Snoring, dreaming, dosing, snoozing, catnapping. We spend half our life asleep but are we getting too much, too little. Is it disturbed, poor quality or is it bordering on insomnia?

 

A spicy curry late at night will not help our slumber hours, neither will several glasses of alcohol but there are many more factors that can affect our sleep. Our bodies change with age. The older we become, the lighter we sleep which in turn is affected by health problems we accumulate along the way, together with the chemical interference of medication prescribed. We live in a fast paced world. Food and drink is more on the go than around the dining table and the convenient foods and ready meals we consume contain those extras we could really do without.

 

While technology changes the pace of our world,  many of us live a more sedentary lifestyle. We order our food online and it’s delivered, watch on-demand entertainment rather than cinema visits, research and buy our clothes from our  screens rather than the high street. This lack of exercise spells disaster on our health and sleep patterns.

An expert’s view

 

According to sleep consultant, Birgit Buenger, sleep is affected by much more than eating or drinking too much late at night, worrying and e-messaging. Sleeplessness, she believes has been declared an epidemic and an unmet health problem and highlights a variety of factors that play into insomnia. These  include personality traits, stress levels, the sleep environment, behaviour, health, nutrition, medication and stimulants. The workplace can drastically affect sleep especially shift work, travelling across time zones, causing jetlag problems and the 24/7 day.

 

Too much?

 

By contrast, too much sleep has its own problems waking to grogginess and headaches so how much sleep should we have? The ideal amount of sleep is generally between and 7 and 9 hours but this is dependent on our own individual sleep architecture.

 

Worry not, here are a few tips to help you get a good night’s sleep….

 

Although it is said that alcohol will help sleep, it produces unsettled sleep. Cut down or cut out alcohol a few hours before sleep to avoid altered sleep patterns.

 

Eat your meal at least two to three hours before sleeping to allow your body to digest it.

 

Short catnaps can enhance energy and mood and enhance brain function. However avoid these after mid-afternoon and schedule them for 30 mins or less.

 

Ensure your bedroom is calm, quiet and dark

 

There are many bed linen sprays made with lavender to help induce sleep or help you relax

 

Listen to soothing instrumental music to help your state of relaxation.

 

Have an extra blanket at hand in case the temperature drops in the night

 

Avoid distractions, turn your clock to face the wall

 

Smart phones, tablet computers, and flat screen TV devices have LED backscreens which emits blue light. This interferes with sleep by reducing the production of melatonin. Avoid using these devices late at night.

 

If you tend to take your worries to bed, have a notepad and pencil at hand to jot down any lingering concerns or your to do list for tomorrow.  In this way, your mind is clear to sleep.

 

It’s good to exercise, but time it wisely, avoiding late at night as it can act as a stimulant.

 

Follow a routine to help your body clock set a regular time to sleep and waken – even at weekends.

 

If nothing works and you can’t sleep, get up and choose something relaxing until you feel ready to sleep.

 

A Sleep Show in London

The rise of Insomnia has attracted experts in an effort to raise awareness. The first national Sleep Show, Somnex will be staged between 12- 14th October at The Old Truman Brewery in London for both consumers and the trade. This event promises to provide in-depth knowledge, advice and gadgets to address insomnia. Visit www.somnexshow.com.

 

Sweet dreams…………….

 

 

Jane Wilson is editor of www.thehealthcareholiday.com and www.thewellnesstraveller.co.uk