Listen to MNers talking about sleep, stress and energy on the Boots Feel Good Forum and tell us what you think - voucher to be won

(132 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Apr-13 10:39:39

We hope lots of you tuned in to the Boots Feel Good Forum about sleep, stress and energy, but if you missed it, please listen to the podcast. The show discusses ways to improve sleep, cope with stress and feel more energised. MNers have been posting about this - please see their comments below.

The show features Sleep Expert Professor Colin Espie, Behavioural Psychologist Emma Kenny and Registered Nutritionist Sarah Bernard. Professor Espie and Sarah have also answered some MNers' Qs that they didn't have time to cover on the show on this thread so please have a read of those below.

Please do listen to the podcast and then come back to this thread and tell us what you think.

As a thank you for taking part, Boots will be giving a £50 voucher to a poster picked at random from this thread.


Please note that your comments may be used by the Feel Good Forum in advertising but your MN nickname won't appear.
The views/content expressed within this forum are those of the participants and not those of Boots UK Limited or its agents.

SarahBernard Sun 28-Apr-13 21:36:46


I always feel weak and tired during the early weeks of spring. It's the time when I want to feel energised and active because the weather improves.
Is there anything I can do/ take supplements to overcome this?

Many people expect to feel vibrant and full of energy as the days get longer, but for some, the opposite is true and you may find yours is related to the clocks changing. When we put the clocks forward to British Summer Time we are effectively giving our bodies a small experience of jet lag, and for some this is tougher to adapt to, particularly if you are a regular waker.

Following a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, wholegrain carbohydrates, nuts and seeds will help keep you as energised as possible through this difficult period. Try to avoid reaching for caffeine as too much can further upset your sleeping patterns and could make matters worse. You might like to think ahead to the next time the clocks change and try one of the 'sunrise' alarm lights, which gradually create an artificial dawn.

Move bedtime and waking times forward/backwards 10 minutes a night rather than having the full impact of the one hour change.

SarahBernard Sun 28-Apr-13 21:35:11


I have heard people say great things about magnesium and zinc for energy levels. Is there any evidence to back this up and, if so, do they need to be taken at different times of day (one at night, one in the morning, can't remember which way round) or is a multivitamin just as good?

There is evidence to show that supplementation with magnesium can reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue. We also know zinc is involved in numerous energy-related functions within the body; including as a key part of enzymes that break down carbohydrates in our food. However, supplementing with individual vitamins and minerals can be complicated. For example, zinc interferes with normal copper absorption, while magnesium and calcium need to be taken in balance to ensure maximizing bone health.

Following a healthy balanced diet should be able to provide all the vitamins and minerals you need, but you can bump up your magnesium and zinc intake by eating plenty of whole grains, nuts, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, shellfish, cheese, meat and eggs. If you feel your diet would benefit from a supplement, consider taking an 'A-Z' type multivitamin and mineral formulation - this will have done the thinking for you as it should have all the nutrients in balance. Taking the multivitamin with food can help as you may find a vitamin tablet on an empty stomach makes you feel nauseous. Avoid taking with caffeine-containing drinks and cereals which also affect absorption. If you are unsure, or have any questions, speak to your local pharmacist who can help find a supplement suitable for you.

SarahBernard Sun 28-Apr-13 21:30:26


Most days I often get the mid afternoon energy slump.

I dread that feeling of so little energy and often wonder how im going to get through the rest of my day. I obviously do but it's not pleasant!

I sleep well and always feel well rested so I'm pretty sure it's diet/fluid related.

I would love advice on how to combat this and the possible causes as I have a toddler and am expecting my second child in June.

Most of us experience that 2-3pm dip in energy to some extent - although some people feel the effects of it more than others. It's called 'post prandial somnolence' - which literally means the sleepy feeling we experience after eating. It's a natural cumulation of the activities going on within our bodies at that time - normalizing blood sugar levels after eating and shifts in amounts of circulating hormones like serotonin and melatonin. But the fact that everyone experiences it doesn't make it any easier if you're running round after a not so sleepy toddler, and you may find it is exacerbated by the tiredness associated with pregnancy.

Try to ensure you have a well-balanced and varied diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, wholegrain carbohydrates, nuts and seeds, and aim for 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks a day. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, as even mild dehydration can lead to feelings of fatigue. Try having a lighter lunch of lean protein and veg - like chicken with salad and chickpeas - as opposed to a heavy carbohydrate lunch like pasta, as this may help keep blood sugar levels steadier and prevent peaks and troughs in energy. If all else fails, pop the toddler in the pushchair and take a brisk walk after lunch - just 10 or 15 minutes can really make the difference over the next few hours. Try to head off before the tiredness sets in or you may have difficulty motivating yourself!

If you feel your symptoms are not relieved by simple lifestyle changes, do speak with your doctor, particularly when pregnant.

ProfessorColinEspie Sun 28-Apr-13 21:22:11


I have been having a lot of emotional stress lately. I have started sitting up and talking/screaming in my sleep. As I child I used to sleep talk and walk. Is there anything I can do to prevent it getting to the sleep walking stage?

Sleepwalking and sleep talking belong to a group of sleep disorders known as 'Parasomnias' and occur when we are deeply asleep, rather than when we are dreaming.

Parasomnias are relatively common in the general population, occurring in around 4 percent of the adult population and in almost 20 percent of all children and adolescents. Often however, people have no memory of these episodes.

You're more likely to experience episodes when you’re under pressure or overtired - so it is important to find effective ways of managing your stress and to get enough sleep.

ProfessorColinEspie Sun 28-Apr-13 21:21:31


I'm often really hungry about an hour before I go to bed and often have a late night snack (usually bread or cereal) but I still wake up loads during the night. Does what and when I eat affect my ability to sleep?

During the night our digestive system continues to work, just like other bodily systems that are on a form of automatic pilot. It is important therefore, not starve the system, or overload it.

Eating close to bedtime means that the body has to work extra hard, digesting food as you sleep. You might try eating a snack earlier in the evening, before you become very hungry. This way you keep hunger at bay without overwhelming your digestive system late at night.

ProfessorColinEspie Sun 28-Apr-13 21:20:54


I am often very tired early evening but when its time to go to bed I have 'woken up'. Any tips on how to change this pattern?

Everyone has a natural rhythm, also known as the 'body clock', which regulates many physiological processes including sleep timing. It may just be that you are something of a 'night owl'.

It is important to differentiate sleepiness from tiredness though. It is normal to feel tired after a long day but still remain relatively alert. On the other hand, when we are sleepy, it is a conscious struggle to remain awake. You should only head to bed each night if you feel sleepy enough to fall asleep immediately.

You may also find it helpful to make time each evening to relax and unwind before you head to bed - finishing off work in good time and preparing yourself for a restful night with relaxing music or a jigsaw puzzle perhaps?

ProfessorColinEspie Sun 28-Apr-13 21:20:05


I've got an 8 week old baby. Everyone tells me that I should nap when the baby naps, but I've never been able to sleep much during the day. Any tips?

It’s natural for new parents to worry about getting things wrong but really there is no wrong or right! Just experiment and find what works best for you and your baby.

It is important however that you get enough sleep over a 24-hour period – whether that’s made up of multiple naps throughout the day or fewer, longer periods of sleep.

ProfessorColinEspie Sun 28-Apr-13 21:19:34


I often find myself wide awake in the early hours despite keeping window open, being tired, not needing to go to the loo. I just find my mind buzzing with what's gone on and what is to come the next day. I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm anxious, just seriously awake. Should I try and persevere with sleep or is it ok to get up and do something to occupy my mind?

Could you be a morning lark, at your best in the morning, preferring to be up early and to make the most of the early part of the day? If so, it is important to get to bed at a reasonable time each night to ensure you get enough sleep.

Ignoring your body clock and attempting to fight your mind from planning the day ahead is likely to leave you more frustrated and awake. These kinds of thoughts often require concentrated attention, which is why they are best dealt with during the day, when you are awake!

If you find yourself wide-awake, mind racing during the night, try getting up and out of bed and only return if you feel truly sleepy.

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 28-Apr-13 21:11:45

Thanks to everyone who posted a question about sleep, stress or energy on this thread - experts Professor Colin Espie and Registered Nutritionist Sarah Bernard have answered some of the questions they didn't have time to cover in the show here - please do have a read below.

Professor Colin Espie has been researching sleep and sleep problems for over 30 years, and is one of the world's leading experts on sleep. He co-founded, a clinically proven sleep improvement programme, to allow the widest population possible to benefit from his findings.

Alongside his role as Clinical and Scientific Director of Sleepio, Prof. Espie recently joined the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences / Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford.

hannahbeanie Sun 21-Apr-13 19:36:28

I have been getting mostly 2 hours sleep for 16 years since my 2nd son was born, I have tried every trick/pill in the book. Im getting really desperate for sleep, I don't think I can cope much longer this way. I kept a sleep diary and then was told not to clock watch. I cant do both. I have been to the doctors so often the receptionist know who I am before I tell them.

fergieek Sun 21-Apr-13 18:16:28

Hello! I am really enjoying the forum, thanks. Could I ask Colin Espie please - do you think the psycho education of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works well for people with insomnia? Does it make a difference whether the insomnia is primary or secondary for CBT to work well? I'd be really interested in your views/experience. Many thanks

curbyourenthusiasm Sun 21-Apr-13 14:17:50

I am new mother of a now 3 month old baby . I often find i cannot get back to sleep after feeding her at 5am ( breast feeding at present) . As a result i would only fall back asleep at 7.30 am and this leave me tired for rest of day. Any tips?

JedwardScissorhands Sat 20-Apr-13 15:46:36

I have been taking a magnesium supplement before bed and it has really helped. I now wake up refreshed in the morning and feeling like I have actually slept. Apparently it relaxes muscles / relieves tension etc

Dittle Fri 19-Apr-13 19:33:49

I find that if you get some fresh air during the day it really helps you de-stress and help a good night's sleep.

SetFiretotheRain Thu 18-Apr-13 22:56:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hopezibah Thu 18-Apr-13 22:30:47

my top tip re: stress is not to pretend it is not happening but to face up to it and ask for help if you need it. I struggled throughout last year and only reached out for help recently when things began to totally overwhelm me and I'm so glad I did because everyone has been so understanding and supportive.

leanneth Thu 18-Apr-13 22:06:57

I find that acupuncture helps with all three issues stated- sleep, stress and energy. A feeling of wellness and internal balance helps to improve all of it!

BubblesAndBeans Thu 18-Apr-13 20:19:29

I have a 15 month old dd who has been teething badly for the last few months which has resulted in a lot of restless nights. I struggled in the beginning to keep my energy levels up, especially as my job is quite stressful. I have discovered that exercise on my lunch break and small, healthy but regular meals helps me to maintain my energy levels and has helped me to keep coughs and colds at bay, whereas before I was ill every other week.

Belo Thu 18-Apr-13 14:58:02

My husband suffers from severe work related anxiety and finds it very difficult to switch off. Any suggestions on how he can affectively manage this? (and enable for us both to get a good nights sleep?)

inzidoodle Thu 18-Apr-13 12:15:40

- How to get a good night's sleep
- How to cope with stress - could be work or just general life stess!
- How to stay energised during the day

The magic answer (for me!) is simply fresh air and exercise!! I make sure at some point every day I walk between 1-3 miles no matter what the weather. I have a DD 5 and DS 2 and a dog and always find the time to go walking. My favourite time which really helps me unwind and relax is going out at 7pm just me and my dog and walking a brisk 3miles........I sleep much better, I unwind and I feel energised.

marl Thu 18-Apr-13 11:52:36

I used to have lots of sleep and good sleep. Then I had 3 children and my whole sleep pattern was decimated as well as becoming cat-like so I wake if anyone even stirs. With DD3 now 3, I have just regained some of my old good sleep. These are my tips that I think are working:
- I sleep with ear defenders (yes really, the big ones kids wear at festivals). I am no longer bothered by DPs snoring or anything else. I am a new woman. If there is a crisis with the kids then DP wakes or wakes me...if it is just low level dream/shouting in sleep then I don't wake and don't need to. Definitely not sexy, but I like them!
- If I have time, a nice bath and hot chocolate mid evening.
Trying where poss not to drink if I'm just 'in' in the evening. If I can get downstairs after kids bedtime and have a soft drink and avoid alcohol until 8 then I'm generally less inclined to want it.
- I take rhodiola for 'calm' just before bed rather than in the morning with my multivit as before. This seems to help me but I've read for some people it has the opposite effect.
- I have had a surgical procedure to separate me from my iphone and now leave it downstairs when I go to bed. It takes this obsession away and also stops it flickering in the night if someone texts etc
All very very boring I know and I wouldn't fully admit to this level of obsession face to face, but I do feel a lot better and now hop out of bed early morning for a peaceful cuppa before anyone else is up. And most of the above don't count for the weekend of course.

PavlovtheCat Wed 17-Apr-13 22:22:03

I am bookmarking this, not so much to give some tips, but to read the tips given! I suffer from tirednes and sleep problems so I am going to read some fab tips I am sure. In particular looking for tips on how to wake up with energy as I struggle to get up in the mornings, due to feeling groggy.

One though quickly. I cannot live without berrocca. Or rather, boots own much cheaper version (identical). Not sure if it's placebo affect or what, but it lifts me a little. Also cut out caffeine. You will notice a dip in energy to start with, but soon that will fade (or cut down if you're a caffeine addict like me!). My skin is soooooo much clearer, the bags less obvious. Still exhausted, but feel less so.

zzzexhaustedzzz Wed 17-Apr-13 19:33:31

Sleep: Celestial Seasonings 'sleepytime' tea. Lavender, if you like the smell. If you can't sleep stick the world service on or read a book for a bit. Meditation/ breathing exercises.
Energy: berocca. Big breakfasts. (Porridge or the full English even!)
Exercise and fresh air obviously help both.
Obvious things but sometimes, when stressed and or busy with children it is hard to remember to do anything!

worldgonecrazy Wed 17-Apr-13 18:16:01

Best advce I had was "An hour before midnight is worth two after."

CarrieDon Wed 17-Apr-13 14:09:17

GP said last week that most of the population is probably deficient in Vit D especially after this long winter we've had. DC has been recommended to take a Vit D supplement to try to boost her energy levels.

I do wonder about whether the router being on affects the quality of our sleep - difficult to know. Having black out blinds in the bedroom has helped.

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