May 2016

travel

How To Get Good Sleep Whilst Travelling

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

Travelling can be highly rewarding, but there’s no doubt about it—long hours on the road and jet-lag can seriously hinder getting a good night’s sleep. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or spending the night on a friend’s sofa, a little preparation goes a long way. Here are our tips for getting a better night’s sleep whilst travelling:

1. Book smart
If you’re staying in a hotel, check out photos of the guest rooms before you leave. Look at the hotel website and check out its TripAdvisor reviews. See if your hotel is under renovation, if there’s construction nearby, or if it’s close to a busy street or noisy airport. Request a room in the quietest section of the hotel for example away from any bar or restaurant areas, entrance ways or lifts.

2. Pack smart
If you’re staying with family or crashing on the couch, obviously you can’t change where the bed is going to be. However you can pack smart by bringing your own pillow for comfort or your own bedding to make you feel more at home.

Bring an eye mask and ear plugs – they’re essential for blocking out any unwanted noise and light on aeroplanes, in hotels, and just about anywhere else you need a good night’s sleep. If you’re restricted on luggage space consider a travel pillow instead of your normal pillow as they’ll take up much less space and can help you sleep throughout your journey.

3. Bring your favourite comforts
Don’t forget the creature comforts that will help you relax and feel at home. If you hate walking barefoot on cold floors, pack your favourite slippers. If you enjoy a cup of tea before bed every night in your favourite mug, bring it along. If you love falling asleep to music, make sure you’ve downloaded your favourite tunes onto your phone. Anything to ease the feeling of being in a new environment and make you feel more at-home will help you get a better night’s sleep.

4. A relaxing scent
For many people, scents and fragrance are important. An annoying or overbearing smell such as an unfamiliar washing powder can throw you off and make it difficult to sleep. We suggest bringing along a lavender pillow spray or a travel bottle of your favourite scent to create a calming atmosphere that will help you fall asleep faster, sleep better and wake up refreshed.

5. Adjust to new time zones early on
It is important to adapt yourself to your new time zone as soon as possible to avoid jet-lag. If you are able to, we recommend to gradually adjusting your sleeping habits to your destination’s time zone several days before travelling. It may take your body a little while to adjust, however daylight can help reset your internal “clock.” Try taking a walk as soon as you get up in the morning because the exposure to sunlight will help your brain adjust to the new time zone.

Perfect Child's Bedroom

Five steps to creating the perfect child’s bedroom

By | Home Decor, Sleep Blog | No Comments

“Can I decorate my bedroom?” Four words that you, as a parent, may dread – particularly if your child’s taste is less Ideal Home and more ‘dinosaurs on the rampage’. Taking it as a positive, it’s a sure-fire indicator that your little angel is rapidly growing up and wanting to express their identity (even if that identity is ‘Disney Princess’ or ‘Spider-Man’). Here’s how you can attempt – and survive – a child’s bedroom makeover in five simple steps, with your smile more or less intact. Just remember to keep a bottle of something chilled on ice, so mummy and daddy can celebrate too!

1. Set a budget: Be realistic about what you can afford to spend in total and then allocate proportionate funds for a bed, paint, wall and floor coverings, soft furnishings (including bedding) and decorative items. Include a modest contingency fund for unexpected costs. Top tip: Boost your funds by selling unwanted clothes and toys on auction sites such as eBay, or on local online forums. Search for old furniture on sites such as Freecycle and Freegle that’s suitable for upcycling with a lick of paint.

2. Involve your child: Empower them to help you with a clear-out. Sort clothes and toys into three piles: those to keep, those to donate (or sell – see above) and those to be thrown away. Discuss what theme they would like their bedroom to have, and support them to narrow it down to a choice you’re also comfortable with. Unless they are very young, try to move away from specific fads and brands (e.g. Marvel Superheroes) to subject matters (e.g. science, space, the world, the sea), which have more longevity. Top tip: Use low-cost soft furnishings and peel-able wall decals to reflect the theme, as opposed to more expensive items such as wallpaper and floor coverings. Keeping your overall scheme neutral gives you more options to change things up more frequently.

3. Choose the right bed and bedding: Sleep is absolutely critical to childhood development; a well-manufactured bed is an investment in your child’s well-being. Cabin bed designs maximise your floor space, with room underneath for everything from play dens and storage, to a pull-out desk and chair. Princess carriage or racing car beds are every little girl or boy’s dream, while four-poster beds with billowing curtains all add to a ‘fairytale’ feel. Simple wooden or metal structures are fantastic for creating a clean, minimalist look, which allows bold accessories to stand out.

A mattress protector will prolong the life of your child’s mattress – especially if they are younger and prone to bedwetting. The right pillow is critical for good spinal health – keeping the neck aligned and supported throughout the night. Choose machine-washable duvets to keep your child’s bedding fresh and non-allergenic fillings to relieve common childhood conditions like asthma.

4. Planning: Set aside 24 to 48 hours for your makeover. If your budget allows for it, hire professionals who – in most cases – will be able to complete the job faster with minimal fuss. Plan to paint first, then lay down any floor coverings. Arrange for the children to go for a sleepover with friends or relatives (to massively reduce your stress levels), or to share a room elsewhere in the house. Clear out anything moveable to create maximum floor space. Ventilate the room after your makeover is complete to allow paint fumes to safely disperse.

5. Make healthy choices: Add a large mirror opposite the window to reflect light during daylight hours. Choose a study lamp, which promotes good visibility for homework after dark. For younger children, use dimmer switches to gradually build up to lights-out, as part of a managed sleep routine. Thick curtains that block out the light will help activate your child’s natural biorhythms – prompting restorative sleep. Provide plenty of storage options to keep toys and clutter safely out of sight – minimising slips and trips. For a fun project, support your child to make a photo montage of family, friends and happy memories. Display it prominently in their newly-made-over room as a subconscious reminder: ‘You are secure, wanted and loved’.

 

Guest Blog Contribution: http://www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

Image copyright of Shutterstock

Mental Health Awareness Week

How to Tell Someone Stress and Anxiety are Affecting Your Sleep

By | Health & Wellbeing, Sleep Blog | No Comments

Good relationships are fundamental to our mental health and well-being – that’s the important message of Mental Health Awareness Week (8th – 14th May 2017).

Being able to talk to your partner, family or friends about how stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions are impacting on the quality of your sleep is a positive step towards regaining control over your symptoms.

If you regularly share a bed with your partner, or want to enjoy fun, social times which may involve sleeping away from home, it’s important to be able to talk about how you feel so you can receive the love and support of those who care about you.

Here’s how you can start the conversation in a healthy, productive way:

1. Write it down: Put everything you plan to say down on paper and practice the conversation out loud. Think about how you may handle the situation if the person starts to cry or gets angry. This is a natural response and will not mean you have done anything wrong. It may be that they need to take time to process what you have told them. A good strategy, therefore, is to identify a second person close to you that you also feel you can talk with.

2. Do your homework: It is often upsetting to find out someone we love is unwell or not feeling their best self. Be prepared that the person you are confiding in may have questions about why you feel the way you do – some of which you might not be able to answer. Look up sources of support and information that you can signpost them to, where they can find out more about your condition. Mind’s Guide to Coping for Carers is a great place to start.

3. Find your comfort zone: One in four people will experience a mental health problem in the UK each year, yet it can still be really difficult to talk about it. What you feel comfortable divulging may change depending on who you are speaking to. It could be that you feel happier focussing on symptoms (e.g. “Sometimes at night-time, I get palpitations and it feels like I can’t breathe”) rather than labelling your condition (e.g. “I have anxiety disorder”). How much you choose to share is your decision; the more honest you feel you can be, the more likely it is that you will get the right level of support.

4. Choose the right person to tell: Does the person gossip or spread rumours? Do they handle their own emotions well? Are they having a hard time too? Do you find them to be judgmental or condescending? People who fit any of the above descriptors may not be the right person to tell – even if it’s a family member. Instead, choose someone who is discreet, trustworthy, reliable and non-judgemental.

5. Timing is key: Plan to have the conversation when you feel safe, secure and relaxed (preferably not near to bedtime if that triggers some of your symptoms). Make sure you will have plenty of time to talk at leisure; not when you’re about to rush off on the school run, or tired after a long day at work. Turn off the TV or radio and put your mobile phones on silent. Focus on quality time with no distractions.

6. Practical steps: When someone we love is having a hard time, it’s natural to want to help. Think about what practical steps you want your partner, family or friends to take to support you towards living life well. Examples could be helping you to cut back on caffeinated drinks before bedtime, running you a hot bath, looking after your children to give you a much-needed lie-in or supporting you at a doctor’s appointment, if you feel you need to speak with a healthcare professional.

7. Turn to the professionals: There are lots of groups and charities that have trained professionals who you can speak to if you need support from outside your close circle, or if your chat with your partner, family and friends doesn’t go to plan. These include the Mind Infoline (0300 123 393), Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line (0300 5000 927), Saneline (0845 767 8000) or the Samaritans (116 123).

Guest blog credit: http://www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

Image copyright of Shutterstock

Sleep To Exam Success

Sleep To Exam Success

By | Food & Drink, Health & Wellbeing, Sleep Blog | No Comments

A good night’s sleep may not be high on the agenda for many students, however memory function certainly is and according to research sleep is key to successful learning.

Research published by the Sleep Council, found that more than half of teenagers confessed to regularly cramming all their revision for an exam into one night.

Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council said: “Our research shows that a worryingly high number of teenagers are not getting as much sleep as they need to function and perform at their best in the build up to exams. They are sacrificing sleep to study when in fact they might be more mentally alert cramming in extra sleep rather than more revision.”

When a person is sleep-deprived they will not be able to focus their attention optimally and therefore will not learn new information efficiently.

Most people will recognise that on the days you sleep better you feel energised, stimulated and motivated and this is the ideal mental environment for those revising.

With a good night’s sleep the brain is able to process and retain new information over the long term because sleep has a crucial role in the consolidation of memory. This is when the brain backs up short-term patterns and creates long-term memories so you are able to recall information you have learnt more efficiently.

Professor Della Sala of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh says for those revising “it’s a good idea to learn something just before going to bed, and then let your brain do the work.”

If your teenager is battling the exam period and you are unsure of how you can help them find time for quality sleep, we’ve come up with some top tips to assist:

1. PREPARATION.

Help your teenager draw up a revision timetable of all the subjects they need to revise and when – and make sure they try and stick to it. This will help them use their time more efficiently; reducing stress and anxiety levels and avoiding that last minute cramming.

2. ENCOURAGE REST.

Revising in stages and getting enough sleep in-between sessions means your teenager will consolidate new information more effectively. A power nap of just 45 minutes can boost the memory by five times, research has found.

3. EAT WELL.

Stress eating throughout the exam period can seriously disrupt your teenager’s sleep. Encourage them to ditch the chocolate and crisps by keeping healthy, easy-to-eat snacks around such as nuts, yoghurt and bananas, which are all loaded with the sleep-inducing tryptophan.

Read more tips on foods to help you sleep.

5. LIMIT CAFFEINE.

Caffeine is a stimulant which can generally interfere with your sleep and body clock if consumed later in the day. Try to encourage your teenager to avoid all sources of caffeine from 2pm – this includes things like tea, chocolate, and fizzy drinks. They could opt for a caffeine-free herbal tea before bed such as camomile tea which has a sedative effect to help them sleep well.

6. PRIORITISE.

The sheer amount of revision to be done may sometimes seem overwhelming for your teenager. Help them set out priorities and break it down into manageable chunks. If they work on the most urgent topics first it will help reduce anxiety.

7. EXERCISE.

Your teenager will be spending a great deal of time on the computer or with their head in a book, so it’s important for them to take regular breaks to stay productive. Encourage them to exercise little and often throughout the exam period – just a simple walk to the shops can help them clear their head so that they return refreshed to their revision.

8. CLEAR MIND.

You may find your teenager worrying over revision and exams and this will often keep their brain active at night. Offer them a notebook to keep by their bed so that they can write thoughts down before sleeping. Meditation and breathing exercises can also help clear the mind ready for sleep.

9. SLEEP WELL.

Sleep is food for the brain. On average most teenagers only get around 7 hours of sleep a night, when they should be getting at least nine hours of sleep. Check your teenager has a good sleeping environment – ideally a room that is dark, cool and quiet (black out blinds may help during the summer). Ensure they are sleeping on a comfortable, supportive mattress to encourage quality sleep.

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