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The New Frontier of Sleep Solutions

— by Tempur-Pedic + WP Brand Studio on Mar 10, 2020

This content was paid for by Tempur-Pedic and produced by WP BrandStudio. Washington Post editorial staff was not involved in its creation or production.

Though technology has revolutionized our lives in recent decades, the way we recharge our bodies—getting a restorative night’s sleep—has stayed the same.

Unfortunately, many of the obstacles to getting that great sleep have also persisted. A whopping 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough ZZZs. And our collective sleep quality also tends to be low. Twenty percent of Americans report they have not woken up feeling refreshed once—not once!—in the past week.

restless sleeping couple, graphic saying 1 in 3 Americans

1 in 3 Americans don't get enough ZZZs

Decades of scientific research verify what anyone who has enjoyed a truly excellent night’s rest already knows: sleep fuels our brains, helps our bodies repair and regulate themselves, and supports emotional wellbeing. Scrimping on it, on the other hand, can hamper cognitive function has been clearly linked to chronic disease.

Some sleep-saboteurs are byproducts of modern life, like stressful work schedules that wreak havoc on natural circadian rhythms. But others are timeless. People have woken up hot and sweaty in the dead of night for eons. Partners have long been snoring each other awake.

Thankfully, a new generation of sleep experts are harnessing modern technologies to create innovative solutions for those age-old problems. And since March is Sleep Awareness Month, there’s no better time to see if these new tools can benefit you.

“It’s like a puzzle,” said Jenni June, a Los Angeles-based sleep hygiene and behavioral sleep expert. “Each piece needs to come together, all at once, for people to get optimum sleep.”

Let’s look at some classic sleep problems and how new solutions are changing the game.

Problem: Sleeping hot

Many factors go into high-quality sleep, but research points to temperature as one of the most critical. The ideal sleep environment is somewhere between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit, experts now say, but thermal considerations go deeper than that. The microclimate — the small but dynamic zone between a person’s skin, their bedding, and their mattress — also has a tremendous impact on sleep. And no detail is too small.

“Sixty-two percent of households have at least one person who sleeps hot,” said Allen Platek, vice president of new product development at Tempur-Pedic. “That really affects the quality of your sleep. You are going to be tossing and turning.”

a man in bed, covers thrown off from sleeping hot

The old tactics for feeling cooler, like turning on a fan or the classic “stick a foot outside the bed” maneuver, don’t actually make you cooler. Luckily, high-tech solutions are emerging that can help deliver effective temperature regulation. Research shows, for example, that the sleepwear a person chooses can directly impact sleep outcomes. Some outfitters now offer skin-cooling pajamas that use sweat-wicking materials. Blackout curtains keep light and heat out during the summer, helping your bedroom stay cool.

Mattresses matter as well. Platek points to his company’s new TEMPUR-breeze° mattress line and TEMPUR-Cloud® Breeze Dual Cooling™ Pillow. Unlike memory foam, which tends to trap body heat, TEMPUR® Material is designed to continuously adapt to your temperature and body, offering comfort and support. The all-new TEMPUR-LUXEbreeze° feels up to 8 degrees cooler throughout the night* while delivering maximum pressure-relieving power—so you’ll sleep deeper, cooler and longer. Unlike older fixes—like using a lighter blanket — these more modern solutions promote cool sleep all night long.

Problem: Insufficient REM

You’d never know it by watching someone who is peacefully snoozing away, but sleep is a dynamic, multi-step process.

There are two primary types of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM. Humans cycle through both throughout the night, but REM sleep is notable for being the time when the brain is most active — and when really vivid dreaming often occurs.

“REM sleep is important because it stimulates the areas of the brain that are critical in learning and in retaining memories,” explained Platek. “Without REM sleep, your learning is going to be disabled. Your memory retention, particularly your short-term memory retention, is going to suffer.”

But REM sleep can only occur when a person is naturally cycling through the various sleep stages, uninterrupted and certain sleep aids—namely, sleep medications—are known REM suppressors.

a couple sleeping in their split king Tempur mattress

That is why more modern approaches to maximizing REM sleep are all about returning to the fundamentals. Calming smartphone apps, which have been shown to reduce stress levels, can help boost sleep quality through meditation or ambient music. Cutting-edge mattress and pillow materials—like those used in Tempur-Pedic’s ADAPT® mattress line—that continuously respond to your shape, temperature and weight, giving you support like no other. And natural light alarm clocks pay respect to the natural sleep cycle by gently rousing sleepers, rather than jolting them awake. The goal is to create an environment that supports the body’s natural ability to move seamlessly through the various sleep stages.

“Fragmentation of sleep prevents us from getting those real, quality sleep cycles,” June said.

Problem: Snoring

Some 37 million Americans are frequent snorers, but just because snoring is common doesn’t mean it is harmless. It has been tied to fragmented, non-refreshing sleep — and possibly to more serious health problems, like sleep apnea.

Until recently, however, the solutions have been somewhat limited to things like nasal strips or positioning devices requiring users to wake up and make adjustments in the middle of the night. Today, the options are far more innovative and less gimmicky.

Tempur-Pedic’s new TEMPUR-Ergo® Smart Bases powered by Sleeptracker® AI can detect and respond to snoring vibrations and automatically adjust the sleeper’s head position without any intervention from the user or their partner.**

“It raises the head of the bed up about 12 degrees to help alleviate mild snoring caused by body position,” Platek said. Each morning, sleepers get a customized report tracking everything from their heart rate to how long they spent in each phase of sleep.

a woman laying on mattress looking at her SleepTracker App

Google Home sitting on woman's nightstand

It sounds high-tech, and it is. But by thinking outside the box—and utilizing truly modern technologies—sleep experts are removing obstacles that have stood in the way of a good night’s sleep for centuries, allowing humans to fulfill one of their most basic needs.

"Sleep is far more important to our overall wellbeing than most of us give it credit for,” June said. “It truly affects every facet of our lives.”


* Based on average heat index of TEMPUR-LUXEbreeze° compared to TEMPUR-ProAdapt® models measured over 8-hour period.

** Bed raises once approximately 12 degrees in response to snoring. This may reduce snoring in otherwise healthy individuals who snore due to body positioning.

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