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The Need For Sleep

Furniture World Magazine


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An American Crisis

This is another article in an ongoing series written by Ron Wolinski, the Manager of Sales Education, to provide information to retail sales consultants for performance improvement.

In my previous articles, I've emphasized the importance of being a consultant rather than a clerk. I've stressed the need for developing relationships and establishing your credibility as a professional. I've also reviewed the significance of presenting a quality sleep set as a major investment that can change the quality of life of our customers.

Please allow me now to share some critical information with you regarding the impact of being sleep deprived and the importance of a quality night's sleep.

Recently, I was fortunate to attend a conference titled "Power Sleep" by Dr. James B. Maas of Cornell University. Dr. Maas is one of our country's leading experts in the science of sleep.

Dr. Maas explained sleep deprivation was indeed a crisis in America. Let me share some of the statistics he quoted.

Sixty-three million adults are moderately to severely sleep deprived. Twenty-five million adults are on non-traditional work schedules that cause sleepiness. Forty-two percent of adults suffer from insomnia every week. Nearly every high school and college student is sleep deprived. This sleep deprivation iscosting corporations $100 billion annually.

Dr. Maas clearly states that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Sleep determines many things in our waking life: such things as alertness, energy, mood, thinking, productivity, safety and longevity. For peak performance we must invest one-third of our life in sleep (eight hours per night).

There are questions that we can ask ourselves to determine if we are sleep deprived. These questions are:

  • Does a heavy meal, low dose of alcohol, warm room or a long meeting ever make you drowsy?
  • Do you fall asleep instantly at night?
  • Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?
  • Do you repeatedly hit the snooze button?
  • Do you sleep extra hours on weekends?

These are indications that we are not receiving enough sleep.

There are many consequences of sleep deprivation. Some of these affect our driving performance. At some point in time, thirty-one percent of us will fall asleep while driving. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 200,000 accidents per year, 71,000 injuries and 10,000 fatalities are due to people falling asleep while driving.

Another area affected by sleep deprivation is our personal performance. Excessive fatigue generates faulty judgment. Fifty-six percent of night-shift workers fall sleep. There are increased accidents and health problems attributed to sleep deprivation.

During the conference, Dr. Maas mentioned consequences of shortened sleep. Some of these were: drowsiness, unintended sleep, mood shifts that cause increased irritability, anxiety and depression, decreased social skills and sense of humor, decreased motor performance, decreased cognitive performance causing reduced ability to concentrate and remember, reduced communication and decision skills, reduced ability to handle complex tasks, increased risk taking, and reduced quality of life, creativity and productivity.

Dr. Maas also spent time discussing his proven strategies for Power Sleep. Some of these strategies are:

Setting the bedroom stage, which includes a quiet, dark, cool, uncluttered room, a good mattress and good pillows.

  • A relaxing atmosphere; limit TV, clocks.
  • A hot bath and easy stretching.
  • Mental imagery, meditation.
  • Reading as a bedtime ritual.

There are several others, but space doesn't allow me to mention all of them.

Of very interesting note is the importance that Dr. Maas places on a good mattress and pillows. In investing in a sleep set, he has a format he calls the ABC approach.

'A' stands for age. Statistics indicate that a mattress and foundation provide optimum service for 8-10 years. After that the customer no longer receives the necessary comfort and support required for a good night's sleep.

'B' stands for beauty. Consumers should take a critical look at their mattress. Would they show it to their neighbors? What condition is it really in? Are there soils, stains, tears, sags, etc.? Poor appearance generally indicates poor performance.

'C' stands for comfort. Consumers should lie down and really concentrate on the feel of their old mattress. A person can become desensitized to a mattress's dwindling comfort and support when he/she sleeps on it every night. They then should go to a store and really compare the feel of a new and improved sleep set of today's technology.

Lastly, he suggests that consumers must, when shopping for a sleep set, Pretend the Mattress is in Your Bedroom. Take time to really check the comfort and support. They should also Look Under the Hood and understand construction and coil counts. Then they should Go for the Rolls Royce, meaning choosing a bed about six inches longer than the sleeper. Then Spend as Much as You Can Afford for the best sleep possible.

I would highly recommend Dr. James B. Maas's book titled Power Sleep. This book not only discusses sleep problems, but also provides many strategies enabling everyone to get the sleep they need.

This is the type of information that we can share with our customers to indicate we are professionals who provide answers. We at Simmons® believe we must make every effort to provide a "Better Sleep Through Science" for our customers.

Ron Wolinski is Manager of Simmons Education. Questions can be sent to Ron care of Furniture World at wolinski@furninfo.com.

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.