Q&A Sleep researcher: Small changes can pay off

Dr. Rebecca Robbins has spent years studying better sleep issues. She is a researcher and co-author of “Sleep for Success” who is now working as a spokeswoman with Beautyrest. Robbins, a postdoctoral research fellow at the New York University School of Medicine and Langone Medical Centers in the Dept. of Population Health, recently agreed to respond to several better sleep questions posed to her by Furniture Today Executive Editor David Perry.

RebeccaDr. Rebecca Robbins recently spent time at Simmons checking out the company’s Beautyrest offerings.
Furniture Today: What is the state of sleep in America these days?

Robbins: High-performance sleep, combined with a healthy lifestyle (including proper nutrition and exercise), fuels our daytime performance. Unfortunately, insufficient and poor sleep health are common. In the U.S., approximately 70% of individuals consistently sleep for less than seven hours, depriving their body of the sleep it needs to be at its peak. Among the most common barriers to optimal sleep performance are sleeping in an uncomfortable bedroom environment, use of technology too close to bedtime and consumption of caffeine late in the day.

Furniture Today: What are some of the basic things that consumers can do to improve their sleep?

Robbins: When it comes to sleep, small changes go a long way. For instance, the bedroom is a great place to start. The optimal bedroom environment is a sleep sanctuary that is kept quiet, dark and cool. A common complaint is that some people naturally sleep hot during the night, so a mattress with temperature-management properties — such as the Beautyrest Black Hybrid — can contribute to better sleep quality.

I recommend avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and opting for a light dinner; either of these actions can help prepare your body for performanceenhancing sleep. It is also essential to power off electronics before bedtime as they can stimulate the brain and prevent it from attaining the deep, restorative sleep needed. Instead, I recommend relaxing rituals, such as a brief meditation on the good things that happened that day or a soothing shower.

Furniture Today: Many stories on sleep talk about sleeping pills, clever gadgets and other things and don’t address the importance of the mattress. Why doesn’t the mattress get more attention?

Robbins: It is natural for people to search for the latest quick solution to a problem, and a lack of quality sleep is no different. The grocery store or pharmacy shelves are stocked with drinks and pills that have the promise of sleep.

My work focuses on the behavioral and environmental factors, many of which are in our control, that have a dramatic impact on sleep, such as the mattress. A mattress of good quality will last between eight and 10 years. When you are looking for a mattress, find a brand that is focused on innovation, research and quality to ensure your mattress is made from the latest technologies and fabrics for temperature management and comfort during sleep.

Furniture Today: So how important is the mattress?

Robbins: The mattress’s role in sleep performance is substantial, especially today when there are mattress technologies in the marketplace to address specific needs and desires. Every sleeper is different and more options mean more chances to find the right fit.

A new mattress can be a positive step toward improved sleep quality and general health. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found sleeping on a new, medium-firm bedding system reduced back pain by 48% and improved sleep quality by 55%. The study also found the new sleeping environment was associated with lower stress, one of the biggest contributing factors to insomnia.

Furniture Today: How are you working with Beautyrest to improve Americans’ sleep?

Robbins: As someone who has dedicated much of my life to the study of sleep, a partnership with Beautyrest provides a great opportunity to communicate the importance of sleep and strategies for getting the sleep that fuels our waking lives.

Consumers know and trust the Beautyrest brand, and it makes sense to combine the power of Beautyrest with scientific research. Together, we’re working to promote awareness about the link between our sleep and all areas of our waking success.

Furniture Today: How many hours of sleep do you get each night?

Robbins: My goal is seven hours of restorative sleep every night. Sometimes travel … or stress from work can make it a bit more challenging to power down at night. Nevertheless, I strive to keep a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule, prepare for bed at night with a relaxing ritual (for me, it is a warm cup of tea, soothing shower and light reading) and regularly practice yoga to help me calm and quiet the mind.

Furniture Today Staff | Staff Editors

Furniture Today covers all the news concerning manufacturers, retailers and suppliers in the home furnishings sector.

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