Friday, 13 March 2015

World Sleep Day - sleep well!

Today is World Sleep Day, a day that aims to raise awareness of the importance of sleep on our health and wellbeing.

How much sleep we need varies widely and depends in part on our age - the older we are, the less sleep our bodies tend to need. However according to the Mental Health Foundation, we now sleep about 90 minutes less each night than we did in the 1920s, so there are clearly many people living life in a sleep deprived state.

Why is sleep important? 
Sleep affects how we think and behave. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep affects activity in the brain and can lead to low mood, negative thoughts and loneliness.

How to improve your sleep 
The World Association of Sleep Medicine suggests establishing a regular bedtime and waking time and advises that daytime sleep (naps or siestas) should not exceed 45 minutes. While exercise is generally beneficial when it comes to sleep, the association advises not doing exercise just before bed as it can make it hard to switch off.

Professor Ewan Gillon, Chartered Psychologist and Clinical Director of First Psychology Scotland, says practising good 'sleep hygiene' is key to getting a good night's sleep. "Often people who find it hard to sleep become anxious about the whole thing and this in turn can make it even harder to get a good sleep," says Ewan. "Allocating time for relaxation during the day and establishing a good routine before bed can really make a huge difference."

Here are Ewan's tips to help you achieve a good night's sleep.

Keep it regular 
Try to keep to a regular sleeping and waking pattern and exercise every day.

Allow yourself time to wind down
Wind down with a relaxing hobby, a warm bath, a good book, or the radio.

Leave technology out of the bedroom
Take a technology break 30 minutes before bedtime - no emails, texts, or TV. If your mind is busy thinking about all the things you have to do, then write a to do list.

Go easy on your system
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and heavy meals close to bedtime.

Learn to relax
Practise relaxation techniques - make it a regular thing for maximum benefit.

Further information on getting a better sleep

Want to find out more about sleeping well? Book a place on our free 'Sleep Well' webinar today!

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