Getting a good night’s sleep – Sleep Awareness Week 10th – 16th March 2019

So many people we see struggle with the effects of poor sleep, so, in aid of National Sleep Awareness Week, we thought this would be an excellent topic to talk about!

A good night's sleep is as vital to your health as eating the right things and exercising. Your physical and emotional wellbeing depends on getting enough, yet we're living in sleep-deprived times. Some people like to be competitive about how much sleep they get, like being sleep deprived is a badge of honour, but it's not good for our bodies. Scientists say we're now getting an hour or two less sleep each night than we were some 60 years ago.

Each person has different needs when it comes to how much sleep we need. We should be waking up feeling refreshed in the morning, and the ability to wake without an alarm is a good indicator that you're getting enough sleep. If you don't get enough sleep, you may be irritable or agitated, be unable to concentrate properly, have blurred vision, be clumsy and disorientated or slow to respond and have decreased motivation. On top of this, if you're tired and irritable, you're less likely to make healthy food choices, opting for convenience food to save you effort.
You might be surprised to learn that those people who had just a few hours' sleep were deemed to be more dangerous when completing a virtual driving test than those people who had had a few drinks! Far too many road accidents are caused by tiredness, and the advice to take a break if you're tired, or even stop and take a 20-minute nap, is invaluable.
Sleep aids our body to rest, recover and repair itself. These processes take between 7 and 9 hours, regardless of what you think you have trained yourself to get by with! However, if you're a poor sleeper, how do you get a good night's sleep?

Our most common cause of poor sleep is the disruption to our daily routines. For example, travelling, changes in work hours, changes to eating/exercising regimes and relationship conflicts can all cause sleep problems. Establishing good "sleep hygiene" is one of the most important things you can do to sleep well, and the following tips should help:

• Try to go to bed at the same time every day as your body thrives on routine.
• Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot or too cold.
• Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This may help you completely switch off.
• Keep the bedroom completely dark. Our brains detect light even when our eyes are closed. If you can't keep the room completely dark, consider an eye mask.
• Spend time outdoors to soak up the sun and boost your vitamin D levels.
• There is evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep, including stretching and aerobic exercise. A brisk walk ticks both boxes. Aim for 30 minutes, 5 times a week.
• Make an effort to relax for at least 5 minutes before going to bed - a warm bath, meditation or breathing exercises can be great – ask us if you don't know any!
• Keep your feet and hands warm and wear warm socks and, or mittens or gloves to bed if you need to.
• Consider getting a traditional alarm clock so your smartphone can stay out of the bedroom. Better still, work out how much sleep you need by going to bed 15 minutes earlier until you find that you wake up naturally before your alarm. That's your personal sleep requirement.

• Use smartphones, tablets or computers before going to bed. They emit the same kind of light as the morning sun, and they interfere with your sleep.
• Engage in stimulating activities like playing a competitive game, watching an edge-of-the-seat film, or having a meaningful conversation with a loved one.
• Eat a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.
• Drink caffeine after lunch such as coffee, 'normal' and green tea, and colas.
• Use alcohol to help you sleep - Alcohol can make sleep more disturbed.
• Go to bed too hungry; if needed have a snack before bed – a glass of milk or banana are ideal.
• Nap during the day if you can help it.
• Get frustrated if you can't sleep. Try to go to bed with a positive mood – "I will sleep tonight". If you can't sleep, don't lay in bed. Get up and do something, or read a book, then go back to bed and try to sleep.

Your GP can offer some help if lack of sleep is beginning to interfere with your daily life, and we would love to help you tackle pain and stop what's keeping you awake, call us!
What is Osteopathy and how can it help you?
Hayfever – what you need to know

Related Posts