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Best new bedtime picture books

There’s something special about reading a bedtime story with a child. Many kids are extra sweet at bedtime, so you get quality time and bonding to the max. You’ve likely already shared your favorite classic books with your kids or grandkids. Several times, right? Goodnight, Moon. The Hungry Caterpillar. The Velveteen Rabbit. The Missing Piece. Green Eggs and Ham. They’re all so wonderful, sigh. But eventually, you need some new material. So what can you read with them now?

Have no fear. We recently went to a good bookstore for kids in search of best new picture books that might wind up being classics.

We’ll start by sharing our own criteria for what makes a good picture book. It must have a good, engaging story. The writing has to sparkle. The pictures need to feel fresh, graphic or otherwise charming. It needs to be human. And the book needs to be original in some way, not the same old sappy stuff and clichéd stories. Lastly is the “it” factor: the book should evoke some kind of emotional response. Ultimately, we need to empathize. Or laugh. Or be delighted. Or enlightened. Truth be told, our standards are very high, and most books wind up in the rejected pile.

Looking for books that have won prestigious children’s literary awards like the Caldecott or Newbery medals can be helpful, but not always. They’re usually easy to spot, with large embossed gold or silver stickers at the top. We’ve found these awards generally guarantee a certain quality of writing and illustrations, but don’t necessarily mean you’ll get a good, engaging story. It also seems like books with a sense of humor are often overlooked by the judges. So don’t limit yourself to award-winners.

After weeding through books for several hours, we’re happy to report that the genre is alive and well. Here are some newer bedtime books on the shelves right now that are worth a look. The books don’t have an age range on them, so we guesstimated.

Unlike Other Monsters

Written by Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Colin Jack Children 5-7

Written by Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Colin Jack
Children 5-7

Zander is a monster. And monsters do not like or need friends. Until a little red bird hangs out with Zander and interrupts his world view. A humorous story with fun, active illustrations. More here. 


Still a Gorilla

Written by Kim Norman, Illustrated by Chad Geran Children 3-5

Written by Kim Norman, Illustrated by Chad Geran
Children 3-5

Cute story about a young gorilla who longs to be someone else. Big, flat, almost Japanese-style illustrations. For the pictures, think Curious George meets Pokemon. More here.


Hello, My Name is Octicorn

Written by Kevin Killer, Illustrated by Justin Lowe Children 6-8

Written by Kevin Diller, Illustrated by Justin Lowe
Children 6-8

Half unicorn, half octopus, Octicorn feels insecure because he’s different. In the book, Octicorn works through all the reasons he’d be a good friend. Turns out, they’re excellent reasons. Expressive, earnest, mostly black and white illustrations with a splash of color. Nice story for a child who’s different or to teach kids about tolerance. More here



Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems Caldecott Honor Book Children 5-7

Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems
Caldecott Honor Book
Children 5-7

A mischievous pigeon tries every excuse and guilt trip in the book, all the ones that kids typically use to try to get their way. Simple, doodle-style illustrations that evoke an old-style cartoon. We think most kids will be able to see themselves in this book, a great quality for a book to have. More here




The Day the Crayons Quit

Written by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers EB White Read-Aloud Award Children 7-10

Written by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
EB White Read-Aloud Award
Children 7-10

Duncan wants to color but his crayons are tired. So they all go on strike. Each crayon writes him a hilarious protest letter based on its typical duties by color. Red is mad that he has to work so hard year-round, especially Christmas. Beige is tired of being the poor man’s brown. Full disclosure: we are in love with this book. The “delight” factor is high. Just buy it! More here. 



Mixed Me

Written by Taye Diggs, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans Children 6-9

Written by Taye Diggs, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Children 6-9

Written by actor Taye Diggs, this is about Mike, a mixed race boy with an awesome head of curly hair. In a rhyme, he proudly explains who he is to the world, with love and support from his parents. Colorful and modern illustrations. Exuberant and freeing text. More here. 



On the Night You Were Born

Written and Illustrated by Nancy Tillman New York Times Bestseller Children 2-5

Written and Illustrated by Nancy Tillman
New York Times Bestseller
Children 2-5

Sweetest book since Goodnight Moon. A parent poetically recounts the events of a magical night. On the night her child was born, word rang out across the land. The polar bears danced and all of nature celebrated. A book that is validating, comforting and just all-around AWESOME. More here. 



Quit Calling Me a Monster

Written by Jory John, Illustrated by Bob Shea Children 6-9

Written by Jory John, Illustrated by Bob Shea
Children 6-9

An engaging rant by a monster about being called names, even though he rather deserves them due to bad behavior. A witty romp with a protagonist who rather reminded us of Oscar the Grouch. Endearing, active illustrations. More here.




The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Written and Illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin Children 3-5

Written and Illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
Children 3-5

A lovely rhyme as a new parent speculates on all the possibilities life may hold for her child. Somehow this book perfectly walks the line between schmaltz and honest emotion. Charming illustrations. More here.


Voice of Freedom/The Fannie Lou Hamer Story

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford Illustrated by Ekua Holmes Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Caldecott Honor Book Coretta Scott King Ward/John Steptoe New Talent Children 9-12

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
Caldecott Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Award/John Steptoe New Talent
Children 9-12

This book is a serious work for children and somewhat hard to explain, because it deals with racism. The youngest of 20 children, Fannie Lou Hamer was born to sharecroppers and grew up to be a civil rights leader. Carole Boston Weatherford, a writer of many books about African American heroes, has taken the true elements of Hamer’s life and translated them into a compilation of different short stories and prose. The result is moving, sad, joyful, angry, inspiring and true. The fine art illustrations are incredibly beautiful and unique. This book would be best read a few pages at a time and discussed in detail between adult and child. More here.


If you want to look for picture books on your own, we’ll make a plea for going to a good local brick-and-mortar bookstore. It’s way, way easier to find good books in person than online, unless you already know exactly what you want. In a bookstore, you can always read the entire book, unlike online where you just get a preview. Plus bookstores are places full of knowledge and great vibes, the kind of business that’s great to have in your neighborhood.

Happy reading, and may your little one drift off to sleep easily, enriched by a great book and your loving, undivided attention.

Nighttime bruxism: escaping the grind

We think of sleep as the most relaxed state our bodies can reach—and, for the most part, that’s true. Yet there are exceptions. One of the biggest ones is a phenomenon that is the epitome of non-relaxation. It’s characterized by tension and destruction that somehow slipped its way into the chilled-out world of sleep: bruxism.

What Is Bruxism?

If you’ve never heard of bruxism, you’ve likely heard of its more common name, teeth grinding. The condition, however, refers to not only grinding but also unconscious gnashing and clenching of the teeth (oh, the drama!).  Doing this in your sleep (sleep bruxism) is considered a sleep-related movement disorder, a class of conditions that occur near or during sleep and affect the quality of your shut-eye.

Nighttime bruxism, which afflicts 8% of adults, can also have repercussions on your waking life. It can lead to tension headaches, damaged teeth, disorders in the tempromandibular joints (TMJs), and receding gum lines. Not to mention all the side effects that come with inadequate sleep. When it’s severe enough, the sound of grinding can also create sleep issues for your partner. Not exactly a soothing lullaby.

There’s evidence that those with nighttime bruxism grind their teeth during periodic arousals of the cardiac and respiratory systems during sleep. These arousals trigger increased muscle activity (in this case, in the jaw) and can happen up to 15 times a night. What makes someone more prone to this is a complicated question.

 What Causes Bruxism?

There’s not a general consensus, but the cause is likely different from person to person. Possible causes of nighttime bruxism include abnormal tooth alignment; acid reflux into the esophagus; and use of certain anti-depressants or stimulants like coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and some illegal drugs.

Research also suggests that those with other sleep disorders like sleep apnea or snoring are more likely to suffer from teeth grinding.  In fact, one study showed that sleep apnea is the highest risk factor for bruxism in the general population.

However, the most common cause—to which about 70% of bruxism cases can be attributed—is anxiety and stress. When daily stressors are not addressed head on, the body still needs to process that emotional strain. Think about your body’s reaction when something upsetting or stressful happens: you tense up, perhaps clenching your jaw and pressing your teeth together. Those with bruxism experience this while they’re asleep, as a response to concerns that go unaddressed while awake.

How Do I Know If I Have It?

 Self-diagnosing bruxism can be tricky, since you’re asleep when it happens. However, here are some signs that indicate it could be an issue:

  • Flattened, fractured, or chipped teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain, fatigue, or soreness in the jaw
  • Headache, especially in the temples
  • Earache
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Your partner notices the sound of grinding or clenching.

How Do I Treat My Bruxism?

If you think you are might have bruxism, your first step should be to make an appointment with your dentist or doctor. Explain the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and anything in your life you think could be relevant (new stressors, a change in sleep patterns).

In many cases, your dentist will recommend a mouth guard to keep your teeth separated at night (with the added bonus of reducing any cringe-inducing sounds for your partner). There are a number of different mouth guards to choose from, but most dentists will recommend the hard, custom-fit guard, since it’s both smaller and more effective at preventing grinding.

If you have an associated sleep disorder, your teeth grinding will likely improve after you address the other issue. In one study, those suffering from bruxism and sleep apnea saw an improvement in both conditions when only the latter was treated.

For almost every case of nighttime bruxism, however, stress management is a smart idea. Good sleep hygiene, meditation, and more proactive ways of dealing with life’s stresses can be enough to treat bruxism without any medical intervention. Plus it has the added bonus of making your days more enjoyable as well. So take some time to relax during your days. You and your partner are likely to escape the grind and enjoy more restful nights.


Sleep and Weight Loss

Sleep and Weight Loss

There are a couple oft-cited “epidemics” in America, one being obesity, and the other inadequate sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not just attention-grabbing headlines: according to studies, over one third of Americans are obese, and one third don’t get enough sleep.

The closeness of these two figures may be more than coincidence. A growing body of research shows a strong association between sleep deprivation and weight gain. In a meta-analysis that encompassed 634,511 subjects, both male and female, ranging in age from 2 to 102, researchers found a consistent increased risk of obesity among those who don’t sleep enough.

So what role does sleep loss play in weight gain—and, on the flip side, can quality sleep help with weight loss?

Weary Willpower

Before a bunch of unhealthy food can cause weight gain, you first have to make the chocolate sweetsdecision to eat that unhealthy food. And there’s a great deal of evidence that sleep plays a major role in deciding whether or not you indulge.

Sleep deprivation dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, which is the region responsible for decision making and impulse control. So when a coworker offers you a donut, you take it, rather than eating the yogurt you so dutifully packed.

What’s more, being overly tired actually makes your brain more interested in junk than you’d normally be. This is because sleep deprivation lights up your brain’s reward center, leading you to seek “pleasurable, rewarding experiences”… such as the nefarious donut mentioned earlier.

In one study from Berkeley, participants rated the desirability of certain foods both when they were well-rested and then again after sleep deprivation. In the state of sleep debt, the amygdala portion of the brain (which is involved in emotions, pleasure and appetite, and an important part of the brain’s reward system) was highly activated. Participants consistently rated unhealthy, high-calorie foods as more desirable than they had when they were well-rested.

 The research bears out in real life, too. Sleep-deprived Japanese factory workers are more likely to snack between meals, eat out, and not eat vegetables; Americans who don’t sleep enough consume more sugar and have less variety in their diet; in Germany, inadequate sleep is associated with increased fast food consumption.

And to top it all off, sleep-deprived people also eat bigger portions. Bottom line: sleep helps you resist temptation and make smarter food choices.

Fatigue & Fullness

 So say you’re sleep-deprived and you splurge on two (okay, three) slices of pizza at lunch. At least you’ll be full for a while and not eat anymore waistline-expanding goodies, right?
Well, maybe not.

Short sleep disrupts the balance of your hormones, including leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is often referred to as the “satiety hormone,” causing you to feel full and suppressing appetite, while ghrelin triggers hunger and plays a large role in initiating eating.

When you’re not well-rested, your leptin levels plummet and your ghrelin levels rise; one study found that subjects who slept for 5 hours had 15.5% lower leptin than those who slept a full 8 hours, and 14.9% higher ghrelin. This means that you’ll not only be eating less healthy, more caloric food—you’ll also feel hungrier and seek food more frequently.

Sleepless and Stress-full

 sleeping for healthAmong the many benefits of proper sleep is that it can reduce stress, which, in turn, can help reduce your weight. How? It comes back to another hormone—this time, cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress, and its levels are closely tied to our natural sleep/wake cycles. So when those cycles get disrupted, so do those levels, causing a spike in cortisol in the bloodstream.

This spike doesn’t just make you feel stressed out. Cortisol causes fat to be stored around the organs (especially visceral organs, which translates to belly fat), and also causes fat cells to become larger. Studies have shown that elevated cortisol can cause increased belly fat even in otherwise slender individuals.

Metabolism Malfunction

 You know how not sleeping well makes you feel groggy and lethargic? Well, turns out your metabolism feels pretty much the same way.

When you’re well-rested, your metabolism is a well-oiled machine, efficiently processing the calories that you consume. On the flip side, when you’re in a state of sleep deprivation, your groggy metabolism can’t keep up with your food intake. What causes this breakdown? It all comes down to insulin.

See, insulin plays an important role in helping our body convert sugar into energy for our cells. When our body can’t properly use insulin (insulin resistance) that sugar remains in our bloodstream and eventually is converted into fat. This is the case for those who have diabetes—and, research shows, for those who aren’t getting enough sleep.

One study showed that after just four nights of short sleep, subjects’ ability to respond to insulin decreased by 16%—a difference comparable to that between the cells of obese vs. lean people—and the insulin sensitivity of their fat cells dropped by 30%. The latter is particularly important because fat cells play a crucial role in storing and releasing energy. Meanwhile, insulin resistance in the brain means that insulin can’t do its job of reducing hunger cues.

One report put it in stark terms: “Chronic sleep loss can reduce the capacity of even young adults to perform basic metabolic functions, such as processing and storing carbohydrates or regulating hormone secretion.”

As if your metabolism wasn’t getting a big enough blow from the insulin resistance, there’s this: sleep deprivation reduces the production of thyroid-stimulating-hormone, which is an essential player in proper metabolism. Ouch.

 Too Sleepy to Sweat

 Anyone who has tried to slim down or get into better shape knows the importance of regular exercise, as well as how tough it can be to get into a workout routine. To the surprise of exactly nobody, not getting enough sleep makes it much more difficult to achieve this.

It’s intuitive—when you’re tired, you don’t want to go exert a bunch of energy. And studies show that subjects with sleep problems report a significant reduction in their levels of exercise physical activity. What’s more, the increased ghrelin and decreased leptin levels associated with sleep loss mean an overall reduction in energy expenditure.

And if you do drag your tired butt to the gym, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle to keep yourself there for a full workout. Sleep deprivation increases your perceived exertion and increases the likelihood that you’ll cut your sweat session short.

Sweet Dreams for Good Genes

 Your lifestyle is a huge factor in determining your weight, but the fact is that genetics also play a role. This can be super discouraging to those who are working hard to eat right and work out but still can’t lose the weight because of a genetic predisposition to a higher BMI.

However, research shows that adequate sleep can reduce the influence your genetics have on your weight. In a study of identical twins that looked at BMI, genetics, and lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, and sleep habits, they found that the BMI variations in those who slept adequately were less dependent on genetics. However, those who slept less saw 70% of their BMI variations come from hereditary factors.

 The Final Word

 From the food you choose to eat, to how your body processes that food, to your workouts, to the relative impact of all of these components, sleep influences every aspect of your weight. Diet and exercise may get more press, but science has made it increasingly clear that sleep is the essential third pillar of fitness.

So if losing weight, getting fit, or just maintaining a healthy BMI is one of your resolutions, getting enough shut-eye needs to be as well

The history of America’s most famous bedroom

Header photo credit:  White House Historical Association


When it comes to politics at the moment, most people vehemently agree on only one thing:  we just want the election to be over. So forget Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Garry Johnson or Jill Stein for a moment. Let’s delve into a more fun aspect of politics:  history, decorating and architecture. We’re talking about the most famous bedroom in DC, the Lincoln Bedroom.

Most Americans are aware that the Lincoln Bedroom exists. But they’re under the mistaken impression that the current President sleeps there. Or that Lincoln slept in the room, for that matter (he did not, unless it was a cat nap). In fact, prior to 1945, the Lincoln Bedroom, as we think of it, existed as two separate entities – a suite of Victorian furniture purchased by the Lincolns that was constantly being shuffled around the White House, and a presidential office in the original part of the White House.

A storied room

Let’s go back to the beginnings of the White House. It was commissioned in 1791 on a site chosen by George Washington, who left office before it was finished. In 1800, despite ongoing construction, John Adams became the first President to experience the joys of living amidst a renovation, without the Property Brothers around to rescue him. At the time, the White House was the largest house in the country, something that remained true until the Civil War. During the War of 1812, the British burned the mansion down a few years after it was finished originally. Thankfully, Dolly Madison had the presence of mind to take the masterpiece painting of George Washington with them before it was destroyed. Obviously, the building was rebuilt after the war.

Period illustration of White House in 1814, after the British burned it down. Credit: Library of Congress.

Period illustration of White House in 1814, after the British burned it down. Photo/art credit: Library of Congress.

Prior to Teddy Roosevelt, the president and his aides worked on the second floor of the Executive Mansion. During this time, the room now known as the Lincoln Bedroom served as a private office for many presidents, including Lincoln, McKinley, Benjamin Harrison and Taft.


McKinley’s Office, 1900, Photo Credit: White House Museum

It’s easy to imagine the difficulties of running a large government in a personal residence. In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt commissioned a separate executive office building on the site, moving the president and his staff into it. That part of the White House is now known as the West Wing. A few years later, President Taft had the Oval Office built within the West Wing. Even after construction of the West Wing, the Lincoln Bedroom was mostly used as a private office for the president or a meeting room for his cabinet, other than a brief period when it became a bedroom for Woodrow Wilson’s daughter.

Bedroom and furniture finally unite

In 1945, the White House was in serious structural trouble. Harry Truman undertook a massive renovation that basically scrapped every room down to the studs. Truman decreed that the Lincoln-era bedroom furnishings should be installed in Lincoln’s former presidential office, and that the room should be forever dedicated to Lincoln. Furniture and room were finally united, and it has been the Lincoln Bedroom ever since. The Trumans renovated the room, along with much of the White House, to a classic, pared-down look, albeit with some cheap reproductions.


Lincoln Bedroom in 1962, Photo credit: The Kennedy Library

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy upgraded the Lincoln Bedroom a little in the 1960s, replacing some of the inauthentic pieces. But the room essentially remained unchanged until 2005. At that time, First Lady Laura Bush decided to undertake a major period-correct renovation, retaining the Lincoln furniture and cross-matching between the historic décor of Lincoln’s office and what might be appropriate for a Victorian bedroom.

Research into historical writings and photos of the room gave insight into the original hangings, colors and patterns from the era. It was decided to go back to the original green and gold color scheme. A custom rug with a suitable Victorian pattern was made in England, where the original rug from Lincoln’s office was likely made at the time. A Victorian mantel was installed, luminous yellow drapes were hung, and the furniture was reupholstered in yellow, which is how the room remains today.


Lincoln Bedroom, 2005. Photo credit: White House Historical Association

About that furniture

As for the furniture itself, it’s not the typical bedroom suite of furniture. The ornately carved Lincoln Bed is solid rosewood, now banned for use in furniture because the Brazilian rosewood tree has become endangered. The bed is absolutely massive, at over 8’ long, 6’ wide, and nearly 8’ tall. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln purchased the bed when she undertook a large renovation of the White House; however, historical documents show no evidence that Lincoln ever slept in it. Several other presidents did, however, including Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

The suite also includes a sofa, three matching chairs and four chairs used for Lincoln’s cabinet meetings. One of the weirder twists of the Lincoln Bed in a democratic nation is that Benjamin Harrison had a crown made for it. Other presidents (or their wives) apparently rather liked said crown, actually keeping it and embellishing on it. There’s much talk about the Lincoln bed hanging swags in historic documents. Mary Todd Lincoln had purple swags made for it, which Laura Bush had her designer emulate.

Perhaps most importantly historically, it is thought that the Emancipation Proclamation was written, debated and worked on in the Lincoln Bedroom. The room also contains one of just five known copies of the Gettysburg Address signed by Lincoln himself.

Unusual photo of Lincoln in his office, 1863, Photo credit: White House Museum

Unusual photo of Lincoln in his office, 1863, Photo credit: White House Museum

Recent years

Since the 1980s or so, the Lincoln Bedroom has been used as an executive guest room, oftentimes as a perk for influential players in both parties, sigh. Let’s not go there.

It’s a lovely, historic room, and the election will soon be over. In the meantime, sleep well, friends.




The post The history of America’s most famous bedroom appeared first on Reverie.

A Stanley Cup Champion Talks About His New Bed

The NHL started its season. If you follow hockey, you know that it’s one of the most challenging and grueling sports to play. Night after night, it’s lots of checking, slamming into the boards, falling onto hard ice and a gonzo pace that never lets up for the entire game. To paraphrase the old Ginger Rogers line, hockey players do everything baseball players do, but with full contact and on skates.

One can only imagine the effect on the body, even for young healthy guys. Combine it with a vigorous road schedule, and that kind of pounding would create a strong need for sleep. Over the summer, Reverie gave Steven Oleksy, a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of our Dream Supreme Sleep Systems. Oleksy, who runs a competitive hockey league over the summer, has been sleeping on it ever since.

How has his journey to great sleep been going?

Frankly, Oleksy’s journey has been short. Upon trying our bed in at our showroom outside of Detroit, he was impressed. “I’d never been on a sleep system before. I could feel immediately that it was a custom bed,” says Oleksy. And then, when his bed was delivered at home? “The very first night, I noticed a huge change in my sleeping patterns. I didn’t set an alarm clock and hopped right out of bed at 7:30am, ready to go. My legs felt great!” (Oleksy says it so enthusiastically, the exclamation point had to be added for honesty.)

The very next day, he told a friend the bed “was life changing.” Within the first few days, he noticed other things, too. He began falling asleep fast and sleeping soundly instead of restlessly. “I didn’t even dream,” he says. He also doesn’t wake up groggy any more, rendering his snooze button irrelevant. Oleksy used to suffer from sore throats in the morning. He thought the elevation of the Zero Gravity position, which he sleeps in and loves, helped with better drainage. (Another possibility might be our all-natural latex hypoallergenic mattress; it repels dust mites and bacteria, which thrive in other kinds of mattresses.)

A job where sleep is crucial

Great sleep is important to any athlete, but especially to a hockey player. On game days, their schedule involves a busy morning with breakfast at the rink, reviewing video, a short skate and stretching. All this happens before noon. Then most players head back home or to the hotel to nap for 2-3 hours in preparation for the evening’s game. Then it’s back to the rink in the late afternoon to work out, stretch some more and talk strategy. The game follows, with dinner afterward along with a debrief. And then it’s back to the hotel, usually around midnight. A long day, with sleep sandwiched in the middle and also capping off the day. It’s that important to performance.

One of the biggest sleep challenges a hockey player faces is after the game. “It’s a super physical and intense game,” Oleksy says. “It’s hard to wind down. And often, it’s even harder at home, when I have other people and responsibilities to take care of.”  He finds the massage feature and the soft light of the under-bed nightlight are little luxuries that help him fall asleep.

Oleksy says “what sets you apart at every level of the game is how quickly you can recover.” And he thinks his Reverie bed really does help. “Those little aches and pains? They don’t bother me much or at all anymore.” Sleeping better maximizes his workouts, improves his mindset and minimizes the effects of constant travel.

A measurable difference

Every year, hockey players take assessment tests for power, endurance, etc. This year, Oleksy had his highest scores ever across the board, which he attributes in part to sleeping better. He is also very fastidious about taking care of himself. He eats healthfully and never drinks alcohol, with one exception … if it’s from the Stanley Cup. “It’s my job to stay in shape,” he says seriously. “I’ve noticed that when I don’t sleep properly or am up late, I tend to make bad decisions, especially eating worse.”

Lately Oleksy has been loving our new Nightstand app. “It’s great,” he says. “It has so many capabilities.” He’s now programming his own sleep routines, with various massage settings and positions of the bed set to run automatically.

He thinks anyone could benefit from the bed, primarily because everybody needs great sleep. “They’ll wake up, ready to go.” And he thinks it would be great for anybody who suffers from back or shoulder pain. Of course, we love that he’s also been talking up the bed to his teammates, telling them, “If there’s one investment to make, this bed is worth every penny.”

About life as a Stanley Cup champion

A genuine and humble guy, Oleksy says his philosophy of the game is that he wants “to be the hardest working guy out there.” He is grateful to have achieved every hockey player’s dream by having been on a team that won the Stanley Cup. And he’s trying hard to cherish every moment of being a champion. “Nobody can take that away from me.” Rather than be annoyed, he’s grateful to the fans who say “hi” and ask for autographs.

Asked about the Penguins’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champions this year, he shows he’s learned a bit about the media and interviews, however. He modestly declines to make any prediction. “It’s always hard to tell,” he says, nonchalantly. “We should be competitive.”

Got it. Continue to sleep well, Steven, and good luck. Your friends at Reverie will be rooting for you.

Winter is coming. How to prep for daylight savings time?

I walk to work each day, and these days two things stick out to me. First, the leaves are changing color, which is beautiful. Second, it’s a little darker every morning during my walk. I love the fall, but I can’t help but be reminded that winter is impending. I love winter less. It’s dark more, it’s colder, and even after my super-focused, class-free academic summer research, I find the waning light reminding me of all the things I thought I’d do this year but didn’t. Downer feelings just seem to molder without the sun to dry them up. I take some solace knowing this emotional muddling is a pretty shared experience. That I can identify it as a pattern means I also know the feelings will pass and another year will come, and it means I don’t have to take all such thoughts too seriously.

“Our culture doesn’t have seasons.”

These changes are so predictable that our bodies actually expect them, and try to do some prep work. We might take more pleasure from fatty foods, and those of us with facial hair may find it suddenly easier to grow a Decembeard than it was to make a Maystache. We’ll also start sleeping more, and in general, later. All this makes some sense. Our bodies are helping us hunker down to get through the dark and cold. And when I grew up in the flatlands of central Illinois, that dark-coldness was very real. The funny thing is that I’m now sciencing it up in northern California, where seasons are far less dramatic, but I still feel these seasonal changes. And that points to an important issue – our culture doesn’t have seasons (maybe summer break aside). We work the same hours, we’re expected to keep up the same vigor for productivity and personal day-to-days. And so there’s a conflict between what we feel and what we’re expected to feel.

This conflict of artificial, socially-dictated time and Nature’s time is kind of like the difference between our circadian rhythms and our modern light environment. Just like with seasons, our bodies evolved to anticipate the day-night cycle, and so our bodies get very confused when the light we see doesn’t match the timing of sunrise and sunset. The sudden perceived difference between internal and external time, like we experience in jetlag, shift work, or even waking up to alarm clocks instead of letting our sleep cycles end themselves, feels crummy. It does damage too, as your body lurches internally trying to realign itself to the new perceived day. Happily, evidence is mounting that this damage heals when time stabilizes. Unhappily, we have a lot of artificial timing signals in the modern environment – think of school schedules, street lights, and smart phones in bed – and chronic disruptions to our sense of time like that can add up to increased disease risk, and even lasting behavioral changes when these are experienced early in life. So we need to have a global discussion about how we deal with time as part of our health and wellbeing, and we’re starting to do that.

“Daylight savings time is a cultural artifact of trying to make social time fit the outside world better.”

When I tell people I’m a circadian biologist, a satisfying number of people now have some idea what I’m talking about. And in one way, seasonal change is often brought into the conversation by way of day light savings time. Daylight savings time is a cultural artifact of trying to make social time fit the outside world better, but it is also an imposed jetlag on most of the population, meaning most of us feel crummy losing an hour, and actually are less able to function for a while, as evidenced by the spike in traffic accidents the next day. Human biology does have circannual rhythms – yearly cycles that change with the seasons – but we don’t know a lot about them, and so building social artifacts to deal with them well is a challenge.

Some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which peaks as winter is waning, around February. I’ve certainly had a taste of that, though thankfully nothing too severe. Some people experience insomnia with the changing days. Some people just want to sleep all the time. Bright lights in the morning – dawn simulators – can help, and are often recommended as antidepressants for SAD. But I have to wonder whether some of the difficulties we have with winter come from fighting the change instead of accepting it. Just like light at the wrong time of day confuses our brains and disrupts our bodies, it seems possible that light at the wrong time of year might have a similar effect. If that was so, then it would be reasonable that some people would be more sensitive than others, which might account for why some people are more affected than others. This is just a hypothesis, and not one that is easy to test, since I don’t have the money to pay large numbers of people to live without electric lights for years, and then measure if more or less of them get depressed, while somehow controlling for the depressing effects of not knowing what happened in Game of Thrones for so long.

“Winter comes no matter what, it seems.”

Winter comes no matter what, it seems. And anyway, living without technology is not a solution I expect the world to embrace. But I’m curious: did my growing up in a place with severe seasons predispose me to expect big changes every year. Was the lack of that change why living in San Diego was hard for me? How do we begin to know such things – build biological time into personalized medical advice? For both daily rhythms and seasonal rhythms, what I’ve tried to do is appreciate that time matters in our lives. Day to day, and season to season. I think the next step is to understand how those rhythms work in people, and try to discover not just the commonalities of biological timekeeping, but the personal differences that might let us know if, for example, someone from Illinois would be happier where the winter is harsher, because it matches the expectations their body set through early life experience. Or conversely, maybe we’d all be happier if there was enough light to make everywhere seem like summer all the time (we know the answer to that one is “no”, by the way).

To that end, here are a few tips to help you prep for daylight savings time.

1) Start going to bed earlier. Getting an extra hour in the fall doesn’t seem to hurt much, but losing one in the spring is hard. In either case, it’s not a bad idea to make smaller adjustments to your schedule in the days ahead of the change so your body has a smooth transition to the new time.

2) Listen to your body. If you feel like winter is really bringing you down, take time to do something good for yourself, and consider getting and using full spectrum bulbs to help you wake up each day.

3) Remember that winter comes to us all. If you feel snowed under, you’re not at all alone. It’s natural, and it happens more for some than others. Try to sleep and eat regularly, and if you’re feeling really SAD, there’s plenty of professionals (if not friends) able to help get you through to the spring.

If you get the chance, make a snow man or woman for me. It’s fun. Living in California, I miss the snow from when I grew up. Thanks in advance.

Dr. Benjamin Smarr

Dr. Benjamin Smarr studies the temporal structures that biological systems make as they move through time. An NIH research fellow at UC Berkeley, his work focuses on understanding how physiological dynamics like sleep, circadian rhythms, and ovulatory cycles are shaped by the brain, and how disturbances to those cycles gives rise to disease. Dr. Smarr is also an advocate for scientific outreach, and routinely gives public lectures and visits K-12 classrooms to help promote the idea that by understanding the biology that guides us, we can live more empowered lives.


The post Winter is coming. How to prep for daylight savings time? appeared first on Reverie.

The problem with memory foam mattresses. And how we solved it.

Today is a proud day at Reverie®. After years of intense development, we’re launching a whole new line of Hybrid memory foam mattresses. They are an upgrade to memory foam mattresses in almost every conceivable way. They unflinchingly throw cool shade on the problem of memory foam heat while also adding more durability and hypoallergenic properties. Before we get into all the details, a little perspective.

A short history on memory foam

Memory foam, sometimes called visco elastic foam, was invented in the 1960s by America’s leading public source of science and technology. Namely, NASA. They needed seats that would help relieve the immense pressure on the bodies of astronauts from G forces. The material needed to be soft enough to cushion, but strong and dense enough not to disintegrate. Charles Yost, a subcontractor, came up with the material that has become known as memory foam. It worked, because it had the dual properties of being both dense and malleable. Memory foam changed properties with heat, then gradually reverted back once heat was removed. Yost called it Temper foam, alluding to the heat which made the material work but eventually became its nemesis.


1965 rocket. Photo credit: NASA.

In the ensuing years, memory foam found many applications. It was used for crash protection in NASCAR, in bumper cars at amusement parks, for rafts that would not sink, even in the fashion industry for shoes and custom dressmaker forms. But predominantly, the medical industry saw its potential. It was a major breakthrough in helping to prevent bedsores. And it also worked great for custom devices for people confined to wheelchairs or in need of prosthetics. However, Temper foam remained pricey.


Memory foam meets mattress

In the 1980s, NASA released the technology to the public. Most people wouldn’t touch it, because it was complicated to make. But in 1992 a Swedish company solved the riddle and started making memory foam mattresses, which they called Tempurpedic. The mattresses became very popular, causing other companies to get into the memory foam game. Competition made the material more affordable.

For years, Reverie has resisted the push to come out with a memory foam option. That is because, although memory foam feels great to many people, that love affair often didn’t last long. You climb into bed, and the mattress starts molding to your body, relieving pressure points and feeling awesome. But after a few hours, things change. People wake up in the middle of the night with hot memory foam conforming to their bodies, making them sweat. That’s because the way memory foam molds to your body is through heat. And most memory foam mattresses are dense, 8-10” slabs of foam, which don’t allow heat to pass through. The heat from your body is absorbed into the mattress and has nowhere to go. Sweat city.

Trying to beat the heat


Over the years, mattress companies have tried various things to solve the heat problem. For a while, open cell technology was the rage, i.e., putting more air into the foam during the manufacturing process. This didn’t help much, since memory foam is a very dense material. Heat continued to be a problem. In recent years, companies have been coating memory foam with gel. Another poor solution. First of all, while the gel may be cool to start, like memory foam, it also heats up after your body has been in contact with it for a while. Another downside? Gel eventually turns into beads and separates from the memory foam. Other companies have tried gluing lots of different layers of materials together. But too much glue is a barrier, also trapping heat from escaping.

So what’s a mattress company to do?

Being Reverie, we love a challenge. Truth be told, it took a while to solve this longstanding problem, due to our perfectionist tendencies. But, happily, now we have.

How? By tackling it from every angle.

Our new Hybrids. Memory foam comfort combined with latex cool.

We started by putting a layer of all-natural OEKO-TEX®-certified latex between you and the memory foam. Not only is this layer made with small holes to let heat escape, the natural latex itself is temperature neutral. Below the latex, the whole point of it all … a layer of premium, CertiPUR-US® certified memory foam for that velvety comfort people love.

So far, so good. But what about that heat that gradually builds up during the night? On a Reverie mattress, we cut the heat off at the pass. It doesn’t get the chance to build up, because in our Hybrid line, we retained our patented DreamCell™ construction. Instead of a dense monolithic 8-10” slab of foam, we have a support system which uses our little DreamCell foam springs underneath. Hundreds of them within the mattress, each one with holes in the middle, allowing air to circulate around and through each spring. This makes a huge difference.

In addition, we topped off each mattress cover by finishing it with Feran Ice® technology for maximum moisture wicking. The Dream Supreme II comfort layer also has graphite infusion for further aeration.


Quality beyond heat moderation

By adding significant amounts of latex, we’ve not only reduced the heat, we’ve also added more hypoallergenic qualities to the mattress as well as increased the durability. Latex is naturally dust mite and antimicrobial. It also is the most durable mattress material currently on the market. And a word about our OEKO-TEX® and CertiPUR-US® certifications. We make all of our foams in the United States. This is the only way currently to guarantee the quality and purity of the materials used as well as the safety of the manufacturing process. What does this mean? Our latex is certified to be 100% natural rubber. And none of our foams contain mercury, formaldehyde or phthalates. They’re low VOC and also made without chemicals that deplete the ozone. You can buy a Reverie mattress with confidence.

Here’s an overview on each of our Reverie Hybrid mattresses.dh2_flat_34-copy

Reverie Dream™ II Hybrid

Superb comfort in an accessible memory foam and natural latex hybrid mattress. Features a 1” layer of all-natural OEKO-TEX-certified Talalay latex. Underneath that is a 2” layer of quality CertiPUR-certified memory foam. Comfort layer is supported by our proprietary  DreamCell system, with 8 rows of 3” foam springs in the torso region to let heat escape. Firmness is customizable on both left and right sides. Available online or at retailers.


Reverie Dream™ I Hybrid

Affordable luxury in a memory foam and natural latex hybrid mattress. Features a .5” layer of all-natural OEKO-TEX-certified Talalay latex. Underneath that is a 2” layer of quality CertiPUR-certified memory foam. Comfort layer is supported by our proprietary DreamCell system, with 5 rows of 3” foam springs in the torso region to let heat escape. Firmness is customizable on both left and right sides. Available at retailers.

Impressed by our new Hybrids, but still interested in an all-natural latex mattress? No worries, we’ve retained our classic Natural latex line. It’s gotten a big upgrade this month, too. 

Sleep well. And best of all, sleep cool.

The post The problem with memory foam mattresses. And how we solved it. appeared first on Reverie.

Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Perfect Picks For Hibernation
Holiday Gift Guide for Hibernation