To mark World Sleep Day, we’re sharing some snippets of advice from our popular Sleep School workshop.
According to the Great British Sleep Survey (2012), poor sleepers are:
- 7 times more likely to feel helpless
- 3 times more likely to struggle to concentrate
- Twice as likely to suffer from low mood
- Twice as likely to struggle to be productive.
With stats like these, it’s no surprise that poor sleep is often linked with mental ill health. Sadly there are physiological effects too. Studies at the University of Chicago have shown that less than 7 hours sleep a night can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardio vascular disease and Alzheimers.
How much is ‘enough’ sleep?
The average Brit sleeps for 6 hours and 35 minutes, taking 14 minutes to fall asleep and dozing off at about 11.15pm. 1/3 Brits get by on 6 hours or less.
So, what can we do to get more sleep? Here are our top 5 tips:
- Power down your smartphone and any other devices that omit a ‘blue light.’ Although any type of light stops you feeling sleepy, research has shown that light towards the blue end of the spectrum is especially effective at keeping you awake because it suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
- Have a bedtime ritual or routine. Yogamatters suggest a great one here.
- Too stressed to sleep? Do some deep, belly breathing, emphasising your exhale. This will hep stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your ‘rest and digest’ system.
- Go easy on the nightcaps. Consuming alcohol before bed prevents you from falling in to a deep level sleep, so you often wake up feeling exhausted.
“Deep sleep is when the body restores itself, and alcohol can interfere with this,” explains Dr John Shneerson, head of the sleep centre at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. “As the alcohol starts to wear off, your body can come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep, which is much easier to wake from. That’s why you often wake up after just a few hours sleep when you’ve been drinking.”
- Over 50% of survey respondents said they had ‘difficulty relaxing or switching off’. We recommend an exercise known as ‘Clear your Mental Desk Top‘. Simply brain-dump all your to-dos and niggles by jotting them down in a notebook or the notes app on your phone. After 2 minutes, but the list away, safe in the knowledge that you’ve captured everything you need for tomorrow and can now switch off and rest.