Losing just 39 minutes of sleep can impact kids, so how can we help?

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A new study has highlighted how losing just 39 minutes of sleep in a night can impact children. So what can we do to help kids get the best night’s sleep possible?

Losing just 39 minutes of sleep can impact kids, so how can we help?

As adults, we know just how much sleep affects our ability to go about our daily lives. Following on from those nights where we toss and turn, getting through the next day is a whole lot harder. And, it’s the same for kids. In fact, it might be even worse.

In a new study, published this week in Jama Network Open, researchers found that a difference of just 39 minutes in a child’s total sleep can have a big impact on them.

Monitoring 100 participants between the ages of eight and 12, the children were asked to alternate between a week of going to bed one hour earlier than normal, and then one hour later – with one week of going to bed at their normal time between those two changes.

Both the children and their parents then filled out questionnaires, rating their sleep disturbances and impairment during the day, as well as their quality of life as it relates to their health.

The assessment asked the children questions about whether they felt they were able to pay attention while in school, as well as how they felt physically.

Prior to the study, all the children who took part regularly slept between eight and 11 hours each night, and were also generally healthy. What the researchers saw after one week of the children receiving 39 minutes less of sleep each night, was the children reporting lower overall wellbeing, and they also found it more difficult to cope at school.

“Sleep is such a fundamental human requirement that, when it eludes us, it can have a negative impact on our day-to-day lives,” says hypnotherapist Angela Brown. “The impact of poor sleep can range from poor concentration to challenging behaviour, inability to learn new tasks, stress, anxiety, and depression.”

With so much at stake, how can you best support your child with their sleep? Angela has some suggestions:

1. Establish a routine

“Keep to a routine with a set amount of sleep. This helps to get our circadian rhythm back on track, so we feel more alert and able to function effectively.”

2. Set the scene

“If we can control the stimuli in the bedroom, it can have a positive effect on our sleep. Things to think about are the weight of the duvet – lighter for summer, heavier for winter. Thick curtains or black-out blinds, so our brains know it is time to sleep. No blue light, so no phones, TVs, or electrical devices in the bedroom.”

3. Encourage exercise

“With as little as 30 minutes of activity, such as walking, running, and playing, we increase our ability to concentrate, giving us a chemical reward by generating positive endorphins, which help us to cope with life’s ups and downs.”

4. Control the light

“Our sleep is affected by the amount of sunlight we get. If we’re sitting inside on a computer by a window for 30 minutes, we might get 300 lumens of light on a sunny day. Whereas if we went outside and had a drink in the sunshine we might get as many as 25,000 lumens of light. That means more vitamin D and melatonin, which are

What is sleep syncing, and how can you try it?

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Try the wellbeing trick that could transform the quality of your sleep

What is sleep syncing, and how can you try it?

When the quality of our sleep plays such an important role in our overall wellbeing – as well as our ability to successfully navigate our jobs, relationships, and responsibilities – it makes sense that we want to get it right.

That said, finding what’s right for us may take some time, and is likely to require a bit of trial and error. For one person, it may be playing sleep sounds as they fall asleep, for another it could be about changing their diet, or perhaps beginning a journaling practice in order to let go of the worries that usually keep them up at night.

But now, there’s a new option that could be the answer for you: sleep syncing. All about tuning into your body's natural circadian rhythm, sleep syncing requires you to think about, and adapt, your daily routine to line-up with what your body naturally wants to do.

“Your circadian rhythm, otherwise known as your sleep-wake cycle, is your internal body clock which follows a 24 hour cycle and is influenced by many internal and external factors as well as light and dark,” Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO of Mattress Next Day explains. “It works to control hormone release such as melatonin and helps keep your body in a good routine.

“Sleep syncing is when you create a routine that ensures your body is sleeping and waking when it should be, giving your internal clock a gentle nudge. Sleep syncing can help improve sleep quality, increase energy levels, and help to maintain a healthy body.”

How do I sleep sync?

Let’s be honest for a minute, most of us have a routine that we have to abide by to some extent – whether that means sleeping around work, caring responsibilities, or anything else. But that doesn’t mean that sleep syncing won’t work for us. Instead, it’s about gradually aligning our lifestyle with our biological rhythms in order to wake up feeling refreshed and energised. So, how do we do it?

1. Work out what your schedule should be

As Martin points out, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends and days off work) is a great way to regulate your body’s internal clock – which will, in turn, make it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up. So, have a think about what times work for you. The average adult needs eight hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed and energised, but you may find that you need more or less. Experiment with different lengths, perhaps noting how you feel in a journal or sleep tracker. Once you’ve got a good idea of how long you need to be asleep, you can then plan for what time you should go to bed, and when you should set your alarm for in the morning.

You may also want to think about establishing a calming bedtime routine. Perhaps incorporating some self-care, journaling, reading, or light yoga.

2. Try to get natural sunlight in the morning

Don’t underestimate the power of the sun in regulating our bodies.

“Waking up to natural light can be a great way to wake up,” Martin explains. “This notifies our circadian rhythm that it's time to get up.”

When you wake up in the morni

What is sleep tourism?

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With one in eight of us feeling tired all the time, could sleep tourism help us feel more rested and relaxed? Or is it just another wellness trend to get us to book a new kind of vacation?

What is sleep tourism?

As a nation, we are tired. According to YouGov, one in four of us feels tired most of the time, while one in eight feels tired all the time. In fact, we’re so tired that two in five of us would rather sleep more than spend time with our families. It’s no wonder that so many of us are willing to try anything to get a better night’s sleep.

What is sleep tourism?

Sleep tourism refers to any kind of holiday with programmes focused on getting a good night’s sleep. Thought to be a top trend for 2023, the travel industry has reported seeing more sleep-related services appearing on hotel and tourism-related websites and packages. Designed to promote restful sleep, relaxation, and overall wellbeing, you can even find specific ‘sleep retreats’ to help guide you towards improving the quality of your sleep.

Why are we focusing our holidays around sleep?

While the thought of building a vacation around rest and relaxation seems natural, the idea of going on holiday to sleep more can seem a little strange. But sleep expert and CEO at MatressNextDay Martin Seely thinks we could all benefit from trying a sleep retreat.

“Going on a sleep retreat could benefit anyone. This is because sleep is essential for many, many reasons. Sleep helps us learn new information and consolidate memories. There’s also evidence that lack of sleep can make you more prone to depression or anxiety by affecting your moods and emotions, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)”.

While the reasons why we may feel the need to seek help to get a better night’s sleep can vary, Martin explains that there are often common themes. “Many people have trouble falling asleep at night because their minds are racing with thoughts about work or life in general. Others have trouble staying asleep due to stress or anxiety about what tomorrow may bring.”

By taking a break from our normal routines, we may be able to help break the cycle of bad quality sleep (and our anxiety surrounding it), helping us to reset and gain a better night's rest.

Counselling Directory member and therapist, Nicole Grilo, (MBPsS, MBACP, FDAP) explains more about the benefits of sleep and how it can be seen as a superpower linked with better health outcomes.

“Sleep is so beneficial and essential, as it facilitates body restoration and repair. Sleeping heals our body and is what [we need] after a day of movement or exercise. Give yourself at least nine hours in bed. Stay away from coffee and sugar at the end of the day. Give yourself time to wind down [and] keep a consistent routine.”

What to expect from a sleep-focused retreat

If you’re considering building a holiday around improving your sleeping patterns and overall feelings of rest and relaxatio

5 morning rituals to help you sleep more soundly

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Could the root of a good night’s sleep start with how you begin your day?

5 morning rituals to help you sleep more soundly

Sleep is more than just a time for your body and mind to rest. During the night, your body rebuilds muscles you’ve worn down during the day and, according to a study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, during deep sleep the brain’s glymphatic system cleans itself of toxins that accumulate while you’re awake. Sleep also plays a part in keeping your memories intact and regulating your emotions, not to mention the immune system and metabolism.

Generally, good quality sleep happens when our behaviours align with our circadian rhythm – our 24-hour body clock that causes us to get sleepy at night and alert during the day. With that in mind, a great night’s sleep could begin with a simple set of morning rituals to create a better environment for sleep. So, where should we start?

1. Decide on a fixed wake-up time

It’s tricky for your body to get used to a healthy sleep routine if you constantly wake up at different times. So, decide on a wake-up time and stick with it, even at weekends when you could be tempted to sleep in.

A study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) shows that the minimum recommended sleep for healthy adults is seven hours a night. Decide on your ideal wake-up time, 7AM, for example, and figure out what time you should be aiming to be in bed. You can also try tracking your body’s natural rhythm, to see how much sleep you need to wake feeling rested.

2. Expose yourself to light

Circadian rhythms are affected primarily by light and darkness, and are controlled by a small area in the middle of the brain. Well-managed light exposure can boost performance, as well as improve memory, energy levels, and mood.

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to wake up your brain and maximise your energy is to get 20 minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning every day, to help promote wakefulness and suppress melatonin or sleepiness. If there is no sun available to you, or no natural light, get 20 minutes of artificial light – there are apps you can download that mimic sunlight, and digital alarm clocks that are designed to replicate a sunrise.

3. Rehydrate yourself

Most of us lose a whole litre overnight, so this is the next essential ritual to adopt. Drink your water soon after getting up to counteract dehydration from sleep. Dehydration can affect how you perform mentally and physically throughout the day, but also how well you sleep. And, even in its mildest form, dehydration can cause your sleep to become disrupted. So, drink up!

4. Delay your first caffeinated drink

Many of us believe that our day just has to begin with tea or coffee. We rely on our morning caffeine to wake up our bodies and prepare our minds. But would you believe me if I told you that you’d get more of an energy boost if you delayed that first caffeine hit for at least 90 minutes after waking?

If you drink caffeine while your cortisol (your body’s primary stress hormone, a bit like nature’s built-in alarm system) levels are still elevated, you’re introducing caffeine into your body when you

6 sleep sounds to listen to tonight

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From white noise to music and meditations, we’re rounding up six sleep tracks to help you drift off tonight

6 sleep sounds to listen to tonight

The idea of playing some kind of sound to help you fall asleep may feel very 2023. But, when you think about it, drifting off to soothing sounds isn’t entirely new. Humans have been singing lullabies for millennia, and there’s something about repetitive, gentle sounds that really help us to switch off.

For some people, playing sounds as they fall asleep helps them to focus on something other than anxious thoughts, or worries about what the next day might bring them. For others, the sounds can help combat the distractions that come with living in built-up areas. But, whatever the reason behind it might be, the genre is booming right now.

Interested in trying something new tonight? We’ve brought together six sleep sounds to help you find your perfect bedmate.

White noise

White noise is a sound that contains all the frequencies across the spectrum of audible sound. It sounds a bit like the static you might hear on an untuned TV or radio. There have been several studies into what makes this seemingly uninspiring sound so soothing for some people. The results have been mixed – it works for some, and not for others – but when it does work, it has been found to be very effective, with one study from The National Center for Biotechnology finding that adults fell asleep 38% faster while listening to white noise.

Classical music

Studies have shown that music that has 60 beats per minute, about that of a resting heart rate, is shown to have a soothing effect on our minds. Now, technically that opens the door to music across the genres, but the thing about classical music is that it doesn’t contain distracting lyrics, and depends much more on movement and melody – elements that enhance relaxation.

Guided sleep meditation

Meditation is a fantastic tool for relaxation and wellbeing, and it’s a growing area of content, which means that you can find plenty of guided meditations designed specifically to help you fall into a deep and restful sleep. This example, from Jason Stephenson, will help you to slow down your breathing, let go of stress, and find a sense of serenity. Plus, the addition of the rainforest sounds adds another dimension to the relaxing soundscape.

Sound baths

Sound, or gong, baths have been used for healing since ancient times, with some records suggesting they go back as far as 16,000 B.C. One study, from 2017, found evidence to sugges