One third of our life is spent sleeping – or should be. Increasing numbers of people are finding that this percentage is seriously slipping, with less time spent asleep, and the sleep that we do get proving unrefreshing when we wake up.
Sleep is designed to restore us to full function after a period of wearing ourselves out. During the night, tissues are repaired, organs rest or finish cycles such as flushing out toxins, and the brain filters the events of the day. This is why you can sometimes wake up with the answer to an issue that seemed insoluble the evening before.
The problem comes when sleep is illusive. Missing the time to repair and restore, we find our brains struggling to cope, memory slipping, concentration below par, muscles fatigued, skin dull and eyes lack-lustre. Parents with new babies know how divorced from reality they feel after a few weeks of severely interrupted sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, which stimulates the nervous system and puts it on red alert. Remember that chocolate and fizzy drinks contain caffeine, as well as tea and coffee. Swap to natural alternatives like pure juices and dried fruit.
- Clear your mental agenda before you go to bed – make a list of things to do the next day or issues that you need to consider, and then put them aside for the night.
- Have a warm bath or read a pleasant book, but don’t watch the nerve-wracking news or try to finish an essay just before bed.
- Make sure the room is dark. The darker it is, the better you’ll sleep.
- Reserve your bed for sleep, then your body will not associate being in bed with being alert and on edge. Having your bedroom packed with a television, laptop and stacks of work makes it difficult for the brain to switch off.
- Keep your room cool. The temperature of your bedroom also affects sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 18° C) with adequate ventilation.
- Quit smoking. Smoking causes sleep troubles in numerous ways. Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep.
-Try a herbal solution such as A.Vogel Dormeasan valerian-hops. This is used to aid sleep and help with symptoms of mild mental stress.