Catch some Z’s

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”
― W.C. Fields

Recently we had ‘World Sleep Day on March 18 and l’ve just missed National Stop Snoring Week (18 – 22 April).  

As you might expect of someone who spends most of their day engaged in some form of physical training or activity, I generally get a good night’s sleep, but experts reckon that around 20.6 million in the UK suffer from insomnia and sleep deprivation.  That’s about 1 in 3 of the UK population.

And while we’re into statistics, Apparently 6 hours 20 minutes of sleep is what the average adult in the UK achieves at night. While 8 hours per night is the recommendation.

But lack of proper sleep for many adults is not surprising considering the pressures of life in the 21st century where your employer is more and more likely to have access to a lot of your time even when you are outside the office; when families are in constant contact night and day and social media means we are perpetually “open for business” whatever the hour of the day.

According to Amy Gallagher, Senior Sleep Physiologist at the BUPA Cromwell Hospital, a good night’s rest is the best preparation for getting up and being really “fired up” to tackle what the day will bring. On the other hand, if you have had a poor night sleep, it’s a recipe for feeling jaded and lacking in energy.

She agrees that achieving a good night’s sleep is as important as taking regular exercise and a healthy diet to maintain your wellbeing – both physical and mental.

So How Does a Good Night’s Sleep Help?

Here are just a few of the known benefits:

1            Risk of stress is reduced

2            Maintains a healthy heart

3            Can help keep your weight down – when tired, we crave more sugary carbs.

4            Keeps your immune system strong

5            Stops your mind wandering during the day and helps with concentration

6            Your brain organizes information while you are sleeping

7            If you sleep well you are less irritable and this can help with relationships

So What Can You Do to Encourage a Good Night’s Sleep?

12 Top Tips for Restful Sleep

1.      Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends

2.      Keep your bedroom cool and dark

3.      Switch off your phone, laptop or TV before bed

4.      Go outdoors when you wake up. Being in daylight helps your body adjust from ‘sleep mode’ to ‘awake mode’

5.      Exercise no later than 2-3 hours before bed. Intense exercise just before bed can raise stress hormones, making it harder to get to sleep

6.      Cut down on coffee, tea and smoking. Too much caffeine – also found in chocolate and coca cola – and nicotine (in tobacco) can disturb your sleep

7.      Say no to a nightcap. Alcohol can make you feel sleepy but it disrupts restful sleep as the effects wear off

8.      Make a conscious effort to relax and wind down for an hour or two before bed

9.      Avoid an afternoon nap. Sleeping after 3pm can make it harder to fall asleep at night

10.     Try an earlier evening meal. Eating a large meal late at night can interfere with digestion and make you feel too warm

11.     Put your thoughts to bed. Writing a ‘to-do’ list for the next day can help you feel calmer and more on top of things

12.     If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy, rather than tossing and turning

There is a massive amount of information and help available about the benefits of sleep and tips on how to improve your chances of “piling up the Zssss” and I have listed some sources below.

Why not click on the links and check them out? But whatever you do, don’t lose any sleep over it!

Acknowledgements

www.bhf.org.uk

www.bupa.co.uk

www.sleepsociety.org.uk

http://www.thesleepcharity.org.uk

www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/sleep/

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