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How To Sleep Well: Dr Neil Stanley shares his expert advice

Dr Neil Stanley is an independent sleep expert who has been involved in sleep research for nearly four decades. In this guest blog post, he breaks down what it means to sleep well – and how you can get the sleep you deserve.

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In my book, 'How To Sleep Well', I give a lot of advice about the importance of good sleep and the ways it can be achieved.

Many of us have problems with poor sleep, low-grade exhaustion and sleepiness during the day. To illustrate this point, honestly answer the following question:

 

How do you feel during the day on a scale of 0 to 10?

(0 being the irresistible desire to fall asleep, and 10 being the most awake you have ever been.)

 

It’s extremely rare that anyone answers with a 10. But what worries me more is that many people wouldn’t answer with a 9, or even an 8. Lots of people think they are very awake, but that’s probably because they’ve fooled themselves into believing this in order to get through the day.

 

Evaluate how you feel. Is this really the best you could be? If it’s not, it’s time for a lifestyle change.

 

Generally, if you don’t feel good during the day, you spend time, and indeed money, on trying to feel better. A multi-vitamin pill to supposedly keep you healthy; a cup of coffee to get you going; a chocolate bar as a treat. Other methods include downing a sugar-laden energy drink, or enjoying a glass of wine to help you relax. At the end of the week, you might indulge in a spa treatment. You think about your upcoming holiday, when you can finally chill out.

 

Just imagine how much better life would be if you were living every day at your very best.

 

So why are you going through life at less than your full potential? The most likely explanation is that you’re not sleeping well. Simply put, getting enough sleep will make you feel better each and every day. And let’s not forget that good sleep can also be one of our greatest pleasures.

 

So how do we sleep better?

 

As parents, we ensure our children wind down before bedtime. They have a bath, a story/lullaby, then bed, because we know it works. But what is true for children also holds true for adults. It’s just that in our busy lives we seem to forget the basics.

 

How hard is it?

 

Imagine putting your children to bed, spending a few hours with your partner and then running yourself a nice warm bath with your favourite bubbles. You have candles, nice music softly playing in the background, and maybe a small glass of wine. You luxuriate in the bath soaking away all the cares and worries of the day. Then as the water starts to cool, you get out, put on a big fluffy towelling robe and then get into a bed that has been freshly made. 

 

That would work, wouldn’t it? So why don’t you do it?

 

Getting better sleep shouldn’t be a chore or an inconvenience. It should be something we choose to do, something we want to do and something that can be very pleasurable to do.

 

Sleep well, and live better.

 

 

 

Dr. Neil Stanley is the author of 'How To Sleep Well'. You can learn more about his work by visiting www.thesleepconsultancy.com.

 

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Earn rewards by testing our new mobile app!

Do you want to earn rewards while you sleep? We’re looking for people to join our app testing panel.

Our new mobile app will help people manage their snoring, and we want to make sure it works well. By completing simple tasks (e.g recording your snoring), you could earn up to £25 in Amazon vouchers.

 

Testapp

 

Joining our testing panel also means you’ll get exclusive FREE access to the full version after the app is launched.

To apply, simply click here and answer the questions on our short form. We’ll get back to you by email with more information.

 

 

Why Playing the Flute Could Reduce Your Risk of Sleep Apnoea

Ever wanted to learn how to play the flute? Picking up a new instrument won’t just teach you a new skill – it could reduce your risk of sleep apnoea too.

New research shows that people who play wind instruments display less signs of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). So if you’re worried about your snoring, and a flute doesn’t appeal to you – don’t panic. You can always try a saxophone or the clarinet instead.

Why Playing The Flute Could Reduce Your Risk Of Sleep Apnoea

A study in sound

A new study split participants into two categories: people who played high resistance wind instruments (like an oboe or a trumpet) and people who didn’t play any form of wind instrument. The participants were also given a questionnaire to fill in. This was designed to assess their risk of snoring, daytime sleepiness and high blood pressure – all symptoms of sleep apnoea. All players and non-players then had their lung functions evaluated.

Interestingly, the study revealed that there was no link between improved lung functions and a lower risk of developing sleep apnoea. But there was evidence of sleep apnoea being reduced in wind instrument musicians. This is because the players tended to have increased muscle tone in their upper airways.

Why do we need good muscle tension?

We need good muscle tone to keep the upper airway open properly during the night. This stops the vibration of the soft tissue in the throat – the sound we hear as snoring.

When wind musicians play their instruments, they exercise the throat muscles that usually collapse or narrow when a person snores. Because of this strengthened muscle tone, they are less likely to develop OSA.

Reduce your risk of sleep apnoea

If you’re keeping your partner awake all night, it might be the perfect time to learn a new skill. However odd it sounds, a flute or a trumpet could be the answer to a good night’s sleep – and studies have shown that even didgeridoos can improve the symptoms of sleep apnoea.

But if picking up a new instrument seems like a little too much work, an oral device could provide you with effective relief. It works by gently holding your jaw in the right position while you sleep; this works on those muscles, opens your airway and helps you breathe easily. Another option is to use a CPAP machine. It supplies a constant stream of air through a face mask, helping to prevent your airway from collapsing.

If you suspect you might be suffering from sleep apnoea, we recommend that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. Don’t leave it to chance - your sleep and your health are worth it.

 

Dark Chocolate and Sleep Go Hand-in-Hand this Valentine’s Day

Are you a chocolate lover? Great news: eating dark chocolate could help you get a better night’s sleep.

Choccy Insta

Researchers at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities have found that high levels of magnesium in dark chocolate can help people maintain healthy biological rhythms. In human cells, magnesium levels rise and fall in a daily cycle, and the mineral has been shown to help support a healthy 24-hour clock. It also affects the cells’ rate of metabolism throughout the day.

So, treating yourself to a few pieces of dark chocolate could help you stay adapted to the rhythms of day and night – and this leads to better-quality sleep. But more often than not, snoring can still be an obstacle for people trying to achieve a full night’s sleep.

The good news

Luckily, snoring can be prevented. There are many options available to help restore peace to your bedroom. Nasal Sprays and Nasal Strips provide relief from snoring caused by congestion, and Throat Sprays and Oral Strips target the main cause of snoring – they work by lubricating the soft tissues at the back of the throat.

Even more good news

Do you want to say sorry to a partner you’ve kept awake for months? Do you want to treat yourself to chocolate and great sleep? Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and we have five tote bags packed with Choccywoccydoodah treats to give away. Each bag includes a selection of dark chocolate goodies, and a Snoreeze Throat Spray, Nasal Spray, Nasal Strips and Oral Strips.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Like and share our competition post, and leave a comment telling us why you’d love to win a Snoreeze/Choccywoccydoodah goody bag. (Terms and conditions apply. This competition is open across multiple social media channels. Entries close at midday 12th February.)

 

Need a Gift for the Snorer in Your Life? Snoreeze has the Answer

Are you looking for the perfect present for the snorer in your life? Give them the gift of a good night’s sleep.

Christmas can be a stressful time. There’s an endless mountain of presents to wrap, a mad rush around the supermarket for the last turkey, frantic cleaning before the whole family crowds into the house on Christmas day. And if you’re tired? It makes everything much more stressful.

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When you’re kept awake by snoring, you become irritable and sleepy. Those rasping gasps can last all night, making Christmas feel like a difficult chore instead of a fun holiday. But you don’t have to kick the culprit out of the house. Instead, embrace the spirit of Christmas and buy a gift for the snorer in your life.

What kind of snoring relief do they need?

Make sure you know what’s causing their snoring first. That way, your gift of a snoring solution will be at its most effective (and appreciated!)

 

1) Are they snoring because of a blocked nose/cold?

Having a blocked nose restricts airflow through the nasal passages. This forces the sufferer to breathe through their mouth whilst sleeping, which can lead to snoring.

A great anti-snoring gift in this case would be a Snoreeze nasal product. The Snoreeze Nasal Spray and Snoreeze Nasal Strips target snoring caused by a cold, allergies or a blocked nose by opening the nasal passages to provide effective snoring relief.

 

2) Are they snoring because of interrupted breathing whilst sleeping?

Is your snorer generally tired and sometimes falls asleep during the day? Do they sometimes wake themselves (or you) during the night with a loud snore or snort? They’re likely to have sleep apnoea - a respiratory condition related to snoring that causes interrupted breathing during sleep.

When an apnoea occurs, airflow during sleep is prevented from entering the lungs by a temporary obstruction. The obstruction is because of a lack of muscle in the upper airway which causes the airway to collapse. Sometimes the soft palate at the back of the throat may partially or fully close the airway. 

If your snorer experiences any of these symptoms, we recommend that they consult their doctor straightaway. An option to treat sleep disordered breathing is the Snoreeze Oral Device. Its adjustable design gently positions the jaw in a forward position to clear the obstructed airway and provide effective relief.

 

3) Are they snoring loudly every night?

Does your partner regularly snore? Does it not make much difference whether they’re sleeping on their back or their side?

Your snorer is suffering from the main cause of snoring: when relaxed muscle tension at the back of the throat causes the upper airway to narrow. This then causes the soft tissue to vibrate.

A great anti-snoring solution would be a Snoreeze oral product, like the Throat Spray, Oral Strips or Lozenges. The dual action technology targets the main cause of snoring by toning and lubricating the soft tissues at the back of the throat to provide effective snoring relief.

 

Buying an anti-snoring gift isn’t just a present for your partner – it’s a gift for you too! Get the sleep you deserve this Christmas with Snoreeze.

 

4 Reasons Why Pregnancy Is Making You Snore

It may sound surprising, but up to 30% of women begin to snore during their pregnancy. While it often tends to occur in the third trimester, the problem is still common at any stage.

 Why Does Pregnancy Cause Snoring_

Reasons why pregnancy is making you snore

If you’re pregnant, there are many reasons why you could have started snoring.

 

1) Swollen nasal passages. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases, causing your blood vessels to expand. This can lead to swollen nasal passages, forcing you to breathe through your mouth. This can lead to snoring.

 

2) Weight gain. Weight gained through pregnancy can lead to increased tissue in the neck and throat. This narrows your upper airway, and restricts your ability to breathe freely.

 

3) Colds and allergies. Congestion from other causes, like a cold or the flu, can also result in snoring. Nasal irritation often increases at night when snoring is most likely to be a problem.

 

4) Sleep apnoea. Loud snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Sufferers experience a blockage in their airway that causes them to briefly stop breathing in their sleep. This can happen hundreds of times a night! Look out for these warning signs: gasping/choking noises, loud snoring and daytime sleepiness.

 

How to treat your snoring

Make sure you’re still making healthy lifestyle choices during your pregnancy. This means avoiding alcohol and tobacco – and trying not to gain more than the recommended amount of weight (you can find more information about that here).

If you suspect you have sleep apnoea, or you’re worried about your snoring, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Loud snoring can lead to high blood pressure, and this can put both you and your pregnancy at risk.

You can treat snoring caused by obstructions of the nasal passages by using a Nasal Spray or Nasal Strips. For more information about finding a snoring solution during pregnancy, click here.

 

Can Snoring and a Lack of Sleep Ruin Your Relationship?

A major strain in a lot of relationships is the disruption to sleep caused by a partner’s snoring. For those with a snoring significant other, it becomes difficult to enjoy enough hours of quality sleep.

Can A Lack Of Sleep Ruin Your Relationship_

As with anybody who is sleep deprived, they become irritated with their partner, but also with other family, friends, and colleagues. Blaming the snorer is the only option for someone who is exhausted – and this heaps even more tension onto the relationship.

 

The Consequences

Poor sleep caused by snoring damages several aspects of a relationship, such as:

  • Intimacy. Sleeping in separate beds means less time spent close together, which can weaken a couple's bond.
  • Solidity. Frustration towards your partner when they snore can make it difficult for you to spend time with them.
  • Trust. When your partner becomes a source of irritation, talking to them about your personal problems becomes harder.

And it isn’t just the non-snorer that suffers. It's easy to simply criticise your partner for their snoring -  but snoring can lead to more serious health issues like sleep apnoea, which causes shallow breathing or a lack of breath during periods of sleep. The condition links to a range of health problems like heart attacks and strokes, and affects around 6% of adults. If you suspect you or your partner have sleep apnoea, visit your doctor as soon as possible. For more information on sleep apnoea, click here.

 

Making a Difference

It’s clear that snoring can ruin relationships; it’s cited as a reason for divorce thousands of times a year in Britain. When snoring is such a problem in a relationship that you’re considering separation - even just sleeping in separate beds - you know you need to act. Although encouraging a partner to treat their snoring can seem impossible at times, the benefits will flood through when they decide to make a difference. Getting a good night’s sleep not only benefits your mental and physical health, but it will also benefit your relationship.

For help treating your partner’s snoring, click here.

 

Are You Snoring Because of a Cold? Find Your Solution at Boots

Have you started snoring because of a cold? Don’t worry – there are plenty of solutions to help you breathe easily again.

Many people don’t realize that colds and flu can cause snoring, or make snoring even worse. When your nasal tissue swells during a cold, the airflow through your nose becomes blocked or restricted. This congestion may force you to breathe through your mouth, which can lead to snoring.

Is Your Cold Making You Snore_

So how do I get a good night’s sleep?

1) Elevate your head. Sleeping flat on your back is not a good idea. Use an extra pillow to help drain your sinuses, and reduce congestion.

2) Steer clear of antihistamines that contain sedatives. These relax your upper airways, causing more air resistance in your nose and throat which can lead to snoring. The same applies to alcohol and sleeping pills.

3) Use a humidifier if you can. If you have a humidifier, try and use it while you have a cold. This will help keep the air in your bedroom moist.

4) Have a hot shower before bed. The warm water can help open your nasal pages.

5) Try using Snoreeze Nasal Strips or Snoreeze Nasal Spray, available at Boots. Both products work by opening the airways in your nose to provide snoring relief. The nasal spray contains a unique blend of natural active ingredients, while the nasal strips are both hypoallergenic and latex-free. You could experience up to 8 hours of peaceful, snore-free sleep.

 

Get healthy faster

Snoring stops you from getting a good night’s sleep. Achieving an uninterrupted 7-9 hours of sleep per night is very important for your health, especially when your immune system is fighting a cold. The act of snoring can also make a sore throat feel worse; the vibrations in the back of your throat can result in a dry, scratchy feeling.

Getting enough sleep means you can get healthy faster. Try to go to bed earlier than usual, and rest when you need to. By looking after yourself, and using a good snoring relief product, you’ll be over your cold in no time at all.

Look out for the special Snoreeze display in-store at Boots now.

 

Is it Depression - or is it a Sleep Disorder?

Establishing a link between depression and a sleep disorder is similar to asking the age-old question: which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It’s a well-known fact that depression can cause sleep problems. But there is also evidence of sleep problems contributing to depressive disorders. A study found that men with sleep apnoea and insomnia had a much higher rate of depressive symptoms compared with the control population. Of the 700 men examined, 43% of those with both conditions had depression.

Is It Depression - Or A Sleep Disorder_

What’s the connection?

Sleep-disordered breathing has been linked with depression for some time. Among depressed patients, insomnia is very common. The forms of insomnia can be varied, but mostly include:

  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty staying asleep

Research indicates that the risk of developing depression is highest among people who have trouble staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia) and people with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Sleep apnoea occurs when the muscles in the throat relax too much. The walls of the airway start to stick together, and breathing can then completely stop for around 10-30 seconds at a time.

One study assessed the quality of life in patients who had severe sleep apnoea. The results showed that compared to the normal control subjects, patients with sleep apnoea had a decreased quality of life. They tended to display symptoms that strongly correlated with depression.

Can it be treated?

Both insomnia and sleep apnoea are strongly associated with poor mental health outcomes. And depression is often misdiagnosed because many of its symptoms overlap with those of sleep apnoea. But the good news is that by treating sleep apnoea, the symptoms of depression can be improved.

Doctors often recommend a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnoea. (This works by using air pressure to force air through the breathing obstruction). However, if you find you are unable to use CPAP every night due to discomfort, another option is to wear an oral device in conjuction with it – these appliances gently move your jaw into the right position to open up your airways while you sleep.

If you suspect you’re suffering from either condition, visit your doctor as soon as possible. They’ll be able to recommend the best treatment option for you, and to confirm you are able to use an oral device. Dealing with your sleep disorder can help you feel like a new person – you’ll improve your sleep and your health.

Is Lack of Sleep Making You Put on Weight?

If you’ve recently put on weight, you might want to take a look at your sleeping pattern. New Swedish research has pinpointed exactly why poor sleep (or a lack of it) can make you start piling on the pounds.

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Sleep deprivation and bad quality sleep have been linked to weight gain for years. But new research gives us much clearer reasons for why that is. Here are the five most common explanations for why you might have put on a few pounds...

 

1) Poor sleep is interfering with your appetite. A lack of sleep messes with the hormones that trigger and put a dampener on your appetite. A bad night’s sleep could dull the effectiveness of peptide 1, a hormone produced in your intestine that encourages you to feel full. Similarly, it could also promote the production of ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. This leaves you with an appetite that can be hard to satisfy, even when you’ve eaten enough food.

2) Being tired makes eating feel extra pleasurable. When you’re sleep deprived, levels of endocannabinoids in your brain increase. These compounds are linked directly to your appetite, and they work on the reward system of your brain – meaning you get feelings of pleasure when you eat. (THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, also turns on these compounds. That’s why people tend to “get the munchies”.)

3) Lack of sleep messes with your gut bacteria. Changes to your gut bacteria can mess with your ability to process nutrients. During the Swedish study, scientists noticed that after just two days of sleep loss, the volunteers’ bacteria mirrored those seen in the guts of obese people.

4) Poor quality sleep makes you burn fewer calories. While studying a volunteer group, the research team found that the men burned 5-20% fewer calories after a night of no sleep. This calorie-burning was included in tasks as basic as breathing and digesting food.

5) Skimping on sleep makes you an impulsive eater. Being sleep deprived doesn’t just affect your body – it affects your eating habits too. The research team found that when people were tired, they bought food higher in calories and quantity than when they were well-rested. This is probably because sleep deprivation impairs your higher-level thinking – it boosts your chances of being impulsive.

 

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Make sure nothing is disturbing your sleep; you could see big changes in your weight and your health.

 

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