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Fitbit adds sleep tool

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Fitbit has released a set of sleep tools to help Fitbit users improve their sleep consistency and overall health.

Sleep plays a critical role in health and wellbeing, from protecting against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, to boosting neurocognitive functions, mental health and longevity. Available today on the free Fitbit app and compatible with all Fitbit devices that track sleep, Fitbit’s new Sleep Schedule feature helps guide you to get a more consistent pattern of sleep with:

  • Personalised sleep goals based on your sleep data to achieve your optimal amount of sleep each night
  • Customised bedtime and wakeup targets to establish sleep consistency
  • Reminders to stay on schedule, and a sleep schedule history to chart your progress

These tools are the first in a series of new sleep features being developed in collaboration with Fitbit’s new panel of leading sleep experts that includes Drs. Michael Grandner at the University of Arizona, Allison Siebern at Stanford University, and Michael Smith at Johns Hopkins University.

The Fitbit app is a vital part of the Fitbit platform – consisting of devices, apps, social and motivational features, advice and personalised coaching – which is continually getting smarter and easier to use with features like automatic sleep tracking and exercise recognition to make tracking your health and fitness effortless. Working in harmony, the Fitbit platform helps people make behavioural changes to be more active, exercise more, eat smarter, track their sleep and manage their weight. While many people understand the benefits and importance of a good night’s sleep for their health, getting enough sleep (7 to 9 hours) and regularly going to bed around the same time each night can be a challenge.

According to Fitbit’s sleep experts, adhering to a consistent sleep routine is one of the most important things people can do to improve their sleep: “If you’re constantly changing your sleep routine, it can have the same effect as giving yourself jetlag because you are continually changing your circadian rhythm, also known as your internal clock, which can negatively impact your health and wellness,” said Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, CBSM. “To improve your physical performance, mental health and cognitive functions, you should aim to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night and be consistent with the times you go to sleep and wake up each day. Fitbit’s new Sleep Schedule tool makes it easier for people to see how much sleep they’re actually getting in order to establish a healthy routine – this has the potential to help millions of people around the world improve their sleep and overall wellbeing, which is really exciting.”

Research has shown that getting enough sleep can also positively impact how much you exercise the next day and is vital to post-training recovery, playing an integral role in the body’s ability to repair itself. Additionally, Fitbit data also shows a correlation between consistent bedtimes and daily active minutes, especially for users who go to bed early each night. Users who sleep an average of 7 to 9 hours nightly also have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who sleep only 3 to 4 hours per night, while those who are overweight or obese (BMI over 25) on average sleep over an hour (70 minutes) less per week than those with a normal BMI (BMI 18.5-25).

“What’s great about the new Fitbit Sleep Schedule feature is that it looks at your sleep data from your Fitbit device you’re wearing day and night, analyses it for patterns and creates a personalised schedule just for you,” said Tim Roberts, Executive Vice President, Interactive at Fitbit. “This is a great example of how we’re providing guidance using Fitbit data to help millions of people develop healthier habits and routines, and is just the first in a series of new sleep features that we’re working on to help our users improve their health through data and coaching.”

Enhanced Sleep Tracking Features 

The new Sleep Schedule features on the Fitbit app will help you meet your sleep goals and maintain a more consistent pattern of sleep through these tools:

  • Sleep Goal: Based on your sleep data from your Fitbit tracker, you can follow the app’s personalised recommendations or set your target number of hours to make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night.
  • Bedtime and Wake Up Targets: Based on your sleep goal and past sleep behaviour from your Fitbit tracker, the app will recommend target bedtime and wake up times. You can customise these based on your personal preferences and schedule.
  • Bedtime and Wake Up Reminders: To help you reach your sleep goal and regularly go to bed and wake up more consistently, you can receive push notification reminders on your smartphone. You can also set a silent wake alarm on your Fitbit tracker based on your wake up target.
  • Sleep Schedule History Chart: Track your sleep consistency over time to determine if you’re meeting your goals or if you need to adjust your sleep schedule.

About Fitbit’s Sleep Experts

Fitbit established a panel of leading sleep experts to provide a wealth of academic expertise as it develops innovative and effective sleep features for its users. Their expertise spans a variety of sleep-related topics including health, chronic diseases and insomnia.

  • Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, CBSM, the director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, is certified in Behavioural Sleep Medicine and focuses his research on how sleep and sleep-related behaviours are related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, neurocognitive functioning, mental health and longevity.
  • Allison Siebern, PhD, CBSM, a consulting assistant professor at Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center and director of the Sleep Health Integrative Program at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center in North Carolina, is board certified in behavioural sleep medicine by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. She has over a decade of clinical and research expertise in the field of sleep, including examining the factors associated with successful treatment outcomes using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi).
  • Michael Smith, PhD, CBSM, is a professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Nursing at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Center for Behaviour and Health, founder of Johns Hopkins’ Behavioural Sleep Medicine Program and co-directs the NIH-funded Center for Sleep-Related Symptom Science. His research focuses on the neurobehavioural causes, consequences, and treatments of insomnia and sleep loss with an emphasis on the interface between sleep and pain.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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Ford begins production of high-tech Ranger in SA

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Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria has officially commenced production of the new Ford Ranger, bringing a raft of product upgrades and refinements to one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles and export models.

“Following the investment of over R3-billion in our local operations and extensive upgrades to our plants over the past 18 months, we are delighted to see the first of the new Ford Ranger models coming off our production line,” says Neale Hill, managing director for Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

“This is an extremely important and exciting year for the Ford Ranger, which will also see the launch of the first Ranger Raptor that is undoubtedly one of this year’s most highly anticipated new models,” says Hill.

“The 2019 Ford Ranger will deliver more power, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced refinement, and additional advanced technologies when it goes on sale in the coming months, and we are confident it will once again set the benchmark in the extremely competitive pickup segment.”

Selected range-topping models, including the Ranger Raptor, will be powered by the all-new 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel engine assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth. This unit produces 157kW and 500Nm of torque – up by 10kW and 30Nm compared with the current 3.2 TDCi – and delivers up to a nine percent improvement in fuel efficiency when combined with the advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Certain derivatives will feature a 2.0 Single Turbo version of this engine, producing 132kW and 420Nm of torque, mated to the same 10-speed transmission. Various other models in the line-up will retain the proven 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines and existing gearbox options – thus giving customers the widest choice yet in this category. As usual, the line-up includes Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab body styles to suit customer requirements.

Along with freshened design cues, range-topping Ranger models will raise the bar once again with industry-defining safety features on the Wildtrak such as Pre-Collision Assist and Active Park Assist. SYNC 3® with Navigation remains one of the Ranger’s technology highlights as a fully featured infotainment system with intuitive voice control.

Following the launch of the ‘standard’ new Ford Ranger models, the attention will be shifted to the locally assembled Ranger Raptor that is set to create an entirely new segment in the pickup market when it makes its eagerly anticipated debut.

“There is a lot of excitement and hype around the Ranger Raptor, and this exhilarating new model will occupy a white space in the pickup market when it goes on sale in the second quarter of this year, creating a much-needed performance model in this crucial segment,” Hill states.

“We can’t wait to get the Ranger Raptor to market, enabling our customers to experience unrivalled off-road performance, cutting-edge technologies and the most muscular design yet seen in this class.”

Some of the defining features of the Ranger Raptor include Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers exclusively manufactured by FOX, and an advanced Terrain Management System (TMS) that includes an exciting Baja mode for fast off-road driving. It also boasts a toughened reinforced chassis, powerful all-disc braking system and specially developed BF Goodrich tyres.

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