Dr Michael Mosley on the importance of routine for sleep
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The NHS says our physical health and how we look after our body can have a big effect on our sleep. It notes: “It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that can make your sleep worse, especially at times like these. Having caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or a big meal too close to bedtime can stop you falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Try to avoid them before bed and see if things improve.”
The health body says: “Regular exercise is also great for sleep. Just remember to steer clear of anything too vigorous right before bedtime if you find it affects your sleep, and make sure you follow the social distancing guidelines when exercising.”
It says that insomnia means you regularly have problems sleeping. It says it usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits.
The NHS adds: “Most people experience problems with sleep in their life. In fact, it’s thought that a third of Brits will have episodes of insomnia at some point.
“The causes can include physical conditions, psychological conditions (such as depression or anxiety) or a combination of both.”
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. On average adults need seven to nine hours, while children need nine to 13 hours.
Toddlers and babies need 12 to 17 hours of sleep, every day.
People with insomnia will regularly find it hard to go to sleep, and can wake up several times during the night and lie awake at night. Fortunately, some drinks can help people with their sleep.
If you have insomnia for less than three months, it is called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts three months or longer is called long-term insomnia.
“Some people are naturally lighter sleepers or take longer to drop off, while some life circumstances might make it more likely for your sleep to be interrupted, like stressful events or having a new baby,” the NHS states.
If poor sleep is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, you can talk to your GP.
The NHS says how we sleep and how much sleep we need is different for all of us and changes as we get older.
The Mayo Clinic also provides tips on how to get a good night’s sleep.
The organisation says: “Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don’t need more than eight hours in bed to achieve this goal.
“Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
“If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing.
“Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed.”
It also says that long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep.
It says if you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.
Ultimately, the organisation says long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.
“If you work nights, however, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt,” it says.
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