Two years after we last asked the question ‘Do you sleep in the same bed as your partner?’ as part of our monthly poll series, it was reassuring to see that the statistics had barely changed – and yes we do still enjoy sharing the bed with our partner!
Just over half (51%) still snuggle up to each other in bed (47% in Feb 2015). Good news as sleeping with your partner can actually benefit your health and increase the odds of your having a longer lifespan. This is because people tend to feel more secure and safe when in a relationship, decreasing the levels of stress hormones and increasing oxytocin, the love hormone – leading to less interrupted sleep.
However bear in mind that around 50% of sleep disturbance is caused by sharing a bed with your partner. If you find your sleep is disrupted on a regular basis by a snoring partner, a duvet hogger and a bed companion who frequently tosses and turns it may be worth considering a larger bed or even separate bedrooms.
At Christmas it can be extremely hard trying to maintain a good sleep routine.
If we’re not socialising and going to parties, we’re over indulging on food and drink or worrying about presents and what time the turkey needs to go in the oven!
Here’s our top tips to stay on top of your sleep and make it through the festive season awake and alert.
1. Stick to Routine Try as much as possible to keep regular sleeping hours – we know it can be hard when you’re staying up late for Santa, but going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better. Also, regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. A good brisk walk is ideal to stop you feeling sluggish after a hefty Christmas dinner!
2. Create a Restful Environment Keep the Christmas decorations to the other parts of your home – your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible. It might also be handy to keep some ear plugs handy to block out the sound of your partner’s alcohol or feast-induced snoring!
3. A Comfy Bed Make sure your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old. It should be as big as possible so avoid partner disturbance. Perhaps a new bed should be on your Christmas present list!
4. Don’t Over-Indulge Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night. It is hard in the party period but try to swap to water a couple of hours before bedtime.
5. Make Time for ‘Me’ Time Try to relax and insist on some ‘me time’ before going to bed. Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music or do some yoga – these all help to relax both the mind and body. It’s also important to resolve arguments before bed. Ongoing conflicts are not conducive to putting you in the right frame of mind for sleep!
Sleeping may seems like the most natural and easiest thing, because even babies manage to do it all the times, but the science behind sleep can be quite complicated. Not getting adequate amount of sleep can cause zombie walking in the morning followed by fatigue the entire next day. Three things plays important role in it- Sleeping for right amount of hours, sleeping in the right mattress in Ireland and sleeping in the right position. Lets understand the last part- sleeping positions.
Diabetes, obesity, heartburn and dementia all can find its way to your body if you fail to get quality sleep for quite a long time. And your sleeping position can play significant role in it. There are three most common sleeping position and we will find out pros and cons of each of these.
Advantages – If you are a back sleeper, you are more likely to have a straight spine as it does not put any extra strain on it. It is actually a boon for spine and neck, as it allows the neck to be in neutral position. Sleeping on the suitable mattress in Ireland can also provide additional support to your body weight.
Disadvantages – If you are back sleeper, if are more susceptible to experience snoring and suffer from sleep apnea. The reason being, your tongue gets backward resulting in blockage the passage of air and thereby inducing sleep apnea.
Advantage– This is considered as the most favourable sleeping positions. In fact the doctors advice to sleep on side especially during pregnancy and as a remedy if your are suffering from persistent snoring. It is also beneficial if you suffer from acid reflux and heartburn and help to sooth it.
Disadvantage– Sleeping on particularly one side can exert too much pressure of stomach and lungs. If your weight is more than ideal, side sleeping can induce arm numbness because all your body weight is now resting on only one side of the body.
Advantages – If you are suffering from sleep apnea and loud snoring, then sleeping on your stomach can ease and eliminate it in practically no time.
Disadvantages – Sleeping on your belly for a long time can bend the natural shape of the spine and thus in a long run can cause severe back injury. Also, you are bound to move your head on either side of the pillow in order to breath, thus it also injures your neck.
Most people need between five to nine hours sleep a night to function. Generally, eight hours is seen as the ideal, but everyone’s different.
Sleeping problems or sleeplessness, difficulty sleeping or getting to sleep, is often referred to as insomnia.
Often stress and anxiety can lead to sleeping problems. As the stressful situation passes, a more regular sleep pattern should return.
Irregular sleep patterns can also be related to depression.
If you’ve been feeling down for a couple of weeks and have been unable to sleep speak to your GP.
Factors that can disrupt sleep include:
asthma and breathing disorders
pregnancy – during the third trimester of pregnancy sleep is usually dramatically reduced
stimulants in the blood stream like caffeine and nicotine
some prescribed and over the counter drugs
some forms of the contraceptive pill
decongestants and pain and cold relievers
Impact of poor sleep
Problems getting to sleep, waking early or not being able to sleep throughout the night can affect your general wellbeing.
Effects of insomnia include:
decreased concentration levels
decreased energy levels
difficulty remembering things.
How to improve your sleep quality
Try to set routines. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.
This helps your body clock get into rhythm and makes sleeping feel more natural. Avoid sleeping during the day, because it makes it harder to fall asleep at night.
Process the day’s thoughts and feelings and then let go of them. If it helps, write things down or talk about them with someone you trust.
Learning meditation is a very useful tool for stilling the mind and relaxing the body. It can be a very effective way to release tension and de-stress.
What you can do to manage insomnia
Implement routine: Try to go to bed and wake at the same time daily.
Limit the bed to sleeping: Try not to study, watch TV, read or eat in bed
Exercise: Do some exercise during the day to induce tiredness.
Relax before bed: Have a warm bath, listen to soothing music, use deep breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi etc.
Avoid naps: Napping during the day may minimise your ability to sleep at night.
Minimise anxiety: Try not to tackle anything that may cause stress & anxiety just before bed time, or write down any worries you may have.
Avoid stimulants: Avoid having caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, cola) or cigarettes before bed. [NB: alcohol may make you drowsy but can disrupt sleeping patterns.]
Warm and soothing drinks: Warm chamomile or peppermint tea or a milk-based drink may help you sleep.
Lavender: Lavender is considered a natural sedative, so sprinkling some oil on your pillow may assist.
Natural Remedies: Valerian is considered a non-addictive, sleep-inducing herb that also assists in relieving stress and anxiety and is available at supermarkets or pharmacies. St John’s Wort is another natural product which is used to treat anxiety, stress & insomnia, but is unfortunately not available over the counter in Ireland.
Sleep in a well ventilated room, that’s neither too hot nor cold
Avoid excessive exercise just before going to bed
Avoid eating a heavy meal late in the evening
Play soft gentle music. The heart actually follows the beat of the music so high-energy dance music revs you up, while slower more peaceful music helps you unwind.
If none of these help, do consult your doctor.
Circadian rhythms are daily cycles based on a 24-hour period, which are strongly influenced by regular changes in the environment like night and day.
This natural cycle helps coordinate regular bodily functions like appetite, energy, mood, and sleep.
It does this by regulating the timing, amount and quality of the hormones and neurotransmitters the body produces and releases.
Out of sync
When our body is out of sync with this 24-hour cycle, we can be at risk of developing circadian rhythm disorder. In the short term we may experience circadian disruption, like jet lag following long flights.
Functioning as a time-keeping mechanism for the mind and the body, the suprachaismatic nuclei (SCN) synchronize the 24-hour periods. They control most other rhythms of the body by working with time-keeping genes and hormones, like melatonin.
Together they coordinate the daily rhythms and cycles that control the rise and fall of hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters that determine waking times, sleep, appetite, sex and other key aspects of our lives.
Many of the rhythms of our body and mind are synchronised with nature. For example, when our biological clock is functioning properly, the urge to wake up will start to increase in the morning, as the sun is rising.
The circadian system and the sleep-wake system then prompts our bodies to produce cortisol, serotonin, and other hormones that wake us up, increase blood pressure and cause body temperature to rise.
Likewise, at sunset, the body receives another cue and responds to the lack of sunlight by producing and releasing the hormone melatonin. Unlike at sunrise, this leads to a decrease in blood pressure and allows the body to prepare for and eventually fall into sleep.
Importance of sleep
Sleep is a crucial part of our daily lives. It helps restore energy, keep memory functioning properly, and helps to heal our bodies. When sleep is disrupted or deprived, we don’t feel as alert, we are easily agitated and all of our actions seem slow.
Stress and aniexty caused by work, family, and daily life commonly lead to sleeping problems.
People’s lives have become much more fast-paced. Hectic work schedules little time to unwind and relax. We get less sleep as a result, causing many of us to feel exhausted.
When our bodies are out of sync with the 24-hour circadian rhythm cycle, our hormone and neurotransmitter release is negatively affected. This can cause our bodies to suffer from a circadian rhythm disorder (CRD), which can sometimes trigger depression.
To avoid developing CRD, try no to take naps during the day and allow yourself time to wind down before going to bed. Exposure to light in the mornings, exercise and a healthy diet can also help.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is closely related to CRD. During the winter months, our bodies receive insufficient amounts of light.
This can cause malfunctions, resulting in the production of the wrong hormones at the wrong time of day.
Research also shows that without sunlight, the brain doesn’t produce enough serotonin, which can trigger depression.
The symptoms usually diminish as the days get longer, although many SAD sufferers note brief (one to two-week) periods of SAD-like symptoms in the summer.
Bipolar disorder is different to major depression in that it is marked by episodes of euphoria or mania. These episodes can last for hours, days or even months.
In almost all cases of bipolar disorder, depressive and manic episodes are seasonal, leading doctors to make a connection between the disorder and CRD.
In autumn and winter, as daylight decreases, bi-polar sufferers enter a depressive phase, and require increased intervention.
Those with the disorder also suffer from sleep problems and feel worse at a particular time of day. Because these symptoms reflect a circadian rhythm disorder, doctors have found success by treating bipolar disorders with bright light.
On the back of our ‘Maybe time for a new mattress campaign’ which ran throughout nov we wanted to find out “when you last bought a mattress, what did you buy?”
And here are the results:
A third of you will buy a mattress with a divan base and nearly a quarter bought with a frame. It was reassuring to see that just over half of you do buy a mattress with some kind of base but nearly a third (30%) buy just a mattress.
When buying a new bed it can be false economy to change only the mattress and keep the original base, especially if you are buying a divan set. The old base could reduce the useful life of the new mattress as well as the comfort and support it can offer. It can also invalidate manufacturers’ warranties or guarantees. A bed is a mattress and a base working together – don’t consider them in isolation.
Wear night clothes such as pyjamas or a large T-shirt to keep you warm. Natural fibres such as wool, cotton or silk will keep you warmer than synthetic materials.
Have a warm bath just before you go to bed. This will gently warm and relax you to help you feel sleepy.
Have a warming, milky drink.
Try to take some exercise which will get the circulation going to help keep the body warm – but don’t do vigorous exercise too close to bed time as you may feel too invigorated to sleep.
Keep the bedroom warm, but not too hot, and free from draughts.
Look for a mattress which has a thicker side for use during the winter. A soft sleeping surface is a better insulator than a flat one. Use a fleecy underblanket to retain the heat.
Choose a duvet with a high tog rating or use several layers of bedding rather than one single layer. Layers will trap warm air and are easily removed if you get too hot.
A hot water bottle is an ideal way to keep warm once in bed. Make sure it has a cover on it to avoid scalding and also so that it won’t feel cold in the middle of the night. Electric blankets are ideal. Underblankets will warm the bed up before you retire for the night, while overblankets maintain a constant temperature throughout the night.
When the clocks change it can be a nightmare for parents. Children’s bedtimes and wake times change and it can take anything from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to get back in sync. Here are some top tips on how to overcome some of the problems of the clocks going back an hour on Sunday 30th October.
• Delay the start of your child’s bedtime routine, at least a week before the clocks change. Aim for around 10 – 15 minutes earlier every few days until bedtime has moved by an hour. Don’t worry if they still wake at the same time in the morning, it takes a couple of days to establish a new sleep pattern. Hopefully by the time the clocks go back on Sunday 30th, your child will have adjusted to the clock change.
• Toddlers still having a nap in the day should be encouraged to take the nap later or to be slightly longer so that they are able to go to bed that little bit later. Alter babies’ naps in the day.
• During the day before the clocks change, keep young children active – lots of fresh air and exercise – so they sleep well. But don’t totally wear them out as over-tired children are harder to get to sleep.
• If they wake up at their usual time you should encourage them to remain in bed – half an hour is probably your limit! If you don’t already have them, black out blinds or really dense curtains will help to keep morning light out.
• You may be gaining an hour but don’t go to bed an hour later than usual as chances are you won’t get the opportunity to lie-in!
It is worth noting that children with good sleep routines tend to cope better with the changes in time as they know what to expect at the end of the day. A good bedtime routine – teatime, followed by quiet play, bath, story and bed is typical. Ensure the environment is right for sleep – it should be cool, quiet and dark and make sure the bed is comfortable and supportive.
An innerspring mattress uses a steel coil support system. Manufacturers offer several different types of spring systems, including units with springs connected into a single unit and individually wrapped pocketed coils. Spring shapes, designs, coil gauge, and number of coils in a mattress can vary. The innerspring is covered by padding or upholstery materials, which can include various foams, fiber, and additional layers of smaller steel springs. Coil count can be more arbitrary, but the idea is that the greater the number of coils, the more points of support and greater distribution, thus the better the bed can contour and support the sleeper.
Foam mattresses use one or more types of foam as the support system. The foam may be polyurethane foam, memory (or visco elastic) foam, or latex foam, and can contain gel or other materials. The foam used in such mattresses can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and densities to offer consumers a mattress that has different comfort, feel and heat dissipation features.
Memory foam (visco) Mattress:
Memory foam (or visco elastic foam) mattresses use a high density polyurethane foam as the support system, in the upholstery layer, or both. This foam has properties that allow it to contour closely to the shape of the sleeper.
Pillow top mattress:
Pillow top mattresses provide an additional upholstery layer sewn into the top of the mattress. This layer can be made from a variety of fiber and foam materials.
Gel mattresses use a type of foam that contains gel in the product’s support system, upholstery layers, or both. The gel is added to the foam using deferent types of technology. The gel foam can offer consumers different comfort, feel and heat dissipation features.
Getting enough sleep has this positive perk on a happy marriage — couples are more satisfied with their partners when they are rested.
Researchers at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, studied 68 newlyweds over a seven-day period. Each couple recorded the number of hours slept and answered two sets of questions on a scale of 1 (not satisfied at all) to 7 (extremely satisfied), according to a news release from FSU.
The first set of questions focused on relationship satisfaction. The second set focused on experiences in nine areas such as chores, conflict resolution and amount of time spent together.
The researchers found that husbands, in particular, were less negatively impacted by bad experiences when they had sufficient rest.
The paper, “The Rested Relationship: Sleep Benefits in Marital Evaluations,” was published in the July issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.