Did you know that nearly 60% of Brits are sleep deprived, according to research? That means that six out of ten of you are probably very sleepy reading this article!
Sleep is an essential and valuable use of time that is absolutely critical to our health, wellbeing, and performance. Yet, all too often it's sacrificed for the sake of other 'more important' obligations, or is significantly disrupted by stress, worry, anxiety or computers and smart phones; often blamed by experts for causing an 'epidemic of insomnia.'
The amount of sleep we need varies between individuals but most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly. Sleep and health are strongly related. Repeated lack of sleep is often associated with a range of health problems, including an increased risk of weight gain, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer. Insomnia may also lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety. The National Sleep Foundation found that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well.
So, how can we get a better night's sleep?
It might seem obvious but always sleep in a darkened room. Light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that naturally promotes sleep. Any artificial light after dark can send wake-up messages to the brain.
Secondly, monitor your caffeine intake. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea and some soft drinks, is a central nervous system stimulant and can increase alertness. Try to have your caffeine fix early on in the day and avoid coffee and fizzy drinks, such as coke, after 3pm.
Try to exercise regularly as it has been proven to play a key role in promoting better sleep.
Try to relax before bedtime, read a book to tire your mind, have a bath, or listen to music to help you nod off. Put your phone on silent and try not to use it two hours before bed. Research has found that staring at the blue light from tablets and smartphones before bed can make you unsettled and affect your sleep pattern.
If things are playing on your mind then make a list of all of the things that you are thinking about and what you have to do when you wake up. This will hopefully stop you lying in bed thinking over these issues.
You don't need to lose sleep over not getting enough sleep as there is plenty of help and techniques available! For more relaxation techniques and expert 'sleep well' strategies to help you reduce stress, shut off and sleep well join this free webinar on 7 October at 6-7pm