How often do you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night, thoughts racing and heart thumping? You toss and you turn, and the clock ticks ever so slowly. Then, the next day, you stumble through the fog of exhaustion.
This miserable feeling is bad enough but, unfortunately, the damage can go further than that. Poor sleep can contribute to obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and high blood pressure. On the other hand, a healthy pattern of sleep may reduce these risks.
Healthy Sleep for Good Mental Health
Sleep problems can also affect our mental health, which is one more reason to take this aspect of your lifestyle seriously.
So we asked Dr Guy Meadows for some tips on how to deal with insomnia. He is a scientist who studies sleep and the body, and the founder of the Sleep School, which aims to help people get a better night’s rest.
He explained that insomnia is very common, affecting nearly one in three people in the UK. It is seen as a serious problem when you have poor sleep for three or more nights per week, stretching over more than a month. In this situation, it is often the worry about not sleeping that keeps people awake!
The Sleep School’s approach is based on the idea that learning to struggle less with worry is the key to overcoming insomnia.
There are also many other commonsense steps you can take to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Staying active during the day helps you feel tired at bedtime, and also improves the quality of your sleep. Following a regular daily routine,
sticking to consistent times for waking up, eating meals and going to bed, is also a helpful strategy
Say no to coffee and tea at night
When bedtime is approaching, avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate, and fizzy drinks. Did you know that caffeine can take up to six hours to leave the body? So aim to have your last caffeinated drink at around two p.m. Although alcohol might help you nod off, later in the night it will disturb your sleep.
Also, turn off smartphones, tablets, and the television at least 40 minutes before you go to bed. Otherwise, they will keep you mentally stimulated right up until bedtime. Their blue light can also affect the quality of your sleep. At the same time you turn off your gadgets, dim the lights so your body gets a signal that it’s nearly time to sleep. Perhaps it’s worth investing in a Lumie Bodyclock alarm?
Making sure your bed is a cosy space
When it is time to tuck yourself in, a comfortable, good-quality bed and mattress support the spine during the night, allowing restful sleep.
We spent almost half of our day in bed asleep and making sure we have the correct support for our body, is paramount to helping us relax. A good mattress should last you eight years, according to Dreams bed manufacturers.
Bear in mind that this is just advice, and if insomnia is really worrying you – especially if you’ve had a recent traumatic experience such as the loss of a loved one – then please visit your GP for help.