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Sleeping Soundly: Catch up with our #SleepBetter winner

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In May we ran a #SleepBetter campaign with Fitbit UK to highlight the importance of quality sleep and give one lucky person the chance to win a Slumberland kingsize mattress and two Fitbit Alta HR devices which track your sleep data.

We caught up with our winner Becky Powley three months later to find out how her prizes are improving her and her partner’s sleep – plus the cat’s!

Slumberland: Hi Becky, congratulations again on being our #SleepBetter campaign winner. We hope you and your partner have been enjoying your wonderful prizes!

Have you noticed a difference in the quality of your sleep since receiving your new Slumberland mattress and Fitbit devices?

Becky: Definitely, I was usually getting around 6 – 6 ½ hours sleep midweek before getting the new mattress, now it’s usually around 6 ½ – 7 hours midweek if not more. The bed is so much more comfortable I am definitely taking myself up to bed earlier – so even if I’m not sleeping I’m relaxing for at least an additional hour more before going to bed. I am also falling asleep much more quickly than on my old mattress, I used to regularly struggle to get to sleep, so that has also definitely improved!

Slumberland: Are you finding the sleep insights on your new Fitbit Alta HR useful?

Becky: So useful! Particularly when I’m feeling tired, it’s useful to see whether it’s because I’ve had less sleep than usual. I love the ‘bedtime reminder’ as it helps me stop what I’m doing and actually put time aside for sleep.

My other half also appreciates the alarm function – it vibrates on your wrist waking you up which is much less offensive than a traditional alarm noise in the morning!

Slumberland: Have you noticed from your Fitbit data a correlation between exercising more and getting better quality sleep?

Becky: I haven’t seen a huge difference between my sleep when I do or don’t exercise, but that might because I exercise almost every day so am probably always tired/recovering. I have however noticed how little I do move working in an office on those days where I don’t exercise!

Having a Fitbit has made me more aware of the pressures I put my body under when I do exercise and I am definitely more aware of making sure I am eating and sleeping enough when I’m training particularly hard!

Slumberland: Is your new Slumberland Melody mattress helping you achieve a better night’s sleep?

Becky: 100%. Both Rowan and I have said that the mattress is so supportive (neither of us are getting as many back aches and pains) and I also think I’m sleeping much more soundly, as I don’t remember the last time I woke in the night. When it’s a weekend and I know I can have a lie in (or even an afternoon nap!) I have no problems at all enjoying some extra hours of Zzzzz’s. It is so comfortable we have nicknamed the mattress ‘the cloud’!

Slumberland: How does this impact your day to day life?

Becky: It has actually impacted my day to day life much more significantly than I could have imagined! As my whole bedtime routine has changed because I actually look forward to going to bed now, I definitely feel more refreshed waking up, which in turn is making me happier generally.

Slumberland: Would you recommend a Slumberland mattress or Fitbit Alta HR to friends and family or both?

Becky:  With the mattress, I genuinely do not think we’d ever change from a Slumberland mattress now, I’d definitely recommend them to everyone. My sister is just about to move into her first home and I’ve said to her that the investment is definitely worth making! Again with the Fitbit devices I’d really recommend them, lots of my friends have different Fitbits so we really enjoy comparing our step and sleep data. I like my Alta HR particularly because I can get more in depth data because of the heart rate monitor.

A huge thank you!

Even the cat is loving the new mattress! :)

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Christmas with an Olympic athlete

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We catch up with our Healthy Sleep Ambassador, Katarina Johnson on how she’ll be spending this Christmas this year.

While we’re all snuggling up in our Christmas jumpers Katarina has to keep up her training and make sure her training suits the weather conditions.

It becomes more about life conditioning of the body. A lot of long runs to get the lungs going. A lot of drills to condition the body to move in the right way and also gym work to strengthen every single muscle in the body!

I don’t dread the cold weather this year because I’m in the sunny south of France!’

Illness and injury are always a risk in sport, with one cold or bout of the flu threatening to halt training programmes and push back progress.

‘I am quite careful and cautious when using gym facilities. I always take a hand gel with me everywhere and make sure I use it before my hands go anywhere near my mouth/face! Injuries in the winter are less common for me. It’s just about being sensible and speaking up to the coach if I’m feeling run down that week. I am aware of not pushing my body too far over the edge too – still working hard but finding the proper balance.

Sleep is so important, especially because I have started doing two sessions a day now. I have to have a 40-minute nap in-between sessions to recharge and allow my muscles to recover properly before starting again.’

Even at an Olympic level you have to be able to give yourself some time off (even if it’s just one day!) – so how will Katarina be spending Christmas?

‘I will be spending Christmas Day in my aunties house with my entire family. There are around 20 of us give or take. Thankfully I am not in charge of the cooking or hosting so I just show up and enjoy! There’s no real prolonged ‘time off’ for me. I will get Christmas Day off but you have to keep the body ticking over. The tracks tend to close over Christmas so it will be more runs in a local park or going the gym and less technical work.’

Kat’s dogs are her pride and joy – so what canine presents will she be treating them to this year?

‘I’ve already bought them little tartan bow ties to go around their collar. And probably just their favourite treats. My next door neighbour bought them a doggy selection box last year, which I thought was pretty cool.’

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Katarina’s Return from Rio

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Our Healthy Sleep Supporter and GB heptathlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, talks to us about her experience at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio where she missed out on a podium finish, but came away with a world record.

“I have mixed emotions about my performance in Rio. I cannot deny that I am disappointed with my overall performance as I did not achieve what I set out to do and what I believe I am capable of doing but I have to keep things in context. I’m still young and have time on my side – people keep reminding me, at my age Team GB greats such as Jess and Mo hadn’t competed in an Olympics so to be pushing for medals already is great; it is very clear to me what I have to work on to be standing on top of the podium as a World Champion in London 2017 and further ahead, Olympic Champion in Tokyo 2020; and I gave it my all which is what I demand of myself.”

Although Katarina didn’t get the gold that was in her sights, she’s learnt a lot from her time out in Rio and is taking a positive from her world record in the High Jump.

“I’m delighted to have jumped a world record for my event in the High Jump. Ironically, as many people highlight to me, my jump of 1.98m was higher than the jump that actually won the Olympic High Jump title. Although this is something to keep in mind for the future, I don’t spend much time thinking about it now – I love the heptathlon and I’m hugely proud to have competed for Team GB in an Olympic Games. The pride I get in representing my country is something that I cannot put into words and the support I always get is something that I cherish. I love competing in major competitions and in front of big crowds so it was great to set a new British and Olympic heptathlon High Jump record at an Olympic Games and I’m hopeful that there will be much more to come.”

After the games, Katarina took time out to enjoy the city and relax after a high-pressure situation.

“After my event, I tried to take in the sights of Rio. It is a beautiful city with stunning scenery which those that follow me on Instagram will know I enjoyed. Since Rio I’ve spent a bit of time back home seeing family and friends. I’m in the off season which is an important time to rest, relax and recharge the batteries which I have done. I am very fortunate to get to travel to various parts of the world to compete but there’s no place like your own bed!”

As much as Katarina enjoys her sleeping regime (around 10 hours a night!) Katarina is looking forward to getting back into her strict training schedule.

“I’m now starting to do a bit of light training as I will have to be back in full training towards the end of the month. The next major event for me is the London 2017 World Championships which I am really looking forward to. It will be back at the London Olympic Stadium which I seem to perform really well at each year and am really looking forward to giving my all to become a World Champion in front of my home fans. Just saying that sentence makes me want to get back to training now …”

We’re already looking forward to seeing Katarina bouncing back in full force!

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5 Yoga Poses For a Good Night’s Sleep

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If lack of sleep is an issue for you, yoga could help give you the good night’s sleep your body craves.

A study by the Mental Health Foundation found that over 30% of the UK’s population suffers from insomnia or other sleep difficulties. And worryingly it’s not just the matter of exhaustion that comes to play with insomnia; there are major health problems such as depression, obesity, immune deficiency and heart disease.

Yoga helps to relax the nervous system, which is the part of your body responsible for a restful sleep. The gentle physical exercise and breathing techniques promoted in yoga can encourage regular and restful sleep patterns without resorting to medication.

Additionally, yoga’s meditative aspect comes into play to quiet the mind. So if a racing mind is what keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep then performing yoga at any point during the day may offer you some relief.

There are specific poses you can do that are known to help people sleep more soundly. We’ve put together five easy poses for you to try at home to make it easier for you to drift off:

1. Mountain pose:

Mountain

Counter a long day of contracting the back with this powerful back and chest-opening posture. Come to a comfortable standing position with feet hips-width apart, bring your hands up over your head with palms facing forward and thumbs hooked as you bend gently backwards and breathe deeply. Hold the mountain pose for up to one minute.

2. Chair pose:

Chair pose

Begin in mountain pose, inhale and raise your arms above your head, perpendicular to the floor. Exhale as you bend your knees, bringing your thighs as parallel to the floor as they can get – your knees will project out slightly over your feet. Shift your weight onto your heels and hold for up to a minute.

3. Tree pose:

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Begin standing with your arms at your sides and shift your weight to your left foot. Fix your gaze gently on one, unmoving point in front of you and draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh. Bring your hands together at the heart chakra and hold for one minute, then repeat for the same amount of time on the opposite side.

4. Cat pose:

cat

Start on your hands and knees in a neutral spine ‘tabletop’ position looking straight ahead. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists are under your shoulders. As you exhale, drop your chin to your chest and arch your back as much as you can, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Hold this pose for a couple of seconds before inhaling, raising your chin and coming back to neutral ‘tabletop’ position on your hands and knees. Repeat this pose for five rounds.

5. Camel pose:

camel

Kneel on your yoga mat with toes tucked and knees hip width apart. As you inhale, arch your back and slide your right hand down to your right heel. If you are a beginner reach the left hand up back towards the wall, or if you are confident, reach the left hand down to your left heel. Do not strain or flex your neck but keep it in a neutral position. Stay in this posture for a couple of breaths.

We’d love to hear how you get on with these yoga poses so do let us know via our Facebook page here.  Namaste.

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Warm Weather Training – Preparing for the Rio Heat

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The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will obviously have very different conditions to where our healthy sleep supporter Katarina Johnson-Thompson trains in Liverpool, so it is important she gets her body used to the conditions she will be competing in. Not only this – warm weather training offers unique training and recovery opportunities:

“I went to Tenerife, Spain for 10 days for my warm weather training. It was a mixture of a training camp where I worked on the technical aspects of my regime, but also a recovery session from the heavy training block I did throughout the winter in Liverpool.

For most athletes, warm weather training is a part of their yearly schedule, as the weather conditions can make a huge impact on training and recovery, especially when compared with the weather conditions Britain has to offer.

“It’s become an annual trip, as it’s really beneficial to train with minimal distractions. The warm weather also aids muscle recovery and is relaxing and more enjoyable to train in. When I’m away I can really focus on my technical training and recovery.”

While it may be the best thing for her training schedule, it can be difficult being away from home comforts.

“When I’m in Tenerife I don’t enjoy being away from my own bed. Your own bed is always the best and in this particular case, that is definitely the truth. After I finish a hard training session in the winter I look forward to passing out in my own bed – but the same can’t be said for Tenerife!

Sleep is an important part of recovery for any athlete, so it’s important to feel relaxed and able to sleep to make sure the next day’s training can be maximised.

 

Image credit: Mark Shearman Athletics Images

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson Qualifies for Rio

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While most Brits were enjoying a long bank holiday weekend last week, our Healthy Sleep Ambassador, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, was taking part in an annual athletics competition – the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis, Austria.

It is known within athletics as the unofficial World Championships for multi-eventers, as usually all the best multi-event athletes throughout the world compete in this meet. Kat is no exception and on her first time competing in Gotzis in 2014, she won the whole event, beating a very competitive field including World Indoor & Commonwealth Champion, Brianne Thieson-Eaton.

This year she was not as lucky, slipping to sixth place on the second day after scoring three personal bests on the Saturday. However, Kat got what she came for, qualifying for the Rio Olympics with a score of 6,304.

“My goal is definitely a gold medal still in Rio. I’ve got a lot to work on between now and then but this is my first time back after knee surgery, so I know exactly what I need to work on. I know that I have a big jump in me. The shot put is definitely a bigger concern for me.”

Kat will continue to train right the way up to Rio. She will now undertake much more technical training – so working on various stages of throwing the javelin & shot put, hurdling, high & long jump.

Slumberland wishes her the best of luck, and a good night’s sleep in her own bed now she’s back!

 

Image Credit: Mark Shearman Athletics Images

Stress Awareness Month 2016

Stress Awareness Month 2016: 5 Ways to Tackle Unhelpful Thinking at Bedtime

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Your work performance… next month’s mortgage payment… the kids’ school grades… marital difficulties… Are the worries popping into your head at bedtime, impacting on the quality of your sleep?

The less sleep you get, the more your stress levels increase as your coping skills are reduced by tiredness.

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Symptoms include headaches, muscle tension or pain and racing thoughts – none of which are conducive to a refreshing, rejuvenating night’s sleep.

You can regain control of racing night-time thoughts and overcome the symptoms of stress in any of the following five ways – all of which are proven to lead to positive mind sets and a good night’s rest.

Break It Down: Utilise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to look at your problem in separate parts – thoughts, physical feelings and actions. How do they effect each other and you? Reframe unhelpful thoughts more positively. For example, instead of: “What if I can’t make this month’s mortgage payment” a healthier thought process could be: “I will telephone my lender tomorrow morning to discuss a payment plan.” Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a talking therapy which you can access through your GP and the NHS or pay for privately.

Shut Up, Move On (SUMO): Developed by best-selling author Paul McGee, SUMO is a set of principles and materials designed to empower people who may wrestle with life’s everyday problems today and in the future. ‘Shut Up’ is about stopping what you are doing and taking time out to reflect, then committing to ‘Move On’ positively when the time is right. A helpful SUMO tool to address ‘faulty thinking’ is to ask: ‘Where is this issue on a scale of one to 10? How important will this be in six months’ time? Is my response appropriate and effective?’

Mindfulness: Being more mindfully aware of not just your inner thoughts, but what’s going on in the world around you moment to moment, can help to distract you from challenging or upsetting thoughts. Practice mindfulness to reconnect with the sights, sounds, and smells of the present moment. Develop a mindful bedtime routine that’s focussed on relaxation and includes sleep-promoting snacks, gentle exercise and a sensual bath.

Moodzone: NHS Choices have developed the Moodzone – an online resource offering practical, useful information and interactive tools, and videos to support you to feel less stressed. Take the Mood Assessment Quiz to gauge your current mood, then listen to the free Trouble Sleeping or Unhelpful Thinking audio guides.

Join the worldwide happiness movement: No.1 New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin published her manifesto for a happier life, The Happiness Project, in 2009 and it’s since gone on to sell 1.5million copies. A blueprint to designing your own Happiness Project, the book helps you to focus on doing what makes you feel good, joyful and full of fun, and positively managing what makes you feel bad, brings anger, boredom or dread. Start your Happiness Project here.

Guest blog contribution: www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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Getting Ready for Rio

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Athletes work hard to win, and shape every part of their lifestyle to get the edge over the competition. This includes various aspects of their life such as their diet, exercise plan, and their sleep routine. Just as athletes need more calories when in training, they also need more sleep. This is no different for our Healthy Sleep Campaign supporter, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who is getting ready for Rio this year:

“Sleep is really important to my training – if I haven’t had enough sleep, it adversely affects my training. I can feel lethargic, my concentration wavers and I don’t get the best out of my session.”

Katarina’s preparation for the Olympics revolves around her extensive training sessions, as she pushes herself for the Gold this year.

“I particularly enjoy the sprint, technical and high jump sessions. The endurance and hill sessions are definitely ones that I don’t get so enthused about but I know their importance. After these sessions, I’m usually exhausted and all I want to do is lie down!”

This extensive exercise regime depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and diet are obviously a part of training and recovery, but what athletes do after training and competition also determines how quickly their bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients. The right amount of rest and recovery helps maintain endurance, speed, and accuracy, essential for an Olympic athlete.

A study in the journal SLEEP confirms the role of sleep in performance, with results that show declines in split-second decision-making following poor sleep, as well as increased accuracy in well-rested subjects.

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10 Healthy Habits To Adopt

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We know the secret to health and wellbeing here at Slumberland and want you to feel the very best you can everyday. Start your healthy journey with us by adopting these 10 simple healthy habits below:


Get Moving

Exercise doesn’t always have to involve the gym. It’s important to find something you love so it doesn’t feel like a chore – that could be going for a brisk walk, gardening, sports, swimming or yoga. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day will increase your heart rate and help you stay fit.


Perfect Your Posture

It’s important to pay attention to your body throughout the day, bad posture has all kinds of negative health impacts, including chronic muscle pain, reduced circulation, headaches, and even bad moods.  Try to sit up a little straighter, stand a little taller, and stretch when you’re feeling cramped or tired.


Look Up

Staring at your mobile screen at bedtime will cause you to take longer to reach the deeper stages of sleep and to spend less time in them due to the blue light they emit. Deep sleep is essential for your body to rejuvenate cells and repair damage so aim for a technology cut off a couple hours before you go to bed.


Hydrate

Dehydration is linked to fatigue, headaches, anxiety and trouble concentrating. Aim to drink around 2 litres of water a day to help you feel energised, improve your skin and even help you lose weight by helping you feel full.


Mindful Eating

Slow down, breathe between bites, and take note when you’re full. Odds are you’ll end up eating much less (and feeling much better)!


Go Outdoors

Being outdoor can reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of depression and boost your mood. Being outdoors is also a crucial part of getting a good night’s sleep as natural daylight helps sync our circadian rhythm.


Take The Stairs

On average people spend anywhere from 7 to 15 hours a day sitting which can cause several health issues. Simply taking the stairs at work instead of the lift, or parking further away will add in those extra daily steps to make a difference.


Wind Down

Harvard research finds mindfulness and meditation can ease anxiety, stress and even physical pain. You don’t have to zen out for hours either, just 20 minutes a day can reduce stress reactions in your body.


Laugh Often

Laughter is about being present, enjoying the here and now and feeling good. It temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure, followed by muscle relaxation and a decrease in blood pressure – plus it burns calories!


Get Enough Sleep

Getting a little extra sleep can bring many benefits to help improve your health. The recommended 8 hours of sleep per night will not only cure your under-eye circles and boost your energy, but can improve your memory, sharpen your attention, help you live longer, maintain a healthy weight, and lower your stress.

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson Supports Our Healthy Sleep Campaign

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European Indoor Champion and Olympic 2016 hopeful: Heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson supports our Healthy Sleep Campaign. In her own words, sleeping is something she “knows a lot about”.

She made her international debut In London 2012 competing alongside Jessica Ennis, and this year at the Rio Games she’s hoping to cement herself in legend status with an Olympic gold medal.

Katarina has a strict training regime, and rest is a vital part of this:

“The importance of sleep – to me it’s vital. My coach has a strong mentality on getting the right recovery. He says it’s important to have rest days to make sure my body recoups properly and I’m ready to train the next day. I always try to get the most sleep I possibly can, I aim for 10 hours.” – Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Sleep deprivation increases the levels of our stress hormone, cortisol, and can decrease glycogen and carbohydrate stores needed for physical activity. Less sleep increases the possibility of low energy and the inability to focus when it comes to crunch time. You also need sleep to give your muscles time to recover and repair, as well as ward off any illnesses that could disrupt training.

Whether you’re competing in the Olympics or just like to keep fit, getting the proper amount of sleep is necessary to be the best you. Combine this with a healthy diet and you’re on to a winner.

Follow Katarina’s road to Rio with our regular blog updates here at Slumberland.co.uk

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