How Does Sleep Affect Your Skin?

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According to new research, the average Brit regularly survives on less than six hours of sleep a night. Most of us are well-versed with the implications of not getting sufficient sleep, including daytime fatigue, irritability and a shorter concentration span. Studies have also solidified the link the between a lack of sleep and weight gain. The impact on our skin is rarely talked about. Read More…

Seasonal Affective Disorder

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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also referred to as SAD, is a condition that affects over half a million people in the UK. This condition impacts upon the mental well-being of people during the winter months particularly during January and February when the days begin to shorten. If you tend to feel really down during winter or find it hard to get going during the winter months, you may think that this is a natural reaction to the cold and dark days, but you may actually be suffering from SAD.

Sufferers of SAD often experience low mood, varied degree of depression, loss of energy, sleep problems, irritability, increased appetite, strong cravings for carbohydrates and sweet foods as well as headaches and muscle pain. The defining characteristics of SAD are that the symptoms return annually and go away during other seasons. Read More…

Why does our teenage daughter self-harm?

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Q: We think our previously happy 14-year-old daughter is self-harming. She seems to be pulling out her hair and has several grazes on her body. We don’t know what to do.

A: You are not alone: this is a growing problem in the UK and affects at least one in 15 young people, both boys and girls, according to Jane Smith, author of The Parent’s Guide to Self-Harm (Lion Hudson, £7.99*), which I suggest you read. The average age of onset is 12 years but some hospital admissions have been for children under ten. The majority never receive professional care so the burden falls on family and friends.

Many young people who self-harm come from stable, loving homes. Jane, whose two daughters were affected, says, ‘Finding out that the child you love feels driven to hurt themselves in secret comes as a huge shock; it’s heart-breaking.’

There is a wide range of severity. Self-harming can be minor and short-lived but it may also become addictive and serious. Read More…

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of … Cherries

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A middle-aged friend who’s suffered long-term insomnia reports good results from a natural remedy based on Montmorency cherries. CherryActive capsules contain natural melatonin, the sleep hormone. Adding CherryActive to her existing strategies (not drinking caffeinated drinks after midday, a light supper without alcohol) has given her the best nights’ sleep she’s had for five years. Plus she’s much less anxious. CherryActive capsules, which are supported by experts including Dr Jason Ellis of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research, cost £12.95 for 30 (dose one to two before bed) Read More…

Breathe Slowly Breathe Deep To Fight Fatigue

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Q Like most 30-something working mums, I’m often anxious. I don’t sleep well, can’t always concentrate and yawn a lot. My GP just says I’m tired but is there something else wrong?

A As well as the demands on your time, a significant factor in your anxiety and tiredness may be over-breathing, or chronic hyperventilation syndrome (CHVS). Although your symptoms seem unrelated, they are typical of CHVS. Sufferers also report feeling bloated, experiencing dizziness and nightmares.

Respiratory physiotherapist Dinah Bradley says ‘this breathing disorder may affect as many as one in ten people. But although it’s implicated in a wide range of health problems, CHVS remains widely undiagnosed’. Respiratory expert Dr Mike Thomas of Aberdeen University says ‘the biggest problem is a lack of reliable information’, and recommends Bradley’s book Hyperventilation Syndrome (Kyle Books, £6.99). Read More…