Are you getting enough sleep? The answer is…..probably not! Modern lifestyles leave many adults suffering from poor quality sleep, or sleep deprivation.
Poor quality sleep is most often blamed on:
There are some health conditions that cause poor sleep, such as sleep apnoea. And if you’re worried about why you’re feeling tired, you should visit your GP.
But most often, fatigue is caused by bad sleep habits.
Give sleep a chance! The benefits from a regular 7-8 hours’ sleep a night include:
Ideally, most adults should have 7-8 hours' sleep a night. Some need more, and others - including, famously, Margaret Thatcher - can get by on much less.
When you know what time you have to get up in the mornings, it's a good idea to work out your optimal bedtime - and stick to it!
Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Keeping a regular bedtime helps your body clock to adjust to your sleep and wake times.
It's important to switch off smartphones, tablets, computers and even TVs an hour before bed.
Reading by a soft light, or listening to an audio-book, are the best ways to settle down with a book at bedtime. Don't use an e-reader that's back-lit - it'll have the same disruptive effect on your sleep as a smartphone.
The blue light emitted by the screens of electronic devices blocks the release of melatonin and disrupts your sleep.
Having a familiar ritual at bedtime helps you to relax, and sends a powerful message to your brain that it's time for sleep. Popular ways to unwind include:
We all know that a familiar bedtime routine helps children to sleep soundly - and it's something we don't grow out of!
Falling asleep in complete darkness will help keep your body clock on track.
Even the glow from a clock radio could interfere with your body's production of melatonin and serotonin, the hormones that help to regulate your sleep.
Blackout blinds are useful, and you could keep an eye mask and ear plugs close to hand, just in case.
Behind every good night's sleep is a comfortable mattress.
There's a wide choice of beds and mattresses on the market, and it's important to take your time and research the right one for you.
When it comes to testing a mattress in the shop, don't be afraid to lie on it for at least 10 minutes!
Your mattress is a gift to your future health. Always opt for the best quality you can afford.
Research has shown that sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress could be robbing you of an hour’s sleep a night.
Many people keep their bedrooms too warm. The ideal temperature is 16-18°, which is slightly cool and mimics the natural drop in body temperature that occurs when you're in deep sleep.
You should be in bed well before midnight at least 5 nights a week.
This is due to the natural sleep cycles of REM and non-REM sleep.
In brief, REM sleep processes your memories and thoughts, while non-REM sleep is more deeply restorative, allowing the brain and body to recover from their day.
Strange but true: you get most of your non-REM sleep cycles early in the night (11pm-3am). But in the small hours (3am-7am) this changes, and the majority of sleep cycles are REM sleep.
So... If two people sleep for 8 hours each, but go to bed at different times, they'll experience a very different night's sleep. And it's the early-to-bed person who benefits most.
If you're a night owl, going to bed late means you'll miss out on some the restorative functions of non-REM sleep. It's time to catch some Z's!
The old saying, "An hour before midnight is worth two after" carries more than a ring of truth!
There are several apps aimed at helping you relax, meditate, beat insomnia, and find the right bedtime based on when you have to get up.
And check out this short sleep self-assessment at NHS Choices, which will give you a sleep 'score', plus practical tips and advice for improving your sleep.