Our lives can fluctuate between wanting to sleep but not having the opportunity, to having the opportunity, yet not being able to sleep.
And poor sleep is being increasingly recognised as bad for your health.
Dr Chris Williams, appearing on an NHS podcast, says: Sleep is crucial to all of us. We need it in order to feel well physically as well as to boost how we feel emotionally.
“The good news is that there are lots of things you can do that might help you sleep better. It’s a matter of breaking things down and making small changes that will all add up.”
We look at eight issues that may keep men awake and changes you can make to help sleep through the night.
Work can stray beyond your contracted hours and seep into your sleep time unless you are incredibly disciplined. Business travellers accept that irregular hours, time zones and jet lag disrupt their sleep. Shift workers know that regularly flipping their circadian rhythms adversely affects sleep. If you’re lucky, you’ll work for an employer who recognises the value of a work-life balance, or helps you manage your shifts. You can help yourself by decompressing between work and sleep: exercise, have a warm shower or read a book.
When your sex life is great, it’s a bedtime workout that then acts as its own sedative for sound sleep. When you’re worried about sex – loss of libido or symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED) perhaps – it can keep you awake at night. But don’t lose sleep; consult your pharmacist who’ll be able to give you a private consultation and discuss medications that may be right for you.
Looking at screens
Tempting as it is to watch just one more episode of The Walking Dead on your tablet before bed, looking at bright screens reduces your concentration of melatonin – the hormone responsible for making you feel drowsy. Instead, wind down with an old-fashioned paperback, or even listen to a radio app podcast.
You may think alcohol before bed helps you sleep, but it acts as a sedative, and sedation is very different from natural sleep. Alcohol disrupts your deep sleep cycle so you spend more time in REM dream sleep which is less restful. It’s also a diuretic, which means you’ll probably wake in the night needing to pee. If you want undisturbed, restorative sleep, avoid alcohol in the evening.
Many of us have lain awake regretting that after-dinner double espresso, but did you know drinking coffee as much as six hours before bedtime can also affect your sleep? If you’re having problems sleeping, it makes sense to cut out caffeinated drinks after 1pm to give caffeine 10 hours to leave your system.
Getting up to pee during the night
If you’re consistently getting up during the night to pee, maybe more than once, this is known as nocturia. If you’ve cut out diuretics such as alcohol or caffeine before bed, see your pharmacist or GP as nocturia may be a symptom of bladder or prostate problems, diabetes or a side effect of medication.
Your partner may snore and keep you awake, or you may be the snorer yourself. Maintaining a healthy weight, sleeping on your side rather than your back and avoiding smoking and alcohol can reduce snoring. If you feel tired during the day, are told your breathing is laboured and you make choking or snorting noises during the night you may have sleep apnoea, in which case see your GP.
Even when you try to put a buffer zone between your working day and bedtime, the day’s stresses sometimes have a habit of creeping into your thoughts as you attempt to sleep. You need to find something that switches off your busy brain before sleep. Practising mindfulness meditation might help, as well as breathing exercises.
VIAGRA Connect® 50mg film coated tablets. Contains Sildenafil. For erectile dysfunction in adult men. Always read the leaflet.
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