I’ve got to start today with a warning: this is a LONG post. (If you want to skip straight to the mattress I finally ended up with – and LOVE – and the limited time offer for MPMK readers of 10% off and a bonus worth $500 that includes my favorite bamboo sheets, go here!)
It’s one I’ve been wanting to write for a long time and is packed with so much good stuff that I just couldn’t trim it.
I know it’s a lot but I really hope you do read it all! I have become so passionate about the importance of sleep– especially for us parents who never seem to get enough!
Studies from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services show that if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change…
This is a BIG deal for all of us trying to maintain our cool with our kids and create a peaceful home.
Sleep has a big impact on our physical health too. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity.
Finally, actively prioritizing sleep for yourself and your family sets a critically important example for your kids and sets them down the path for better health too.
This is imperative because children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you about the importance of sleep!
Here’s my story…
Since I was a teenager I’ve dealt with two chronic health issues: back pain and insomnia.
Chronic Low Back Pain
The back pain started with a sports-related stress fracture. Once that healed and the physical therapy was done, it seemed that area of my body was just always going to be weak.
A very long story short… over the past 18 years I’ve had multiple MRIs, several herniated lumbar discs, a couple of steroid injections in the surgery center and many, many rounds with physical therapy, therapeutic massage, and the chiropractor.
Not surprisingly, with each of my three babies the back problems only got worse.
My daughter, S, had to be induced after she shifted in the womb, placing pressure on my lower back in just such a way that it made it impossible from me to stand up straight or walk. (I can still remember the confused look on my 20-month-old son’s face as I pushed myself around our house stooped over our wheeled office chair and then disappeared to the hospital for two days to have his little sister.)
On Father’s Day when my son was 3 and my daughter was 1, we were heading out to lunch. I took a step out of the house and into the garage, felt the familiar stab of pain, and knew my husband was going to be spend his special day taking care of me instead of being celebrated.
I also went through several weeks of physical therapy and chiropractic treatment after having our third child, M.
I had to learn special ways to bend down to pick him up and to hold him when breastfeeding, but we got through it.
Then early last year, when he was just over a year old, I had an especially bad episode (see the photo of me and my walker below).
That time, I ended up getting my second steroid injection performed in our hospital’s surgery center by a spinal surgeon. It did wonders for my pain and healing… after about two weeks of being out of commission.
During that time, between injury onset and the beginning of pain relief, my 6-year-old, 4-year-old, 1-year-old and I made it through the day with some truly ridiculous routines.
These involved me literally crawling up and down our stairs, having my oldest help to lift the baby in and out of his crib, and having my 4-year-old help me walk the baby up to our SUV, get him up and in, and then hoist him into his carseat on her own so I could buckle him in.
So there’s that.
And then there’s the insomnia, the root of which is less clear. It didn’t really become an issue until college and grad school.
I spent so many nights helplessly watching the clock thinking, “If I fall asleep now, I’ll still get 5 hours of sleep… If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 4 hours of sleep”. After a few nights of this, my body would inevitably crash and either mercifully readjust or the cycle would start again.
Eventually, thankfully, I developed a series of strategies to deal with my insomnia. (Cue the angel choir here!)
Nothing crazy revolutionary, just routines that many smart people have found to help out anyone that’s not sleeping as well as they want to be:
- a regular bedtime routine and schedule
- cutting my use of screens at night
- taking baths and drinking tea to relax
- setting up a truly restful bedroom
The Game Changer
One of the things that has really been big for me in dealing with my insomnia is the bed I sleep on. Sleeping on a truly supportive bed helps so much not only with falling asleep, but also with preventing tossing and turning while sleeping.
You know what else a high-quality, super supportive mattress helps with? Yep, you got it, back health.
And let me just say, even if you don’t have crazy back issues like mine (and I hope you don’t!), it is still so, so important to support and protect your back. Why?
A whopping 80% of adults will deal with low back pain in their life (according to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke).
When I was 17 and had back issues, people were always so surprised… Now, not so much.
In fact my neighbor (who also has small children) threw out her back just last month. The next day I brought my walker over to her and several of our other neighbors were chiming in with offers of things like chiropractor recommendations and offers to lend their husband’s back pain witch hazel cream.
Moral of the story? We’re not teenagers anymore and back pain is so much more common as we all get older (and by “older” I mean in our 30s!).
So do what you can to prevent it now- trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
I’ve known for years that investing in a high quality bed was one of the most important things I could do for my health.
But let’s be real, beds are expensive.
When we started having kids, and therefore sometimes found ourselves with three or more bodies in our bed, we upgraded to a king size, pillow top Tempur-Pedic that we purchased from Costco. That was a big upgrade from the hand-me down mattress we had been sleeping on and, for a couple of years, and it seemed all good.
But then, only about two years after purchasing the Tempur-Pedic, we started to notice that, no matter how much we rotated the mattress, it dipped in the spots we each slept in.
So we tried adding a fancy foam topper. It was very cushy, but the support still wasn’t there.
I was waking up each morning stiff and sore. It got to the point where getting myself out of bed each morning was often what hurt the most, even when I was otherwise feeling fine.
I knew it was time to seriously invest in a high quality bed.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t want to do this every five years.
I am the type that researches the heck out of big decisions like these and I didn’t want to be spending weeks, or even months, of my life thinking about it ever again. I wanted to find the best and be done with it.
Around this time, my parents had decided that they wanted a non-toxic mattress and were going to get rid of their Sleep Number bed. The mattress was only about two years old and was basically like new.
I’d seen the commercials on TV about how great the Sleep Number bed was and thought something that I could adjust to feel the best for my back could be just the ticket.
But then we went to the Sleep Number store.
The mattress was comfortable and I did like the adjustability factor, but I just wasn’t as blown away as I thought I would be. I wondered if this new bed would really be any better than our old mattress or if it was just a gimmick.
I started researching the Sleep Number technology online and found a lot of reviewers referring to it as “a glorified blow up mattress” as well as many people who were less than impressed with what they really got for their warranty.
Plus, it’s not like my parents were satisfied customers either.
That’s when it struck me that instead of focusing on the latest, most well-marketed, fad… what I should be trying to find was the best mattress for back health. A little digging, and I found…
I found myself reading A LOT on one specific mattress, the intelliBED, and on the special material it is made of, Intelli-Gel.
Intelli-Gel is made from a soft, but extremely strong and elastic solid copolymer gel formed into a honey comb design of the many individual support squares- each of which have the ability to sense when the pressure load would be uncomfortable to the human body and automatically relax to relieve that pressure.
I also watched a lot of videos like the one below, comparing Sleep Number mattresses to IntelliBED mattresses.
After all that research, I felt like I really needed to try it out.
If there was even a chance it would help with my back pain, it would make such an enormous impact on my life and my children’s life.
So I contacted the company to see if I could try out the mattress and come on as an affiliate if it worked for me.
Spoiler Alert: We got the mattress and we love it.
There are three very big reasons we are such big fans of the IntelliBED.
Reasons I Tell Everyone to Get an IntelliBED
We’ve had our mattress for about 5 months now and my days are so much better. No more waking up stiff and sore. No more wincing as I stand up from bed in the morning!
In fact, this may seem odd, but having this bed has finally given me the confidence to have minor back surgery next month… In the past I’ve been so stuck on such a never-ending merry-go-round of injury, recovery, injury, recovery that it felt like surgery would be pointless.
Sure, I could have the procedure in which they suck out what my surgeon referred to as “not a medium or large herniation- but a huge herniation”, but I had zero confidence that the problem wouldn’t just come back, as it always has.
Now, I’ve been functioning without significant back pain for nearly half a year and I finally feel ready to have the procedure done, to get the herniated disc material out of there, and move on with my life.
There is something I want you to know, though… the first night I slept on the IntelliBED mattress I didn’t like it.
I thought it was going to be too firm for me. I was used to the foam topper we’d been using and my body woke up more sore than ever.
The super-friendly customer service agent I worked with to select the right mattress for me, The Posture Perfect Lo-Motion, had warned that this would happen, that all of the mattresses take a week or two to “break in”.
Nevertheless, I was crestfallen.
As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I was determined to truly find the best bed out there for my back and I was thinking this just wasn’t going to be it. But I hung in there and tried it for a few more weeks.
Sure enough, with each day my body got a little more used to this new, more supportive mattress that actually pushed back to give support to my stress points (hips and shoulders since I’m a side sleeper).
Until one day I woke up and realized I was probably the most comfortable I’d ever been in my entire life.
And it wasn’t just the nights- during the day my back has been performing better than it has in years. It makes sense, right?
We spend so much of our lives in our beds!
I had been buying all sorts of chair cushions, back supports and step stools to try to properly align myself while sitting during the day but hadn’t been doing anything about my alignment during the night– that’s 1/3 of my life that my back was going unsupported!
This one actually surprised me a lot- it never occurred to me that a different mattress could actually help my insomnia. But the truth is I almost never toss and turn anymore. I just don’t.
This video does a better job than I ever could of explaining why…
I mentioned briefly above that my parents were getting rid of their bed because of concerns about what they’d read about conventional mattresses and off-gasing.
Around that time I also started to become really interested non-toxic products.
I’m not sure what started it exactly, except maybe that a couple people we are close to have gotten critically sick lately… It’s made me realize how truly precious our health is and to make me want to do all that I can to protect the health of my family.
We are so lucky to live in a time where people care about this stuff and there are so many resources out there to help you make better choices in all of your purchases for your family.
When making such a big purchase as a new mattress, I’m of the belief that this is definitely something that should not be over-looked.
Here’s another video explaining why the IntelliBED is a better choice. (Sorry for the video-heavy post, I just think they’re such a great way to learn!)
So that’s my story. I decided to share it now because in the past our family has used our tax refund to make important purchases and I thought the info. might be useful to you this time of year.
And also because, since I am now an official IntelliBED affiliate, I am authorized to extend a very special, limited time discount to my readers!
MPMK Reader Special Offer:
May 19th, 2016 – June 19th, 2016
I love these bamboo sheets, by the way! They are so wonderful for helping to regulate body temperature and keep me wonderfully cool all night long.
One last thing I should mention, IntelliBED far exceeds the industry standard when it comes to their trial/return process and their warranty.
So you can feel confident about plunking down your hard earned money to try it out.
I know this is a big decision and one that you want to get right.
If you have questions, please leave them below, I’m happy to help!
P.S. If you’re wondering about my parents, they had an organic mattress made in California and shipped to their home a couple of months before we got our IntelliBED. Then they came over to my house and my dad, who also has chronic back issues, tried it.
His response? He turned to my mom and said simply, “We need one.”
I couldn’t quite swing a new mattress for him, but I did gift him the IntelliBED desk chair pad (the same pad I use at my desk when I’m working) and he loves it.