Finding it hard to get a good night's sleep? You're not alone.
Disrupted sleep, not getting enough sleep, daytime tiredness, excessive sleepiness and irritability are very common, with between 20% and 35% of people affected.
In general, there are three types of sleep problems:
* difficulty falling asleep
* frequently waking during the night
* waking too early in the morning
Sleep is essential for physical repair and refreshing the mind.
Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep but this varies between individuals. Being tired makes it difficult to think clearly and deal with day-to-day problems. If you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to make mistakes and poor decisions, have difficulty concentrating and feel low or depressed.
Sleep problems are associated with stroke, heart disease, diabetes and depression.
Here are 12 tips for improving your sleep.
No napping. Sleeping during the day even when you’re tired, makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep at night. Distract yourself and do something to ‘pick you up’. Try to resist day-time napping.
Cut down on caffeine. This includes coffee and fizzy drinks. Drinking caffeine late in the day or before bed makes you feel keyed up.
Avoid alcohol and drug use. Although alcohol can make you feel drowsy, you are more likely to have unsettled sleep – as the effects of the alcohol wears off, you tend to wake up through the night. You might also need to get up and go to the toilet, and of course, you could wake up with a hangover or not feeling rested.
Exercise. Try and exercise regularly. Avoid exercise just prior to bed. Your body needs time to unwind.
Develop a bedtime and sleep routine. For example, taking a warm bath or shower just before bed, or drinking herbal tea can enhance relaxation of the body and mind. Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day.
Go to bed when tired. When you feel drowsy, take the opportunity to go to bed. You are more likely to fall asleep.
Change the environment. Make sure that the room is completely dark, quiet and your bed is comfortable to sleep in. Avoid watching television in bed.
Avoid technology before bed. Try to use the 30 minutes to one hour prior to bed for quiet time.
Use mindfulness and relaxation techniques. This will help to calm your mind and body.
Keep a diary. Worrying about things can keep you awake at night. Writing down your worries or making a list of tasks to do the following day can help to relax your mind.
Avoid clock watching. When you check the time through the night you might be more likely to think things like “I should be asleep” or “I’ve got to be up in X hours”. This won't help and will probably make it more difficult to fall asleep. If you find yourself looking at your clock, turn it around.
Get up and try again. If you lie awake for 20 minutes and can’t fall off to sleep, get up and do something relaxing like have a cup of tea or glass of water. Don’t switch on the TV, use the computer or play games on your phone. This will stimulate your mind rather than encourage sleep.
Hopefully these 12 tips will help you to catch some zzzzzzzzs
and wake up fresh each morning, ready to start the day!