Thirty-five per cent of us Brits aren’t getting the kip we need to keep us well.
We spoke to the experts to see what could be stopping us from sleep – and what to do about it…
What's keeping you awake?
Sixty per cent of depression sufferers also have insomnia or problems sleeping.
Jane Bozier, a mental health nurse and sleep expert, says, ‘Depression can cause disturbed sleep in a range of ways: you may struggle to get up in the mornings and feel you are in a fog all day'.
'In contrast, others are unable to sleep, and may wake up several times in the night, or fall asleep quickly, but wake early.’
TRY: If you think you may suffer with depression, talk to your GP.
If you struggle with slowing your thoughts down, try Dodow Sleep Aid, £44 from Sodasays.co.uk – this bedside device uses a pattern of gentle light on the ceiling to guide breathing from 11 to six breaths per minute, calming your nervous system and lulling you off to sleep.
If your partner is up and down in the night to visit the loo, he could have an enlarged prostate.
‘He may have the urge to urinate, but not be able to empty his bladder fully,’ says Jane.
TRY: An enlarged prostate may be nothing to worry about, but a trip to the doctor is essential to rule out prostate cancer.
It’s the most common cancer in men, affecting one in six.
Thankfully, it is one of the cancers with the highest survival rate.
‘Arthritis may increase the time it takes to get comfy enough to fall asleep, and once asleep, movement can cause pain that wakes you up,’ says Jane.
In fact, 80% of sufferers have difficulty sleeping.
A lack of sleep can also cause a worsening of symptoms in the day, so it may feel like an endless cycle.
TRY: Soothe joints before bed with a heat pack for 15-20 mins, or have a warm bath to relax muscles.
You could try a cold treatment to reduce swelling – try freezing a bottle of water and rolling it over the painful area, or alternate the hot and cold treatments.
‘The biggest sleep problem for menopausal women is battling with a body that isn’t regulating a constant temperature,’ says Jane.
Sleep problems increase three fold, with hot flushes, night sweats and chaotic hormones to blame.
TRY: Choose cotton or linen sheets and avoid memory foam mattresses, which trap heat.
You could also invest in a cooling gel inlay for your pillow, like the JML Chillmax, £11.99 from Amazon, which keeps you cool while you sleep.
And what you can do about it…
World renowned sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan gives us her top sleep tips…
■ Eat breakfast within 45 mins of waking.
Non-breakfast eaters may say they aren’t hungry first thing, but these are often the same people who have trouble sleeping.
If you don’t eat breakfast, your body believes it is living in famine and produces stress hormones that will hinder your sleep later on.
■ Go to bed before midnight.
We sleep in 90-min cycles, with the first 2 hours playing an essential role in reducing stress and rebalancing the metabolism.
Go to bed earlier than usual at least three or four times a week.
■ Try a natural supplement.
Your brain uses 10g of glycogen per hour while you sleep, which is essential for overnight repairs.
Some fitful sleeping may be attributed to running out of energy during the night.
A spoonful of vitamin-rich honey mix Benenox, £9.99 from Boots, could stop you from waking up in the night with a ‘fuel crisis’.
■ Learn how to power nap.
This can help to unload the brain’s working memory so there is less ‘filing’ to be done at night, leading to a deeper, more restorative sleep.
A power nap is a near-sleep state of 5-20 mins as opposed to actual sleeping and can be done sitting upright or even lying on the floor.
The best time to nap is between 2pm and 4pm – avoid any later as this might affect your sleep at night.
Can’t kip? Try these exercises from Dr Nerina
■ Gratitude: close your eyes and picture someone in your life you’re grateful for.
Imagine telling them what it is you’re thankful for and give them a big, lingering hug.
Really feel that hug and the love you have for them.
With this feeling, you slip into a peaceful state of mind that encourages sleep.
■ Body scan: starting with your toes, say in your head, ‘I love my little toe, I love my ankle,’ etc, scanning through every body part until you reach your head.
It’s a simple exercise that allows you to slow your mind and bat away unwanted thoughts.
– Dr Nerina Ramlakhan is working with Benenox Overnight Recharge, a natural supplement to support better-quality sleep and higher energy levels. Benenox.com
– Jane Bozier is a mental health nurse and sleep expert, whose guided imagery exercises are featured in new sleep app, Rise – download from the App Store and Google Play.
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