Too hot? Use these essential oils for sleep

Too much heat can affect sleep quality, making it difficult to get comfortable enough to fall asleep and stay in sleep mode. Ideally, the body needs a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius for relaxation. If your room temperature is much higher than this, you might find yourself tossing and turning, lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, frequent dream interruptions, etc. Luckily, using essential oils for sleep is becoming more common. They can be helpful – even in warmer weather.

The human brain responds emotionally to all kinds of aroma, be it the smell of dirty socks or a garden of roses. The function of smell is one of the most primitive of human senses. Its mechanism is a result of thousands of years of evolution, which helped prehistoric humans survive in harsh conditions. When the aromatic compounds of essential oils come in contact with the olfactory(smell-related) nerves, these nerve cells send impulses to the limbic system, which is associated with various emotions. That is how different scents trigger different kinds of responses from the brain.

The best essential oils for sleep

Lavender oil: Lavender is the world’s most used and adored essential oil of all times for relaxation and sleep. The heavenly smell of lavender oil relaxes the mind and calms the central nervous system. It makes you fall asleep faster and improves quality as well as the duration of sleep. Even if you do not own a diffuser, just a few drops on the pillow or temples can make you a sound sleeper.

Rose essential oil: One drop of rose oil is extracted from around 60 Persian roses. Just imagine a room full of roses! This popular essential oil is profoundly relaxing and soothing for the mind. It immediately removes fatigue, overcomes restlessness, and gets you in the mood of relaxation. Rose oil has been used to cure insomnia and sleep disorders for ages.

Ylang-ylang essential oil: The thick floral scent of ylang-ylang essential oil acts as a mild sedative and decreases mental activity. This can help you fall asleep faster if you have a habit of working late at night. A 2013 study found ylang-ylang to prompt a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate of healthy adults and suggested it as an effective sedative to cure insomnia.

Sandalwood oil: Sandalwood oil has an alluring earthy, woody scent that creates a pleasant aroma. It has a grounding and cooling effect on the body and mind. If applied topically, it relaxes muscles and promotes a sense of calmness. For hot South African summers, sandalwood oil makes a perfect companion for a good night’s sleep, as its cooling property can help lower the body temperature and support an easy transition to non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage of sleep.

How to use essential oils for sleep

  • Scalp or foot massage: This is the best way to enjoy the sedative power of essential oils, especially as all these listed oils have cooling effects. Massage also relaxes the muscles and removes fatigue while offering a range of skin and hair benefits. Add four to five drops to a tablespoon of coconut or olive oil. Give yourself a grounding foot massage and a soothing scalp massage. Enjoy a peaceful sleep.
  • Diffusion: Add a few drops of your preferred oil to a diffuser. If you do not own a diffuser, mix 8-10 drops to a cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray this liquid in your bedroom, pillows, clothes, etc.

While using essential oils can help you sleep better, they should be used carefully and always diluted, as they are very concentrated. Also, some simple bedtime hacks like drinking a glass of water, wearing light cotton clothes and taking a shower before bed may further help you enjoy a comfortable and serene sleep.

Of course no amount of essential oils can negate the effects of an uncomfortable mattress. If your mattress is more than eight years old, you struggle to sleep and you wake up with aches and pains, it might be time to consider investing in a new mattress.

Japan’s Kaizen techniques could help you sleep better

With all eyes on Japan for the Rugby World Cup, we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered Japan’s Kaizen techniques, which could help you sleep better.

Developing a habit of good sleep can really help you shift your life on a daily basis. It will allow you to be active even in the office while working, being energetic while supporting your favourite team in Rugby World Cup and if you are a player, being able to perform better and make your fans proud.

Sleep is essential to ensuring we remain active and productive throughout the day. Our body cannot function properly if it’s not given an adequate amount of it. All the organs of our body work all day long, don’t forget to give them the proper rest and the only way is to ensure to take your proper and quality hours of sleep.

We are fine with compromising on our sleep, in order to wind up the work. But we forget that we cannot work effectively if not having enough amount of energy. In all these circumstances, people suffer from multiple sleep issues like Insomnia or continuous headaches or unexplained moodiness.

If you are also suffering from any one of these, try out some of the following Kaizen (A Japanese word meaning “change”) techniques in order to improve the quality of your sleep:

  • Let’s start with the simplest form of Kaizen technique, known as Point Kaizen. It simply refers to immediate, unplanned and quick implementations. In order to improve your sleep, you can plan out certain quick tactics like decluttering your bed area in 5 minutes before sleeping, shutting out the lights, blocking out noise and a lot more.
  • Technique number two is System Kaizen. It refers to the accomplishment of tasks in a systematic manner. So, in order to ensure quality sleeping habits, make sure to keep an organised record of your sleeping hours on daily basis with the aim of improving them.
  • Line Kaizen techniques not only allow you the implementation of the specified task, but also on the downstream ones. In addition to decluttering your bed and keeping a sleep diary, try take a bath before going to bed. It will help you get better sleep and be more refreshed for the day ahead.
  • Plane Kaizen refers to the connection of several lines together in a stream. For better sleep, read a book for five minutes at least (in addition to the other items you have added to your list). It will not only give you a night of better sleep, but also the powers of knowledge, learning, exploring and enhancing your vocabulary.
  • Cube Kaizen refers to the connection of all processes together in order to come up with efficient results. Good sleep is not a one-time task, but a habit to be developed. So, make sure to be consistent and determined on your purpose. Set it as a goal. Also, it’s about sleep, so don’t forget to make sure that you get yourself the most comfortable and suitable sleeping area (Bed and Mattress).            

It might seem challenging to change your entire sleep routine all at once, but the Kaizen method encourages you to make small, incremental changes, one step at a time. Don’t aim for perfection, rather aim for small positive changes.

Does your sleep environment need the Kaizen method?

When it comes to your sleep environment, it’s important that you have a comfortable mattress. That’s the big change, right? But besides a new mattress, you could consider making smaller changes, such as investing in a new pillow. Your pillow plays an important role in ensuring a good night’s sleep and maintaining proper spine alignment. You could also improve your sleep environment by investing in new linen or curtains. Let Sealy be your starting point – check out the range of Sealy Sleep Accessories, which include a variety of pillows, linen and mattress protectors.

5 tips to beat the winter slump

Dark mornings, gloomy evenings, and gray days in between mean winter is here in Africa — and with the cold season, come the winter slump. Although it has no specific clinical diagnosis, experts at the National Institutes of Health say that winter slump is fairly common. Feelings of sadness, depression, lethargy, and lack of energy are usually the classic symptoms.

When your mood is falling fast, these easy and practical tips may help boost your spirits and beat winter slump.

Improve your diet

Winter means indulging in comfort foods; however, recent research found that people who ate fast foods were 49% more likely to develop symptoms of low mood and anxiety. Therefore, you should look to include more nutritious food options such as fruit, soya beans, and chicken. Foods rich in vitamin B are of extreme importance as they help the brain produce serotonin. This neurotransmitter chemical plays a vital role in balancing moods.

You can also get yourself cozy with some hot chocolate, using natural cocoa powder and almond milk. This drink gives a wonderful sense of delicious treat and can be a healthy addition to your winter diet. Drinking cocoa in the evening also helps prepare you for sleep.

Make sure your sleep schedule and environment is optimal

Winter demands a regular sleep schedule along with an optimal sleep environment. Instead of sleeping late on dark weekend mornings, try waking up at the same times every day of the week. Establish a soothing bedtime ritual and a routine wake-up time.

According to recent guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation, it’s essential to get a sound sleep of at least seven hours every night for your overall health. A comfortable sleep area, free of noisy distractions can help beat the winter slump. Don’t forget to add a new and comfortable mattress at least once in two years. Don’t wait until the warm days of summer to invest in a good quality mattress. Browse the Sealy website and discover our range of comfortable mattresses, all designed to deliver a solid night’s sleep, regardless of the season!

Lace up your running shoes

According to a 2005 study from Harvard University, walking fast for an hour a day three times a week or about half an hour a day five times a week improved mild to moderate symptoms of depression. Exercising or doing workouts under bright lights is even better for recurrent depression.

Another study found that aerobic physical activity improves general mental health, depressive symptoms, and social functioning. Therefore, you should go for more aerobic exercises like swimming, running, cycling and high-intensity interval training.

Get more sun exposure

You left for work in the dark and came back home in the night, restricting yourself from getting your daily dose of natural sunshine. Less exposure to sunlight during winter months can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms, affect your mood and energy, and cause a drop in Vitamin D and serotonin levels. 

If you have the flexibility, schedule in a morning walk or lunchtime stroll. If you don’t, consider getting a full-spectrum light box. It is especially beneficial for people with seasonal depression. Light therapy helps correct your body’s circadian rhythms. It also helps stimulate the release of the natural hormones that regulate your mood and help you feel energized.

Consult your healthcare professional

Winter slump can be part of some other system. Sleep disorders, chronic pain, headaches, and even cardiovascular diseases are all linked to low mood and depression. So don’t hesitate to consult your health care provider to make sure your winter slump is not something more serious.

Fact: Good sleep hygiene improves your mood

A clean sleep environment has a whole host of benefits for our health. When it comes sleep hygiene, a comfortable mattress and clean bedding are two of your most important factors to consider. It’s no secret that a clean, tidy room improves our mood.  

In fact, there’s actually a scientific correlation!

A 2009 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed that women who described their homes as cluttered were also depressed, tired and more stressed.

For starters, even something as simple as making your bed in the morning provides you with a sense of achievement before the day has even begun, and I think we can all agree that there’s no better feeling than crawling into a crisp, freshly made bed after a long day at work.

But what are the best ways to keep your comfortable mattress and linen clean without sacrificing their quality?

How to take care of your mattress:

There are a few tell-tale signs you’re in need of a new mattress. As a rule of thumb, they should be replaced every seven to 10 years, but if you find your mattress is becoming uncomfortable or saggy, your spine isn’t aligned properly, or your asthma/allergies are worsening (this can be due to dust mites), it may be time to invest in a new one.

Until that time comes, though, you can take care of and potentially prolong its life by using a mattress protector. As well as reducing stains and the risk of bed bugs and bacteria from moisture, a mattress protector can actually enhance your comfort, making for an even sounder night’s sleep!

How often you should wash your bedding:

Most people do not wash their bedding nearly enough. Yes, life is hectic and the last thing you want to do after a long day is wrestle with a new set of bedding. So you just hop into bed and vow to ‘do it tomorrow’.

We get it! But regularly washing and changing your bedding has such an array of benefits that it really should be a top priority.

You need to change your bedding every one to two weeks. Here are a just a few tips to keep it looking fresh and new for longer:

Tips for washing your bedding:

  • Wash bedding at a low temperature to avoid shrinkage
  • Use a good quality detergent to ensure you still get a decent clean even at a lower temperature
  • Turn the bedding inside out to avoid the colours running (and to prevent fitted sheets from becoming misshapen)
  • Add a fabric conditioner for extra comfort and a fresh scent
  • If possible, air dry your sheets for an even fresher feeling
  • Deal with any stains before washing – there are loads of techniques you can try, from specialist stain removal products to old-school hacks such as running the stain under cold water before washing

You know we’re the people behind your comfortable mattress, but did you know Sealy also makes bedding? It shouldn’t really be a surprise, since we are totally and utterly dedicated to sleep… we know for a fact that good sleep improves lives!

Taking care of your sleeping environment is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health and wellbeing. Better sleep = higher productivity, improved mental health and a stronger immune system, to name just a few of the perks.

So, get those sheets in the wash, invest in that new mattress or simply tidy your room, safe in the knowledge that you’re investing not only in better sleep, but an overall improved quality of life!

Sleeping pills for sleep? It turns out sedated sleep leads to poor sleep

According to sleep scientist Patrick Fuller, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, sleeping pills are not as helpful as you may think. Known as hypnotics or sedatives to the medical community, sleeping pills are used by many as a quick-fix guarantee for getting good sleep.

“I’m not a basher of hypnotics, because I think that they can play a particularly important role in people who do have true insomnia,” Fuller told Tech Insider. “But for the most part, I think many people taking hypnotic medications actually don’t need them and should work to get off of them… it’s just a cheap fix. And it’s not the right fix.”

If you do not have a diagnosed sleep disorder such as insomnia, then sleeping pills are a bad solution if you are looking for quality sleep for the following reasons:

• Sleeping pills cross the blood-brain barrier where they interfere and cause drowsiness, memory loss headache, double vision and forgetfulness
• Once they are beyond the brain they act erratically on every cell in the body causing muscle aches, stuffy or runny nose, diarrhoea, swollen glands, voice changes and even belching!
• Women should take far lower doses than men as it takes their bodies longer to process the drug’s active ingredient, zolpidem. This can cause fatal accidents if women drive while under its effects the morning after taking their sleeping pills.
• Sleeping pills are highly addictive- once you start taking them to help you sleep it is difficult to stop as any sleep issues will worsen when you stop taking the pills.

Fuller recommended waking up at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine six hours before bedtime, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol at night, avoiding smartphone and e-reader screens in bed, and setting the sleeping mood.

Read more:

Simple tips for dealing with insomnia

‘Clean Sleeping’ tips for better sleep

Could it be that your old, uncomfortable mattress is robbing you of precious sleep? Before you start taking sleeping tablets, give your bedroom an audit. How old is your mattress? (mattresses should be replaced every 8 to 10 years.) Is it still comfortable? Do you have black-out curtains? Do you keep electronics (like TVs and mobile phones) out of the bedroom?

If it’s time to invest in a new bed, visit the Sealy website to see our range of mattresses.

Could your sleep position be causing you pain?

If you rise each morning with aches and pains, and no chance of singing oh-what-a- glorious-morning, then you may want to look a little closer at your sleep position. Different sleep postures call for differing amounts of support across the body.

Take a back-sleeper for example. This posture takes up a large surface area with the pressure widely distributed through the mattress. However, a mattress that is too firm may leave a back-sleeper with an unsupported and therefore painful lower back come morning. On the other hand, a soft mattress may make a back-sleeper feel ‘engulfed’ with too much support and not enough room to breathe.
Solution? Choose a moderate-to-firm mattress and place a pillow under your knees and neck to limit back pain.

Side-sleepers often experience pain in their hip and shoulder – especially if they are sleeping on a firm mattress that causes sharp pressure points where their shoulder and hip joints meet the mattress.
Solution? A softer mattress will cause this pressure to diffuse and the side-sleeper will sleep dreamily again. Place a pillow between your legs to prevent hip pain.

Front-sleepers seem to experience the most neck pain. Often they must turn and hyperextend their necks in order to be able to breathe easily. A stiff neck is no fun and so a front-sleepers may prefer a mattress that gives moderate support- rather than too much or too little.
Solution? Change you sleep posture!

Strange sleepers: Sleeping with one or both arms above your shoulders or one leg out and one leg in can also lead to shoulder and hip pain.
Solution? Try to sleep with your arms and legs in symmetry and fill in the gaps with pillows.

Click here to read more about mattress comfort choices.

Read more:
Goldilocks symptoms: Too hard, too soft or just right?
Pain keeping you up?
Pain sleeping during pregnancy?
Pain sleeping after surgery?

If your current bed is the wrong comfort level for your sleep position, it might be time to consider purchasing a new mattress. Visit the Sealy website to browse our selection: www.sealy.co.za

‘Clean Sleeping’ is the new ‘Clean Eating’ – Gwyneth Paltrow

It’s not just Ariana Huffington filling our news feeds with sleep advice. Gwyneth Paltrow, also known as the Queen of ‘You-Won’t-Believe-This-One’ Fads has recently released a new book called ‘Goop Clean Beauty’ that is filled with an interesting mix of sleep advice.

The concept of ‘clean sleeping’ is nothing new really. It involves prioritising sleep to ensure you get your health-promoting 7-9 hours every day. Whilst 2016 saw many become ‘clean eating’ followers, 2017 may just be the year that sleeping well becomes cooler than staying up late.

Gwen’s clean sleep advice includes sleeping on a copper-infused pillow slip; taking a magnesium supplement just before bed; wearing heated socks and maintaining a 12-hour fasting window.

Most of her sleep advice is well-researched. For example, magnesium has been known as a muscle-relaxer for hundreds of years. However, other bits are rather odd: Does sleeping on a copper-infused pillow translate to copper ions passing through your skin and entering your bloodstream? It’s unlikely, but those who follow Gwen are sure to give it a go.

Whoever is saying it, the truth is, sleep is good for you. We hope your sleep is clean and you wake up feeling fresh!

Image source: Elle Australia, Clean Sleeping will be the biggest health trend of 2017, according to Gwyneth Paltrow