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By Anna Rayner, Mar 5 2017 12:38PM

Do you feel you're not getting enough sleep, and it's contributing to the accumulating stress you feel in your life? Stress itself can cause lack of sleep, but lack of sleep can contribute to stress - i's a vicious circle!

Exhaustion is nothing to take lightly. Some experts believe that getting too little sleep on a consistent basis may undermine your entire being - impacting your entire life to your detriment. Any illness that you do contract, combined with too little sleep, will be more severe.

So, you feel tired but when is the tired feeling bordering on danger? There are many signs, among them these:

* you feel constantly fatigued, no matter how much you try to catch up on sleep

* you experience indigestion or lack of appetite

* you experience a loss of libido

* you have trouble getting to sleep, if not outright insomnia

* you feel tired in the morning, even after a full night's sleep

* you feel that you are no longer in control

Sufficient sleep on a regular basis enables your body to recover from the stresses and strains that you experience during the day. To ensure sufficient sleep first look at these suggestions on restructuring your sleep environment:

* Have you checked your mattress lately? A bad mattress engages your muscles all night, as if you've been working all night!

* Especially during summer, make sure that the room you sleep in is cool and refreshed. You would be better off sleeping in a slightly chilled atmosphere than a warmer one with less blankets

* Make sure your bed is large enough to allow you and your partner plenty of freedom of movement. If your movements are restricted because you keep bumping into each other this can diminish the quality of your sleep

* Turn your mobile phone to silent, or switch it off altogether. Too many people sleep with their heads by the phone because they have an aged loved one far away, or they worry about a family emergency happening at 3am. Realistically, you can't do much at 3am anyway. You would be better off getting a good night's sleep and dealing with it in the morning

*Keep your room dark, or wear a night blindfold

*Buy a snore control device if your partner keeps you awake, or simply to improve the quality of your own sleep

Secondly, you should try and develop good sleep habits. If it's been months or years since you've engaged in the habit of regular, sufficient, sound sleep, you've got an unfamiliar but pleasant task ahead of you!

Here are some ideas for getting into the habit of having a good sleep every night:

* Don't exercise or be too active before retiring, it may keep you too keyed up

* Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before retiring and alcohol altogether. Both are very sleep disturbing

* Have a glass of milk or hot, milky drink before sleep. It can help

* Have a warm, but not too hot, bath before bed - perhaps using 2 or 3 drops of relaxing lavender, ylang ylang or clary sage essential oils in the bath water

* Don't watch TV for at least half an hour before you go to bed, try reading a book or a magazine instead

* Go to sleep when you're tired, not because the clock happens to say a particular time

* Let others around you know when you want quiet because you are going to sleep.

Good luck, good night and sweet dreams!

By Anna Rayner, Feb 6 2017 11:55AM

So many of us nowadays sit working at desks for hours on end. No wonder, therefore, that we end up with tension headaches, stiff shoulders and aching backs! Here are a few antidotes you can try on the spot:-

1. Your neck and shoulders are aching. Antidote: Tilt your head down so that your chin touches your chest. Roll you head gently left and right to loosen up neck muscles. If you can, let your neck go limp. Reach to the back of the neck and slowly and gently knead yourself. In a few minutes, you'll feel looser. Knead each of your shoulders with the opposite hand: left hand to the right shoulder, right hand to the left shoulder.

2. You've been clenching your jaw, and this has made your muscles tight. Antidote: Make a fist and place it under your chin. Then, while resisting the jaw movement with your fist, try to open your mouth. If you can, hold this for a several seconds. pretty soon, the tension around your jaw should subside.

3. The muscles in your lower back are tight and sore. Antidote: Clasp your hands in front of you and rest your arms on your knees as you squat down. Hold this for several seconds. If you've been sitting an especially long period of time, repeat this a couple of times. Your muscles will soon start to loosen up.

By Anna Rayner, Jan 1 2017 03:49PM

Happy New Year everyone and I hope you had a very enjoyable festive season. Most of us will be returning to work after the bank holiday tomorrow and whilst work can be very enjoyable and rewarding it can, of course, also be very stressful. However, there are lots of ways to keep stress under control at work and this all starts with putting our wellbeing first. After all, we can't do our job properly if we aren't feeling tip top so I'm going to do a few posts over the next few weeks about how we can ensure that we are work fit!

1. And, breathe

Yes, we all breathe, all the time but you might be surprised to know that we are often just not breathing properly. This means that our heart has to pump harder to get enough oxygen around our bodies and this alone can make us feel stressed so put a looming deadline on top of that and you're asking for trouble! There are also issues with brain function if we aren't breathing properly, Your brain needs plenty of oxygen to work efficiently so if we aren't breathing properly it starts to struggle. You may notice this if you start having to try too hard to concentrate and you lose focus on the task in hand, or even just start to feel tired. The antidote: take some long deep breaths. It may take a few minutes before you're able to breathe really slowly and deeply but don't rush it, just keep your attention on breathing deeply and evenly. Let your abdomen expand with each inhalation. Soon, you'll feel calmer, and better able to concentrate.

Try this simple exercise when you're back at work this New Year and see how much it helps

Next time we'll look at some other ways of promoting your wellbeing in the workplace

By Anna Rayner, Dec 20 2016 03:19PM

The build up to Christmas can seem like a never ending nightmare of planning lists, shopping lists, card- writing ... I could go on! So, once in a while, take a little time out to do something you enjoy doing. It could be something as simple as a long soak in the bath, a day out with the family or a lazy morning in bed reading your favourite book or magazine - try it, you'll be amazed that the world will actually keep spinning! Ray of Light wishes you a very peaceful and relaxing festive season

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