Are you sleeping well? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 24, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:11 PM, July 24, 2016

Are you sleeping well?

Are you someone who struggles with good sleep? If you have problems with sleep or know someone who does, this article may be helpful.

Sleep comes naturally to most of us. The way you are feeling right at this moment is linked to the quality of sleep you had last night. Your bedtime habits, sleeping schedule and the quality of sleep have a direct influence on both physiological and psychological wellness. This article will provide you a few tips on how to optimise your sleep.

How many hours of sleep do you need?

Adults generally need 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Children and teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep daily. Babies need to sleep up to 17 hours a day. As we grow older, the need for sleep decreases and those over 65 need between 6-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

The effects of poor sleep

If you have ever suffered a bad night’s sleep, you will have experienced the negative effects on your physical and cognitive functioning the next day. Poor sleep can lead you to feel lethargic and exhausted, make it difficult for you to concentrate, increase your anxiety levels and make you feel irritable. Lack of sleep can be particularly dangerous for you if you drive or operate machinery due to the high risk of accidents. In the long term, poor sleep can lead to serious physical health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

How can you improve the quality of your sleep?

* Your bedroom is your personal space, so make it comfortable for yourself. Try to reduce noise coming into your room and set the temperature to one that suits you.

* The mattress you sleep on is very important. Choose a mattress that is neither too hard nor too soft. A hard mattress puts stress on your hips and shoulders, while a soft mattress can cause damage to your back.

* Before you get to bed, do something relaxing. You could listen to some soft music or take a warm shower prior to bedtime.

* Involve yourself in some light exercise during the early evening. Do not exercise immediately before bedtime as it will activate your muscles and make sleep difficult.

* Avoid tasks that stimulate your mind when you are lying on your bed, such as watching television or ruminating over anxiety provoking thoughts.

* Set yourself a bedtime routine that you can follow every night prior to bedtime. Go to bed around the same time every night.

* Caffeine persists in your body for many hours after you have had tea or coffee. Try not to drink any caffeine-containing fluids after mid-day. Remember that fizzy drinks also have a high caffeine content.

* Alcohol is extremely disruptive to sleep. Alcohol can initially make one feel drowsy and help one drift off to sleep, but the quality of the sleep will be light and poor and an intoxicated person will find himself waking up multiple times during the night. Alcohol is also a major depressant and may make you feel low in mood the next day.

* Have an early dinner to allow your body sufficient time to digest food prior to going to bed.

Sleeping pills can help with sleep in the short term, but they are not recommended for long-term use as they are addictive. Sedatives can also make you feel quite drowsy the next day. They should only be used for a maximum of two weeks in one go and avoided if at all possible.

Emotional difficulties, high anxiety levels, depression and physical health conditions are the main causes of unexplained sleeping difficulties. There are also a number of medicines that can negatively affect your sleep.

If the above tips do not help and you continue to have chronic sleeping difficulties, it is recommended that you see a doctor for further assessment.


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