We all enjoy a good night’s sleep, but many are unable to do so which then impacts our general day to day of going about our business. Most people may need about 8 hours sleep, but there is no fast rule, as all individuals are different with some having less or a bit more, patterns can also vary with age. The Sleep Charity Home – The Sleep Charity states that 40% of adults and children suffer with sleep issues, 20% of road deaths are related to fatigue and that there is a £40.2 billion cost to UK economy caused by sleep deprivation.
If we don’t have a good sleep, it can impact our Mental Health, physical and emotional wellbeing, so as a nation how can we tackle sleep and improve the quality and why is it so important?
If we have poor quality sleep (insomnia) it can mean not being able to get off to sleep, waking too early, waking for long periods and not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep, which after a long period your health can be severely affected, which can lead to -fatigue, poor concentration, loss of interest, irritability, Depression and Anxiety. Your work can then be impacted upon, with mistakes happening or driving errors, you can see how suddenly there is a snowball affect with a decline in an individual’s health!
Sleep disruption can be caused by emotional factors, change of routine, medical factors, environmental factors or drug and alcohol use to name just a few. Therefore, it is important to have a good sleep hygiene pattern recognising the following:
- Try to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time, as it helps set the body clock.
- Avoid sleeping during the day, as any naps of more than 30 minutes can disturb the night sleep.
- Take regular exercise during the day but avoid within the 3 hours before bed. Relaxing exercises such as Meditation or Yoga can be done before bed as they aide sleep.
- Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before bedtime, as they can cause a broken sleep pattern.
- Don’t go to bed too full or feeling hungry as this can impact.
- Use the bedroom for sleep, not television or radio as this will help our brain associate it to sleep.
- Plan a relaxing routine before bed, such as a warm milky drink or warm bath.
- Have regular exposure to outdoor light, to help us regulate our sleep wake cycle, but not just before bedtime which has the opposite effect.
- Make sure that your bedroom is quiet, dark and not too warm, to disturb you.
- Any problems that are on your mind should be if possible dealt with before bedtime, to avoid you waking and thinking about them; possibly even write them down so that they can be faced the following day.
- If you struggle to get to sleep within 30 minutes, try getting up and doing some relaxation techniques then return, don’t have any light exposure, which can impact sleep further.
If sleep does impact your health ensure you speak with your Pharmacist or GP to discuss further, although, this is not always helpful and a better routine is far better for good quality sleep.