Things We Like: The Power Nap

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

Many old world cultures have long held their afternoon naps commonly known as siestas (or pisolinos if you’re Italian) in great revere. The afternoon nap became prominent in warmer climates where midday heat affected work productivity. Many of these cultures also indulged in food-coma-inducing midday meals, which also helped set the stage for a nice siesta. Today, indoor air conditioning and artificial lighting may have eliminated the need for first world societies to sleep through the midday heat, but how many times do you wish you could grab a quick nap after lunch? I do.

Science is helping remove the stigma American culture has long associated with midday napping. No longer reserved exclusively for children and the elderly, napping has been linked to a number health benefits. One study, that tracked some 23,600 people in Greece over a six-year period, found that people who napped during the day were 37 percent less likely to die from heart disease, stroke, or cancer than those who didn’t. In other words, taking a planned nap (or a “power nap” as you may sell it to your boss) not only feels good, but also can help you live longer.

In addition to physical health benefits, napping can also help boost your cognitive functioning. Studies have shown that productivity, creativity, memory, alertness, and overall mood are all beneficiaries of an afternoon nap. In fact, a 2008 study showed that taking a planned nap is better than caffeine in improving verbal memory, motor skills, and perpetual learning. Naps are also better than caffeine when it comes to free recall memory. Coffee may be more efficient, but not as effective as a quick snooze.

If you’re looking to add a power nap into your schedule, there are some effective napping guidelines you should follow:

  • The ideal nap is between 10 and 30 minutes in duration. Any longer, and you run the risk of turning your nap into a full-blown slumber. Ideally, you should awake from your nap feeling refreshed and energized — not groggy and sluggish.

  • Aim to nap sometime between 1:00 and 4:00PM.

Keep in mind, however, that the above guidelines are not hard and fast rules. The ideal length and time to nap depends on your body’s needs. The ideal nap can range from 6 minutes to 90 minutes, so take some time to figure out what works best for you and your schedule.

The bottom line is that naps are good for us, and many companies are embracing this idea. Some of the biggest names in the tech industry, like Google, even offer sleep pods for their employees. So next time you’re fighting through the day, consider taking a power nap. And if your boss questions this behavior, let them know you’re only doing it for the company. 😉

Posted in Things We Like | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Things We Like: The Power Nap

Breakfast in Bed: Coconut Oatmeal

Post by Alison Hein.

Thick, steaming grains are an elemental part of my childhood memories – my mother would place a piping hot bowl of maple oatmeal on the table before me. Then, with precision, I would add a thick pat of butter to the center, allowing it to melt slightly before carefully strewing clumps of brown sugar on top. I would watch the sugar melt and spread to form a thin, sweet crust. Not quite done, I would carefully push the cereal gently toward the center of the bowl, and pour a scant ring of milk around the edges. Only then was it time to dig in, making sure never to stir, but to aim for that one perfect, prized bite of oatmeal, butter, sugar and milk.

I still enjoy hot cereal on a crisp fall or winter day, especially if I’m planning a brisk walk, mountain hike, or other outdoor adventure. Wanting to limit my butter / sugar intake, I experiment with varying flavors. Sometimes I’ll cook my oatmeal with diced apples, raisins and a touch of cinnamon. Other times, I’ll add unexpected twists, as in this recipe for Coconut Oatmeal.

Old-fashioned oats have a creamier texture than the quick-cooking variety, and only take a few extra minutes to cook. Cover the oatmeal and let it sit for a few minutes before serving, if you like, to allow the oaty flavor to percolate and the texture to soften. I keep it light with coconut water (now available at almost any grocery store) rather than coconut milk – significantly fewer calories, but still a light, infused tropical feeling. You can pour a touch of coconut milk on top, as I once did, for a breakfast in bed that will make memories.

Ingredients
¼ cup coconut flakes
1 cup coconut water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
½ cup rolled oats

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread coconut flakes out onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 1 to 3 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Pour coconut water, vanilla and salt into a small heavy saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Stir in oats, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until oats are soft and mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Spoon oatmeal into a bowl and top with toasted coconut. Serve hot.

Makes 1 serving.

Posted in Breakfast in Bed | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Breakfast in Bed: Coconut Oatmeal

Bedtime Stories: Lirael

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr by Garth Nix.

It’s audiobook season up here in the Bed Blog! When slogging through a long, soggy commute, or plodding through a massive mindless task, audiobooks are a great way to get some reading done and take the pain out of an otherwise burdensome or stressful task. Also, to be quite honest, I read at a ninth-grade speed so I don’t get a lot of novels finished in my down time. All this, I suppose, is to justify listening to audiobooks. So there. I listen to audiobooks, but only if the narrator is fantastic.

Lirael is the follow-up novel in the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix. I reviewed Sabriel some time ago and recently re-read it. When I picked up a copy of the audiobook for Lirael, I was delighted to see that it is read by Tim Curry! And although I can’t help but hear his character from Clue sometimes while I listen, he does a great job. I love the character of Lirael because she is a misfit in the Clayr, who are the seers that live on a glacier. Lirael doesn’t have the Sight, but she has a far better grasp of magic than anyone else on the glacier. She even managed to create a companion for herself, a magical (but very real) dog who declared herself to be The Disreputable Dog. Garth Nix creates wonderful, snarky, talking magical animals. Lirael is my favorite second assistant librarian with a sword and the book is great fun. If you haven’t picked up this trilogy, you are missing out.

Posted in Bedtime Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bedtime Stories: Lirael

Movies in Bed: Sleepy Hollow

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Hehehe. That’s me tittering at a new, “spooky” show on Fox, just in time for Halloween. It’s called Sleepy Hollow, so that gives you a pretty good idea what it’s about. It has nothing to do with the movie, so no Johnny Depp, no Christina Ricci. It also has precious little to do with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. In this rather inventive spin on the story, Ichabod Crane beheaded a Hessian warrior in the Revolutionary war. But he was no normal human; he was Death, as in the Grim Reaper, one of the Four Riders of the Apocalypse. For some reason, their bloodlines become mixed and both are resurrected in 21st-century Sleepy Hollow, New York. Ichabod is surprisingly cool about the whole thing, though there are the usual required laughable moment as he discovers light bulbs, automatic windows…you get the gist. This show, after two episodes is overwhelmingly “meh”. That being said, it’s not unenjoyable for lovers of witches, magic, supernatural stuff. I’ll give it a couple more episodes and see if I start getting annoyed! Happy watching!

Posted in Movies in Bed | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Movies in Bed: Sleepy Hollow

Things We Like: How To Make A Luxury Hotel Bed At Home

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

Beds are big business at hotels, so much so that many hotel chains have branded their own line of mattresses and bedding. Starwood’s Westin Hotels started the trend back in 1999, and a half a dozen other have followed suit, including: The Four Seasons, The W, Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriot, Ritz-Carlton, and Hilton. After all, the goal of any luxury hotel should be to sell you the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had — even if it’s back at your home.

If you’re looking to recreate a hotel sleeping experience at home, I’ve put together some of the essential components to help you create your own five-star bed at home.

  • First, you need a Firm Mattress. The mattress is your first big decision that will affect your quality of sleep. I generally err on the side of more firm than soft when choosing a mattress, since you can always add additional elements to soften it up. You can’t, on the other hand, make a soft mattress feel firmer.

  • Next, you’ll want to protect your mattress with a Felt Mattress Protector. This will protect the mattress from stains and spills, and add an additional layer of support.

  • The biggest secret to making a five-star bed at home is the Featherbed. Think of this as a sort of a half-mattress that goes over the mattress protector but under the sheets. There are all sorts of options to choose from when selecting a featherbed, but you should generally go with something that is baffled and has a relatively high feather count.

  • The Fitted Sheet is the first layer that your body will actually come into contact with, and it goes over the mattress, protector, and featherbed. You can usually buy the fitted sheets in a set with the flat sheet and pillowcases. When choosing sheets, go for something with a relatively high threat count made out of natural materials.

  • The Flat Sheet is what you will sleep directly under, and will usually match the fitted sheet underneath.

  • The final element of a luxury bed is the comforter. The type of comforter you choose depends mostly on your climate and personal preferences. Some people like to have both a lighter summer comforter and a heavier winter comforter to accommodate the change in temperature. You may also want to put another flat sheet or throw over the top of your comforter to complete the look — maybe even with a chocolate on top. Turn down service anyone? 

So, next time you wake up at a hotel feeling like you just had the best night’s sleep of your life, take a minute to see exactly what elements went into making the bed. And with so many hotels selling their own brands of bedding collections, you can even recreate every detail in your own home down to the mattress itself.

Before we go, here’s an interesting fact of the day: Did you know that Charles P Rogers sold more beds to luxury hotels in its first 100 years of business than any other company? Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Posted in Bed Nuts & Bolts, Bedroom Design, Things We Like | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Things We Like: How To Make A Luxury Hotel Bed At Home