Get Up and Do Something

Steve in purple strideMany might think that Mattress Firm is only in the business of selling beds.  Truth be told, it’s much more than that.  Every day, our employees help improve the lives of those around them.  Whether it’s helping a guest pick out the right bed to alleviate chronic back pain or collecting canned goods for a local food drive, Mattress Firm is so much more than a mattress company.

In 2011, we announced our national charitable focus of fighting pancreatic cancer and took steps to help every market make a difference in their local community.  At the time, we had no idea how close to home our efforts would hit.

Very few know about pancreatic cancer primarily because nobody talks about it.  It’s very similar to what breast cancer was in the 70′s.  All people knew was that if you got it, you could pretty much count on dying.  The same goes for pancreatic cancer today.  It’s the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death and it’s expected to jump to number two by 2015.  One reason why the survival rate is only 6% is due to the lack of an early detection method.  Another reason is the lack of funding for research and clinical trials.  In fact, 75% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are already in the advanced stages which leaves minimal treatment options.

Throughout 2011 and 2012, we continued to educate our employees, guests and communities about pancreatic cancer and successfully raised over $500k.  In 2013, pancreatic cancer came to Mattress Firm.  One of our own at the young age of 30, was diagnosed with a form of pancreatic cancer.  Suddenly, it became real.  Pancreatic cancer was standing right in front of us, talking to us, sharing with us, working with us and impacting us. The fact that this could happen to one of our own and at such a young age opened our eyes to what we needed to do.

It’s easy to turn away when something doesn’t affect you directly.  We all think that it will never happen to us.  Truth be told, unless we take action, the chances of it happening to us or someone close to us keeps increasing.  Our employees recognize the dire need for awareness and funding for clinical trials and research.  Every day they seek out ways to educate one more person, raise one more dollar and give one more ounce of hope.  We’d like to share a story about one of our employees that knows all too well the impact cancer has.

Meet Kyle Eades. He is a store manager in Houston, TX. Though he is fairly new to the Mattress Firm family, it’s not stopping him from getting involved in activities near and dear to his heart. Eades joined others from Mattress Firm and signed up for the PurpleStride Houston 2014 walk to raise money and awareness for pancreatic cancer.  The event is put on by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and takes place in cities all over the country throughout the year.
Eades began his fund raising campaign by sending out emails to as many Mattress Firm employees as he could asking for support. He set a personal goal to raise $1000 and because of those who helped, Eades now has raised the most money in Houston.
Why does this matter to Eades? In 2012, he lost his wife Amy at age 29 to stage 4 colo-rectal cancer. “We had so much support during her fight that I feel it is only right to Pay It Forward,” said Eades.
The effects of cancer on Eades’ life continued. In May 2013, his long-time friend and now girlfriend, Candace, lost her dad to pancreatic cancer.
Eades said, “Cancer, and any form of it, definitely hits very close to home with me for numerous reasons. I believe those who have fought and won, those who are fighting, and those who have lost their battle to cancer deserve all our support. This is why I choose to do this.”
 PurpleStride events are growing and expanding to new cities, but will this ever become an event similar to the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure events?  That’s up to you.  The more awareness we create, the more money we can raise.  With funding, clinical trials and research can lead to an accurate and cost-effective early detection method, new treatment options, increased survival rate and most of all hope.

We encourage and invite you to join us at a PurpleStride event near you.  Visit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website for a listing of events and to register.  We’d love to have you on our team!  Simply select join a team and see if Mattress Firm is listed.

Feeling lazy or not compelled to do something? Well, you really don’t have an excuse.  In fact, about 6 months after our fellow employee had the whipple procedure to treat his pancreatic cancer, he walked in the Kansas City PurpleStride.  If he can get up and walk for a cause, why are you still sitting down?

We Love to Give Big

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April is actually National Volunteer Month with the week of April 6-12 as the official National Volunteer Week.  Companies all over are encouraging employees to engage with their local communities in numerous projects.  One thing that we can say is every week is volunteer week at Mattress Firm!

In 2013, we gave over 6200 hours of our personal time to local communities.  For 2014, our goal is 10,000 hours.  We’d love to share this local giving story from our Cincinnati market.

When the Miami Township Fire and EMS department started looking into replacing their 15 year old beds, they quickly realized that the estimated replacement cost would be close to $25,000. Luckily, their story made it into the right hands and before the Fire Department knew it, Mattress Firm had stepped up to donate beds that would replace the bedding at the Township’s three fire stations.

When the delivery truck arrived last month, District Manager Ralph Soegaard, Operations Manager Alan Klavon, Nicholle Martin and numerous other Mattress Firm employees quickly began unloading boxes of new merchandise. The fire department employees were shocked at what they saw. In total, Mattress Firm delivered twenty Tempur-Pedic sets along with bed frames and mattress pads.

Why losing sleep freaks me out

melatonin_sleep_better_1_xlargeEvery day I get to educate people on the importance of sleep.  It affects all aspects of your emotional, physical and mental well-being.  Studies have shown that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll most likely crave some oh-so-good but not-so-good for you carbs, your mood will be a little more touchy, your skin looks drab and overall your brain just doesn’t work right.

If you’re anything like me, being in a fog does not help my mom brain remember where I put my keys at all!  Even though I know all of the various ways sleep can affect a person, it never fails to shock me when it’s actually put into a visual format.  While surfing through Huffington Post, I came across this article that has a pretty powerful infographic.

I think my Monday night ‘Bates Motel’ watching ritual can take a backseat to dark undereye circles and losing brain tissue!  Click here to check out the article and infographic.

What fact do you find most shocking?

Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?

 

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In today’s hustle and bustle it seems that everything is set for early birds.  What does that mean for night owls?  Just for fun, check out our infographic quiz to see if you’re truly an early bird or night owl.  I recently came across an article posted on Fast Company’s site by Laura Vanderkam that has some tips for night owls to harness productivity at any hour.  Read my take on them below:

#1 Identify a feasible schedule. Sleep is a necessity so just because you’re a night owl, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a certain amount of shut eye.  Figure out a schedule that works best for you that allows you to maximize your most productive hours of the night.

#2 Shorten your commute.  Workdays starting around 8:30 or 9 really isn’t that early.  But if you live far enough away from your place of business, an hour-long morning commute means one less hour of sleep.  Consider moving closer to work or discuss working from home two days a week.

#3 Ask for Flexibility.  If working 8-5 just won’t work, see if you can shift your work schedule to 9-6.  Most bosses like to see quality work and regular accomplishments instead of a sleepy head at their desk at 8am.

#4 Take turns with your spouse.  For any night owl parents out there, you know how hard it is to pry yourself much less sleepy kiddos out of bed in the morning.  If your spouse is a morning person, take turns or even work out schedules to where the morning person gets the kids up and out the door in the morning while the night owl gets them bathed and in bed.  This balancing act could work out to benefit everyone in your household.

#5 Plan the right work at the right time.  If you find you’re most creative between 10pm and midnight, then save your creative tasks or brainstorming for that time.  This will allow you to complete other tasks throughout the day.

To read the full article, please click here.  Do you have tips for night owls or early birds?  We’d love to hear them.

 

Get Happy!

happy day

“Happiness may have different meanings for different people.  But we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

You may not know it, but March 20th is the International Day of Happiness.  Seriously!  The United Nations declared it in 2012 with the goal of “recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and  aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of  their recognition in public policy objectives. ”

In layman’s terms, have a coke and a smile!  In all seriousness, do you consider yourself to be happy? TIME magazine did a poll in June 2013 to find out what makes Americans happy and unhappy.  Check out these results:

Pick your Party: Republicans say they’re  happier than Democrats. Poll results show slightly more Republicans (85%) reporting they were happy most of the time, compared to 79% of Democrats. Republicans were also much more satisfied with marriages.

Don’t Grow Old + Bitter: When asked if it was possible to make yourself happier or if you are just born with a certain level of happiness, 94% of those aged 18-34 believed that they could become happier. As the age increased, the percentage of optimism dropped to 82% for 35-54-year-olds and 77% for participants 55 and older.

He Said, She Said: 42% of women reported to label themselves as pessimists since the economic downturn compared to 38% of men.  On the other side of the coin, 64% of women feel they have a strong work/life balance with only 52% of men saying the same.

Love + Marriage: Shocker!!! 95% of men are happier as the result of getting married compared to 86% of women.  When it comes to divorce it’s just as shocking.  92% of women are happier after a divorce compared to 86% of men.

FB Posing: We all have that annoying friend on Facebook that always looks super happy and fun.  Well, get this – 76% of respondents believe that people portray themselves as happier, more successful and more attractive than they really are on their social media profiles. That’s a lot of catfish!  The irony is 79% of the respondents said their own Facebook profile showed them as they truly are.  Hmmmmm.  The upside is that 38% said that  just browsing around on social media sites gives them a mood boost.

Granted these numbers are interesting, are they really a true measure of happiness?  There are millions of things that make each 9C09of us happy.  Funny emails, people watching, unexpected text messages, surprises, hugs, smiles and even sleep.  As a single mom, there are lots of moments that would annoy some people, but to me they are the best moments!  Just looking at a picture of my daughter will do it every time!

So, on International Day of Happiness , what’s your go to happy booster?

P.S. my FB profile shows me in all my imperfectly perfect glory!

Eat to Sleep

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We’ve all heard that age old saying ‘you are what you eat’. Recent research is actually beginning to prove that the food we put in our bodies directly affects how we feel, sleep, think and more.  When it comes to picking foods that help you sleep, we did a little research and found some interesting tidbits.

Warm Milk + Turkey: We all hate to admit it, but sometimes mom was right. If you ever thought that drinking warm milk was a trick your mom used to get you to drink more of it that is only the half truth. Milk is rich in tryptophan which is a naturally occurring sleep-promoting amino acid. If you’re lactose intolerant go for some turkey, nuts and seeds or bananas.

Carb It Up: There are tons of reports and recommendations that carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation, but the right carbs are actually good for you. In fact, they can actually help you sleep. You can get a quick boost of tryptophan by pairing carbohydrate-rich foods with complimentary dairy foods. A few late night snacks could be a bowl of cereal and milk, yogurt and crackers or go French and have some bread and cheese.

Flip-Flop: Most Americans are accustomed to eating their heaviest meal in the evening. There are a few reasons why you might want to flip-flop that filling evening meal to a morning meal. We all know that high-fat foods can add a few pounds, crank up cholesterol and more, but did you know that they also disrupt your sleep cycle? Heavy meals trigger digestion which can leave you with an overly full feeling, indigestion, stomach aches and more. Some studies show that people who eat their heaviest meal in the morning followed by a moderate size lunch and light dinner actually sleep better.

Hide + Seek: I don’t think there is a single morning that I can go without stopping at Starbucks, but caffeine can also pop up in other unsuspecting foods and drinks.  Nothing’s better than a nice cup of hot cocoa on a cold night before going to bed, but did you know caffeine is hiding in that steaming mug? Even if you have a cup of decaffeinated coffee or tea, you’re still getting some caffeine. Try avoiding all caffeine at least four to six hours before you go to bed.

Here’s another caffeine hiding spot you might not have known about. Medicine! That’s right – some over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain caffeine. These include some pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics and cold medicines. Believe it or not, some of these have as much or more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Always check with your pharmacist if you suspect something is affecting your sleep.

Nightcaps: I’ve always wondered why they’re called nightcaps, especially now that we know they are anything but helpful. Sure alcohol will help you fall asleep faster, but you won’t sleep better.  Even if you get a full eight hours of sleep, you can wake up feeling as if you only got four. If you are enjoying a few drinks, balance each drink with a glass of water to dilute the alcohol’s effects.

Some Like It Hot: Some people love spicy food and can eat it any time of day. If you’re one who experiences heartburn at night after a spicy meal, this is your sign to adjust your eating habits. If you just can’t say no to a spicy craving, make sure you finish it at least four hours before bedtime.

Uh-Oh Paleos: If you’re part of the Paleo diet crew or prefer a diet high in protein, you might not be sleeping as well as you could. It takes longer and it’s harder for our bodies to digest protein. For an easy and effective snack, choose a glass of warm milk or some crackers to help you drift away.

Put the Glass Down: It’s important to stay hydrated during the day, however, at the end of the day, starting to slow down your fluid intake before bed will actually help you sleep better. Why?  You’re eliminating the need for midnight bathroom breaks.

What are some of your tips or tricks to get a better night’s sleep?

Find your happy place

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I don’t know about you, but when I hear people talk about meditating all I can picture is a ridiculously fit person sitting serenely in a completely unnatural position, that my body could never get itself into.

Does anybody else picture this? Despite being embarrassed that I can’t get my legs into a perfect “crisscross applesauce” position (yes I am a mom!), my best friend/ yoga instructor convinced me to give meditation a shot. So like any normal person, I searched the internet looking for what I thought would be a simple 1,2,3 step meditation guide. What I found, were complete textbooks and instructions on releasing your mind and body using meditation or allowing your spirit to separate from your physical being, etc. The only thing I could think about was, “Man, this is a lot of work just to relax for a few minutes!”

I have a hard enough time getting my brain to shut-up when I go to bed at night, but getting it to completely turn off during the day is literally an impossible mission. My best friend checked in on me to see if I had “meditated” yet and I told her everything I had found on meditation and probably complained a little bit.

She knowingly chuckled at my response, having heard these same responses from many of her yoga students. If you’re a yogi or have ever taken a yoga class,  you know that the very end of the class is spent in meditation. I thought it was a nice little nap break after trying to bend my body into things called the lotus and sugarcane poses.

My new favorite position is Savasana or corpse pose. I prefer to call it Savasana since corpse pose makes me think of “The Walking Dead.” Once my best friend explained the true purpose of this position and what to focus on, everything clicked. What I love about this pose is that I can do it any time of day if I’m feeling stressed or just want to shut out the world for a few minutes. My favorite is doing it before I go to bed. The more you do it, the easier it is for your body and mind to release the stress and worry of the day and really help you get ready to sleep and sleep well.

This is the sleep meditation that works for me. For others, listening to a guided meditation to lull them to sleep or another meditation practice may be their go-to sleep aid. If you don’t meditate or think it’s a bunch of bologna, here are some interesting facts about meditation and sleep from www.secretstomeditation.com that might convince you to go ahead and try it.

Fall Asleep: Meditation can help you overcome certain types of insomnia. Once you learn to meditate and have a daily meditation practice, you will know how to relax instantly. Being able to relax quickly helps you fall asleep and fall asleep fast.

Stay Asleep: Meditation helps relieve stress and decreases the production of blood lactate, the protein that causes stress. Meditation also lowers the production of cortisol, which can keep you awake.

Bye-Bye Sleep Apnea: Meditation calms down the hypothalamus and helps you avoid cravings, carbohydrate addiction and appetite increases caused by acute or chronic sleep deprivation. Meditation can actually help you avoid weight gain, help you lose weight and help you maintain weight loss. What many don’t realize is that excess weight, especially around the neck, is one of the leading causes of sleep apnea. Tens of millions who suffer from sleep apnea, and those living with sleep apnea  can really benefit from a regular meditation practice.

Cool Off:  For those who suffer from hot flashes that are known to wreck a great night’s sleep, meditation can help reduce these hormone fluctuations and let you get a better night’s sleep.

Sleep Happy: When the neurotransmitters in our brains start acting funky, we begin to feel hints of depression. Depression is a big sleep distracter. In some, depression causes insomnia while in others it causes extreme oversleeping. In either situation, the quality of sleep is not the best. Regular meditation can help restore that balance, ease signs of depression and help you sleep happy.

Do you have a favorite meditation or sleep ritual that really works for you?  Please share it!

Get a Head Start on Springing Forward

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Daylight Saving Time is upon us and while the extra hour of daylight is a welcomed change, losing one hour can really take toll on your body. In fact, it throws off your body’s natural rhythm for longer than you think. For those who already lack the right amount of sleep, another hour lost can increase the risk of heart attack and more.

This spring forward, start proactively preparing for the time change with some of these tips that will have you in sync and ready to welcome springtime!

  • Adjust your clocks: Starting on the Wednesday before the time change, go to bed and wake up 15 minutes earlier every day. By doing this you’re easing your body and your natural sleep cycle into the new time change and come Sunday, you won’t miss a beat!
  • Don’t be lazy. If you live in an area of the country that isn’t under a winter weather watch (who isn’t these days?), on Sunday morning, don’t be lazy around the house. Get up and soak up that spring sunshine as much as possible. Soaking up those rays can actually help your body adjust more quickly.
  • Stick to your schedule. Just because the time changes, your schedule shouldn’t change. Stick to your regularly scheduled activities, meal times, bed times etc., and the change won’t seem so drastic.
  • Start early. The time change is usually scheduled for the wee hours of Sunday morning, in order to reduce the      disruption of the workweek. To give yourself more time to adjust before the Monday rolls around, reset your clock either Friday night or Saturday morning. Try to eat meals, sleep and wake according to that clock. On Monday, you’ll be on your way to feeling adjusted. However, if you have activities and events during the weekend, make sure you don’t get confused about the correct time!
  • Exercise. Working out releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps our bodies regulate the sleep/wake cycle.      Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors, and early in the day. Try a brisk morning walk to start your day. Avoid exercising too late in the evening though, as this could interfere with the quality of your sleep.
  • Nap wisely. Try to resist the urge to take long naps late in the day. If you get tired, take a short, energizing walk      around the block instead. If you must nap, keep it earlier in the day and limit your snooze time to no more than 20 minutes.
  • Don’t imbibe. Alcohol interferes with normal sleep cycles, so don’t rely on a nightcap to fall asleep.
  • Digest. After the time changes, you may be hungry for meals earlier or later than before. Be sure to give yourself ample time to digest your dinner before heading off to bed. A heavy meal in your stomach will interfere with the quality of your sleep, too.
  • Lighten up. The right combination of light and dark can help your body’s circadian rhythm readjust, so you can fall      asleep on your new schedule and sleep more soundly. In the morning, open the shades and brighten the lights. Try to spend time outside during the day, if possible. Dim the lights in the evening, so that your body understands that it’s time to wind down.

Have a tip or secret that helps you survive daylight savings?  Please share it below!

The Season of Giving isn’t Just for Grown-Ups

Every year we become accustomed to the sounds of bells ringing outside local businesses and a red bucket just waiting for you to slip a dollar or two in.  It’s no wonder this time of year is referred to as the Season of Giving.  In fact, a study done by Network For Good found that 30% of annual giving happens in the month of December.  The biggest obstacle donors face is where to donate?

If you can’t decide what cause you want to support, try asking the kids in your life.  That’s right – kids are never too young to learn and appreciate the act of giving back.  I recently stumbled upon a Kid’s Guide to Giving on the Network For Good website.  They break down charitable giving into four easy steps for kids.

STEP 1:  Look into your heart.  Ask your child to think about what cause means most to them

STEP 2:  Support a cause you love.  You can actually search over 1.8 million charities by name or interest to help kids select one they are passionate about.

STEP 3:  There are lots of ways to help.  Even though all charities prefer to get the donations that jingle, there are other ways to support a cause and make a difference.  Suggest a volunteer opportunity or lemonade stand for kids to get involved.

STEP 4:  You can make a difference.  Giving doesn’t need to happen only once a year.  If your child feels strongly about helping, ask them to make a list of their favorite charities to share with others.  My niece recently asked her friends that came to her birthday party to bring a book instead of a gift for her so she could donate them all to a local children’s hospital.

This season of giving, we are asking friends and family to donate to the fight against pancreatic cancer.  A study by the National Cancer Institute was just released touting impressive declines in the death rates of lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.  Specifically, the study shows a decline in lung cancer of 2.9% annually for men and 1.9% annually for women between 2001-2010.  Even though this is great news, buried within the study, it’s reported that during this same time frame, the death rate for pancreatic cancer increased each year for both men and women.

Every penny helps so our family’s gift this season is to help fund the research and clinical trials needed to decrease the death rate of pancreatic cancer and give hope to those fighting every day.  To support this fight, please click here.

To read more about giving, visit www.networkforgood.org.

 

Raleigh Rocks Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

At the beginning of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November Mattress Firm challenged our teams across the country to help spread awareness about this deadly disease.  Since the Mattress Firm Foundation is dedicated to helping fight pancreatic cancer, we encouraged our employees to share the story about the Foundation with the guests who visited their store.

Our team in Raleigh, North Carolina decided to tackle the challenge head on.  By the end of the month they had not only educated their guests about Mattress Firm’s fight against pancreatic cancer, but they had also raised almost $500 in donations for the Mattress Firm Foundation!

Our employees in Raleigh pose for a quick group shot

The enthusiasm shown by the Raleigh team is proof that when a group of passionate people work together toward a cause, great thing can happen.  Want to join Mattress Firm in the fight against pancreatic cancer?  Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to find out how you can help.  With your support, we dream it’s possible to find a cure.

What you need to sleep happy.