Tag: sleep

This £12 V-Pillow Gave Me My Best Night’s Sleep In Years

Honestly it's life-changing

Honestly, it’s life changing is a regular series where we talk about the weird and wonderful possessions we can’t imagine life without. Think of it as an ode to the mundane, bizarre and, sometimes, wholly unnecessary products in our lives.

For as long as I can remember I have always been a bad sleeper, forced into insomnia by poor posture. I’d lie for hours on my front, on my back, awkwardly on my side with one useless arm flopped out over the edge of the mattress, getting increasingly numb until it felt like white noise was spreading up my fingertips.

My mum told me thick, fluffy pillows would help; my partner told me to try just one, flat pillow; and my physio tried to convince me to do away with pillows all together – “Try sleeping with just a towel rolled under your neck,” she said. Comfy, I thought – but it was my mother-in-law who introduced me to the solution.

The big V-pillow is a thing of simple beauty, an object almost mythical in its somnolent powers. Sleeping at my in-laws – where my love affair began, with their his-n-hers V-pillows – was the only time I’d get a decent night’s sleep, despite the fact their guest bed dips so much in the middle that my partner and I would be touching butts all night. With my head nestled in the inner point of the V, I was out quicker than you could say: “Is that your arse or mine?”

The Fogarty V-Shaped Orthopaedic Firm-Support Pillow, Dunelm, £12

Bedroom gadgets are very in right now. Have trouble getting up on dark winter mornings? Get yourself a sunrise alarm. Can’t sleep without the sounds of the rainforest? Google Home’s a good shout. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a mattress that can correctly predict when you’re coming on your period and pop paracetamol and Lindt balls into your mouth every four hours.

But with my beloved V-pillow, we’re taking it back to basics. This pillow does nothing to try and impress and you can pick up a decent one from Dunelm for just £12. It’s almost Big Mac-ian in its allure: cheap, comforting, unassuming. You know what to expect.

Is there a science to its comfort? I have no idea, and I don’t care. It certainly doesn’t act like something scientifically engineered to impress – it just is. It’s not choc-a-bloc with duck feathers or dense with memory foam. All I know is it allows me to sleep on my back without rolling around, cradling my neck and relieving some pressure off my shoulders; and it acts like a body pillow when I sleep on my side, keeping me in place and making use of that redundant, white noise arm.

If, like me, you enjoy diving into a good book before catching your ZZZs (read: making snarky comments on Twitter), then it offers much more support for your back than a janky old regular pillow – like a little bed armchair.

I also hear it’s great for breastfeeding, but I wouldn’t know much about that – the only baby in my bed is me.

All I know is this: we V-sleepers are rare but satisfied breed; a cult of well-rested and slightly smug pillow worshippers, with bodies free of neck ache and shoulder pain. We know what a good night’s sleep is and we’re not afraid to lecture everyone about it. Join our church and pass on the gospel.

Buy it now: The Fogarty V-Shaped Orthopaedic Firm-Support Pillow, Dunelm, £12

We all work hard to earn our money – so it shouldn’t feel like hard work to spend it well. At HuffPost Finds we’ll help you find the best stuff that deserves your cash, from the ultimate lipstick to a durable iron to replace the one that broke (RIP). All our choices are completely independent but we may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase.

Here’s Why You Only Remember Some Of Your Dreams

Whether you’re obsessed with dream interpretation or are only mildly interested in that dream you keep having about all your teeth falling out, most of us can agree that the subconscious mind is one of the stranger things in life. Sometimes …

Here’s Why You Only Remember Some Of Your Dreams

Whether you’re obsessed with dream interpretation or are only mildly interested in that dream you keep having about all your teeth falling out, most of us can agree that the subconscious mind is one of the stranger things in life. Sometimes …

Craving Better Sleep In 2020? 5 Items You Need In Your Bedroom

HuffPost UK

Just when we’re attempting to embrace good intentions for 2020, our sleep schedules have taken their biggest hit, thanks to the triple whammy of party season, the Christmas eat-and-drinkathon, and that weird bit around New Year when neither hours nor days – even time itself – really matter.

All this before going #backtowork and attempting to return your mind and body to their usual routines. Time to reactivate your 6am alarm, change back the hours on your thermostat, and dig out your dog-eared coffee loyalty card.

With early starts just around the corner, you’ll be wanting to get the best quality sleep possible while you can. So we’ve rounded up five of the best products that will aid your quest for rest, all tried and tested by the team.

Lumie Bodyclock Spark 100 Wake up to Daylight SAD Light, Amazon

Lumie Bodyclock Spark 100 Wake up to Daylight SAD Light, Amazon, £74.99

I can personally attest to the brilliance of a Lumie Bodyclock, as I am the proud owner of one. I even wrote it this love letter.

No blaring bleep to jolt me out of my sleep. Instead the light (which can be adjusted depending on how bright you want it to be) emits a warm glow into my bedroom and the alarm sound starts quietly, eventually getting louder.

To snooze it only takes a light tap on the dome, so easy to do when you’re buried under your duvet. Best of all, it stops me from looking at my phone as the last thing I do before I go to bed and the first thing I do when I wake up.

Because both the sound and light are so gradual, I now wake up feeling more rested and in a better mood and that’s only improved with use.

Read our full review here.

Buy it now

Jungle Leaf Eye Mask, Elizabeth Scarlett

Jungle Leaf Eye Mask, Elizabeth Scarlett, Amara, £20

From the cracks in your curtains to the light from a late text or your partner getting up early to go to the gym, a good eye mask should eliminate as much light as possible to ensure you get your 40 winks. HuffPost’s Life Editor Brogan simply cannot sleep without her one in this cool, jungle leaf design.

According to Brogan, not only does it block out any last chinks of brightness that might rouse her from slumber, just the act of putting on an eyemask on, helps send her to sleep. As she points out, restorative yoga often uses a weighted eye pillow to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system (the one that slows your heart rate and generally chills your body out). Putting on an eye mask helps do the same. And works out cheaper, even a posh one like this.

Read our full review here.

Buy it now

Kally Body Pillow – Heathered Grey, Kally Sleep

Kally Body Pillow, Heathered Grey, Kally Sleep, £44.99

Not to be mistaken for a pregnancy pillow, although it may come in useful if you’re expecting, this sausage pillow worked wonders for HuffPost’s Assistant Editor Amy when she has some back pain, and has now become a staple in her bedtime routine. 

The beauty of it: versatility. Want to prop yourself up and read in bed? Use the sausage pillow. Need something to support a tablet so you can watch something in bed? Sausage pillow. Hoping to warm yourself up because it’s still cold under the duvet? Spoon the pillow.

Read our full review here

Buy it now

this works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (75ml), Look Fantastic

This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (75ml), Look Fantastic, £19.50

We’re not actually sure how this lavender, vetivert and camomile scented pillow spray works to help you slumber through the night, but when liberally spritzed onto your pillows, it delivers a delicious cloud of relaxation. The fragrance isn’t overwhelming and, whether it’s routine or science, it seems to help people nod off and stay asleep easier.   

The 75ml size will last you months, but if you’re a frequent traveller, it also comes in miniature for £10, alongside a stress rollerball to apply to your pulse points. If you needed more convincing, it scored rave reviews when we tested it against other sleep sprays on the market. 

Read our full review here.

Buy it now

Twinings Superblends Sleep, Tesco

Twinings Superblends Sleep, Tesco, £2.69

Earlier in 2019, the HuffPost team tested five different teas, all promising to hep you nod off quicker. Twinings was well loved by many of the judges for its fragrant aroma of apple, vanilla, camomile and passionflowers – not too festive, easily drinkable. “I sipped this tea while reading in bed and floated off to sleep feeling like I’d had a big hug,” wrote Life Reporter Rachel who said she would happily make it a part of her nightly pre-bedtime rituals. Add it to yours.

Read our bedtime tea round-up here.

Buy it now

We all work hard to earn our money – so it shouldn’t feel like hard work to spend it well. At HuffPost Finds we’ll help you find the best stuff that deserves your cash, from the ultimate lipstick to a durable iron to replace the one that broke (RIP). All our choices are completely independent but we may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase.

How To Get Your Kids To Fall Asleep Fast On Christmas Eve

It’s hard to get to sleep before a big event, even for us adults, so you can’t blame kids for finding it tricky to nod off on Christmas Eve. The next day is about as exciting as it gets, with an actual magic person coming to their house in the night and delivering presents. 

Thinking about it, that poem, The Night Before Christmas, is nonsense – the mouse will absolutely be stirring, the children will refuse to go to bed, and going to sleep in yourself is a long way off. 

So what can you do to make things a little easier on the eve of Christmas Eve?

1. Try this milk drink

Milk contains melatonin, a hormone that helps create the urge to nod off – and it also contains the sleep-inducing amino acid, tryptophan. 

“You can try warm full-fat milk with a little honey to make the holiday sweet,” suggests Dr. Harvey Karp, a paediatrician and author of Happiest Baby on the Block. “Milk has tryptophan and fat that promote sleep.”

2. Use white noise

Karp also suggests white noise to help cover up overexcited thoughts – a type of noise produced by combining sounds of different frequencies together – but you can’t produce it on Christmas Eve and expect it to work. “It may be a good idea to start this before Christmas so the child can get used to the sound. Start it in the house an hour before bedtime and play it all night at around 68 dB, the level of a soft conversation,” he says.

You can find these on YouTube, as well as through online apps – all for free. 

3. Don’t alter the routine

“Try to maintain their usual bedtime routine,” says child sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor, of The Sleep Works. “Avoid pushing bedtime later, as this will exacerbate the hysteria of the situation due to a release of cortisol.”

Avoid pushing bedtime later.

Christmas Eve is a special occasion, of course, but so is Christmas Day itself. With older children, Taylor suggests setting a wake-up time on the clock for Christmas morning, to avoid excessively early starts and make sure everyone gets enough shut-eye.

4. Use warming lights

Cosy lighting can also help with getting to sleep – and if you’re lucky enough to be around a roaring fire, that will work wonders. “Unlike the bright and blue lights that come from electrical devices, which reduce melatonin and delay sleep, the kind of warm orange light you get sitting in front of a fire helps to soothe the brain and prepare us for sleep,” says Karp.

And once they’re asleep…

There are, of course, various sleep stages children will go through, some of which are less deep than others. Santa might want to consult a tool like this sleep calculator, which helps figure out when your little one is least likely to be woken up by presents arriving, carrots being bitten, or the sound of a festive glug of well-earned brandy.

14 Important Health Lessons We Learned In 2019

Medical report, medical document, health insurance concepts. Flat design. Vector illustration

There’s so much conflicting health advice out there, it can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to looking after yourself.

Of all the health stories we’ve reported on in 2019, there are a fair few important lessons we’ve learned, or been reminded of, that we’d think you’d like to know, too.

From knowing which pill to take for what pain, to always taking vitamins with food – here are 14 lessons that could inspire you to live a better 2020.

1. Movement can help ease acute back pain.

Back pain is the leading single cause of disability in the UK, which means a hell of a lot of people are struggling. While there are many causes, it’s often because of an issue with the ligaments or tendons in the back.

For years, people were led to believe bed rest would sort it out. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Laura Finucane, a consultant physiotherapist specialising in spinal conditions, told HuffPost UK that for people with acute back pain (which lasts less than six weeks) “motion is lotion”.

Remaining active can “turn down” the intensity of pain you’re feeling, while staying still reinforces the thought process that movement is bad, which can “turn up” the intensity of pain, she said. This advice is echoed by the NHS, too: “One of the most important things you can do is to keep moving and continue with your normal activities as much as possible.” 

Read more about how movement can help ease back pain.

2. There’s no scientific cure for a hangover. 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but, according to science, there’s no one-size-fits-all cure for a hangover. We don’t know what causes a hangover yet, said Alexis Willett, author of Drinkology: The Science of What We Drink and What It Does to Us, so how are we supposed to “cure” it?

That said, there are a number of things alcohol researchers rely on to get them through the morning after boozing: plenty of water, stocking up on B vitamins and making sure they’ve got some electrolyte sachets knocking about. Also, did you know the colour of your drink could impact the severity of your hangover? Yeah, us neither. 

Read more on how alcohol experts handle their hangovers.

3. Cholesterol should be on your radar, whatever your age.

It might seem like something you don’t need to worry about until you’re retired, but cholesterol should be on everyone’s radar, according to charities. 

Currently, people under 40 only have their cholesterol levels checked when they go for blood tests, usually as a result of illness. But Chris Allen, head of healthcare for nationwide cholesterol charity Heart UK suggests “you don’t need to wait until you’re 40 to get it checked”.

His comments came after a study suggested people as young as 25 should have their cholesterol levels checked. One argument for testing people earlier is that artery clogging could be prevented, said Barbara Kobson, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. “It can take many years for arteries to fur up in response to a high level of ‘bad’ cholesterol. If people as young as 25 get their levels checked and they’re found to have high cholesterol, they can be started on medication and other risk factors can be addressed by their GP.”

4. Eye yoga can help with visual fatigue.

Computer eye strain is a very real issue for people who are glued to screens day in, day out. Symptoms include headaches; sore, tired or itchy eyes; difficulty focusing; blurred or double vision; and increased sensitivity to light.

So what can you do about it? Let us introduce you to eye yoga: look to the left, hold the position, repeat looking right. Look up, hold the position, repeat looking down. Repeat four times, closing your eyes and relaxing in between. Try doing this a couple of times a day. 

The 20:20:20 rule may also help with visual fatigue. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye. Make it your mission to look after your peepers in 2020.

Read more about how to reduce computer eye strain.

5. Vitamins should be taken with food.

Ever felt like you needed to throw up after taking a vitamin tablet? You’re not overthinking it – it’s often to do with how they’re absorbed into the body.

Vitamin C tablets are the worst offenders when it comes to making people nauseous, or even physically sick, after taking them, according to pharmacist, Anshu Kaura. This is because they’re quite acidic. “Once vitamin C is consumed, you can get that build-up of acid in the stomach,” she told HuffPost UK.

What’s the key to avoiding that sickly feeling, then? It’s quite simple: eat. “Taking vitamins with or after food in general is a good idea, to minimise stomach-related side effects, unless the product information suggests otherwise,” said Phil Day, superintendent pharmacist for Pharmacy2U.

Read more about why vitamins make you sick.

6. Skin cancer is probably more common than you think.

You might think it won’t happen to you if you don’t live in a hot country, but skin cancer is actually one of the most common types of cancer in the UK. 

The best way to prevent it is to protect your skin from UV rays – and yes, that means wearing sun cream when you’re outside in the UK, not just on holiday. Wear SPF30 sunscreen with 4/5 UVA stars when outside and don’t forget to put cream on your eyelids, too

The British Skin Foundation urges people to check their skin regularly (once a month) so it’s easy to detect any changes. Enlist the help of family or friends for hard-to-see areas of the body or use a full length mirror. Whatever you do, don’t be complacent. Getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.

Find out how to spot skin cancer.

7. Ultra-processed food is pretty bad for us.

Eating more ultra-processed food can increase a person’s risk of dying early, three studies have now found. These are foods that have undergone multiple processes, which result “in little, if any, intact whole foods being present”.

These foods include things like soft drinks, sweets, biscuits, crisps and ready meals. So maybe try to cut down on those and focus on a healthy, balanced diet in the New Year and beyond.

Read more about ultra-processed foods.

8. Feminine washes are a waste of time.

Soaps, shower gels and sprays marketed for “feminine hygiene” are not only a waste of money, they could also damage your vulva and vagina, according to gynaecologist Dr Jen Gunter. 

“Many of them actually have scents in them. Your vulva skin is more sensitive to irritation, and fragrance is a very common trigger for irritation,” she told HuffPost UK. “Also, some women are using these products internally, because we don’t use the right language – we don’t say ‘vagina’ and ‘vulva’ – it’s evolved into this catch-all grey zone. If you use them internally, you can damage your vaginal ecosystem – your good bacteria.”

Find out what else you shouldn’t be putting anywhere near your vagina.

9. Constipation is a big problem in Britain.

Constipation cost the NHS £162m in 2017-18 – so yes, not being able to poo is a pretty big deal for a lot of us. But sadly, we’re too embarrassed to seek help – and that’s where the problem lies. 

Dr Anton Emmanuel, consultant gastroenterologist at University College Hospital, told HuffPost UK: “[Constipation] is a silent symptom – something that’s slightly embarrassing, a bit of a taboo. We don’t talk about it much at all and the problem grows. Rather than something that’s nipped in the bud and dealt with sooner rather than later, it becomes a more chronic issue.”

Chronic constipation is the label given when symptoms persist for several weeks or longer. In some cases, if people don’t seek help, it can go on for years and be linked to haemorrhoids or a higher risk of bowel cancer. But there are things you can do if you’re having issues with your bowels, involving your diet, physical activity and toilet routine. 

Find out more about constipation and how to poo better.

10. You shouldn’t take antibiotics for a cold, flu or sore throat.

Antibiotic resistance is a very real and growing concern in the UK. Latest data from Public Health England shows there were an estimated 61,000 antibiotic resistant infections in 2018 – a 9% rise from the previous year. That’s equivalent to as many as 165 new antibiotic resistant infections every day in England. This isn’t helped by the fact people are taking antibiotics for illnesses they don’t need them for, therefore increasing their resistance to the drug.

If you have any of the following ailments, you shouldn’t be taking antibiotics: cold, flu, cough, fever or high temperature, bronchitis, some ear infections, and a sore throat. Antibiotics are appropriate for urinary tract infections, strep throat, bacterial sinusitis, bacterial ear infection, bacterial chest infections and cellulitis and infections of the skin.

Read more about when to take antibiotics.

11. We all need to chill out a bit when it comes to sleep.

Earlier this year we asked experts how much sleep we should be getting – and it would appear the answer is: stop stressing out so much about it. Andrew Bagshaw, co-director of the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health, told us that while sleep guidelines are useful, there comes a point when obsessing over it can make things worse – especially if you can’t get eight hours. 

“One of the issues people with insomnia have is a concern about their sleep and whether they will be able to sleep tonight, and that’s detrimental to them achieving it,” he said. “So I think, in a way, having an explicit ‘you should be aiming for eight hours’ can be unhelpful if you’re taking it too seriously.”

“Some people need more, some people need less,” he added. “It’s about you as an individual getting to grips with what you need.”

Read more about healthy sleep habits.

12. Stress can manifest in physical ways.

Many of us are aware of the impact stress can have on our mental health – an inability to think clearly, anxiety, feeling irritable or impatient, anger and racing thoughts – but we tend to think less about the physical impacts. 

“I don’t think people are aware [that stress] can cause physical symptoms,” therapist Beverley Hills told us. “I always ask people how they are feeling physically, what’s hurting them in their body.”

It turns out there are quite a lot of physical symptoms associated with stress – stomach upsets, spots, heart problems (such as palpitations) and issues with blood pressure are just some.

Find out how stress might be impacting you – plus what to do about it.

13. You’ve probably been taking the wrong painkiller for your pain.

Pain is a given and, at some point in your life, you’re likely to find yourself reaching for the paracetamol or ibuprofen. For some, this is a more frequent occurrence than for others. But are you reaching for the right one?

There are three main types of painkiller people can buy without a prescription: ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin. They all reduce pain and fever, but some are better at treating certain ailments compared to others.

Paracetamol, for example, is good for colds, flu, sore throats, headaches and toothache; ibuprofen is better for joint and muscle pain (including back pain), sprains, injuries, migraines and period pain. 

Read more about which pill you should take for what pain.

14. There’s a reason why people gain weight as they get older.

It’s no secret that as we age, it becomes harder to keep the weight off. Research from Sweden found that “lipid turnover” – the rate at which lipid (or fatty acids) in the fat cells is removed and stored – decreases during ageing. This makes it easier to gain weight, even if the amount we eat and exercise stays the same.

Scientists analysed the fat cells in 54 men and women over an average period of 13 years. In that time, all subjects – regardless of whether they gained or lost weight – showed decreases in lipid turnover in their fat tissue. Those who didn’t compensate for that by eating fewer calories gained weight by an average of 20%. Previous studies have shown that one way to speed up lipid turnover – and thus slow down weight gain – is to exercise more.

Read more about the weight study.

The 10 Best Travel Cots To Keep Your Baby Happy On Holiday

Two week old newborn baby boy sleeping on a tiny, green, inflatable swim ring. He is wearing green, crocheted board shorts and black sunglasses.

Whether you’ve just about cracked your baby’s bedtime routine, or have a nocturnal nipper, the prospect of travelling away from home can strike dread into any parent’s heart. 

If you – or they – are going to get any sleep, you’ll need a travel cot. But which one should you get? We’ve done the heavy lifting, so you can rest easy.

Sleeptight Travel Cot, Red Kite, £30

Sleeptight Travel Cot, Amazon, £30

A brilliant budget option, the Sleeptight is an award-winning travel cot and you can see why. It’s easy to assemble, has padded rails for safety and comfort and mesh sides, so it can double up as a playpen. It even comes with a travel bag. All this for £30. Bargain.

Buy it now.

Kubbie Sleep, Joie, Argos, £97.99  

Kubbie Sleep, Joie, Argos, £97.99  

This one is great for newborns and co-sleepers, as it has a drop down, height-adjustable side, as well as a detachable bassinet. This means it functions as a next-to-me cot, by clipping on to your bed. It also works as a playpen and is suitable until your little one is three years old.

Buy it now.

  Spacecot Travel Cot, Olivers Baby, £139.97

Spacecot Travel Cot, Olivers Baby, £139.97

This is amazingly easy to use, which comes as no surprise, seeing as it’s designed by space scientist dads. Made from space grade aluminium and patented satellite technology, it folds out, from standing position, in seconds. It also has a lovely squishy mattress and is one of the lightest on the market at only 6kg. No wonder it’s sold out and awaiting new stock in many outlets.

Buy it now.

Arc 2 Leightweight Travel Cot, Little Life, £89.99

Arc 2 Leightweight Travel Cot, Little Life, £89.99

Weighing in at 2.5kg this is the lightest travel cot on the market. It’s basically a little tent, complete with colour-coded poles. It can be used for outdoor camping thanks to its mesh mozzie net and tent pegs. This is the one for active, outdoorsy parents, though as it’s an on-the-floor option, we feel that it could earn bonus points from toddlers for novelty.

Buy it now.

Traveller Cot, Phil and Ted’s, Amazon, £129

Traveller Cot, Phil and Ted’s, Amazon, £129

An excellent, extremely lightweight option (2.8kg) the Phil and Ted’s is small and compact – arguably a tiny bit too small inside for growing limbs. Its mesh sides mean it’s breathable and can double up as a play-pen. There are additional options like a bassinet or a shade cover for use outside. Easy to assemble, with no fuss, it packs down into a small bag so it can be easily carried on holiday.

Buy it now.

Angel Baby Box, Angel Baby Box, £206

Angel Baby Box, Angel Baby Box, £206

This might only last for six months, but it wins points on cute factor and for its lovely, non- toxic, natural materials. Your tot will feel snug and safe and you can feel reassured by its enhanced safety features. It claims to be a sleeping pod, a play mat and a dressing mat – you can fold the sides down flat. An ergonomic take on the Finnish baby box tradition?

Buy it now.

Chicco Zip n Go Travel Cot, Argos, £89.99 

Chicco Zip n Go Travel Cot, Argos, £89.99 

A lovely, Italian convertible travel cot, this can be used as a crib for the first six months –and includes a fixed and rocking mode – before turning into a full sized travel cot.  You literally zip and unzip it like a suitcase. It has one of the thickest mattresses on the market, assembles easily in ten seconds and is a portable 7.3kg. Suitable up to 24 months. 

Buy it now.

Sleep and Go Travel Cot, Micralite, £175

Sleep and Go Travel Cot, Micralite, £175

This is everything to all people (up to age 36 months, that is): a bassinet, a cot and a playpen 3-in-1. It’s light at only 7kg and the crib attachment saves your back from bending too low in the early months. A good and stylish all-rounder.

Buy it now.

Joie Excursion Travel Cot, Uber Kids, £144  

Joie Excursion Travel Cot, Uber Kids, £144  

You certainly get your money’s worth here. It’s not light (16.49kg) but considering it’s basically a travel nursery, we can forgive them that one. It comes with a full-sized bassinet, plus a changing table and a bouncer that clip on and off.  It even has a sound and light attachment, which plays classical lullabies and nature sounds. Loads of little extras and details make this a joy, as the name suggests.

Buy it now.

We all work hard to earn our money – so it shouldn’t feel like hard work to spend it well. At HuffPost Finds we’ll help you find the best stuff that deserves your cash, from the ultimate lipstick to a durable iron to replace the one that broke (RIP). All our choices are completely independent but we may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase.

Here’s Why Drinking Alcohol On A Flight Makes You Feel More Drunk

You neck a glass of prosecco in the departures lounge before sipping a bevvy or two when the trolly passes by – you’re on holiday, after all, and you’ve got to make the most of it. 

But before you know it, you’re flirting with the cabin crew, dribbling in your sleep and giving absurd compliments to your fellow passenger. And don’t get us started on the mid-flight hangover.

Drinking alcohol before or during a flight has the undeniable ability to get us more pissed than a bunch of 18 years olds on their first night out. But what’s going on?

Dr Clare Morrison, from online doctor MedExpress, explained that we sometimes feel more drunk on a plane than on land, despite consuming the same volume of alcohol – and it’s all to do with air pressure. 

“When on a plane, the barometric pressure in the cabin of a plane is lower than it normally is. This decreased pressure means that the body finds it harder to absorb oxygen – this can produce light-headedness or hypoxia [deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues],” she previously told HuffPost UK.

“In other words, the lower level of oxygen in your blood means that you may seem more drunk in the air than you would on the ground after consuming the same amount of alcohol.”

Knocking yourself out with a double G&T might seem like a good way to pass a long-haul, but Professor Paul Wallace, whose research focuses on alcohol consumption, said you won’t have a particularly restful sleep. That’s because drinking alcohol before bed (or a snooze on the plane) can lead to a person missing out on the first stage of sleep – known as REM sleep.

″[You’re] ultimately heading straight into a deep sleep, meaning you’re most likely to wake up just a few hours later,” he told HuffPost UK. “In the course of one night you’re typically meant to have around six to seven cycles of REM sleep in order to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

“However, when you drink alcohol you can only expect to achieve one to two cycles of REM sleep. This can inevitably effect the overall quality of your sleep, leaving you feeling less productive and exhausted the next day.”

Of course, drinking alcohol on a flight can have more consequences than a  hangover –  more than 400 airline passengers have been arrested on suspicion of being drunk in the past two years, an investigation in September found. And airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers that they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew or its passengers. “Disruptive passenger behaviour is one of the main reasons for aircraft diversions,” says the Civil Aviation Authority.

Airlines will decide on a case-by-case basis how drunk is too drunk, so drink that Bloody Mary with caution. 

The Scary Ways An All-Nighter Messes With Your Body And Brain

Most people have pulled an all-nighter at least once in their lives, whether it was to meet a school or work deadline or to keep the party going until the morning. 

The experience of going at least 24 hours without sleep, otherwise known as total sleep deprivation, obviously does not make you feel good the next day. The physical and mental repercussions are notable.

HuffPost spoke to sleep experts to find out what exactly happens to your body and mind when you pull an all-nighter. 

You fight your body’s natural drive to sleep.

Pulling an all-nighter requires you to fight your body’s natural drive to sleep by making use of “wake-promoting factors” and avoiding “sleep-permissive factors,” said Roy Raymann, the vice president of sleep science and scientific affairs at Carlsbad, California-based  SleepScore Labs.

“Wake-promoting factors include using caffeine, being in a colder environment, being in a well-lit room with plenty of blue-enriched light, and standing,” he said, adding that sleep-permissive factors include darkness, a warm comfortable temperature, reclining and closing your eyes.

Your body skips its recovery period.

When you skip a full night of sleep, your body has missed out on a much-needed opportunity to relax, recharge and recover. 

“During the night, all kinds of restorative processes happen to bring you back to shape for the next day,” Raymann said. “Cells and tissues are repaired, toxins are removed from your brain, memories and emotions are dealt with and stored and the fatigue that you have been building up during daytime is reduced.”

Pulling an all-nighter or just getting a limited amount of sleep means that this recovery process doesn’t happen or isn’t executed to its full extent, leaving you unrefreshed.

“Cognitive performance degrades and mood can suffer,” said Nate Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center and a SleepScore Labs advisor. “The glymphatic system, which removes the byproducts of a day’s worth of activity from the brain, is not able to perform its function.”

Stress hormones spike. 

“When you’re not getting sleep, you’re running on stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, so stress levels rise,” said Jon Caulfield, a dentist in Littleton, Colorado, who focuses on airway, sleep and TMJ disorders and a board member and national instructor with the American Sleep and Breathing Academy.

“Sleep loss can cause stress and anxiety,” echoed Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and certified clinical sleep educator in the Washington, D.C. area who serves as a spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council. Cralle cited a recent study from the University of California, Berkeley, found that one sleepless can boost anxiety levels up to 30%. 

This can be a vicious cycle: Stress and anxiety often cause people to have trouble sleeping, but then sleep deprivation increases stress and anxiety levels. And around and around you go.   

Focus and accuracy drop.

“It has been postulated that even during a single night of sleep deprivation, the microstructures in your brain can change,” Raymann said. “Also, there’s now more evidence that during the night you’re getting a brain wash to remove all the debris and toxins that accumulated in your brain during the day. Both these changes ― micro-structure and no brain wash ― lead to impaired communication between your brain cells.”

This impaired communication between brain cells hampers your ability to pay attention or work at an optimal level. A 2007 study from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, found that pulling all-nighters was associated with lower grade point averages.

“Sleep deprivation affects your prefrontal cortex, which affects your cognitive abilities. Think of it as being impaired.” Cralle said.

Many experts have even compared sleep deprivation to drunkenness, which is why drowsy driving is so dangerous. 

“In addition to a lack of focus, which many call brain fog, there’s a lack of accuracy. You’re likely to get things wrong on a test or miss a shot if you’re playing sports,” said Raj Dasgupta, assistant professor of pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Southern California.

This is why it’s dangerous to drive or operate heavy machinery while sleep deprived. You’re more susceptible to injury or accident.  

In the wake of sleep deprivation, “the next day you will be less productive. Everything costs more time and takes more effort, and you are likely to make errors,” Raymann said.

He added, “My first mentor during my PhD taught me the wise lesson, when he saw me still late working at my desk: ‘Whatever you try to do at the end of the day after a busy day will cost you a lot of effort and time, and will even most likely lead to something you will not be happy with the next day. Go home, relax and get some sleep. During the next morning, you will resolve that task in a breeze.’” 

Memory suffers.

“Sleep deprivation’s effect on working memory is staggering,” David Earnest, a professor with the Texas A&M College of Medicine, said in a 2016 report about the effect of all-nighters on health. “Your brain loses efficiency with each hour of sleep deprivation.”

Research has suggested that sleep plays a major role in memory consolidation, the process of short-term memories moving to long-term storage. When you pull an all-nighter, this process is disrupted, and memory recall suffers.

You’re likely to make poor decisions.

The prefrontal cortex is also linked to decision-making, so sleep deprivation can lead to poor judgment. 

“Decision-making becomes impulsive,” Watson said. “We become less able to assess the potential negative consequences of our decision-making.”

You become irritable. 

It’s hardly a surprise that people are cranky after not sleeping for a full night. Indeed, sleep deprivation often leads to a bad mood

“Your interaction with people will be more blunted, and you might become easily annoyed or irritated,” Raymann said. “You will also likely look more tired.”

Your immune system is compromised.

Sleep deprivation can affect your body’s production of cytokines, which play a big role in your immune response. That could lead to a serious case of the sniffles down the road.

“When you’ve stayed up all night, your immune function is impaired,” Cralle said. “It could leave you susceptible to getting sick.” 

You get hungry.

“Pulling an all-nighter leads to a leptin-ghrelin hormonal imbalance,” Cralle said.

Ghrelin is the body’s “hunger hormone” that increases appetite, while leptin is the “satiety hormone” that inhibits hunger. 

“Your leptin levels are reduced and ghrelin is elevated when you’re sleep-deprived,” Cralle said, noting that many people feel very hungry after pulling an all-nighter. 

You accumulate sleep debt.

When you don’t get enough sleep, you amass sleep debt. This is certainly true when you go more than 24 hours without sleep.

Sleep debt refers to the difference between the number of hours of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. Chronic sleep debt has been linked to increased risks of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

All-nighters mess with your circadian circadian rhythm, but it’s possible to get back on track. However, if sleep deprivation becomes more than a one-off thing, consider seeking treatment for chronic sleep insufficiency.

Also on HuffPost

General Election 2019 Results: How To Pull The Ultimate All-Nighter

“Twas the night before Brexmas / when all through the land / people tried to stay awake for the election results / with Christmas parties planned.” 

Okay, so it doesn’t quite scan. But by the time you read this, the polls will be open for the third General Election in five years – and with festive frivolity in full swing, some would say it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

We can’t be the only ones whose work has organised the office do tonight? Yet this election has been hailed as “the most important in modern history”.

Determined not to miss a moment? Read on for the ultimate guide to pulling an election all-nighter. And if you’re not subscribed to our evening politics briefing, now’s the time to sign up. Get The Waugh Zone and make sense of it all. 

8.00pm-9.45pm: 

You’ve already voted right? If not, you have just two hours left to do so. Step on it. We also suggest prepping your body for the night ahead with the food of champions: curry. Research shows eating spicy food can prevent you from falling asleep, so order in that chicken vindaloo – or pick one up on your way back from the polling station.

 

9.45-9.55pm: 

Get comfy. Election coverage starts at 9pm on Sky, and on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 at 9.55pm. Rylan Clark-Neal is anchoring the latter, taking time out from his Strictly and Supermarket Sweep duties. We’re fans.

If you’re at the Christmas party, order an espresso martini before requesting Mariah Carey and belting out “All I Want For Christmas Is… [insert party name here].

Hope is not lost yet.

 

10.00pm-11pm:

Hope may now be lost.

The polls are now closed so wherever you are, make sure you can see a screen at 10pm when the exit poll is due to be announced.

Celebrate or commiserate with a bevvy, though you might want to avoid darker drinks like red wine, brandy, beer and whisky, which are more likely to leave you with a banging head come 3am. Opt for gin, vodka or white wine instead.

11.00pm-12am:

The first official results roll in about now. Newcastle Central was the fastest returning constituency in the 2017 election, announcing at 11pm and taking the crown from reigning champs Houghton and Sunderland South. Tune in to watch keen beans running with ballot boxes, then complete a few squats yourself.

Exercise between lessons has been shown to increase the attention span of Dutch schoolchildren, so it could help you stay awake through Huw Edwards’ dulcet tones, too.

 

12am-1.30am:

Christmas party kicking out time – if you’re determined to see election night through, you’d better sober up. Alcohol is super dehydrating, so drink something packed with electrolytes: think Lucozade Sport, or the less glamorous Dioralyte. 

 

1.30am-3am:

Dig deep, these early morning hours are going to be tough. Keep your eyes alert by completing some “eye yoga” and snack on nuts – the nutritionist-approved snack for boosting energy.

Getting bored? Remember to expect the unexpected. Who could have predicted Ed Balls would have lost his seat in 2015, then Gangnam style-d his way into the nation’s hearts only a year later?

Rewatch that legendary clip for a break from the repetitive analysis. 

3am-4.45am:

A flurry of declarations will roll in at 3am so staying awake should be a doddle. Using forecasts obtained from councils and the 2017 snap election, PA Media has estimated Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency of Islington North will announce at 3am, around the same time as Jo Swinson’s constituency of East Dunbartonshire.

We should know if Boris Johnson has kept his seat in Uxbridge and Ruislip South by 4.30am. If all else fails, reach for the Red Bull. Now is not the time to worry about your sugar consumption. 

 

4.45am-5.30am: 

If BoJo keeps his seat, expect a lull. Now is the time to power nap, but keep it brief. A NASA study of military pilot and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%, but a longer snooze will leave you groggy.

However, if the PM gets booted out, stay tuned for big opinions and spicy debate across the board. You’ll thank yourself for that curry.

 

5.30-7.30am:

Wakey wakey, the fate of the nation is usually clear by about 5.30am. Start your second election stint with porridge for plenty of energy. Over the next couple of hours the winners and losers will be planning their speeches, or fiercely trying to strike a deal in the case of a hung parliament. 

 

7.30am-10am:

Resignations might occur (throwback to the 2015 carnage when Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage all stood down from their party leader roles).

If you’re heading into work, stand on your commute, sit on the hardest chair possible when you arrive and set up alerts on your phone so you don’t miss the action while doing something boring like your actual job.

 

10am-11am:

Statements will, most likely, be made, but by now, you’ll know the party lines so well, you’d probably be able to write them yourself.

The minute the clock strikes 11am, announce you’re having an early lunch break and find someone to nod off. You’ve earned it. 

5 Self-Help Books For Parents That Mums And Dads Say Actually Work

Sleep deprivation, fussy eaters, toddler meltdowns, manic routines. If you’re driving yourself mad about at least one of these right now, you’re definitely a parent.

We’re primed to worry – it’s practically part of the job description – but according to paediatrician and author Dr Harvey Karp, we’ve never worried more than we do today. 

This may be because many of us have stopped doing what families did years ago, he suggests. Now, we live away from relatives and don’t have the same kind of hands-on support – so we turn to a new kind of ‘extended family’ for guidance: self-help books. 

But with thousands of them published, how do you know which ones are any good? We spoke to mum and dads – all of whom are currently at the coalface of parenting – to tell us which ones really worked for them.

Here are the top five, as voted by those who swear by them (and on them, and around them). 

Amazon

“I’ve learned punishing a child for having feelings isn’t going to help”

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, Philippa Perry

Review: Matthew Webber, dad of two

“What I like about the book is that it isn’t really focused on your relationship with your child per se, but more about your relationships as a whole. The chapter about your child’s environment is a great example of this – it asks us to look at the way we interact with our partner, friends and family, and consider how our kids learn from these interactions.

“The author also sets up scenarios where an angry child is given an adult voice to express their feelings of frustration or sadness, to help us try and ‘unpack’ those feelings that we, as parents, might not otherwise take the time – or possess the insight – to understand.

“The most difficult thing is following the advice in the heat of the moment. When my five-year-old is in the middle of a 45-minute meltdown at school pick-up because he wants to go to his friend’s house, my instinct is not usually to empathise, but I’ve learned that punishing a child for having feelings isn’t going to help in the long run. It’s also useful for examining possible triggers for things that seem to be irrational.”

Buy it here

Amazon

“The one book I’ve used as a ‘go to’ manual”

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Dr Marc Weissbluth

Review: Alli Ingram, mum of four

“This was the one book I’ve used as a ‘go to’ manual over the past 11 years as a mum of four. I like that it’s scientific – it’s given me formulas and understanding about how sleep works, as well as tools to create my own ways of working with my children’s sleep. 

“I realised that if something didn’t work, I had to try something else – there wasn’t just one way, because we’re all different and so are babies. The top sleep tip I took from it was that if you keep your child up late, it doesn’t mean they’re going to wake up late! That’s what happens with adults, but with children it’s better to get them down earlier, and then they’ll sleep in later.

“The book also helped me kick my baby’s habit of feeding at night to get back to sleep. It taught me that sometimes, you need to go through something difficult, for long-term happiness.” 

Buy it here

Amazon

“It’s helped so much with frequent toddler meltdowns”

Now Say This, Heather Turgeon

Review: Cath, mum of one

“My sister-in-law recommended this book to me and it’s helped so much with frequent epic toddler meltdowns. Lots of books talk about positive discipline and explain why kids can’t regulate their emotions, but this actually gives practical advice on what method to use in specific scenarios – including what to say (instead of ‘Oh, FFS, what now?’).

“The suggested sentence depends on the scenario, but one I’ve used quite frequently – after lots of warnings that we have to go home from somewhere but they’re refusing – is, “I know you’re having fun, but we really do need to go home now. Would you like to walk by yourself to the car or shall mummy carry you out?” And then following through on that quickly if they don’t come.

“It seems to have lessened the frequency of half an hour of pointless negotiation followed by screaming refusal.” 

Buy it here

Amazon

“Its simple guidelines have formed the foundations of my children’s daily routines”

Sensational Baby Sleep Plan, Alison Scott-Wright

Review: Joe Clapson, dad of two

“Coming from a starting position of ‘I don’t need to read a book to learn about being a parent’, I was a hard-sell. However, on the recommendation of a mum whose first child slept for 11-12 hours from early on, I decided to give it a read. And I’m so thankful I did. The book is marvellous and its simple guidelines have formed the foundations of my two children’s daily routines. They have both slept for 11-12 hours since about 11 weeks.

“The pages give a common sense approach to teaching your baby a pattern of sleep from the outset. It taught me that humans need to learn to sleep – it doesn’t come naturally. This concept was a revelation. My wife and I certainly didn’t follow the book to the letter, but we used it as a guide to work around.

“With our first baby, I had wanted to follow a philosophy of having a relaxed and chilled-out approach to parenting. I didn’t want to be militant about a ‘regime’. However, while sticking to that I also quickly realised that the baby was so much happier when well-rested after a full night of sleep. The best way to achieve that was by following a pretty strict set of timings. The book does come in for some criticism from people who view it as anti-breastfeeding, but that didn’t ring true for us at all – and both our kids were exclusively breastfed for a 12 months.”

Buy it here

Amazon

“It really helped me relax about my daughter’s picky eating”

My Child Won’t Eat! Carlos Gonzales

Review: Hannah, mum of one

“This short book really helped me relax about my daughter’s picky eating and trust her to try things when she’s ready and eat to meet her needs.

“It helped me accept that it was my job to offer her regular, healthy, varied meals with lots of fruit and vegetables and different protein sources, but that it’s her job to choose what and how much to eat. She still mainly chooses carbs, but since I learned to trust her instinct she eats a wider range of foods and is willing to try new things for the first time in 18 months.

“For a kid whose first introduction to foods revealed multiple food allergies, watching me calm down about it all has worked wonders. Top tip: serve food on one massive sharing plate and eat off it together.” 

Buy it here

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