Tag Archives: sleep

Tips to get a good nights sleep!

We may all be familiar with the standard eight hours required in order to get a good nights sleep, but if you struggle to even achieve this perhaps some of the following tips can help. Sleep is essential to our well being, with many of us struggling to get a decent nights sleep because of stress from the day, “not being tired” or noisy partners sleeping next to you! Whilst some factors are out of your control, a few of the following alterations during your daily routine could help you drift off at night.

Get a goods nights sleep!

Get a goods nights sleep!

Take a look at the Healthy Hideout’s top tips for getting a good nights sleep!

  • Temperature – It may seem like one of the most obvious factors, but lowering the temperatures in your bedroom (or where you sleep) before you go to bed will send signals to the brain that it’s time for bed. When our bodies are cold, we’re more than likely tired. A cooler bedroom will make the duvet a whole lot more appealing.
  • Work – The saying goes that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get your work done, but taking work home almost guarantees your mind will stay awake longer than you need it to. Separate your working life from your normal life, by staying at the office longer if you really need to.
  • Exercise – A powerful and effective way to make you feel tired, as physical exercise will tire your muscles and body encouraging your body to naturally nod off. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to run a marathon everyday, but you’ll be guaranteed a comfortable nights sleep if you complete any gentle exercise beforehand.
  • Caffeine – The morning “pick-me-up” cup of coffee is all well and good, but drinking caffeine later in the day can seriously affect your sleeping patterns in the evening.  Instead of coffee, why not try a warming cup of lemon & ginger with a teaspoon of honey for sweetness. If you absolutely need coffee or tea, go for the decaf!

Taking a Healthy Catnap

It was reported last week by American researchers that napping can help lower your blood pressure and generally improve the health of your heart. The effects of a nap were even more significant for those who did not get enough night-time sleep.

An African Wild Cat Takes a Quick Nap

Other research carried out in Greece also found that the participants who took at least three, half hour catnaps per week were found to have a 37% lowered risk of suffering a heart related death.  Research from the University of California, Berkeley found that participants taking a 90 minute nap during the day performed better in a mental test than those who did not. In fact, it was found that this 90 minute nap helped repair and store short-term memories, while increasing the brain’s ability to absorb new information. It seems that after the nap your brain is ready to receive and process additional data more readily.

However, is there an art to cat-napping?

How long should I catnap?

6 Minutes: A 2008 German study found that this is enough time to start processing short-term memories to help clear “space” for new information.

20 Minutes: With a twenty minute power nap you go through the first 2 stages of the sleep cycle. When you wake up you will see an improvement in your alertness, concentration and mood level. In fact, even if you don’t fall asleep during this twenty minutes, your relaxed state of mind will still prove to be beneficial.

40 Minutes: A 40 minute nap will provide big benefits if you didn’t get a good nights sleep. This will put you into the REM sleep stage where the brain undergoes a clearing-out and sorting process. Sleep therapist, Dr Narina Ramlakhan at the Capio Nightingale Hospital in London says that “Evidence shows that napping for this amount of time is also enough to rebalance the immune system and pep up energy levels.”

90+ Minutes: Obviously, most people don’t have the time to take a 90+ minute nap during the day. Sleeping for between 90-180 minutes will take you through all the sleep stages and will also result in bodily repairs.

When should I catnap?

This will depend on your sleeping pattern. Typically, your body will release higher levels of melatonin between 1pm-3pm with a peak during the night when you sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that helps relax the body ready for a state of sleep.

If you go to bed early and wake up early then a good time to cat-nap would be around 1pm. Alternatively, if you are a night-owl and tend to go to sleep after midnight then a nap around 2:30pm would be preferable.

For more information check out the Daily Mail.

Top Tips for getting the perfect nights sleep

Have you ever experienced the anxiety of not being able to fall asleep and knowing you will pay the consequences the next day? You may find that your sleep is disturbed, possibly by nightmares; you wake up too early or are simply struggling to fall asleep.

Recent research in the European Heart Journal suggests that the inability to sleep well can lead to a heightened risk of heart disease or stroke. The Healthy Hideout looks at a few of the 89 sleep disorders and gives ideas to help you start enjoying a good night’s sleep once more.

Tossing & Turning

Possible Cause: Temperature

The temperature of both your bed and bedroom can have a big effect on whether you toss and turn in the night. Dr Neil Stanley, an expert with sleep says: “Our bodies follow a strong natural rhythm, rising in temperature through the day and falling overnight.”

“At around 3am we have the biggest dip and anything that makes it difficult for us to lose heat at that point will cause disturbed sleep.”

If you set your central heating to a warm feeling 21C then during the night you may find that you toss and turn in an effort to get cooler. Women who are going through their menstrual cycle may also find that hot flushes cause a similar waking to try to cool the body.

Why not try:

Turn off your central heating earlier in the evening or set your thermostat to be cooler during the night. Dr Stanley says that the ideal temperature under the covers should be around 29C with the bedroom being about 16C allowing heat to be easily lost through the head. Also, make sure you do not overheat your bed with an electric blanket or hot water bottle.

Grogginess when getting up

Possible Cause: Oversleeping or a change in your sleeping routing

Your body loves routine so it can prepare itself for the day ahead. Dr Neil Stanley says “The body craves regularity and wants to get up at the same time every day. It prepares for waking an hour beforehand, But it can only prepare if it knows when you’re going to get up.”

During the night your body will suppress the creation of urine so as to minimize the need to get up during the night. Similarly, gastric juices start to flow when you wake in the morning to prepare you for breakfast.

Why not try:

 

Try to keep a regular sleeping pattern by not sleeping in late at weekends. It is best if you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This way your body can get into a routine and kick start the production of certain hormones at the optimum time. Oversleeping can also throw your body’s natural sleeping rhythm.

You struggle going to sleep early

Possible Cause: Natural body clock

Your body will fall into a natural sleeping routine that becomes habitual. Your body will also be affected by day light. When the body senses sunlight then melatonin is shut down in the body so that you feel more awake. Conversely, the lack of daylight can lead to the creation of melatonin to help you feel sleepy.

Why not try:

Lower the light in the room a little earlier when you are getting ready to go to sleep. This lowered level of light and the release of melatonin can help you get to sleep more easily. Slowly relearn to wake up earlier and if possible let the daylight wake you up.

Waking too early

Possible Cause: Insomnia due to stress or environmental factors

It is unlikely that you will wake up in the first 3 hours of your sleep when you enter a deeper sleep state. However in your latter sleep stages you may be woken more easily and environmental factors or noises may cause you to wake. It is likely that unusual noises are more prone to cause you to wake early.

Another possible cause is insomnia that can be induced by stress. In fact a symptom of stress can be early waking.

Why not try:

Dr. Stanley points out : ‘the big caveat is that if you feel fine during the day then whatever’s happening isn’t a problem.’ Environmental factors or noises may be reduced with a sleeping mask or ear plugs. If you believe your early rising is stress related then ask your local GP for further advice.

For more information and other sleep disorders please see the Mail Online.

10 ways to unwind this Christmas!

As the Christmas period starts to swing into full flow, our lives will start to become increasingly busier, often forgetting that our bodies and minds need time to stop, unwind and relax.

Relax this festive season!

Relax this festive season!

We know that the Christmas shopping needs to be done, family visits need to be organised and penciled into the diary, and Christmas menus need to be planned.  Why not try a few of the Healthy Hideout’s top 10 ways to unwind this festive month;

  1. Have some quiet time – Before continuing with anything after arriving home from the office, be sure to spend at least 5 minutes sitting in a quiet place to relax your mind. Close your eyes and breath deeply during this time. It will allow your mind to empty the stress of the working day.
  2. Make the work commute fun – Enjoy this time by yourself in the car or on the train doing something you enjoy. Why not try taking your favourite novel to work and reading through a few chapters, or perhaps listen to a few of your favourite musical numbers. You could even throw in a few Christmas classics for good measure!
  3. Write things down – If you have too many things on your mind, or are trying to juggle too many tasks, grab a pen and notepad and start to jot things down. Give yourself a quick time frame for each task, and then work through them one step at a time. There’s simply no point in trying to remember 100 things at once!
  4. Tidy your home – Clutter around the house can quickly become overwhelming, and can often make you feel like you’re out of control. Take a few minutes each day to tidy away any mess, and try to keep on top of general cleaning bit by bit.
  5. Leave work, at work – Try to avoid bringing any work from the office to your home. Mixing your working life with the comforts of your home can quickly become stressful. If you must bring work home, try to limit yourself to just a few nights a week.
  6. Drop it at the front door – Get yourself a container or box large enough to hold your work bag or office brief case and place it next to the front door. When you get in from work, put it all in the box and don’t touch it until the next working day.
  7. Take a bath – The bathroom is often one room in the house with a catch or lock on the door. Run yourself a nice hot bath, lock the door and escape for at least 1 hour. It’ll do wonders for your stress.
  8. Spread your chores – Try not to pack all your “must-do” chores into a single evening. Try doing the laundry one evening, followed by Christmas shopping the next night. Spreading the load makes it easier to handle.
  9. Recognise the ritual – Set yourself a standard “start to the evening” that you’ll look forward to at the end of each day. Even if it’s something as simple as a cup of tea at the dining table. At this point, you know your evening has officially begun.
  10. Play it loud – Playing enjoyable fun music throughout your home, lifts both you and your families spirits! A few sing-along Christmas carols can’t hurt now can they?

With these tips, you’ll find the uncountable stress of Christmas becoming easier to manage. Remember this is the season to be jolly, and Christmas is meant to be enjoyed. How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Is your Christmas tree up yet?

5 Top Ways to beat SAD

With winter quickly on the approach and evenings getting darker, some of us will begin to feel the winter blues. Officially branded as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it seems none of us enjoy waking up in the dark for a day in the office or heading home whilst driving in the pitch black.

Here are the Healthy Hideout’s top 5 ways to beat the affects of SAD:

  1. Sleeping patterns – It’s important to try and get your body into a consistent sleeping pattern throughout the week including the weekends. Although it’s nice to have a lie in, repeatedly hitting the “snooze” button on Saturday morning may leave you feeling lethargic and more tired when the next working week arrives.
  2. Light therapy – Reduced exposure to natural light has been known to cause a chemical imbalance inside the brain which can leave us in a depressed mood along with a sense of fatigue and irratability. One unique suggestion is to invest in a “seasonal light box” for the side of your bed, which mimics the suns rise a little earlier, in the comfort of your own bed. There are many sizes and options available so you’re bound to find one that will suit your needs best.
  3. Food – The summer leaves many of us encouraged by the flurry of fresh fruit and veg available at that time of year. Try and keep your intake of fruit and veg up throughout the winter period, and maintain a healthy intake of complex carbs such as wholegrain rice, pasta and bread. The added sustenance will keep your energy levels high throughout the day.
  4. Exercise – Regular exercise produces endorphins – we all know this. Many of us will start to sway away from our regular exercise routines as the temperature begins to drop, but try to maintain them and your body will thank you for it. Many studies have shown how physical workouts can help improve sleep and muscle tension. If it helps, try moving your workout so that it takes place during the few daylight hours that we have – It’ll help lift your mood!
  5. Laugh it up! – Socialising is easily one of the best ways to help beat SAD. Meet up with friends on a regular basis, and don’t sit at home being a couch potato under a blanket. Laughter has been known to produce many psychological benefits, boosting your immune system and lowering the effects of stress. Coupled quite perfectly from the phrase “a happy worker is a productive worker,” you may find yourself quickly changing your attitude to winter.

Let’s end with a favourite to get us all smiling:

This is a Stick up!

This is a Stick up!

For more information on SAD, here’s a great book to get your hands on:

Increase your energy levels!

With winter continuing strong and snow falling all around the UK,  it’s important to not let your energy levels dip throughout the day. By maintaining certain aspects of your day to day life, you can ensure you feel good from morning until night. Below are a few of our top tips towards feeling great;

  • Drink plenty of water – Two-thirds of the body is made from water, so it makes sense to ensure you’re well hydrated throughout the day. Joints, eyes and the digestive system are the first to benefit as the body works constantly to flush out toxins and other unwanted materials. Although we receive a lot of water from the food we eat, it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, in many cases between 6 – 8 glasses. In you are participating in heavy exercise, sauna use, or similar you obviously need to compensate for increased water loss. If you feel that you are struggling to concentrate, thirsty or have dark coloured strong-smelling urine, there is a strong chance you may be dehydrated.
  • Eat well –  The importance of what we eat and when we eat can have a huge impact on how we feel throughout the day. Supplements should not be needed if you manage to maintain a healthy balanced diet, providing you’re fit and healthy, but sometimes individuals do not get the recommended daily vitamin intake. Vitamin C is important for maintaining a strong immune system.
  • Exercise – When we do exercise, our bodies release endorphins, boosting metabolic rates and increasing our overall energy levels. One of the worst things an individual can do is avoid exercise when they are feeling tired.
  • Sleep – The amount of sleep required can vary from person to person, with factors such as age and activity levels coming into play. The common requirement for most is between 7 – 8 hours per day, even though many of us fail to get even this. Try to familiarise your body with a routine, by going to bed a similar time each night. A good tip is to take a bath before bed allowing your mind to switch off from work or exercise. Ensure your bedroom is at the right temperature free from light, noise and other stimulants such as TV or computers.
  • Relax – Stress and anxiety can cause fatigue on our bodies without us even knowing about it. Taking as little as 10 minutes of each day to clear your mind and relax the body can have substantial benefits on your health long term. Along with relaxing in the bath, utilise other means of relaxation such as having a massage or using a personal infrared sauna. All can help contribute in giving yourself a chance to relax.