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The temperature in your bedroom is perfect. Your blackout curtains have been drawn shut. And you’ve just finished a cup of chamomile tea and novel that made you laugh out loud and forget about whatever was bothering you earlier in the day.

You’re just about ready to drift off, and suddenly the air conditioner kicks on. Or a car alarm screeches through the night air. Or your partner sneezes. Suddenly, you’re wide-awake again. Your brain responds to noises when you’re awake and asleep. But if the interruptions wake you up, that can keep you from getting the restful shuteye that you need.

When ambient noise is disrupting your sleep, white (or pink) noise can help to smooth out the rough edges. Imagine sitting next to a person who is loudly chewing gum in a library. Then imagine sitting next to that same person in a crowded bar. It’s the same chomping gum, but underneath the drone of a crowded place, you can’t even hear it anymore. White noise, whether it’s from a sound machine, a simple fan, or crowd noise helps to mask noise-related disruptions by creating a constant ambient sound that makes a “peak” noise, like a door slamming, less of a contrast. And that makes you less likely to be startled awake.

Just like different people respond differently to sounds while they sleep, the right type of white noise for you is a matter of personal preference. Some sound machines and apps allow you to choose from a menu of options like rain, waves crashing, or even a hair dryer. And while it wouldn’t be safe to run an actual hair dryer all night long, a fan or air purifier with a gentle humming noise can be a simple solution that you may already have on hand. Try it tonight. You might find that a little white noise is the secret to your best sleep.

The post Will a Sound Machine Help You Drift Off? appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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The temperature in your bedroom is perfect. Your blackout curtains have been drawn shut. And you’ve just finished a cup of chamomile tea and novel that made you laugh out loud and forget about whatever was bothering you earlier in the day.

You’re just about ready to drift off, and suddenly the air conditioner kicks on. Or a car alarm screeches through the night air. Or your partner sneezes. Suddenly, you’re wide-awake again. Your brain responds to noises when you’re awake and asleep. But if the interruptions wake you up, that can keep you from getting the restful shuteye that you need.

When ambient noise is disrupting your sleep, white (or pink) noise can help to smooth out the rough edges. Imagine sitting next to a person who is loudly chewing gum in a library. Then imagine sitting next to that same person in a crowded bar. It’s the same chomping gum, but underneath the drone of a crowded place, you can’t even hear it anymore. White noise, whether it’s from a sound machine, a simple fan, or crowd noise helps to mask noise-related disruptions by creating a constant ambient sound that makes a “peak” noise, like a door slamming, less of a contrast. And that makes you less likely to be startled awake.

Just like different people respond differently to sounds while they sleep, the right type of white noise for you is a matter of personal preference. Some sound machines and apps allow you to choose from a menu of options like rain, waves crashing, or even a hair dryer. And while it wouldn’t be safe to run an actual hair dryer all night long, a fan or air purifier with a gentle humming noise can be a simple solution that you may already have on hand. Try it tonight. You might find that a little white noise is the secret to your best sleep.

The post Will a Sound Machine Help You Drift Off? appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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Finding somewhere to sneak in a mid-day nap isn’t always feasible. What are you supposed to do—crawl under your desk to catch some zzz’s or snooze on the sidelines of your daughter’s soccer practice? The solution: nap studios.

The frequency of naps tends to drop off after the preschool years, but the short bouts of sleep are beneficial at any age. Dozing off for just 20 to 30 minutes may give your mood, alertness, and memory a boost,and as people better understand the importance of sleep, nap spaces have become more popular. Companies like Google and Ben & Jerry’s have carved out places in their offices that people can use for mid-day snoozing,and now sleep spaces are becoming accessible to people who don’t work at these organizations thanks to nap studios.

For a fee, the serene spaces typically provide pillows, blankets, and mats so that you can get a short amount of shut-eye in the middle of your day. Many of the studios also offer meditation classes, something that has been shown to improve sleep. If you think you could benefit from a quick snooze at one of these studios (and most of us could!), use these tips to get the most from your catnap:

Keep your nap to less than 30 minutes. Any longer, and you’ll reach the deeper stages of sleep and may wake up still feeling weary.

Schedule your nap between 1:00pm and 3:00pm. This is when energy levels start to dip, so you’ll get the most out of the snooze.

Set an alarm! Nix anxiety about returning to the office too late by setting an alarm to snap you out of your nap. Some nap studios even provide a wake-up call.

The post Is a Nap Studio Right for You? appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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If you often have trouble falling asleep at night, it’s a good idea to assess whether your bedroom is the relaxing sleep sanctuary that you want it to be. Is it dark enough? Quiet enough? Are your sheets and pillows soft and comfortable enough? If you’re confident that your sleep environment is set up to help you get a good night’s sleep, it’s time to prep your body and mind to do their part. One of the best ways to do this is to recruit your senses in relaxing ways that will facilitate a smooth journey to the Land of Nod. Here’s how:

Sight

Using the right visualization techniques in the evening can help you de-stress, unwind, fall asleep, and get better quality zzz’s. Close your eyes, sit quietly, breathe deeply, and imagine a place where you felt truly relaxed or peaceful in the past. Maybe it was while standing on a serene mountaintop or sitting by the ocean. Picture the colors and other aspects of the scene in detail and let the vision in your mind calm you.

Sound

Listening to soothing music for 30 to 45 minutes before you turn in for the night can help reduce stress and anxiety, help you fall asleep more easily, and even improve the quality of your sleep. The key is to choose tunes you like that have a slow beat—such as classical music or soft jazz—because your heart rate will slow in response to them, which sets the stage for sleep.

Smell

Inhaling the scent of lavender essential oil in the evening can reduce anxiety and enhance the quality of your sleep. Besides reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, the scent of lavender has been found to increase the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep, which can help you feel better rested in the morning.

Touch

Just as swaddling a baby can promote calmness and sleep, harnessing the power of touch can boost the quality of your sleep. Learning how to apply acupressure to yourself along key points of your body can improve your sleep. Meanwhile, sleeping with a weighted blanket— which provides constant tactile stimulation all over the body—can provide calming physiological effects, as well as increasing the amount of time you spend in various stages of sleep.

Taste

Having a light bedtime snack can help set you up for a good night’s sleep. Consuming tart cherry juice can increase levels of sleep-inducing melatonin, which can put you in the mood to snooze. Similarly, having a mug of warm milk or a handful of walnuts in the evening can make you sleepy, thanks to the soporific amino acid tryptophan. By contrast, drinking soothing chamomile tea can ease anxiety and depression, which can help you sleep more soundly.

The post Use Your 5 Senses to Set Yourself Up For Better Sleep appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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There’s a reason that yogis always seem so upbeat and well rested: Practicing sun salutations, downward dogs, and other poses can be a great, natural way to improve sleep. And you don’t have to be a pro to benefit. People with insomnia who do yoga daily for at least eight weeks fall asleep faster and get more sleep at night.

Yoga may also be able to help if work, relationship, or other angst is keeping you awake long past bedtime. In fact, over 85 percent of people who practice yoga say that it cuts down on stress. So what are you waiting for? Pull out a yoga mat, grab a water bottle, and stretch and bend your way to better sleep with these moves.

Cat/Cow Pose

Start on your hands and knees with your knees positioned directly below your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders. Then center your head and look toward the floor. (Imagine that you’re making a tabletop with the top of your back.) Exhale while rounding your back toward the ceiling, as if you’re a frightened black cat on Halloween. Then, inhale while lifting your chest toward the ceiling and letting your belly drop toward the floor. Continue flowing smoothly between the two positions, paying attention to your breath.

Chair Pose

Stand with the skinny side of a yoga block placed between your upper thighs, with your feet parallel, toes pointing forward, arms raised above head, and hands together. Squeeze the block with your upper thighs as you bend your knees and push your rear back, as if you were about to sit in a chair. Continue to squeeze the block as you hold the position for about 30 seconds.

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

Lie on your back with your legs extended, then bend your left knee and draw the leg into your torso. Place a yoga strap around the arch of your left foot, holding the ends of the strap in both hands. Keep your right leg flat on the floor. Straighten your left leg and press your left heel toward the ceiling so that leg is perpendicular to the floor, and then hold it for about 30 seconds. Repeat the move with your right leg.

Corpse Pose

End your practice with this relaxing move. Lie on your back with your legs and arms straightened and extended slightly outward, palms facing up. Close your eyes and try to remain completely still. Let your breath come naturally, allow your body to sink into the floor, and relax and release your body from head to toe to nix any tension. Pro tip: If you start to get chilly as your body cools down, cover up with a yoga blanket.

Yoga poses can be difficult to master, so if you’re having trouble—or aren’t sure whether your form is correct—consider checking out a local class. Yoga DVDs can also help guide you through poses to ensure that you get the most out of your practice while avoiding injury.

The post Yoga Moves That Quiet the Brain and Relax the Body appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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Have you bought your mom a Mother’s Day gift yet? Instead of going with the classic bouquet of flowers or box of candy, why not get your mom something that will help improve her sleep? These five presents will make her smile and help her feel well rested for days to come.

  • Lavender hand lotion: Certain scents, like lavender, can reduce stress and lead to deeper sleep when smelled at bedtime. If your mom isn’t into lotion, a lavender-scented candle or pillow spray can be just as beneficial and will look beautiful on her nightstand.
  • Chamomile tea: A box of chamomile tea can encourage your mom to sip on a cup before bed—something that will help her relax. To make the gift look even prettier, you could place teabags into some beautiful china teacups, put them in a basket or on a platter together, and then wrap the whole thing in colorful, see-through cellophane.
  • A bedtime fan: Warm weather is on the horizon, so a well designed fan for your mom’s bedroom might make the perfect gift. It will help cool the room (people sleep better in a colder environment) and the white noise that the fan makes can be soothing and help drown out more startling outdoor noises, like sirens or dogs barking.
  • A gift certificate to a yoga studio: Having a regular yoga practice can help improve sleep—it can help quiet the mind as much as it relaxes the body. And she’ll be stronger and more flexible to boot!
  • A new set of sheets: Nothing will make your mom more excited to get into bed than a set of brand new sheets. What to look for? Keep the thread count between 200 and 400 (anything higher can trap body heat) and pick natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and bamboo, since they can wick away perspiration while she sleeps.

The post Mother’s Day Gifts to Help Mom Get Her Zzz’s appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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CPAP machines are designed to help people who suffer from sleep apnea feel better. These machines increase airflow during the night, helping you breathe better so you can sleep without disruption. But for the machine to work well and keep you healthy, you do need to keep it clean. Your machine should come with specific instructions for care, but there are some basic tools and techniques that tend to work on most of them. Check out five products that might help.

  1. Mild, pure, liquid soap: CPAP machines have humidifier water chambers, which you need to clean every morning. Empty any unused water from the chamber and then let the chamber soak for 10 minutes in a mixture of water and mild, pure, liquid soap. Then rinse it and let it air dry. You can use the same soap for cleaning the masks and tubing. Make sure that you don’t use anything too harsh, chlorine, or alcohol-based cleaners.
  2. Mask cleaner: While mild, pure, liquid soap works well, there are also specialty cleaning fluids that are specifically designed for use on CPAP masks. This kind of cleaner is extra gentle, so it won’t break down the material of the mask—even if you use it every day.
  3. Tube-cleaning brushes: You’ll want to clean the tubes of your CPAP machine once a week. Soak them in the mixture of water and soap mentioned above, and then use a tube cleaning brush to get the inside of the tube clean.
  4. Sanitizing machines: Worried about bacteria and viruses living in your CPAP machine? You can buy specifically designed CPAP sanitizing machines that get rid of germs and mold. Just put the entire apparatus inside without taking it apart and turn it on.
  5. Mask wipes: For a quick cleaning in the morning, you can wipe off the mask with an unscented wipe, which is designed exactly for this use. It takes off any leftover dirt or grease that built up the night before (like from makeup or sweat that was on your face) and can keep it clean between more involved washings.

The post Simple Steps to Keep Your CPAP Machine Clean appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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Sleep.Org by Ashelton - 10M ago

The fiery feeling of heartburn isn’t just uncomfortable. If you experience it regularly at night—as up to 75% of people who have frequent heartburn do—it could mess with your sleep and leave you exhausted. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that adults who have bedtime heartburn are more likely to have sleep issues such as insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and restless leg syndrome. That burning sensation that you experience with heartburn is due to stomach acid flowing back up the esophagus—the tube that brings food to the stomach from the mouth. But here’s some good news: It’s possible to manage the discomfort. Beat the burn and score better shuteye with these tips.

Watch What You Eat

One of the best ways to prevent heartburn before bedtime is to avoid fatty or fried foods at dinner, as well as alcohol and nicotine. Another smart idea: Have your last meal of the day at least three hours before you head to bed. Lying down too soon after eating can trigger acid to rise up from the stomach—ouch.

Change Positions

Sleeping on your right side can cause heartburn symptoms to flare. Sleeping on your left, however, may ease the discomfort, possibly because it helps to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is located between your stomach and esophagus. Sleeping with your upper body elevated may also help, so raise the head of your bed or use a foam wedge to keep your body slightly upright from the waist up while you sleep.

Get Comfy

Skip wearing any pajamas that are restrictive or tight to bed. Loose-fitting, comfortable pajamas help fight heartburn by taking pressure off your abdomen and lower esophageal sphincter while you rest.

Pop a Pill

Antacid tablets, as well as H-2-receptor blockers, can be used to treat occasional heartburn. But if these meds don’t do the trick, talk to your doctor. He or she may test you for gastroesophagael reflux disease (GERD), a more severe form of reflux that can be treated with prescription medication or surgery.

Watch Your Weight

Putting on extra pounds can place pressure on your abdomen and stomach, causing acid to reverse direction and go back up the esophagus.Talk to your doctor about what your goal weight should be, and keep a scale in your bathroom to monitor your progress.

You’ll be able to enjoy more restful sleep once you’ve put out the fire, but if you’re not getting any relief from these tips—or if your heartburn disturbs your sleep frequently—it’s best to see your physician to rule out more serious health issues.

The post Ease Heartburn at Bedtime appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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Nothing is scarier to parents than the idea that something can happen to their baby while he or she is asleep. Unfortunately, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or SIDS) happens every year to 1,500 infants. It’s usually blamed on something interfering with a baby’s breathing while he or she is asleep. There are also other injuries that can happen after you put your baby to sleep. In fact, 26 babies are injured every day by their crib—usually from climbing up the side and falling over the edge. While all this is scary, there are things that you can do to keep your little one safe and sound while sleeping. These are six steps that every parent should take.

  1. Have your baby sleep on his or her back. Tummy time is good when a baby is awake, but sleeping should always happen on the back. This is true even if it’s just a nap. Don’t worry if your baby flips over and starts sleeping on his or her stomach after a few months—as long as he or she is starting out in the right position, it’s OK.
  2. Double check that the crib is safe. The slats of the crib should be fewer than 2 3/8 inches apart—anything wider than that and your baby can wedge his or her head into the space.
  3. Place your baby on a firm mattress. Soft surfaces like a fluffy blanket, quilt, pillow, or sofa can be dangerous and cause your child to suffocate.
  4. Cover the mattress with a tight-fitting sheet. Even though you see photographs of cribs in catalogs with lots of extra items like bumper pads, a top sheet, blankets, and toys, you’re not going to want anything except for a fitted sheet in there with your baby.
  5. Keep your baby warm with the right sleep clothing. When it’s cold, don’t wrap your baby in loose blankets. Instead, use a sleep sack that’s wearable and designed specifically for babies.
  6. Keep the bedroom cool. When a baby gets too hot, the risk for SIDS increases. Keep the room the perfect temperature by using a fan that’s made for use in a nursery (they have child-proof features to keep fingers safe).

The post Protect Your Baby From SIDS and Other Sleeping Injuries appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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Though it’s somewhat mysterious, sleep talking (a.k.a. somniloquy) is a common phenomenon. About half of kids talk in their sleep at least once a year (and less than 10% do it every day). And roughly 67% of adults talk in their sleep at least once every three months. It often runs in families and tends to be more common among men.

Sleep talking can vary considerably in its content—ranging from gibberish or mumbling to nonsensical outbursts to full, coherent sentences. Sometimes it may seem as though the sleep-talker is giving a speech or monologue, while other times it can sound as though the person is carrying on a conversation with someone else. The chatter can occur during any stage of sleep.

If a friend or family member has ever told you that you talk in your sleep, your first concern might be whether you said something offensive (such as a curse word) or revealing (like a long-held secret). Your second thought might be whether sleep talking  is something to worry about, as far as your health is concerned.

This kind of nocturnal narrative falls into the “parasomnia” category, so it is considered a sleep disorder. In terms of what causes it, insufficient sleep, alcohol or drug use, illness, stress, anxiety, and depression are common triggers for these unconscious musings. Sometimes this nighttime chatter accompanies other sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep apnea, and REM behavior disorder. In rare situations, somniloquy is associated with a psychiatric disorder or nocturnal seizures.

If you talk in your sleep only occasionally and you are not experiencing symptoms of any of the other sleep disorders or health conditions mentioned above, then it’s probably nothing to worry about. But if, for example, you’re frequently waking up tired, or you feel overwhelmed or sad most of the time, it’s worth talking to your doctor about sleep talking to make sure that it isn’t a red flag for another health problem.

The post Why Do Some People Talk In Their Sleep? appeared first on Sleep.Org.

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