Friday, January 1, 2021

Bedroom/Sewing Room/Office Makeover!

 I have been sharing a bedroom with my sewing room and office for years. My bedroom has never really felt like a bedroom. I have tons of craft and sewing supplies from owning a business and because those are my hobbies that I love to do. This has caused my room to become crowded and impossible to manage and keep clean and organized. For the last couple years, I have been struggling with intense fatigue and exhaustion as well as tendinitis, due to an autoimmune disease. I have gradually thinned down my supplies—selling and giving away. My husband and I had been having a hard time sleeping and never felt rested. We had also been having back problems. We decided it would be in the best interest of our health to get a new bed. Our mattress was 22 years old—overdue for a new one! Plus, we have never had a headboard and the mattress has been on the floor for the past several years since the frame broke. We decided to get a king size so we could spread out and be as comfortable as possible. Having a king size bed meant getting rid of some furniture because it would not fit. I thought it would be best to give our bedroom a total makeover. I wanted to feel like I was in a a hotel, but still have a place to sew. We live in a very small house so there isn’t really a place to put a sewing area. We barely have room for a small dining room table. Our living room barely fits our sofas and tv. We don’t even have a coat or linen closet.

Here are the before pictures. I am embarrassed to show these because it is such a mess! And we started painting to test out the color, so that normally wouldn't be there, but the ugly brown paint and peeling wall paper border has been there for years. We use the fan to drown out other noise while we sleep. The filing cabinet was full of papers, labels, blank paper, and anything else that fit in it. The white cabinet had a bunch of photo and scrapbooking supplies. The shelves on the wall had all my sewing supplies and a bunch of other stuff. The desk, dresser, and bookcase had become stashing areas. Ugh! What a mess! No wonder I couldn't sleep! And this is after I got rid of a ton of stuff!

Anyway , I really like the french farmhouse look, so that was the theme I decided to go with. We got rid of all the furniture and replaced it with new, matching furniture. Let me add that all my life, I have never had a bedroom set that matched. In all my adult life, I have never had a headboard. I have never owned a new dresser. I have always just learned to make due with what we had and never felt it was important enough to have a nice bedroom.

We took down the wall paper border and repainted the entire room. I chose Sherwin-Williams “Silverplate” paint (R 194, G 192, B 186, Hex Value:#c2c0ba LRV:53.)

I vacuumed and steam cleaned, which had not been done for a very long time. The steam cleaner surprisingly got a lot of dark spots out of the carpet that I thought would never come out. I wanted to replace the carpet with new, but we just can’t afford it right now. I had to put a lot of stuff in the shed, under the bed in totes, and in our closet. Most of the stuff that I couldn't put in the shed are photos I got from my grandma. She has Alzheimer's and so my aunts went through her 400 photo albums and gave them to the people who were in the photos.

Nearly everything I bought at Walmart. I replaced the large corner desk with a small desk. I replaced the ugly filing cabinet, white cabinet, and bookcase with two beautiful farmhouse bookcases. Amazingly, after putting so much stuff under the bed, in the closet, and shed, I really only needed one bookcase. The second one has mainly my husband's music stuff and some office stuff in it. And of course replaced the brown dresser with a nice farmhouse dresser. I got rid of all the white shelves, too. When everything was out of the bedroom and in the living room, dining room, and kitchen, it was a nightmare! I could not believe how much stuff was crammed in our small bedroom. It took almost 2 months to get everything sorted, the room painted, furniture put together, etc. And I still have things to go through.

The white microfiber bed skirt desperately needed ironed. I bought 400-thread count white sheets. Last time I bought 300-thread count (cheapest sheets possible) and the sheets were almost transparent! The new sheets claim to have a cooling affect, but I didn't notice a difference. I still sweat like crazy if it's more than 70 degrees in the house. The beautiful Paris quilt and matching shams are so nice. (I had to buy king size pillows for them, though.) I didn't want a big fluffy comforter, so the quilt was perfect. I used the same throw pillows from my previous bedding set that I had bought at Grocery Outlet last year. I ordered the headboard on

The Paris wall art and arrows were purchased at Joann Fabrics several years ago. I made the fabric bulletin boards, with my husband's help. The vase and flowers on the dresser was also from Joann's.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Sleep Number Mattress Review iLE (Limited Edition) 360 Smart Bed

My husband and I had the same mattress for 22 years. We have had back problems and sleeping problems. He normally wakes up about five times a night and I am constantly tossing and turning. So we decided to give Sleep Number a try. The main reason we wanted the Sleep Number is because my husband is a heavy man and I am a pretty small woman, compared to him. So whenever he would get in bed, the bed would sink down where he was and it would cause me to roll towards him. For this reason, I wanted a firmer bed. But he wanted a softer bed. So we figured with the Sleep Number, we would both get what we want.

We went to a local Sleep Number store on Black Friday and tried out all the beds. I am so glad that we did because each bed feels so different! I almost wish that the salesman wouldn’t have even told us which bed was what so we could just try them all and find out which one we like the best without thinking about the price or anything else.

Amazingly, the bed both of us liked the best was an iLE 360 Smart bed, the most expensive bed. Luckily, it was 50% off. We also bought the base and frame, which was unfortunately not on sale.

Surprisingly, when we got home and set it up to our number preferences, mine was a lower (soft) number, 35, and his was a higher (firm) number, 50. He liked it more firm and I liked mine more soft because of our weight difference.

When we first purchased the bed, we had to totally rearrange our room. Our tiny 12 x 12‘ bedroom with my office and sewing supplies in it would not fit a king size bed. King-size beds are huge! I didn’t want one so big, but my husband likes to spread out and hog the entire bed.

So I removed all of our old furniture and got rid of it and bought all new furniture. Then we repainted the bedroom. (Bedroom remodel on my next post.) I think this alone has made a huge difference in how well we sleep. When before, the last thing we would see is a horribly messy cluttered bedroom with ugly paint and peeling wallpaper border. Now the last thing we see when we go to bed, is a beautiful bedroom. It makes me feel like I’m in a hotel.

We have had our bed for a week now and have had the best week of sleep that we ever had. I only get up once a night to use the bathroom. My husband only gets up once or twice. I am no longer tossing and turning. I think it was well worth the price.

One thing that I did not like, is that it did not come with headboard brackets. When we were at the store, I specifically told the salesman that was working with us that I wanted a headboard. We have never owned a headboard and I really wanted one and I liked what they had in their store room. But he said that they don’t have headboards and we couldn’t order them. (I later found out that was a lie. They have headboards right on the website!) And then he failed to mention that we needed headboard brackets if we were going to buy our own headboard. The way the frame is set up, it cannot hold a headboard unless you buy their headboard brackets. I chatted online with a customer representative to see if I could get the brackets sent to me for free since we spent so much money at their store and they never said that we needed headboard brackets. She said that we couldn’t get them for free and she didn’t even mention the “InnerCircle” where you actually can get stuff for free. I ended up ordering a headboard at Walmart. (Once it arrives, I'll update the picture.) I joined “InnerCircle” on Sleep Number and watched a bunch of videos and looked at a bunch of their blogs and quizzes so that I could get rewards. I was able to get enough rewards to get the headboard brackets for free, as well as some other small things.

Another thing that I don’t like is there is not much room under the bed. Because we got rid of all of our furniture in our bedroom, we are forced to store a lot of our stuff under the bed. If you have anything over 5.5 inches, it will not fit! But the frame and base and mattress combined is almost too tall. If it was any taller, it would be too tall, making it difficult to get in and out of bed. So buying bed risers was not an option.

The sleep logs are pretty neat, using the SleepIQ app.  When you are in bed, it starts counting sleep time.  It logs your heartrate, your restlessness, HRV, breath rate, and any time that you got up out of bed.  Something I did not like about the sleep logs is that if you were in bed reading a book or on your phone, it logs it as you are sleeping. So if you are in bed for a couple hours before you actually sleep, it will say that you slept for a couple hours longer than you actually did. But the nice thing is, you can edit it.  And if you are in bed while you are trying to look at your sleep log, it will not let you. It will say "In bed tracking sleep."  The photo on the right shows how often I woke up to get a drink of water.  I have a water bottle by my bed so I don't even have to get up.  (I drink a full 20-oz bottle every night.)

Another thing that I realize is not sleep number‘s fault specifically, but when the delivery guys delivered our bed, one of them stunk so bad, we had to open all the doors and spray Fabreeze everywhere just to get rid of the smell after he left. He reeked of B.O. and cigarette smoke. I couldn’t even be in the same room as him because I almost threw up.

And last but not least, the cooling top that claims to have a cooling affect, keeping you cool when you get hot and keeping you warm when you get cold, did not seem to make a difference at all. So if you are looking for that specific feature in a mattress, I wouldn't count on it.

Other than that, we really like our new bed and do not regret buying it.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Finding an Apple Watch Sleep App Comparable to the Fitbit App

In my previous post, I compare the Fitbit Inspire 2 with the new Apple Watch Series 6.  My purpose for wearing fitness bands was to track heartbeat and sleep.  Since the Health App that comes with an iPhone is not the greatest (pretty pitiful, actually) for tracking sleep, I downloaded several sleep apps to find the one closest to the Fitbit app.  The Fitbit app is very thorough.  It shows all the stages of sleep (REM, Light, Deep, and time awake.)  It also shows restoration (with paid Premium service) and gives a sleep score based on amount of time asleep, Deep and REM sleep, and restoration heartbeat.

So for several nights, I wore both my Apple Watch and my Fitbit to compare.   First I tried SleepWatch for free and SleepMatic which costs $1.99.  I was excited to try them out my first night.  I had the watch on my left wrist and the fitbit on my right so I could compare readings.  Unfortunately, the watch showed no sleep at all!  Big disappointment.  I later found out that I had to have the apps (Sleepwatch and SleepMatic) set to background refresh.  Apparently I had turned off background refresh on my phone a long time ago to save battery life.  So I turned it back on and disabled it in the apps I didn't need.  I then downloaded a few more apps and tried them out.
Here are my conclusions and ratings, from best to worst.

I love the Fitbit app.  The user interface is so easy.  It has an appealing look and design.  It has just about everything you would need in a fitness and sleep app.  It is free, but costs $9.99 per month for the Premium features.  Honestly, I didn't notice much difference in the Premium.  You really get enough from the free version that, in my opinion, you don't need the Premium features.  I could see maybe paying $1 a month for the Premium version, but definitely not $9.99.

As far as the sleep log goes, the free version shows a sleep score (based on amount of sleep, Deep and REM sleep.) It also shows a graph of your sleep throughout the night.  The Premium version included an extra chart called "restoration" where it shows the heartrate throughout the night.  In my photo above, I can clearly see the times that I woke up with panic attacks, and how much better I slept when I took melatonin.

Pros: Very thorough, easy interface, shows all sleep stages, automatically records sleep, seems accurate, shows recordings of previous nights as well as weekly history.
Cons: Only works with Fitbit, does not work with Apple Watch.

#2 AutoSleep Track Sleep on Watch 4+

Auto Sleep Tracker & Alarm


    • #2 in Health & Fitness 
      4.7 • 33.5K Ratings
    • $3.99
AutoSleep is pretty close to the Fitbit app.  Like Fitbit, it shows the time asleep, time awake, light sleep, still/restful (REM), and deep sleep. It shows the heartrate throughout the night, and gives a sleep score.  Now, a unique feature that I have not seen before is the Sleep Bank.  If your goal is to sleep 8 hours and you only sleep 7, than it will show a percentage of sleep debt.  Then the next night, even if you get 8 hours sleep, it will still show the sleep debt from the night before, which explains why, for example, even when I sleep 10 hours one night, I still don't feel 100% refreshed because I only got on average 5 hours sleep the previous nights.
*After using several different apps for a few months, AutoSleep seemed to be the most accurate.

Another feature I like is that you can set the theme (light or dark) so if you prefer a light colored screen, you can change it.  In Settings, there are many things you can change.

Also, you can adjust the sleep calibration, so if you don't feel that the sleep time is accurate, you can change it.  You can also add notes, how you are feeling, if you took pills, etc.

Pros: Very thorough, easy interface, shows all sleep stages, automatically records sleep, not sure how accurate it is since the readings were very different from the Fitbit app. Has lots of settings and features, shows recordings of previous nights as well as weekly history.
Cons: It costs $3.99 but it is only a one-time cost.  You don't have to pay for a subscription like others do. 
(Photos shows both dark and light mode)

#3 Sleep Watch by Bodymatter 4+

Auto Sleep Tracker

Bodymatter, Inc.

    • #65 in Health & Fitness 
    • 4.7 • 236.8K Ratings
    • Free 
    • Offers In-App Purchases

The SleepWatch shows how long you slept, and a graph that shows disrupted, light, and restful.  It does not give the times in each sleep stage.  It also shows a percentage "dip" which I believe is the same as the "restfulness" in the Fitbit.  However, it only shows the percentage.  It does not show a graph of actual readings.  There are other features available in the Premium edition, which costs $3.99/month or $29.99/year.  I have not tried the Premium and do not plan to.  SleepWatch lacks a lot of features and after trying Fitbit and AutoSleep, this one doesn't compare.

Pros: Shows sleep time, graph of sleep stages, and shows previous days with all the recordings still there.
Cons: Does not show times in each sleep stage, lacks many features. Weekly history is only available in Premium.

#4 Pillow Automatic Sleep Tracker 4+

Alarm clock & sleep analysis

Neybox Digital Ltd.

    • #98 in Health & Fitness  
    • 4.3  50.9K Ratings
    • Free
    •  • 
    • Offers In-App Purchases
Pillow is pretty basic.  It shows the time asleep and a graph with a percentage of time awake, light sleep, REM, and deep sleep.  It does not show the amount of time in each, just the percentage.  It does not show a weekly history, but you can go back to previous days to see the graph for each day ONLY IF YOU HAVE PREMIUM.  It has an edit button that you can edit your sleep time if it is incorrect.  It is free but you can also pay for more features with a monthly subscription.

Pros: Shows sleep time, graph of sleep stages.
Cons: Does not show times in each sleep stage, lacks many features. Does not have weekly history.  Only shows previous days with all the recordings still there if you pay for premium. .

#5 Sleep Tracker ++ (SleepMatic)4+

Auto track like Fitbit

Vimo Labs Inc.

    • #23 in Health & Fitness
      4.4 • 7.5K Ratings
    • $1.99

SleepTracker++ (SleepMatic) is so finicky.  It has a sensitivity bar that you can change to adjust the sleep stages, but if you adjust it the wrong way, it will show that there is no sleep detected.  It also has a bar you can adjust for time between sleep to be recorded as one interval or several different ones.  As you can see in the photo on the right below, it showed that I slept for 1hr 18m, 1hr 25m, 1hr 49m, etc. instead of including it all in one log.  Also, the photo on the far left shows total sleep was 2 hours, while the photo in the middle shows 14 hours.  I was playing around with the sensitivity bar and messed it all up.  It's way too complicated.  The whole point in having a sleep app is for it to do all the work, not me.  Also, all it shows is the amount of sleep, restless sleep, and restful sleep.  It does not show the different sleep stages.  It does show the weekly history as well as the detailed log for each day.  For them to claim to be "like Fitbit," it's pretty deceiving.  It's nothing like Fitbit.

Pros: Shows sleep time, restless sleep, and restful sleep.  It shows previous days as well as a weekly history report.
Cons: Not accurate, very finicky.

#6 Sleepzy - Sleep Cycle Tracker 4+

Alarm Clock & Snore Recorder

ThrivePort, LLC

      4.3 • 18.2K Ratings
    • Free
    • • 
    • Offers In-App Purchases

Sleepzy is by far the worst app for sleep recording.  First off, you have to manually start the sleep log, so if you forget to start it, it will not record any sleep.  Second, the screen will not go dark on the Watch and will wake you up each time you move your hand (if you're anything like me.)  Third, when you tap to see the log, it crashes and closes the app.  There is literally no way to even see the log.  It offers Premium purchase, which may be the reason it crashes.  Perhaps it only allows you to see it if you purchase Premium.  I didn't try Premium, as the fact that I have to manually start the sleep log is enough to not want me to try it further.
Pros: None.
Cons: Does not work!

Fitbit Inspire 2 Vs. Apple Watch Series 6 (ECG and Sleep recordings)

 Last year I purchased the Fitbit Inspire 2 (lilac color) basically to track my sleep and heartrate.  I had been feeling exhausted (and still am) and wondered if the sleep feature would show me anything.  Also, I have had heart palpitations and so I thought it could show me something on that as well.  I thought I would see that I toss and turn and hardly sleep all night long.  I thought it would show my heart beating at 175bpm like my Homedics blood pressure monitor showed.  I was so wrong.  The Fitbit app DOES show amounts of time sleeping/awake, what my heartrate was throughout the night, and what my average bpm is throughout the night and day, BUT it only shows my heartbeat every 5 MINUTES! That does not help me when my heart palpitations only last 30 seconds.  And as far as sleep goes, there's been times when I was awake for an hour but the Fitbit app showed I was sleeping during that entire hour.  So it was not 100% accurate.

Don't get me wrong, the app has TONS of helpful features and it did show when my heartbeat jumped up during the night when I had a panic attack.  And the heartbeat reading was accurate when compared to other heartbeat readings.  I liked that it shows my stages of sleep as well.  With Premium (which costs $10/month) it shows additional features like my restoration and a pdf file of my Wellness Report (summary of all the recordings within the month).  I also like how it includes a sleep score based on time asleep, time in Deep and REM sleep, and Restoration (restlessness, low heartrate). 

Things I did NOT like about my Fitbit, other than the complaints above, was that it left a permanent indentation on my wrist.  And if I got it wet at all, it would cause blisters.  So I had to take it off every time I washed my face, showered, etc.  That wasn't too much of a hassle since I put it on the charger during my shower and that's all I had to charge it!  The battery life was amazing.

I also did not like the bright screen at night.  Every night, I had to manually turn off "quick view" so I wouldn't be blinded during the night whenever I moved my wrist.  

Anyway, I looked into seeing if there was another Fitbit or even another device that would show like an ECG/EKG reading for my heart.  I could not find any Fitbits that did such a thing.  But I DID find that the Apple watch, series 4 and later, does!  So since it was Black Friday, I searched for deals online and found the Apple Watch Series 6

Before I even got the watch I bought a clear protector case.  Since my Fitbit got so scratched up when I wore it, due to my job, I wanted something to protect my Watch, especially since it was so much more expensive than the Fitbit.  The first thing I did when I got my watch was change my watch face to Minnie Mouse.  I wish they had all the classic Disney characters like Donald Duck.  He's my favorite.  The second thing I tried out on the watch was the ECG reading.  I placed the ECG app in the upper right of my watch face, and my heartrate in the lower bottom.  So now when my heart palpitations start, all I do it tap the ECG icon and put my finger on the "crown" (little wheel on the right of the watch).  It's so cool!  It reads my heart for 30 seconds and records it in the Health app on my iphone.

The third thing I did was turn off all notifications, except the ECG app notifications.  I kid you not, every darn minute I had some sort of notification that vibrated and dinged at me.  And of course I downloaded some sleep apps to my phone to compare with the Fitbit app.  Since the Health app designed by Apple only shows time asleep, it wasn't helpful.  I want the works!  I want to know how long I was in Deep, Light, REM, and restoration sleep!  I want to know how often I tossed and turned and woke up!  Sorry, Apple, but you are the short end of the stick when it comes to sleep logs.  I have a more extensive post on the sleep apps in my next post.

As far as the heartbeat recording, I was disappointed that it did not record every heartbeat--just once in a while.  Apple's Health App is horrible for recording heartbeat and sleep.  Luckily, I found an app that I could set to continuously record heartbeats--Cardiogram.
The first image on the left is my heartbeat recordings in the Health app.  You can see that it shows the range 79-99 bpm within the HOUR.  The second and third pictures are the cardiogram app set to continuously record.  You can see that every minute it shows the bpm.  However, if you set it to record EVERY heartbeat, it drains the battery and it will not go into the sleep mode so the screen will be on all night when you are trying to sleep.  It still does a better job at recording and logging heartbeat without it being continuous, than the Health App.

Also, I am a little disappointed in the ECG, as it will only record afib if your heartbeat is below 120!  My palpitations are 175bpm, so if it ever happens, I'll get this error message:

I am not the only one concerned with this.  Dr. Anthony Pearson wrote an article related to this on MedPageToday.  I suppose if you do not have afib nor are concerned about having it, this is not a problem.  Reading the ECG along is a very helpful feature.  I went to the doctor not long after purchasing the Apple Watch and they did an ECG on me.  It looked just like my ECG on my Watch.

I do like the other features that the Apple Watch has, so I think it was a good investment.  I was very happy to find that as long as I have a Sleep Mode on, the screen turns off during the night, so I never have to be blinded in the night again.  It is also much more comfortable to wear than the Fitbit.  It doesn't leave indentations in my wrist.  I also like that there are so many different watch faces to choose from.  I also like that I can answer the phone and send/receive texts.  There are two types of Apple Watches: one that is directly connected to your phone and you have to have your phone near in order to send/receive texts/calls.  And one that has cellular data so that you do not have to have your phone nearby.  After accidentally leaving my phone home twice since I got my Watch, I figured I should have paid a little more to get the watch with cellular data.

Overall, if you are only looking for thorough sleep logs, the Fitbit takes the cake, and it's much cheaper than an Apple watch.  If you're looking for monitoring heartbeats and using an ECG app, the Apple watch does the job (as long as you download the right app).  All in all, I am very happy with my purchase and would definitely recommend it.