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Blog

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.

     

     

     

    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.

     

    Spring clean your bedroom and help control allergens

    Protect-A-Bed Spring Cleaning Blog

    Spring has sprung, footy season is nearing an end, the tulips are blooming and the weather is getting warmer, but it is also allergy season. For many of us this means a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes or skin and lots of sneezing.

    Common causes of allergies include:

    Pollen

    Affecting a lot of people pollen allergies or hayfever are caused by an allergy to the pollen produced by flowers, trees, grasses and weeds.  Pollen gets into the home when you open the doors and windows or travels inside on your clothing or with pets.  It is often further dispersed through the home by cooling and heating systems.

    Dust Mites

    Dust mites are one of the most common causes of allergies in the home.  Millions of these tiny creatures live in our mattresses, bed linen, carpets and furnishings.  Feeding of our skin cells, and producing waste, studies show that are a known cause or trigger of asthma and eczema. 

    Mould

    Mould is often found in damp, poorly ventilated areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundries. Mould and bacteria are also often found in mattresses and pillows with our perspiration, shredded skin cells and everyday spills and stains helping provide the perfect conditions for it to grow.

    Pets

    Fairly common, pet allergies are triggered by pet dander from animals such as such as cats and dogs.  Pets also often carry inside other allergens such as pollen and dust.

    While there is not a lot you can do to control your outdoor environment, there are things you can do when spring cleaning, to help control your indoor environment, and in particular the bedroom, where seasonal allergies can be triggered all year round.

    Spring cleaning the Bedroom – Tips

    Get Prepared

    • Make sure you have all your cleaning supplies at hand.
    • Have three boxes on hand - one for rubbish, one for things that don’t belong in the bedroom and one for anything, such as old clothes, that you might like to donate to charity.

    Clear the bedroom of clutter

    • Remember that the bedroom should be a peaceful area, a sanctuary. Remove any items that are not used or are unnecessary. Are they rubbish, do they belong in another room or can they go to charity?
    • Consider removing TVs or Computers. The blue light emitted from screens can reduce the production of the sleep hormone melatonin which may result in difficulty sleeping and increased drowsiness during the day.

    Clean out the wardrobe and dresser drawers

    • Start by taking everything out.
    • If possible, store away any winter clothing and shoes.
    • We all have things in our wardrobe and drawers that we no longer wear.  When deciding what to put back ask yourself the following questions. Have I worn it in the last 12 months? Will I wear it again? Does it still fit? Do I like the way it looks? Is it damaged?
    • The things you don't need, if not damaged, consider selling online or donating to charity.

     Dust

    • Dust all surfaces in the bedroom with a damp or electrostatic cloth.
    • Remove all items from dressers and shelves, returning them as you go.
    • Move from one side of the room to the other so no areas are missed.

     Wipe down the walls

    • Clean off any marks. 
    • If you have young artists in the household and are using a cleaning block or another cleaning chemical always test in an inconspicuous area to ensure it does not fade or damage the paint or wallpaper. 

    Clean windows and window furnishings

    • Clean your windows, inside and out. You might want to try using a water/vinegar mixture with a microfibre cloth. Don’t forget the window frames and tracks. If needed a toothbrush is great for getting into the corners.
    • Take down and wash curtains.
    • Dust and wipe down blinds with warm water.

    Clean Flooring

    • Thoroughly vacuum the carpet or floor boards using a good quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
    • If you can, move furniture to get underneath.
    • Mop floor boards. Consider a professional clean for the carpet.
    • Wipe down baseboards.

    Vacuum soft furnishing

    • Any chairs, couches or soft furnishings should also be vacuumed with a good quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.

    Replace Filters  

    • If your heating and cooling system is due for new filters, spring is a great reminder to replace them and preferably with HEPA versions if possible.

    Strip and clean your bedding

    • Remove and clean all bedding, including sheets, blankets, mattress and pillow protectors. Washing in hot water (above 55°C will kill any dust mites).
    • Cover your mattress and pillows with Protect-A-Bed® mattress and pillow protectors. Protect-A-Bed®’s Miracle Layer™ acts as a barrier against any dust mite, mould and bacteria allergens that may be present in your mattress or pillows.  They also protect your mattress from yellowing that is caused by your perspiration and everyday spills. Recognised by the National Asthma Council of Australia and the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand’s Sensitive Choice Program you will see the Sensitive Choice Blue Butterfly on Protect-A-Bed® packaging.

    If you or someone in your family suffer from severe allergies, asthma or eczema consider using Protect-A-Bed®’s Fully Encased Mattress Protectors. 

    The fully encased Protect-A-Bed® Allerzip® Mattress and Pillow Encasement's feature a unique BugLock® system. which has a dust mite proof flap and Secure Seal® providing total protection.  Preventing dust mite, mould and bacteria allergens entering or escaping through the zipper.

    Simply Fit n’ Forget by layering a Protect-A-Bed® Fitted Mattress Protector over the top for regular washing and drying with other linens.

    • And as you are most likely putting the flannel sheets away for the year, why not try some sheets and mattress protectors designed to keep you cool and comfortable? Those made from TENCEL™, for example, are hypoallergenic, smooth on the skin, and help manage heat and moisture for better sleep in warmer weather.
    • Don’t forget to wash or have your pillows dry-cleaned.
    • Fold and put into storage any winter bedding no longer needed.
    • Wipe down the bed frame.
    • Flip and rotate your mattress

    Finally consider keeping flowers (with pollen) and pets out of the bedroom. 

    Sit back, relax and enjoy the warmer days and remember if your allergies are triggered by pollen stay indoors on dry windy days and especially after storms as these are peak periods for airborne allergens.   

     

    Is how much coffee you drink affecting your sleep?

    Whether it’s a cup in the morning, to give you that kick start, or one in the afternoon with friends, many of us enjoy our daily coffee or coffees.

    A naturally occurring stimulant, caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate and many other foods and drinks. And whilst it has no nutritional value in our diets, what you may not realise, is that while 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.

    How caffeine affects our sleep

    Caffeine is absorbed quickly into our blood stream and reaches its full potential within 30-60 minutes. It's affects lasting 3-7 hours, it can take up to 24 hours to be fully eliminated from our bodies. 

    And as explained by an article from the Caffineinfomer

    “Not all caffeine can immediately be broken down by the liver, so some free caffeine remains in general circulation. Some of which makes its way to the brain. The caffeine molecule is similar in shape to the adenosine molecule which is a neurotransmitter. Since these two molecules are so similar, caffeine molecules are able to bind to the brain’s adenosine receptors and therefore block adenosine from binding and doing its job”.

    "Adenosine plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle. When adenosine binds to enough receptors, it signals the brain that it is time for rest or sleep. Caffeine doesn’t replace the person’s need for sleep but masks tiredness since adenosine can no longer do what it is intended to do"

    "This process also interferes with the dopamine system in the brain.  Dopamine, which is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter becomes more plentiful when adenosine is blocked by caffeine and this causes increased feelings of well-being and happiness. Furthermore, elevated levels of adenosine in the blood cause the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. This stimulating hormone further adds to the feelings of alertness and energy."

    But at bedtime, by inhibiting the adenosine receptors, in our brain which play a role in our sleep wake cycle caffeine can mask tiredness, disrupt our sleep and alter our Circadian Rhythm. 

    It may also result in the quality of our sleep not been as good as needed.  Not only resulting in a lighter and more restless sleep but causing us to wake up in the night for trips to the bathroom.

    The effects varying between individuals as we all have different sensitivity levels and its effects can be affected by other lifestyle choices such as smoking (caffeine is metabolised by the body more rapidly in people who use nicotine) or at different stages of life.  Older people tend to be more sensitive to its effects while I has been shown to be slower among pregnant women.

    And as the average adult needs about 8 hours of good quality sleep a night to function effectively if Caffeine is distributing this can cause us to feel tired, unrested and unmotivated in the following days. Often resulting in one reaching for another cup of coffee and repeating the cycle.

    So how much coffee or caffeine is too much?

    There are no guidelines for the intake of caffeine.

    A Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) Expert Working group has however recognised that

    “there was evidence of increased anxiety levels in children at doses of about 3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day. The anxiety level for children aged 5-12 equates to a caffeine dose of 95 mg per day (approximately two cans of cola) and about 210 mg per day (approximately three cups of instant coffee) for adults”

    They have also identified how much caffeine can be found in some food or drinks as a guide here.

    But this is not to say you cannot enjoy your daily coffee or chocolate snacks it may simply require you to think about how much caffeine you are ingesting and when.

    If you are drinking or consuming large amounts of caffeine consider cutting back.  Just don’t stop suddenly, gradually cut back. If your body is used to caffeine as stimulant, simply stopping may give you headaches.

    And, don’t drink coffee too close to bedtime. And you may need to try having that last one at different times to see what works best for you because as recognised by the Sleep Health Foundation  

    “There are different views on how many hours before bed you should have your last caffeine intake. Some say caffeine should be avoided for at least 3 to 7 hours before going to sleep. Others say no caffeine after lunch time if you have sleep problems. Many people find that their sleep improves with less caffeine or only having caffeine earlier in the day.”

    And remember when you are sleeping well you are living well