Sleep is the new cool

Everybody needs it, but not all of us have it – or enough of it anyway

Are you the sort who can sleep anywhere? Or do you need 3.5 pillows, earplugs and a mulberry silk duvet?

The sleep industry is estimated to be worth between £21bn and £28bn and has historically grown by more than 8% a year. It costs the UK economy some £40bn a year.

A lack of regular sleep is said to put you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy. It's also said to have a link with Alzheimer’s.

What's your sleep like - are you like other people?

Try this self-assessment.

The Sleep Council's Great British Bedtime Report found:

  • 12% of people are getting less than five hours' sleep a night
  • One in four of us are drinking alcohol to get to sleep
  • 51% of women are kept up at night due to worry and stress
  • 49% of men say lack of sleep affects their mood the most
  • People aged 25–34 are most likely to check their social media before settling down for the night while those aged 55-plus are most likely to read
  • 71% of those who earn a household income of £80,001-£100,000 sleep for more than six hours on an average night, compared to 50% of those who earn under £10,000.

What can we do to improve sleep - top tips

  • Keep your room cool: a cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is thought to be an ideal temperature in a bedroom. Temperatures over 24°C (71°F) are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C (53°F) will make it difficult to drop off
  • Keep your room dark: when we see light, our bodies assume it’s time to wake up. When it’s dark, we release melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps us to drift off
  • Try blackout blinds or an eye mask. If you like to read in bed, buy a dimmer light. You can also purchase alarm clocks with handy light settings, which dim slowly to help you drift off, and then brighten to wake you gradually in the morning
  • Sleep in a comfortable bed: visit the National Bed Foundation for more bed-buying tips including advice including the best mattress for back pain, the best mattress for a heavy person, and the best mattress for pressure relief
  • Keep your bedroom for sleeping: don’t bring computers, phones, television or gadgets into the bedroom – your bedroom is your sanctuary
  • Loud noise can be a real problem. Try earplugs or white noise machines, or even consider double glazing
  • Try a nodcast! These are soothing sounds to help you drop off to sleep
  • Relax: have a bath, use scented oils like lavender or try some meditation
  • There are some good apps to help you wind down, including deep breathing and to help you sleep
  • Avoid caffeine after midday – this can include tea, coffee, cola and chocolate
  • Don’t drink more than your suggested alcohol units of 1-2 per day, particularly near bedtime
  • Stay hydrated – drink 6-8 glasses of water during the day
  • Stick to regular times to go to bed and get up
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime
  • Keep a journal: writing down your worries can really help
  • Use a sleep diary to track how you really sleep.

If you're still having problems sleeping, speak to your GP, as there may be an underlying medical cause.