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Stylish Slumber for pets

Make a pet bed from an old suitcase.
Make a pet bed from a wine crate.

Dogs are man’s best friend, but your dog’s bed is likely not on friendly terms with the style police. Pillow-shaped traditional dog beds, with their fleece coverings and often awkward color scheme, might not mesh well with your home decor. So how can you find something that will have Fido slumbering in style as well as comfort? Surprisingly, there are a lot of options out there that have the potential to please not only your best bud but also your sense of personal aesthetics.

Look for wooden raised beds. A raised wooden dogbed is generally reminiscent of a shelf or a cubbyhole, with four legs which lift the bed off the ground by a few inches. Some beds are small and compact, while others are wide and elegant. The wooden finish on most of these dog beds matches well with most home color schemes. Moreover, both you and your buddy will benefit from a better airflow around the bed which reduces odours – a perk that comes with the raised design. Look for wooden dogbeds in speciality online boutiques, like Chesea Dogs.

Repurpose a wine crate. If you don’t want to spend the money for a wooden raised dog bed and you have a small to medium dog, consider using a simple hack: Use a wine crate. With its wooden finish and wine signage, a wine crate is just as elegant as any wooden dog bed. Use a circular saw to cut a semi circle in one side of the wine crate so that your pet can easily get in and out of the bed. To make it easier to move, apply four wooden rounds to the bottom of each of the crate’s corners. Then add a mini pillow to the interior, and voila! It’s gorgeous, it’s simple, and what’s more, it cost you almost nothing.

Use an old suitcase If you’d like something a bit more unique and ‘shabby chic,’ consider creating a pet bed from an old suitcase — at least, if you have one roomy enough for your pooch. First, line the suitcase with a piece of foam for cushioning. Then choose a matching fabric to cover the foam, tucking the excess over the corners and edges. After that, you’re ready to tuck your pooch in and have him enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Sleep apnea is a somewhat common condition in which normal breathing actually stops during sleep. These moments of apnea can happen many times while you’re asleep. My doctor informed me that the disruption in my breathing could be a sign of an issue regarding the signals in my brain. Just for a brief moment, the brain can literally ‘forget’ to tell the muscles to breathe.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Photo Courtesy of David Goehring

Photo Courtesy of David Goehring

In many cases, certain underlying health disorders are the culprit of sleep apnea like being overweight. That’s originally why I visited my doctor; but later discovered I had sleep apnea. From what I understand, this is quite common in obese people since excess weight can enlarge the tissues in and around a person’s airways. During an episode of sleep apnea, the brainstem doesn’t properly signal the muscles that tell you to breath. Because the brainstem is connected to the spinal cord, any medical disorders that affect the brainstem, heart, or spinal cord can lead to sleep apnea.

Here are some examples of conditions related to sleep apnea:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
  • Radiation treatments or surgery on the spine
  • Cervical spine arthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease (an age-associated deterioration of key nerve systems that impact muscle control, balance, and overall movement)
  • Congestive heart failure

Symptoms

The basic symptoms of sleep apnea include brief periods when your breathing stops during sleep. For some people, they show signs of extreme shallow breathing rather than actually stopping. The lack of air itself is what caused me to frequently wake up through the night. Obviously, this makes me very tired the next day. The sleep apnea episodes cause insomnia. Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Speech pattern changes
  • Changes in the voice
  • Overall weakness throughout the body

Diagnosis

My doctor ordered a polysomnography, which is a sleep study test that’s used to diagnose sleep apnea. During a polysomnography test, your breathing patterns, lung function, heart rate, brain activity, and oxygen levels are monitored.

Treatment

The first step in treating sleep apnea is managing any underlying medical issues that may be causing it in the first place. The regulation of air pressure and oxygen supplementation during sleeping are both effective in treating people who deal with sleep apnea. Some of these treatments include:

ASV (Adaptive Servo-Ventilation)

ASV monitors your breathing patterns while you sleep. The innovative system ‘remembers’ your patterns. The system is pressurized and works to help normalize your breathing patterns in order to prevent any future episodes of sleep apnea.

BPAP (Bi-level Positive Air Pressure)

BPAP regulates the air pressure at a higher level once you inhale and back down to a lower level once you exhale.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure)

CPAP provides a continuous source of pressure in the airways when sleeping. While sleeping at night, a mask is worn over your mouth and nose that delivers a continuous stream of pressurized air.

Outlook

For most people struggling with sleep apnea, they respond well to ongoing treatment. The benefits of sleep apnea treatment are varied based on the cause of the condition.

Psyching out bedroom clutter

Untidy room (Karottenreibe Wikimedia commons)

No matter how hard you try to beat it back, bedroom clutter always sedems to return. But the sea of not-so-useful items on your desk, on your floor, and on your nightstand only stresses you out and makes life more complicated than it needs to be. After all, if your living space is afflicted with too much stuff, you inevitably end up losing important things among the rubble. If you’re tired of losing your housekeys under piles of paperwork, or finally finding your current metrocard under a pile of used metro tickets, it’s time to change your current situation. A cluttered keyboard. (Chuck Marean Wikimedia Commons)
WebMD experts recommend starting off with a simple mind trick: If you have something you don’t wear or use, but you’re not sure you can part with it, put it in a labeled box. On the label, write down a future date one to 6 months from now and then keep the box in your basement or another space you use for storage.

Now, if you need the object at some point before the future date, don’t hesitate to bring the box back out from storage and re-install that object in your room. But if you don’t need to use it during that time period, then leave it there.

When that future date comes around, you have all the proof you need to recognize that you need to get rid of it. “When the date comes — and you need to write it in your calendar — don’t open the box,” says Aricz LaFrance, a psychotherapist and organizing consultant interviewed by Web MD. “Donate it or throw it away.” This mind trick, a clever way to psych yourself out, helps you to overcome the irrational beliefs you may hold about the usefulness of some of your stuff. It’s a simple first step to clearing out the rubble and establishing a cleaner and less stressful bedroom.

Pillow Options for People With Bad Backs or Necks

Neck and back pain are two of the most common ailments that people suffer from. These problems can be experienced by young and old people alike. Many of these instances of neck and back pain can be traced back to problems during sleep. When people sleep in awkward positions, it often contributes to these issues. My uncle was one of the people that woke up every morning with a stiff back and neck. He thought that he would just have to learn to live with the pain. However, I told him to test out some new pillows to see if that might solve the problem. To his surprise, a new pillow specifically designed to help the back and neck was exactly what he needed. Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of these pillows that are currently available:

Travelrest pillow

This pillow is ideal for people who do a lot of traveling and can never seem to have a restful sleep during their trip. This keeps your head from tilting over if you are trying to sleep in a sitting position. That type of tilting can put a lot of stress on your neck. It is easy to inflate to the desired amount of firmness or softness. It helps you to maintain good posture and avoid sudden jerky movements.

Talalay latex pillow

This is ideal for both side and back sleepers. Your neck and head will be kept cool by the ventilated foam. Because the pillow is four inches high, many people say it is a good pillow for someone with a large body who enjoys sleeping on their side.

Lumbar wedge pillow

This type of pillow is made by many manufacturers. As the name indicates, it is shaped like a wedge. This type of pillow can be used in two different ways. It can be used by people who need to sit at a desk all day at their job because it provides support to the lower back. There are also larger wedge pillows that can be used for sleeping. Their shape has been shown to reduce tossing and turning. It also enables people to get out of bed easier.

Cylinder pillows (also called a roll pillow)

This is another pillow that is produced by many companies, so a person will need to test out a few different ones to see which one they like best. You can find these pillows stuffed most frequently with either beans or foam. If a person uses them while sitting in a chair, they will provide support to the lumbar region of the back, where many people frequently experience pain. They can also be placed under your neck when you are sleeping to give your neck the amount of support it needs.

Bedtime Kiddie Quandaries and Their Solutions

As a toddler, your child is more mobile, more active, and more of his or her own person than ever before. She is ‘finding her feet,’ both literally and metaphorically speaking. So it’s not too surprising to find that when 8:30 rolls around, your toddler rebels against bedtime.

A sleeping toddler. (Vannessa Q, Wikimedia Commons).

 A toddler looking at a baby book (Jon Mick, Wikimedia Commons).

You may find that your toddler makes request after request to stave off the inevitable lights-out — ‘one more book, Mommy,’ or ‘one more glass of milk, Daddy,’ or ‘there are monsters in my closet, can I watch TV for just a little longer?’ But of course, the more excuses he makes, the later he goes to bed and the grouchier he will be in the morning. So how can you avoid his sleepytime stubbornness? Here are some tried and true techniques:

Stick to a routine. Set a solid bedtime, be sure to stick to it, and don’t let your child forget that he has a deadline. Remind him what time ‘bedtime’ is after dinner, and keep gently reminding him as he brushes his teeth, takes a bath, and gets into his pajamas. By sticking to a routine bedtime each night, you give your toddler structure. He will know what to expect and will also recognize that there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to bedtime.

Empower you child. She’s pushing for more independence – so yield when you can. Allow her to make as many bedtime choices as possible; like what book she wants to read before lights out, how many pillows she wants to sleep with, whether she wants to wear the Mickey Mouse pajamas or the Snow White ones, or if she’d like an extra blanket over her comforter. According to Parents magazine writer Allison Winn, the trick is to offer your child two alternatives which are both acceptable to you and give her some autonomy. Winn explains that you don’t want to ask your child, ‘do you want to go to bed now?’ After all, if your child says ‘no,’ then you have a potential dilemma on your hands. Instead, ask something like ‘do you want to go to bed now or in five minutes?’ No matter what decision she takes, you’ve got her cornered — whether it’s now or in five minutes, she’s going to bed at any rate.

A ‘big kid’ bed means you get a ‘big kid’ bedtime. After age three, your child has likely outgrown her crib and is setling into her new bed. Use this moment as an opportunity to tell her that a part of getting older is learning how to sleep on your own when bedtime rolls around. Encourage and praise her whenever she stays put in her bed. If she can’t resist the urge to go wandering after lights-out, gently take back to bed, tell her that it’s time to sleep, and leave – don’t linger. Above all, show your child that a big kid bed comes with a big kid responsibility – that is, going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting a good night’s sleep.