Citizenry Sheets
<h2 class="entry-title"><a href="https://sleepsherpa.com/the-citizenry-organic-sheets-review/" rel="bookmark">The Citizenry Organic Sheets Review</a></h2>

Recently updated on December 19th, 2020 at 04:59 am

Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.

The Citizenry is a fast-growing online brand that has all sorts of home goods from around the world. It’s a curation of some of the best handcrafted textiles and decor that are made by artisans who are paid a fair wage. These sheets were made by the Denizli Cotton Mill in Turkey where apparently the loop bath towel was invented in the 15th century. I was given their Organic Turkish Cotton bed bundle for review. These sheets are well made and wear nicely all at a fair price.

Ordering your Citizenry Organic Cotton Sheets

These sheets are available exclusively through The Citizenry website. They ship fast and should arrive in about 5 business days or sooner. They arrive in a box but inside the box they are also wrapped in plastic to keep them clean during transit.

Citizenry packaging

I also received a nice thank you letter and a small notepad. Maybe to journal my dreams? I’m not sure.

citizenry welcome

How Much Do Citizenry Sheets Cost?

For this review, I received a queen-size bundle which retails for $455. It’s a $75 savings vs. buying each item individually. I usually have 4 pillows on my bed so you can buy extra pillowcases individually for a consistent look. Shipping is free but make sure you read the fine print with their return policy. Bedding can be returned for a full refund but it must be unused and in original packaging. So you really don’t get a chance to try it out short of just feeling it before you put it on your bed.

Set includes:
– 1 Sheet Set (1 fitted sheet, 1 flat sheet, 2 pillowcases)
– 1 Duvet Cover
– 2 Extra Pillowcases

Full Set: $435
Queen Set $455
King Set $515

Construction of the Citizenry Organic Cotton Sheets

These are 4oo thread count sheets in a sateen weave.

Made using 100% organic, long-staple cotton in the Aegean region of Turkey, each piece is Oeko-Tex® and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified – the world’s foremost authority for organic textiles. From sourcing to finishing and every step in between, each piece is made sustainably in a fair-trade working environment.

My Citizenry Organic Cotton Sheets Findings

Here’s a video of my findings on these sheets. I have reviewed dozens of organic cotton sheets so I have a lot of experience with different weaves and thread counts.

What struck me most about these sheets is that they are a 400 thread count weave. I really don’t recommend going beyond 400 thread count because they get too thick and reduce breathability. These sheets are very smooth and breathable and just look great on your bed. The next thing I look for is color. These have a consistent dye and should hold up well after many washes. It is hard to get color right with organic sheets because they can’t use the same chemicals as traditional sheets but I think they hit the mark with these navy sheets.

My Citizenry Sheets Final Thoughts

These days everything we buy seems to tell a story. Not only about where the product is from but who we are and what we stand for. The Citizenry understands that what you buy can make a difference in your life and the life of the people that made it and for that reason, I think they are justified in charging more than what you would pay for conventional sheets.

Shop the Citizenry

Aizome sheets
<h2 class="entry-title"><a href="https://sleepsherpa.com/aizome-sheets-review-organic-and-beautiful/" rel="bookmark">Aizome Sheets Review: Organic and Beautiful</a></h2>

Recently updated on August 27th, 2019 at 02:47 pm

Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.

Aizome is the first bedding company I have come across to incorporate organic cotton and hand-dyed indigo into their sheets. Often it is hard to find organic cotton sheets with vibrant colors because it requires harsh chemicals. Aizome sheets are dyed with indigo which is a plant-based dye that will give your sheets a blue tint. A basic queen size set which includes a top and bottom sheet along with two pillowcases retails for $272.

Overview of Aizome Bedding

Indigo has been around for thousands of years but for the last 100 years, most textiles including jeans are made with synthetic indigo. Synthetic indigo is made with Aniline which doesn’t seem all that great for humans. Natural indigo, on the other hand, seems to be safer and more sustainable. While making natural indigo sheets is more expensive, they look and feel better.

You can order your Aizome sheets directly from the Aizome website. They will arrive in a box like the one below. On the right-hand side is a tag showing what pieces are in the box so you know what you are getting before you open it.

The sheets come in a cloth bag. Mine also came with an origami heart and crane.

Aizome Bag

Construction of the Aizome Sheets

  • 400 thread count
  • Sateen weave
  • GOTS Certified Organic cotton
  • Natural indigo

These sheet have additional certifications from Dermaveritas.org and QTEC

How Much do Aizome Sheets Cost?

You can buy separates such as pillowcases for $49, sheets are $89 for a drawstring or flat and $99 for a duvet cover. It’s nice to see that they don’t overprice the duvet cover.

SizePrice
Twin$234
Full$272
Queen$272
King$272
California King$272

My Aizome Findings

What you’ll first notice about these sheets is the nice blue color. Not too dark. Just a nice, relaxing blue hue that will look great in any bedroom.

Aizome 2

These sheets are soft right out of the box. I also found that after washing them they don’t lose any of the original color so that probably means they don’t bleed much either.

Another distinguishing feature is that the fitted sheets is put together with cords. Most sheets are just hemmed around the corners with an elastic band.

These sheets are not cheap so if they are out of your budget you can buy separates and build your set slowly. If anything, I recommend trying out the pillowcases as that is where you rest your head at night and where you will reap the most benefit. Here’s a picture of the pillowcases.

Aizome Pillow cases

As you can see, the stitching is very clean and folded into the sheet so it can’t be seen.

Aizome stitching

My Aizome Bedding Recommendation

Aizome is a truly unique offering among natural sheet brands. Their use of natural indigo isn’t just a nice addition for their story but it actually has a benefit. The graph below shows how Aizome sheets test against conventional sheets with synthetic material.

Aizome antibacterial

You get a genuine health benefit from these sheets and just as importantly, they feel super soft! Aizome is so confident you will like their sheets that they offer a 6-month trial. If you still don’t like them you can return them for a refund.

Learn more about Aizome Bedding

 

Alterra Pure Sheets
<h2 class="entry-title"><a href="https://sleepsherpa.com/alterra-pure-organic-cotton-percale-bundle-review/" rel="bookmark">Alterra Pure Organic Cotton Percale Bundle Review</a></h2>

Recently updated on May 22nd, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Alterra Pure Profile

Alterra Pure was built on pillars of social and environmental sustainability, and maintaining a transparent and ethical business is their main goal. In order to live by their values, they pride themselves on giving back to the environment and those who produce their products. This means purchasing fair trade cotton from farms that use only rainwater to water their crops—they also recycle all water used in both fabric production and fabric finishing. To uphold their strong social standards, they hold no secrets—transparency is one of the most important principles a sustainable company must practice. Every step of Alterra Pure’s supply chain is Certified Organic and/or LEED Certified—from seed to gin to wheel to loom, nothing is overlooked. All water and materials are reused if possible, and as I mentioned before, even their packaging is made of biodegradable, scrap cotton and recycled paper. They are proud of the work they do and the products they create, so every ingredient and process is meticulously graded and tweaked to make the best fabrics. Their small lot and artisanal production scale is ideal for maintaining these tenets of sustainability and ethicality while staying afloat financially.

Alterra Pure sent me their Traditional Organic Bundle to review. The shipping box held two off-white boxes that were constructed from re-constituted/up-cycled scrap cotton and recycled paper. The boxes are not smooth, nor are they shiny or sleek—they have a more Earthy feel to them.

“ALTERRA PURE” is scrawled across the linty paper exteriors, with a seam dividing the two words. The seam (and the two box halves) is held together by a single piece of terra cotta-colored tape.

After gently peeling off the tape—attempting to keep the boxes’ finishes intact—I found the sheets and duvet neatly folded, and tucked away in each box.

I love the boxes—they’re gorgeous; the textures, colors, and fonts are beautifully executed; and the structure and overall design are not only effective in function, but also in reusability and general purpose storage. I plan to keep them around for a bit because I’ve got some magazines that could use a nice, new, organized home.

Alterra Pure Construction

I removed and unfolded the sheets to get a better look at the collection. They sent me a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, two pillow cases, and a duvet cover—all pieces are made of organic cotton percale fabric. Initially, the sheets had a kind of parachute fabric feel to them, which I assumed would just wash out in the first laundry cycle, but I was wrong. After following the prescribed wash and dry instructions, I was left with sheets that feel nearly the same as when they went in.

There was quite a bit of shrinkage, but I think Alterra Pure accounted for that when they made the sheets because despite the pockets shrinking almost 2 inches, the fitted sheet grips my mattress perfectly.

In addition to the texture and shrinkage, I noticed that they stayed quite wrinkly, despite finally trying the damp washcloth method (which worked minimally). All of the set pieces don two very classy pinstripes close to the edges—one red and one blue—which serve as functional stitchings.

The coconut buttons on the duvet are a good size relative to their respective holes, which I really appreciate because tough buttons can really beat up a set of fingertips.

My Alterra Pure Findings

As I mentioned before, the sheets maintained their parachute-esque feel even after washing. I was a little skeptical going into this review, because the only other percale set I’ve reviewed so far is the Primary Goods set, which placed quite low on my list. Surprisingly, Alterra Pure’s collection does not remind me of the Primary Goods’ percale set at all, which honestly is a giant bonus in my book. The sheets have a kind of slick feel to them making movement easy and slightly slippery. The percale fabric is very breathable and comfortable no matter the temperature—I actually find it more temperature regulative than some of the other cotton sheet sets I’ve tried.

My Alterra Pure Recommendation

I really love these sheets. I ended up liking the slippery texture, and the temperature regulation is aces. Everything from the red and blue stitching to the box design has me smitten, which is rare for cotton sheets—cotton sheets are pretty hit and miss for me. I love everything Alterra Pure stands for, and I commend them for taking such a firm stance on their values in every aspect of their production line. Their prices are on par with other organic cotton sets—$160 for queen size sheets, $160 for a queen size duvet cover, and $285 as a bundle. Primary Goods sells a queen size percale cotton bundle for $269 normally, but occasionally marks it down for $179. While Primary Goods percale set is considerably less expensive during markdown times, the quality of materials, comfort, and values woven into each inch of Alterra Pure’s bedding make the price worth every penny.

Shop Alterra Pure

<h2 class="entry-title"><a href="https://sleepsherpa.com/homestead-cotton-sateen-sheets-review/" rel="bookmark">Homestead Sheets Review</a></h2>

Recently updated on February 4th, 2019 at 03:09 pm

 

I was given a set of 100% Organic Cotton Sateen sheets from Homestead to review. When I first opened the box I was surprised—the whole shebang was wrapped up like an elegant gift, complete with ribbon, handwritten note, and packing doingles. The presentation was impressive, and clearly displayed the care, time, and effort put into Homestead and their products. The free tote was definitely a plus—you can never have too many reusable bags.

Homestead Sheets Construction

Now the sheets, at first they felt soft, but if I’m honest, I was slightly disappointed when I slept in them the first time. For the first few nights I really couldn’t see what was so great about them. They felt almost exactly like one of my other, cheaper bedding sets made of 60/40 Pima cotton/polyester that I got for $50 at an overstock store. I admit I was wrong. This is my first set of high quality sheets, so I didn’t know exactly what to look for.

Like many others, I was under the impression that a higher thread count meant higher quality sheets, but after reading up on the subject a bit, I found out that is not necessarily the case. The quality of the sheet comes from the materials used, rather than the thread count. In this case, Homestead uses organic, long staple cotton and special weave techniques to achieve their highest quality sheets (a cotton staple is the unit used to measure the length of the plant fibers). The longer the week went by and the more I slept in them, the more I was able to differentiate them from that kind of harsh, cold, feel of my old sheets. While Homestead’s 300 thread count cotton sheets felt softer than my 500 thread count polyester blend sheets, they somehow did not feel as soft as my 700 thread count 100% polyester sheets. I think that what held me back from fully appreciating Homestead’s sheets was how they didn’t quite match the delicate feel of those 700 sheets, but while softness is important, it is not everything.

 

My Homestead Findings

At the end of the day (or I guess week), I’ve slept quite well in them, and have even had better nights sleep than with my old sets. After a week of breaking them in, the sheets really came into their own and I started to feel that warm cotton feel that they tout. As someone who tends to run hot at night, when I read on their website that the sateen weave yields a soft and warm sheet, I was concerned I might get too hot—there’s nothing worse than a sweaty night’s sleep. I realized later that while they were definitely warm, they weren’t too warm, which was a relief. Homestead says that with every wash, their ultra-soft sateen sheets get softer, and seeing as I’ve only washed them once and they’re already quite soft, I’m curious where they can go from there.

After washing the sheets, they fit well and there was no shrinkage. The seams were 14.5 inches from corner to the inside of the elastic band; 15 inches to the outside edge. I followed the instructions on the tag to wash them in cold water and dry them on low heat, so I expect they might shrink in a warm wash and dry cycle, like most cotton fabrics.

Cost and Benefits

The sheets come in at around $200, but while you get a warm embrace to coerce you back into REM sleep, you also get a sound 8 hours knowing that your money went to an exceptional cause—something that not many bedding companies can say. While you can get 100% cotton sheets just about anywhere for much much less, you’re contributing to the fair trade industry by just investing a little bit more in sheets like these from Homestead.

Homestead prides themselves on promising high ethical and environmental standards every step of the way. No forced labor or discriminatory practices are used in their manufacturing process, and all production workers along their supply chain are paid a fair, living wage for their work, with benefits. The cotton behind Homestead’s line-up is 100% organic, which means no pesticides, insecticides, or fungicides are used in the the cultivation of their crops. Cutting out these sprays means also cutting out the greenhouse gases that would normally be emitted during their manufacturing operations.

My Homestead Recommendation

Trying Homestead’s 100% organic cotton sateen sheet set has opened my eyes to a new world of bedding, through an experience that isn’t accessible to everyone. When I was last shopping for bedding (and I bought the 700 thread count set), I was more focused on the thread count and price rather than the materials and footprint it might have. Of course while budget is not always flexible for some customers, thread count and material are definitely variable choices that can be made. Next time you go shopping for sheets, consider weighing material over thread count and you definitely will not regret it. When you buy Homestead’s products, you’re not only investing in your sleep, but you’re also investing in social and environmental good for a better humanity, and I think that is what really gives these basic cotton sheets their value.

sleep stages and sleep cycles explained
<h2 class="entry-title"><a href="https://sleepsherpa.com/stages-of-sleep-and-sleep-cycles-explained/" rel="bookmark">Stages of Sleep and Sleep Cycles Explained [Infographic]</a></h2>

Recently updated on May 30th, 2020 at 03:06 pm

Besides food, sleep is the most important requirement of every living being, including humans. Sleep refreshes and rejuvenates us, helping our bodies repair and recharge. Sleep stages and sleep cycles play a very crucial role in this process. Whether we are tired, sick, or stressed, sleep heals and re-energizes us.

The process of sleep can be complicated to understand. It isn’t as simple as closing our eyes and dozing off. Several complex processes take place in the brain, bringing about sleep. Our brains work as hard while we are sleeping as when we are awake. Sleep is divided into different stages and cycles. Controlled by the production of hormone regulation, muscle recovery, and memory formation, the primary sleep hormone, the hypothalamus signals the rest of the body if it is time to sleep or to stay awake. Disruption in melatonin production affects the normal sleep-wake cycle.

To understand sleep, we need to understand the different sleep stages and sleep cycles in detail.

What Are Different Sleep Stages?

When we sleep, our brains pass through five different stages, ranging from light to deep sleep. The stages are classified into REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. During the night, our bodies go through the five stages four to five times. Each cycle consists of the five stages. This means, while we sleep, our bodies go through four or five sleep cycles. Each cycle of sleep is roughly 90 minutes long. In an 8-hour sleep, there are four to five 90 minute cycles. In infants and children, each stage is about 50 to 60 minutes long.

Each stage of sleep has an important role in the sleep cycle. All five stages play their own function in rejuvenating and recharging the body for the next day. This includes hormone regulation, muscle recovery, and memory formation. Without enough time to sleep, most of these functions remain incomplete, resulting in fatigue and sleepiness. We might think that only deep sleep is the important stage, but all the stages are equally essential. Without a full night of sleep, the sleep cycle isn’t complete, and the restoration work remains unfulfilled.

Stage 1 of Sleep

Depending on how tired you are, it takes only a few seconds to enter the first stage of sleep, called the transitional phase. This is a non-REM stage, which means the sleep isn’t deep at all. The sleep in this phase is the lightest. People usually flit in and out of consciousness in this stage. If you are exhausted, it will take you only a few seconds to enter the transitional stage, but if you suffer from insomnia or have delayed sleep onset, it can take you an hour or more. Usually, you can still hear everything that’s going on around you and even the slightest noise can wake you up. It is also normal to toss and turn and try to get comfortable. Waking up from this stage is also quick and easy.

In this stage, sometimes your muscles will jerk, jolting you awake. This is called hypnic myoclonia, sleep twitch, or hypnic jerk. These jerks happen because of involuntary muscular contractions. It has been named after the hypnagogic state which is the transitional phase between wakefulness and sleep. Although not all people experience this, they are very common while a person is drifting off. You might even wake up with a start feeling like you were falling. This stage lasts between one and seven minutes. The first stage leads to the second stage of the sleep cycle.

Stage 2 of Sleep

The second stage of sleep is also a non-REM phase, but it is still deeper than the first stage. This phase is when muscles relax, heartbeats begin to slow down, core body temperature drops, eye movements stop, and the person completely drifts off to sleep. Waking up from this stage isn’t as quick as the first stage because the person is making his way to deep sleep. Although this is also a light sleep stage, a person spends more than 50 percent of his sleep in this phase, making it the longest stage in the cycle.

Stage two of the sleep cycle is the precursor to deep sleep. Electrical activity in the brain occurs at a lower frequency compared to the first stage. Brain waves become smaller, with occasional spurts of rapid waves. This phase lasts between 10 and 20 minutes, leading to the third stage.

Stage 3 of Sleep

The third phase can be called the most important stage of the sleep cycle. Lasting between 10 and 40 minutes, this is the stage when sleep is the deepest. During this phase, the heart rate and breathing are at the lowest, and the person has no consciousness of what is happening around him. Waking up from this stage is difficult; if you wake someone up from this stage of sleep, they will remain groggy and disoriented for some time before awakening fully. This stage is also called slow wave sleep when growth and restorative hormones are released.

These hormones have an important role in the development and nourishment of the body. In infants and children, a significant portion of brain and body development takes places at this sleep stage. Besides the growth, these hormones also aid in appetite control. The growth hormones aid in replenishing muscles and tissues that were used during that day, while the hormone leptin suppresses appetite and limits the feeling of excessive hunger. When a person doesn’t get sufficient sleep, leptin doesn’t function well, leading to a rise in the appetite-inducing hormone ghrelin. This is why lack of sleep has a connection with weight gain and obesity

Stage 4 of Sleep

This is also a non-REM phase, but the sleep is almost like a coma. It takes a long time to wake up from this stage. This stage of the sleep cycle is often compared to a comatose state because the heart rate and the body temperature are at the lowest, resembling a person in a coma. Muscle movements don’t occur in this stage, while the breathing is rhythmic. A person usually doesn’t turn or change sides in this stage because the body is completely immobile. This stage lasts around 30 minutes, around when the delta waves are produced.

The delta waves in the brain are associated with relaxation and sleep. Delta waves also enhance the body’s healing abilities. These slow deep waves are responsible for deep sleep. The higher the delta waves, the deeper the sleep. Delta waves are most commonly found in infants because they sleep the deepest. As a person ages, delta waves are produced less. This is also the stage when bedwetting, night terrors, and sleepwalking occurs. Although the causes are unclear, when these instances happen, the person has no memory of them. Even if a person wakes up briefly during this sleep phase, they soon fall back asleep and have no memory of waking up.

Stage 5 of Sleep or REM Stage

This is the final stage in the sleep cycle and the only REM phase. This stage is different from the other sleep phases because this is when the brain begins to get active. Most adults spend around 20 percent of their entire sleep in this REM stage, while newborns and babies spend about 50 percent. In all the previous stages, both the mind and the body are at rest, healing and recharging. But in the REM stage, the mind starts waking up and getting active, while the body is still inactive. The REM sleep stage is called Rapid Eye Movement phase because the eyes move in various directions behind closed eyelids, but the muscles are immobile to prevent the person from acting out dreams.

In this stage, the breathing is shallow and irregular, while the heart rate and blood pressure begin to rise. This is also the stage when dreams occur. That is why most dreams occur in the early morning because that’s the last phase of the sleep cycle. People wake up after the REM stage, and the body temperature comes to normal.

What Factors Affect Sleep Stages and Sleep Cycles?

Although the sleep cycle is made up of these five stages, the cycle isn’t the same in every individual. When the sleep cycle doesn’t take place normally, it results in sleep disorders. There is no certainty that every person will sleep for eight hours or have five sleep cycles. Some people may wake up even before reaching REM sleep. Certain individuals take a few seconds to drift off to sleep while others take an hour or two. This cycle may naturally be a specific way, because of the changes in the structure and function of the brain during development, or may be affected by various external factors.

More often than not, external factors are responsible for regulating the sleep cycle a certain way. Most important among these factors are:

·       Age of the Person

Most of us are aware that sleep patterns change with age. Over our lifespan, the amount of time we spend sleeping each day gradually declines. Newborns and infants sleep the maximum, anywhere between 16 and 20 hours each day. Children up to the age of four sleep around 11 to 12 hours. As the child grows up, the amount of sleep keeps declining. An adolescent needs around nine hours of sleep each night, although they may not get that much. Adults need at least eight hours no matter how old they grow, but after middle age, the amount gradually drops. The elderly also need eight hours, but poor sleep quality may not always let them get the full amount at one stretch. That is why those who are unable to get the required sleep at night should make up for it some other time during the day.

The decline in sleep amount and quality has been attributed to the delta waves in the brain. These slow and deep brain waves are responsible for causing deep and sound sleep. When delta waves are higher, the sleep quality is at its best. Because newborns and infants have the highest delta waves, their sleep is the deepest and longest. With age, the slow waves decline. Since REM sleep is known to be important for cognitive development, it isn’t surprising that infants and children spend more than 50 percent of the sleep in the REM stage. As the person grows older, the need for REM sleep also drops. Although sleep problems are a normal part of aging, paying attention to the sleep cycle can help improve sleeping patterns.

·       Circadian Rhythm

There is a sleep-wake balancing process that also influences our quality of sleep. We fall asleep only when there is a sleep deficit, and serotonin is acetylated to melatonin. Serotonin is the hormone for relaxation, which helps the body prepare for sleep. It is a precursor to melatonin, the sleep hormone.

This internal, biological clock can vary from one individual to another. Some people may feel sleepy at 8 in the evening while others may stay awake until midnight. Typically, the duration of this biological clock is slightly longer than 24 hours. That is why, the later you go to bed, the later you wake up the next morning. Depending upon the time you go to bed, the body clock adjusts itself. When the adjustment happens naturally, the sleep-wake cycle is free running. Because most humans are diurnal beings, the body clock syncs each day with various external factors like daylight hours, work schedule, etc. The ability of our internal clock to reset according to these factors help keep the circadian rhythm regular and boosts the quality of sleep.

Although this is an internal process, the circadian rhythm is often affected by various external factors, such as working or studying until late, driving at night, or changes in time zones. Jet lag, experienced when traveling across different time zones, takes a toll on the natural internal clock and disrupts the sleep-wake cycle.

·       Previous Wakefulness Period

We can fall asleep quickly and easily only when there is accumulated sleep. For maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, this gap between two sleep sessions is extremely important. There was a time in preindustrial Europe when people used to sleep in two phases. This was governed not by a fixed bedtime, but by whether or not there was anything to do. Back then, there was not much to do in terms of work because industries hadn’t yet begun. There was no electricity, so there was nothing to do at home either. Once dusk fell, people would go to sleep for a few hours, waking up late in the evening for an hour or two. After supper, they would go to sleep again till dawn. This bi-modal sleep was prevalent till a long time.

In our modern lifestyles, it isn’t clear whether this bi-modal sleep pattern will work. Sleep starts accumulating once we wake up in the morning. By late evening, when enough sleep has accumulated, we start to feel tired and drowsy. This indicates that our energy resources are depleted, and we need to recharge. If the gap between two sleep sessions is too small, sleep doesn’t accumulate enough, resulting in delayed sleep onset. That is why people who suffer from insomnia are discouraged from napping because sleeping in the middle of the day shortens the time between the two sleep sessions. The longer you go without sleep, the more your sleep deficit.

·       Ambient or Environmental Factors

Our surroundings play a key role in our sleep cycle. Environmental factors are often among the biggest causes of sleep disorders, although they usually go undiagnosed.  The temperature of the room, ambient noise, light, comfort of the bed, and electronic distractions play a crucial role in the ability to fall and stay asleep. It was found in several studies that those who live in a poorer underprivileged neighborhood are more likely to suffer from sleep issues because of environmental distractions. Passing vehicles till late in the night, noisy neighbors, talking and screaming, loud music and TV, as well as an uncomfortable bed and improper temperature of the room, affect the quality of sleep.

Ambient noise is the greatest environmental factor affecting sleep. From the low hum of the fridge to the ticking of the clock to the TV in the next room to noisy kids upstairs, noises can keep you up at night. An uncomfortable bed is also a potential cause of sleep issues. The wrong mattress, a bed that’s too small, or sheets that cause friction are some of the factors. The type of climate we live in also plays a role in regulating our sleep cycle. Extremely cold regions get a little sun, and people living in such a climate produce more melatonin in response to the low light. Those living in warmer regions are more alert and awake because of constant sunshine and less melatonin production. If not removed, many of these environmental distractions can cause serious sleep disorders in the long run.

·       Stress and Medications

Among other factors that affect the sleep cycle is stress. The stress hormone cortisol is famous for suppressing melatonin production. The higher the level of cortisol, the lower the level of melatonin. The lower the production of melatonin, the poorer your quality of sleep and the higher the production of cortisol. This vicious cycle often has no end if the person fails to address the stressors and lower his level of stress. Unless cortisol is low, melatonin production will not be sufficient. Chronic stress can lead to insomnia, depression, anxiety, and even cardiac problems.

Certain medications, such as beta blockers (given for high blood pressure) and immunosuppressants can lower the production of melatonin and cause sleep disorders. Medications for blood thinning and heart arrhythmia block the neurotransmitters responsible for the production of melatonin. Those who take such medications regularly are also given sleeping aid to counter any sleep issues.

Aside from medications, alcohol, smoking, and other such addictions also suppress the production of melatonin and cause sleep disorders. Artificial light from electronic devices also causes sleep disorders. This is why those who stay in front of the computer for long hours often have difficulty falling asleep because too much of light suppresses melatonin production. Using the phone before going to bed, reading on a backlit device, or keeping a night lamp on contribute to melatonin suppression.

How To Improve Sleep Quality?

External factors affect sleep quality to a great extent, but much of it could also be genetic. If genetics is the driving factor, there isn’t any way to change them, but external factors can always be changed or removed to restore normal sleep. If the sleep cycle is affected by any underlying medical condition like snoring or sleep apnea, then they cannot be cured by making a few external changes. Such sleep disorders require proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you know that your sleep keeps getting disrupted because of ambient factors, there are several steps you can take to minimize the distractions and restore normal sleep.

·       Create A Sleep Cocoon

Your bedroom should be synonymous with sleep; avoid using it for other purposes like working or eating. This is difficult if you don’t have much space in the house, but if you can help it, avoid making your bedroom your office or entertainment corner as best as possible. Make your bedroom your sleep cocoon so that the moment you enter the room, your body gets into relaxation mode. This can be done by removing distractions like electronics, putting up blinds or curtains to keep out ambient lights, prepping the bed. You may also paint the room in a soothing shade, decorating the walls with pictures that make you feel happy and relaxed. Using essential oils like lavender will banish odor and also calm and relax you.

·       Choose Right Kind of Mattress

If you have never taken a hard look at the mattress you sleep on, now is the time to. More often than not, people spend most of their lives sleeping on the wrong mattress. Even though the bed is such deeply connected to our sleep quality, we hardly ever stop to notice if we are comfortable enough. A mattress that’s old, worn out, too hot or too cold, too soft or too firm can do more than just ruin your sleep. Sleeping on the wrong mattress for a prolonged period can have far-reaching effects on your health, causing aches and pains in various parts of the anatomy and even leading to serious conditions like cervical spondylitis.

There are several mattress choosing guides available online that help you pick the right mattress depending upon your body weight, sleeping position, and other factors like whether you sleep hot or cold. Depending on the company you choose, you could also have a mattress customized for your needs. Memory foam, innerspring, and latex are some of the popular mattresses today, and they come in various firmness levels. Some are more comfortable than others, but you can always make use of the trial period to find the mattress that suits you best.

·       Avoid Screen Time Before Bed

At least two hours until bedtime, reduce the time you spend in front of a backlit device such as TV, phone, tablet, or computer. If possible, also avoid staying in brightly lit rooms before you go to bed. The lesser you expose yourself to artificial light, the more melatonin is produced, aiding in better sleep. While getting up at night, avoid switching on the lights in the room. Either use footlights or keep a small flashlight handy. Switching on lights in the middle of the night reduces your ability to fall back asleep.

·       Cut Down Caffeine, Alcohol, and Tobacco Consumption

As already discussed, certain substances like caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol block the neurotransmitters responsible for producing melatonin and make us stay alert and awake. Consumption of these substances close to bedtime has been found to aid in sleep loss and insomnia. Even if you smoke or drink at other times of the day, try to avoid it in the two hours leading to bedtime. Avoid all the things that boost metabolism and hinder the production of melatonin close to bedtime, including exercise and other activities that increase your heart rate.

·       Block Ambient Disturbance

If you live in a noisy neighborhood, it can be a potential cause for disrupted sleep. Footsteps above your head, honking vehicles outside your house, or loud music next doors can cause significant distress. You can take measures to prevent this from turning into a nightly affair. Insulation against noise is one of the best solutions against ambient noise. Soundproof glass, carpeting, thick curtains lined with wool, and foam insulation for the walls are some of the measures. If all else fails, consider getting a white noise machine, which drowns out ambient noise by playing some pre-recorded sound like rainfall or ocean waves.

·       Improve Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is all about routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, using crisp clean and comfortable sheets, keeping the room clutter free and well ventilated, and avoiding a heavy meal before bedtime are some of the sleep hygiene measures that can improve sleep quality over time.

Understanding the sleep cycle is often the first step to better sleep quality. When you know, what affects your sleep cycle, you can take measures to cut out distractions and get ample restful sleep every night.

Also, to help you understand the various sleep stages and sleep cycles easily, we have also created an infographic for this.


Sleep-Stages-and-Sleep-Cycles-Explained-Infographic-SleepSherpa

Infographic Content –

Understanding Stages of Sleep and Sleep Cycles

What Are Sleep Stages? – Characteristics of brain and body defined by brainwave frequencies, and eye and muscle movements. Divided into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM stages.

What is a Sleep Cycle? – The time required to complete five stages of sleep. Typically, it is about 90-120 minutes in an adult, and 50-60 minutes in infants. Four to five sleep cycles per night.

Different Sleep Stages Explained

Stage 1

  • Takes seconds to minutes to slip into this stage
  • Decreasing heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements
  • Transitional phase, relaxed wakefulness before mind begins to drift off
  • Easy to wake up, characterized by muscle jerks leading to falling sensation
  • Typically Lasts one to seven minutes

Stage 2

  • The sleep stage before you enter deep sleep
  • Lasts 10 to 25 minutes
  • Brain waves become smaller with the occasional burst of rapid waves
  • Body temperature drops, eye movements stop and heart rate lowers further
  • An average adult spends 50% sleep cycle time in Stage 2

Stage 3

  • Deep sleep stage
  • Last around 10 to 40 minutes
  • Heart rate, breathing is at lowest levels
  • Muscles are relaxed; difficult to wake up during this stage
  • Body repair, bone and muscle building, immune strengthening occurs

Stage 4

  • Coma-like sleep
  • 10 to 30 minutes are spent in this stage
  • Rhythmic breathing and heart rate; muscle movements extremely limited
  • Brain produces delta waves
  • Night terrors, sleepwalking, bedwetting can occur in this stage

Stage 5 or REM

  • Final stage of sleep cycle where dreaming occurs
  • Around 20% time spent in this stage, may last for one to five minutes
  • Characterized by rapid side to side movement of eyes behind closed eyelids
  • Breathing, heart rate, blood pressure are near wakeful levels
  • Arms and muscles paralyzed to prevent body from acting out dreams

Factors that Affect Sleep Cycles

  • Age – Infants sleep most while as you age, the requirement decreases gradually
  • Gap between previous sleep session
  • Internal body clock and its relation to day or night
  • Certain medications, exercise, smoking, caffeine, screen time
  • Temperature, light and ambient sounds

Controllable Factors to Improve Quality of Sleep

  • Ensure bedroom is free from strong smells, dimly lit, and temperature set to comfort
  • Get a mattress that suits your sleeping style
  • Avoid screen time, smoking, exercising or consuming too much food
  • Soft and cool sheets on mattress
  • Insulation from noisy environment or use white noise machine

Sources

 

Hill Station Home Sheets
<h2 class="entry-title"><a href="https://sleepsherpa.com/hill-station-home-sheets-review/" rel="bookmark">Hill Station Home Sheets Review</a></h2>

Recently updated on August 8th, 2017 at 11:09 am

Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.

 

I was recently given a queen size set of Hill Station Home sheets for review. Hill Station Home is the latest online organic cotton sheet company to offer Fair Trade Certified, organic cotton sheets. A queen set currently retails for $149 on their website. Since they are a new company their only offering right now is white, in all sizes but I expect that to grow as the company matures. Right now they have a Kickstarter campaign where they are raising funds to grow their company.

According to the Kickstarter page, Hill Station Home was created for the following reasons:

Simple Luxury

  • We created Hill Station Home to build a better luxury bed sheet. We wanted a sheet that was as soft as the sheets at luxury resorts, but without the weight and heat that many soft sheets come with. We wanted to feel rejuvenated in the morning.
  • After exhaustive research, we’ve found the sweet spot for luxury bed sheets: we take 300 thread count, single ply, long staple cotton in a sateen weave to make our sheets light and luxurious. (That’s a fancy way of saying our sheets are incredibly light and luxurious, with a smooth, soft feel, without trapping extra heat.)
  • Because we partner directly with our factory, we’re able to offer the same luxury for over $100 less than other luxury brands. You’re not paying for a wholesaler, distributor or retailer that inflate the price every step of the way. We’ve completely cut out the middlemen.

Overview of Hill Station Home Sheets

Below is a video overview of the Hill Station Home sheets. The set in the video is a queen size. Notice that it comes with a nice reusable cotton bag.

You can purchase these sheets direct from their website and they should arrive in about a week after placing your order. When you get them out of the box and the cotton back, they are wrapped in plastic so that they don’t get dirty in transit.

Construction of the Hill Station Home Sheets

There aren’t too many details on the construction of these sheets right now. What I can tell you is that they are 300 thread count. I assume that these are also the same construction as the other organic cotton sheets I have reviewed which means there are no pick insertion in the looms which means less pilling and more breathability.

It also looks like they will be offering duvet covers on their website in the future as this is a reward if you back them on Kickstarter on a higher level.

Hill Station Home Findings

Again, these sheets feel similar to the other organic cotton sheets I have reviewed which means they feel great! Pricewise they are a bit more competitive than others. The only drawback I see is that if you want to return the product it must be unused and in its original packaging. Other companies will accept used returns as long as it is within the trial period.

Below is a closer photo of the sheets I receieved.

hill station home sheets closeup

Here’s another picture listing their Fair Trade and GOTS (Global Organic Textile) certifications.

Organic Sheets Certifications

My Hill Station Home Recommendation

Organic cotton is a much better choice than conventional cotton. Organic cotton sheets are still in their infancy in terms of awareness, assortment and market penetration but I expect that this niche will grow as people become more aware of the devastating impact that conventional cotton has on the environment and workers health. Hill Station home is now another outlet for supporting Fair Trade and sustainability.

Learn more about Hill Station Home sheets.

Jefferson Lane Sheets Review 7

Jefferson Lane Sheets Review

Recently updated on January 29th, 2020 at 11:54 pm

Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.

Jefferson Lane is the latest online bedding company to provide  organic cotton sheets. The company was started by Anand and Dimple Talreja out of their own frustration with trying to buy quality sheets at a good price. They grew tired of the false promises and misleading thread counts. As parents they were also aware of the hazards posed by introducing toxic chemicals into the house. Cotton is one of the dirtiest crops in the world and understanding how conventional cotton is made will make you rethink what you sleep on every nights.

There are currently 4 color options with more coming soon. They have grey, white and a white with grey banding.

jefferson lane sheets

Organic cotton sheets are becoming more popular because people are realizing that organic textiles have many advantages including being much more eco-friendly and more durable than conventional cotton.

Ordering and Unboxing the Jefferson Lane Sheets

Ordering from Jefferson Lane is easy and your sheets will arrive in about a week. I really like their packaging. If you were to buy these as a gift your work with wrapping is almost done.

Below is an unboxing video showing some more of the Jefferson Lane packaging and sheets.

Specifications of the Jefferson Lane Sheets

Below are the specifications for the sheets according to their website:

  • Sheet set includes: One Flat Sheet, One Fitted Sheet and Two Pillowcases
  • Optimal 300 thread count sateen weave is guaranteed to provide a better sleep experience with each use
  • Made from 100% organic long staple cotton, sourced and woven in India
  • Fitted sheet features a 16” deep pocket that accommodates/fits most mattresses

My Jefferson Lane Findings

These sheets look great. I really like the banded options they have. A queen set starts at $150 but they have some different option than some of the other organic cotton sheet brands such as the banded set which retails for $190. Jefferson Lane also makes a white duvet cover. A full/queen retails for $150.

When a company claims to be GOTS certified it is important to look for the appropriate tag on the sheet that has this certification.

Jefferson Lane Tags

You’ll notice in the picture that the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) tag has a CU number which you can use to look up the registration of the company through the GOTS website.

I found these sheets to be the same quality as the other Organic Sheets I have reviewed which includes, Coyuchi, SOL Organics and Nest Bedding. I found the SOL and Nest sheets to be slightly softer at first touch.

Jefferson Lane Sheet

I really like the aesthetics of these sheets, especially the banded sets. I think they would really look great in a bedroom.

My Jefferson Lane Findings

Jefferson Lane is bringing more choices to Organic Bedding and I think that they will continue to expand their product line. Definitely check back with this company often. By purchasing organic cotton you reduce the amount of chemicals introduced into the environment and support a healthy life for farmers that harvest crops free of toxic chemicals. Because Jefferson Lane is GOTS Certified, you can rest easy knowing that no child labor is used.

Use coupon code SHERPA to get $15 off any sheet set  Shop Jefferson Lane

Disclosure: We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue. I have an affiliate relationship with Jefferson Lane.

Nest Bedding Organic Sheets Review 2

Nest Bedding Organic Sheets Review

Recently updated on February 2nd, 2019 at 03:27 pm

Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.

Nest Bedding has recently expanded their product offerings and is now offering Fair Trade Certified Organic Sheets. These sheets are consistent with the quality that the Nest Bedding brand is now known for. And, at $129 they are a great value.

 

Ordering Your Nest Bedding Organic Sheets

You can order these sheets directly from the next website in 3 different colors; white, ivory or blue. Once you place your order they should arrive to your door in about a week. Even the packaging is sustainable. Your sheets come packed in a cloth satchel that you can reuse as a tote.

nest sheets

 

Specifications and Construction

Below are the sheet specifications from the Nest website:

  • Made with Gots Certified Organic Cotton.
  • 300 Thread Count means durable, long lasting sheets.
  • 3 Lovely Pastel Colors to choose from.
  • Choose Pleated or Hemmed option
  • 100 Days Satisfaction Guarantee.
  • Packaged in our Eco-Friendly Packaging and ready for gift giving.
  • Fits up to 18″ deep mattress.
  • Fair Trade Sourced and Certified

These are 300 thread count sateen weave sheets. That means they are both smooth and breathable. In addition, they are woven with long staple cotton which is very durable so you can expect to get years of consistent use out of these sheets.

Aside from look and feel, the story of how these sheets were made is just as important. They come from a Fair Trade certified farm and factory which means that the farmers and factory workers are paid a living wage. They are also GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. GOTS is an independent organization that ensures the farms and factories are following their standards for the production of organic fibers all throughout the supply chain.

The cotton industry is a dirty industry. According to the Rodale Institute, cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land and cotton growers use up to 16% of the world’s pesticides. Not all these pesticides simply wash out of your sheets either.

When you are creating your sleep environment, comfort should not be your only concern. Indoor air quality and sleeping on surfaces with a minimal amount of chemicals should also be a priority. That’s why these sheets are so appealing. You get comfort, quality, value and a clean product.

My Nest Bedding Organic Sheets Recommendation

These sheets are a great value and live up to the Nest brand. They compliment any of the Nest mattresses very well. At this price point, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go organic over conventional cotton sheets.

Shop Nest Bedding

Disclosure: We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue. I have an affiliate relationship with Nest Bedding.

 

Why I'm Obsessed with these sheets from SOL Organics 8

SOL Organics Sheets | Amazing quality and price

Recently updated on February 9th, 2022 at 04:42 pm

Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.

SOL has made luxury organic cotton sheets more accessible by passing savings onto the consumer. I received a free set of SOL Organics sheets for review. SOL Organics (Sustained Organic Living)  is a company based out of the Twin Cities that makes fair trade, organic sheets at an amazing price. It was a pleasure to learn that such an honest and ethical company was in my own backyard! I was invited out to their offices to see first hand what makes this company so different. I was totally blown away by their transparency and honesty.

Overview of SOL Organics

Here’s an overview of SOL in their own words:

At SOL, our mission is to take organic cotton mainstream.
But it’s not only our mission—it’s our passion. To make organic cotton a reality for all, we want it to be within everyone’s reach.

Founded by Sachin and Vishal —two friends with a deep respect for the planet and the environment—our company has been in the health and wellness market for over 20 years, starting as a manufacturer of beeswax candles. That’s where our story begins.

We bee-lieve in healthy hives.
You’ve likely heard the expression “colony collapse.” A few years ago, bee colonies were dying off at an alarming rate. The plight of bees worried us, not only for our livelihood, but also for the health of the global food system.

Studies have linked colony collapse to the overuse of pesticides and herbicides. Which crop employs the majority of these toxins? Cotton.

As global citizens, we asked: What if supporting the production of organic cotton also supported bees?

SOL stands for Sustained Organic Living.
Since 2010, SOL has made a sustainable difference by offering luxury organic cotton products

That means we uphold fair trade practices with our partners in India, who also reap the benefits of organic production.

It also means that our customers sleep easier on, soft, smooth organic sheets they can afford without compromising on quality.

To us, that’s luxury without compromise.  

Join the SOL movement.
Do it for the bees, for your family, for yourself—and for the earth. With SOL, organic cotton is now within reach of us all.

Ordering SOL Sheets

Ordering SOL sheets is a breeze with their streamlined website. You can choose from plain, pleated or hemmed sheets then choose colors from there.  Once you place your order, the sheets should arrive in about a week. While you’re at it check out their other products including their non GMO essential oil candles. This company is also well known for their expertise in essential oils.

Here’s a video of me “unboxing” the sheets.

My SOL Organics Findings

These sheets are light and airy and feel amazing. The breathability is unsurpassed. Here’s a detailed view of the sheets This is the pleated blue sheet. The stitching is consistent and the quality is definitely there.

Sol Sheets

Here’s the bottom of the fitted sheet. Again, great quality and consistency

Fitted sheets sol

This is a 300 count sheet but the most important piece to that is that it is long staple cotton.

Here’s a closeup of the Sol Organics sheets after one wash

SOL

 

 

 

My SOL Organics Recommendation

I have not found a better value for organic sheets than SOL Organics. The fact that they ethically source their product and pay the farmers and factory worker a just wage seals the deal. SOL takes it a step further by pricing their sheets to that they are more accessible to everyone. I absolutely love how these sheets feel and the proof is in the pictures. If you don’t love these sheets, SOL has a 30 day money back guarantee where they will refund the full purchase price.

 

Shop SOL Organics

Disclosure: We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue. I have an affiliate relationship with SOL organics. 

Coyuchi Sheets Review : Breathable and Light 6

Coyuchi Sheets Review : Breathable and Light

Recently updated on January 19th, 2019 at 04:45 pm

Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.

I purchased a twin fitted Coyuchi sheets to see how they compare to other sheets I have reviewed. I was delighted to find out that these sheets have a unique feel that is different than anything I have reviewed before. Overall they are light and very breathable. This is a hard combination to find but that’s exactly what you get with Coyuchi. Some sheets can be overly crisp which makes them feel cold and they don’t warm up very quickly. With Coyuci you get some crispiness but they warm up when you need them to.

Coyuchi was recently featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things list for their Organic Women’s Linen Terry Robe which you can purchase through Amazon.

Ordering your Coyuchi Sheets

You can buy these sheets direct from their website. It took about a week for my sheet to arrive. I purchased a twin fitted sheet. I was thinking of getting an entire sheet set for my king bed but these are on the more expensive end.  the 300 thread percale sheet was $88 alone. A king set would be $288.

Coyuchi has an interesting return policy that is very generous. According to their site, you can return an item within 30 days for a full refund if you’re not happy with it. beyond that, you get a whole year where if you aren’t satisfied you can exchange what you have for store credit! I’ve never come across that before and they must really stand by their product.

Unboxing My Coyuchi Sheets

Here’s a video of me unboxing the Coyuchi sheets. As you can see they put a lot of care into their packaging:

My Coyuchi Findings

As with any set of sheets I strongly believe you should buy them for the feel over look. Just like mattresses, there’s no one perfect sheet for everyone despite what companies might want you to believe. The 300 thread count Coyuchi sheets are very light and breathable. They are a bit crisper but still soft.

Here’s a close up picture of the Coyuchi sheets after the first wash. This level of thread count allows the sheets to breathe while still feeling soft and light.

Coyuchi sheets review

The packaging is really nice and they provide detailed care information.

Coyuchi instructions

It should also be noted that in addition to being organic they are also GOTS certified which stands for Global Organic Textile Standard. Here’s a neat video that explains what this means.

GOTS certified sheets should be made of 100% organic materials and free of harmful dyes and other chemicals that may be found in non-organic sheets.

My Coyuchi Recommendation

Coyuchi sheets are certainly an investment but they are very breathable.  They would be great to have in the Spring and Summer months and especially if you live in a perennially warm climate.

Shop Coyuchi.

Disclosure: We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue. I have an affiliate relationship with Coyuchi.