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TOO STRESSED TO SLEEP

By Lisa Artis on October 25, 2016

Don’t let stress disrupt your sleep! That’s the warning from The Sleep Council as National Stress Awareness Day approaches (2 November 2016).

“Almost half of Britons say that stress or worry keeps them awake at night*,” said Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council.

“A good night’s sleep can be affected by anything from money worries, pressure at work, a busy family life or common anxieties people suffer in their day-to-day lives. An unhealthy sleep routine and too little sleep (less than six hours), is known to be linked to stress responses that increase heart rate, blood pressure and the secretion of the hormone adrenaline – all risk facts for heart disease**.

“Stress can also effect children’s sleep with 58% of 10-14 year olds admitting they have felt worried or stressed once a week or more***, and almost half said they had been unable to sleep because of how they were feeling.” The Sleep Council says National Stress Awareness Day should be a time for people to reflect on the quality of their slumber and take steps to help improve it, if stress is sabotaging their sleep.

“Bedtime should be your time – a place where you can switch off, forget about the busyness of the day and relax, said Lisa.

“During National Stress Awareness Day, we’re urging anyone who suffers from lack of sleep because of stress – or because of more practical considerations such as a bedroom that is too hot or cold or an uncomfortable bed – to take action and get the peaceful night’s sleep they deserve.”

Here’s some top tips from The Sleep Council to help stop stress keeping Britons up at night:

•    Create a restful environment: Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible. If you’re a light sleeper, try using ear plugs to block out any background noise – or a partner snoring – which could help you drift off.

•    Turn off electronics: TVs, smart phones, laptops, radios and games consoles all have a significant impact on our sleep. Using a gadget just before bed makes it harder to switch off and wind down. Even exposure to the weakest glow of blue, electronic light – such as a notification flashing up on your mobile phone – can unconsciously play havoc with your body’s circadian rhythms, keeping you alert when you should be sleepy.

•    Find your ‘zen’: Meditation before bed is a great tool to help calm our minds down and relax our bodies. You could also try having a warm bath, listening to quiet music, deep breathing or yoga. If you’re the sort of person who starts to worry when you get into bed, or makes ‘to do’ lists in your head, try writing down the things you need to tackle – you can deal with those in the morning after a good night’s sleep!

•    Temperature control: An ideal bedroom temperature should be around 16-18°C (60-65°F). If you’re feeling stressed and your bedroom is hot and stuffy or too cold, it can prove harder to fall asleep – leaving many suffering from a disturbed night’s sleep.

•    Try a ‘Nodcast’: As part of its ‘Stresstember’ research project – which looked at the link between stress and sleep – The Sleep Council asked more than 2,000 people what sounds helped them to de-stress/get to sleep. Among the top answers were the sounds of birdsong, rain, thunder and lightning, waves and wind. The Sleep Council has reproduced those sounds here for anyone to listen to for free, whenever a soothing sound is needed help drift off www.sleepcouncil.org.uk/nodcasts

•    Get a good bed: Having the correct bed for you is the foundation of a quality night’s sleep, especially if you’re feeling stressed. An uncomfortable bed could deprive you of up to an hour’s sleep a night – so get on and replace it now! Otherwise, we’d advise replacing your bed after around seven to eight years, well before you get to that stage as your sleep quality will already be on the decline.

•    Keep a routine: Our bodies love routine when it comes to sleep, so make sure you don’t neglect it. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same every day helps to programme the body to sleep better.

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