Thursday, March 29, 2012

The perils of power napping

Oh dear oh dear! Here at The Snoozery we are big fans of the power nap as a way to revive flagging energy during the day in the face of small kids keeping you awake all night. We believe we should be  taking a leaf or two from our Southern European friends' book and are disappointed that their siesta concept has not gained wider popularity.

But as a reviving tactic it needs to be deployed carefully, especially in business, and last night's episode of the Apprentice clearly demonstrated the perils of power napping. Poor young Maria, who has mastered the art of the open-mouthed-OMG expression, was literally caught napping in the back of a taxi whilst the other team members were "having a meeting".

Needless to say Good Lord Sugar, the gnarly business-veteran, was unimpressed when the she wolves rounded on her in the boardroom, and the finger of doom was duly pointed in her direction. She claimed to be just thinking and adopted the well trodden OMG face, but to no avail.

So be careful out there, the benefits of the power nap are many fold but we recommend not in a meeting or when shooting a business reality show. You could end up fired or worse.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Waking up in the middle of the night?

Many of us wake up intermittently in the middle of the night for no apparent reason and endure a “witching hour” of wakefulness.

The most likely causes of this are changes in your environment, stress or age.

Going way back into our evolutionary pasts, we could only sleep well if we felt safe and secure. And the same applies today - anything that threatens our feelings of safety and security will disturb our sleep.

Actually, we all wake very briefly at the end of each of our sleep cycles, but usually are blissfully unaware. It’s just a case of rolling over and drifting back to sleep most of the time. But if something is worrying you or your attention is seized by something going on in the environment around you, you will become more awake at that point.

Changes to the nervous system and hormones as we get older also mean that as we progress through adulthood, our sleep becomes progressively lighter and more fragmented. Which means we wake up more and find it harder to get back to sleep. Bummer.

Top tip for a great night’s sleep: Try to make your bedroom feel isolated, comfortable, safe and secure. (And remember to lock the back door / turn the oven off etc. etc.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's official - sleeping makes you happier

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, a good night's sleep can leave you feeling positive and upbeat.

It turns out that people who suffer from regular sleep disturbances are three times - yes, three times -  more likely to experience low mood compared to people who sleep well. That’s according to the Great British Sleep Survey, conducted by Sleepio, an organisation dedicated to helping people sleep better.

'Poor sleep can make us less receptive to positive emotions, which in turn can make us feel miserable during the day and may increase the likelihood of us developing depression,' says Dr Dan Robotham, senior researcher at the Mental Health Foundation and lead author of their 'Sleep Matters' report.

Early to bed, children…And don't forget to brush those teeth! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

You booze, you snooze...but not very well.

If you've had a few, the likelihood is that you'll fall asleep almost as soon as you turn out the light.

But our sleep patterns are such that you're actually not doing yourself any favours.

Boozing before bed interferes with the normal sleep process because it can send you straight into deep sleep. This means that you miss out on the first stage of sleep known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. 

When you're in deep sleep, your body restores itself, but as the grog wears off, your body slips back into REM sleep which is a lot easier to wake up from. Many people will wake up after just a few hours when they have been drinking. 

In the course of a "normal" night, you would normally have six to seven cycles of REM sleep which will usually leave you feeling refreshed when you wake up. But if you have been drinking, you may only have one or two cycles, which will leave you feeling drained and short of rest when you do wake up.

Top tip for a great night's sleep: Stay off the sauce...or at least give yourself a few hours off before you hit the hay. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

How can a piece of paper and a pen help you sleep better?

Many of us have busy lives - work, kids, socialising, doing that thing we've been meaning to do for ages but never quite seem to have the time for - and at times can feel overwhelmed.

And feeling overwhelmed is a guaranteed recipe for stress.

And stress can affect our sleep.

A simple and effective way to reduce worry at night is to write a list during the day.

Yes it's blindingly obvious, but often it's the simplest of things that make the difference.

Make sure your list is:

  1. Specific and selective
  2. Realistic and achievable

Hyper-organised, closet control-freak? Consider keeping a facsimile of a list of your lists in the bedside drawer...that should reassure you...

Top tip for a great night's sleep: Write a list of all the things you need to do and remind yourself that you "have a plan" if you start thinking about them at night.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Are you sleep deprived?

Falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow may not be a good thing.

Various studies have shown that falling asleep within 5-15 minutes is the ideal.

So if you conk out the second you close your eyes and your head hits the pillow, it might be a sign that you're suffering from chronic sleep deprivation - or in other words, not enough sleep.

Or perhaps you're just very drunk.

Top tip for a great night's sleep: Make sure you allocate sufficient hours to sleeping...and don't get blind drunk

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sorry, but a weekend lie-in does you no favours...

Yes it's annoying, but the fact is that a lie-in is more likely to make you feel groggy than better.

As we all know, the human body is an amazing thing - our natural body clock prepares the body for waking an hour beforehand by making sure that the right hormones are flowing, so you can hop out of bed at the appointed hour. Amazing. 

But the body can only prepare if it knows when you're going to get up. So if you mess it about getting up at 6.30am on a weekday and then 9.30am on a Saturday morning, your body has to readjust constantly - which can make you feel groggy. 

Top tip for a great night's sleep and avoiding grogginess on waking: Try to stick to a regular sleeping pattern and don't lie in at the weekend - it will help you synchronise with your body's natural rhythms. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

If you're tossing and turning at night, it's probably because you're too hot.

Did you know that if you're tossing and turning at night, it's probably because you're too hot?

Our bodies naturally rise in temperature during the day and then cool down overnight. But if you've got the central heating whacked up, or even at a comfortably warm 21 degrees, your bedroom will begin to feel hot and you'll become restless, thrashing about as you try to cool down.

The ideal bedroom room temperature is 16 degrees, so that you can lose temperature out of your head, whilst under the covers, a cosy 29 degrees is ideal.

A warm body and a cool head makes perfect sense to me...

Top tip for a great night's sleep: Keep your bedroom cool by turning off the radiator in the evening and by opening a window.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10 tips for a better night's sleep

If you are struggling to head off to the land of nod every night, here's ten quick tips for helping to get a better night's kip.....

1. Buzz off

Avoid the stuff that gives you a buzz in the late afternoon and evening. Say no to caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol if you can. A cup of coffee in the afternoon can delay you dropping off, and more than a glass or two of beer or wine will make your sleep more restless. It’s not just tea and coffee you have to look out for but chocolate, medicines and some soft drinks too.

2. Work it out

If you exercise you need to give your body a chance to unwind after a workout. Ideally aim to finish up at least three hours before you go to bed.

3. Stay cool and comfortable

Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Most people sleep better in a cool room so keep an eye on the thermostat and open a window but watch out for letting in unwanted noise. Wear loose natural fabrics like cotton for maximum comfort and a good bed and pillow is worth the investment.

4. Eat light at night

Don't eat too much too close to bedtime. If you need a snack before turning in, choose a high-carbohydrate food such as a bowl of cereal.

5. Get into good habits

When evening comes, if you find yourself falling asleep on the sofa take yourself off to bed. That late film may seem attractive but you’ll regret a lousy night’s sleep.

6. Over to the dark side

Sleep comes easiest and best in a dark environment where there’s less stimulus. Take steps to block out unwanted light and noise that can wake you from a light sleep. Consider investing in a pair of blackout blinds, a good curtain lining or a quality sleep mask to keep the light pollution out.

7. Stick to a routine

Establish a regular bedtime routine for yourself. This may be easier said than done with young kids or a snoring spouse. Wind down an hour or so before bed, put aside any work you've brought home from the office and forget the e-mails. Soak in a relaxing hot bath with lavender oil or bubble bath, make a cup of herbal tea or warm milk, and snuggle down with a good book before you turn out the light.

8. Don't force it

If you can't go to sleep after 30 minutes, don't stay awake in bed tossing and turning. Get up, go into another room, and listen to calming music or read until you feel sleepy. You can't force yourself to fall asleep if you aren't ready.

9. Just bedtime stuff

If you are in the habit of watching TV in bed at night, stop. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. You should associate your bed only with bedtime activities. Try to clear your mind - don't use bedtime to solve your daily problems.

10. Capture your cares away

If your thoughts are racing, keeping you awake, have a notepad by your bed to capture them until the morning. Could also come in handy for remembering your more interesting dreams!