Interesting Sleep in the Animal Kingdom

June 8, 2016

As a major contributor to the Michigan Humane Society, it is no secret that US-Mattress is full of animal lovers. We of course care about how our customers sleep, but we also want to help cats, dogs, and other furry friends sleep safely and comfortably. Sleep is something shared across virtually the entire animal kingdom, and there are some truly unique and utterly strange sleep habits out there. Here are a few!

Unihemispheric Sleep

Unihemispheric sleep refers to each hemisphere of the brain sleeping independently of the other. Animals that are capable of unihemispheric sleep are able to put half of their brain to sleep while the other half remains awake and alert. This system of sleep allows animals to get sleep while remaining alert of predators, migrating non-stop, and swimming. Some examples of unihemispheric sleepers are beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions, mallard ducks, and even domestic chickens!

Sea Otter Anchors

You’ve probably seen images of otters floating on their backs and holding hands. This practice is believed to keep them from floating away while they’re unconscious. But did you know some otters have even been found to secure themselves with seaweed before drifting off to sleep? If any animal wins the “cutest sleeping practice” award it probably has to be otters. Whether holding hands or tying themselves down, otters can sleep safely in the water knowing they won’t float away.

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Mattress Makers

It is pretty common for animals to “make beds” or “bed down,” but orangutans probably take this farther than any other species aside from us. Birds make pretty cool nests, polar bears dig dens for hibernating, and deer will bed down on tall grass, but orangutans will actually find materials to bend and even weave into comfortable mattresses. While other animals may choose or use features of their environment as a bed, and animals like birds build “homes,” orangutans seem to stand apart for making complex and specialized mattresses specifically for sleeping comfort.

Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abeli) in a night nest Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia.

Dolphins

The winner of extreme animal sleeper is probably the dolphin. Not only do species of dolphins practice unihemispheric sleep, but it is thought that dolphin mothers sleep very little, if at all, for weeks after giving birth. Having to worry about predators, continue swimming, and come to the surface to breathe, unihemispheric sleep is very beneficial just to survive. But when watching over a newborn who is slower, smaller, and especially vulnerable to predation, observation has suggested that the mother stays active with only time for brief fragments of sleep at best for as much as three weeks. And you thought your newborn kept you up at night…

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As experts on sleep, and friends of the Michigan Humane Society, we hope you found these sleep facts from the animal kingdom as interesting as we did! Visit US-Mattress.com if you’re looking to upgrade your sleep with a new mattress, we promise it will be more comfortable than the one you got from that orangutan.


Free-Running Sleep

June 2, 2016

alarm clock

For most of the civilized world, the time of day determines what we do and when we do it. From waking up to an alarm clock to your nightly bedtime, time determines so many aspects of our lives. While time is obviously advantageous for society and planning ahead, some believe that living by the hands of a clock could have a negative effect on productivity and even health. Free-Running Sleep is a method of sleeping that seeks to decouple itself from time. With Free-Running Sleep, the idea is simply to sleep when you’re tired and wake naturally without the use of an alarm. While Free-Running Sleep is certainly not possible for many with demanding work or school schedules, the supposed benefits do seem valid.

One of the main ideas behind Free-Running Sleep is trusting that your body knows how much sleep it needs. It is known that the 8 hours of sleep per night rule of thumb is not accurate for everyone, with some needing more and some requiring less, so Free-Running Sleep supposedly allows your body to get the rest it needs naturally. Without having a bedtime at night and setting an alarm for the morning, it is believed that the body will simply sleep when it needs sleep. Rather than looking externally for the time shown on a clock or the rising and setting of the sun, Free-Running Sleep focuses more on the internal cues of sleepiness and natural awakening.

Studies have attempted to study Free-Running Sleep and circadian rhythm by placing test subjects in an environment without any external time cues. Without clocks, the sun, or regularly scheduled meals, the goal is to allow subjects to sleep when they want without planning or external cues. The results of these types of experiments often show extended waking periods and varying sleeping periods, which seems to suggest that 8 hours of sleeping and 16 hours of wakefulness perfectly fitting into our 24 hour days may not be intrinsic.

For those who are able to follow a Free-Running Sleep pattern in daily life, external cues such as time of day and the sun still offer some suggestions of day and night which likely results in some sort of sleep pattern. However, the freedom to sleep and wake by the internal cues of your body is thought to have some health benefits and leave you feeling more rested, energetic, and focused in your daily life. While most of us have to put up with a 9-5 work schedule that demands bed times and alarm clocks, the potential health benefits of a Free-Running Sleep schedule may lead some individuals and employers to reconsider if a one-size-fits-all schedule is the most efficient way to live.

snooze alarm clock


Monophasic, Biphasic, and Polyphasic Sleep

May 26, 2016

Monophasic, Biphasic, and Polyphasic Sleep Graphs

If you are reading this, chances are you are a monophasic sleeper. When you were a baby you may have been a polyphasic sleeper. When you were a child, you were probably a biphasic sleeper. There are also certain cultures that embrace biphasic sleeping.

These terms are probably foreign to you, but they’re pretty easy to understand. Monophasic simply means “one phase.” Monophasic sleepers generally spend one portion of their day asleep, and the rest awake. This is the standard for most adults in English speaking countries, and common elsewhere in the world. Biphasic sleeping means you sleep in two phases throughout the day. Children and the elderly often break up the middle of the day with a restorative nap, which results in two sleeping and two waking phases per day. Other countries and cultures that embrace a midday nap can also be considered biphasic, such as those countries who practice a midday siesta after lunch. The last type of sleeping is simply known as polyphasic, which simply means “multiple phases.” Babies are often polyphasic sleepers as they are asleep more often than a twice per day. Most mammals are actually polyphasic sleepers, which makes sense if you’ve ever owned a dog or especially a cat. Simians (a group which includes some monkeys and apes) are one of the few categories of mammals where monophasic sleep is common.

You may think the concept of sleeping more than once per night is strange, but some have questioned whether monophasic sleep is natural or simply a social construction of convenience. In our active, work-filled lives we simply can’t be taking naps during the day. But how often have you thought about how wonderful it would be to magically have a pillow at your desk and take a nap in the office? While this thought seems absurd, the fact that we often have the desire during the “midday slump,” may be evidence that a biphasic sleep schedule would be beneficial. Experiments that deprived participants of natural time cues, such as clocks and natural lighting, often suggest sleep patterns differ from the standard 8 hours per night. This has led many to be suspicious of our conditioning to spend a third of our lives in bed, and even led to a community of experimental sleepers who seek alternative ways to sleep.

This community of polyphasic sleepers are active online in sharing ideas, advice, and personal experiences about their sleep experiments. It seems the main objectives for experimenting with polyphasic sleep schedules are either to reduce time spent asleep per day, or utter curiosity. There are many methods and schedules that are popular, such as the Uberman schedule which calls for only 20-30 minute naps 6 times per day. In this extreme example, the math shows only 2-3 hours of sleep per day! That’s approximately an extra 5 hours to be productive each and every day! But it is certainly not that easy. Most experiment records I found online ended in failure within a week, and even those that succeeded all reported some miserable early days spent in a zombie-like state. A few reports, however, claimed to be successful for a matter of months! These reports claim that after the initial adaptation period (usually two weeks or more), quality of life is normal or even above-average on some days. Some experimenters claimed to be very productive with the extra hours in the day, with only occasional bouts of tiredness.

While I found this subject very interesting, experimenting with your sleep is certainly not recommended for everyone (if anyone). Medical professionals have weighed in on the matter and generally believe that even those who are “successful” with an Uberman sleep schedule suffer from side effects of sleep deprivation and will have to face health consequences as a result. While healthy adults will suffer from these side effects and health consequences, those with other health conditions may be putting themselves in danger due to the physical and mental stress of sleep deprivation. I would not recommend that anyone experiment with their sleep at the expense of their health, but I found this topic interesting nonetheless.

I will continue to follow some of these sleep experiments, and may follow-up in the future if I find any particularly interesting cases!


Short sleepers

May 18, 2016

normal sleeper vs short sleeper

Most of us will spend a third of our lives sleeping. Whether you love sleep or hate it, it sure would be nice to have a few more hours in the day.

For a lucky few being dubbed “short sleepers” or “super sleepers,” this is essentially the case! While most people need around 7-8 hours of sleep to be healthy and alert, about 1% of the population is believed to be short sleepers who need only 3-6 hours of sleep per night.

While many people will claim to only sleep 5 or 6 hours a night, they usually suffer from side effects of sleep deprivation in the short term or long term. For short sleepers, however, after only 3-6 hours of sleep, they feel fully rested and ready to go. No drowsiness, no loss of focus, and no lack of energy. Researchers have begun to study these short sleepers, hoping to learn more about sleep and potentially find a way to synthetically reduce the amount of sleep people need. Just imagine going from 8 hours of sleep a night to only 6 hours of sleep by taking a pill, and feeling exactly the same upon waking. That’s an extra 2 hours a day to be productive, or a whopping 30 days of time over the course of a year! What would you do with an extra month of free time this year? Travel, study, pursue your career?

Short sleepers often live successful and ambitious lives with extra time to devote to their pursuits, though there can also be challenges to having an abnormal sleep schedule. For now, this genetic mutation appears to affect only a select few, but who knows, in the future we may all be able to take advantage of the short sleeping gene!

Whether you sleep 8 hours a night or only 3 hours, you can visit US-Mattress.com for a great deal on an awesome new mattress!

refreshed morning


The men who do not sleep

May 13, 2016

counting sheep

 

Sleep is a very mysterious thing. It’s something everyone (or should I say almost everyone) does, but something we still don’t completely understand. Of all the mysteries surrounding sleep, one of the most interesting is the story of a man named Paul Kern who supposedly succumbed to an injury and lost the ability to sleep for 40 years until his death. This sounds unbelievable, but several accounts confirm the story and you can find more information online by simply searching his name.

As the story goes, Paul Kern was a Hungarian soldier who was shot in the head by a Russian soldier in 1915 during World War One. The bullet is said to have damaged part of his frontal lobe, and as a result he lost the ability to sleep. Kern allegedly suffered from no serious side effects as a result of his lack of sleep, lived for 40 years after his injury, and lived a relatively normal life with a day job.

Other stories of sleepless individuals exist, including that of Thái Ngọc who has supposedly not slept since he contracted a fever in 1973 and is still relatively healthy to this day. Al Herpin is another alleged case from the 19th century, though this case has less supporting evidence.

For most, even a single night of lost sleep can affect mood, physical performance, and mental acuity. There is an extremely rare condition known as Fatal Familial Insomnia that onsets later in life and prevents some individuals from sleeping. Currently there is no cure for this form of complete insomnia, and unfortunately most individuals who inherit the disease have a life expectancy of only a matter of months.

So whether you enjoy nothing better than a long night of sleep, or wish you didn’t have to waste so many hours in bed each night, don’t take your sleep for granted!

And for those of us who do sleep, visit US-Mattress.com next time you’re in the market for a new mattress!


Simple Series #10: Mattress Finder

May 2, 2016

US-Mattress mattress finder size

The hardest part about buying a mattress can be finding where to begin. If you’re replacing your mattress, it has probably been 10 years or longer since you last shopped for a mattress. A lot has changed in the last decade of mattress technology, so anything you remember from your last mattress shopping experience is probably much less relevant now than it was then. With more options like latex and hybrids in addition to memory foam and traditional innersprings, it can be hard to know where to begin with your research.

US-Mattress mattress finder sleeping position

US-Mattress.com is designed to provide customers with a slew of information and guidance to help customers narrow down their options and find their perfect mattress. If you want to do the research on your own, it’s all there. If you prefer the help of an expert or salesperson then you can give us a call at 1-800-455-1052. We also have locations in the Metro Detroit area (and one in Concord, North Carolina) for local customers who prefer an in-person shopping experience.

US-Mattress mattress finder comfort

Our Mattress Finder makes getting started easy by answering four simple questions: 1 – What size mattress do you want? (Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, King ,or Cal King) 2 – What is your primary sleeping position? (Back, Side, Stomach, or Inconsistent) 3 – What is your preferred comfort? (Firm, Medium, or Soft) 4 – What is your price range? (Entry-level, Mid-range, Luxury) By answering these four questions, we can provide you with a handful of options that fit your criteria. You can simply choose an option from that selection that appeals to your specific wants, or use these examples as a basis for comparing other models you may be looking at. Either way, our Mattress Finder is a simple tool that will make your mattress buying experience simpler and quicker, so visit US-Mattress.com today!

US-Mattress mattress finder cost


The Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña Mattress

March 7, 2016

The Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña mattress is the top of the top-of-the-line from perhaps the most prestigious mattress maker on the market. This is the last entry in the series, as the Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña is the epitome of Vispring luxury. As with all Vispring mattresses, the Vicuña is made in the UK by hand with a custom comfort determined on an individual basis. The coil gauge used in the support system will be determined based on your height, weight, and comfort preference to perfectly suit your needs. With a Vispring mattress, you aren’t just fitting the mold of a mass-produced model, but instead having a mattress built from scratch just for you.

Vispring Masterpiece Vicuna

The Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña is the ultimate in luxury mattresses. If you want only the very best, the Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña may be just the mattress for you. All Vispring mattresses come backed by a lifetime warranty.

The Masterpiece Vicuña boasts two unique features that put it ahead of the other models in the Vispring collection: a triple layer coil system and, of course, Vicuña wool. Vicuña wool is one of the most sought-after textiles in the world. It is incredibly soft, very absorbent, has outstanding insulating capabilities, plus it’s hypoallergenic. The triple-layer hand-nested calico pocket spring system made from virgin Vanadium steel provides both superior support and contouring over just about any support system. It provides solid support to the lower back and transfers very little motion between sleeping partners. The coil gauge used in the Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña mattress is determined based on your specific body type and comfort preferences. This ensures optimum support and contouring for the most healthy and comfortable sleep possible, so you can wake up every morning feeling your very best.

In addition to Vicuña wool, this mattress features just about every premium comfort material in the Vispring arsenal. Shetland wool, organic cotton, hand-opened long-strand Mooseburger horsetail, cashmere, alpaca, and silk are all used to provide the most luxurious comfort possible. Each of these comfort materials is all-natural and durable, and Vispring held nothing back when they designed this mattress.

Even the quilt of this mattress stands out. It is woven so tightly that it is impenetrable to dust mites and skin cells, keeping the interior of the mattress clean whereas many mattress collect skin cells over time. Every Masterpiece Vicuña mattress features hand-tufting to prevent comfort materials from shifting over time. The quilt and hand-tufting are two important factors that contribute to the lifetime warranty of Vispring mattresses.

Overall, the Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña is one of the most luxurious mattresses on the market. It is also one of the most expensive mattresses out there, and certainly not for everyone. But if money is no object, and you simply want the most luxurious mattress possible, you won’t be disappointed with the Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña. And remember, this mattress comes backed by a lifetime warranty, so you aren’t just investing in a mattress, you’re investing in quality sleep for the rest of your life.

Check out the Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña and the other great models from the Vispring collection at US-Mattress.com.

Vispring Masterpiece Vicuna made

Specs for the Vispring Masterpiece Vicuña mattress and foundation:

Comfort – Padding Layers

Correct Back Support System

Box Spring – Foundation

Warranty


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