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Make time to sleep

Not only does a good night's sleep help when it comes to being productive throughout the day, but it also gives your body the time it needs to rest and recuperate. From weight management and heart disease to depression, getting enough sleep is as vital to your wellbeing as activity or eating healthily.  

To ensure you make the most out of your time in the land of nod, we've pulled together some simple sleep facts. 

Counting...the numbers

Did you know that in the UK alone 70 percent of adults report they sleep for 7 or less hours a night? Over a quarter of these (27 percent) report poor or broken sleep on a regular basis.

According to The Business of Sleep, the UK loses 200,000 working days a year to absenteeism caused by a lack of shut-eye. A 2016 study also revealed that sleep-deprived workers cost the economy £40bn a year. 

Getting the right amount of sleep should be a priority to ensure that people lead healthier and happier lives. 

Why is sleep so important?

Not only can a lack of sleep on a regular basis affect our health, but it can also have an effect on our relationships and social life not to mention lead to increased risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. And there's truth in the saying things always look better after 'a good night's sleep.' But how do we ensure we have enough rest and what is standing in our way? 

Adult annoyed anxiety desktop square

Common sleep problems

Even if you do prioritise sleep, you may find stumbling blocks in your way. Here are some of the most common sleep problems:

  • Insomnia
    Also known as sleeplessness, you may have trouble falling asleep, restlessness or staying asleep throughout the night.  
  • Oversleeping
    As the name suggests, sleeping too much. It may be connected to poor mental health or depression but symptoms include sleepiness throughout the day and sleeping for long periods. 
  • Nightmares and night terrors
    A disturbing dream associated with negative thoughts and feelings. 
  • Sleep paralysis
    Temporary inability to move or speak when you're falling asleep or waking up. 
  • Sleepwalking
    Walking or disordered behaviour when you're in a deep sleep. 
  • Sleep Apnoea or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
    Disturbed breathing during sleep which commonly follows snoring. 

Problems nodding off?

You may not realise it but your ability to fall asleep can be down to a number of reasons, including:

  • Poor sleep routine or poor environment for sleep, e.g. too noisy or bright
  • Physical illness, e.g. being in pain
  • Alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine
  • Medication
  • Stress, worry, anxiety or depression

What can you do?

Here are a few techniques you can try to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Establish a routine - try to go to bed and wake up at similar times every day
  • Make sure your environment is comfortable
  • Relax before bed - avoid stimulating activities such as watching TV or being on a computer/mobile phone.
  • Don’t force sleep - if you aren’t tired, go and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy
  • Catch up on missed sleep - take a 30-40 minute nap or sleep for an extra hour on the weekends
  • Diet and exercise - avoid caffeine and stimulants. Exercise is proven to help improve sleep – why not try a virtual fitness workout in the comfort of your own home? (Visit https://www.better.org.uk/exercise-at-home to find out more)
  • Try to resolve stress and anxiety – breathing exercises and meditation may help
  • Try a herbal remedy such as lavender
  • Visit your GP - they can prescribe medications (if you need them)  or refer you to talking therapies and sleep clinics

For more information on sleep visit www.mind.org.uk

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