Why is sleep so important?
Getting a good night’s sleep makes us feel refreshed and revitalised upon awaking. Sleep is important for restoring energy and our health in general. While we sleep, important functions take place: essential hormones are released, the heart and blood vessels are repaired and tissue growth takes place.
Ideally, we need between six and nine hours of sleep every night but many adults find it hard to sleep well.
What are the common sleep problems?
There are varied reasons why people have trouble sleeping. Stress and anxiety can lead to difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up during the night.
Medical reasons include heartburn, diabetes, kidney problems and thyroid disease. Sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder in which frequent pauses during breathing mean you wake up often in the night and feel tired the next day.
How to get more sleep
Try to keep to regular sleeping hours so that your brain and internal body clock become accustomed to a set routine.
Avoid stimulants in the evening such as cigarettes, alcohol and tea and coffee. Also try to avoid having your mobile phone, and even a TV, in the bedroom: this is a place in which to relax, so it’s important to let yourself wind down in order to sleep better. You could relax by taking a warm bath, listening to relaxation music or reading. Tension is built up during the day so light exercise, such as swimming or yoga stretches, can help to relieve this.
Some people lie awake at night, worrying about work – try to organise your time by writing out a list of things to do before you go to bed. If you can't go back to sleep, then get up for a while and listen to music or empty the dishwasher rather than lie there fretting.