December 2016


Christmas with an Olympic athlete

By | Fitness, Health & Wellbeing, Sleep Blog | No Comments

We catch up with our Healthy Sleep Ambassador, Katarina Johnson on how she’ll be spending this Christmas this year.

While we’re all snuggling up in our Christmas jumpers Katarina has to keep up her training and make sure her training suits the weather conditions.

It becomes more about life conditioning of the body. A lot of long runs to get the lungs going. A lot of drills to condition the body to move in the right way and also gym work to strengthen every single muscle in the body!

I don’t dread the cold weather this year because I’m in the sunny south of France!’

Illness and injury are always a risk in sport, with one cold or bout of the flu threatening to halt training programmes and push back progress.

‘I am quite careful and cautious when using gym facilities. I always take a hand gel with me everywhere and make sure I use it before my hands go anywhere near my mouth/face! Injuries in the winter are less common for me. It’s just about being sensible and speaking up to the coach if I’m feeling run down that week. I am aware of not pushing my body too far over the edge too – still working hard but finding the proper balance.

Sleep is so important, especially because I have started doing two sessions a day now. I have to have a 40-minute nap in-between sessions to recharge and allow my muscles to recover properly before starting again.’

Even at an Olympic level you have to be able to give yourself some time off (even if it’s just one day!) – so how will Katarina be spending Christmas?

‘I will be spending Christmas Day in my aunties house with my entire family. There are around 20 of us give or take. Thankfully I am not in charge of the cooking or hosting so I just show up and enjoy! There’s no real prolonged ‘time off’ for me. I will get Christmas Day off but you have to keep the body ticking over. The tracks tend to close over Christmas so it will be more runs in a local park or going the gym and less technical work.’

Kat’s dogs are her pride and joy – so what canine presents will she be treating them to this year?

‘I’ve already bought them little tartan bow ties to go around their collar. And probably just their favourite treats. My next door neighbour bought them a doggy selection box last year, which I thought was pretty cool.’

Sleep tips to survive the party season

Sleep tips to survive the party season

By | Health & Wellbeing | No Comments

Our health and emotional well-being are our most important personal assets and sleep, or lack of, throughout the Christmas party season can certainly take its toll.

Maintaining healthy sleep habits, no matter the season, will help you feel refreshed and recharged. Learn to maximise your sleep with our sleep tips below so you can truly enjoy the seasonal festivities with your loved ones.

  • Stick to your normal sleep routine:
    If you have an evening holiday party to attend and you plan on staying up late, try to keep your wake up time the same, even if you feel tired the next day. It’s important to stay consistent to reinforce your sleep-wake cycle and encourage a more relaxing night’s slumber.
  • Create a restful sleeping environment:
    Neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible (wear earplugs if you need). Keep the Christmas decorations to the other parts of your home and do not let your children to sleep in bed with you – it’ll disrupt a good night’s sleep for all!
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable:
    It should also be as big as possible so your partner rarely disturbs you. If you find that you and your partner have different needs for a bed then try investing in two single mattresses of different tensions to make up a super king.
  • Get plenty of exercise:
    Regular, moderate exercise can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains and promote a deeper sleep. However avoid strenuous exercise within three hours of bedtime or it may keep you awake. A good brisk walk is ideal to stop you feeling sluggish after a hefty Christmas dinner!
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch:
    Don’t end up compensating for lack of sleep by going too heavy on coffee – especially in the evening. Caffeinated drinks will interfere with you falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Opt for a hot milky drink or herbal tea in the evening instead.
  • Don’t over-indulge on food and alcohol:
    Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can play havoc with sleep patterns.  Alcohol may help you fall asleep more easily at first, but once your body metabolises it during the sleep cycle it often disrupts sleep and wakes you up. It is hard throughout Christmas and New Year festivities to avoid completely, but try swapping your alcoholic drink to water a couple of hours before bedtime to re-hydrate and avoid eating within two hours of bedtime.
  • Insist on some ‘me time’ before going to bed:
    Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music, do some yoga – anything that helps to relax both your mind and body and wind down before bedtime.
  • Keep your mind calm and anxiety-free at bedtime:
    The Christmas period can bring stress and anxiety along with excitement. If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Try keeping a notebook by your bed and writing down your thoughts; this should relax and clear your mind helping you to drift back off to sleep.