oil on your body, though you’ll want to mix a few drops with a carrier oil first. Never put undiluted essential oils on your body unless you are an expert because some of them can burn your skin. Use something like jojoba oil or fractionated coconut oil. Mix just a drop or two of essential oil and rub it on your skin. Popular places include the bottoms of the feet, the wrists, and the temples. You should then smell the oil as you are drifting off to sleep.

The Best Essential Oils for Sleep

 

 

There are many oils that can help you rest and relax, and here are some of the most popular and best-researched options.

Lavender

Lavender essential oil not only makes your bedroom smell like a garden, but it also calms your autonomic nervous system. This means that it helps lower your respiration rate, heart rate, and body temperature. Since these usually happen when you’re falling asleep anyway, this can help aid the process. Lavender also helps alleviate anxiety and depression, both of which can interfere with sleep.

Chamomile

Officially known as Roman Chamomile, this oil is one of the most popular natural sleep aids. Most people, however, brew it in tea and drink it, rather than inhaling it directly as an essential oil. No matter how you take it, chamomile will help you get rid of stress so you can sleep better than you ever have before.

Valerian

This unassuming oil has been used to help with sleep since the 17th century. It will not only help you fall asleep, but it can raise your sleep quality, too. This means that you will feel more rested and energized in the morning.

Neroli

This little-known essential oil is a big hitter when it comes to sleep. Combine it with lavender and chamomile, and you just might have found the cocktail that will work for you. It has a very distinct smell, so, if you like it, mixing it might help you tolerate other oils that you wouldn’t otherwise choose to use. It may be especially effective for women

When you’re choosing an essential oil to help you sleep, it’s not only important that it aids in rest and relaxation, but also that it is a scent you enjoy and can tolerate. Some people don’t like certain oils, and that’s fine. There is usually another oil with similar properties that will work just as well. Some oils may also help you sleep better than others will, and you may need to experiment with several before you find the one that will solve your insomnia problems for good.


How does sleep deprivation impact your body?

How Does Sleep Deprivation Impact Your Body?

No one loves to get a bad night’s sleep. It makes the next day (and maybe the next few days) that much harder. Some people feel exhausted, others find it hard not to snap at people all day, and even others just feel like the whole world is slightly off-kilter.

However, not getting enough sleep doesn’t just make you feel off, it also negatively affects the way your body functions. When you don’t get the amount of sleep you need, it changes your body’s functioning from your brain to your heart and more. The more sleep deprived you are, the more pronounced these effects will be, and the more likely you’ll be to suffer long-term effects.

Sleep Deprivation Impacts on Your BodySource: Healthline.com

 

This is Your Brain on Sleep Deprivation

Your brain does NOT like it when you don’t get enough sleep. It uses the time that you spend sleeping to process events and store data for later retrieval. When you don’t get enough sleep, it doesn’t have time to do those things well. This means that sleep deprivation ends up negatively affecting both your long- and short-term memory.

Sleep also seems to help us with higher level thinking skills, like being creative, solving problems, and being able to focus or concentrate. When we don’t get enough rest, our scores on all of those things go down significantly.

Sleep deprivation also makes us more accident-prone, especially when we’re driving. In fact, going without sleep for even 18 hours makes us drive as if we were drunk. Losing a couple of hours of sleep every night for a week will have a similar effect. We may think that we are perfectly competent behind the wheel when we’re sleepy, but we’re not.

Our brains don’t handle adversity or difficulty well when they are tired. We are more prone to mood swings, and even to anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. Impulsive behavior goes up when we’re tired, so people may be more likely to commit suicide when they are sleep deprived.

Sleep Deprivation and Your Heart

The heart also doesn’t like it when we don’t get enough sleep. In fact, people who don’t sleep enough have significantly higher chances of suffering from high blood pressure.

As if that weren’t enough, sleep deprivation is also linked to an increased risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke. It seems that the body eliminates inflammatory chemicals while you’re resting. When it doesn’t get a chance to do this thoroughly, these are left in your body unchecked. Inflammation is tied to both heart attacks and strokes, so these become more likely in people who aren’t getting enough rest. Lack of sleep itself might even raise inflammation levels more, actively increasing your chances of suffering one of these events.

Blood Sugar and Weight

 

 

Sleep deprivation is also tied to increased chances of being overweight and obese, and of struggling with Type II Diabetes. When you don’t sleep enough, your body releases more insulin after you eat. This hormone controls your blood sugar levels. The more of it you release, the more likely your body is to store fat and learn to resist it, which leads to Type II Diabetes.

Sleep also influences how much leptin and ghrelin your body produces. These hormones regulate feelings of hunger and satiety. When you don’t get enough rest, they become imbalanced. Tired people end up eating more because the hormones tell them that they’re still hungry. Over time, this can lead to significant weight gain.

Your Immune System

The immune system uses the time that you’re asleep to produce several different disease-fighters for your body. One of the most important of these is cytokines. These actively help your body fight off illness. When you don’t get enough sleep, the body doesn’t have time to build up enough of these to effectively keep you healthy.

Balance and Coordination

 

 

People who don’t sleep well struggle more with balance and coordination than their well-rested peers. This may be because these are complex brain process and, as we discussed above, the brain doesn’t perform those very well when it’s tired. It may also be because tired muscles, tendons, ligaments, and more don’t get a good chance to recover when you don’t sleep enough. When they aren’t firing well, you may become more clumsy.

Sex Drive and Development

Testosterone is essential for a good sex drive in both men and women. However, it is only produced when you are asleep for at least three hours. This means that people who don’t get enough sleep, or those who wake frequently during the night, will have lower hormone levels and, therefore, lower sex drives.

Sleep also triggers high levels of production of human growth hormone in children and adolescents. It affects how fast they can build muscle mass and how effectively their tissues repair themselves. Kids who aren’t getting enough sleep may not produce enough of this to grow well.

Sleep deprivation is a bigger problem than we tend to think that it is. After all, many of us forego sleep in favor of all sorts of other things, all the time. We might think that it’s annoying, but we don’t worry too much about it. However, sleep deprivation is changing the ways our bodies work. If we want to stay healthy and live as long as we can, getting more sleep should become a priority.