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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

 

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Protect-A-Bed Blog Travelling Bed Bugs

Every year billions of people are travelling and each trip they take the risk of bringing home a bed bug infestation.   

Bed bugs love to hitchhike on luggage. 

Found worldwide and an increasing problem in Australia and New Zealand, be sure to know what to look for these holidays or whenever travelling to ensure you and your family are protected from their nasty bites.

First know what to look for:

Protect-A-Bed Blog Bed BugsSmall in size, they are attracted to warmth, and are most active at night biting areas of exposed skin while sleeping.  Their bite causing an allergic reaction which is displayed on the skin as itchy red welts usually not felt until some minutes or hours after the bite.

Bed bugs have small, flat oval bodies.  Adults are brown in colour, reddening after feeding. Despite common misconceptions that they are too small to see, fully grown they are about 4-5mm in length, small but visible to the naked eye.

Hiding in nooks and crannies they are primarily nocturnal, emerging in the middle of the night to feed on those sleeping.  It is therefore, often not the bed bugs, but tell-tale signs of their infestation that may be seen first. Little brown or black dots found on linens or the mattress itself.

  • Brownish-red splotches from a bed bug that had fed on blood and was shortly thereafter crushed
  • Shredded bed bug skins
  • Deposited white eggs and dark fecal matter. Eggs will be approximately 1mm in length, and difficult, but not impossible to see.
Although found in carpets, the cracks in wooden floors and walls and the seams of furniture they are most common in mattresses.

    What to do when booking a hotel room:

     When booking a hotel room, you can:

    • First check to see if they have had any reviews indicating a past history of struggling with a bed bug infestation.  
    • See if there is a Bed Bug Registry for the country you are travelling to that documents cases of bed bugs in hotels and apartments.
    • You may also wish to call the hotel to see what Bed Bug protective measures they have in place, such as the use of Protect-A-Bed® Buglock® Mattress Encasement's.

     What to do when you get to your hotel:

    1. Before checking for bed bugs keep your luggage in the bathroom; it’s the least likely place for bed bugs due to the tile floors, lack of places to hide, and distance from where people sleep. 
    2. Then, inspect for the bugs or the small spots they leave behind. Look under the sheets and bedding, around and under the mattress, and behind the headboard.
    3. Keep searching; bed bugs are typically found about 4 metres from the bed so you should also check other areas they could be hiding (behind picture frames, under things on the nightstand, etc).
    4. Lastly, check in the cushions and seams of the furniture in the room, and any other area that you missed.

    If you have discovered bed bugs or evidence that would lead you to suspect their presence, alert the hotel staff immediately, do not stay in that room, and strongly consider finding a new hotel all together.

    Bed bugs in transit:

    There have been reported cases of Bed Bugs in transit.  After all they love to hitchhike on luggage and clothing. Having a hard shell suitcase can assist in eliminating the areas in which a bed bug can hide and it can easily be cleaned with an alcohol wipe after your flight.  If you do see any signs of bed bugs while travelling let the flight attendant on your plane or tour guide know as soon as possible.

    When you get home:

    When you get home wash all clothes you took on the trip in hot water including the ones that might be clean or you have worn on the way home.  Vacuum and check your luggage for any signs of bed bugs and then store them safely away from your bed.

    Use Protect-A-Bed® Allerzip Mattress Encasement's on your beds for Fit ‘n’ Forget protection.

    Not only providing peace of mind against bed bugs and dust mite allergens they help protect your mattress investment from everyday spills and stains.

    The Protect-A-Bed® BugLock® system has a dust-proof flap and tamper-proof SecureSeal® making the mattress or pillow bed bug entry and escape proof, whilst also ensuring allergens can’t become airborne. Simply Fit'n'Forget® by laying a Protect-A-Bed®  fitted mattress protector on the top for easy removal and regular washing with other bedding.

    Sleep Well, Live Well

    Is technology affecting your sleep?

    Protect-A-Bed Blog is technology affecting your sleep

    Whether it is watching TV, playing video games, scrolling through social media or checking emails, electronic devices are a big part of our lifestyle and hard to put down when bedtime approaches.

    Although the effects vary between people ‘screen time’ before bed has been shown to impact both our ability to fall asleep and the quality of our sleep. 

    How electronic devices impact our sleep 

    • Electronic devices emit blue light which suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
    • By keeping us engaged and stimulated they are hard to walk away from and make it difficult for our brains to relax and wind down at the end of the day.
    • If next to our beds, notifications and late night’s texts from our mobile phones disturb our sleep.

    Tips - How to reduce the impact of 'screen time' on our sleep

    • Dim screens for evening use. Many mobile phones and devices now come with a ‘night mode’ feature that changes your screen to reduce the amount of blue light been emitted. If your device does not have this, there are apps that can be downloaded that may assist.
    • Limit the amount of screen time in the evenings.
    "Studies have tested the effects of bright tablets (e.g. ipads) and laptop screens for up to 5 hours before bed. It seems that the natural evening rise in melatonin (a hormone that makes us ready for sleep) is not affected by 1 hour of bright screen light, but it is after 1.5 hours. Thus after 1.5 hours of technology use in the evening people report feeling less sleepy. They also do better on mental performance tests and their brainwaves suggest increased alertness. Repeated use of a bright screen over 5 days can delay the body clock by 1.5 hours. This means you consistently want to go to bed later and sleep in longer. This can be a real problem when you need to get up at a set time in the morning for school or work."    -  sleephealthfoundation.org.au 
    • Go screen free 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
    • With children, clearly setting and enforcing the rules might be hard at first but once habit will be part of your everyday routine. Include grandparents or caregivers so they know what you are doing at home. Replace screens with traditional books, puzzles and games.
    • If possible, make bedrooms a screen free zone.
    • 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.

    It may be difficult at first, but once you have made a conscious change it will become habit and part of your everyday routine.

    Sleep Well, Live Well

    Napping

    Protect-A-Bed Blog - Napping

     

    If you are finding yourself feeling tired and sleepy during the day a nap may be beneficial.  Reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, improving your mood, performance and reaction time.

    A nap may also help you prepare for and be able to better cope with a late night out, shift work or a long drive.

    As recognised by the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia 

    "Naps can also be good at times when you feel sleepy and you are worried about how well you can do things if you continue without rest. If you feel drowsy during a long drive in the car, a short nap can be taken in a rest area. This will make you more alert during the next phase of the drive.

    Some studies have found that if you start to feel sleepy while driving, it helps to have a cup of coffee, immediately followed by a nap of about 15 minutes. The caffeine takes about 30 minutes to start working so when you wake up both the nap and the caffeine will start to make you feel more alert."

    How long to nap for

    The secret to waking up refreshed from a nap is setting an alarm and making sure you don’t nap for too long. 

    Ideally a nap should only be 15-30 minutes long.  This will ensure that when you wake you are still in the lightest stage of non-REM sleep.   Any longer, where you enter the deeper stages of sleep you risk waking up with what is known as sleep inertia.  Feeling groggy and perhaps more tired and with less energy than before your nap.

    However “If you’re lucky enough to be able to lie down for 90 minutes, your body should have time to make it through one complete sleep cycle where you go from the lightest stage through the deepest stage of sleep and back again, so you’ll wake feeling refreshed.”- sleep.org

     How you can make your nap better

    • Be sure to set an alarm so you are not napping for more than 30 minutes.
    • Nap in a quiet, dark place at a comfortable temperature without any noise or distractions

    “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 

    • If you are napping regularly try and nap at the same time each day.
    • 2-3pm may be the ideal time to nap. We often feel most sleepy in the early afternoon as it matches a low point in our bodies circadian rhythm.
    • If taking a nap in your car, ensure you are in a safe place

    And if napping regularly

    Be mindful to remember that a nap does not replace a good night’s sleep.  A nap too late in the day may make it harder to fall asleep at night. And if you find that you are relying on naps during the day or you are not able to sleep at night due to naps talk to your doctor.

     

     

     

    Hot in Bed

    Protect-A-Bed Blog Hot in Bed

     Are you or your partner finding yourself uncomfortably hot at night? Sweating, tossing and turning, resulting in a broken night’s sleep and leaving you feeling lethargic the next day?

    Your core body temperature works with your circadian rhythm, to help determine when you are ready to go to sleep and when you are ready to wake up.  Your body temperature drops when you begin to feel sleepy and is at its lowest at around 4am, before increasing.

    So if you are having difficulty falling asleep or waking up at time you need to consider what maybe affecting your temperature leading up to your bedtime and during the night.

     As identified in Time’s article You Asked: Why Do I Sweat When I Sleep by (Markham Heid March 21, 2018)

    “Intense exercise too close to bed can also “throw off” the body’s thermoregulation processes, says Michael Grandner, an associate professor and director of the Sleep & Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He explains that a person’s body temperature naturally dips just before bed, which promotes sleep. Eating or exercising too close to bed can fire up your metabolism, which increases heat production and so may interfere with the body’s natural powering down.” 

    In order to fall asleep quickly and too help get a good night’s sleep you firstly need to ensure your room is at the ideal temperature.   

    “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.”  - sleepcouncil.org.uk/perfect-sleep environment 

    But remember it is not just the air conditioner or heater that affects the temperature you are feeling when you are sleeping.  Your Pyjama’s and bedding can also play a part.  You might get into bed feeling cool and comfortable but if you may become hotter during the night due to the materials your Pyjama’s and bedding are made off.

    Consider Natural Fibres such as TENCEL™.  TENCEL™ is a botanic fibre, derived from sustainable wood sources which are super soft.  The Smooth Fiber structure of TENCEL™ absorbs moisture more efficiently than cotton and is breathable helping support the body’s natural thermal regulating mechanism, keeping your skin feeling pleasantly cool and dry.

    You may wish to check out our range of Protect-A-Bed TENCEL™ Mattress and Pillow Protectors®

    If you have made these changes to help ensure the correct sleeping temperature and you are still waking hot or sweaty consider talking to your doctor. Sometimes the side effects of medication, menopause, hormonal imbalances, anxiety and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and night terrors may also cause you to sweat when sleep.

     

     

    Combating Jet Lag

    Protect-A-Bed Blog - Tips for Combating Jet Lag

    What causes Jet Lag?

    Jet lag occurs when you fly across one or more time zones.

    Daylight plays an important role in our body’s natural biological clock or circadian rhythm, affecting the release of Melatonin which tells us when we should go to sleep and wake up.  Jet lag occurs because our body's circadian rhythm has not had time to synchronise to the change in time zones.

    The result, our body is telling us to stay awake when it’s late at night, or telling us it’s time to sleep when it is the only the middle of the afternoon.

    Jet lag, affects different people differently, and can happen to anyone regardless of their age or level of fitness.

    As recognised by betterhealth.vic.gov.au it is also often worse if you are travelling in an easterly direction

    Your circadian rhythm (body clock) is less confused if you travel westward. This is because travelling west ‘prolongs’ the body clock’s experience of its normal day-night cycle (the normal tendency of the body clock in most of us is slightly longer than 24 hours). Travelling eastwards, however, runs in direct opposition to the body clock. If you suffer badly from jet lag, it may be worthwhile considering a westerly travel route if possible.

    Symptoms of Jet Lag

    The symptoms of Jet Lag vary between people.  They may include:

    • Insomnia
    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Irritability
    • Loss of Appetite
    • Lack of concentration

    Coping with Jet Lag

    Jet lag generally lasts for 2-3 days and although there is no cure there are things that you can do before, during and after travel to help.

    Before Leaving 

    • Ensure you have had enough sleep leading up to your travel and are not already suffering from a lack of sleep.
    • If possible, begin moving your sleep patterns towards the sleep and wake time at your destination. Go to bed and get up a little earlier or later, gradually adjusting the length of time before your trip.

    During the Flight 

    • Change the time on your watch to the time at your destination as soon as possible. The sooner you make the change, the easier it will be.
    • Open the blinds on your flight to allow in sunlight only during the daylight hours at your destination.
    • Try to sleep on the plane during the night time hours at your destination. A sleep mask, headphones or ear plugs may help block out any light and noise.
    • Attempt to eat and sleep on the plane at the same time you will be eating and sleeping at your destination.
    • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and drinks that contain caffeine that may disturb your sleep cycles.  (see our blog on Coffee and Sleep) 

     After the Flight

    • Adjust your sleeping and eating patterns to the new time zone as soon as possible. Try to stay awake to your usual bedtime and get up when you normally would rather than having a sleep in.
    • The Sleep Health Foundation does recommend that you can take short naps when adapting, which may help you feel more alert if necessary but also state that
    “It is important that you sleep for no longer than 30 minutes and that you are awake for at least 4 hours before you go to bed.” 
    • If possible, during the day get outside or expose yourself to as much natural light as possible. Remember that daylight works with our Circadian Rhythm which tells us when it’s time to be awake and sleep.
    • When ready to go to sleep, make sure the room you are staying in is set at the optimal temperature for sleep which is around 18-20 degrees and use ear plugs or headphones to drown out any unfamiliar sounds that may stop you falling asleep or wake you in the night.

    Most importantly be prepared to give yourself the time to adjust. It will often take at least 2-3 days.

     

    5 tips to improve your sleep this daylight savings

    Protect-A-Bed Daylight Savings

    It is the first Sunday of October and we all know that means it is daylight savings time.

    Daylight savings puts our clock forward an hour and although this can be fantastic for people who want to enjoy those long summer nights it can have a negative impact on our sleeping patterns.

    Even one hour of sleep loss over a few nights can have marked effects on our mood and health.

    The effects of the initial time change for daylight savings on the body is often likened to jet lag.  Losing an hour of light in the morning and gaining it at night it effects our bodies as if we are in a different time zone.

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

    As it is staying light later in the day it can be harder to fall asleep and likewise staying darker in the morning can make it harder to wake up.

    Tips to help you adapt your circadian rhythm to the new time:

    1. It is advised to aim 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.

    Spring your clock's forward and get the most out of the warmer days by undertaking good sleeping habits.  With a good night sleep you will feel and function better.

     

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