The Benefits Of 43 Minutes Of Extra Sleep

sleep

The NHS recommends anywhere between six and nine hours of sleep a night for adults. Most of us aim for somewhere between seven and eight. While it goes without saying that regularly getting less than six hours of shut-eye a night can leave you feeling bleary eyed, tired and grouchy the next day, there could be other benefits to getting more sleep.

New research from Penn University found that getting 43 minutes of extra sleep has the potential to not only ensure you feel less sleepy the following day, but could also help lower blood pressure. The two week study focused on 53 students. They were deemed the best candidates as it’s thought that over a third of young adults get less than seven hours of sleep a night. The students were asked to wear wrist sensors to monitor their sleep patterns and were tasked with trying to squeeze in an extra hour of sleep every day. Researchers concluded that 43 minutes was the sweet spot in terms of maximising the health benefits, as well as being realistic to fit into busy schedules.

While the results could be more prominent in this age group compared to older generations considering the lower levels of sleep to begin with, it is yet another study highlighting the importance of slowing down and prioritising sleep. As the festive season begins it’s definitely something to keep in mind as your schedule begins to fill up. And for those who struggle to get their forty winks, there are a few things that could help.

How to get more sleep

Sleep is big business – in fact, in the US the market is estimated to be worth $28.6 billion – and unsurprisingly there are plenty of products that promise to help you get more. While some products can make a notable difference, it’s important to look at your lifestyle as a whole if you are someone who rarely gets the full eight hours. Reducing your stress levels, sticking to a regular routine and cutting back on sugar and alcohol are some of the key changes that can help.

Set the scene: There’s a reason why This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray is a bestseller, the clever blend has been shown to help speed up the time it takes you to fall asleep. Simply mist your pillow just before you hit the hay and take a couple of deep breaths. It won’t be instant, but you should drift off more easily than usual. It also helps to block out any natural light in your bedroom, keep the temperature below 21°C and ban any screens and blue light.

Top-up essential minerals: Magnesium is a key mineral and is especially important when it comes to sleep as it helps us to relax. Magnesium deficiencies are surprisingly common and a lot of us can benefit from taking a magnesium supplement regularly. However, it’s thought that bathing in the mineral is one of the best ways to absorb it. Better You’s Magnesium Oil Original Flakes are particularly effective because it contains magnesium chloride, which is easier for your body to absorb.

Sleep aides: There are plenty of sleep specific supplements to help you unwind, relax and drift off. There are two that Shabir recommends time and time again, InsoZia by Viva Nutraceuticals and Viridian’s Cherry Night. The former is a blend of herbal extracts which help to regulate your sleep patterns and calm a whirling mind, while Cherry Night is a natural source of melatonin (sleep hormone) that you mix into milk or water and drink just before bed.

Getting Up Early Doesn’t Work For Everyone

5am alarm clock

While Michelle Obama and Anna Wintour both wake up before 5 am to squeeze in their workout routines, Mark Wahlberg famously takes things to extremes and rises at 2.30 am to complete his brutal daily schedule. With some of the most successful people on the planet claiming that getting up early has played a part in their success, it’s easy for genetically predisposed night owls to feel slightly inadequate. 

There are plenty of books, blogs and probably a handful of apps that will promise to take you from night owl to early bird with a few simple steps. However, before you start trying the back-breaking task of moulding your body clock to Michelle Obama’s take note of the results of a study by the University of California. After monitoring the sleep data of 2,422 people, Louis Ptacek, professor of neurology at the UCSF School of Medicine found that only one in 300 people can function on an very-early-to-bed, very-early-to-wake schedule and it is coded into their genes.

“While most people struggle with getting out of bed at 4 or 5 am., people with advanced sleep phase wake up naturally at this time, rested and ready to take on the day,” said the study’s senior author, Louis Ptacek, MD, professor of neurology at the UCSF School of Medicine. “These extreme early birds tend to function well in the daytime but may have trouble staying awake for social commitments in the evening.”

They’re also more prone to migraines and SAD, so it’s definitely not all roses for extremely early risers. So, rather than trying to change your natural sleeping pattern, a wiser move would be to align your bedtime and wake-up call to ensure you’re getting enough sleep.

How can you get your sleep routine on track? First and foremost, it’s important to stick to a routine – yes, even at the weekend. If you go to bed at 11 pm and wake up at 7 am during the week, don’t be tempted to slip in a lie-in on a Saturday. Keeping your bedroom cool, dark and screen-free are tips that you will have read over and over again, but it’s because they work.

For those who struggle to calm a whirling mind, try taking a warm bath with magnesium flakes about an hour before you want to sleep. Magnesium is an essential mineral and is key for helping us to relax, yet a lot of us are deficient. If you don’t have time to bathe, incorporate ashwagandha into your evening routine. The ancient herb is a renowned adaptogen and helps to ease anxiety – Wild Nutrition’s KSM-66 Ashwagandha Plus is particularly good.

Morning Anxiety: Five Tricks To Help You Feel Less Frantic First Thing

White Analogue Clock on Blue Background

If you’re not a morning person, you’re not alone. What most of us would give for a few more hours’ sleep during the working week. However, while most feel lethargic and a bit sluggish when their alarm goes off, there are others who wake up to quite the opposite scenario – a racing heartbeat, serious sweating and a whirring brain that refuses to slow down. Up until three years ago, I fell into the latter category, with my daily pangs of morning anxiety leaving me drained before I’d even gotten out of bed. Read More…

Why You Should Become A Tea Drinker

Tea

How many times has someone offered to make you a cup of tea when it feels like your world is coming crashing down? In the UK, a warm cuppa is seen as the answer to many of life’s perils and there is plenty of research to back up this assumption. Over the years studies have revealed that tea can help to not just improve our mood, but also support our heart and our mental health. Recent research by the National University of Singapore has found that drinking tea regularly could also help protect against cognitive decline as we age. Read More…

Can A Full Moon Really Affect Your Health?

full moon

Whether you’re someone who reads their horoscopes every week religiously or you dismiss them as vague captions that could be interpreted in hundreds of ways, there can be no denying that astrology is becoming increasingly popular. With a full moon on 14th September, you can expect plenty of full moon rituals and astrological predictions to fill your newsfeeds. For those who don’t keep up-to-date with the position of the moon, we’re in the midst of Virgo season and the full moon, also known as the Harvest Moon, falls in the sign of Pisces this month. According to astrologers, it’s the time to refine your organisational skills and put plans into action.  

While you could write this off as gobbledygook, it might interest you that the scientific world has been exploring how the lunar cycle affects our health for years. Admittedly the studies have been small and few and far between, but there is enough to continue the research and attempt to separate the science from the folklore. 

Are menstrual and lunar cycles linked?

With both moon and menstrual cycles lasting around 28 days, it’s easy to see why the two have been linked in the past. ‘Mooning’ is still a term used by some when they’re on their period and there are apps that will track your menstrual cycle along side the moon’s. A tiny study in 2005 found that women who ovulated during the full moon and fell pregnant at this time were more likely to have sons. However, the concept of aligning your menstrual cycle with the moon’s is tricky as lifestyle, genetics and hormones play key roles. 

Can a full moon affect our mood?

For years there have been whisperings of the full moon altering people’s moods. A three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail in Leeds in 1998 found that the number of violent incidents spiked during the days either side of a full moon.

Ten years ago a study monitored the amount of patients admitted to the Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre at Calvary Mater Newcastle in Australia. Out of the 91 patients with violent and acute behavioural disturbance, 21 occurred during the full moon, which equated to twice as many compared to other lunar phases. Two year prior to this, the police force in Brighton employed extra officers during full moons after they carried out research which found there was a rise in violent incidents.

Before you get carried away and start to fret about your mood dipping and anger levels rising this weekend, it’s important to note that all of these studies were very small and more recent research by the Eastern Ontario Research Institute ruled out any impact on behaviour. The study focused on the effects a full moon had on the behaviour and sleep patterns of 5812 children from five continents over the course of two months and concluded that it had no impact on the former.  

“Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people’s behavior,”  said the study leader, Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput. The only significant finding was the 1% sleep alteration in full moon.”

What about our sleep patterns?

Dr Chaput isn’t alone in his findings. The most credible study on sleep and lunar phases took place in 2013 and suggested that the amount of deep sleep we get each night can drop by around 30 percent at the time of a full moon. According to the University of Basel in 2013, not only does it take five minutes longer to drift off, but we can lose up to 20 minutes of sleep a night. Interestingly, the study ruled out the effect of light causing the sleep disruption by asking participants to sleep in a windowless room. They did note a drop in melatonin levels around the time of a full moon, which would explain why you might find it harder to fall asleep but not why to dip in levels occurs. 

However, at least come the next full moon you can ensure you don’t miss any sleep by incorporating Cherry Night by Viridian into your evening routine. Cherries can help top-up your melatonin levels and help you to drift off regardless of the position of the moon.