Health & Wellbeing

Sleeping bride

Get to bed if you’re getting wed! How to sleep better before your wedding day

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With engagement announcements blowing like confetti through our Facebook feeds, and wedding bells ringing throughout the land, there can be no doubting that wedding season is now in full swing! Whether you’re newly-engaged or on the home straight heading towards the aisle, every bride and groom can benefit from getting comfortable and enjoying a good night’s sleep in the run up to the Big Day. Here’s our Sleep Experts’ top tips on how to do just that…

One year Before Your Wedding – Save yourself the trouble of endless nights of tossing and turning by making all the key decisions early on. Speak to your partner and family about a budget that’s affordable for you – seeking appropriate financial advice if you decide to loan any additional funds. Following that, it’s a case of ‘people first, then the venue’ advises Elizabeth Clayton. Decide how many guests you would like to invite and then choose a venue that can comfortably accommodate them. This will also set the overall tone of your wedding day – laid back, quirky, cool or traditional – influencing choices from your dress and transport, to flowers and table arrangements.

Nine Months Before Your Wedding – Answer these questions to choose your honeymoon destination: How much can you afford to spend? How much time can you take off work? When should you go? What kind of honeymoon do you want to have? Once you have made your choice and are ready to book, look at what extras your hosts offer to make your bedroom a honeymooner’s paradise. Think four-poster beds, scattered rose petals and champagne on ice…

Six Months Before Your Wedding – Learn to manage your mounting wedding-related stress levels healthily by committing to move more, more often and building regular physical activity into your daily routine. A gentle yoga routine before bedtime is great way to end the day – calming the nerves and preparing your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.

Three Months Before Your Wedding – Send out your wedding invitations, enclosing your gift registry. The gift of a good night’s sleep is one any newlywed can enjoy – especially after a year of hectic preparations. Modern etiquette dictates that it’s now acceptable to request money if people wish to give you a gift, which you can save up to invest in a new marital bed.

Go with your fiancé to choose your new mattress and base – trying them out to find just the right level of tension for you. Place your order in advance, leaving an appropriate lead time to ensure you’re at home and ready to take delivery of it. (Alternatively, why not surprise your new husband or wife with a new bed to return to from honeymoon?) For guests on a budget, other options to add to your gift registry include bedding, such as gorgeously comfortably pillows and duvets.

Two Months Before Your Wedding – Have your hen or stag party one to two months before your Big Day, leaving plenty of time for the after-effects of any wild party nights to leave your body, so you can look and feel at your healthiest best.

One Month Before Your Wedding – With your wedding just four weeks away, don’t get sucked into the trap of spending late nights on your mobile phone making last-minute arrangements. The glow from your screen will impact on your body clock, making it harder for you to achieve the deep levels of restorative sleep you need. Instead, set time aside first-thing in the morning to work through your notifications and emails to face the day with a clear head.

One Week Before Your Wedding – Pack a bag for your wedding night and ask someone to deliver it to the hotel where you will be staying. Set time aside to confirm all the details of your special day with the companies you’re trusting to make everything happen for you! Doing so will keep your night-time stress levels from peaking.

The Night Before Your Wedding – Drink as little alcohol as possible. As soon as the alcohol starts to wear off, you will come out of your initial deep sleep into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is much easier to wake up from. In a typical night you will have six or seven cycles of REM sleep versus only one or two if you’ve been drinking, leaving you feeling exhausted – reports Drink Aware.

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Guest Contributor’s Credit: www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

johnson-thompsonk-6-prague2015

Warm Weather Training – Preparing for the Rio Heat

By | Fitness, Health & Wellbeing, Sleep Blog | One Comment

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will obviously have very different conditions to where our healthy sleep supporter Katarina Johnson-Thompson trains in Liverpool, so it is important she gets her body used to the conditions she will be competing in. Not only this – warm weather training offers unique training and recovery opportunities:

“I went to Tenerife, Spain for 10 days for my warm weather training. It was a mixture of a training camp where I worked on the technical aspects of my regime, but also a recovery session from the heavy training block I did throughout the winter in Liverpool.

For most athletes, warm weather training is a part of their yearly schedule, as the weather conditions can make a huge impact on training and recovery, especially when compared with the weather conditions Britain has to offer.

“It’s become an annual trip, as it’s really beneficial to train with minimal distractions. The warm weather also aids muscle recovery and is relaxing and more enjoyable to train in. When I’m away I can really focus on my technical training and recovery.”

While it may be the best thing for her training schedule, it can be difficult being away from home comforts.

“When I’m in Tenerife I don’t enjoy being away from my own bed. Your own bed is always the best and in this particular case, that is definitely the truth. After I finish a hard training session in the winter I look forward to passing out in my own bed – but the same can’t be said for Tenerife!

Sleep is an important part of recovery for any athlete, so it’s important to feel relaxed and able to sleep to make sure the next day’s training can be maximised.

 

Image credit: Mark Shearman Athletics Images

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson Qualifies for Rio

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While most Brits were enjoying a long bank holiday weekend last week, our Healthy Sleep Ambassador, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, was taking part in an annual athletics competition – the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis, Austria.

It is known within athletics as the unofficial World Championships for multi-eventers, as usually all the best multi-event athletes throughout the world compete in this meet. Kat is no exception and on her first time competing in Gotzis in 2014, she won the whole event, beating a very competitive field including World Indoor & Commonwealth Champion, Brianne Thieson-Eaton.

This year she was not as lucky, slipping to sixth place on the second day after scoring three personal bests on the Saturday. However, Kat got what she came for, qualifying for the Rio Olympics with a score of 6,304.

“My goal is definitely a gold medal still in Rio. I’ve got a lot to work on between now and then but this is my first time back after knee surgery, so I know exactly what I need to work on. I know that I have a big jump in me. The shot put is definitely a bigger concern for me.”

Kat will continue to train right the way up to Rio. She will now undertake much more technical training – so working on various stages of throwing the javelin & shot put, hurdling, high & long jump.

Slumberland wishes her the best of luck, and a good night’s sleep in her own bed now she’s back!

 

Image Credit: Mark Shearman Athletics Images

travel

How To Get Good Sleep Whilst Travelling

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Travelling can be highly rewarding, but there’s no doubt about it—long hours on the road and jet-lag can seriously hinder getting a good night’s sleep. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or spending the night on a friend’s sofa, a little preparation goes a long way. Here are our tips for getting a better night’s sleep whilst travelling:

1. Book smart
If you’re staying in a hotel, check out photos of the guest rooms before you leave. Look at the hotel website and check out its TripAdvisor reviews. See if your hotel is under renovation, if there’s construction nearby, or if it’s close to a busy street or noisy airport. Request a room in the quietest section of the hotel for example away from any bar or restaurant areas, entrance ways or lifts.

2. Pack smart
If you’re staying with family or crashing on the couch, obviously you can’t change where the bed is going to be. However you can pack smart by bringing your own pillow for comfort or your own bedding to make you feel more at home.

Bring an eye mask and ear plugs – they’re essential for blocking out any unwanted noise and light on aeroplanes, in hotels, and just about anywhere else you need a good night’s sleep. If you’re restricted on luggage space consider a travel pillow instead of your normal pillow as they’ll take up much less space and can help you sleep throughout your journey.

3. Bring your favourite comforts
Don’t forget the creature comforts that will help you relax and feel at home. If you hate walking barefoot on cold floors, pack your favourite slippers. If you enjoy a cup of tea before bed every night in your favourite mug, bring it along. If you love falling asleep to music, make sure you’ve downloaded your favourite tunes onto your phone. Anything to ease the feeling of being in a new environment and make you feel more at-home will help you get a better night’s sleep.

4. A relaxing scent
For many people, scents and fragrance are important. An annoying or overbearing smell such as an unfamiliar washing powder can throw you off and make it difficult to sleep. We suggest bringing along a lavender pillow spray or a travel bottle of your favourite scent to create a calming atmosphere that will help you fall asleep faster, sleep better and wake up refreshed.

5. Adjust to new time zones early on
It is important to adapt yourself to your new time zone as soon as possible to avoid jet-lag. If you are able to, we recommend to gradually adjusting your sleeping habits to your destination’s time zone several days before travelling. It may take your body a little while to adjust, however daylight can help reset your internal “clock.” Try taking a walk as soon as you get up in the morning because the exposure to sunlight will help your brain adjust to the new time zone.

Mental Health Awareness Week

How to Tell Someone Stress and Anxiety are Affecting Your Sleep

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Good relationships are fundamental to our mental health and well-being – that’s the important message of Mental Health Awareness Week (8th – 14th May 2017).

Being able to talk to your partner, family or friends about how stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions are impacting on the quality of your sleep is a positive step towards regaining control over your symptoms.

If you regularly share a bed with your partner, or want to enjoy fun, social times which may involve sleeping away from home, it’s important to be able to talk about how you feel so you can receive the love and support of those who care about you.

Here’s how you can start the conversation in a healthy, productive way:

1. Write it down: Put everything you plan to say down on paper and practice the conversation out loud. Think about how you may handle the situation if the person starts to cry or gets angry. This is a natural response and will not mean you have done anything wrong. It may be that they need to take time to process what you have told them. A good strategy, therefore, is to identify a second person close to you that you also feel you can talk with.

2. Do your homework: It is often upsetting to find out someone we love is unwell or not feeling their best self. Be prepared that the person you are confiding in may have questions about why you feel the way you do – some of which you might not be able to answer. Look up sources of support and information that you can signpost them to, where they can find out more about your condition. Mind’s Guide to Coping for Carers is a great place to start.

3. Find your comfort zone: One in four people will experience a mental health problem in the UK each year, yet it can still be really difficult to talk about it. What you feel comfortable divulging may change depending on who you are speaking to. It could be that you feel happier focussing on symptoms (e.g. “Sometimes at night-time, I get palpitations and it feels like I can’t breathe”) rather than labelling your condition (e.g. “I have anxiety disorder”). How much you choose to share is your decision; the more honest you feel you can be, the more likely it is that you will get the right level of support.

4. Choose the right person to tell: Does the person gossip or spread rumours? Do they handle their own emotions well? Are they having a hard time too? Do you find them to be judgmental or condescending? People who fit any of the above descriptors may not be the right person to tell – even if it’s a family member. Instead, choose someone who is discreet, trustworthy, reliable and non-judgemental.

5. Timing is key: Plan to have the conversation when you feel safe, secure and relaxed (preferably not near to bedtime if that triggers some of your symptoms). Make sure you will have plenty of time to talk at leisure; not when you’re about to rush off on the school run, or tired after a long day at work. Turn off the TV or radio and put your mobile phones on silent. Focus on quality time with no distractions.

6. Practical steps: When someone we love is having a hard time, it’s natural to want to help. Think about what practical steps you want your partner, family or friends to take to support you towards living life well. Examples could be helping you to cut back on caffeinated drinks before bedtime, running you a hot bath, looking after your children to give you a much-needed lie-in or supporting you at a doctor’s appointment, if you feel you need to speak with a healthcare professional.

7. Turn to the professionals: There are lots of groups and charities that have trained professionals who you can speak to if you need support from outside your close circle, or if your chat with your partner, family and friends doesn’t go to plan. These include the Mind Infoline (0300 123 393), Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line (0300 5000 927), Saneline (0845 767 8000) or the Samaritans (116 123).

Guest blog credit: http://www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

Image copyright of Shutterstock

Sleep To Exam Success

Sleep To Exam Success

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A good night’s sleep may not be high on the agenda for many students, however memory function certainly is and according to research sleep is key to successful learning.

Research published by the Sleep Council, found that more than half of teenagers confessed to regularly cramming all their revision for an exam into one night.

Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council said: “Our research shows that a worryingly high number of teenagers are not getting as much sleep as they need to function and perform at their best in the build up to exams. They are sacrificing sleep to study when in fact they might be more mentally alert cramming in extra sleep rather than more revision.”

When a person is sleep-deprived they will not be able to focus their attention optimally and therefore will not learn new information efficiently.

Most people will recognise that on the days you sleep better you feel energised, stimulated and motivated and this is the ideal mental environment for those revising.

With a good night’s sleep the brain is able to process and retain new information over the long term because sleep has a crucial role in the consolidation of memory. This is when the brain backs up short-term patterns and creates long-term memories so you are able to recall information you have learnt more efficiently.

Professor Della Sala of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh says for those revising “it’s a good idea to learn something just before going to bed, and then let your brain do the work.”

If your teenager is battling the exam period and you are unsure of how you can help them find time for quality sleep, we’ve come up with some top tips to assist:

1. PREPARATION.

Help your teenager draw up a revision timetable of all the subjects they need to revise and when – and make sure they try and stick to it. This will help them use their time more efficiently; reducing stress and anxiety levels and avoiding that last minute cramming.

2. ENCOURAGE REST.

Revising in stages and getting enough sleep in-between sessions means your teenager will consolidate new information more effectively. A power nap of just 45 minutes can boost the memory by five times, research has found.

3. EAT WELL.

Stress eating throughout the exam period can seriously disrupt your teenager’s sleep. Encourage them to ditch the chocolate and crisps by keeping healthy, easy-to-eat snacks around such as nuts, yoghurt and bananas, which are all loaded with the sleep-inducing tryptophan.

Read more tips on foods to help you sleep.

5. LIMIT CAFFEINE.

Caffeine is a stimulant which can generally interfere with your sleep and body clock if consumed later in the day. Try to encourage your teenager to avoid all sources of caffeine from 2pm – this includes things like tea, chocolate, and fizzy drinks. They could opt for a caffeine-free herbal tea before bed such as camomile tea which has a sedative effect to help them sleep well.

6. PRIORITISE.

The sheer amount of revision to be done may sometimes seem overwhelming for your teenager. Help them set out priorities and break it down into manageable chunks. If they work on the most urgent topics first it will help reduce anxiety.

7. EXERCISE.

Your teenager will be spending a great deal of time on the computer or with their head in a book, so it’s important for them to take regular breaks to stay productive. Encourage them to exercise little and often throughout the exam period – just a simple walk to the shops can help them clear their head so that they return refreshed to their revision.

8. CLEAR MIND.

You may find your teenager worrying over revision and exams and this will often keep their brain active at night. Offer them a notebook to keep by their bed so that they can write thoughts down before sleeping. Meditation and breathing exercises can also help clear the mind ready for sleep.

9. SLEEP WELL.

Sleep is food for the brain. On average most teenagers only get around 7 hours of sleep a night, when they should be getting at least nine hours of sleep. Check your teenager has a good sleeping environment – ideally a room that is dark, cool and quiet (black out blinds may help during the summer). Ensure they are sleeping on a comfortable, supportive mattress to encourage quality sleep.

Stress Awareness Month 2016

Stress Awareness Month 2016: 5 Ways to Tackle Unhelpful Thinking at Bedtime

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Your work performance… next month’s mortgage payment… the kids’ school grades… marital difficulties… Are the worries popping into your head at bedtime, impacting on the quality of your sleep?

The less sleep you get, the more your stress levels increase as your coping skills are reduced by tiredness.

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Symptoms include headaches, muscle tension or pain and racing thoughts – none of which are conducive to a refreshing, rejuvenating night’s sleep.

You can regain control of racing night-time thoughts and overcome the symptoms of stress in any of the following five ways – all of which are proven to lead to positive mind sets and a good night’s rest.

Break It Down: Utilise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to look at your problem in separate parts – thoughts, physical feelings and actions. How do they effect each other and you? Reframe unhelpful thoughts more positively. For example, instead of: “What if I can’t make this month’s mortgage payment” a healthier thought process could be: “I will telephone my lender tomorrow morning to discuss a payment plan.” Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a talking therapy which you can access through your GP and the NHS or pay for privately.

Shut Up, Move On (SUMO): Developed by best-selling author Paul McGee, SUMO is a set of principles and materials designed to empower people who may wrestle with life’s everyday problems today and in the future. ‘Shut Up’ is about stopping what you are doing and taking time out to reflect, then committing to ‘Move On’ positively when the time is right. A helpful SUMO tool to address ‘faulty thinking’ is to ask: ‘Where is this issue on a scale of one to 10? How important will this be in six months’ time? Is my response appropriate and effective?’

Mindfulness: Being more mindfully aware of not just your inner thoughts, but what’s going on in the world around you moment to moment, can help to distract you from challenging or upsetting thoughts. Practice mindfulness to reconnect with the sights, sounds, and smells of the present moment. Develop a mindful bedtime routine that’s focussed on relaxation and includes sleep-promoting snacks, gentle exercise and a sensual bath.

Moodzone: NHS Choices have developed the Moodzone – an online resource offering practical, useful information and interactive tools, and videos to support you to feel less stressed. Take the Mood Assessment Quiz to gauge your current mood, then listen to the free Trouble Sleeping or Unhelpful Thinking audio guides.

Join the worldwide happiness movement: No.1 New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin published her manifesto for a happier life, The Happiness Project, in 2009 and it’s since gone on to sell 1.5million copies. A blueprint to designing your own Happiness Project, the book helps you to focus on doing what makes you feel good, joyful and full of fun, and positively managing what makes you feel bad, brings anger, boredom or dread. Start your Happiness Project here.

Guest blog contribution: www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

Photo credit: Shutterstock

KJT mattress

Getting Ready for Rio

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Athletes work hard to win, and shape every part of their lifestyle to get the edge over the competition. This includes various aspects of their life such as their diet, exercise plan, and their sleep routine. Just as athletes need more calories when in training, they also need more sleep. This is no different for our Healthy Sleep Campaign supporter, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who is getting ready for Rio this year:

“Sleep is really important to my training – if I haven’t had enough sleep, it adversely affects my training. I can feel lethargic, my concentration wavers and I don’t get the best out of my session.”

Katarina’s preparation for the Olympics revolves around her extensive training sessions, as she pushes herself for the Gold this year.

“I particularly enjoy the sprint, technical and high jump sessions. The endurance and hill sessions are definitely ones that I don’t get so enthused about but I know their importance. After these sessions, I’m usually exhausted and all I want to do is lie down!”

This extensive exercise regime depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and diet are obviously a part of training and recovery, but what athletes do after training and competition also determines how quickly their bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients. The right amount of rest and recovery helps maintain endurance, speed, and accuracy, essential for an Olympic athlete.

A study in the journal SLEEP confirms the role of sleep in performance, with results that show declines in split-second decision-making following poor sleep, as well as increased accuracy in well-rested subjects.

National Pet Month

National Pet Month: Would YOU share a bed with your pet?

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When it comes to lights out, hands up if the pitter-patter of four paws followed by a sudden dead-weight at the end of the bed is part of your sleep routine? You’re not alone… It’s estimated that just over half of dog-owners allow their pets to sleep in their bed with them – and a recent study found that those who sleep with a pet in the room feel more safe and secure and thus have a better night’s rest.

While never recommended for children, the experts’ consensus is that – providing your pet is well-groomed, has preventative flea and tick treatment, no behavioural issues and receives regular veterinary care – the risks around co-sleeping are low versus the rewards of warmth, comfort and a strengthened bond.

So, this National Pet Month, here’s five recommendations on how you can protect your investment in your bed, and maintain high hygiene and comfort levels for you and your four-legged friends!

Super-size your mattress: The more space you have to get comfortable, the greater the enjoyment factor of co-sleeping with your pet. Depending on the size of your dog or cat, seriously consider upgrading from a standard UK double mattress measuring 135 cm x 190 cm (4′ 6″ x 6′ 3″) to a standard UK king, which measures 150 cm x 200 cm (5′ 0″ x 6′ 6″). For really big dogs, a 180 cm x 200 cm (6′ 0″ x 6′ 6″) super-king is a must (unless you particularly enjoy the sensation of deadened limbs or being confined to the outer edge of your mattress).

Protect your mattress investment: Just like human toddlers, even well-trained pets can be prone to the odd episode of bed-wetting, and all those bodies can make for a pretty sweaty sleep experience. Choose a good-quality mattress protector with breathable 100 percent polyurethane, which absorbs heat for a cooling sleep surface, and effectively prevents moisture from flowing through your sheet into your mattress.

Machine-washable duvets: To keep your bedding fresh and free from unpleasant doggy or cat odours, opt for machine-washable duvets and pillows that are tested for durability. Breathable fillings allow moisture vapour be transmitted through the material – keeping your bedding cool, fresh and hygienic for a renewing, reenergising sleep. Wash your bedding regularly, with two rinse cycles to eliminate any residual hair.

Colour coordinates: If you have a fluffy white Persian cat, please step away from black bedding. Likewise, brilliant whites are a no-no for animals with darker fur and grubby paws. Try to camouflage your bedding with your animal’s coat to keep the visibility of stray hairs to a minimum. Think about texture. Tightly woven cotton, crisp linens and silky microfibers all resist and repel hair, whereas velvets, jersey knits and flannels attract them with a vengeance. Granny’s 100-year-old hand-crocheted lace throw… you’ll want to store that in your ottoman or divan base – away from flexing claws.

Keep your pet’s options open: As cute as the idea is to share your bed with your pet, don’t leave that as the only option. Providing a safe, warm and comfortable bed in another room ensures that your pet comes to you at bedtime as a matter of choice rather than necessity.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Guest Blog Credit: www.landofbeds.co.uk/slumberland

world health day

10 Healthy Habits To Adopt

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We know the secret to health and wellbeing here at Slumberland and want you to feel the very best you can everyday. Start your healthy journey with us by adopting these 10 simple healthy habits below:


Get Moving

Exercise doesn’t always have to involve the gym. It’s important to find something you love so it doesn’t feel like a chore – that could be going for a brisk walk, gardening, sports, swimming or yoga. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day will increase your heart rate and help you stay fit.


Perfect Your Posture

It’s important to pay attention to your body throughout the day, bad posture has all kinds of negative health impacts, including chronic muscle pain, reduced circulation, headaches, and even bad moods.  Try to sit up a little straighter, stand a little taller, and stretch when you’re feeling cramped or tired.


Look Up

Staring at your mobile screen at bedtime will cause you to take longer to reach the deeper stages of sleep and to spend less time in them due to the blue light they emit. Deep sleep is essential for your body to rejuvenate cells and repair damage so aim for a technology cut off a couple hours before you go to bed.


Hydrate

Dehydration is linked to fatigue, headaches, anxiety and trouble concentrating. Aim to drink around 2 litres of water a day to help you feel energised, improve your skin and even help you lose weight by helping you feel full.


Mindful Eating

Slow down, breathe between bites, and take note when you’re full. Odds are you’ll end up eating much less (and feeling much better)!


Go Outdoors

Being outdoor can reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of depression and boost your mood. Being outdoors is also a crucial part of getting a good night’s sleep as natural daylight helps sync our circadian rhythm.


Take The Stairs

On average people spend anywhere from 7 to 15 hours a day sitting which can cause several health issues. Simply taking the stairs at work instead of the lift, or parking further away will add in those extra daily steps to make a difference.


Wind Down

Harvard research finds mindfulness and meditation can ease anxiety, stress and even physical pain. You don’t have to zen out for hours either, just 20 minutes a day can reduce stress reactions in your body.


Laugh Often

Laughter is about being present, enjoying the here and now and feeling good. It temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure, followed by muscle relaxation and a decrease in blood pressure – plus it burns calories!


Get Enough Sleep

Getting a little extra sleep can bring many benefits to help improve your health. The recommended 8 hours of sleep per night will not only cure your under-eye circles and boost your energy, but can improve your memory, sharpen your attention, help you live longer, maintain a healthy weight, and lower your stress.