COVID-19: Everything thing you need to know

Now deemed a Global Pandemic we are learning more day by day about COVID-19. With all the hysteria across the media, it has become difficult to determine what is hype and what is true. From people panic shopping and fighting over toilet paper, the world is going a little bit crazy.

In this post, we will aim to provide you with an overview of accurate up to date information. Following this post, we will discuss strategies on how to combat this issue.

Hysteria:

First of all, I need to address the panic, we all need to calm down……… There is no need to prepare for the end of the world and stock up on supplies like toilet paper and food. Well not in New Zealand at least as we produce all essential supplies (food, toilet paper etc) in New Zealand, we are not reliant on global markets. Even the supermarkets are requesting for everyone to calm down and to shop as normal, there is plenty to go around. 

From a hysteria standpoint, the timing couldn’t be worse for NZ/ southern hemisphere with the changing of seasons and drop in temperature and as we head into flu season. As a result of lack of education and understanding of COVID-19, people that are suffering from common flu are unnecessarily concerned for the worst and stressing our health system which is going to need every spare bed atm. What is the difference between common flu and COVID-19? Stay tuned as we will highlight this below so you can stay informed and rest easy.

Important: COVID-19 is treatable.

 

Stop stressing! 

Don’t forget stress is one of the leading causes of disease (something I have written extensively around) so you are not doing yourself any favours worrying about things you cannot control. Our hope in this article is by sharing the facts we can help in easing any anxiety or stress you may have. Our next post will begin to address what you can do to mitigate this and the anxiety around it.

What is it COVID-19?

Similar to SARS, research points out that the virus also originates from bats. COVID-19 causes respiratory and intestinal infections in animals and humans. 

What happens in the respiratory system and immune system in response to the virus?

  1. Your body will produce mucus in an attempt to contain or trap the virus. 
  2. The infection involves overstimulation of the body’s defences against viral infections. Cytokines, proteins secreted by certain immune cells, signal for more immune cells to enter the picture and try to engulf the virus, resulting in cell death and increased inflammation.
  3. Due to the high replication rate of the coronavirus, it often overwhelms the immune responses leading to local tissue destruction and depletion of infection-fighting cells. Cytokines also can travel via the circulatory system to other organs such as the kidneys, liver, and small intestine. Dramatic increases in cytokines are referred to as a cytokine storm and this appears to be a distinguishing feature of severe respiratory viruses vs lesser viruses like the common cold.

Not all people with the virus will experience all three stages and also in some cases, you may be a carrier of a virus but have no symptoms (meaning you can unsuspectingly pass it on).

How COVID-19  spreads

As a new disease, we are still learning how it spreads but below as of 19th of March the CDC believe these are major methods: 

 

  • Human interaction

 

    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Passed through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

 

  • Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

 

    • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (have symptoms)
    • Potentially it is possible before people show symptoms. However, it is not thought to be the main method in which the virus spreads.

 

  • Contaminated surfaces or objects

 

The virus could potentially spread through cross-contamination of surfaces or objects that have the virus on it and a person touching it and then touching the mouth, nose or possibly eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main method for the virus spreading.

 

What happens if you feel sick?

Remember that symptoms of the common cold or seasonal flu can be similar to symptoms of coronavirus, which can make it difficult to determine what might be going on. Especially with New Zealand heading towards flu season. Here is a great chart to review symptoms and determine next steps.

Determine what you are dealing with

We encourage anyone with signs of a respiratory infection or COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath) to contact their primary care physician for guidance. Ideally where possible connect with your doctor online or by phone to reduce the risk of transmission. 

If you develop severe symptoms or are in the high-risk groups outlined below and develop shortness of breath, call 111 or go to the nearest emergency room after calling ahead for safe arrival instructions. 0800 358 5453

 COVID-19 risk factors:

If you are high- or medium-risk and fall within any of these risk factors below, it is recommended that you self-isolate and practice social distancing for a minimum of 14 days, even if you have no symptoms. 

 

  • Age: 

 

While the overall global mortality rate of COVID-19 is currently estimated to be around 3.4% by the WHO (as of March 3), early reports out of China and a similar pattern identified in Italy (the highest number of coronavirus deaths outside of China) show that the mortality rate increases with age. The mortality rate is highest (14.8%) for those over the age of 80. This most likely due to older individuals often suffer from at least one chronic health condition that stresses their immune system, increasing their risk. 

Children are rarely affected by the disease. 

 

  • Pre-existing conditions

Adults with preexisting conditions like heart disease and diabetes or chronic lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema, COPD have a greater risk of being affected by any virus, including COVID-19 because of decreased ability to fight off infections due to a less robust immune response. In China, coronavirus patients with heart disease had a 10 per cent mortality rate, while those with diabetes had around a 7 per cent mortality rate, far greater than the global average — which WHO estimated at 3.4% on March 3rd.

 

  • Immunocompromised adults 

Immunocompromised means the inability to normally respond to environmental exposures including viruses or bacteria due to a weakened immune system. People who are immunocompromised include those with diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis B, chronic kidney disease, autoimmune conditions, malnutrition, and cancer because those conditions do lessen one’s ability to mount an adequate immune response. 

 

  • Smoking

 

Adults who smoke on a regular basis (cigarettes, cigars, marijuana) are at an increased risk for more severe upper respiratory infections overall. Some Experts believe that this is one of the reasons that men in China died more often than women from coronavirus was because of their smoking habits. 

Social distancing: bell curve

Why should we consider social distancing? 

This is a manageable/treatable disease but if we don’t control the spread we will surpass the health systems capacity and will result in a higher mortality rate as health professionals won’t be able to keep up with demand. The primary goal is to slow the spread of disease, a concept which is being referred to as  “flattening the curve” which you will see depicted down below. Essentially it will provide us the time to manage the disease but more importantly and often forgotten it will also allow the health system the capacity to deal with other business as usual cases eg. trauma, surgeries, chronic diseases etc. If capacity is maxed out COVID-19 patients won’t be the only ones who will suffer the consequences! 

The new research also showed that 97.5% of people who are infected develop symptoms within 11.5 days. About 1% of patients, however, show symptoms after 14 days – outside the window of the CDC’s quarantine guidelines.

Cure

Once again no need to fear. The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research director Professor David Paterson told news.com.au they have seen two drugs used to treat other conditions (Malaria and HIV) wipe out the virus in test tubes.

Prof Paterson said the medications given to some of the first positive cases of COVID-19 in Australia, had already resulted in “disappearance of the virus” and complete recovery from the infection. 

Another reason for us to flatten the curve and provide scientists like Prof Paterson the time they need to design a cure which could be distributed worldwide.

Keeping safe in the meantime

It is simple, practice good hygiene and social distancing where possible. 

  • Most importantly due to the nature of how it spreads through bodily fluid, if coughing or sneezing do so into your left elbow as many people are now greeting using right elbow touch instead of a handshake (weird I know, but best to be safe than sorry).
  • Wash hands frequently (at minimum 20 sec, see image below) and carry a hand-sanitiser with you and use frequently (if you can find one…).
  •  
  • If you use tissues, do not reuse them, throw out after use.
  • Avoid highly populated areas, where possible.
  • Aim to keep a 1.5m distance between other individuals to prevent spread.
  • Clean and disinfect everything after use.
  • Avoid travel were possible. 

Sick or medium-high risk

  • Self-isolate a minimum of 14days.
  • Wear a mask around other people. You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). 

Future

The news is not all bad. I am one to always look on the bright side and there are plenty of learnings to take away from this outbreak. For example, it will greatly impact our lives in so many ways, some of which we probably haven’t thought about yet. I will touch on some of these in future posts, I will discuss things like the future of the workplace etc.

Next post

Stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss the science and nutrition around prevention and management of COVID-19.

Hit the Reset Button: Tricks & Tips for the Holiday Season

The silly season is among us! With the extra time, it is the perfect opportunity to take the time to focus on your health and wellbeing.

Let’s not sweat the small stuff, indulge a little and relax – you all have earned it! Enjoy.

The holiday period also presents as a great opportunity capitalises on extra free time to develop key positive habits that can help set you up for an awesome 2019. In this post, you will find our top tips to focus on this holiday period to help reset yourself for a big 2019.

 

1. Hack your Sleep:

The holidays present a great to focus on establishing the habits and getting the restorative sleep you desire.

Top Sleep Hack:

  1. Design your own Sleep Sanctuary
  2. Ditch Technology
  3. Black it Out
  4. Airflow
  5. Plants
  6. Quality Mattress & Pillow
  7. Most of all, develop a routine and keep it consistent!

Learn More

2. Remove Toxins & Stimulants

The holiday season is a great opportunity to clear out all the unneeded toxins and stimulants from your life.

  • Plastic

Reduce your use of plastics as much as possible. The plastic leaches chemicals like pcb’s dioxins which are xeno-estrogenic and mimic estrogen in your body. This creates an estrogen dominance which develops an insulin resistance, making it extremely difficult to regulate and reduce fat.

Remove Plastic:

  • Ditch the plastic drink bottles: Replace with a metal bottle
  • Rethink Tupperware: The last thing you want to do is put hot food into a plastic container (or worse – to reheat it!). Replace with glass or bamboo.
  • Plastic Straws: Replace with metal or bamboo

 

Coffee is the greatest source of Polyphenols (Antioxidants) in the western diet! It is also well known that us Kiwis love our coffee per capita consumption ranks among the top 20 in the world, according to the statistics portal, Statista.com.

Can there be too much of a good thing? If you have become reliant on it and can’t survive a day without it. It is time for a detox! With no deadlines or time constraints with work, this is the perfect time for a detox! Remove caffeine from your life for 2 weeks to allow your body to reset.

Removing the stimulant for two weeks is extremely powerful as when reintroduced, you will once again notice the stimulant effects again, that have most likely been stunted due to overuse.

Quick note: If you currently exceed 3 coffees a day I wouldn’t suggest going cold turkey unless you are that way inclined. Gradually cut down!

Learn More

 

Light is a nutrient that plays a significant role in signalling your mitochondria (cellular powerhouses) to do things and when to do them. Different light frequencies trigger different signals in your cells. Blue light which mostly comes from LED lights places the body under a significant amount of stress.

Newer artificial light bulbs lack many of the sun’s frequencies that our bodies and brains need. Artificial lights, have eliminated most of the infrared, red, and violet light found in natural sunlight, and are amplifying the blue light beyond anything we have evolved to handle. Most LEDs and compact fluorescents emit about 5 times the blue light we’re used to.

Where to start:

Reduce blue light or what is now known as Junk light. Download a blue-light filter app like F.LUX for digital devices (Mobile & laptop) and switch all the lights in your house to halogen and incandescent. They aren’t perfect, but they’re better. Your white LEDs might be saving your power bill but they are sapping your personal energy levels!

Learn More

3. Hydrate

Too often we forget the simple things like hydration. Yet, hydration levels are one of the most important things to regulate.  Water contributes to the maintenance of normal physical functioning, cognitive functioning and thermoregulation. Our body is made up of 60% water, so it is important that you achieve optimal water levels as it is essential for feeling good with optimal health and energy. With 1% of dehydration affects performance by up to 10%!

How much water should I drink?

0.033 litres per kg of body weight, which roughly equates to the following amounts:

  • 60 kg = 2 litres
  • 75 kg = 2.5 litres
  • 90 kg= 3 litres

Hydration Tips:

  • Carry a metal drink bottle with you everywhere.
  • Download Hydration app, to remind you to drink

 

4. Mindfulness

Slow Down: Too often while on holiday I see people stuck in the busy mode unable to slow down. On a mission racing around from place to place and not taking the time to relax and enjoy the present moment. It is easy to get stuck in old patterns but we need to be able to detach ourselves from these habits. I have caught myself in this very situation myself many times. This where it is great to include a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness Definition: A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Mindfulness is all about detaching yourself from the past and the future and focusing on the present moment, as it is only the present moment that you can impact. The holiday period presents as a great opportunity to increase or introduce a mindfulness practice.

Where to start?

  • Download an amazing app like Headspace, that will help guide your mindfulness practice. The great thing about Headspace is its flexible nature, that allows you to design a practice around your needs such a length of session and specific focus points.
  • Walk slowly, sounds simple but can be especially tough for busy people to do.
  • Sit down and enjoy scenery eg. beach, park.

Learn More

5. Look after your Gut!

Our gut is now known as our second brain so it makes sense to look after it! Did you no 90% of your serotonin (feel-good hormone) is created in your gut. That means poor gut health can lead to depression.

A great way to start your day is with a lemon juice/apple cider vinegar to help stimulate digestion through stomach acid and bile production.

  • 1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (it has to be raw, unfiltered, with the mother)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt (antioxidant/electrolyte)
  • 1 Cup of warm water (Make it as a tea)

Aim to drink 30mins prior to breakfast for best results.

Why not throw in some bitter and fermented foods to aid digestive support this summer too.

Popular recommendations include: 


 

Bitter:

  • Turmeric, (turmeric lattes)
  • Cacao
  • Ginger
  • Good quality Organic sourced dark chocolate
  • Leafy greens like Spinach and Kale.

 

 

Fermented:

  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Natto
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles

 

 

6. Gratitude

The benefits of practising gratitude are nearly endless. By taking the time to notice and reflect on what you are thankful for, you experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

A great way to cultivate this practice is a Gratitude Journaling. Journaling works as it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. Shifting our focus away from the negatives and onto the positives. Journaling can be as simple as writing 3 things you are grateful each day.

7. Fear Setting

With the new year brings new year’s resolutions. University of Scranton research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. Let’s not fall into this trap! This year instead of new year’s resolutions replace them with ‘Fear Setting’ (An exercise recently popularized by Tim Ferriss)

Fear setting is all about embracing your fears! A simple process in which you write down and quantify your fears. What is the worst-case scenario? (often it is not as bad as you think). Once identified work back from that scenario, how can you mitigate these consequences and then how could you recover from this scenario. You will be surprised how powerful this technique can be.

Follow these 3 steps to fear-setting:

Do an 80/20 analysis:

  • “Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?”
  • “Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?”
  • “Which 20% of sources are consuming 80% of my time?”

Write a to-do and not-to-do list:

  • “Why haven’t I done my most important to-do?”
  • “Why haven’t I stopped doing my most important not-to-do?”

Define your fears clearly (Once identified ask yourself this series of questions):

  • What is the worst-case scenario if I did what I’m considering?
  • What are all the things I could do to minimize that from happening?
  • If the worst-case scenario happened, what steps could I take to minimise repair the damage

Learn More

Most of All:

Have an amazing break, take the time to relax, unwind and get some quality time outdoors in the sun! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Taylored team

The Most Restorative Sleep you will EVER have

Now it is time to bring sleep month all together. Over the last month we have discussed various factors and their effects on sleep. The final step now is to provide you with a resource full of tips, tricks and hacks to ensure you sleep like a baby again.

Design your Sleep Sanctuary

A bedroom should be a place to escape, unwind and sleep. It should not be your main ‘hangout’ place where you watch movies or get hooked on the latest netflix series. Even more importantly, your bedroom should not be another place where you do work.

The bedroom really is designed for two activities and should remain this way! The increase in leisure and work activities you do within your bedroom will promote a negative association with you, your bedroom and sleep. This combination will increase the likelihood of you having a poor night’s sleep. However, if you draw a line in the sand and keep the work, movies, social media at the door, you are setting yourself up for success and unbelievably good sleep.

My goal with this article is to outline the ultimate sleep sanctuary that everybody should strive for. The idea is to provide you with the tools and tricks to create your own sleep sanctuary at a low cost or higher cost if you really want to get serious. But these small changes and additions could be the most impactful investments you ever make to your sleep.

Creating the Perfect Sleep Sanctuary

The sleep sanctuary aka the bedroom, really the most important room in the house to get right. As mentioned above, you need to set yourself up for success. If it is not sleep or sex (sex has many positive sleep benefits) leave it out of the bedroom!

Below what you will find is a list of key things to include to promote a good night’s sleep.

 

Ditch Technology:

“BUT my phone is my alarm in the morning”

Simple buy an old school alarm clock (one that doesn’t emit light). There is no need for you to be surrounded by technology 24 hours a day. Try to make your bedroom a Tech-Free Zone! As discussed in an earlier post the EMF from your phone is causing more harm than good and is something you don’t want to deal with. Beside the EMF’s your body will have to deal with the bluelight from the phone screen.  This can be mediated with an app on the phone, such as FLux, which will extract bluelight from your devices (both laptop and phone). On top of this if you are really serious, like me, I would suggest changing your light to low blue light bulbs and investing in some blue blocking glasses to really full proof your exposure to blue light exposure at night.

 

Black it Out: Every sleep environment should be blacked out, there should be no light seeping through the window or the curtain. Obviously this is even more important if you are living in a city environment. There is some research that has shown that our skin is so sensitive to light that even if we wear an eye mask and shine a light the size of a pin prick on the back of the knee, it will disrupt/disturb our sleep.Therefore, any light seeping through the curtain or even a small flashing light from any form of technology (e.g. like a charging light or alarm clock) is going to greatly impact your sleep.

Target: Ideally you want to be able to extend your arm out in front of you and it should be dark enough that you should not see your hand.

 

Airflow: Crack the window!

First, check that your room is mold free and regularly stay on top of this! Nothing more important than this!

Stale air is the last thing you want in a bedroom, you want free flowing air. This free flowing air will promote the concentration of negative ions within your bedroom especially if you live close to nature. However, if this is not possible or ideal due to temperature or pollution from living within a city you want to look at investing in an ioniser. This will work to produce negative ions within your sleep environment and will help get you bouncing out of bed in the morning.

 

Essential oils

Essential oils are a great way to really create that sleep sanctuary with some sleep aiding scents. Aromatherapy has been used for years and is well recognised for its sleep aiding benefits. There are a wide variety of different oils associated with promoting sleep.

Sleep Aiding Oils: Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Clary sage, Jasmine

Don’t have a diffuser, no worries mix essential oils with a carrier oil (eg coconut oil) to topically apply to skin. Don’t apply directly as concentration is to high for skin and as for anything there can be too much of a good thing.

 

Plants

Plant are natural air purifiers and a great addition to any sleep sanctuary not only will they keep the air fresh they will also aid in decorating and livening up your room.

Examples Include: Aloe vera, English Ivy, & Sansevieria trifasciata (commonly known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue). All of which are very low maintenance.

 

 

 

Mattress & Pillow

When talking about a sleep sanctuary the Mattress & Pillow combination cannot be skipped over. These two elements are  key component as discussed in previous post. In my opinion you can not go past the ECOSA mattress and pillow as it caters to all sleep positions and body types.

 

 

 

Sleep Aiding Gadgets and Strategies

If you really want to improve your sleep, then this next section is for you! I will provide some powerful sleep tracking and hacking tools, that will take your sleep to the next level.

 

Sleep and Performance Tracking:

Are you rested and recovered? What is quantifiable is measurable.

HRV has been shown to be one of the most powerful measures in identify and tracking excessive stress. It could be used to track mental stress or training stress such as overtraining etc. It measures this by calculating the time variation between heart beats.

Majority of tracking tools now utilise HRV and the tracking tool you choose to use is up to you and your budget. Like anything in this domain the more you spend the more you get. But you also don’t have to spend a fortune to get HRV tracking benefits.

HRV4 Training is a perfect option for the price sensitive person as all you need is the app (small cost: $15.99) and a newish mobile phone that has the capability to track through camera lense (most phones these days). This app is great as it combines with with subjective measures to get a well rounded picture. The app offers a pro-version with even more capabilities (less than: $50/Year). In my opinion whether go go on pro-version or not HRV is an essential measure for any high performing athlete or worker.

If you want to get serious, the Oura Ring in my opinion is the best personal sleep tracking device on the market! This company has managed to compress everything in to a ring! No, not a watch but a ring! The light sensor of the ring capture 250 samples per second for a constant flow of reliable data. The ring detects the pulse waveform and amplitude variation, and exact time between heartbeats. It is also equipped with a precise 3D accelerometer and gyroscope to track activity and it’s intensity. Finally, it also records body temperature and tracks it to the minute. These combined measurements provide a high power measure for tracking your current health status. It has phenomenal capabilities for such a small device and the new model coming out next month is now even smaller and more powerful. If you are passionate about sleep this is a device you need to check out! Also they have offered a discount of $50 US at check out with code “Taylored”

 

Body Temperature Regulation:

If the breathability of your new ECOSA mattress is not regulating your temperature enough and you run hot temperature like me, you can take it a step further and get yourself a Chili Pad. This will offer you the ability to set the temperature of your bed for optimal sleep quality. It even gives you the ability to individualise the temperatures to each partner’s needs. This has been referenced by many Kelly Starrett & Tim Ferriss as one of the most powerful sleep hacks you can implement.

 

 

My favorite Downregulation Sleep Aid:

When wired and tired with plenty on the mind and you can not seem to downregulate, that is when I use the Headspace Mindfulness App. This app not only aids in meditation practice and mindfulness but offers a great selection of sleep aiding sessions include my favorite 10 min sleep session that knocks me out everytime.

 

Noisy environment:

For those trying to get to sleep in noisy environments. Get yourself an app or device that plays White Noise or Water Noise both of which have been clinically shown to help you get to sleep.

 

Grounding:

Grounding or Earthing is the connection to the Earth’s natural negatively charged energy. Known to increase mood, decrease inflammation & stress, it is simple and powerful. The hallmark of grounding is its ability to achieve alpha brain wave state, which is seen in deep meditative states and in healing sleep states. There are many ways to do this, but the simple version involves you getting into nature and kicking off your shoes.

But with technology we can now produce this energy through PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) Therapy & Electrical Stimulation. These are some of the most powerful biohacking tools with proven benefits. The Earthpulse, a grounding mat or grounding bedspread, is a PEMF therapy device that provides better sleep & recovery than ever before. It is not a cheap device but if you are serious about your sleep it is money well spent!

 

Wake up Fresh & Ready to Go:

Bounce out of bed with a Sunrise Alarm Clock. The Natural light alarm clock was designed for a more natural wake-up. The lamp emits natural light as an alarm to improve your ability to function in the morning.

Other alternative is phone apps such as Sleep as Android that wakes you up in lighter stage of your sleep cycle by tracking movement and noise, helping you wake up fresh in the morning. I am sure we have all felt the effects of the alarm going off while we are in a deep sleep, and well it really isn’t fun. This app also allows you to rate and track your sleep. Plus it is great if you want to see if you snore as it offers a recording function.  

 

Circadian Rhythm Hack

One of the most powerful things you can do for priming your circadian rhythm is morning exposure to sun (No sunglasses or sun protection if possible). This coupled with light movement such as yoga, some mobility or a walk. You will not only be energised for the day ahead but syncing the body clock to the sun.

But what if this is not an option?

Treat Winter Blues

We have discussed the powerful effects of bluelight in affecting your sleep, if utilised smartly it can be a great tool in establishing circadian rhythm especially when access to natural light isn’t easy. The Re-Timer is a tool that you can wear either in the morning or evening, depending on how you want to change your sleep. The light is UV-free and has been independently tested for eye safety to the international standard.

 

 

Sleep Enhancing Supplement

Magnesium is an important mineral and is necessary for overall health. Every cell and organ in your body requires this mineral to function properly. It contributes to bone health, along with brain, heart and muscle function. Magnesium is found in foods such as; green vegetables, nuts, cereals, meat, fish and fruit, so it is important that you aim to eat these foods regularly.

Magnesium is often the first supplement to be suggested for sleep, due to magnesium ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (down-regulation system). Therefore, deficiency in magnesium can lead to poor sleep and even insomnia.

Certain populations are at a higher risk of magnesium deficiency, including those people with digestive diseases. Issues with your digestive tract can cause your body to not absorb vitamins and minerals properly, resulting in various micronutrient (vitamins and mineral) deficiencies. Other people affected by this deficiency include diabetics, individuals with an alcohol dependence, older adults (many factors could affect this including current inflammatory state, disease, quantity of food intake) and athletes. It is recommended that athletes get sufficient magnesium to assist in recovery from large training loads

Dose:

Oral:

The Institute of Medicine suggests a daily oral dietary intake of 310–360 mg of magnesium for adult women and 400–420 mg for adult men.

Transdermal (absorbed through skin):

Often not thought of when it comes to supplementing magnesium but an Epson salt bath or a Float, which has a high concentration of magnesium, can be absorbed through the skin and bypass the gastrointestinal track. Therefore, these are great alternative methods if you struggle with oral supplementation. Additionally, you can get magnesium sprays, which are great to apply prior to jumping into bed.

What is the best option?

Yet to be conclusively defined. Transdermal does seemingly offer great potential but I think a combination of both may be best! Oral is easy to comply to on a routine basis where booking in for a float is often less frequent. My routine is a weekly Float coupled with daily supplementation of BePure new Magnesium.

 

Summary:

The ability to hack your sleep is endless and this is a quickly growing industry as we learn more about the power of sleep. Above is a my favorite sleep hacks and if implemented you will achieve the best most restorative sleep possible and feel amazing for it!

The most Important Investment to Enhance your Sleep

In this time poor world, our time is the greatest commodity! It is greater than money because money without time is seemingly shallow and pointless, well at least in my opinion. Anything I spend a significant time doing, I take pretty seriously.

Already this month we have discussed some key factors that impact your sleep. We have talked about effects of; technology, stress, nutrition, exercise, air quality and along with a lot more. Now it is time to talk about one of the most important investments you can make towards your sleep.

YOUR MATTRESS!

Do you know you spend a ⅓ of your life asleep?

Well now you know that you will spend the majority of your life laying on it, I would suggest you make sure you select the right mattress for yourself and possibly your partner as well.

This is never an easy decision and at times can be quite painful as you jump from one bed to the next within a big show room, in the hope that you find one that feels good. From coil springs to intellisprings the shop assistant bombards you with confusing branding lingo. At the end of the day a lot of it means the exact same thing, just brands calling it different names. You often leave the store more confused than when you first went in.  If you are anything like me I find it near impossible to really identify the best bed without having a few good nights sleeping on it.

 

So where to start? What is important?

Sleep Position:

Before we can talk about mattress and pillows we must first discuss sleep positions. As with anything there are ideal positions to sleep in but everybody is different and what might work for one person will not be the same for the next person. I am not one to preach that everyone should sleep in a similar fashion and only recommend a change of sleep position when required. With each sleep position there are ways in which to improve the quality of the position to enhance your sleep. When it comes to positions there are endless variations but for purpose of this article I want to focus on the 3 main variations and give you a quick overview:

 

 

Back Sleeper:  

Positives: Provides optimal spinal alignment

Negatives: If you are a snorer this will exacerbate it and is the worst position for this.

Sleep Hack for Back Sleepers: Place pillow under the back of knees to decrease lower back load

 

 

Side sleeper:

Positives: Often the most comfortable as it mimics being in the womb. It is the next best for spinal alignment. Better position if you snore when you are on your back. Recently been highlighted as optimal position for clearing cellular waste while sleeping through glymphatic pathway.

Negatives: Can aggravate shoulder instability, neck and lower back if you don’t have a supportive mattress and pillow

Sleep Hack for Side Sleepers: Place a pillow between knees to neutralise pelvis and again reduce lower back load.

 

 

Front Sleeper:

Positives: Great for reducing snoring

Negatives: Worst for spinal alignment with the arch in the lower back and the head twisted to the side especially if you use a pillow.

Sleep Hack for Front Sleepers: Ditch the pillow that is lifting your head up. Instead place the pillow under your hips to support your lower back and where possible bend one knee up towards chest to deload the spine.

 

 

Mattress and Pillow Considerations

Trial Period

You need to sleep on it, literally.

When investing in a new bed, mattress or pillow, you really want the ability to sleep on it for at least a couple of weeks and have the ability to return it if needed. Most places will offer a service similar to this with varying time frames. However, a lot of these periods will only be possible if you also buy a mattress protector from them at same time.

 

Firmness

Firmness is the next most important thing to get right.

Soft, Medium, Firm??

Truth is it depends on the individual and sleeping style, which for most people greatly varies depending on lifestyles factors e.g. injury, sickness etc. For optimal spinal alignment you will be a back sleeper and ideally should choose a firm mattress to support this position. A firm mattress won’t support your spinal health if you are a side or front sleeper, as the firmness of the mattress will force your body into misalignment. So if you are a side or front sleeper then a less firm mattress will be best to maintain spine alignment.

 

Why is alignment important?

Do you wake up feeling fresh from a good night’s sleep, with no aches and pains?

Well you should! Anything that is misaligned is more prone to injury and is placing unneeded stress on your body. Especially with the time we spend in our beds this is especially important! Poor mattress and sleep position often lead to postural imbalances which greatly increases your potential of developing chronic injuries. If your issue is stemming from your mattress or sleep position, it really doesn’t matter how much physio or rehabilitation you do the imbalance will remain an issue. Even if you are good and see your physio 1-2 x per week (20 min) and are really good and do the exercise homework  (~10 min daily) that equates to less than 2 hrs per week, compared with 50 hrs+ per week sleeping in a bad mattress or position. You stand no chance of getting on top of your issue until you address the chronic load you place on your body (mattress, pillow and or sleep position).

 

Partner disturbance

There is nothing worse than a restless partner, keeping you awake all night. This is one thing you should not share!

Last thing you want is your partner’s bad sleep to affect your sleep. It is a recipe for disaster with short tempers eventually boling upto fighting. At least if one partner is well rested they can diffuse the situation…well hopefully.

Even if you don’t have a partner now, this is something you may want to consider for the future. You want to select a bed that absorbs movements so that your sleep is not affected. On average a person changes sleeping positions 12 times per night, unless you want to wake up 12 times per night this is absolutely something to consider. However, not something that I really need to highlight as I am sure most have dealt with this first hand at one point or another.

 

Breathability:

A commonly overlooked factor is the mattress breathability.

When it comes to breathability the first thing most people consider is body temperature regulation, something that can greatly dictate your sleep quality. A mattress that does not breath will play havoc with your body temperature as you just get warmer and warmer throughout the night making it difficult for your body to regulate your temperature.

Beyond temperature control mattresses and pillows can become a petri dish of bacteria if they do not breath. As we discussed in our previous post, the bedrooms air quality has been estimated to be 16 times worse that the rest of the house, this is something you need to consider.

Breathability as you can imagine is even more important when it comes to your pillow, as your face is in direct contact with it. Plus with the moisture created during a deep sleep drool you better make sure your pillow doesn’t absorb that moisture. If your mattress or pillow doesn’t have technology to breathe you will restrict your body’s temperature. If it doesn’t breath it will collect and grow bacteria and mould, leading to endless the health and performance concerns

 

Pillow

Once you got the mattress the pillow is the next key consideration. Most of the points highlighted above for the mattress will also apply to your pillow selection

The pillow is extremely important when it comes to a good night’s sleep. I am sure many of us at one point or another have faced the effect of a bad nights sleep on a pillow that doesn’t match your needs.

 

Support: Cervical spine alignments

Pillow height is everything! The last thing you want is a pillow / pillows that crank your head up too high and out of alignment. You probably also want to avoid the opposite with your head dropping to low. You want a pillow that supports and promotes alignment in the neck.

If you place your arm under your pillow is a sign that your pillow is not high enough to support your neck, this is not a good sign as you move around in the night.

 

Mattress & Pillow Recommendation

Time for a change in set up?

Look no further than ECOSA!

After doing my research and doing the painful store to store testing. I choose to go with ECOSA and I have now been on my new mattress and pillows for just over a month. I could not recommend anything better that ticks all the boxes I look for in a good mattress and pillow set up. For years I have struggled to find a mattress I could recommend but the ECOSA is a mattress and pillow that is designed for the masses that offers so much adjustability to suit all sleeping styles and body types.

Let’s discuss some of my favorite features:

Trial period: 100 nights! Plus if you return it you get your money back and it gets sent to Salvation Army. This significantly more nights than most stores. Plus they come with 15 year warranty.

Mattress Firmness: No longer the need to stress over what firmness works for you. It has 3 levels of firmness to shift between. This offers great interchangeability as your body evolves. Plus a great chance to identify your prefered firmness to match your sleeping style, keeping your spine aligned.

Adjustable Pillow: Just like adjustability in mattress so does the pillow as comes with 3 height adjustable levels to suit every sleep position and body type.

Partner Disturbance: None! it is amazing if you go online you will see videos of people jumping on it with full wine glasses stacked on top not even falling with the impact. Plus even if it did spill it is waterproof!

Breathability: The ECOSA mattress and pillows have extra cool layers and built-in air circulation system that allow free flowing air, keeping you from getting too hot. Not only is it breathable but has activated charcoal to absorb moisture, that is a feature highlight of mine!

Waterproof lining: German micro-filament technology keeping the mattress waterproof and dust mite-free. Not only is it breathable but it is waterproof so that it protects against any build up of sweat, oils or moisture that can cause mold.

No Base, No Problem: Built to work with any base even floor so what you put the mattress on is up to you.

Cost: With all these features you are most likely preparing yourself for a big price point. Well that is one of the best features of all. Due to no storefront overheads etc they are able to bring a mattress to your door significantly cheaper than any store. Plus if your prefer interest free payment/finance option, they offer them as well!

Free Delivery: Yup it comes in a box and they deliver it to your door for FREE! As it is in a box no difficulty getting it up stairs or through doorways just roll it in and around on its wheels.

                  

If you don’t believe me the reviews on their website say it all with close to 8000, 5 Star Reviews and if that is not enough try it for 100 nights yourself and you will be convinced and stoked as I am.

 

Air Quality & Sleep

Air quality is too often looked, yet it is such a vital component when it comes to health. As we have stated previously anything that affects your health will affect your ability to sleep well.

Toxic Mold

If your home is not well ventilated, it can be a breeding ground for mold, leading to poor air quality. Mold is the silent killer that is not getting enough attention. It is making more people weak, fat, and tired than ever before. It is largely invisible and can have a huge impact on your energy and stress levels, not to mention how long you’ll live.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure & Mold Poisoning:

Fatigue + Weakness + Aches + Muscle Cramps + Unusual Pain + Ice Pick Pain + Headache + Light Sensitivity + Red Eyes + Blurred Vision + Tearing + Sinus Problems + Cough + Shortness of Breath + Abdominal Pain + Diarrhea + Joint Pain + Morning Stiffness + Memory Issues + Focus/Concentration Issues + Word Recollection Issues + Decreased Learning of New Knowledge + Confusion + Disorientation + Skin Sensitivity + Mood Swings + Appetite Swings + Sweats (especially night sweats) + Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems + Excessive Thirst + Increased Urination + Static Shocks + Numbness + Tingling + Vertigo + Metallic Taste + Tremors

Exposure to mold and it effects are more common than you may realise. Dampness and mold exposures ranges from 18% to 50% in buildings. The bad news doesn’t stop there sadly, in America over 25% (could assume similar numbers in NZ) of people are believed to carry the HLA-DRBQ gene. This gene promotes hypersensitivity towards mold. Essentially there bodies are unable to recognise mold as a toxin to eliminate it and instead they store the toxic mold within their bodies.

Mold toxins are lipophilic, in other words, their molecular structure is made up of fatty acid molecules. As the brain is the fattiest organ (60% fat) the mold toxins migrate and cross the blood brain barrier and deposit themselves within the brain. Once mold toxins enter the brain, they start to destroy neurons,  they can alter hormone production, and eventually this can lead to many chronic health issues including:

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Hashimoto’s Disease
  • Graves Disease
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • ADD/ADHD and more

 

Air Quality & Sleep:

Now that you have some background around mold and air quality, lets discuss how air quality can be affecting your sleep.

You spend ⅓ of your life in your bedroom, therefore bad air quality in the bedroom is a recipe for disaster! Some stats suggest that exposure to poor air quality can be 16 time higher in some people bedrooms. Poor air quality affects sleep and as a result has been shown to impact next day cognitive performance and increase perceived feelings of poor concentration and increased sleepiness. In rooms with poor circulating air comes and increased moisture and the development of bacteria and mold will not only impact your sleep but may cause a whole host of serious health concerns.

Want to Learn More:

Dave Asprey from Bulletproof, is a leader in this space after struggling personally with mold intoxication. He is leading the charge globally and highlighting the impact of mold on individuals health.  He has developed a lot of content around mold including a documentary on toxic mold (Moldy Movie), and even discusses the topic it in his book Headstrong.

Naturally cleanse the Air

Plants

Beyond toxic mold removal there are a few other ways to improve air quality within your bedroom. Research at NASA has found that a number of house plants go beyond just looking good, they actually possess the ability to double as a natural air purifiers. Improving air quality by absorbing and filtering out toxic agents from our indoor air. The NASA study listed a number of plants that have beneficial effects for air purification including Aloe vera, English Ivy and Sansevieria trifasciata (commonly known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue). I personally own the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue due to it being very low maintenance and have found it extremely powerful.

  

Ever wondered why you sleep better in nature  especially if you are close to water?

Water, air, sunlight and the earth’s inherent radiation produce what is called negative ions (oxygen molecule charged with an extra electron). These negatively charged ions are most prevalent in a natural place particularly around moving water (waterfalls, ocean, thunderstorms etc). The taste and feeling of that “Fresh Air” when near a beach, waterfall or storm is your body receiving and influx in the beneficial negative ions.

Negative ions are good but positive ions are not and the most dangerous levels of harmful positive ions occur in the polluted, large industrial and heavily populated cities. Exhaust fumes from cars, trucks and buses, factory smoke, cigarette smoke, dust and soot, electromagnetic pollution and overall atmospheric pollution caused by air and sea crafts; all act to develop a mixture of harmful positive ions. In doing so reduce the production of the beneficial negative ions in our surroundings and subsequently affecting our overall health, lungs and may be the cause of general lack of energy and depression.

 

Strategies

Prevent, Identify & Repair

Prevent:

  • Avoid moist environments that lack airflow (stuffy environments). As these environments act as the perfect breeding ground for toxic mold.
  • Avoid Water Damaged Buildings:

Water soaked buildings are the perfect breeding ground for toxic mold. You should want to avoid living, working or attending school in any building that have been damaged by water whether from a flood, broken pipes, condensation, or water leaks of any kind. Signs would include; Water stains on walls and ceilings & a funky smell

  • Allow natural airflow as much as possible, sleep with window open as has been shown to greatly impact air quality.
  • Live close to nature, obviously where possible.
  • Get some nature into your bedroom, add some natural air purifying plants such as: Aloe vera, English Ivy, & Sansevieria trifasciata (commonly known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)
  • Remove any condensation 
  • Purify and Negatively ionise your air within your bedroom and home with a Ioniser

 

  • Identify:

  • Ensure you have no leaks or mold present in your house.

Check baseboards, ceilings, and walls in your home, office, and school frequently looking for soft spots, stains, or other signs of water damage. If you have any serious concerns or even just for peace of mind get the building inspected by a professional. Additionally, ensure you have a properly installed AC or HVAC system especially in hot humid climates as this can be a red flag and could make the problem worse.

  • Take the Test: The Biotoxin Test can help determine if you are affected by mold. Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker developed a formula to determine if you are presenting with the symptoms associated with exposure to toxic mold.

 

Repair:

  • Outsource: If testing deems your house to have mold. Remove yourself from the environment & work with a remediation specialist to develop a cleanup plan. You don’t want to skip corners on this.

Hopefully in reading this I have been able to shed some light on the invisible killer that doesn’t get enough attention. This is something I have dealt with personally and was ignorant to the impact it played as I became sicker and sicker as the mold grew thicker and thicker. It is not something you avoid and hope it goes away you need to take action otherwise you will end up with serious health concerns. Just watch the moldy movie for some good case studies.