Don’t let the end of summer time disrupt your sleep!

Most people worry about losing an hour of sleep when summer time begins in the spring, but its end can completely throw off your daily schedule and overall mood. ‘Falling back‘ in October and gaining an extra hour may sound amazing, but you might not realize it can actually be quite taxing on your body.

The EU commission conducted an assessment of the summer time arrangements directive as a result of a citizens’ initiative from 2018. The assessment had 4.6 million respondents of whom 84% were in favour of ending the clock changes. In March 2019 the EU commission decided to stop resetting the clock from March 2021. Until then, there are ways to keep the change from summer to winter time from throwing you off your sleep routine.

Do we lose an hour or gain an hour?

One of the biggest misconceptions about winding the clocks back an hour the last Sunday in October is that you get more sleep. But according to Anthony Komaroff, M.D., that’s not always the case: “In reality, many people don’t, or can’t take advantage of this weekend’s extra hour of sleep. And the resulting shift in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can disrupt sleep for several days.1” He goes on to say that only a small number of people actually get an hour of extra sleep and “during the following week, many people wake up earlier, have more trouble falling asleep, and are more likely to wake up during the night.”

Light and the circadian rhythm

Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals throughout the day.

It’s no secret that you sleep better when the sun is down and the lights are off. That’s because “light exposure at night also stimulates alertness – and that can pose a serious problem for healthy, abundant, refreshing sleep.2” That can also result in your circadian rhythm getting out of whack. As your internal clock is influenced by sunlight and temperature, keeping a schedule that is aligned with the sun is key to sustaining a regular sleeping routine.

On the other hand, bright light exposure throughout the day can make your sleep at night feel deeper and more satisfying.3 It’s all about balance.

Three sleep tips preparing you for winter time

Setting the clocks back an hour can mess up your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm, but it doesn’t have to. Here are a few tips to help you adjust accordingly and get a good night sleep:

  • Briefly adjust your times. If you’re lucky enough to work a semi-flexible schedule, try zonking out and waking up 15 minutes later for the first couple of days of the transition. And if you’re really flexible, sneak in a 30-minute to an hour cat nap.
  • Don’t stay up too late. It may be tempting to squeeze in one more hour-long episode of your favourite show, but don’t do it. According to Dr. Illene Rosen who serves on the board of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), “One of the biggest mistakes that people make… is staying up later and thinking that they’re going to get an extra hour of sleep.” That internal clock of yours is likely to wake you up early that Sunday so don’t count on an extra hour.
  • Rely on the sun. The sun can be your friend in terms of getting good sleep at night. According to Dr. Rosen, the time change in the fall is far easier to adjust to than the one in the spring. She suggests, “Try to get as much late afternoon sun exposure before switching the clocks back, and as much morning sun as possible after switching the clocks to help ease the transition.

Spring forward!

The clocks sprung forward by one hour on 31st March as Europe moves to summer time. Looking forward to long summer evenings? Feeling down in the mouth because your precious weekend will be one hour shorter? Whatever your perspective, here are our ideas for making the most of the change.

Don’t lose sleep over it

When you’re trying to cram friends, family, chores and socialising into two little days, one hour less of weekend can feel like a big loss. If you’re thinking about cutting an hour of sleep instead of an hour of activity, resist the temptation! The shortfall could leave you feeling groggy and grumpy1 and spoil the whole of Sunday.

Instead, split the difference: shave half an hour off your normal sleep schedule and skip half an hour of chores. Your quality of life won’t suffer too much from a half-hour sleep deficit. And your vacuum cleaner won’t notice your absence.

Don’t get the baby blues

If you have young children, you’re probably braced for a struggle. It’s bright outside, their body clock knows it’s early, and you’re asking them to go to bed when they’d much rather be playing. The internet2 is bursting3with tips4on helping your child to cope, but as with all things child-related, the answer lies with patience, flexibility, forward planning, and more patience.

Do your best to help them adapt gradually (and don’t feel guilty if you ‘accidentally’ put the clocks wrong to persuade them it’s time for bed). Accept that it’s going to take a few days or weeks for them to settle into their new routine. And, if you have a child who gets up horribly early in the morning, breathe a sigh of relief: you’ll have a few days of respite until they adapt.

Do make the most of the light

If your work or family commitments mean you have to get up early, you have our condolences: an extra hour of darkness in the mornings must be tough. If you’re an everyday commuter who works the nine to five, life just got a lot brighter.

Why not treat the ‘spring forward’ as a chance to reset your own clock? Dust off those New Year’s resolutions to do more exercise, eat more healthily, improve your sleep habits or see your friends more often and put them into action. With an hour more light in the evening, you’ll find it that much easier to go for a run after work, swap screen time for outside time, meet for a drink at a pavement cafe, or enjoy a salad for dinner instead of a heavy stew. Instead of hibernating at home, get a spring in your step, put a smile on your face, and get ready to enjoy the summer!

Demand better sleep

Sleep Awareness Week is here. Everyone sleeps, so of course we’re all aware of sleep to some degree. We feel better when we get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night: we’re more alert, more engaged, often happier.

What do we need to be more aware of?

Many of us regularly sleep for 7-8 hours and still wake up groggy, some with chronic morning headaches or energy that only lasts part of the day. It’s tempting to accept this as normal, to shrug and say “That’s the cost of getting older,” “It’s been like this for years,” or “it’s genetic; my whole family sleeps like this.”

If this sounds like you, be aware: Bad sleep isn’t normal, and you shouldn’t just accept it. You can demand better sleep.

Let’s look at two issues that people commonly ignore or accept, but are often indicators of a sleep disorder that’s chronic, dangerous, and – here’s the good news – easily treatable if identified.

Do you snore?

About 40 percent of men and 24 percent of women consistently snore.1 It’s so common, we associate snoring with normal sleep. Almost every famous cartoon character snores when they sleep. Another term for sleeping is “catching Z’s” (one of the sounds a snorer makes).

But a simple snore could signal much more – it’s the #1 indicator of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in both men and women.2

Tens of millions of Americans suffer this chronic disease where the muscles and soft tissues in your throat collapse while you sleep, obstructing the flow of air into your lungs. Here, snoring is the result of air sneaking in and out through a partially closed upper airway before it closes completely for 10 seconds or more. Eventually your body jolts awake to take a breath, but you’re likely unaware that you ever “woke up.” Your body falls back asleep and the cycle repeats.

Think about it like this: If you suffer from sleep apnoea, you are suffocating to the point that your brain senses a potential life-or-death emergency. There is no air moving into your lungs, and the level of oxygen in your blood drops while the level of carbon dioxide rises. Your brain sends signals to arouse you, similar to a rush of adrenaline, that will interrupt your sleep just enough to make you take a breath, but which may also lead to a brief period of hyperventilation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Now imagine that this is happening to you 5, 10, 30 times an hour – dozens or even hundreds of times each and every night. If you suffer from sleep apnoea, sleep is never restful, and the stress on your body is daily and unrelenting.

Not every snorer has OSA. But if you snore, the safe thing to do is talk to your doctor about your potential risk. If you have OSA, treating it can reduce the snoring – helping both you and your bed partner sleep better.

It is estimated that 85 percent of those who suffer from sleep apnoea are unaware that they have it,3 and remain undiagnosed and untreated. Many snorers could be part of that 85 percent.

Are you often tired during the day?

If your energy doesn’t last you all day, even after a full night’s sleep, it could be another sign of OSA.

The body is constantly waking and falling back asleep, causing chronic sleep deprivation. You may notice persistent tiredness (even after thinking you got adequate sleep), poor concentration, forgetfulness, night sweats, frequent nighttime bathroom trips, or sexual dysfunction. Women are also known to report morning headaches, insomnia or anxiety.4

And that’s just the short-term effects of this common but underdiagnosed disease. Sleep apnoea can also raise your risk of high blood pressure,5 heart failure,6 or less effective glucose control if you have type 2 diabetes.7

The good news: OSA is treatable.

The gold standard for treating sleep apnoea is PAP, a positive airway pressure device that sends a stream of air through your upper airway via a mask. The air acts as a natural stent, keeping your airway open and your body and brain sound asleep.

PAP treatment is not invasive. Plus, it’s quieter, more comfortable and easier to use than ever before. Many devices are cloud-connectable, providing daily data so you and your doctor can see exactly how well your treatment is going, and make small adjustments to further improve your sleep.

I was that snorer.

As a physician, I’ve heard countless reasons for putting off a sleep test or starting PAP treatment. But I’ve heard even more stories of people who were struck by how life-changing treatment was the very first week, and haven’t looked back since. One person that I know very well will gladly tell anyone who will listen that PAP treatment gave him his best sleep in 20 years – that person happens to be me.

I went to medical school and completed my residency and fellowship training during the time (not so long ago) when working a 36-hour shift with little or no sleep was still considered acceptable. I thought surviving on little sleep and dealing with the chronic daytime sleepiness was a badge of honor, and that my snoring was just a normal part of how I slept. Now I know that it was slowly and relentlessly worsening my health… slowly killing me while I slept.

I didn’t accept bad sleep. I demanded better sleep, and better health. We all can, and we all should. It starts with asking your doctor one simple question: “Could I have sleep apnoea?”

By Carlos M. Nunez, M.D.

World Sleep Day is Coming!

Hosted by the World Sleep Society, Friday 15th March 2019 sees the 12th annual World Sleep Day.

World Sleep Day is an internationally recognised awareness event bringing researchers, health professionals and patients together to recognise sleep and its important impact on our health. This year the theme is ‘Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging’ highlighting the importance of sleep in overall health at any age. 1
NHS guidelines state that most adults need between 6 and 9 hours sleep per night. 2 Modern day pressures are often to blame for the reduced hours of sleep a night however some prominent figures are vocal about their requirements for a solid block of hours sleep per night.  Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), Andrea Huffington (CEO of Thrive Global, set up Huffington Post), 3 Cees’t Hart (President and CEO of Carlsberg Group) 4 all protect their shut eye with carefully scheduled diaries. Huffington’s Thrive Global is a partner of World Sleep Day 2019. 1
Sleep deprivation can also be caused by disorders, ranging from snoring to Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) all which can be controlled to increase quality and quantity of sleep. 5 If you are unable to maintain sleep at regular times or finding you are waking unrefreshed it may be worthwhile recording a sleep diary. This diary will assist any conversations you have with a medical professional and assist with any diagnostics you may then undertake.
You may also be interested in taking our online sleep test which will give you an indication of how likely you are to be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, although this is not a medical diagnosis so be sure to seek the advice of your medical professional if you’re at all concerned about your health.

Sleep well and inspire others

“I try hard to make my 8 hours of sleep a priority”

The age old mantra of needing 8 hours sleep a night shouldn’t be ignored even with modern day pressures.

Research has shown that for most adults between 6 and 9 hours sleep a night is needed1 Sleep provides time for your body to recharge by consolidating and storing memories, processing the day’s activities and associated emotions, replenishing glucose which fuels the brain and eradicating beta-amyloid whose build up disrupts cognitive activity2.

Business leaders who thrive on limited shut eye or arrive at work unrested are doing more damage than good, not just for their own health but also for their employee’s health and performance. Fatigue can cause changes in behaviours such as loss of patience, erratic decision making and a lack of charisma which are not desirable traits of a leader and can leave employees disengaged.2.

Fortunately the popular trend of less sleep = success seems to be shifting.

No longer will the constant business travel, late nights in the office and numerous social commitments portray you as a winner. People are becoming more aware of what they demand of their bodies, the food they eat to fuel themselves and how to treat themselves to make them the most productive they can be. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos “I try hard to make my 8-hours of sleep a priority3

Is it a sign of a sleep disorder?

For some, not getting enough sleep can be a sign of a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Sleep disorders can be treated if they have been identified. And in the first instance it can be the partners of snorers who are having disrupted sleep as a result of snoring who will generally comment and raise awareness. Becoming aware of the symptoms of sleep disorders should direct you to complete an online screen test to help highlight the symptoms of sleep apnoea. If you have any concerns, then don’t hesitate to discuss this with your GP who may refer you for a sleep study. If you are then referred for a sleep study and subsequently diagnosed with sleep apnoea it will also determine what level of severity as this will help define your treatment options.

Many ResMed patients already on CPAP treatment, such as Ed Jones, report huge improvements in their daily life from its use.4 Once patients are used to the new way of sleeping, they will hopefully see a marked difference in their daytime performance. Many patients who have been diagnosed with OSA and started treatment will hopefully have experienced similar changes in energy and mood. It’s a reminder, that keeping on track with your CPAP therapy and persevering through any issues is vital to get the best results.

Imagine waking feeling that you’ve had your full 8 hours of sleep? Positive energy can be infectious, especially if you are a leader – colleagues and employees can be impacted by changes in your attitude. Clearer decision making, decrease in errors, sustained attention, more self control and being more approachable are all great attributes in a leader. That’s definitely something we can all aspire too.

The stages of sleep

Stage 1: sleep onset

Stage 1 is the transitional stage between wakefulness and sleep. In Stage 1 sleep, you shift in and out of consciousness, and lose a sense of time and place. Sleep onset – the process of falling asleep – takes place during Stage 1. It is easy to be awakened from this stage of sleep. If awakened from Stage 1 sleep, you might not even be aware you’d been sleeping.

Stage 2: light sleep

Stage 2 is a phase of light sleep. Over the course of a night and several sleep cycles, you will spend approximately 50 percent of your time in Stage 2 sleep as you move in and out of REM and the deepest stage of NREM sleep. During Stage 2 sleep, brain activity slow from waking levels. The body also relaxes physically, as heart rate and breathing decrease. Stage 2 is a state of full sleep, but not deep sleep: it is still easy to wake from this stage. During both Stages 1 and 2, the body relaxes as is prepares to move into deeper phases of sleep.

Stage 3: deep sleep

Stage 3 is a phase of deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep. Typically it takes about 30 minutes to reach Stage 3 sleep for the first time after falling asleep. During this phase of sleep, brain waves slow considerably. Heart rate and breathing slow, blood pressure lowers, and muscles relax. Stage 3 is a critical time for physical restoration. Repair occurs at the cellular level, restoring strength and function to tissue, muscle, and organs throughout the body. During Stage 3 sleep the body also turns its attention to restoring function to the immune system.

REM: Rapid Eye Movement Sleep

You reach REM sleep for the first time approximately 90 minutes into the night. Periods of REM sleep start as brief, but REM sleep gets progressively longer throughout the night. During REM sleep, the brain increases its activity levels significantly compared the other sleep phases. Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep. If you wake with an awareness of having been dreaming, you likely awoke from REM sleep. REM sleep is a critical phase of sleep for learning and memory, a time when the brain processes and stores information.

Take the heat out of sleep – 16 ways to sleep well when It’s Hot

Well it looks like the hot weather is sticking around for a while which for most of us is great news, but with the long days at this time of year there’s little respite, even at night.
In the UK we’re not famed for our stinking hot summers and whilst the vast majority enjoy it whilst it’s here, we’re inevitably left out of practice and thus ill-prepared for a long, hot spell.
We’ve all experienced those unavoidable nights where we find ourselves tossing and turning amongst the sheets, hot, sticky and restless – it’s not much fun.
Interestingly the temperature of both our bodies and our surroundings can also have an impact on the quality of rest we get each night, too? Heat doesn’t just make it hard to fall asleep – it also impacts on how well we sleep.
Quality sleep is crucial for good health and wellbeing, so it’s important to get the conditions right.
To assist you, we have compiled this blog to provide with some handy tips to keep your cool and rest easier.

16 tips to keep the ideal room temperature

(1) Keep your windows open If your room is warmer than outside, which can often be the case, leave the windows open during the night to let in a fresh breeze. Night air tends to be cooler throughout the early hours of the morning, and the fresh air circulation can help keep the temperature down by preventing your room from becoming stuffy.

(2) Avoid blankets Some people need the comfort of a blanket over them, but a wool blanket or feather duvet can make you sweat throughout the night. This can disrupt your sleep as your body struggles to drop its temperature.

(3) Buy breathable bed linen Light-weight, quality bed linen is breathable and a real bonus in hot weather as it won’t trap your body heat. The less heat that remains, the easier it is to feel cooler and more comfortable as you drift off to sleep.

So save the polyester, silk and satin sheets for colder nights or special occasions!

(4) Freeze your sheets – yes seriously! This takes some planning and may be for the real extremes, but unusual as it may sound, this is our tip number 4: fold your sheets into a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer as you brush your teeth before bed. Don’t leave them there for too long, but long enough to cool them right down and then place them onto your bed to provide you with temporary relief as you try to settle down for the night.

(5) Invest in a good mattress A high-quality mattress often can dissipate your body heat much more effectively than other alternatives, helping your core reach the ideal temperature for the best night’s sleep.

(6) Anti-snuggle zone We’re fans of a cuddle before bedtime, but beware falling asleep in your embrace! Getting too close to each other will share body temperatures and hold the heat between you for much longer, making it harder for your temperatures to drop to the optimal point for a better sleep.
Keeping further apart is probably a better solution when trying to keep cool.

(7) Keep pets off the bed This may be alien to serious pet fans, but the less bodies in a room, the lower the temperature! This especially applies if your dog or cat jumps up and takes a share of the bed. Their added heat can make it harder for your body to cool to the right temperature for the best sleep.

(8) Stay Hydrated You hopefully don’t need reminding, but.. drinking a glass of chilled water before bed keeps your body hydrated and cool, and replenishes any loss of water due to sweating.

(9) Have a cold shower If you’re really roasting hot, before you’ve even hit the hay, getting under a cold shower can take the heat out of your skin, help drop your core body temperature and rinse of any sweat before entering into the sheets, clean and comfortably.

ResMed CPAP

(10) Cold Compress Comfort If you’re still struggling with heat, grab an ice pack from the freezer, wrap it in a tea towel and place it in the bed wherever it feels comfortable. Even better – use your ‘hot’ water bottle! Just fill it with water and pop it in the freezer for a bed-friendly solution.

To get more instant relief, place the pack around your pulse points on your wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and even behind your knees. The cold will get transported quickly around your body, and you’ll notice the difference almost immediately. Try and avoid falling asleep with it in one position though.

(11) The good old fan Air conditioning is a luxury but fans are an inexpensive alternative. Using them throughout the night to keep circulating the air can draw heat out of the room and even push it out of the open window assuming you adhered to tip 1.

You can go to more extreme measures by placing a bowl full of ice cubes in front of the fan. The breeze will slowly distribute the melting cold vapour from the surface of the ice, generating a cooling mist.

(12) The damp towel An oldie but a goodie to help your body shed some extra degrees at night is to simply moisten a towel or cloth, and either place it on your forehead or body. Just don’t saturate the towel to avoid soaking your mattress and sheets.

(13) Loosen those pyjamas Loose, soft cotton pyjamas can help keep you cooler by dissipating the heat, similar to the way that the cotton sheets do. They allow for air flow and breathability, while absorbing excess sweat from your skin, even better, if you’re one for wearing your birthday suit, then this is one less layer to think about.

ResMed good sleep

(14) Use your lights sparingly It’s not only good for conserving energy, but most if not all light bulbs give off some sort of heat that we just don’t want when trying to get a good night’s sleep. It stays lighter much later during the hotter months, so take advantage and try to keep light usage to a minimum.

(15) Unplug before bed Similar to turning off the lights, it’s equally beneficial to turn off the electronics too. Devices like your smart phone give off heat and light that both aren’t conducive to getting a quality night’s sleep. So put them away and let yourself drift more peacefully.

16) Body position Stretching out across the bed with your arms and legs wide is a really simple and easy way to keep your temperature down by increasing air circulation around your limbs and reducing sweat.

Healthy recipe ideas to put a spring in your step

Well after a late Easter, Spring has definitely sprung. Alongside longer evenings and rising temperatures, the new season’s foods and flavours are a highlight of this time of year. Eating well and sleeping well are two key components of a healthy, happy life, so here’s our round-up of some of the freshest, tastiest spring recipes.

Asparagus

After Easter Eggs, asparagus must be the quintessential spring food. It’s delicious simply roasted with a drizzle of olive oil. Any leftovers can be transformed into a filling frittata. Asparagus can also star in a salad, like this bold bean salad or this reinvention of the classic Niçoise. Or how about mixing up your flavours with an Asian-inspired soup?

New potatoes

Tiny early potatoes will soon be hitting the shops. If you’re feeling nostalgic for wintery soups and stews, this chicken and new potato spring stew might appeal. Or this flavoursome soup packed with parsley and wild garlic. Of course, you could simply steam them and add a touch of olive oil and salt. Simple pleasures are often the best!

Lamb

Roast lamb is the classic spring Sunday lunch dish. This Greek roast lamb is an easy, low-prep dish that will allow you to spend your time enjoying the outdoors (or maybe hiding inside from April showers). If the weather’s warmed up enough for a spring barbeque, try this warm spring salad with grilled lamb.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is known as the ‘first fruit of the season’ (even though it’s technically a vegetable). The first stalks can be picked in April and the season runs through to June, when soft fruits take over. A rhubarb crumble muffin is sure to make your afternoon coffee break more enjoyable. For an after-dinner treat, enjoy a classic rhubarb tart, a delicate sorbet,or a magnificent gateau. Rhubarb also works well in a surprising variety of savoury dishes.

So, get cooking! And sharing! What are your favourite spring-time recipes?