Last Sunday I wrote about The Daily Mail which was running an exclusive series about how to beat insomnia with renowned consultant neurologist and sleep expert Professor Guy Leschziner who told the Mail that the pandemic has been driving another global health crisis – an epidemic of sleep problems.
On Monday they wrote an article with Ten Steps to a Peaceful Nights Sleep which was set up as ten simple rules to get your body ready for a good nights sleep.
- Set a wake-up time, even set this at weekends as the brain loves routine and will ensure you have a solid bedtime and wake time.
- Exercise, as daily exercise will help tire your body and send more oxygen and endorphin-rich blood to your brain, which will boost your mood and leave you less anxious.
- Get outdoors, even if its just a short walk. The key, apparently, is to absorb natural light during daylight hours as it tells the cells in our body that it is daytime, then it recognises that when the light dims it is night-time.
- Eat less before bed as a rich carbohyydrate meal in the evening can cause uncomfortable acid reflux and can also produce more insulin to mop up the sugar from your blood. This can then have a knock on effect and encourages rebound low blood sugar at night which then releases stress hormones and can be detrimental to sleep.
- Pack in your afternoon cuppa as caffeine after lunch keeps you awak. Half of the caffeine you drink stays in your system for up to six hours so keep it for the mornings only.
- Try and meditate as any sort of relaxation technique will help to settle your mind and help you sleep.
- Avoid alcohol in the evening as you will get drink-induced slumber which is not a good quality sleep.
- If you haven’t already done so then GIVE UP smoking.
- Another important one we all should know is to no have our screens on at night. Light exposure at night inhibits the secretion of the hormones melatonin. This can delay your sleep phase making you sleep later and wake later.
- Do not spend time in your bedroom unless you are going to bed to sleep. Keep the lights low until you pull the quilt up then turn all the lights out.
Do Not Age (DNA) remind us that sleep is important for mental wellbeing as well as physical. Those lacking in sleep are more likely to be overweight, have disrupted appetites, lose empathy, have more inflammation, have a low immune system, be depressed and suicidal, have impaired brain function and are more susceptible to heart problems. Those sleeping for less than 7 hours per night have up to 26% higher risk of death.