Christmas Gift Idea: Puressentiel gift sets

I bet this Christmas everyone will gift practical items to support health and beauty to friends and family. It’s a given considering we have spent months locked in indulging in all sorts of things to compensate for the sadness happening outside our doors. Under my friends’ Christmas Trees there will only be presents by French brand Puressentiel. I am a fan and, in my modest opinion, it offers the very best winter health essentials on the market right now. Over the years I have attended conferences hosted by Puressentiel, have learnt all about the science behind essential oils and used all their ranges to fix my respiratory issues, sleep disorder, headache, stress and even muscular pains of all kinds. Especially during lockdown when I have not visited my doctor’s surgery once. 

 

Here are my favourite Christmas gift sets

The WINTER WELLNESS CHRISTMAS GIFTSET (£20) includes 1 Antibacterial Hand Gel 80ml, 1 Purifying Air Spray 75ml, 1 Respiratory Air Spray 20ml. 

The travel size  Antibacterial Hand Gel  with 3 essential oils is ideal to cleanse hands without the need for water, soap or rinsing at any time of the day. The antibacterial gel is formulated with aloe vera.

With the Purifying Air Spray enjoy clean and fresh air in your home and get rid of bacteria, viruses, microscopic fungi, unpleasant odors, etc. 41 pure essential oils including Eucalyptus, Cedar Wood and Geranium. 

The Respiratory Air Spray to be used at the first signs of winter discomfort and seasonal sensitivities to soothe the airways. Formulated with a blend of 19 essential oils.

  • MUSCLES & JOINT ROLLER: Recommended for athletes (before and after exercise) and for those suffering from acute or chronic muscle and joint pain. The combination of the massage roller ball and the 14 essential oils with relaxing scents, is a natural way to support well-being and help relieve pain.
  • MUSCLES & JOINT GEL: Helps to relax and soothe sensitive muscles and joints areas.Its practical format is suitable for small areas (fingers, toes, knees, ankles, etc) as well as larger areas (back, shoulders, etc.).
  • ENERGY STICK: Olfactory stimulant with an invigorating scent, to breathe in which help awaken a feeling of physical and mental vitality.

The BEAUTY SLEEP GIFTSET includes 1 Beautiful Skin Organic Essential Elixir 30 ml and 1 Rest & Relax Air Spray 75ml, the perfect duo helps with relaxation and makes you feel refreshed and sun-kissed. 

Organic Essential Elixir Face Care Oil 30ml: combines 4 precious essential oils and 4 extraordinary plant oils to synergistically enhance the main visible signs of youthfulness: The skin instantly feels more comfortable and appears replenished, revitalized. Thanks to its smoothing and reshaping effect, the depth of fine lines and the appearance of dark circles are noticeably diminished. Apply morning and evening on face, neck and décolleté.

Rest & Relax Air Spray 75ml : Naturally prepares for sleep and helps you wake up feeling refreshed. 12 pure calming essential oils including True Lavender, Sandalwood. Spray in the four corners of the bedroom in the evening, 30 minutes before going to bed.

Here’s some of the science behind the benefits of essential oils on sleep and respiration

For some years there has been growing awareness of the importance of sleep — and the corrosive impact insomnia has on our physical, cognitive and emotional health. Dozens of studies confirm that poor sleep increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. People with poor sleep patterns are more likely to struggle with their weight, and are at much greater risk of suffering from depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep has even been shown to amplify pain problems, and one recent study found that just one night of sleep deprivation alters our perception of heat and cold.  

GP, Dr Gill Jenkins said during a conference I recently attended: “We all know that poor sleep patterns have been a serious health issue for some time, and these problems have been driven by social media and our constant need to feel ‘connected’, but the coronavirus has brought a new dimension to this modern-day malaise.” 

Now, as COVID-19 blurs the boundaries between work and home, the bedroom and the office and workdays and weekends, it is becoming harder to define — and separate — different aspects of our daily lives. Add anxiety around the coronavirus — fears as we live through Covid-19, the pressure it’s putting on relationships and the economic and social damage flowing from the measures taken to try to contain the pandemic — and it’s no wonder so many people are reporting sleep problems.

New research commissioned by Puressentiel reveals that four out of five people (83%) have suffered sleep issues. Worryingly, in these challenging times, three quarters (73%) say this deficit is making it difficult to deal with daily life and, on average, those surveyed scored their sleep quality — a major determinant in how rested we feel — just 6.6 out of ten.

Professor Jason Ellis, Professor of Sleep Science and Director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research Department says: “It’s clear that the coronavirus and lockdown measures have had a huge, and sometimes unexpected, impact on our sleep patterns — and, as this dossier explains, it has overturned some long-established theories around sleep quantity.

“It has also underlined the importance of addressing sleep issues and seeking out effective long-term interventions including behavioural change and natural remedies — such as the Puressentiel Rest and Relax range — which support sleep quality and duration.”

Dr Chris Etheridge, medical herbalist and advisor to Puressentiel adds: “The coronavirus has also made us all acutely aware of the importance of respiratory health, and provides an important reminder of the way that breathing patterns can impact sleep pattern, and, conversely, how sleep patterns can influence our breathing.”

This report draws together the latest science and Puressentiel data on sleep and its importance for physical and mental wellbeing; explores the interplay between respiratory health and sound sleep; and showcases the latest additions to the Puressentiel range which provide proven, natural solutions for sleep and respiratory issues.

 

COVID-19 AND THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP

Research during coronavirus lockdowns has shed new light on one of the pillars of sleep science — the phenomenon known as ‘social jetlag’ — and has brought fresh focus to the importance of sleep quality, as well as quantity.

Social jetlag is the difference between the times we sleep, and the times our biological clocks want to us to sleep, and it is measured by comparing the midpoint of our sleeping hours on workdays compared to the midpoint on rest days.

Professor Jason Ellis explains: “This is a simple way of measuring the disconnect between our biological clock and any deviations from this which can disrupt that internal clock. We often focus on the number of hours we sleep, which is important, but it is this regular rhythm of sleep which is essential for keeping our sleep system functioning at its optimum.”

Social jetlag is often linked to ‘social sleep restriction’, another concept central to research around rest. Simply put, this is the habit — which many of us naturally slip into — of reducing our sleep duration on certain days.

Professor Jason Ellis says: “The most common pattern for this social sleep restriction is to cut back on sleep on work days and then try to catch up over the weekends or on rest days — that weekend lie-in we’re all familiar with.”

Social jetlag and social sleep restriction are linked to many of the hallmark health conditions associated with poor sleep patterns, including heart disease, obesity, metabolic dysfunction and increased inflammation. They also impair cognitive function and reaction times,  increase the risk of depression and have been linked to hyperactivity disorders in children. And there is compelling evidence that social jet lag, in particular, triggers negative changes to the cardiovascular system and increases levels of stress hormones. 

But what happens when the line between work and rest shifts, or becomes fluid, as we’ve seen recently?

A new study by Christine Blume, a cognitive neuroscientist and sleep researcher based at the University of Basel’s Centre for Chronobiology, in Switzerland, came up with a surprising answer.

Data from 435 adults, collected during the height of coronavirus lockdowns in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, showed clear improvements in social jetlag — with the gap between sleep midpoints on work and rest days narrowing by 13 minutes — and in social sleep restriction, which was evidenced by a 13-minute increase in sleep duration.

Dr Blume says: “Usually, we would expect a decrease in social jetlag to be associated with reports of improved sleep quality. However, in our sample, overall sleep quality decreased.”

GP, Dr Nisa Aslam says: “This really was unexpected. Everything we have seen before has suggested that any reduction in social jetlag and social sleep restriction would automatically bring an improvement in sleep quality.

“But Dr Blume’s study proves it is far more complex, and it highlights the importance of sleep quality as well as quantity.” Despite getting more sleep, because of this slump in sleep quality, study participants also reported reduced physical and mental wellbeing.

“So, even though people slept more, worries around the coronavirus and lockdown meant that this sleep left them feeling less rested.”

THE LATEST BRITISH DATA

The University of Basel study findings echo the latest British evidence. Data for Puressentiel, which was also collected during lockdown measures in the UK, confirm that sleep quality is an issue for many people, with respondents reporting an average score 6.6 out of ten. Three quarters (72%) say they have sometimes struggled to sleep and a similar number (73%) confirm that lack of sleep makes it difficult to deal with daily life. Three out of five (61%) admitted they are often caught in a downward spiral, where worrying about their sleep makes it even harder to drop off.

Blurred sleep boundaries affecting sleep time and health: The Puressentiel research shows how boundaries have become blurred, with almost a third of those surveyed (31%) working from their bedrooms during the lockdown. This was most common among young adults, with 53% having worked from their bedroom. While working from home, almost a third (30%) of those surveyed have had trouble falling asleep and more than a quarter (29%) say their sleep time is shorter. A quarter (27%) have resorted to taking to daytime naps.

Dr Gill Jenkins says: “This can be a double-edged sword. Studies show that a short 20 or 30-minute nap is largely beneficial, but sleep for longer periods during the day has been linked to diabetes, depression and other issues.”

On the plus side, the Puressentiel research highlights the benefits of having a bedtime routine. 

The relationship between sleep and age

Despite the widespread belief that sleep problems become more common as we get older, the survey found that older adults were actually far less likely to report insomnia — with only 27% reporting problems, compared to 44% of under 60s. This is probably due to the fact that older adults (40 years +) are more likely to stick to a bedtime routine — 65% compared to 55% of 29-year-olds and 56% of 30 to 40-year olds.

Dr Nisa Aslam says: “Everyone knows — or should know — that routine is the key to sustained and restful sleep. It ensures our sleep times are in sync with our biological clock and gently trains the body and mind to begin slowing down as our bedtime approaches. I don’t think there is a sleep expert anywhere in the world who doesn’t stress the importance of establishing a sleep routine.”

Yet, when the Puressentiel researchers asked participants to identify the most common causes for sleep disruption, fewer than one in five (17%) identified lack of routine as an issue.

The Puressentiel findings confirm social jetlag is commonplace:

During the week, three out of five adults (60%) stay up until 11pm. Three out of 10 (29%) don’t go to bed until after midnight.

By comparison, at the weekend, three quarters of adults (73%) are still up at 11pm, and almost half (45%) are awake past midnight.

Similarly, during the week, one in four of those surveyed (24%) were up before 7am, and a further 30% were out of bed before 8am. In an effort to catch up on sleep, only 13% of adults rose before 7am and one in five (21%) were still snoozing after 10am.

As Professor Jason Ellis points out: “This will help with sleep deficits, but it is also a recipe for social jetlag, so this additional sleep often doesn’t necessarily provide the lift we’re expecting. It also highlights the value of any other strategies — such as breathing techniques and using essential oils — which can improve sleep quality.

At the weekend, three-quarters of adults (73%) are still up at 11pm, and almost half (45%) are awake past midnight.

These self-help techniques address the most common triggers for sleep disruption — stress and anxiety, which more than half (57%) cited as a cause of sleeplessness. Other disruptors were watching late-night TV (31%), eating too late (23%) and having a restless partner (18%).

The new data charts the toxic impact of these poor sleep patterns, with half (51%) reporting that lack of sleep leaves them feeling fatigued, a similar number (48%) admitted it makes them grumpy, and two out of five said it makes them lethargic.

Almost half (45%) realised poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression, and two out of five (38%) linked lack of sleep to headaches — yet only one in four (27%) realised that poor sleep contributes to weight gain, and thus poses a significant threat to long term health.

Two out of five (42%) had searched online for sleep solutions, with younger adults more likely than over 60s to take this approach: 55% vs 18%. Women are also more likely to look to the internet for answers: 41% vs 37%. But as the search term ‘can’t sleep’ conjures up 2.2 million answers — with many offering contradictory advice — this could lead to even more sleepless nights.

GENERATION NAP

The Puressentiel data reveal some curious generational divides when it comes to sleep. This section takes a look as to what those napping divides are: Over-sixties reported the best quality sleep — 6.8 out of ten. They were also the least likely to have struggled to sleep (62% compared to 75% of young adults), and the least likely to say that lack of sleep sometimes made it difficult to deal with daily life: 53% compared to 82% of 16- to 29-year-olds.

45- to 59-year-olds, the sandwich-generation who are often juggling both children and ageing parents, had the lowest score for sleep quality — 6.1 out of ten. They are also the most likely to report lack of sleep leaving lethargic:

49%, compared to just 31% of younger adults.

If given the choice of a good night’s sleep or £500, 42% would take the rest. 30- to 44-year-olds reported average sleep quality scores of 6.7 out of ten. There were also the early risers, with a quarter (24%) getting up at 6am on weekdays, compared to just one in 20 (5%) of young adults. This sharp divide continued at the weekend, with 14% of this age group out of bed at 6am, compared to just 2% of younger adults. This group was also the most likely to suffer sleepless nights (58%).

Young adults, (16 to 29) also returned average sleep quality scores of 6.7 out of ten. They were the most likely to experience nightmares — 29%, compared to just 8% of over-60s — but the least likely to snore: 22% of this age group admitted to snoring, compared to 31%, 34% and 38% respectively of the older groups. They were also the most likely to crave more sleep (80%).

CHILDREN

The Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic recommends that primary school children get around 10 hours of sleep a night, and secondary school children have at least nine hours. However, the Puressentiel data shows three out of five children (59%) are not achieving these targets. And quarter (26%) are getting just seven hours or less of sleep a night — an ongoing deficit which is likely to have a profound impact on their education and long-term health. More than half (55%) regularly wake during the night, and one in five (19%) wakes three or more times most nights.

Almost three quarters (72%) have a set bedtime during the week, but this slips to three out of five (62%) at the weekend — showing the seeds for social jetlag are sown early in life. One in three parents (35%) worries their child doesn’t get enough sleep, and seven out of 10 notice behavioural changes in their child when they’ve had a disturbed night.

REST AND RESPIRATION

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing are often a cornerstone of strategies to improve sleep patterns, and produce positive physiological changes which promote sleep.

A study published in Psychophysiology, showed measurable improvements in cardiovascular and neuronal activity when people with insomnia were asked to practice slow, paced breathing before bedtime — and this led to improvements in sleep duration and quality and reduced the time it took to nod off. 

Dr Gill Jenkins explains: “Controlled, deep breathing taps into the parasympathetic nervous system — which is the polar opposite of the sympathetic nervous system that drives our fight-or-flight response. Tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system promotes relaxation, and sleep, because it turns down high-energy functions, such as alertness, associated with our survival responses. “An obvious example of this is the way our breathing becomes more rapid when we’re stressed. In the short term, this enables fight or flight, by increasing the oxygen in our bloodstream, but over the longer term it promotes muscle tension and chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.”

Respiratory perils:

However, this is not the only link between rest and respiration. As anyone who has a partner who snores knows well, anything which impairs breathing will have a huge impact on our sleep. Common culprits include alcohol, pollution, allergies, and seasonal coughs and colds — and the new Puressentiel study provides fresh data on these issues, too.

Almost half (47%) of those surveyed had concerns about outside air quality. Yet, despite spending more time inside, only a third (32%) worried about air quality inside their homes. Relaxatione tchniques such as deep breathing are often a cornerstone of strategies to improve sleep patterns

The Puressentiel data suggest poor air quality is a problem, with: One in five (22%) reporting unexplained respiratory symptoms. Only a third (35%) took any measures to improve air quality in their homes — and in most cases (71%) this consisted of nothing more than opening windows. More than a quarter (29%) used an air freshening spray and a similar number (27%) lit candles — both of which actually add to airborne pollution and irritants.

Unexplained respiratory troubles

Almost half of those surveyed (47%) by Puressentiel had, for no apparent reason, experienced sneezes, coughs or an itchy throat or eyes — classic signs of allergy or infection — while in their homes. Almost a quarter (22%) reported unexplained respiratory symptoms. A common trigger is house dust mites — which trigger both asthma and skin allergies. Experts estimate that one in four people is now sensitised to dust mites, and there is no escaping them.20 A typical mattress contains tens of thousands of them and a square metre of carpet could be home to as many as 100,000 mites. Spores from mould and fungus are another known, and sometimes visible, irritant.

Professor Naomichi Yamamoto, an expert in aero- and fungal-biology at Yale University, says: “Exposure to fungal allergens is considered to be a strong risk factor for asthma symptom prevalence and severity, and there is robust evidence to support a relationship between elevated environmental fungal spore counts and asthma attacks.”22.

Asthma UK recently issued warnings about spores, and awareness of this problem often peaks in early autumn. Dr Nisa Aslam says: “This may be because symptoms can’t be brushed off as hay fever, but it is too early for seasonal coughs and colds to be widespread.” The Puressentiel data confirms consumers are increasingly alert to this risk, with 55% routinely checking for black spores and mould around windows. By comparison, data collected for Puressentiel just two years ago, found only 41% of consumers regularly cleaned around windows to prevent mould.

Dr Chris Etheridge says: “Puressentiel has been at the forefront of raising consumer awareness of the risks of poor air quality and indoor pollutants such as mould and it’s encouraging to see more people are actively looking for signs of a problem.

“But, as the latest findings around usage of air fresheners and candles confirm, there is still a long way to go in terms of increasing awareness of strategies — such as proven essential oil products — which tackle the source of the problem.”

COLD COMFORTS

While there is understandable concern and uncertainty about what the winter and spring will bring in terms of the COVID-19, we will probably see the usual spike in coughs and respiratory infections caused by the more familiar variants of the coronavirus which are associated with the common cold.

Dr Nisa Aslam says: “There has been a suggestion that better hygiene and handwashing techniques have reduced transmission of everyday infections such as coughs, colds and stomach bugs. And that was probably true at the height of lockdown measures.

“But many people are relaxing their guard, so the extent of that hygiene heritage is debatable. What is not, is the ongoing need for risk reduction measures — and essential oils offer an attractive, sustainable and effective approach.”

More than half (53%) of those surveyed confirmed they usually catch a cold during winter, and a quarter (24%) succumb to three or more infections. Paracetamol (66%) and ibuprofen (51%) are most commonly used to manage symptoms, but 49% also used drinks containing paracetamol.

Dr Nisa Aslam says: “This is potentially dangerous as using more than one product containing paracetamol increases the risk of accidental overdose — which can damage the liver, or even result in death.” Three out of five (60%) of those surveyed were concerned they would not be able to distinguish symptoms of seasonal colds and flu from a mild bout of the coronavirus. A similar number (62%) admit they will also be more worried by cough and cold symptoms as a result of the pandemic.

Shockingly, only three quarters (77%) said they will self isolate at the first sign of symptoms.

Dr Chris Etheridge notes: “With nearly a quarter admitting they were prepared to spread infections, it is inevitable that coughs, colds and respiratory infections will be in wide circulation.”

 

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