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I’m in my 30’s – why am I sleeping so badly?

It’s no revelation that our modern lives are affecting our sleep, and badly. The Sleep Foundation reports that between 10% and 30% of adults struggle with chronic insomnia – and sadly, ‘chronic’ means long and unabating periods of disorder. It’s staggering to think that up to a third of adults sleep badly or not really at all. But it’s also no surprise to hear this; modern life is forcing us to forego the value of our sleep and it is resulting in a rise in sleep disorders.

We know that stress is probably the most prevalent threat to health today, but there is no simple cure because stress is entirely individual and beholden to number of ever-moving variables. Although stress looks different for each of us, the physiological effects of stress are the same.

Down with the Uppers
Stress increases cortisol levels in the body and cortisol has a direct effect on sleep, and Dr Michael Brues reports that “High cortisol levels frequently appear with insomnia.” While we may not be able to remove the stressors from our lives, we can make a few lifestyle changes to encourage better sleep and mitigate cortisol’s negative effects on it. To affect a drop in our cortisol levels, we must look at the whole spectrum of our life – from exercise to blue light (cellphones and computers) and sunlight exposure to what we eat and drink. At any one time (even during sleep), there is cocktail of crucial hormones coursing through your body. Depending on their levels, these hormones can help or hinder. And you’ll be surprised to know which hormones are important to sleep. In an ideal world, cortisol (the anti-sleep hormone) peaks in the morning to create the feeling of wakefulness, and then declines as the day goes by. A drop in cortisol ushers in a rise in adenosine and melatonin, two of the most powerful sleep hormones.

Some might say that the world is run on coffee, but that also means humanity just can’t get enough of it. Caffeine is a stimulant which causes an increase in blood pressure and a supposed feeling of alertness – it tells our adrenal glands to pump some of their good stuff (adrenaline) to keep us going. While many of us may not feel the effects of caffeine, it continues to affect us throughout the day resulting in increased cortisol.

Downers don’t do much good
On the other side of the coin is alcohol – a known central nervous system depressant; something which we use to ‘relax’ because it is a vasodilator which it causes blood vessels to widen and blood pressure to drop.  Alcohol can induce sleepiness and even send us off to sleep, but it too has a negative effect on sleep. By stimulating the production of the sleep hormone adenosine, alcohol sends us off to sleep very quickly and then into deep stage sleep very soon. What this means is that we skip certain important phases of sleep, ultimately disrupting our entire sleep cycle. Many of us won’t notice if we wake up during the night because of alcohol, but the effects of these waking periods certainly affect our wellbeing.

Coffee and alcohol on their own are not the enemy - humanity’s overconsumption of them is. We cannot expect people to eschew them altogether; it may well be easier to mandate a period of self-moderation. However it’s important to know that continuous and excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol will affect your sleep and you may not even know it. A constant, and seemingly benign disruption to sleep eventually catches up with you in the form of ‘sleep debt’. This kind of debt takes years in the making and is created by incremental and small sleep inefficiencies be it disrupted sleep, not enough sleep or poor-quality sleep. And just as the debt is incurred incrementally, so is the management of it. To sleep better, we must audit our lifestyle and change what we can, where we can however small it may seem.

Make some Sleep Tweaks
We cannot solely blame external factors for the prevalence of sleep disorders in adults – we, the sleepers are also to blame. The good news is that small tweaks can make a big change –  the Japanese call it kaizen, which is a business principle focused on continuous improvement through constant small positive changes which results in major growth.

Aim for Sleep Efficiency: You can’t repay sleep debt in one night; you must pay it in installments so what can you do to repay it? You can start by sleeping more, even if it’s going to bed 20 minutes earlier and the trick is to be consistent over an extended period. Try to make your room as dark as possible and, if you can, lower the room temperature to 18.3° Celsius.

Say Hello to your Sleep Supplements: Reducing the body’s core temperature is key to calming the brain and inducing sleepiness. Recent studies reveal that Glycine is a powerful amino acid and neurotransmitter which helps to lower core temperature. It works by increasing blood flow to the extremities of the body thereby reducing core body temperature. There are other sleep supplements which have proven to positively effect sleep in some way. Use a process of elimination to see what works for you and adopt a sliding scale, starting with the mildest supplement: magnesium and probiotics every night, meditation in the evening, milk or milk proteins before sleep, melatonin for 3-4 weeks and lastly, CBD (cannabidiol) products which are derived from Cannabis (marijuana).

Try to move more and more mindfully: Increase your volume of exercise, even if it’s just a walk in the evening - in fact, high intensity exercise in the evening can be over-stimulating thereby making it harder to fall asleep. Adopt some yoga techniques and try ‘whisky breath’: deep inhalation for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and then exhale for 4 seconds. Aim to do this for 10 cycles. A body scan can also help bring awareness to any areas of the body holding tension and is very simple to do – lie flat on your back and start from your toes and finish at your head. Draw your attention to your toes, wiggle them, contract or flex them and then relax them. Continue this process with each region or muscle group of the body until your reach the top of your head.

Accessorise your bed for individual comfort: Sometimes sleep challenges are not psychological but physical. The bed you sleep on is of utmost importance. Your mattress needn’t be expensive but it must suit you, the way you sleep and your lifestyle. Your sleep accessories can also be the difference between a good sleep and great sleep. Eye shades have a benefit by blocking light while a white noise machine can help some of us to regulate our heart rates and breathing thereby helping us to feel more relaxed. Pillows are often overlooked but also play a key role in comfort – foam or feather, it’s up to the individual. If you need advice on pillows, get in touch with the team at Dream Republic® who have the knowledge to guide you on choosing your pillow. Consider changing your duvet with the seasons; opt for a warmer down or feather duvet for cooler months and a light hollow fibre duvet for warmer months.  Cotton is a highly absorbent fibre that helps to wick away moisture and cool the body. For that reason, you should always opt for cotton-rich bedding if you can.

Adjust your bed to ultimate comfort: A snoring bed fellow can be difficult challenge to overcome, and the solution is not as simple as sleeping in separate beds. However, studies have shown that elevating the upper body or head of the snorer helps to minimise snoring during sleep. Dream Republic® stock the Serta® Perfect Sleeper – an innovative adjustable bed foundation. Adjusting the angle of the top or bottom of your bed can amazing benefits. Elevating the lower limbs helps to channel blood away from the legs thereby helping to decrease blood pressure and lower heart rate. Elevating limbs is also beneficial for pain management while elevating the top of the bed can help those who suffer from acid reflux, indigestion and bronchial issues.

The stresses of modern life are almost inescapable, but we can have greater control on ourselves and the environment within our homes. We have the power to make small lifestyle changes, educate ourselves about getting the best sleep and draw on the knowledge of those with many years of experience in the sleep industry and its affiliates. Sometimes the simplest change can have the greatest effect, and sometimes it’s your bed. At Dream Republic® we believe that you don’t know you’re sleeping on a bad bed until you sleep on a great one.

What matters in a mattress?
Your bed is the unsung hero of modern life – it’s there for your every day literally supporting you while you sleep. And sometimes it feels like it’s the only sure-fire thing you can rely on. Looking back on our lockdown and post-lockdown lives, we realise how time we spent in our beds – not just to sleep, but also a space to come together with the nucleus of the family, to soothe tired bodies, nurse sick children, to find a space of solace amongst the chaos of the world, and for many of us, as a makeshift office. Whatever happened, we learned that our beds support us beyond sleep and that the need for comfort cannot be overstated.

Conducting the Symphony of Sleep
The ideal sleeping space is symphony of important elements from bed linen to the pillow to the bed itself; when these elements come together in perfect unison, we are that much closer to arguably the best sleep of our lives. The ‘old guard’ might beg to differ and pontificate that a bed is a slab of foam on top of a hard base, but we know that’s simply not true. Your mattress is the most important element of all – we can sleep without a pillow or a duvet, but it’s very challenging to sleep without the right sleep surface. The mattress technology of today is mind-blowing; you can now select a mattress based on your individual preference, from firmness, to mattress topper to the adjustability of the mattress - you can now curate your sleep experience. We advise that you start with the base and build up from there, because your sleep surface will set the tone for the future of your sleep.

How hard is your bed?
Some call it a sleep surface but we prefer to use the more comforting term, mattress. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information out there; add to that a salesperson on the showroom floor who’s itching to make a sale, and you may just end up buying the wrong bed. So, what matters in a mattress?

The first thing to consider is the firmness of the mattress, and all Dream Republic® beds are categorised using a rating scale from 1 (firm) to 10 (plush). It’s not always apparent to us what type of mattress we might like, so sometimes opting for something in the middle is the safest option. The Sertapedic Norwich Pillow Top® is rated 6 (medium) while also offering the state-of-the-art sleep technology that Serta®  is renowned for. This is where you’ll find quality, comfort and longevity come together.

Flip-free sleep forever
The Sertapedic Norwich Pillow Top®  is made of high-density pure foam, not just a foam outer shell. Combine that with the patented spring system and the mattress fibre pads and you’ve got the best trifecta for reducing mattress indentation – that’s what makes the Norwich Pillow Top®  a flip-free mattress.

Gel-infused memory foam could be likened to that familiar feeling of hugging a loved one. This unique memory foam is designed to aid in physical pressure relief and reducing motion transfer from your bedfellow – another layer of comfort which you never knew you needed.

Keep your bed clean and your body cool
Our sleep cycles are regulated by a few things, including the body’s temperature. Our sleep hormones work behind the scenes to reduce our core temperature and help the brain to ‘switch off’ in preparation for slumber. Body temperature is crucial in this process, and that’s why the Sertapedic Norwich Pillow Top’s®  latex-feel foam has a natural open-cell structure. It sounds rather fancy, but the functioning is simple in that it encourages excellent air circulation and good mattress breathability; two things which help to keep you cooler and sleep better. Optimised air circulation also means better mattress hygiene. Your Sertapedic Norwich Pillow Top®  has been safely treated with a chemical-free solution that provides natural protection against bacteria – no more nights wondering what’s creeping around in between the bed springs!

Our Unique Spring System
As sleep experts, we at Dream Republic®  stand by Serta®  technology, and one of their enduring hallmarks is the patented spring system in their beds. This technology is only found in Serta®  beds and is arguably  the most advanced and celebrated system ever produced. Providing posture support par none, this spring system runs from head to toe and supports sleepers of up to 150 kilograms.

Technology only Serta® could Dream up
Creating a clear distinction between the Norwich Pillow Top®  and rival beds, is Serta’s speciality imported Ametist®  ticking with Quantech®  technology. Exclusive to Serta®, Quantech®  technology combines the five colours of the energy stones to help restore your energy while you sleep. With amazing Serta®  comfort and top-class sleep innovation, you wouldn’t even know you were sleeping on such ground-breaking technology; you’ll simply wake up feeling better than you did before.

With our hand over our heart, we can say we know beds. We are here to guide you on selecting not only the right sleep accessories, but also the bed that’s right for you. Our expert knowledge makes choosing your mattress even easier, while our extensive industry experience has taught us to rely on the best there is  - Serta®.  Put your other worries to rest in knowing that the Serta® technology in the Sertapedic Norwich pillow Top® is always there to deliver comfort and support backed by the best in sleep innovation. There’s one more thing we know for sure, and that is that the best sleep is the one where you wake up feeling better than before.

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