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At this time of year, one in eight of us can suffer from winter blues and one in 50 of us suffer from SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder) through lack of sunlight. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, these figures could double.

It’s the sunlight that tells your brain to produce serotonin, which is needed to boost your mood and energy. Lack of it as autumn turns to winter causes an increase in the production of melatonin (which makes us sleepy) and a reduction in serotonin is what can cause depression.

One of the most obvious ways to treat SAD is to get outside in the daylight for at least 20 minutes a day but you can also invest in a light box. Light therapy is the most effective way of decreasing the symptoms. Also it is believed that eating foods rich in an amino acid called tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Taking vitamin D supplements for only five days in late winter has also improved the mood of people with SAD. It can also prevent osteoporosis, support immunity, and regulate weight. Of course, the best way to get Vitamin D is through the effects of sunlight on bare skin. Amazingly they say that Vitamin D lasts for 60 days in the body so if you got away for your annual holiday in the summer, it will mean your levels should be fine until November, but most of us missed out on this last year. Other sources of Vitamin D can be found in oily fish and eggs, cheese, and poultry. Your GP can check your Vitamin D levels with simple blood tests and put you on a high dose of Vitamin D if you need it so it is well worth having a word with your GP about this.

There are a number of other conditions that can leave you feeling tired. Iron levels are one of the first things that can affect energy levels and cause tiredness. It could be an under-active thyroid which can be a cause of tiredness and the falling hormone levels that occur at menopause.

As well as the above, some medications can also cause lethargy, including beta-blockers, some antihistamines, codeine-based painkillers, and also some antidepressants. Also, some sleeping tablets may help to get you through the night, but some can cause daytime fatigue. Of course, anxiety, stress, and depression are also triggers for sapping energy levels which are unfortunately affecting many people at the moment. Fatigue can also be a sign of diabetes.

It is a well-known fact that we can suffer from a mid-afternoon slump as our bodies are designed to have two periods of sleep.

According to the NHS, we are most likely to feel a slump at around 2.16pm as this is about the time that your cortisol level drops, and along with it so can your mood, focus, and motivation. Researchers now say that if you drink iced water, this may help to make you feel more awake by setting off tiny pain triggers.

Other things to try are changing your routine, i.e. walking a different root to work, cleaning your teeth with your left hand. Apparently, the brain responds to these experiences by releasing a rush of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which can make us more alert.

According to Pain News Network, a pilot study has found Green Light Therapy improves Fibromyalgia symptoms. Fibromyalgia patients exposed to green light therapy had significant improvements in their pain, sleep and quality of life, according to a new pilot study published in the journal Pain Medicine.

The small clinical trial by researchers at the University of Arizona is the first to explore the benefits of green light in treating fibromyalgia symptoms. Previous studies have focused on green light therapy as a treatment for migraine headaches. Green light is believed to have a calming effect on the brain and causes less eye strain.

In addition to less pain, patients also reported better mood and sleep, and improvements in their ability to work, exercise and perform chores. Eleven patients said they also reduced their use of pain medication, including opioids, while being exposed to green light.    

Although more research is needed to fully understand how green light therapy works, some commercial products are available to the public without a prescription. Details of which you can find on Pain News Network.

There are also a number of SAD Lights available from Amazon with some having a choice of three colour modes, and although not the exact ‘Green Light’, they do work on the same basis. The ones I found started from £39.99 so they are not too expensive if they do the trick.

Another example is this FITFORT Alarm Clock Wake Up Light-Sunrise/Sunset Simulation Table Bedside Lamp Eyes Protection with FM Radio, Nature Sounds and Touch Control Function. Simply set your alarm time. The clock will gradually brighten from 10% Brightness to 100% in 30 minutes before the alarm time / dimmed from 100% Brightness to 0% in 30 minutes before the bedtime. It guides you to a restful natural sleep and develop a good sleep pattern. It’s a reasonable £25.99 from Amazon.

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To kick of our first post of 2021 on Sleep Sunday, Let’s Talk About Sleep, it’s the Festival of Sleep Day.

The Festival of Sleep Day was encouraged so that people could enjoy some relaxation and much-needed “shut-eye” after the holiday period. During the Christmas period, we tend to do a lot of partying and not a lot of resting. The Festival of Sleep Day ensures that you have all of the time that you need to recoup and recover. As you will discover in the upcoming sections, this is incredibly important. 

There are a number of different steps you can take to make sure that you get a good night’s sleep. This includes evaluating your bedroom. It needs to be a place that is calming and soothing. The temperature needs to be just right as well. It is also important to try and go to sleep around the same time every evening and wake up at roughly the same time, even on weekends. This will help your body to get into a routine.

Nobody is quite sure when this holiday was founded, but it was founded by someone who had a profound and deep love of sleep. Sleep is a basic human function, and helps our bodies to regain energy for the next day, keeping our mind alert and ready for action. Having a lack of sleep can be fatal to the human body and mind, effects caused by little to no sleep over an extended period of time are as follows.

Effect One: Lack of sleep in the modern world can cause people to get into vehicular accidents, which happen daily in large numbers.

Effect Two: Lack of sleep can in fact, dumb you down. As we all know, sleep plays a critical role in our thinking and learning processes. We also know that a lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently. Secondly, sleep helps to retain memories of the day’s experience. Meaning that with a lack of sleep, we would not remember much of the previous day’s experiences. This makes sleep incredibly important for students, from those in college to those simply trying to learn a new language on their own.

Effect Three: Probably the most dangerous effect from having a long term lack of sleep is it can cause many and deadly health problems. Here are some examples of these problems.

  • Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Heart Failure
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Festival of sleep day, however, isn’t just about the health benefits of sleep, though. It is also a celebration of the activity of sleep itself. 

Sleep is one of the most fascinating phenomena there is. The more researchers probe it, the more unanswered (and possibly unanswerable) questions they find. It is still unclear why we need to sleep or where we go when we dream. 

Sleep touches on essential matters of metaphysics. For some, consciousness, mind, and thought are purely emergent properties of the physical brain. Our dreams are merely manifestations of neural activity, just as water’s wetness is a consequence of the configuration of oxygen and hydrogen atoms. For others, sleep is evidence of the dualistic nature of reality. There’s the physical world, and then there’s the realm of subjective experience. When we dream, we experience thoughts and ideas in another universe, distinct from the one we call home.

In recent years, sleep has come under attack. Historically, humans evolved to wake up with the break of day and go to sleep with the sun’s setting. Researchers have found evidence for this in the way that our sleep hormones work. The brain releases stress hormones in high quantities with the sun rising in the morning, and more relaxing chemicals as the sun goes down. Interestingly, though, this rhythm continues, even when people spend long periods underground without seeing the sun. It seems hard-wired into our bodies. 

The modern world, however, isn’t kind to sleep. We no longer get the estimated seven to nine hours that our ancestors could look forward to every night. Stress and industrial working patterns mean that the bulk of humanity is experiencing shut-eye deprivation. 

The Festival of Sleep Day is a way to push back against this trend. Organizers want to highlight the importance of sleep and its necessity for people’s health and productivity. Rest isn’t optional. And it is not a sign of laziness.

How to celebrate Festival of Sleep Day

In order to celebrate this day in the best possible way we can, if we do not have work or errands to do during this day, then we will climb into our PJ’s, jump into bed and relax, or even take a nap if we are able! But if we are unable to relax and have errands to do, or have to work during the day, then we can always save the celebration for when we get home.

Festival of Sleep Day is also about helping to restore some normality to our biology. Evolutionarily speaking, people would have gone to bed soon after the setting sun and risen at the breaking of the day. The event is a chance for people to get back to this rhythm, bedding down soon after the sun goes down and then waking up at dawn. 

The organizers hope that the day will celebrate the act of sleep and help create more positive attitudes. People taking part should do what they can to raise awareness of the importance of getting adequate shut-eye and how it is anything but lazy. Research suggests that our brains are highly active when we close our eyes at night. Data indicate that sleep is when we process everything we learned during the day and consolidate memories. Often people go to sleep, unable to figure out the answer to a problem and then wake up in the morning with the answer. 

Another way to celebrate the Festival of Sleep Day is by treating yourself to a brand new bed! After all, this is the best way to make sure you get that much-needed sleep, right? A bedroom is the most personal room in an entire house. Therefore, it is vitally important that it is a room which is decorated in a style and design that you love and that stays true to who you are.

After all, you will be spending the majority of your time in your room and so you will want it to be an area in which you enjoy being in. The most important and stand out piece of furniture in your bedroom is obviously your bed. It is of the utmost importance that you pick a bed which is comfortable, long-lasting and, of course, looks good. 

In order to ensure that you pick a great bed, you obviously need to opt for a great company. The first thing you obviously need to think about is the price of the bed you are considering buying. You should have a look on a whole host of websites and see if the company in question falls into a similar price bracket as the others you have searched. After all, you do not want to be ripped off and end up spending more for your bed then you should have to.

Nowadays, you can pick up a comfortable and robust bed for less! The next thing you need to make sure you find out is the reputation of the company in question. You need to ensure that they have left a good impression on all of their previous customers. In order to attain this information all you need to do is a quick search on a search engine, such as Google, and look on the relevant websites and forums. You can check to see if the beds were delivered on time, if they looked the same as they did on the picture on the website, if they were of high quality etc. 

Celebrate the Festival of Sleep Day by switching off your phone and taking some time to sleep instead of always being on the go.

Source: Days of the Year

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Only a few more sleeps to Santa coming now but with everything else going on in the world it won’t be just the children who are missing their sleep.

Over the last month, I’ve been up in the night writing lists then reading to try and get my mind on something else. We cannot help it at the moment as there is so much to think about.

One minute they are telling us that we need a full night sleep to function correctly and even that sleeping may help you to lose some weight! Now, researchers are careful to note however that oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

They say that sometimes circumstances mean we need more sleep, for instance during times of stress or illness ( like now). But, the typically recommended amount of sleep for adults should be between seven and nine hours each night.

Some tips to help you sleep if you are having difficulty at the moment are:

1. Have a glass of semi-skimmed milk with 2 teaspoons of honey before you got to bed for a natural goodnight’s sleep. Our immune system also works harder during sleep to fight and prevent illness.

2. Take Melatonin which is a hormone that plays a key part in regulating your natural body-clock. Studies have shown that melatonin improves sleep quality, particularly in the elderly.

3. Take Valerian as it is thought to have a sedative effect. Studies have shown that the root of the valerian makes getting to sleep easier and increases a deeper sleep.

4. Eat more leeks and onions or garlic and artichokes as they contain prebiotic fibres that fuel the healthy bacteria in our gut and can have a profound effect on our health and sleep.

5. Some CBD products help. For me personally, I prefer the gummies as I think they work better and easier to monitor how many you have had. They certainly relax you if nothing else.

6. Some people do truly believe acupressure to help you sleep. Use your first two fingers and tap them across the top of your head from temple to temple. Then work from front to back and side to side as this can get blood and oxygen moving to ease tension and restore focus.