February 2016

10 ways to add extra steps into your daily routine

10 ways to add extra steps into your daily routine

By | Fitness, Health & Wellbeing, Sleep Blog | No Comments

Walking is arguably one of the simplest and most accessible forms of exercise there is, but it is often overlooked as a form of exercise and finding time still remains a challenge for many people.

Most women in the U.K. don’t hit even half of the 10,000 recommended steps per day. But just think how setting yourself the challenge of walking 10,000 steps a day could improve your health, build stamina and burn excess calories.

We’ve come up with 10 easy ways to boost your step count each day.

1. Pace while you wait. 
There are so many daily tasks we do standing still. Move around during these tasks, and those steps will add up. Pace while you brush your teeth or wait for the kettle to boil – just in those two minutes, you’ll add up to 240 steps. You can even march in place while you are waiting in the queue for your coffee or lunch order, or waiting for your bus or train to arrive.

2. Stairs are your friends.
Avoid the lift or escalators and take the stairs. Adopting stair climbing as a daily habit is great for your overall health as it burns two to three times more energy than walking on the flat.

3. Take calls on the go.
Why sit down and chat when you could walk round the office, or even better get some fresh air and extra steps. A 10 minute phone call walking at a brisk pace will rack up 1000 steps without you even really noticing.

4. Have walking meetings at work.
As you probably spend as much as a third or more time at your place of work, this is a great place to seek out walking opportunities. Having walking meetings at work will get you up and moving, helping you wake up and stimulate your mind which often leads to greater creativity, concentration and conversation.

5. Buddy up.
Meet your friends for a chat and walk instead of hitting the coffee shop – walking and talking are perfect partners for an active catch up. And let’s face it, when you’re with your friends you’re bound to accumulate more distance than you would on your own.

6. Take your lunch break.
Make an effort to go out for a walk on your lunch break – you could take your lunch and walk to a more scenic location to eat it, or simply walk a few laps around your office building. Just twenty minutes of brisk walking will knock out 2000 extra steps.

7. Take the long way.
Try incorporating more walking in your daily work routine by walking to the toilets on a different floor, or walking the long way round to the water cooler or kitchen. You could even visit co-workers instead of calling them to get those extra steps around the office.

8. Park further away.
Parking further away from the office, supermarket or gym provides two great opportunities to clock up more steps as you walk from and then back to your car. If you’re not a car driver, then try getting on and off the bus a stop or two before your destination to boost those steps.

9. Go window shopping.
If it’s a rainy day, window shopping at your local shopping centre is a great way to get those extra steps. With all those beautiful displays to distract you, you won’t even notice the time or distance.

10. Take a walk with your children, partner, friend or dog after dinner.
What a great way to end your day by spending time with the ones you love whilst getting out in the fresh air. Walking after dinner can improve your wellbeing by aiding digestion, improving blood circulation, boosting metabolism and inducing sleep.

Slumberland-sleep-hacks

Your Sleep Guide

By | Health & Wellbeing, Sleep Blog | No Comments

If you are having a hard time falling asleep and find yourself awake for long periods at night, then it may be time to rethink your bedtime routine.

We are all guilty at times of scrolling through our newsfeeds, checking our emails – not to mention those back-to-back episodes on Netflix til the early hours! But when are brains are consumed with work, stress or life in general it makes falling to sleep a huge task.

When people say they want to get healthier, they often focus on just two things; eating better and exercising more. But prioritising quality sleep is also a vital part of any health routine. Here’s your guide to getting the best sleep you’ve ever had.

Wake up at the same time every day:

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One of the most important factors in getting quality sleep is the consistency of your sleep schedule. Waking up at roughly the same time each day keeps your circadian rhythm—the body’s internal clock—in sync. This is key, because your circadian rhythm is the natural process that regulates feelings of sleepiness throughout the day. Unfortunately, that means it’s not ideal to sleep in on the weekends or stay up too late. Changing your sleep schedule just one or two days a week throws off your body’s internal clock to a similar degree that jet lag does.

Avoid caffeine after midday:

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With caffeine being a stimulant, drinking coffee later in the day can generally interfere with your sleep and body clock. According to Dr Ananya Mandal, the time it takes for the average person to get rid of just half the caffeine in their system is about five to seven hours. With that said, we definitely suggest sticking to the morning cups of coffee only and avoiding caffeine after lunch.

Cool down your room:

ideal sleep temperature
Did you know the temperature of your room can make or break your slumber? Being too hot can cause restlessness, so if your room is cool you have a better chance of falling asleep quickly. Sleep scientists suggest the ideal room temperature for sleeping is 18.5°C (65°F), and about 65% humidity.

Switch off your gadgets:


Put down your mobile phone, tablet and laptop – even turn off the TV – at least one hour before bed and instead read a book or do some guided meditation to help you wind down properly.  The blue light emitted by these gadgets restrain the production of melatonin, the chemical which makes you sleepy, not only making it more difficult for you to get to sleep, but making your quality of sleep worse.

Take a bath:

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A bath before bedtime has been shown to increase sleep quality. According to Professor Richard Wiseman, University of Hertfordshire, “lying in a warm bath artificially raises your body temperature, but when you climb out of the bath this temperature abruptly drops and sends a signal to your body that you are ready for sleep”. There’s never been a better excuse for a wind-down in the tub.

Write down your worries:

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The moment you get into bed is often rife with worries and thoughts as your brain starts to make connections you didn’t have time to process throughout the bustle of the day. Of course stress and worries at night means sleep disturbances as cortisol, an adrenal hormone is raised during times of stress. Rather than having your mind whizzing at 100 miles an hour before bed, it’s a good idea to write down any worries and anxious thoughts in a notebook before bed. Getting it off your mind and onto paper gives your brain an outlet, allowing your brain to wind down so you can fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.

Embrace the darkness:

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Light can delay the production of melatonin which is naturally produced as the day becomes darker, making it important to make your bedroom as dark as possible. To help block out the light and put you in the right mindset for sleep it’s worth investing in some blackout blinds or buying yourself an eye mask.

Valentine's Day

How to Create the Perfect Valentine’s Day Setting in Your Bedroom

By | Sleep Blog | No Comments

Is your boudoir Valentine’s Day-ready? If the pathway to your bed is an assault course of stagnant socks and manky mugs, trust us – it’s not going to aid you in the black art of seduction. You need to create an atmosphere of romance and passion – a haven to retreat to for a special evening that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

Do not despair, Cupid! Let’s get you back on track with a guide to creating the perfect Valentine’s Day setting in your bedroom:

Keep it Clean – The only thing you want your Valentine to be falling into is your bed, not next week’s laundry pile. First thing’s first, tidy up. Ottoman and divan bed owners have the advantage here, where a thousand sins can be hidden discreetly out of sight under your plump, supportive mattress. Clear out all-surface clutter, re-hang your clothes and give the carpet a good vacuum; extra points if you whip a can of polish out too.

Light of Your Life – Harsh lighting has no place in the bedroom, whatever the time of year. It plays havoc with your body clock – promoting wakefulness and leading to poor-quality sleep. At Valentine’s, it’s even more important to get it right; think soft flickering (and oh-so-flattering) candle light in mood-appropriate scents such as You Warm My Heart by Yankee Candle. (Extra bonus points… a well-chosen candle with a thoughtful name also doubles up as a romantic gift!)

Say It With Flowers – Red roses symbolise love, romance, beauty and perfection. They have been gifted on Valentine’s since the Victorian era – traditionally in bunches of 12. Place yours in a beautiful vase next to your bed on your partner’s side with a handwritten love note. Alternatively, a single rose stem – laid across your Valentine’s pillow – is a lovely touch. Popular delivery services are Interflora or Moonpig, or shop local and support your local florist.

Fashionable Fizz – Prosecco is ‘having a moment’. UK sales overtook Champagne for the first time in 2015 – tipping £338.6 million. It’s the cheaper, but no less tastier, way to enjoy sparkling wine – making it the perfect choice for Valentine’s Day. Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore Brut scored the highest in the supermarket Christmas 2015 taste test – retailing at just £15. That said, if your budget allows for it, Champagne will always be a timeless way to make a classy Valentine’s statement. Keep it chilled within easy reach and serve in flutes.

Food of Love – If your Valentine is sweet-toothed, a box of gorgeous chocolates placed on the bedside table will always be a great way to say ‘I love you’. Thorntons offer a personalised service so you can make your gift totally unique (a special pet name or even a proposal!). Fancy something quirky? Hotel Chocolat’s Love Potions gift box are designed to cast a spell on someone special!

Make Beautiful Music – Step away from LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know It – and don’t even think about bringing out the Barry White big guns (unless your Valentine is a massive fan)! More modern musical seduction choices include Ellie Goulding’s cover of Your Song by Elton John (which she sang at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding no less!) or The Bones of You by Elbow, which was voted in the top 101 song choices for first dances.

Perfect Petals – Feeling artsy? It’s a final flourish often associated with honeymoon hoteliers, but one you can replicate at home… Scattered rose petals (fresh, dried or silk) on your bedding are a Valentine’s show-stopper. For maximum points, go for the full-on heart-shaped effect. Two packs is sufficient for a Queen-sized bed; three for a King.

What are your favourite ways to create a special atmosphere in your bedroom? Comment below so we can share the love!

Guest Blog Credit:  www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Treating the England rugby team: former club doctor on the importance of sleep

By | Fitness, Sleep Blog | One Comment

Sports physician Dr Phil Batty, former team doctor to the England Rugby team and Manchester City F.C, talks to us about the role that sleep plays in physical health.

Whoever you’re rooting for at the Six Nation’s this year, it’s difficult not to be impressed by the athleticism of all the players. What health advice would you be giving the players during the lead up?

Players are screened when they go into the England camp and this often consists of a brief enquiry regarding health and any injury issues. At this time of year blood tests may be performed, specifically looking at any Vitamin D deficiency that may have developed over the course of the winter. Clubs are very good at managing this generally, and it is now rare to find that a player has the deficiency.

The team will be together 24/7 for the next few weeks. Nutrition is important and there should be a good balance in the diet, especially with the correct protein and fruit and vegetable intake.

Hygiene is vital when dirty and sweaty bodies are mixing, especially at a time when there are many viral injuries in the community. Washing hands before eating and even reducing shaking hands can help reduce viral spread.

The key message is work hard, take the correct fuel, early reporting of any injury or illness and recover well between sessions.

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(Dr Phil Batty with Courtney Lawes during England’s Six Nations visit to Paris in 2014)

Here at Slumberland we know the importance of sleep as a part of a healthy lifestyle. How much sleep do you recommend to athletes for the ultimate performance?

For a player, being in the England camp is the greatest honour and most exciting time of their professional life. Nonetheless, it is physically and mentally demanding to prepare for test matches. There is demanding training, coaching and video analysis of sessions and forthcoming opponents.

Sleep is vital and possibly the most important aspect of recovery. Individuals vary in their sleep requirements and this is monitored by daily well being questionnaires that record the player’s perception of their sleep and wellness. It is not always a matter of the amount of sleep, but the quality of the sleep. This can be challenging when travelling to make sure the beds are large enough for some of the huge players!

 

We can definitely understand how the quality of your bed can affect your sleep. Slumberland mattresses are made with Affinity™ Foam, which is 30x more breathable than memory foam, so even well built rugby players will have a regulated body temperature for uninterrupted sleep.

If these players are sleeping badly, how will tiredness impact their body when in training?

It is very clear from my experience that a player will feel sluggish and suboptimal if they do not have their own sleep requirements and if this is sustained it will have an effect on match day performance and decision making. Sleep disturbance is a common issue for the doctor working in the camp. Rugby demands courage and commitment, but as Vince Lombardi said “fatigue makes cowards of us all”.

One of the challenges of playing matches away is that the team will usually spend the two previous nights in a different hotel and bed, and this is possibly an additional disadvantage for the away team.

Sleeping on a different bed to normal can affect the quality of your sleep, especially if it doesn’t offer you the correct support, which is why Slumberland mattresses come in three support levels, so you can find the comfort level to perfectly suit you.

 

As you must know first-hand, Rugby Union injuries can be punishing – do people underestimate the role that sleep plays in the recovery process?

I am always mindful that if a treatment compromises sleep, it possibly will do more harm than good! It is well known that sleep is an important part of recovery from injury. It is important to get pain under control in order to facilitate that recovery and help the heeling process. Players are anxious at the time of injury and it is important to reassure them when you can in order that they do not lie awake worrying. There are many times I have sent a player to bed early and his pain and swelling have been hugely improved.

Sleep is so important in recovery from concussion, a common rugby injury of increasing concern, and the return to play protocol is often prolonged if the player cannot rest and sleep.

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(Dr Phil Batty with colleague Marco Zanobbi in Harley Street Clinic)

What are the optimum training hours you recommend to make sure athletes get the most from their bodies after a night’s sleep, but also making sure they are still able to wind down again before the evening?

I don’t think there is a set formula regarding training. It depends on the sport and current performance of the team! The coach has to set his priorities for the team and the training is always heavier at the start of the week and tapers towards match day. There needs to be a mix of training to include rugby specific work and strength and conditioning. The important issue is to ensure there is sufficient recovery between the sessions and the training is at the right time of the day following sleep. It is counterproductive in my view to do heavy weight training straight from getting out of bed as a player should have been up and about and have appropriate nutrition.

There is always a challenge following games as to what is the best recovery for the most physically demanding day. This can also be difficult depending on the time of kick off. Players rarely sleep well after a night game and my preference is to try to travel that night if possible and get players back into their own beds in order that they will sleep better

***

Dr Batty left England rugby in 2014 and has since been a Consultant Sports Physician at the Isokinetic Clinic in London, which is a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, offering world-class treatment for sports professionals.

Find out more about the Isokinetic Clinic.

Dr Batty knows the importance of a good nights sleep, and trusts his Slumberland mattress to help provide this.

 

(Header image credit: Paolo Bona / Shutterstock.com)

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