The Joy of a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep and Mental Health

It seems such a simple thing, but a good night’s sleep can really change your health and your life. There are clear connections between good quality sleep and mental health. Sleep is the fuel our body and our mind need to function properly. If we’re out of fuel, then we can come to a standstill. If we are tired, we can feel irritable, are unable to think clearly, even feel physically unwell and can have a feeling of not being in control of life and things going on around us. When you don’t get the rest you need, life can become very challenging and full of difficulties.

Most adults should have ideally eight hours of sleep a night to function at their best and to boost their immune system to ward of physical illnesses. However, it is estimated that up to three in four adults in the UK get less than seven hours sleep a night. Some research has shown that being awake for 19 hours a day is as cognitively impairing as being drunk. Lack of good quality sleep can also be a contributor to developing depression and/or generalised anxiety disorder, as well as being a factor in the risk of heart conditions and obesity. So, what’s the best way to ensure you get those precious eight hours of shut-eye?

There have been numerous research projects undertaken into sleep and quality sleep. The following tips may help if you are struggling to sleep.

  • Sleep in a cool room. 18°C is thought to be the optimum temperature.
  • Make the room as dark as possible and consider blackout blinds or even wearing an eye mask.
  • Stick as far as possible to a routine and go to bed at the same time and try to wake up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals up to three hours before you go to bed.
  • Avoid using any electronic devices, such as phones, tablets and television, up to two to three hours before going to sleep. It is estimated that having a television in the bedroom can contribute to a loss of two hours’ sleep per week.
  • Turn the alarm clock round, so that you can’t clock-watch.
  • If you nap during the day, do it before 3pm, as the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to fall asleep later on and when you really want to.
  • Get some exercise – preferably in the fresh air – but not less than two to three hours before you want to go to bed.
  • Try taking a hot bath or shower before you go to bed to help you relax.
  • Finally, if you can’t sleep, don’t toss and turn for hours. Get out of bed and do something relaxing such as listening to gentle music or reading until you feel drowsy, and then try again to sleep. Stressing over not being able sleep will only make you more anxious and therefore more likely to be unable to fall asleep at all.

 

 

 

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