.

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep - or lack of it - is one of the most common 21st century health complaints. Only 1 in 10 of us say we always sleep well; 1 in 5 suffer from lack of sleep; and two thirds say we get less sleep now than we did a few years ago.

There are many different views as to how much sleep we need - eight hours is often quoted, but some of us need less; and some more. The simplest answer is enough sleep to feel refreshed in the morning and stay awake and alert throughout the day.

Often the solution lies in our own hands and simply requires some simple changes to our sleep environment and lifestyles.

Some tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep regular hours. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time will programme your body to sleep better

  • Create a restful sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible

  • Make sure your bed is comfortable

  • Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day's stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake!

  • Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee - especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead

  • Don't over-indulge. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, just before bedtime, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night

  • Don't smoke. Smokers take longer to fall asleep, wake more often and often experience more sleep disruption

  • Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day

  • If you can't sleep, don't lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again - then go back to bed.