Sleep, or the lack of it (insomnia), is a hot topic at the moment … and rightly so as we need good quality sleep to enable us to fight off disease, recover from illness and keep our memory sharp. It also contributes to our longevity and ability to learn.
According to the NHS, “a recent study found that as many as 30% of the adult population are affected by sleep problems”.
Some people are more prone to insomnia than others, such as the over 60s, females (especially after menopause), those with a history of depression, a medical problem or who are using certain medications and those experiencing other conditions such as stress or anxiety. Medical, environmental or even psychological conditions may also cause insomnia, as can prescribed medication and foods we’ve eaten. However, one of the most common causes of chronic insomnia is depression.
Certain behaviours, such as drinking excessive amounts of caffeine, drinking or alcohol, smoking before bedtime or even expecting to have trouble sleeping and worrying about it, can contribute to making insomnia worse in some people.
How much sleep do you need?
7-8 hours of sleep each night is the ideal, with teenagers and school age children needing more. This should include a mix of between being wide-awake, feeling drowsy and falling asleep, light sleep, deeper sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM sleep - the stage in which most dreams occur).
So, that dispels the myth that we need less sleep as we get older; sleeping less is probably more to do with having greater trouble going to, and staying, asleep!
Our natural body-clock helps regulates our sleep, with the sleep cycle made up of around 8 hours of night-time sleep and 16 hours of daytime wakefulness. It is controlled by two things:
If you’ve already ruled out any underlying medical conditions with your GP, I offer a range of tools and techniques that aid a refreshing and restful night’s sleep.