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Exercising for a better night's sleep

We all know that exercise strengthens our bodies and gives us more energy in the day, but did you know exercise can also help us sleep better?

How exercise helps improve your sleep

  • Exercise, by expending energy and tiring our bodies simply makes us feel tired, helping us to go to sleep faster and thereby increasing the duration of our sleep.
  • Exercise increases the amount of time spent in deep sleep. Deep Sleep is our restorative sleep phase, that helps the brain rest and recover, balance hormones, boost immune function and control stress and anxiety.
  • By reducing the level of particular hormones in our bodies and stimulating others exercise can also help relieve stress and anxiety, a common cause of a lack of sleep. As identified by the Harvard.edu article exercising to relax

“The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators” 

What is the best time to exercise for a better night’s sleep

Although exercise can help improve your sleep it is important to consider how the time of day you are working out and how the type of exercise you are doing may affect your sleep. 

Some people may find that working out too close to bedtime may keep them up at night.

If you find this is the case, avoid undertaking vigorous or aerobic activity in the evenings.  Work out in the mornings or afternoons and give your body 4-5 hours to wind down before bedtime.

Use the evenings to relax , practice mindfulness or yoga

Harvard.edu's article Yoga for Better Sleep recognising that

"Yoga is a gentle and restorative way to wind down your day A national survey found that over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. Over 85% said yoga helped reduce stress." 

Not sure where to start, or need some new ideas for a work out 

Head to our facebook page and try our 10 minute workout with personal trainer and actress Ariel Kaplan. No equipment needed, can be done at home or in the park. 

Take the time to exercise everyday, you will see the overall health benefits, have more energy and get a better night’s sleep.  And if working from home, or regularly sitting in front of a computer at the office, get up and move regularly during the day as less sitting is also associated with better health and sleep.

Sleep Well, Live Well

Sleep and Shiftwork

Protect-A-Bed Sleep and Shiftwork

A shift worker is anyone who follows a work schedule that is outside of the typical 9 to 5 business day. This might include working rotating, split or irregular shifts and include morning, afternoon, evening or night work.

Allowing employers to make full use of the 24 hours in each day and ensuring essential services, including emergency services and healthcare are available at all times.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia  

“The average shift worker sleeps one hour a day less than someone who doesn't work shifts.”

Why does Shiftwork disrupt sleep?

Just like when travelling overseas, and adjusting to a new time zone, it is not easy to switch to working and sleeping different hours of the day.

As daylight suppresses the release of Melatonin, a hormone which plays an important role in telling us when to go to sleep and wake up, shift work in the evenings or at night works directly against our body’s natural biological clock or circadian rhythm. 

What are the implications of a shift worker not getting enough sleep?

As a shift worker if you are not getting enough sleep you may find that you are lacking in energy, become irritable easily, have trouble concentrating or completing tasks efficiently.  You may also find yourself nodding of and wanting to nap.

Lack of sleep can therefore reduce your ability to effectively do your job and also increase the danger of accidents at work.

Tips for shift workers to get a better sleep during the day.

  1. Aim to get the recommended 7-9 hours sleep for adults a day and try to time your sleep so you wake up just before going to work, like you would if working 9 to 5.
  2. Try to keep to the same sleep and wake time everyday. This will help your body adjust and get used to when it is needed to be asleep and awake
  3. Make the bedroom cool and as dark as possible. Consider heavy curtains, blackout blinds and/or using an eye mask.
  4. Eliminate any noise. Ask family members or housemates if they can try and reduce noise by not wearing shoes inside and using headphones to watch TV or listen to music. If you have a busy household and this is not possible try ear plugs. White noise such as a fan may also assist.
  5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants before going to sleep.

Tips for shift workers to follow at work, to help avoid feeling tired

  1. If possible, through discussions with your employer, try to avoid working back to back, double or triple shifts.
  2. Keep the work environment as bright, or as light as possible
  3. Try to be active during your breaks, take a walk or do some exercises.
  4. If possible and needed use a break to take a nap. A short nap, of no more than 15 minutes will boost energy and concentration. Just make sure you are fully awake before heading back to your work tasks.
  5. Don’t leave the difficult or boring tasks to the end of the shift. For night shift workers this is when you are most likely to feel the tiredest.
  6. Keep in contact with co-workers, as this may help both them and you stay more alert.

By getting enough sleep you will feel better, be more productive and reduce the likelihood of errors or accidents.

Sleep Well, Live Well

Sleep is important for learning and memory

If we have had a bad night’s sleep it can be hard to concentrate, our reaction time may be delayed, we may struggle to learn new things or recall our memories and not make sensible decisions.

After a good night’s sleep we feel energised, our brain is alert and we are able to clearly focus, learn, be creative and remember information.

Research shows that sleep plays an important role in learning and the formation of memories.

According to a resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School

“Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.

Although the exact mechanisms are not known, learning and memory are often described in terms of three functions. Acquisition refers to the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation represents the processes by which a memory becomes stable. Recall refers to the ability to access the information (whether consciously or unconsciously) after it has been stored.”

 While we are sleeping different stages of our sleep play a role in forming different types of memories and consolidating what we have learnt during the day   Research indicating procedural memory, or remembering how to do things such as riding a bike is affected by REM Sleep.

Ensuring you get enough sleep is therefore important to our ability to learn, remember how to do things and make good decisions.

On average, an adult should get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

If you are not sure how much sleep you or a member of your family should be getting based on age the Sleep Health Foundations article how much sleep do you really need gives a good guide.

Sleep well, live well

Can't Sleep?

Protect-A-Bed Can't Sleep

Do you find it hard to get to sleep or do you wake up during the night thinking about things?

Frustrated and tired do you begin watching the clock and start worrying about not getting to sleep or not getting enough sleep?

If you are finding that you are having difficulty sleeping, try following these tips.

  1. Mindfulness Meditation

Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit and close your eyes.  Focus your mind on your breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply.  Continue focussing on your breath. Don’t allow your mind to wander to the days activities or the future.  Regularly practicing mindfulness meditation for five minutes or more, can help you relax and let go of your daily stresses.  A technique that at bedtime, you can also undertake to help your mind relax and fall asleep.

  1. Exercise during the day

Exercise has been found to help reduce anxiety and stress.  Although hitting the gym, or participating in group sports is not an option right now, make sure you undertake some form of exercise each day.  Take a walk around the block or try an online workout or yoga class.   It takes as little as 5-10 minutes a day to reduce stress, boost mood and keep the body strong while improving alertness during the day and sleep quality. 

  1. Set-aside ‘Worry Time” in the early evening

Get into a routine of setting aside some time each evening to think about the things that have happened during the day and the things that you need to address tomorrow or in coming days.  Jot down the problem, or what is worrying you and make plans or develop possible solutions.  Writing things down will help you process what you are thinking about and help you free them from your thoughts when it is time to sleep.

  1. Keep an hour before bed as “Wind Down Time”

Have your evening meal at least two hours before bedtime and avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day.   Allow your mind and body to relax and wind down at least an hour before bed.  Play quiet music, read a book or take a bath.  Avoid, the evening news, social media and using screens, which emit blue light.

The blue light emitted from devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers and the TV, can at night all reduce the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.  This may result in difficulty sleeping and increased drowsiness during the day.

By keeping us engaged and stimulated they are also hard to walk away from and make it difficult for our brains to relax and wind down at the end of the day.

  1. Ensure good sleep habits and comfortable sleep environment

Keep a regular bedtime, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  This helps create a natural rhythm, and sleep-wake cycle for your body.

Ensure the bedroom is free of distractions.  No televisions, computers, radios and phones.

If your mobile phone is in your room and used as an alarm, ensure it is in do not disturb mode so you are not woken by late night text messages or notifications.

Keep the bedroom dark and ensure the room temperature is not too hot or cold which may make you restless and it difficult to fall asleep.  According to the Sleep Council UK

 “A cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is thought to be an ideal temperature in a bedroom. Temperatures over 24°C (71°F) are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C (53°F) will make it difficult to drop off.” 

Make sure your sleep environment is healthy. Dust mites found in bedding are a common cause of asthma, allergies and asthma.  Protect-A-Bed mattress, pillow and quilt protectors will provide an allergy barrier against any dust mites living in your mattress or quilts.

“If you get into bed and cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and return to another space in the house to do a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music. Lying in bed awake can create an unhealthy link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness. Instead, you want your bed to conjure sleepy thoughts and feelings only.”  - sleepfoundation.org

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your health, well being and ability to effectively function during the day, so if you find you are having continuous problems getting a good night’s sleep talk to your doctor.

Sleep well, live well

Turn back the clocks this Sunday, and follow these 5 tips to help your body clock adjust

Protect-A-Bed Daylight Savings

It is the first Sunday of April this weekend which means daylight savings is over, and it is time to turn our clocks back an hour at 3am to 2am.

Today, most smartphones and computers will automatically do this for us, but if you have an analog clock you should set yourself a reminder to do this before you go to bed Saturday night.

As the days shorten, by turning our clocks back, it means we are exposed to more bright light in the mornings. 

As quoted in a 7 news article, Sleep and Circadian Researcher at Central Queensland University Amy Reynolds says

“Exposure to bright light in the morning, which happens when we are not on daylight saving time, is more ideal for our systems, as it synchronizes our body clocks to the day, and to the social requirements we have in the world, things like starting work and school in the morning.”

Changing our clocks in either direction changes the principle time cue (which is light) for setting and resetting our 24 hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. Therefore, our internal clocks become out of sync.

To help you adapt your circadian rhythm to the new time
remember the following tips:

  1. As an adult, it is advised to get eight hours of sound sleep, fatigue can exacerbate the negative effects of changing the clock so avoid depriving yourself of sleep and go to bed at an appropriate time.
  2.  Avoid alcohol close to going to sleep. Studies show that it reduces rapid eye movement or (REM) sleep, thus impacting on your brains ability to sleep properly.
  3. Limit caffeine intake 6 hours prior to bed, research has shown that caffeine taken 6 hours prior to sleep has significant effects on sleep disturbance. This will impact on your ability to get a restful sleep.
  4. As light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin expose yourself to light during the day, but minimise all light sources when you go to sleep.  Try to avoid the blue light from cell phones and other screens at least two hours before bedtime.
  5. Improve your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to creating a sleep friendly environment through things such as calming bedtime routines, exercising several hours before sleeping, listening to music, reading a book or having a hot shower before bed.

Turn back your clocks this Sunday and remember that with a good night sleep you will feel and function better. 

A good night's sleep is important for your immune system

In order to protect our health, and the health of our families, friends, co-workers and neighbours the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is making many of us review our current hygiene and sleep habits.

The best way to keep your immune system strong is by living a healthy lifestyle. Having a diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep, as all of these things contribute to keeping your immune system in check.

Some key things to help protect yourself from illness as suggested by healthcare experts include:

  • Minimise contact with potential germs
  • Exercise to reduce stress
  • Get enough sleep
  • Ensure a healthy sleep environment

Minimise direct contact with potentially germy surfaces.  Follow the government’s advice on how to help protect your well-being and the well-being of others.   Abide by social distancing recommendations and wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  More information can be found at healthdirect.gov.au  

Exercise is a proven way of reducing stress, all it takes is as little as 5-10 minutes a day to reduce stress, boost mood, keep the body strong, improve alertness during the day and sleep quality. 

Sleep is incredibly important for your immune system. Research shows that people who do not get enough sleep can have a suppressed immunity, meaning that there is a higher risk of them getting sick.

“Sleep is now well understood to benefit immunity,” says Dr Moira Junge, spokesperson for Australia’s leading sleep advocate Sleep Health Foundation. “An early night may be just what you need to boost your mood and immunity and help protect yourself from illness.” - Sleep Health Foundation, Australia - 

When you sleep, your immune system releases a compound called cytokines. Cytokines are proteins produced by cells, some cytokines interact with cells of the immune system in order to regulate the body’s response to infection.

In times like these where there is concerning news and a lot of uncertainty it can be quite stressful for everyone. Stress can have a big impact on your sleep, it can make falling asleep a real struggle and once you finally get to sleep it can often be troubled with a lot of restlessness. 

If you are having trouble sleeping , ensure you are getting some exercise during the day and try setting aside some time each night to write down or talk about what is concerning you and what you need to do the next day so you don’t lie awake “worrying”.

Importantly make sure, as an adult, you are getting the recommended 8 hours per night sleep.  This is of high significance as it allows your body to rest and repair itself.

Ensure a healthy sleep environment

We spend approximately one third of our lives in bed and although we don’t like to think about it when we are sleeping we are sweating, losing skin flakes, drooling, and coughing.   Things that in an unprotected bed can seep into our mattresses and pillows, providing food for dust mites and resulting in the growth of mould and bacteria.

Protect-A-Bed® Mattress, Pillow and Quilt Protectors, which can easily be removed for regular machine washing and drying, have a Miracle Layer™ that while breathable for a comfortable night's sleep also creates a barrier to stop our sweat, skin flakes and germs entering our pillows, mattresses and quilts. 

Protect-A-Bed®’s Cumulus Mattress and Pillow Protectors are also treated with a naturally derived antimicrobial called Fresche®, that kills 99.99% of bacteria.  Effective for up to 100 washes, it is environmentally friendly and contains no poisons or toxic chemicals.

All Protect-A-Bed® Mattress and Pillow Protectors are recognised by the National Asthma Council of Australia’s Sensitive Choice Program meaning that they provide protection against dust mites a common cause of trigger of asthma, eczema and allergies.   As the new coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, it’s important for people with asthma to maintain good asthma control and follow the advice from health authorities.  For more information Sensitive Choice

Moving forward in these times of uncertainty and a major health risk to us all it is important that you look after yourself. Minimise your contact with potential germs where possible, exercise daily and sleep well.

Is getting a better night’s sleep one of your New Year’s resolutions?

Protect-A-Bed Blog Make getting a good night's sleep your new years resolution

Sleep is vital to our everyday well being.  Getting the right amount of regular sleep will make you feel more energised and motivated, helping you to achieve other goals that you might have for this year, such as doing more exercise,

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time.  It will help create a natural rhythm, and sleep-wake cycle for your body. 

Also ensure you are getting the recommended amount of sleep for someone your age.   For an adult this is 7-9 hours a night.  For a guide on the recommended sleep time for different ages check out https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/how-much-sleep-do-you-really-need.html

Look at what can influence the quality of your sleep, and work on making changes where needed.

  • Have your evening meal at least two hours before bedtime. Having a full stomach can make it difficult to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant and although it may give us a much needed wake-up or boost during the day, it can also affect our sleep and contribute to us feeling more tired the following day.  Although there are conflicting views most agree that coffee that should be avoided at least 3-7 hours before bedtime.  Learn more in our Blog “Is how much coffee you drink affecting your sleep” from September 19 which can be found below.
  • Likewise try to avoid alcohol at least four hours before bed. Although alcohol may help you get too sleep, it will disrupt your sleep during the night and is associated with more frequent waking up.

“Another reason people get lower-quality sleep following alcohol is that it blocks REM sleep, which is often considered the most restorative type of sleep. With less REM sleep, you’re likely to wake up feeling groggy and unfocused.”  - sleepfoundation.org 

  • Have a set time before bed that you use to wind down and relax. Don’t overstimulate your body or brain. Avoid strenuous exercise, watching a scary or dramatic TV show, stop checking your work emails or social media….. Try a relaxing bath, mediation, reading or listening to soothing music.
  • Dim your devices screens in the evening and try putting a curfew on your devices of 1-2 hours before bedtime. The longer the better, and avoid checking email or social media in bed.  The blue light emitted from devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers and the TV, can at night all reduce the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.  This may result in difficulty sleeping and increased drowsiness during the day.

Ensure your bedroom offers the best possible sleep environment

  • Keep the bedroom dark at night and ensure the room temperature is not too hot or too cold.

“A cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is thought to be an ideal temperature in a bedroom. Temperatures over 24°C (71°F) are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C (53°F) will make it difficult to drop off.”  - Sleep Council UK 

  • Ensure your sleep environment is healthy. Dust mites found in bedding are a common cause of asthma, allergies and asthma.  Protect-A-Bed mattress, pillow and quilt protectors will provide an allergy barrier against any dust mites living in your mattress or quilts.
  • Keep the bedroom for sleep and free of distractions. Where possible no televisions, computers, radio’s and phones.

It may take a little adjustment for you to get into a new routine, but just remember that if you are getting the right amount of sleep regularly you should feel better and have more energy for the things you want to achieve.

Sleep well, live well

 

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