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We've all been there – you eventually make it home after a big night out, snuggle into the covers and prepare yourself for the glorious lie-in that awaits, only to be rudely awoken by some kind of drunken mystic force at 8am. 

Maybe it's our bodies trying to get back at us? Or perhaps it's the universe trying to turn us into functional human beings? Either way, it's annoying AF and it's time to get to the bottom of it. 

Just like all out little bodily quirks, science has a big role to play. Speaking about the phenomenon, As Dr. Aaron White, a senior scientific advisor to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, explained to Buzzfeed: 

"Alcohol tricks you into thinking you're sleeping better because you pass out a little faster but it's actually very disrupting and prevents you from getting a restful, deep sleep."

So, not only does alcohol make you lose all inhibitions and convince you that you're more than able to flirt with the hunky man at the bar, it also completely messes with your sleeping pattern – Great! 

What's more, once the alcohol wears off in the middle of the night, our bodies enter into REM sleep, making it much easier to wake up. 

Fan-bloody-tastic! 

The only way to prevent this is to take it easy on the G&Ts and stop drinking a little earlier in the night. 

You win some, you lose some. 

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So, while we humans might like to think we're a sophisticated bunch with an extensive list of wants and desires, new research has shown that we're actually quite the opposite.

Sure, shiny new cars and expensive designer handbags might give us that temporary boost of happiness, however, when we look at the bigger picture, it's plenty of shut eye and an active sex life that brings us the most joy.

Developed by Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research, the new happiness index has found sex and sleep have the biggest influence on a person's happiness and well-being.

For the study, 8,250 people were asked how satisfied they were with various aspects of their lives. Participants were then given a Living Well score based on their answers, averaging at around 62.2.

Interestingly, those who reported getting more sleep scored 15 points higher than those who struggled, while those with an active and fulfilling sex life scored seven points higher than those without.

What's more, researchers discovered that an increase in household income lifted scores by just two points.

Other factors which were deemed more important than money included living in a strong community, job security, and the health od close relatives.

So, it turns out our mothers were right all along – money really can't buy happiness.

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Is there anything worse than lying in bed, wide awake, watching the clock edge closer and closer towards your alarm clock?

No, nothing.

The internal panic you feel when you realise you won't be getting any sleep is like nothing else, especially if you have work the next day. 

Thankfully, scientists have found a solution to this issue. 

Pink noise is basically a type of background noise that has an equal level of energy per octave, meaning it has a lower frequency than white noise – and it might just be the answer to those sleepless nights. 

According to a study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience pink noise is less intrusive than white noise and could lead to a better, deeper sleep.

They even suggest that if used regularly, pink noise could improve your memory too. Sold. 

The study tested people listening to pink noise as they slept, and found that those participants reported feeling a lot more rested.

The pink noise participants also performed three times better in memory tests and cognition tests compared to those who just slept normally.

I mean, science has spoken, so it's worth a go! 

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It's absolutely no secret that January drags its heels.

But if you think the days are long, the nights have been even longer for many of us who have chosen to embark upon a self-induced month of sobriety.

If you appear to have a swapped a sozzled night for a sleepless one, you're not alone.

According to a report in Metro, this response to a lack of alcohol is by no means rare, with Dr Natasha Bijlani, a consultant psychiatrist at The Priory Hospital in Roehampton, providing insights into the phenomenon.

"Most people don’t know that if they quit drinking and remain sober they are likely to have significant sleep problems long after they stop drinking," she confirmed.    

So, what exactly is going on beneath the surface? And why is our attempt at a healthy lifestyle interrupting our precious hours of shut-eye?

"Alcohol use influences sleeping patterns and it can take the body a bit of time to adjust to a normal sleep cycle that is not chemically induced," Dr Bijlani explained.

"In addition, the symptoms of withdrawal such as restless leg syndrome or anxiety can be uncomfortable and these may keep people awake at night.’

So, if you have been staring at the ceiling for most of January, you can rest assured your neighbours are probably doing the same.

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Who would have ever thought that getting 40 extra winks could make you slimmer?

A new study from a research team at King's College London has found that sleeping more cuts down on sugar cravings.

Losing weight and sleeping in? This is a diet plan that sounds right up our alley, if you're into weight watching.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition-published study, the researchers examined what happened when they extended the amount of time people slept each night.

They found that when people slept longer, they ate about 10 grams less sugar each day than average levels of sugar intake. Participants who slept longer also reduced their carbohydrate consumption.

'The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars, by which we mean the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups, and fruit juice, suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets,' principal investigator Dr. Wendy Hall noted.

In the study, 21 participants had sleep consultations in order to extend their visit to the land of nod by 90 minutes each night.

These participants were all people who previously slept less than seven hours a night, the recommended minimum time adults should sleep.

The team also studied 21 other adults who also were getting less than seven hours' sleep as a control group.

The participants who received sleep consultations were advised to avoid caffeine before going to bed, start a relaxing night time routine and not go to bed feeling too full or hungry. They were also given a specific bedtime.

Their sleep patterns and diets were monitored for a week after, and the results were impressive.

 

86 percent of the people in the sleep consultation group increased their amount of time in bed, and half increased their actual time spent asleep, from 52 to almost 90 minutes.

Those in the other group did not extend their time sleeping significantly.

However, it is thought that the extended sleep experienced by the group who received sleep advice may not have been of the best quality.

The team suggested that any new sleep routine will take some time to get used to.

'Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions.'

'We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalised approach,' lead researcher Haya Al Khatib, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, stated.

'Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices. This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies.'

He continued that they hope to further examine nutrient intake and sleep patterns, especially in longer-term studies and populations that are at a higher risk of obesity or cardiovascular problems.

As if we needed an excuse to stay in bed longer…

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Between busy lifestyles, hectic working schedules and whatever kind of social life we can squeeze in between, getting our recommended amount of shut-eye can sometimes feel like the ultimate struggle.

At this stage we've mastered the art of masking our exhaustion and giving off the impression that we're fully functioning human beings – and while this is definitely not the healthiest routine to fall into, we've managed to make it work (kind of).

However, it might be time to forget everything you thought you knew about a good night's kip, because according to one expert, a consistent wake time is far more important than the amount of time spent in bed.

Speaking to Whimm, Dr Carmel Harrington explained the importance of exposing our brains to bright lights after waking up.

"Most people don't know that the time you get up in the morning affects the time you will be able to fall asleep that night… When we see bright light in the morning our brain switches off the production of melatonin and it is this off-switching that actually sets up our 24-hour body clock," she said.

Not only can getting up at the same time every morning make your sleep more effective, it can also positively affect hunger, motivation and efficiency during the day.

"As our getting up time plays a role in what time we are ready to sleep that night, a regular wake up time is probably more important… For this reason it's recommended that you don't vary your wake-up time by more than an hour."

Consistency is key, ladies.

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It's no secret that a poor night's sleep can leave us feeling tired and underprepared for the day ahead, but when those feelings start to become a constant strain on our mental health, it's probably time to start prioritising a consistent sleeping routine.

New research has found that people who sleep less than eight hours a night are far more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, due to their inability to disengage with negative thoughts and emotions.

The study, published in the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, analysed 52 adults with “repeated negative thinking” (RNT).

Participants were asked about their sleeping patterns and their eye movements were monitored as they viewed a number of images.

For the purpose of the study, some images were designed to trigger an emotional response, while others were intended to produce a neutral response.

According to Science Daily, results showed that participants who reported getting a insufficient amount of sleep (eight hours or less), spent more time looking at the negative images, meaning they were unable to remove themselves from the negative thoughts that came along with them.

“We found that people in this study have some tendencies to have thoughts get stuck in their heads, and their elevated negative thinking makes it difficult for them to disengage with the negative stimuli that we exposed them to,” said study author Professor Meredith Coles from Binghamton University.

“We realised over time that this might be important – this repetitive negative thinking is relevant to several different disorders like anxiety, depression and many other things.”

Researchers now intend to carry out further studies in the hopes that one day, psychologists may be able to treat anxiety and depression by helping the patient create a better sleeping routine.

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We all know that our pre-sleep routine plays a massive role in the quality of our night's sleep.

And if yours involves scrolling through your phone and running through your to-do list, you're seriously missing a trick when it comes to a restful night.

According to sleep researchers, a brilliant night's sleep can be yours as long as you dedicate some time to achieving The Big O.

A recent study determined that two thirds of people slept better after having sex, but – and here's the kicker – only if it involved an orgasm for both parties.

Studying 460 adults between the ages of 18 and 70, Dr. Michele Lastella confirmed the importance an orgasm can have on the shut-eye you get in its aftermath..

Speaking to Adelaide Now, Dr Lastella said: "What we found was 64 percent of our respondents indicated they slept better when sex was with a partner and it involves an orgasm.”

"There’s strong evidence to suggest substituting screen time for play time. When you’re engaging in sex, you’re not thinking about what to do the next day, you’re not going through your phones. It distracts you."

You heard him, ladies.

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Teespring, an online fashion company which advertises user-generated designs, have this afternoon decided to remove three items which promote sexual assault.

A mug, aT-shirt and a hoodie, which are emblazoned with the slogan 'Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat' were retailing on the website for €14, €19 and €34, respectively.

According to their website, Teespring provides a platform for the public to turn their ideas into 'high-quality products.' And by shopping with Teespring you will be 'supporting independent creators and the causes they care about'.

Yes, you read those last five words correctly.

Following backlash,Teespring released a statement on the matter, saying: "This morning it came to our attention that a user created a number of designs on Teespring that included references to rape."

"As soon as this was discovered it was removed from the site.Teespring does not support or allow the promotion of any violent or unlawful activity on the platform."

As of this afternoon, the items were no longer available to purchase.

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Let's face, whether you're hungover, sick, or just felling a bit meh, there are definitely times when we could all do with a cuddle.

Of course, in these times of need, many of us will turn to a partner, friend or even a pet for comfort – but what happens when there's no one there to hold you?

Well, that's where this nifty little blanket comes in handy.

Designed by Weighted Comforts, the stylish blankets are said to help with stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation by replicating the feeling of being spooned.

That's right. All the comfort of being held – just without an actual person.

The blankets are made with a dense inner layer, designed to be approximately 10 per cent of your body weight in an effort to simulate the sensation that someone is lying beside you.

 

This comfy pic is from @autointune, a Weighting Comforts customer. She writes, "When anxiety in the world surrounds me, I long to feel still and calm. To feel grounded. To feel the pull of the earth. This Weighted Blanket from @weightingcomforts does that for me." . Thank you for sharing your story of comfort! . #hopeful #ptsd #menopause #insomnia #restandrelax #recovery #selfcare #halt #sleepwalking #sweetdreams #chooselife #dentalphobia #choosesleep #sleepy #stressrelief #anxiety #clearingthemindandsoul #sleeptight #bettersleep #madebyrefugees #compassion #handmade #Nashville #creatingincomeforrefugeefamilies #melatonin #deeptissuemassage #nomorecountingsheep #ineedtosleep #anxietyfree #weightedblankets

A post shared by Weighting Comforts (@weightingcomforts) on

Writing on Instgram, Weighting Comforts explained how the blankets can be used to combat anxiety.

“Our weighted blankets are designed to improve your sleep and reduce your anxiety for year-round comfort.”

“Many people experience a deeper and more restful sleep on the first night. Others find the blanket’s weight restrictive at first, but over several nights grow to love the effect of the weight.”

The blankets come is a variety of sleek designs and would fit right in with even the most stylish of decor.

However, with prices ranging from €165 – €207, these babies don't come cheap – so you better start dropping those Christmas pressie hints pretty soon.

You can check out the full range here

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As far as we’re concerned, the best time to reach for an alcoholic drink is when you’ve officially had it up to here with life, and need a quick sip to take the edge off.

And that, ladies, is why we let the experts tend to the scientific research because we are, in fact, a little short of the mark on this one.

According to research compiled by the health and wellbeing firm Forza Supplements, the best time to chill-out with the first drink of the day is 6.10pm – four hours before we go to bed to maximise liver recovery time.

And it’s not just alcohol that our body clock has a specific response to, either.

The recent findings suggest that there exist optimum times for a number of activities, from work and sex to exercise and sleep.

The best time to have sex is at 7.30am – around 45 minutes after you wake up because energy levels are at their highest after a good night's rest which means you have more stamina.

The rush of endorphins sparked by sex lowers blood pressure and stress levels and makes us feel more upbeat for the rest of the day.

And once you’ve gotten down and dirty with your other half, researchers claim the individual is best suited to work-related tasks.

Apparently, our concentration levels peak three hours after we wake up so the best time to do the most taxing jobs at work is around 9.45am as your memory, focus and creativity levels are at their best.

And now to exercise.

Studies have found that strength is at a low point in the morning and gradually climbs until it peaks in the early evening.

So, if you’re a gym bunny with a focus on weights, you’re likely to do your best work in the early evening.

And where does sleep feature in all of this?

Well, researchers assert that the best time for sleep is at 10.10pm – allowing for 20 minutes to get to sleep and 90 minutes of the most restorative non-REM sleep which is most likely to occur prior to midnight.

Commenting on the findings, Forza Supplements managing director, Lee Smith, explained: “What we set out to do was to find out the absolute optimum times to work, rest and play.”

"While no two people are the same, these were found to be the very best times for the average person to do the key activities which make for a healthy and happy life.”

You heard the man.

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Coffee and sleep; just two of the greatest parts of any day, amirite?

And while we love them both in equal measure, we generally adhere to the guideline that mixing them is a pointless endeavour.

We need coffee to wake us up, so why would we down a cup before taking a nap? Well, because science says so, that's why.

According to Professor Chin Moi Chow of the University of Sydney, mixing coffee and a short nap is a surefire way to inject a little more energy into your day.

In a piece composed for The Conversation, Professor Chow explained that in order to maximise the impact coffee has on our energy levels, we should use the intial stages of absorbtion to grab some shut-eye.

"When you drink a coffee, the caffeine stays in the stomach for a while before moving to the small intestine,” he writes.

"It is from here that caffeine is absorbed and distributed throughout the body. This process, from drinking to absorption, takes 45 minutes."

“But caffeine’s alerting effect kicks in sooner, about 30 minutes after drinking. So, drinking a coffee just before a short nap of less than 15 minutes doesn’t affect the nap as your body hasn’t yet experienced the caffeine hit.”

Put simply, a short nap allows time for the coffee to kick in, so not only will you awake from your nap refreshed due to, you know, sleep, but then the caffeine will start working its magic.

"Once you wake up from your nap, not only do you experience the hit, your body feels the effects of the caffeine hours later,” explains Prof. Chow.

“It is this caffeine hit after you wake up and the “long tail” of caffeine in your body that helps you power through the day."

And while that's all well and good in the evening or at the weekend, we can't see our employers agreeing to a much-needed caffeine nap once that infamous 3pm slump kicks in.
 

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