With news that Ministers are reportedly planning to issue guidance on how much sleep people should be getting every night, let's take a look at why sleep is important.
Sleep is essential for maintaining good mental and physical health. Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.
A lack of regular sleep is said to put you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy. It's also said to have a link with Alzheimer’s.
As many as one in three people can have some difficulty with sleeping. However, there are many things you can do to help yourself. A normal night's sleep has three main parts:
We all feel tired occasionally. Usually this is down to burning the candle at both ends, whether it be due to too many late nights, a heavy workload or a new baby. However, if you keep feeling tired, you should try to figure out what is really making you so.
If you have poor sleep, you may be tired in the daytime, have reduced concentration, become irritable, or just not function well.
Different people need different amounts of sleep. Some people function well and are not tired during the day with just 3-4 hours' sleep a night. Most people need more than this. To need 6-9 hours per night is average. Most people establish a pattern that is normal for them in their early adult life. However, as you become older, it is normal to sleep less. For most people it takes less than thirty minutes to fall asleep.
It can be helpful to think about:
It might be helpful to talk to your GP/occupational health provider. They will look at the psychological, physical and lifestyle causes of tiredness. These can include:
If you have problems sleeping, then sleep hygiene can help. This means doing things which are known to improve sleep, and avoiding those things which are known to disturb sleep. Here are some things that can help