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16 Sleep Secrets I Wish I'd Known Sooner

By Thomas Harrison   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Tuesday 3rd March 2015

16 Sleep Secrets I Wish I'd Known Sooner

Sleep is one of the most undervalued aspects of our lives, and there is a widespread ignorance in our society about sleep deprivation. The reality is that sleep is a wonderful tool, a tool that when used correctly, can significantly improve your health and quality of life. These 16 sleep facts will hopefully make you realise just how important sleeping well is. 

1. Sleeping well lowers your risk of developing many serious health problems

Consistent lack of sleep has been proven to make you more at risk of developing many serious health conditions, such as heart disease, certain types of cancer, type-2 diabetes, 16 sleep secrets.obesity, depression, and many more. To give a few specific examples, men who suffer from insomnia are two times more likely to eventually develop prostate cancer, and people who sleep less than 6 hours per night are 50% more at risk of developing colorectal cancer (bowel/colon cancer). This type of cancer is the second most-common cause of cancer deaths in the UK.

2. There’s a massive link between obesity and sleep deprivation

Lack of sleep can lead to weight-gain, and quality of sleep is significantly lower among those who are overweight. Lack of sleep increases the presence of the hormone ‘ghrelin’, which not only increases your appetite, but also makes you crave junk food. If you’re trying to shed some pounds, then it’s absolutely vital that you also start prioritising your sleep quality too.

3. Cognitively, there isn’t too big a difference between being tired and being drunk

Fatigue slows down your reaction time, hinders your concentration and your memory. It takes longer to complete even basic tasks when you’re sleep deprived, as demonstrated by research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Being tired also impairs your decision-making skills, and a study at Duke University shows that when you’re tired, you favour the options that come with the most risk, as opposed to playing it safe.

4. Driving when tired is one of the worst things you can do behind the wheel

One experiment with shocking results shows that when a driver is deprived of sleep for 28 hours, their driving ability falls to that of someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.1%. Having a BAC of 0.1% is enough to be classed as having ‘temporary alcohol poisoning’. It really is a worrying thought that there’ll be thousands of drivers on the roads driving legally right now, yet their sleep deprivation is effectively making them a drunk-driver. Learn more about drowsy-driving here.

5. Pulling an all-nighter really doesn’t work

Many students’ pre-exam prep consists of staying up all night cramming as much revision as possible before the exam. This is counter-productive, and those students would be better off sleeping well and not revising at all, than revising all night and not sleeping. A recent study found that there was a stronger link between time spent sleeping and academic performance than there was between time spent studying and academic performance. The parts of the brain associated with planning and evaluating decisions simply shut down when deprived of sleep, meaning your academic performance will be significantly worse after a sleepless night.

6. Beauty sleep is most definitely real

A good night’s sleep not only improves your skin, but can even delay the ageing process. Lack of sleep inhibits your production of collagen, which is the most abundant protein in the human body, and is responsible for the structural support of muscles, joints, and the skin. Read more about the science of beauty sleep here.

7. One sleepless night sees parts of your brain literally switch off

Sleep deprivation can make the brain ‘unstable’, and brain neurons can enter a ‘rest state’ when deprived of sleep, which can impair cognitive function. Lack of sleep also impairs the immune system - your immune system is very complex, and comprises of many different types of cells and proteins working to keep foreign invaders at bay, and lack of sleep can cause some of those virus-fighting cells to stop working, making you more susceptible to illnesses.

8. You can never make up for lost sleep

People think that if they lie in on a weekend, then this makes up for any late-nights through the week. This is false, and you can never fully replicate the benefits of a consistently-good sleep schedule. Those weekend lie-ins may actually be doing more harm than good because they disrupt your circadian rhythm (your body clock) – if your wake-up time is inconsistent then your body clock will never be synchronised, meaning you’ll have difficulty waking up refreshed through the week.

9. Yawning doesn’t mean you’re tired

Staggeringly, scientists can provide no fundamental explanation for the yawn – what we have are all just theories. Most people see yawning as a sign of tiredness, and whilst this is sometimes true, yawning can also mean you’re alert, that you need more oxygen, or that the brain needs to cool down. And in the animal kingdom, predators use a yawn as a threat, for example the baboon uses a yawn to display its sharp teeth to ward off predators or other territory-invading baboons. 

10. A short nap is like a performance-boosting drug

A simple nap brings with it so many surprising benefits, for example, it can lower blood pressure, improve alertness, lower stress, give a memory boost, increase learning capacity and boost your productivity. The ideal nap duration according to NASA is 26 minutes – any longer and you’ll drift into a deeper sleep, which isn’t what you want during the day. NASA found that after having a 26 minute nap, their pilots’ alertness increased by 54%, and their performance improved by 34% in the hours following the experiment. There’ll be many banned sport’s performance-enhancing drugs that won’t even come close to providing the benefits of a simple nap.

11. Consistently sleeping well can significantly improve your physical/athletic performance

Napping aside, if you’re consistently prioritising your sleep then your long-term physical performance will improve. In an experiment on The University of Stratford’s women’s tennis team, researchers noted that the players recorded faster sprint times and more accurate tennis shots after their sleep-time was increased to ten hours per night for five weeks. Sleep also helps avoid injuries - 80% of your production of human growth hormone (HGH) occurs during sleep, and HGH is vital for muscle repair - lack of sleep will increase injury proneness.bodyclock hack

12. Want to wake up immediately feeling fresh and active? Easy…

If you wake up during deep sleep then you’ll feel tired, groggy and disorientated (and may be experiencing sleep inertia), however, if you manage to wake up during light sleep then you’ll be pretty much ready to go from the off. This explains why you can sometimes still feel awful after 8 hours’ sleep, or great after only having 5 hours. Head over to sleepyti.me to calculate your ideal wake-up time based on when you usually go to sleep, and it'll give you the times that you'll be likely to be in light sleep.

13. Nightcaps ruin your sleep

Whilst alcohol can speed up the process of actually falling asleep, the quality of alcohol-induced sleep is significantly poorer than falling asleep without alcohol in the system. Alcohol is a diuretic which means it leaves you feeling dehydrated, and it also results in experiencing less time in REM-stage sleep, which is the most important and restorative stage to your sleep.

14. Snoring isn’t harmless or funny

Although snoring is often seen as being harmless and relatively-trivial, the truth is that it can be a symptom of an underlying health problem. Snoring is essentially the by-product of being unable to breathe properly, and that’s something that should never ever be taken lightly. Your snoring could actually be a symptom of a condition called obstructive sleep apnoea which is closely related to snoring, although sleep apnoea is much more serious as it involves a total blockage of the airways. You can read more about snoring and sleep apnoea here.

15. Looking at electronic screens at night trains your brain to stay awake

Our exposure to light can dictate how tired we feel, and the light emitted by electronic devices inhibits your production of the hormone ‘melatonin’. Melatonin is a vital sleep-inducing hormone, and is what makes us feel tired at night and is therefore vital to drifting off naturally. Using a phone or tablet in bed also trains the brain to see the bed not as a place for sleep, but as a place for social media – and obviously this will lead to sleep deprivation.

16. Sleep well and you’ll live longer

The secret to a long and healthy life could all be down to sleep - sleeping less than 6 hours per night makes you 12% more likely to die a premature death. The consequences of sleeping poorly all add up over the course of a lifetime, and considering all those health problems you’re more at risk of developing if you consistently lack sleep, it comes as no surprise that, to put it bluntly, if you don’t value sleep then you’ll die younger. 



Sleep Tech – Devices Designed for Good Sleep

Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Sleep Tech – Devices Designed for Good Sleep

sleep techTechnology and sleep don’t usually mix, but there are some devices and software that exist to actively promote good sleep, whether it’s through complex sleep-tracking, lifestyle guidance or even just by combating noise pollution.

While we'd always recommend keeping tech like tablets, TVs, stereos and computers well away from where you sleep, this selection of sleep-friendly gadgets definitely deserves a place in the bedroom.

Let’s take a look at the best sleep tech that’s currently available;

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: Sleep Tech – Devices Designed for Good Sleep

Genius Sleep – The Sleeping Habits of History’s Greatest Minds

Tuesday 24th February 2015

Genius Sleep – The Sleeping Habits of History’s Greatest Minds

It’s an established fact that sleep is good for the mind, and that it’s almost impossible to be at your best when suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation. But what about those who excel in their chosen field and take the human race further? How does sleep work for them?

From worlds as diverse as science, music, literature and art, these are people who have broken boundaries, and in some cases, expanded the perceived limits of human potential, and their sleep habits are often as intriguing as their work itself.

Let’s take a look at genius sleep.

 

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: Genius Sleep – The Sleeping Habits of History’s Greatest Minds

The Future of Sleep: 4 Astounding Ways Your Sleep Could Evolve

Wednesday 18th February 2015

The Future of Sleep: 4 Astounding Ways Your Sleep Could Evolve

Physiologically, the way we sleep hasn’t changed too much since the early days of humanity – fair enough, we now have things like sleeping pills and memory foam mattresses, but even early-age humans used herbs to induce sleep, and certainly had their own equivalent to a  mattress/bed. However, it is only in the last thirty years or so that scientists have begun to make breakthroughs in the study of sleep, but so far we’ve barely scratched the surface: experts are yet to provide a definitive reason for why we need sleep, and even seemingly-straight forward questions like ‘why do we yawn?’ or ‘why do we dream?’ remain somewhat of a mystery. But as our understanding grows, so does our ability to change the way we sleep – let’s take a look at how the future of sleep could shape up…

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: The Future of Sleep: 4 Astounding Ways Your Sleep Could Evolve

12 Dream Bedrooms

Monday 16th February 2015

12 Dream Bedrooms

12 dream bedrooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From stripped-back minimalism to quirky eclecticism and few stages in between, we think these twelve stunning bedrooms are the stuff of dreams.

Prepare to get lost in a daydream…

Category: Ergo Flex News

Read full: 12 Dream Bedrooms

5 Ways to Style your Bedroom for Sleep

Thursday 12th February 2015

5 Ways to Style your Bedroom for Sleep

1) Colour choices - Think simplicity and serenity

5 ways to style your bedroom for sleepColour choices are perhaps the most immediate way to the set the tone of a room, and dominant colours have the power to influence how you feel. Don’t over-do the number of different colours used in the bedroom, and of course pay close attention to how colours complement each other and work together. When it comes to actual colours, a good rule of thumb is to avoid any stimulating choices like red, orange or any colour close to those on the colour wheel. These colours serve to energise the mind, which isn’t the effect a relaxing bedroom should have. Colours that are found predominantly in the natural world can help create serene vibes in the bedroom – think sky blues and light greens. Similarly, ‘earth tones’ such as subtle browns and stone greys can produce an inherently peaceful result. Alternatively, neutrals like white and cream are a good choice for a minimalist style and offer a calming simplicity.

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: 5 Ways to Style your Bedroom for Sleep

Snoring Map of the UK: Scotland Tops Poll of UK's Worst Snorers

Wednesday 11th February 2015

Snoring Map of the UK: Scotland Tops Poll of UK's Worst Snorers

Our latest sleep survey focused on the issue of snoring, and to investigate if the problem was more common in specific parts of the UK. Surprisingly, our results were very diverse, with some regions having a significantly higher snoring rate than others. Scotland topped our poll, with 61% of their respondents admitting that either they or their partner snored. We quizzed 2,438 UK residents in co-habiting relationships about their sleeping habits, and one startling finding was that 17% of those affected by snoring have even considered surgery to fix the problem. 

The graphic below shows the percentage of snorers in each region of the UK:

snoring map of the UK

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: Snoring Map of the UK: Scotland Tops Poll of UK's Worst Snorers

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Monday 9th February 2015

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

You’ll spend approximately 33% of your entire life sleeping, and it is one the most fundamental aspects of all life on earth. Below is a general guide to how your age affects your need for sleep, although needs vary depending on the individual:

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Back Pain Relief: How a Memory Foam Mattress Can Help You Get Your Life Back

Thursday 5th February 2015

Back Pain Relief: How a Memory Foam Mattress Can Help You Get Your Life Back

Back pain is one of the most frequently-reported conditions affecting the adult population, with 90% of people experiencing it at some point in their life, and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain is also a tricky problem to cure as there can be a wide number of factors causing it. One of those factors could be your old mattress, and in many cases, investing in a high-quality mattress could be a potential solution to back pain.  

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: Back Pain Relief: How a Memory Foam Mattress Can Help You Get Your Life Back

How Sleeping Poorly Can Lead to Weight Gain

Monday 2nd February 2015

How Sleeping Poorly Can Lead to Weight Gain

The link between sleep and obesity

Scientists are yet to fully understand sleep, but one conclusion many experts have come to from the various studies is that there is a strong correlation between those who sleep poorly and those who are more obese. Slimmer people tend to sleep better.

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: How Sleeping Poorly Can Lead to Weight Gain

Sleepwalking: The Causes, the Myths, and Tips to Deal with the Problem

Thursday 29th January 2015

Sleepwalking: The Causes, the Myths, and Tips to Deal with the Problem

Sleepwalking belongs to the parasomnia family, which is a category of sleep disorders involving unusual nocturnal behaviours or feelings during sleep. During a sleepwalking episode, the individual will arise from the slow-wave stage of sleep (NREM stage 3 or 4) in a state of low consciousness, performing waking activities, most commonly walking, although some people will cook, drive, or even commit sexual acts.

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: Sleepwalking: The Causes, the Myths, and Tips to Deal with the Problem

5 Bedtime Teas - Finding the Perfect Sleep-Friendly Cuppa

Wednesday 28th January 2015

5 Bedtime Teas - Finding the Perfect Sleep-Friendly Cuppa

bedtime teasDrinking tea can be a great way to relax in the evening, relieving the stress of the day and preparing your body and mind for a night of blissful sleep. However, many teas contain significant levels of caffeine and can in fact have energising effects, which makes your choice of bedtime tea an important one. The good news is that it’s easy to learn which teas to rule out, and which ones to consider for your nightly drink.

A basic rule of thumb is that all tea that comes from any part of the tea plants (camellia sinensis and camellia assamica) will have some form of natural caffeine in it, and won’t be ideal for late evening drinking if you’re looking to improve your sleep quality. This includes green and black teas of all varieties. However, herbal teas – those made from other plants – are free from caffeine, and many have powerfully relaxing properties.

There are hundreds of herbal blends from artisan tea-makers that are ideal for bedtime, and it’s well worth taking the time to research what’s out there and what might suit your particular palate. Also, as some herbal teas are so powerful it’s also important to check whether they’re right for you.

We’ve gathered some popular sleep-friendly varieties here to help you get started. Let’s take a look;

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: 5 Bedtime Teas - Finding the Perfect Sleep-Friendly Cuppa

We’ve Gone Gold… Again!

Tuesday 27th January 2015

We’ve Gone Gold… Again!

Ergoflex has been awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant award for the second year in a row. We’re especially delighted by the fact that we’ve maintained our 5 star rating for two years running, as it shows that our customers continue to value our memory foam mattresses and our customer service – and they want to tell the world about it too! 

Category: Ergo Flex News

Read full: We’ve Gone Gold… Again!

The Science of Beauty Sleep

Monday 26th January 2015

The Science of Beauty Sleep

There are so many myths surrounding the world of sleep: we’ve already proven false some common sleep myths like the fact that eating cheese doesn’t give you nightmares, and how you can’t make up for lost sleep at the weekend (among other myths). You’d be forgiven for thinking that the idea of beauty sleep also falls into this 'myth' category – how can sleeping longer make you more attractive?  

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: The Science of Beauty Sleep

How Alcohol Kills our Bedtime Routines and our Sleep - Survey

Thursday 22nd January 2015

How Alcohol Kills our Bedtime Routines and our Sleep - Survey

alcohol sleepSleeping fully clothed, leaving the TV all night on and eating in bed… most of us would baulk at the idea of doing these things at bedtime, but they’re just some of the things that are common when we’re drunk, according to our latest sleep survey. We asked over 2,400 UK residents about their night-time routines when they’ve had a drink, and the findings revealed a ‘what not to do’ list of bedtime behaviour.

The top five responses were;

  1. Going to bed fully-clothed
  2. Forgetting to remove hair products/make up
  3. Eating in bed
  4. Falling asleep with the TV on
  5. Forgetting to remove jewellery

As for the effects of such bedtime blunders the morning after, a massive 72% of respondents admitted to regretting their behaviour and wishing they’d stuck to their normal sleep routines.

 

Category: Sleep Research

Read full: How Alcohol Kills our Bedtime Routines and our Sleep - Survey

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