10 uncomfortable pregnancy conditions and how to get relief
  1. 10 uncomfortable pregnancy conditions and how to get relief


    By Dr. Amelia Bailey, Ob/Gyn

    Motherhood, as you likely know if you’re reading this, is rewarding but not the bed of roses it’s often portrayed as. In fact, it can be pretty uncomfortable, painful or occasionally embarrassing, too. Here are a few conditions we can run into as we grow our little human, along with some ways to cope.

    #1 Morning sickness

    First of all, the person who named it morning sickness obviously never suffered from this condition.  It is actually morning, noon and night sickness. And it’s worst from 6-11 weeks of pregnancy. Try to eat small meals throughout the day. As long as you’re not a diabetic, it’s okay to eat more carbohydrates at this stage since that is what the pregnancy needs.  Listen to your body, and do not force yourself to eat. Btw, you are not actually eating for two–it is closer to eating for 1.01.

    10 uncomfortable pregnancy conditions morning sickness

    #2 Round ligament pain

    This pain can occur throughout pregnancy.  It feels like a pulling in your side and can be pretty sharp.  This comes from stretching the ligament that runs from the top of your uterus into the vagina, which happens as your uterus enlarges to accommodate your growing baby.  The pain will usually go away if you shift positions.

    #3 Acid reflux and constipation

    Progesterone, the pregnancy hormone, slows your bowels down in order to extract as many nutrients as possible from the food you eat.  This is great for baby but tough for you (like so many other things). Drink plenty of water to help with constipation; but do this early in the day to minimize reflux.  Also, avoid consuming caffeine, chocolate, and acidic foods, which can worsen reflux. Raise the head of your adjustable power bed or sleep on several pillows to help with nighttime reflux.

    10 uncomfortable pregnancy conditions acid reflux

    #4 Headaches

    This symptom worsened for me during both of my first trimesters.  I would drink plenty of water and eat something as a first step. Those may help, but occasionally I had to take Tylenol, which is safe in pregnancy as long as a doctor has not told you to avoid it.

    #5 Insomnia

    You may have difficulty sleeping due to hormone shifts during the first trimester, and you certainly will have insomnia due to physical discomfort in the third trimester.  Make your room as conducive to sleep as possible (dark, quiet, perfect temperature), and give yourself an extra hour to fall asleep. This will allow you to not become anxious if you have insomnia.  Also, try listening to soothing music or a meditation to help you fall asleep. Or just wait a few months- you will have no trouble falling asleep once the exhaustion of the newborn period sets in. During the third trimester, adjust your bed or use a pregnancy pillow to improve comfort while your body houses your little miracle.

    10 uncomfortable pregnancy conditions insomnia

    #6 Stretch marks

    I start using lotion on my tummy during the second trimester.  Cocoa butter or an emollient cream works well. These do not have to cost hundreds of dollars- I bought mine at the drugstore.  Apply a thick layer all over the front and sides of your tummy before bedtime. I smelled like Easter candy while using the cocoa butter, but it worked!

    #7 Swollen feet

    As if you weren’t uncomfortable enough, during the third trimester your feet will start to swell due to baby’s size.  Prop your feet up as much as possible and wear compression stockings. If the swelling is rapid, you should go see your Ob/Gyn immediately as it could be a sign of increasing blood pressure.

    10 uncomfortable pregnancy conditions puffy swollen feet

    #8 Breast tenderness

    This is a normal part of your pregnancy hormones surging, but it can be very uncomfortable.  Wear a tight-fitting but comfortable (think: no underwire) bra, maybe even a sports bra or camisole with shelf bra.  I even wore mine overnight to keep my anatomy in place while sleeping.

    #9 Lack of balance

    Your belly is growing (beautifully!), your hip bones are shifting, and you are exhausted.  It’s the perfect recipe for losing your balance, which could of course be dangerous to you and to baby.  When going from lying to standing, do so slowly. Relax in a sitting position for a few minutes before getting up to minimize the risk of dizziness.  Staying well-hydrated is helpful, too.

    10 uncomfortable pregnancy conditions balance

    #10 Recovery from delivery

    Your body has just endured the greatest work-out it will ever have, or you have just had major abdominal surgery, or both if you labored prior to a c-section.  Plus, you just finished growing another human. Be kind to yourself! Ask others for help taking care of your needs and baby’s needs. You may want to hold a pillow over your tummy while coughing or getting up after a c-section.  An adjustable power bed can also help you get out of bed without stressing those sore abs. If you had a vaginal tear during delivery, which is common, ask the hospital for a squirt bottle (squirt room temperature water before, during, and after urinating) and some numbing spray, and consider getting a donut-shaped pillow to sit on for a few weeks.

    Housing and then having a baby is not easy, but it is worth every sacrifice.  Best of luck, mama. You can do it!


    Having trouble sleeping while pregnant? Thinking ahead to getting rest once that baby is born? Check out this bed and take a look at our special blog for new and recent moms.

    Dr. Amelia Bailey Ob/Gyn

    Dr. Amelia P. Bailey is a Harvard-trained reproductive endocrinologist and infertility (REI) specialist in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery for her practice and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. As the mother of two young children, she knows how important it is to get a good night’s rest and has used the Reverie Sleep System throughout both of her pregnancy and postpartum periods with excellent results.






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  2. Sleep Tips for Vegas Summer Market
  3. Sleep Tips for Vegas Summer Market


    It’s that time of year again! Our twice-a-year furniture market extravaganza in fabulous Las Vegas. Let’s all go talk about sleep and not get any at all.

    Want to make it a little easier this year? Here’s your plan for prepping your sleep for Vegas market.

    Vegas Sleep Survival Guide

    If you’re already short on sleep, my advice is simple: sleep more now.

    • Take naps.

    • Go to bed earlier.

    • Sleep in.

    You don’t want to pile sleep deprivation on sleep deprivation: one study showed those running on less than 6 hours of sleep showed the same levels of cognitive dysfunction as the group that didn’t sleep at all. (What’s even worse: the folks in the six-hour group didn’t rate their sleepiness as being all that bad). How about that. So to you folks: get some sleep before Vegas. Your brain will thank you.


    If your body is well rested, check out my recommended schedule below.


    East Coasters/Flatlanders

    Vegas is three time zones away.

    • Give yourself three days to adjust, pushing your bedtime and wake up an hour later each night.

    • For example: you’re flying in on Thursday, so you would start adjusting Monday night. Instead of going to bed from 10:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., you would try to go to bed at 11:30 p.m. - 7:30 a.m.

    • Each day, keep pushing your bedtime and wakeup times back by a half-hour to hour without sacrificing the duration of your sleep (getting ENOUGH sleep takes priority in this case to a later bedtime).


    Central time zone

    Vegas is two time zones away.

    • Give yourself two days to adjust, pushing your bedtime and wake up an hour later each night.

    • For example: you’re flying in on Thursday, so you would start adjusting Tuesday night. Instead of going to bed from 10:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., you would try to go to bed at 11:30 p.m. - 7:30 a.m.

    • The next night, push your bedtime and wakeup times back another hour without sacrificing the duration of your sleep (getting ENOUGH sleep takes priority in this case to a later bedtime).


    Mountain timezone

    Vegas is one time zone away.

    • Lucky you! You only have to adjust one hour.

    • The night before you leave, try to go to bed and wake up an hour later than usual.


    BE SURE TO PACK:

    • Eye mask

    • Ear plugs (Because...Fremont Street). The hotel typically provides ear plugs but if you want to bring your own feel free. Either way, just have them available.

    • Anything that is part of your home bedtime routine: reading a book, a magazine, essential oil, your usual pajamas or lack thereof. Whatever you can do to keep a consistent thread between home and travel will benefit your sleep.

    You probably won’t be getting MORE sleep than usual in Vegas so it’s so important to protect the sleep you do get with a few tools for light-blocking and noise blocking.


    Nerd out with me briefly here as we talk about dolphins. Yes, dolphins.

    So dolphins have this cool ability to put half of their brain to sleep while the other half stays awake. This is thought to be so they can stay alert and ward off predators and not drown in the ocean, that sort of thing. It’s called unihemispheric sleep. There’s your six-point word for the day.

    Anyway, humans can’t do this (giant bummer, I know). BUT. Brain scans have shown that we exhibit a sort of baby version of this unihemispheric sleep: in that there’s a little more activity and alertness in half of our brain when we’re sleeping in a new place. Tracking?

    So when you sleep in the hotel on the first night, you’re kiiind of like a dolphin in that half your brain is sleeping a little lighter to watch out for a rogue zipliner who might come crashing through your window (which isn’t actually going to happen, but your ancestors had to go through a lot, OK?). So, to counteract all of these survivalist instincts of ours, an eye mask and ear plugs will help that lively half of your brain shut down a little more, and help you sleep better on the first night in Vegas.


    ON THE FLIGHT

    • Permission to nap. A jacket with a hood, a neck pillow, or noise-cancelling headphones will all help in this endeavor.


    WHEN YOU ARRIVE

    • Start acting like you’re on Vegas time. Your sleep pregaming will pay off here.

    • Pay attention to your light. If it’s daytime, seek light. If it’s nighttime, seek darkness as much as possible. This will help your circadian rhythm do a hard restart.



    Sweet Dreams and see you all in Vegas!


    P.s. More sleep tips coming soon for coping with Vegas....


    A little preview:

    Q: What should I do if I was raging at 2 a.m. and the Starbucks line is too long in the Golden Nugget?

    A: Fear not, you sleep-deprived soul. There’s a Starbucks a 7-minute walk away from the Golden Nugget (on S Casino Center Blvd). Mobile order that trash and get some sunshine and exercise in your day.


    Q: It’s 3 p.m. on Monday and I AM SO TIRED.

    A: Well, what do you know. That’s your circadian rhythm in action! There’s a natural lull in our energy around mid-afternoon. Throw in some late night parties and drinks and you have yourself some full-blown exhaustion. Skip the coffee and take a power nap instead. Might I suggest a fine Reverie mattress and base in our showroom for your testing purposes.


    Q: I don’t remember too much from last night’s dinner. I met 14 people and forgot all of their names.

    A: Yeah...that’ll happen. I’m guessing there was some alcohol sloshing around in your liver last night too. While drinking helps us fall asleep faster, it creates a kind of “fake” sleep, and you miss out on all the neat and tidy sorting of the day's factoids (like remembering names) during this drunky sleep cycle. Might I suggest:

    • Frantically searching through LinkedIn

    • Trying a firm handshake, arm slap, and “Heyyyy buddy” upon meeting again

    • Try a few and see what elicits the most positive response. I recommend starting with some popular picks such as Bob, Greg, or Sara. 

    Want more sleep tips or to talk 1:1 about YOUR sleep? Come visit me (Sleep Coach Rachel) at our Reverie showroom. 

    Las Vegas World Market

    July 29 - Aug 2  |  Showroom B-925

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  4. Sleep and Your Speedy Recovery
  5. Sleep and Your Speedy Recovery


    If you’ve ever broken a bone or had a serious surgery, you know that a doctor’s prescription will often include intensive bed rest. While this sounds like the easiest advice in the world to take, the reality is usually the opposite.

    As it turns out, being confined to your bed (or couch) for a long period of time can start to feel like its own sort of fluffy prison, and the last thing you end up feeling is rested. Spending all day lying down can turn into too much of a good thing, leaving you itching for activity and the outdoors. Add to this the discomfort resulting from your wound, and you’ve got the perfect formula for restlessness and a bad night’s sleep.

    However, it’s important not to get discouraged and just give up on getting the sleep that you need, as getting the right amount of sleep is extremely important for your recovery. When you get a full night’s sleep, one of the stages your sleep proceeds through is deep sleep. When you are in deep sleep, your body is signaled to secrete growth hormones, which work to vigorously repair damaged tissue in your body, as well as prevent further breakdown.

    The trick to this is that it has to be a full night’s sleep, which can be hard to come by when you’re tossing and turning due to discomfort from an injury or going through the process of healing up from surgery.

    Here are a couple tips to help you fight this sleeplessness and get better faster:

    Light and dark cues

    Keeping up your sleep hygiene is very important when you’re going through this process, but perhaps the most important part of these steps to follow while you’re laid up is making sure to be exposed to the proper light and dark cues. Your circadian rhythm thrives off of getting the right signals from your environment in order to know when it should keep you awake and alert, and when it should initiate the sleep process.

    Being stuck inside the house means this aspect of sleep hygiene might be something you leave to the wayside without thinking about it. You should make sure that even if it just means sitting near a window in the morning, and cutting off the lights come nighttime, you’re following the pattern of the sun. This will help your sleep set in just as it’s supposed to, instead of being thrown off schedule, keeping you up into the night.

    Sleep and Your Speedy Recovery

    A smarter bed

    If the recovery from your surgery or injury is something that will keep you off of your feet for an extended period of time (longer than a couple of months), you might want to consider investing in an adjustable base for your mattress. When we’re healing from an injury, the old positions we were used to sleeping in can seem impossible to sleep in now. With an adjustable base, you’re better able to find different settings and arrangements for your mattress that will hit the peak comfort level for you.

    Talk to a professional

    If you are experiencing substantial amounts of sleeplessness, make sure to consult your doctor immediately, as they may have more specific guidance that will help you sleep better during your recuperation. If you believe the medicine prescribed to you is having an adverse effect on your sleep, this is also a great time to bring up your concerns.

    Conclusion

    The condition in which we sleep can’t always be perfect, but we just have to remember to keep sleep a high priority in our lives, and continue making an effort to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep provides countless benefits to us—most importantly repairing and rejuvenating your body—getting you out of bed and active again sooner.


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  6. How to Get Great Sleep at Every Age
  7. How to Get Great Sleep at Every Age


    At some point post-childhood, sleep seems to lose a bit of its luster in our eyes, and we start to see it more as a burden than a welcome relief. In truth, sleep becomes that much more necessary in our lives the more we grow and develop. No matter what stage of the game you’re in now, take a look at our rundown on how sleep needs change throughout our lives, as well as some great tips for getting the best sleep of your life—every night.

    Adolescents

    Along with needing a higher total of sleep than your average adult, the teenage sleep schedule is also quite different. In adolescence, our circadian rhythms are pushed far forward past the more stable rhythm that’s closely aligned with the regular twenty-four hour cycle. This means that teens are much more likely to feel tired later (around eleven p.m.) and want to sleep in the next morning until nine or ten a.m.

    As most teenagers can attest, this peculiar sleep schedule is often met with some resistance from parents and misunderstanding from older adults in general. Here are a few tips that’ll help teenagers get the best sleep possible:

    • Communication is key during this time when your sleep schedule requires some debate and negotiation. It’s important to make sure you’re (tactfully) communicating to your parents that staying up later and needing to sleep in is a biological need, and it doesn’t stem from any poor choices on your part.

    • As much as it’s under your control, wake up and head to bed at the same time every day (even on weekends!), as this will help your body settle into a great pattern of sleepiness and alertness at just the right times.

    How to Get Great Sleep at Every Age


    Young adults

    As a young adult, your circadian rhythm is swinging back from the later teenage rhythm to a rhythm more closely aligned with the regular twenty-four hour daily cycle. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your sleep at this point in life is in any way average.

    To ensure better sleep even in your roaring twenties, here are a couple good tips:

    Midlife

    If you find yourself in your forties or fifties, it probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise that your sleep at this stage is not guaranteed to be as good as it was in your teenage and early adult years. This simply means that your sleep requires a little more TLC now than it did in years past:

    • Maintain your sleep hygiene. Most important at this stage of the game? Making your bed a no-screens zone. Keep your work at work: you can’t get your best sleep when you’re staying up late to complete reports or lying in bed responding to emails. Reserve your bedtime only for sleep.

    • As always, make sure and consult your doctor if your sleep is consistently poor, as this can have serious effects on your health both in the short- and long-term.

    Older adults

    Older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults—it’s a fact. The sad reality, though, is that so many in this stage of life get used to making do with a small amount of sleep—and suffer the negative health effects of sleep deprivation all the while.

    Here are a couple steps that will help ensure you get the sleep you need during this time:

    • Again: don’t underestimate the power of good sleep hygiene. Keeping up with a regular exercise schedule has been proven to raise the quality of your sleep, but it also does wonders for your health overall, keeping you fit and active.

    • Due to their circadian rhythms being pushed back earlier, older adults tend to feel ready to turn in for the night some time in the mid to late afternoon. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker in his book Why We Sleep tells us that, when older adults who wish to stay up later respond to this tiredness with a nap, they ruin their body’s ability to generate sleep later on that night. “Instead,” he tells us, “older adults who want to shift their bedtime to a later hour should get bright-light exposure in the late-afternoon hours.”

    Conclusion

    From the day we’re born, sleep adapts to meet the various needs of our bodies. It’s just as powerful when we’re young as when we’re old, and if you give it the chance, it’ll be there to back you up no matter what life throws at you.

    Happy sleeping!


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  8. Getting Better Sleep During Chronic Pain
  9. Getting Better Sleep During Chronic Pain


    If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from chronic pain, you know that a good night’s sleep is hard to come by. In fact, you might not even remember the last time you experienced a halfway-decent night’s sleep.

    As is the case with most things that disrupt our sleep, the sleep loss resulting from chronic pain often begins a vicious cycle which only makes the source of the pain worse, causing even more sleep loss. If there’s one good thing that comes from recognizing this cycle, it’s that it shows us just how necessary good sleep is for good health.

    When we don’t get at least seven hours of consistent and uninterrupted sleep (as is often the case for those enduring chronic pain), we miss out on some of sleep’s most helpful benefits. The reason behind this has to do with the functions of the different stages of sleep that our bodies proceed through when we’re sleeping like we’re supposed to.

    Chronic pain and sleep stages

    Throughout a full night of sleep, our brains cycle between two phases, called non-REM and REM sleep (REM stands for “rapid eye movement”). NREM sleep typically takes up the largest chunk of time, as NREM itself progresses through a series of three stages. The first two stages of NREM are light sleep, and they’re the first stages we enter when we’re falling asleep, when we are most able to be awakened. The third stage consists of deep sleep, and this is when our muscle functions shut down and our body boosts its production of hormones that make repairs to damaged tissues.

    When you’re suffering from chronic pain, you’re more sensitive to small wakeups throughout the night as you transition through this sleep cycle, leaving you feeling drowsy and fatigued in the morning. Every time that these wakeups keep you from spending time in the deep, restorative stage of NREM sleep, your body also loses a chance to make some much-needed repairs. Without sleep’s essential support, you may not be dealing with the source of pain as effectively as possible, and so the vicious cycle continues.

    Getting Better Sleep During Chronic Pain

    How to improve your sleep

    • Before anything, talk to your doctor. Hopefully, if you know you’re experiencing chronic pain, you’re already in communication with your doctor, but if your chronic pain is also causing you constant sleep loss, make sure you’re bringing this up with your doctor, too. Additionally, you should let them know if you feel that the medication you take to treat your pain is ruining the quality of your sleep.

    • Your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy. If your doctor believes that your chronic pain is causing you to suffer from insomnia, they may recommend you meet with a sleep specialist to examine your sleep hygiene and recommend some changes for the better. Along with this, the specialist will help you create positive connections with sleep to keep you from dreading bedtime.

    • For chronic back pain, some lifestyle changes may help. There’s a very good chance that your back pain stems from what you put your back through during the day. You should be standing as much as possible, making sure you’re not slouching, and stretch at least once per day. Also, if your back pain is more intense upon waking up in the morning, you may need a change of mattress or a refreshing of your pillows.

      • You shouldn’t sleep on a mattress that’s too soft or saggy, as this can throw your spine out of alignment. Similarly, make sure you’re not sleeping on stiff, short-lived springs that will push back against your body. Consider investing in an adjustable base with a natural latex mattress for more comfort.

      • You should make sure your pillows are providing you with the right amount of support. A pillow with extra thickness in the bottom third is ideal, as this will help to cradle your neck.

    Don’t go it alone

    It’s an undeniable fact that sleep is an essential ally in our fight against illness and disease. While your chronic pain may be due to a condition outside of your control, it’s important to remember that you can still take steps to protect this ally to the best of your ability. As we like to say, if you put in the work to improve your sleep, your sleep will put in the work to improve you—we guarantee it!


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  10. The Button Punches Back: Why Snoozing Is a Bad Idea
  11. The Button Punches Back: Why Snoozing Is a Bad Idea


    Hey there! How did you wake up this morning? Were you up and at ‘em as soon as the first alarm buzzed? Or did you have to hit snooze just once (okay—maybe a couple times)?

    Now, maybe it felt good to snuggle inside your blankets for a few minutes more, but, chances are, hitting snooze didn’t change how tired you were overall. As it turns out, hitting the snooze button isn’t really the quick fix that we want it to be. Let’s take a look at why snoozing fails to perform as advertised, as well as some better ways to wake up in the morning:

    Broken bits of sleep

    Sleep after your first alarm tends to be really shoddy in quality—you hit snooze, sleep a few minutes, hit snooze, sleep a few minutes, hit snooze…it’s very fragmented sleep.

    These piecemeal sleep fragments are light sleep. Your brain doesn’t have enough time to drift into deep, quality sleep, so instead, you’re kept just at the surface level. That means the snooze sleep isn’t sleep that’ll defeat your drowsiness (or give you any of the other awesome benefits of sleep either). In fact, it might make your drowsiness worse.

    That grogginess and disorientation that we experience upon the first few moments of waking is called sleep inertia. Hitting the snooze button repeatedly disorients your body, raising the chances of this sleep inertia extending two to four hours into your morning. We’re sure the last thing you need is to be tired for longer.

    The Button Punches Back: Why Snoozing Is a Bad Idea

    Starting over from zero

    Pressing snooze can compound this sleepiness even further, as you always face the risk of falling into another sleep cycle during your snooze sleep. This is because your brain may kick into “sleep mode” even though you’re really just trying to grab a few more minutes of shut-eye. If you do manage to slip into a deep sleep as this cycle progresses in between alarms, after being buzzed awake again you will feel more tired than you were when your first alarm went off. Doesn’t seem like ten more minutes is worth that, right?

    In for a shock

    Need a bit more convincing? When you artificially wake yourself from sleep by an alarm, it’s a shock to your system, spiking your blood pressure and accelerating your heart rate.

    Sleep scientist Matthew Walker in his informative Why We Sleep details the toll this shock takes on your average worker with a habit of punching snooze: “If alarming your heart...were not bad enough, using the snooze feature means that you will inflict that cardiovascular assault again and again within a short span of time”.

    “Step and repeat this at least at least five days a week,” he explains, “and you begin to understand the multiplicative abuse your heart and nervous system will suffer across a lifespan”.

    Resist the snooze

    What a reliance on the snooze button means is that you are either not getting enough sleep, or you are setting your alarm for too early in the morning, and using snoozing as a buffer until you’re ready to get up. Here are a few tips to help prevent the snooze button slugfest:

    • First, make sure that you are giving yourself an eight hour sleep opportunity or more (that means laying in bed without screens or other distractions) every night.

    • Set the same alarm every day (even on weekends).

    • Wake up at the very first alarm. It may not be easy when you first start off, but getting your body in to that pattern will condition it to be more awake and alert over time.

    Carpe diem

    In a perfect world, we’d wake up every day after a full night of sleep without the help of any annoying buzzing, but for most of us, that’s just not realistic. In a world with 8 a.m. meetings and inflexible school start times, alarms are just a necessary safety net. The best thing you can do is remember that hitting snooze is (at best) delaying the inevitable, so when your day begins, begin it in earnest!


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  12. Could I Have That? Style blogger Samantha Wennerstrom gets a Reverie bed.
  13. Could I Have That? Style blogger Samantha Wennerstrom gets a Reverie bed.


    First of a Three-Part Series

    Internet style celebrity Samantha Wennerstrom, known for her Could I Have That? brand, has many thousands of followers on social media, and is known for her impeccable taste. We had no idea that she'd been eyeing our bed for a while, so when she contacted us about a collaboration, we were surprised and happy.

    Samantha just moved into her amazing new home, and while she's unpacking, she had a luxury delivery ... her new Reverie bed. Check out her authentic impressions in this fun video. And stay tuned, because we'll be checking back with Samantha at 30 days and 60 days to see how her sleep progresses and to hear about her experience with Reverie's new Sleep Coach program.

    Read other reviews on the exact bed that Samantha has here. 

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  14. Why You Should Rethink the Nightcap
  15. Why You Should Rethink the Nightcap


    It’s not hard to guess why 20% of American adults use alcohol to help them fall asleep—after all, the reasoning behind it seems sound. Consuming even a little bit of alcohol leads to drowsiness in most people, so, for believers in the nightcap, a little drink before bed serves as a way to drift easily into sleep without any tossing or turning. The problem is that sleeping is so much more than being unconscious.

    During natural sleep, your brain is very much like the conductor of a symphony orchestra. It draws you in with a soft and quiet prelude, and then it progresses through the movements (or stages) of sleep in a beautiful cycle, culminating in a finale where we wake refreshed and energized for the new day. Throughout this symphony of sleep, your brain is performing lots of intricate maintenance, either on the body (developing and repairing) or on itself (strengthening memories and making connections between your daytime experiences).

    “Sleeping” with the help of alcohol, on the other hand, is really only a poor imitation. If natural sleep is an hours-long, detailed symphony, a tipsy sleep is more like listening to radio static—it’s an unpleasant experience, and there’s not much going on during it. Let’s take a closer look at the many reasons that a nightcap just can’t quite match up with sleep au naturel:

    Up all night

    In his eye-opening book Why We Sleep, sleep scientist Matthew Walker tells us that the sleep we enter after drinking is more like anesthesia than real sleep, due to alcohol’s sedative effect. As Walker says, instead of helping you fall asleep, alcohol merely “sedates you out of wakefulness”.

    Also, unlike natural sleepiness, the drowsiness of alcohol eventually wears off part way throughout the night, leaving you more prone to small wakeups that steal away any good rest sleep has to offer. Walker adds that, since most will not remember these small wakeups, they fail to associate the next-day tiredness they feel with the alcohol-caused wakeups they experienced throughout the night. It’s thanks to this that evening drinking looks completely innocent in most people's eyes, despite most likely being the culprit behind their fatigue.

    Why You Should Rethink the Nightcap

    A not-so-dreamy sleep

    The most ruinous effect of alcohol is actually something much less obvious to the lay-sleeper. Walker tells us that, as a by-product of your body metabolizing alcohol, the chemical aldehyde is created, and aldehydes are known to block your brain from entering REM sleep (also known as dream sleep).

    One of REM sleep’s primary roles is solidifying complex memory in your brain, helping you to make connections and identify patterns. This useful skill is thus impaired by the effects of alcohol on your sleep. And as far as waiting for the weekend goes: alcohol’s blocking of REM can dismantle learned information even when you enjoy evening drinks days after your brain has gathered and stored the information.

    Ruined rhythm

    Making this nightcap an ongoing habit will simply introduce more long-term problems. Studies have shown that alcohol throws your very helpful circadian rhythm off-balance, preventing your sleep and alertness pattern from syncing up with the natural flow of daylight. Our circadian rhythms also dictate a lot more than just our sleep-wake cycle, so continuing to throw it off also means heightening the risk of developing various health problems (along with wrecking the consistency of your sleep).

    The best advice

    If you are one of the many who use an occasional nightcap as a sleep aid, the best thing you can do for your sleep is to start scaling back. The not-so-fun but healthy ideal is to cut out any alcohol remotely close to bedtime. The truth is that it’s just not worth the risk to your sleep health, and your health overall.

    If you find yourself constantly fighting to get to sleep naturally and you’re stuck looking to alcohol as your only help, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. A long-term problem with falling asleep can often be a sign of an underlying condition.

    No imitations

    If you’re unwinding with a glass of wine every once in a while, chances are you’re aware of your need for sleep—that’s a good thing! Just remember: what the science behind alcohol’s effect on sleep shows us is that, when it comes to sleep, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.


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  16. How Menopause Affects Your Sleep
  17. How Menopause Affects Your Sleep


    If you’re currently going through pre-menopause or menopause, you know that it doesn’t just come on in a vacuum. There is a lot going on in your life right now, whether it’s caring for aging parents or for children who may be transitioning into adulthood, or dealing with the regular stresses of life that come from having a demanding career and trying to stay active. Your life doesn’t get put on hold just because of this change in your hormones. You still need energy, which means you still need sleep, but great sleep is unfortunately hard to come by during menopause. Let’s take a look at why, as well as some tips to help you get the best sleep possible.

    Menopause and sleep loss

    The last thing anyone with a busy life needs is to be suffering from sleep loss, but unfortunately, this is a reality for an overwhelming majority of women experiencing the symptoms of menopause. Two of the hormones which go into a steady decline during menopause—estrogen and progesterone—are also two very important sleep-promoters in our body. The loss of these hormones often translates to prolonged insomnia for many women going through menopause.

    Of course, insomnia isn’t the only cause of sleep problems during menopause and pre-menopause. The decline and fluctuations of the hormone estrogen lead very often to hot flashes, which are a substantial cause of sleep interruptions for women in this period of their lives.

    As you probably already know, hot flashes are unexpected feelings of heat all over the body accompanied by sweating. Leading up to a hot flash during sleep, body temperature rises, causing an awakening. Hot flashes can last on average for three minutes, with the accompanying sweat sometimes requiring the changing of bed clothes or bed linens, leading to further loss of sleep.

    These frequent awakenings rob you of sleep time and sleep quality, which can lead to constant next-day tiredness. Most women can experience hot flashes for about a year, with 25% experiencing them for an even longer period.

    So: whether it’s due to hot flashes or general insomnia, you know that you’re not sleeping great—now what can you do about it?

    How Menopause Affects Your Sleep

    How to improve your sleep

    First things first—we should make sure that we’re keeping up the habits of ever-trusty sleep hygiene:

    • Try out a relaxing activity before bed every night such as meditation or journaling. Make sure to speak with a behavioral health specialist if you are feeling depressed or constantly anxious.

    • Keep your bedroom cool, completely dark, and quiet.

    • Keep screens out of the bedroom, as the blue light can keep your brain from beginning the sleep process.

    • Cut off caffeine around 2 p.m. in order to get it out of your system before bedtime.

    • Exercise daily, ideally in the morning, making sure not to exercise during the two to three hours before bed as this can keep sleep from setting in.

    • For hot flashes specifically, avoid eating spicy or acidic foods, as these may be a trigger.

    If you are experiencing a constant lack of sleep that you believe is due to insomnia, we strongly recommend that you speak to your doctor as soon as possible. They may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, which connects you with a therapist that can help you ease the the anxiety connected with getting to sleep, as well as make sleep habit recommendations specifically suited for you.

    Don’t quit on sleep

    Whatever methods you choose to help get your sleep back, we want to make sure that you do not settle for a lack of sleep even when going through pre-menopause or menopause. Sure, it’s tougher to get great sleep while going through this phase but a little extra attention to your sleep health and sleep hygiene goes a long way in helping to combat some of the unfortunate sleep effects of this phase. Getting good sleep at any age is vital as a boost to your health and a protection against bodily deterioration, and we cannot recommend it strongly enough.


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