The rise in the number of people getting less than six hours sleep is certainly a concern – research would suggest that mental and physical problems become more pronounced in those sleeping for less than six hours.
But why are we getting less sleep?
Throughout November we asked what the biggest sleep thieves were and it seems stress and worry are still top of the list.
Over a third (37%) of those who voted said it was a problem. Whether it’s work stress, financial worry or family issues keeping you up at night, it’s important to address how you cope with this when it comes to bedtime.
Be sure to log off any devices or gadgets at least an hour before bedtime and keep technology out of the bedroom – it should be a place to relax and rest. Write down worries or even your to-do list on a notepad – it really helps to clear the mind. Factor in sufficient wind down time on an evening. That means steering clear of your electronic devices and making time to have a bath, read a book etc.
Other factors that keep us awake at night include:
• Partner disturbance (11%) – a common issue whether that’s from your partner snoring or hogging the duvet.
• Noise (10%) – sudden loud noises disrupt sleep. Invest in double glazing or foam ear plugs to combat outside noise.
• Lack of activity in the day (9%) – exercise plays a vital role in aiding a good night’s sleep.
• Hunger (8%) – it’s important to not go to bed hungry. Equally a full stomach is also best avoided. Indulge in a bedtime ‘supper’ such as crackers
• Light (8%) – light suppresses melatonin (the sleep inducing hormone) making it harder to nod off. Choose heavy lined curtains or a blackout blind to eliminate light.
• Excitement (7%) – excitement can make you stay up all night, or make you feel like you just can’t remain still. Relaxing your mind and body can help you get the rest you need, even if you’re anticipating (or dreading) the next day.
• Children (4%) – it’s only natural that kids will wake you in the night but if it’s a constant problem then speak to a specialist. Just remind yourself it won’t be forever!
Only 6% said nothing kept them awake at night.
Just remember that one bad night’s sleep affects our mood, concentration and alertness while long-term sleep deprivation has far more serious consequences: it’s been linked to a number of serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
If you regularly find yourself struggling to sleep, it’s important to take steps to tackle this problem. Our website is full of advice and tips or alternatively you can also download our sleep leaflet, The Good-Night Guide here.