Sleep matters

According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation conducted in 2011 up to one third of the population suffers from insomnia (lack of sleep or poor quality sleep).

We’ve known for some time that quality sleep is associated with good physical and emotional health.  A 2018 study, which reviewed 74 studies on sleep found that:

  • More than 8 hours’ sleep has a greater negative impact on your health than less than 7 hours’.
  • Excessive sleep could be a marker of poor health.
  • Poor sleep quality is associated with an increased risk in coronary heart disease.
  • Other conditions like chronic inflammatory disorders and depression can cause fatigue and impact sleep.
  • Inadequate sleep can elevate blood pressure – too little of it can increase our appetite and hinder the body’s ability to regulate stress.

The Dalai Lama says “Sleep is the Best Meditation.”  So… how can we sleep better?

  1. You might begin by keeping a sleep diary to uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness.
  2. Write away your worries; if you lie in bed thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow, set aside time before bedtime to make plans for the next day. The aim is to avoid doing these things when you’re in bed, trying to sleep.
  3. Reduce caffeine, alcohol and nicotine intake, which are all substances which can impair sleep quality.
  4. Regular exercise may also help us sleep better and earlier in the day is best.
  5. Comfort matters – reduce light and noise, consider room ventilation and temperature.

BBC Horizon programme called Body Clock: What Makes us Tick gives a fascinating insight into how sleep and light affect your well-being.  Click here for details.

Five tips for sleep

Sleepio – What’s Your Sleep Score: Find out how you could sleep better. Sleepio is a 6 week online program designed by sleep experts and based on cognitive and behavioral techniques.

Thank you to Jacqui Ramus, Emma Bown and Kate Stobie for their contributions to this page.