I have written so many stories about sleep I have lost count and even then readers keep asking for more.
Indeed, today, research from leading bed manufacturer, Sealy UK and Loughborough University’s Clinical Sleep Research Unit (CSRU), has revealed a sleep deprived country with three quarters of Brits failing to get a decent night’s sleep – which can result in poor health and mental illness.
1. Know your sleep type
Some people like Margaret Thatcher, Gandhi and Winston Churchill may have famously thrived on less sleep but they’re a rarity.
In fact, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered a gene mutation in people that predisposed them to needing about 20 per cent less sleep than the rest of us. But they estimate those ’short-sleepers’ only comprise around five per cent of the population.
2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time
A staggering 40 percent of us don’t get the recommended six to nine hours sleep a night, research by The Sleep Council has found.
The long weekend lie-in is a tempting antidote but while it may reduce sleepiness and stress, it won’t help your ability to concentrate, research published in The American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology found.
In fact, sleep deprived subjects in the study showed impaired concentration even after their ’recovery sleep’ at the weekend.
3. Tackle the temperature
Temperature is an aspect of sleep that often gets overlooked,’ says James Wilson, a leading sleep expert.
But after light, it has the greatest impact on our circadian rhythms, and our bodies are very sensitive to it; it only takes a change in core body temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius for our bodies to start waking up. On a physiological level sleep is simple.
Lots of people think exercising in the evening might keep them awake. In fact, research shows that even vigorous exercise before bedtime doesn’t cause problems sleeping for many people and in some cases, it might even be beneficial.
Indeed, people who exercised for at least 30 minutes 5-6 times a week – regardless of what time of day they exercised – were also the least likely to take sleep medication, found The Sleep Council research.
5. Turn your clock the other way
Checking the time in the middle of the night can be very disruptive as it can often lead you to work out how many hours you’ve slept so far and how much sleep you have left before your alarm goes off. Then you start overthinking about tomorrow – it’s a vicious cycle.
It’s this kind of brain activity that could lead to you to lying awake for ages. This turns on your sympathetic nervous system (the part that deals with problem solving and focus) instead of your parasympathetic nervous system (the one you need on when you’re sleeping as it promotes rest).