How sleep deprivation is affecting our normal thoughts and behaviours

Talking to imaginary pets, crying in the supermarket because they sold out of yoghurt and getting in the shower fully clothed are among some of the strangest things people have done when sleep deprived, according to a new poll carried out by natural health company BetterYou.

The survey of 358 people from across the UK found that poor quality of sleep was a common problem, with more than half (53%) claiming they struggled to nod off.

It also revealed that more than 60% of people take longer than 30 minutes to fall to sleep.

Almost all (95%) respondents said they have felt sleep deprived at some point in their lives. Of these, nearly one in four said they feel sleep deprived every day.

According to the poll, between three and six o’clock in the afternoon is when people feel the most tired, with 7% of people confessing to falling asleep in the workplace.

Binge-eating, being forgetful and hallucinating were common behaviours experienced when sleep deprived, with 14% of people putting strange household items in the fridge, including keys and kettles.

The survey asked how people would spend an extra hour in the day and 43% said they would spend it asleep or relaxing. Reading and exercising were also popular responses.

According to Better You, poor sleep can have a significant impact on both mental and physical health and drowsiness, stress, poor short-term memory and weight gain are all common indicators of this.

Magnesium deficiency can be one of the main factors affecting the quality of sleep we are able to achieve.

BetterYou founder and managing director Andrew Thomas said: “The body needs magnesium to maintain a state of complete rest. Low levels of this essential mineral can lead to restless muscles that keep us awake at night.

“It’s a known fact that we don’t get enough magnesium from our daily diet. Seven in 10 of us suffer from low levels so supplementation has become a necessity for modern lifestyles.”

BetterYou has developed a new Magnesium Sleep Mineral Lotion, which is a fast-acting natural remedy, clinically proven to provide a better night’s sleep.



New parent survival tips for a good night’s sleep

With September now officially the busiest birthing month of the year, the Sleep Council is offering some tips for new parents as part of its Sleeptember campaign.

According to the Office of National Statistics, over the past decade eight of the top 10 birthdays fall in September, with September 26 the most popular birthday of the year.

“Our Sleeptember campaign this year is focusing on children’s sleep but the arrival of a new baby can be tough on parents’ own sleep routines,” says Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council. “And it can be particularly difficult for mums who breastfeed as it’s a role their partners can’t share.”

“So while broken nights are almost inevitable, there are things you can do to help you cope, as well as setting early routines to teach newborns the difference between day and night. The most important thought to hang on to is that by the age of three months, many babies can sleep at least five hours at a time. By six months, night time stretches of nine to 12 hours are possible!”

Here are some tips on surviving those first few weeks:

• Sleep when your baby sleeps. Although they may wake frequently in the night, new born babies cram in lots of sleep during the day – so sleep when they do! Turn off the phone and turn a blind eye to all those chores: they can wait.

• Try to keep baby alert and active in the daytime and create a calmer atmosphere in the evening. Switch to lower lighting, quieter voices and reduce background noise such as TVs to help to establish the difference between day and night time routines and promote longer periods of sleep through the night.

• Share the night time wake-up calls. Harder to do if you are breast feeding, but even then your partner can help out by bringing baby to you and handling the nappy changes. If bottle feeding, take the duties in turn.

• Don’t be tempted to keep baby in bed with you. It’s OK to bring your baby into your bed for feeding – but really important that they are returned to their cot when you’re ready to go back to sleep. It may seem an easier option in the short term but can create other problems in the longer run.

• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When family or friends visit during the first few weeks, cast the usual social niceties aside and ask if they’d mind watching baby while you grab a quick nap. They’ll understand and hopefully be happy to help.

• Learn to accept help. Don’t be tempted to ‘prove you can manage’ – if people offer help, take it! Give them a job to do – even something as simple as watching the baby while you wash your hair or have a leisurely bath.

• Prepare for sleep. Caring for a newborn baby can leave you feeling so exhausted that you expect to be able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat – only to find you can’t. If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure your environment is suited for sleep. Get rid of ‘electronic distractions’ (the TV, laptop/notepad, mobile phone etc) and keep your bedroom cool and dark. In addition, don’t get too hung up about falling asleep. If you’re not nodding off within a reasonable amount of time, get up and do something else until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.

• Treat yourself to a great new bed. When sleep is in short supply, it’s more important than ever to make sure your bed is comfortable and supportive and an aid to restful sleep, whenever you manage to take it. If your bed is old and grotty, a new bed could be the best investment you make this year!

• Watch those hormones! Sleep deprivation can lead to mood changes at a time when hormones are already in overdrive which, in turn, can lead to the ‘baby blues’. So if you have any concerns about mood levels or a real and on-going sleep problem, consult your healthcare provider. Identifying and treating any underlying conditions can help you get the rest you need. Making sure you get a good level of sleep – even if it is more broken than usual – will help you take the best care of your baby.

National Office of Statistics’ ‘How popular is your birthday’ shows that if births were evenly distributed throughout the year, the average would be around 1,800 births each day. The average number of births on September 26 was around 2,000.


10 ways to look after yourself when you’re stressed

According to research, four out of five British adults feel stressed during a typical week, while nearly one in 10 feel stressed all the time.

And when we’re stressed, it’s really easy to let things slide. We’re prone to lapse into poor sleeping patterns, make bad diet choices, and suffer from low mood and bad skin.

But, according to the experts, there are ways we can stay on top of things when it comes to wellbeing – even when we’re stressed.

  1. Eat little and often

“Balancing blood sugar is essential in lowering stress because the crashes in sugar levels (which happen through the day due to going long periods without food and not eating the right foods) stimulate the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to be released,” says nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, who is the author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar.

“Make sure you have a small meal every 2-3 hours that contains protein (eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid-morning and one mid-afternoon).

“Have a hard-boiled egg, 10-12 almonds, a small can of tuna and brown rice, for example. This will stop those roller-coaster highs and cravings for sweet foods. Because your blood sugar isn’t allowed to drop, your body will no longer have to ask you for a quick fix. As your blood sugar steadies, so will your mood swings – reduced adrenaline levels will automatically make you feel happier and calmer inside and feel less stressed.”asparagus-2169305_1920

2) Increase your intake of omega-3s

“To help prevent life getting so stressful, you need omega-3s – especially DHA  (Docosahexaenoic Acid),” says nutrition and weight loss coach Pippa Campbell.

“You won’t get the same mood boost from the omega-3s (Alpha-Lipoic Acid or ALA) in flax, walnuts and soy though, so eat about two servings a week of wild salmon or other oily fish.

“In addition, research shows that people who take a daily omega-3 supplement (containing DHA and EPA or Eicosapentaenoic Acid ) reduce their anxiety by up to 20 percent.”

3) Try ‘medium’ breathing

“Deep breathing is more like yoga breathing, which is fine for a yoga class but if you are stressed you can end up over-breathing and feeling dizzy,” says Pippa.

“I call medium breathing 4-1-6 breathing. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 1 second and breathe out for 6 seconds. Really try and breathe so that you can see your belly filling with air. Try and practise this even when you are not stressed as it can take some practice to make your ‘out’ breath longer than your ‘in’ breathe.  Do this for 5 minutes whenever you can.”happiness-1866081_1920

4) Get your heart rate up

“If you feel like you can’t escape your worries, it could be worth leaving the house and getting your heart rate pumping,” suggests nutritionist and fitness instructor Cassandra Barns.

“Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which make us feel happy and relaxed afterwards. Getting enough exercise can also help us sleep better, which then helps us cope with stress.

“However, if you’re very stressed, take care with the types and duration of exercise you choose. It may be best to avoid endurance exercise such as long-distance running, or very high intensity exercise such as spinning classes – unless these involve short intervals of high intensity with longer periods of rest. Intense exercise can have a net effect of raising your levels of stress hormones and making you more anxious, stressed and tired.

“Good types of exercise to go for can include weight training, interval training with longer periods of rest, moderate intensity aerobic-type exercise such as cycling, team sports where there is a good element of enjoyment too, or relaxing exercise such as certain types of yoga.”

5) Eat more protein 

Research from the Association of Comprehensive Neurotherapy has found that increasing your protein intake can help to alleviate feelings of anxiety. Tryto include protein with every meal and add protein-rich snacks to your diet, such as Greek yoghurt, eggs, almonds and tuna. To get an extra boost of protein, Natures Plus Vegan Power Meal is a great addition to your morning smoothie. eggs-1467286_1920

6) Get more sleep

“A good night’s sleep can be a great stress-reliever,” says Cassandra. “Unfortunately, of course, sleeping well can be easier said than done when you’re already stressed or anxious. Do what you can to get to bed early enough to get seven to eight hours’ sleep, make sure your bedroom is a calming environment, and set up a good wind-down routine in the evening, such as taking a warm bath.

“Take a magnesium supplement in the evening too. Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as it’s associated with calming and relaxing properties – it may help you sleep as well as cope better with stress.”woman in bed

7) Keep a bedtime journal

“Keep a journal by your bed where you can write down what you need to do the next day at least an hour before bed,” adds Marilyn. “The aim is to stop the dialogue in your head which can end up stopping you from getting off to sleep or else waking you up in the middle of night remembering something that has to be done the next day.”

9) Have a good laugh

“Having a laugh is one of the best remedies for stress – it triggers healthy changes in our body,” says Marilyn. “Many studies show that laughter boosts our energy, decreases stress hormones, improves immunity and diminishes pain. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals that make us happier and relaxed.”smile-2928326_1920

10) Take control

“If you feel the symptoms of stress coming on, learn to get your priorities right,” Marilyn suggests. “There is nothing in your life right now more important than your health.”

“Learn to say no if you feel that you have taken on too much. Being assertive is invigorating and empowering. It also helps to make lists of what is or is not a priority and to tackle the priority tasks first. This will help give you a sense of control over your life.”


Is your mattress doing you more harm than good?

Sleep is incredibly important for us all. It doesn’t just make you feel more refreshed, but also proves advantageous to both your physical and mental wellbeing. However, as the average person spends more than a third of their lives in bed, could our precious sleep be put at risk without knowing it, simply by what we’re sleeping on?

Here, Michal Szlas, CEO of bed-in-a-box mattress retailer OTTY Sleep, takes a look at the life of a mattress and explores whether it’s actually doing us more harm than good.

According to reports by industry experts, a mattress should be replaced every seven to ten years. Anything longer, and you’re likely to suffer from a number of issues that will negatively affect your health and wellbeing.

But, despite the warning, we often encounter people who have become personally attached to their mattresses, and despite its longevity, they just haven’t got around to changing it, or in some cases simply aren’t ready to replace it.

As old mattresses begin to wear out, they can start to sag in places or develop bumps and lumps, which reduces the support the mattress provides, often leaving you to sleep in an awkward, uncomfortable position. This will ultimately result in pressure being applied to incorrect areas of the body, and time goes on, it leaves you suffering from a host of pains and niggles – especially in your back and neck. Quite a few people put these aches down to their own age; not many correlate the pain to the inadequate support given by the mattress.[8587]_OTTY_Matrass_Roomset_[MAIN_02]_v2_01_CR_UK

And even if your mattress looks ok from the outside and still gives you a relatively decent night’s sleep, the chances are it’s not all right on the inside.

Without trying to put you off your mattress for life, the average person sheds a pound of skin per year, with the average adult losing almost 300ml of moisture per night. As you’ve probably guessed, your mattress attains most of this, with the moisture making your mattress the perfect breeding ground for all kinds of nasties, including forms of bacteria and allergy-triggering dust mites.

While these are unlikely to cause you life-threatening harm, they can often lead to a number of illnesses ranging from skin infections to an exacerbation of asthma conditions, which would prove hugely problematic for the 21m asthma and allergy sufferers currently residing in the UK.

Away from pains and ailments, an old mattress might just simply give you a bad night’s sleep. Most mattresses are specially designed to give you a restful night, and often regulate your body’s temperature to keep you cool and comfortable, even in the hot, stuffy months.

Over time, older mattresses become compressed due to wear and tear and prevent air circulating throughout. Ultimately, once compacted, you become prone to a sweaty sleep, which disrupts your sleeping pattern and often results in a struggle to get the required eight hours. While you think a lack of sleep might just make you feel a little grouchy the next day, recent studies have linked a lack of sleep to an increase in stress and mental health illnesses.

Research conducted by the University of Glasgow looked at data collected from more than 90,000 UK-based people, and concluded that a disruption to your circadian rhythm can lead to an increased possibility of developing mood disorders and lower levels of happiness. If this occurs on a regular basis, it can put your mental health at risk.

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Michal Szlas of OTTY Sleep

A lack of sleep is also linked to a rise in stress levels. Sleep and stress may be a chain reaction-like bond with the latter causing a lack of rest, but a good night of sleep halts the production of stress hormones – consequently, if we don’t get enough sleep, our body will continue to reproduce these hormones.

Again, a small study in 2009 saw 59 people tested after spending 28 nights on a new mattress. Results proved that stress levels significantly decreased following the four-weeklong test, as the participants felt less worried, less nervous and less restless as a result of a better kip.

The rise of the internet and the increase of online retailers, such as OTTY Sleep, has made purchasing a mattress easier, and more cost effective, than ever before. Mattresses bought online often come with a ten-year guarantee, and a 100-night trial, allowing the sleeper to test the mattress before making the final decision.

But, despite the mattress purchasing process being easier and simpler than ever, there’s still a few out there who don’t fully understand the importance of a new mattress, and are unaware that making the switch could prove crucial in helping you in getting a good night sleep, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.



Night owls at risk of dying sooner, reveals new research

‘Night owls’ who like to burn the midnight oil and have trouble getting out of bed in the morning could be at risk of dying sooner than those who go to bed early and rise with the sun.

That’s according to a study carried out on nearly half-a-million people by the University of Surrey and Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

The UK Biobank Study found that night owls have a 10% higher risk of dying than ‘larks’.

“Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies,” said co-lead author Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Previous studies in the field have focused on the higher rates of metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular disease, but this is the first to look at mortality risk.

“This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored,” said Malcolm von Schantz,  Professor of Chronobiology at the University of Surrey.

“We should discuss allowing evening types to start and finish work later, where practical. And we need more research about how we can help evening types cope with the higher effort of keeping their body clock in synchrony with sun time.”

“It could be that people who are up late have an internal biological clock that doesn’t match their external environment,” Knutson said.

“It could be psychological stress, eating at the wrong time for their body, not exercising enough, not sleeping enough, being awake at night by yourself, maybe drug or alcohol use. There are a whole variety of unhealthy behaviours related to being up late in the dark by yourself.”

As part of the research, scientists found that night owls had higher rates of diabetes, psychological disorders and neurological disorders.