Serta counting sheep are a registered trademark of Serta Inc.

We’re getting less sleep than ever before.

But before we blame the counting sheep for poor leadership from #1… #8 being out of sequence… or #86 too depressed to even think about jumping fences tonight, it behooves us to at least consider what the flock is facing.

They know we’re sleeping fewer hours.. and so tired we don’t always need them. But they’re also up against a growing trend toward insomnia, with more of us lying awake with plenty on our mind besides them. The ups and downs of the economy alone are enough to keep us wide awake. That’s not to mention fears of losing our job or house, or other personal issues competing with our time to dream.

Those late nights trysts with our computers aren’t helping either. Stimulating our minds and illuminating our brains isn’t exactly a good thing to do at night. Studies are suggesting that being up close and personal with a highly lit computer screen may decrease our production of melatonin – the hormone that goes into high gear when the sun goes down, sprinkling sleep dust on us in the dark.

The bottom line? Recent stats say 70% of us have sleep issues (up from 60% just 10 years ago!). Still others just have really bad nocturnal habits.

The good news is that 50% of us with sleep disorders (and 100% of us with really bad nocturnal habits) don’t need medication. We can cure ourselves. But it will mean getting 7.5-9 hours of sleep every night.

In exchange, we’ll feel  better, be healthier, smarter, thinner and even better looking (more sleep can make us look 3 years younger!). We may even let the sheep take the credit.

Sleeping on a comfortable mattress is the best way to  fall asleep faster. But we’ve got plenty more good ideas! Check out our special ‘sleep issue’ to find out what to do… and not to do – to sleep better.

Just click on the photo to the left, or visit www.roomplanners.com to subscribe to our free monthly magazine.

If you need to place the alarm clock across the room to wake you, you may be one of a growing number of us who aren’t getting sleep and chronically over-tired. See for yourself how your sleep habits stack up!

INSTRUCTIONS
Answer 1-5 for each question, with 1 = always / 5 = never.

1. I need an alarm clock to wake me at the right time.

2. I hit the snooze button at least once or twice.

 3. I need more than one cup of coffee to get me going in the morning.

 4. I easily forget things, including names of people or places.

 5. I eat sugar to feel more energetic.

 6. I feel irritable or impatient.

 7. I have a hard time being creative.

 8. I fantasize about sleeping in.

 9. When I wake up, I’m already looking forward to going to bed that evening.

 10. I take medication to help me sleep.

 11. I fall asleep right after dinner.

 12. I feel drowsy when driving.

 13. On weekends, I sleep 2 hours or more later than my weekday wake-up time.

 14. People tell me that I look tired or have dark circles under my eyes.

 15. I have nightmares or wake up suddenly.

 16. I wake up 2 or more times during the night.

 17. I drool when I sleep.

 18. I get twitches in one eye.

 19. I fall asleep reading a book or studying.

 20. I doze off during quiet movies, lectures, classes or concerts, even ones I enjoy.

SCORING YOUR RESULTS

85 points of higher. You’ve got above average sleep habits! You may occasionally crave more sleep than you get, but you’re doing more right than wrong.

65-70 points. Some simple adjustments in your sleep habits will increase your focus, energy, memory and overall well-being.

50-65 points. You may be suffering from a sleep disorder… or just poor nocturnal habits. Try simple changes to your routine or consult a sleep expert.

Under 50 points. You may be dozing off as you read this! If you can’t get more sleep using the tips in this sleep issue, consult a sleep expert or a medical doctor.

Annual Sleep IssueGet more information about sleep, including tips on how to fall asleep faster, how to create a hotel-inspired bedroom, and much more. Click on the magazine to open.

Click here to receive our free online magazine each month.

According to recent research, teens are averaging 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night. That’s well below the 9-10 hours recommended by sleep experts for their age.

You may argue that you stayed up late too, back in the day, and you turned out just fine. But that was before the age of back-lit cell phones and computers that keep minds alert and bodies fooled into thinking it’s still daytime. Techno gadgets, it seems, are cutting into much-needed rest. Apart from keeping kids up at night, they cause too much stimulation at a time when kids should be clearing their minds. Research is showing that they also cut production of melatonin, that helpful sleep dust our brains scatter throughout our bodies in the absence of light.

A recent Pediatrics research survey of high school students reported only 21% of them got anywhere near the needed 8-10 hours of sleep. After 9:00 pm, 82% of them were still watching TV, 55% were using a computer online, 44% were talking on the phone and 34% were texting!

Here are a few ideas to get your kids to bed earlier… and ensure they’re sleeping like a baby, whatever their age!

1. Get kids tuckered out with plenty of physical exercise during the day. We all sleep better after some physical exertion! But with so much time spent indoors with electronics, kids are getting less exercise than ever before. Exercise is most beneficial to sleep if it’s a few hours before bedtime.  

2. Invest in a good mattress. A supportive, comfortable mattress is important at any age, but growing bodies need the right support as much as older bodies.

3. Cut caffeine at least 5 hours before bedtime. (Some experts recommend cutting caffeine intake by 2:30 pm). Soft drinks, some energy drinks and chocolate can all contain high levels of caffeine.

4. Shut down and power off computers an hour before bedtime. Use that time for reading, relaxing, praying, listening to music, quiet conversation, going for a walk, family time in front of the fireplace, drawing or just getting ready for bed!

5. Take drastic measures, if necessary! Ban computer use on weeknights, except for homework. Limit video games to weekends. Create a central recharging station: insist that kids bring cell phones and other portable electronics to a kitchen or home office location before bedtime– it’ll keep these gadgets out of their rooms and hands during sleeping hours.

6. Enforce a strict and regularly scheduled bedtime. To determine what time that should be, work backwards from the time your child needs to get up to ensure the right number of sleep hours for the child’s age. (Experts recommend 10-12 hours of sleep for kids up to age 5; 9-10 hours of sleep for kids aged 6-19).

 7. Talk to kids about the importance of sleep. If they understand that adequate sleep leads to better grades, looks and health, they may be more likely to at least think about a little more sleep! Lobby your school to add a class about the physical effects of too little or poor quality sleep, including its effects on health, weight control and mental concentration.

8. Create a bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep it as dark as possible with light-blocking blinds or curtains (a dark room stimulates a higher production of melatonin). Turn the thermostat down and layer blankets so kids can adjust them for their temperature.

 9. Model the behavior you want your kids to have. Shut off all TVs and computers by 10 pm, or enforce a quiet hour for everyone before your kid’s bedtime.

 10. Shift into new sleep routine prior to the start of a new school year or semester. Used to staying up late and sleeping in, the first week back to school can be excruciating…  for kids and parents! Make changes to bedtimes a week or two prior. Adjust their getting-up and going-to-bed times by 30 minutes every few days to help them ease into the new schedule.

If you haven’t seen the new online magazine from Ashley Furniture, Trend Watch, check it out. It’s practical and a quick read. (You can also subscribe to get it free every month). This month features a pretty cottage-inspired collection. Also information about setting up a great TV-watching room for fall.

Go to www.AshleyFurnitureHomeStore.com, or click on the link below for the current issue.

http://s7d3.scene7.com/s7/brochure/flash_brochure.jsp?company=AshleyFurniture&sku=AFHS%20Trend%20Watch%2DSept%2DFinal&config=AshleyFurniture/AFHSTrendWatch&locale=en

Modern Craftsman, by Stanley Furniture

As if there’s not already a lot of reasons to love Craftsman style… here’s one more. The style is easily updated for a more urban look. That’s right! A style that set out to be sturdy, simple and smart can also be stylish!

More than a century after the first William Morris wallpapers and Gustav Stickley chairs, Craftsman style is anything but yesterday’s news! Seems sturdy furniture, smart features and simple, organic materials are just as welcome today! In fact, as rustic as it’s perceived to be, Craftsman style shares DNA with modern style! Beliefs that less-is-more and form-follows-function actually inspired Craftsman furniture designers before they did modern furniture designers.

So if your tastes run a litte more urban than rustic (but you love the warmth of wood!), check out these six ways to update Craftsman-style room designs!

  • paint the walls white or a cool, pristine off-white color; rustic, grainy woods look fresh and updated against very light colors
  • keep walls bare; use large, minimal accessories above furniture and keep the wall spaces     between pieces of furniture empty
  • add touches of black or iron on picture frames, lamp shades, chairs or placemats
  • hang botanical prints or black-and-white artwork in dark or light frames 
  • use polished hardwood floors in a light or dark finish
  •  lean rather than hang pictures; prop them up above mantels, ledges or sofa tables

Check out some updated Craftsman and Mission furniture collections in our roomplanners magazine.  

(If you’d like to receive our free online magazine every month, subscribe here!)

The summer might be almost over, but there’s still time to tackle a remodeling project or two before fall begins. Kiplinger.com has assembled a list of 8 DIY Projects To Add Value to Your Home By Labor Day, 5 of which are listed below. Each costs less than $500, requires less than a day’s work, and will increase your home’s value.

1)     Add a Backsplash
Estimated Price: $14 per 12-by-12-inch tile

The easiest way to add pizazz to your kitchen is with a new backsplash. You can go from country to modern in a snap with a variety of options for finishes and colors. To save money, time and frustration, consider the peel-and-stick tile options now available. The messier grout-and-tile approach will add $50 to $100 more in related supply costs but will appeal more to prospective buyers.

 2)     Install Vanity Cabinets & Toilets
Estimated Price: $200 (vanity), $250 (toilet)

Even relatively minor updates to your bathroom can produce a return on investment of 172%, according to HomeGain.com’s 2009 Prepare-to-Sell survey of 1,000 real estate agents nationwide. Because toilets fit neatly over existing plumbing, they’re surprisingly easy to install. Look for modern water-saving models that will both save on your water bills and appeal to energy-conscious buyers when it’s time to sell. If you’re feeling creative, save hundreds of dollars by using an old dresser as the foundation for a new vanity. Simply cut out room on the top to hold a basin sink and to connect pipes.

3)     Paint a Room
Estimated Price: $30 per paint can

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to immediately transform any room in your house. You’ll earn a 250% return on your investment in freshly painted interior walls, according to HomeGain.com’s survey. Just be sure to test colors — Home Depot sells 8-ounce sample cans of paint for $3 — before buying the full batch of paint needed for the room. Limit costly mistakes and spills by splurging on drop cloths and painter’s tape.

4)     Install Crown Molding
Estimated Price: $5 per linear foot

Crown molding in your home compared with none in a similar home in your neighborhood could make a difference when it’s time to sell. You may not get the money back, but it’s a feature that most buyers appreciate when looking for a home. Fair warning: Installing crown molding might be the trickiest task on our list. There’s a lot of geometry involved — along with a nail gun and a miter saw. Follow the “measure thrice, cut once” rule to limit waste.

5)     Replace the Front Door
Estimated Price: $150-$500 or more

As the first thing prospective buyers will see upon entering your home, a new front door will more than recoup your investment. Expect a fat 129% ROI on a steel door, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2009–10 “Cost vs. Value Report.” Bonus: Buy a qualifying energy-efficient door and reap a tax credit of 30% of your cost (up to a maximum of $1,500 in 2009 and 2010 combined).

View all 8 DIY projects in this slideshow: http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/slideshows/slideshow_pop.html?nm=RemodelingValue

These days, a well-crafted workplace today can reside in any room. What’s more important than where we work is how well-equipped we are when we do! Today, a workspace may be simply a place to open a laptop, re-charge a cell phone and keep our mail in order. But look for a style that keeps details in order too! Orderly and hearty construction details inspire efficiency!

Few other interior design styles work as well for a home office than Craftsman style. By its very nature, craftsman furniture suggests a smart, hard-working home.  (It was born by artists, writers and intellects at the end of the 19th century – so it has very clever DNA). In fact, designers of craftsman furniture today are just as fond of creating savvy ways to store books, papers and supplies as original Arts-and-Crafts artisans were. That makes this style ideal for office and work places… especially when electronics and flexibility are wired in!

We used this very clever new furniture collection (Bungalow Baby by aspenhome) to illustrate exactly how smart a Craftsman-inspired home office can be!

Executive home office configuration. Bungalow Baby, by aspenhome.

An executive office configuration is ideal for serious worker bees and busy entrepreneurs. Instead of a conventional small credenza behind the desk, tall storage cabinets use every inch of wall space and create the illusion of built-in library shelves… a favorite Craftsman technique! Wainscoted panels with their orderly flat slats can actually inspire us to get organized!

L-shaped work station

If space is tight, but work needs to get done (or spread out!), an L-shaped work station is ideal. With efficient storage packed into a credenza along an office, bedroom or family room’s free wall, the desk has room for a computer, lamp, paperwork and even elbows!

Compact desk

A simple, compact desk is ideal for bedrooms, kitchens, hallways or any free wall or corner! But choose one with smart design built in—a charger tray for portable electronics, plenty of drawers, shelves and a place to work!

Find out everything you need to know about Craftsman style…  decorating ideas, paint colors, accessory ideas and much more, in roomplanners‘  Craftsman magazine issue.

If you’d like to receive our free online magazine each month, please subscribe here.

Sanctuary, by Hooker Furniture

We’ve become a nation of busy bodies. As nine to five become 24/7, our homes are fast becoming one of the few places we can disconnect from the world.

So how can you create a sanctuary, or private haven, in your own home?  Start by taking a look at your home in a new way. Look for ways to relax or unwind in comfortable, unexpected places. At the same time, look for ways to re-energize in open, well-lit places. The perfect private haven balances intimate,  private spaces with head-clearing open spaces infused with natural light.

Here’s some ideas!

  • look for unexpected (or missed) places you can unwind, take a nap or look out a window.
  • add more natural light or vary lighting levels with a dimmer switch or lamps in unexpected places.
  • think small and intimate; sometimes the most restful places are a place for 1 or 2 people rather than a crowd.

You’ll know if your home is haven-worthy if you can achieve each of these 5 private haven benefits in each room!

1. Get Comfortable
Getting comfortable at home means finding plenty of places to kick off our shoes and settle in. Adding upholstered chairs around a dinner table invites us to linger for hours. Adding extra bed pillows helps us sleep better. Choosing weathered furniture finishes or organic colors inspires a feeling of quiet calm.

2. Lighten Up
Adding mirrored surfaces and mirrors doubles the light Daylight rejuvenates and heals. Sheer or translucent curtains diffuse light rather than blocking it. Light or white walls recreate daylight, while mirrors and mirrored finishes double the amount of natural light in a room…  especially when placed next to windows and chandeliers!

3. See things in a new way
A change is as good as a rest, even at home. Leaning a   picture against the wall, mixing two wood finishes in the same room, using mismatched chairs around a table or adding a bar cabinet or chair in the bedroom feels fresh and new.

4. Embrace the imperfect
A perfect home no longer needs perfectly matched, new or polished furniture Time-worn finishes, uneven, natural weaves and unmatched accent  pieces make us more relaxed, connect us to nature and invite us to experiment without regret

5. Reach out and touch something!
Think how good it feels to walk barefoot in the sand. Creating similar sensory   experiences at home means choosing textures that beg us to touch them and feel good when we do… a wooly rug next to the bed, hand-scraped or waxed table tops, carved bed posts or nubby fabrics.

Click here for more information about the Sanctuary collection, including some inspirational photos!

Craftsman is a uniquely American interior design style… suiting the sturdy living, smart choices and  natural simplicity inspired by America’s earliest pioneers.

But Craftsman style wasn’t born in America. The story of this style begins in England… near the end of the Victorian era.

By the late 19th century, a movement was afoot in Britain to return to simplicity and authenticity. The elaborate, over-the-top look of Victorian had become just too much for at least a fraction of intellects and artists.

William Morris championed the epic new cause to eradicate Victorian excess. At a time when machines and synthetic materials were taking over, Morris argued for a return to hand crafting and nature-inspired aesthetics. Better quality, he believed, would equate to better morality and healthier homes, communities, and lifestyles.

Morris formed a company and a movement to produce simple hand-crafted textiles, ceramics, furniture, wall hangings,    metalware, stained glass, wallpaper and furniture.

His home, the Red House, became a poetic icon of the movement. Its rough-hewn red bricks and high hedges blended into the countryside; the picture of security outside a modern new world.

The term, Arts-and-Crafts, was coined in 1888, after Morris and friends were rejected by The Royal Academy. Much like urban artists frown on folk art, this high-brow art institute frowned on ‘craft’ as inferior to ’art’. Undaunted, Morris promptly created an Arts & Crafts Society to revive  interest in hand-crafting skills using local materials and   medieval building techniques.

But Morris’ simple, honest, undecorated looks found their greatest audience in America. In 1897, Chicago established its own Society of Arts and Crafts. A year later, American Gustav Stickley began production of settles and sideboards that featured the hallmarks of the style, including visible peg joints and flat wood slats. Stickley promoted the new look in The Craftsman, a monthly magazine devoted to the style and its ideals.

Frank Lloyd Wright also found inspiration in the style. His Prairie Style architecture and fascination with simple Japanese design inspired a use of natural materials and flat, horizontal lines.  Both were dramatic contrasts to elaborate Victorian architecture with its pointed turrets.

The simplicity of Arts & Crafts in America also meshed with native and Spanish-inspired Mission styles. The country’s rustic past made it open to simple hand-crafting and utility as inspiration for a product’s design.

 Today, Craftsman furniture and room designs are uniquely American in their use of sturdy, smart and simple products. The style may go by many names… Mission, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman or Southwest. But whatever you call it, one thing is for sure: it’s still one of America’s favorites.

Read all about this much-loved style in our Room Planners magazine.. Click on the magazine, or on this link to open: http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/07-2010.pdf (You can also subscribe here to receive our free online magazine every month).

Or check out our Craftsman RoomCue. It includes ALL the information and inspiration you need to pull together a Craftsman room like the pros!

There’s clearly no fear of using color in New Orleans homes! This is a city where multiple cultures, intense climate and fiery food aren’t just a daily way of life; they inspire unique, unforgettable paint colors.

But there’s something subdued about even the boldest colors used in New Orleans interiors. They seem elegantly aged by time, slightly romantic and even moody… as if seen under low light. This exuberant, but elegant palette reveals a touch of Paris, a smattering of the south of Spain, a whiff of  island style and a bit of bravado from Victorian London.

Some New Orleans colors are known by their French names… Paris green, Gros Rouge or Brun d’Espagnol. (It’s believed these pretty hues were intended to complement skin tones… trust the ever-glamorous French to think about that!)

Check out our New Orleans paint color palette in our special New Orleans magazine issue. (Click on the magazine cover to open the magazine!).

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