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