IKEA
IKEA

This Placemat Hides Your Phone So You Have to Focus on Your Dinner Companions

IKEA
IKEA

Because this is the 21st century, people occasionally need reminders to stop and, you know, look at the humans around them. And once you've dropped a few hundred dollars on a smartphone, why not spend a few more bucks on a device that keeps you from staring at said smartphone, to the detriment of your offline relationships? 

IKEA's solution to the ultimate first-world problem: Housewares that double as places to hide your device.

Their “Logged Out” Sittning placemat come with a special phone pocket to keep you from reading Facebook notifications, texts, and breaking celebrity news alerts while at the dinner table, so that you can focus on actually consuming food and—perhaps—even speaking to the people around you. 

As an added bonus, it will keep you from spilling that artisanal barbecue sauce on your new iPhone. 

[h/t: Gizmodo]

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Courtesy of BEDGEAR
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Testing, Testing
Sleep More Soundly with These Sweat-Busting Sheets
Courtesy of BEDGEAR
Courtesy of BEDGEAR

Catching quality Zs is vital to our health: Not only can lack of sleep cause impairment similar to what people experience when they've knocked back a few drinks, but it's been linked to health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, among others. It can be particularly challenging to get adequate shut-eye in the heat of summer, when sheets and blankets feel like the enemy and it's not unusual to wake up clammy in a puddle of your own sweat.

That kind of situation inspired Eugene Alletto to found BEDGEAR in 2009. When Alletto’s son was having sleep issues due to allergies, he discovered that the only mattress protectors available were vinyl, which made his son overheat while he was trying to sleep. So Alletto went to work creating his own bedding that would keep people at the perfect temperature for snoozing, no matter what the season, and allow for maximum recovery.

To BEDGEAR, sleep isn't just a period of rest, it's an activity—so it's fitting that the company found inspiration for its products in exercise. “Eugene determined that the performance fabrics like we wear to exercise could be engineered to provide functional benefits in bedding products,” Shana Rocheleau, VP of Strategy at BEDGEAR, told Mental Floss via email. “It was this key insight that spiraled into the wide performance products offering BEDGEAR has today.” The line started with mattress protectors and has since grown to include mattresses, pillows, sheets, blankets, and more.

All of this sounded very intriguing to me: I live on the top floor of my building, and temperatures in my apartment regularly hit 80 degrees—so I’m accustomed to waking up a sweaty mess in the middle of the night (at least before we put in our window air conditioning units). I was eager to see if the company's Dri-Tec Performance Sheets—which promise to "help you sleep cool and dry to ensure maximum recovery"—would help me get a better night’s rest, and BEDGEAR sent me some to try out.

According to Rocheleau, every product in the company’s line is designed chiefly with one thing in mind: air flow. “Air flow is essential to maximum sleep comfort and getting the most recovery out of the time you have to spend in bed,” she says. “When your body gets overheated, you will begin fidgeting, [but] when you sleep at the right temperature, with bedding layers that balance your body heat with your room environment through optimized air flow, [it] makes it easier for your body to follow its natural circadian rhythm of dropping two degrees at night for cellular rejuvenation, and reduces sensations of restlessness.”

To that end, when designing its products, “BEDGEAR’s product development team focused on designing a fabric that could aid in controlling humidity by keeping moisture away from your body with breathable fabrics,” Rocheleau says. “A less humid environment allows your body to cool down more quickly.”

The company doesn’t do thread counts (which it says are complicated, can be misleading, and might not actually help you sleep better, anyway) but instead uses CFM, or cubic feet per minute, “the speed at which air flows into or out of space,” Rocheleau explains—a standard unit of measurement in the HVAC and vacuum industries. Their highest performance sheets, the Dri-Tech Lites, have a CFM rating of four (736 cubic feet per minute); Dri-Tec, the sheets that I tested, have a CFM rating of 3 (407 cubic feet per minute). By comparison, Poly-spandex knit sheets (125 cubic feet per minute) and 100 percent cotton sheets with a 1200 thread count (3.89 cubic feet per minute) both have a CFM rating of zero.

BEDGEAR's product development team spent six years developing and perfecting the Dri-Tec sheets. They're made of a polyester material that evaporates moisture and expels heat, and are also equipped with ventilated mesh hems and side panels, which have a 3D structure that keeps air circulating. “Your sheets should enhance your sleep, not disrupt it by making you feel trapped by heat and/or fabrics,” Rochleau says.

Users rave about the Dri-Tec sheets ("So these sheets have 100x more airflow than traditional sheets!!! Holy cannoli!!!"), and I wasn't disappointed, either. The sheets are incredibly soft; they don’t get wrinkly or cling to you when you sleep, and yet they’re designed to move with you. (My partner and I are both restless sleepers, and I’ve found that I’m disturbed by his movements less with these sheets that I was when we were using cotton ones.) You hardly notice them, which is sort of the point. Plus, the fitted sheet has a band that keeps it securely in place, no matter how much you move around. (If only it were possible to add a similar feature to the top sheet to prevent sheet stealing.)

But best of all, since we started using the Dri-Tec sheets, I haven’t had a sweaty wake-up once. Which is not to say I haven’t woken up (I have two cats who love to climb all over me when I’m sleeping), but when I did, I noticed that I wasn’t sweaty at all.

BEDGEAR’s sheets are definitely more expensive than most of what you’ll find at Target: Depending on the size and type, they can run up to $280 a set (which is on par with the high thread count sheets from other brands). But according to some estimates, we spend up to a third of our lives sleeping, or trying to sleep—so if snoozing is a struggle for you, these sheets might be worth the investment. You can find their products on BEDGEAR's website or at retailers around the country.

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iStock
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DIY
13 Ingenious Uses for Tension Rods
iStock
iStock

Tension rods are inexpensive tools for hanging curtains. But if you’re only using them to set up window treatments, then you’re missing out on a ton of other uses for these versatile DIY miracle workers. They come in a range of lengths and load-bearing limits, and can be installed in a minute or two. Snag a few different sizes of tension rods—which are cheap and removable for when your tastes change—and start experimenting with these creative projects.

1. INSTALL A HANGING HERB GARDEN.

You'll need a sturdy tension rod to fit your chosen window's width and a group of small hanging plant pots for this project. Place the rod within the window frame at the desired height, hang (or string) the planted pots along it, and ta-da—an instant, space-saving herb garden. This also works with your favorite sun-loving flowers or ferns. “You will never have to worry about the rod coming down, and the window placement will lend a lot of sun for flower and herb planters," Justin Krzyston, president and CEO of Stonehurst Construction and Design in Los Angeles, tells Mental Floss. "You can hang almost any kind of plant from the rod for a practical and fun way to garden indoors.”

Once your herbs are grown and picked, tie them into bunches with twine. Dry the herbs by hanging them upside-down from—you guessed it—a tension rod placed in a door frame. Dried herbs will last much longer than fresh.

2. ARRANGE YOUR ACCESSORIES.

Hang tension rods within your existing closet to corral scarves, necklaces, and small bags. “You can even hang S-hooks from the tension rod to separate your bracelets and smaller items,” Krzyston says. Hooks also make it easier to remove and put back items because you won't need to remove the rod from the closet wall to retrieve them.

3. STORE CLEANING PRODUCTS.

Annie Draddy, organizer and co-founder of New York-based personal organizing service Henry & Higby, likes to use tension rods for cleaning storage. “Use a tension rod under a sink to hang spray bottles and other cleaning implements,” she tells Mental Floss. Hanging the spray cleaners at the top of the cabinet leaves more room for other items, like sponges, towels, and buckets.

4. ORGANIZE KITCHEN CABINETS.

It’s difficult to keep all your trays and pans organized in your kitchen cabinets, especially if they’re all different sizes—but that’s where tension rods can help, Draddy says. She recommends installing a few tension rods vertically inside the cabinet and standing up flat items, like baking sheets and pans, cutting boards, pot lids, and trays, between the rods. The arrangement saves space and makes it easier to grab the pan or cookie sheet without dislodging everything else in the cabinet.

5. CREATE A BUNK BED SCREEN.

Kids who share bunk beds will love the extra privacy that tension rods and curtain panels can offer, Krzyston says. This project works best on the bottom bunk because the rods are installed between the bed posts. If the top bunk's posts extend to the ceiling, you can double this project for the top and bottom beds.

To make the world's easiest no-sew bunk bed curtains, you will need three tension rods that fit the head, foot, and side of the bunk bed; a measuring tape, scissors, four or five lightweight curtain panels depending on the size of the bed, straight pins, iron-on fusing web, and an iron. Then follow these steps.

First, install the rods between the bed posts and measure the height from the rod down to the platform of the bed (past the mattress)—this will be the curtain's length. Next, lay each curtain flat with the backside facing up. Measure the same distance down from the rod pocket, and add two inches—the extra fabric will be your hem. Draw a line with a pencil across the curtain at that length, or mark with pins, and then cut each curtain along the line. Lay a piece of the iron-on fusing web across the curtain, 3 inches from and parallel to the end. Fold up the two-inch hem over the web and pin in place. (Now, measure the sides of the curtain to make sure they're of equal length, and adjust if necessary.)

Iron the hem to fuse it in place, removing the pins as you go. Once the fabric is cool, install the curtains on the rods. “The sturdy construction of the bed will lend an easy place for the curtains to hang without worry of them coming down,” Krzyston says. Boom: super-cool bed fort!

6. KEEP TUB TOYS TIDY.

This trick works on tubs with walls on three sides. Find a tension rod roughly equal to the longer side of your tub. String an even number of shower rings on it and install along the wall side of the tub. Then, hang small plastic bins from the rings (two per bin, which keeps them level) for storing small toys, and you’ll never have to step on a Paw Patrol toy again.

7. CONCEAL CLUTTER.

Are your bookcases and shelving units packed with odds and ends? Disguise the clutter behind an easy-to-assemble screen. Pop a tension rod between the sides of the cabinet at the height of the stuff you want to hide. Then, hang a curtain or drape a piece of patterned fabric over the rod, and you’ll have a custom-made junk-concealer. You can even string clip-style curtain rings on the rod and clip on a fabric panel—the rings will make it easier to push the panel to the side when you need to retrieve items from the shelves. Try it anywhere you need to mask garbage bins, Costco-sized pantry items, or other unsightly necessities.

8. CATEGORIZE BOOKS.

Short tension rods can take the place of cumbersome bookends and leave you more space for storing and displaying actual books. Install the rods vertically within the bookshelf to corral paperbacks, hardcover titles, magazines, or notebooks. You can also organize and divide your collection by theme or subject matter by installing rods vertically between the sections.

9. SET UP A CLOTHESLINE.

Make your space-saving indoor clothesline by putting a tension rod in the doorway of your laundry room or in any unused corner. You can pin garments to the rod with clothespins or air-dry shirts on hangers. The rod can also serve as a finishing area for freshly ironed clothes. The best part: Pop out the rod when you're done, and it will look like laundry never happened.

10. MAKE A FORT.

You don’t need to buy anything fancy to provide kids with a few hours of fun. Insert a tension rod under a desk or table, in the hallway, or in a low-traffic doorway. Have the kids drape a sheet or blanket over the rod, spread it out, and weigh down its edges with pillows—instant hideway! Or build a "condo" with multiple rods at varying levels down an entire hallway. The special space will boost the kids' imaginations and spark creative games.

11. HIDE THE LITTER BOX.

Litter boxes are a fact of life if you have a cat, but that doesn’t mean her business has to be visible. If the litter box is sitting in a corner of a closet, you can conceal it and create storage space at the same time. Install a shelf on the wall above the box at your desired height. The shelf's width should be about the same as the closet, and its depth roughly equal to the litter box (you might want to turn the box so the longer side is against the wall, but make sure the cat can still get in). Install a tension rod just under the lip of the shelf and hang short curtains (use the curtain-customizing method in #5) or drape a piece of fabric over the rod. Now Princess will have some privacy, and you can store her food, litter, and other feline accoutrements on the shelf.

12. CAMOUFLAGE UNDER-BED CLUTTER.

Choose a longish tension rod and install it between the legs of the bed on its visible side. Cut an oblong piece of fabric that, when doubled lengthwise over the rod, will hide the clutter underneath the bed. Repeat the steps for other sides of the bed. You’ll never have to see the mess again, and you can change the fabric's pattern or color whenever your design aesthetic evolves.

13. CONSTRUCT A BLACKOUT COCOON.

City dwellers have to deal with bright streetlights seeping in their windows at night. Even with the curtains closed, the light pollution can disrupt sleep. Ensure restful slumber with this fast blackout hack: Slide a tension rod that is roughly the width of your bedroom window into the rod pocket of a blackout curtain panel of similar width. Then, install the rod and curtain inside window frame, allowing the curtain to closely cover as much window area as possible. Close the existing curtains for a virtually pitch-black boudoir.

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