This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I think all of us at some point have suffered from sleeping issues, no longer ‘sleeping like a baby’. Sleep can elude us even though we are exhausted. Our mind is racing with worries and there seems to be nothing that we can do to fall asleep. The last two years of the pandemic has given us all lots of reasons to incur a disturbed sleep pattern. Just as we seem to be coming out the other side of Covid the world now faces another aggressor, Vladimir Putin. Whilst bombs may not be raining down on us the effects are still felt and once again we can lie awake with no reasonable chance of falling asleep. I have learned not to watch or listen to the news before I go to bed as these images often keep me awake. But sometimes even this personal trick of mine does not aid in giving me a good night’s sleep. So the below article from Dr. Patel is most welcome at this time. Annabel
A common reason that patients and coaching clients come and see me is due to sleeping issues. Some studies report that up to a third of adults suffer from insomnia and other sleep-related issues in the UK. Whilst we all know how a poor night’s sleep can affect our mood the next day, make us irritable, short-tempered and lead to difficulty concentrating, research has shown that a continual disturbance or lack of sleep can lead to long term health problems. These can be wide-ranging, from causing heart and blood pressure related problems, to diabetes and obesity. A recent study in the BMJ discussed how clinical staff were more likely to become infected with Covid-19 and have a worse outcome of their illness if they suffered from insomnia or disrupted sleep.
Every adult needs a different amount of sleep that suits them and allows them to function the next day, with an average of 8 hours of sleep a night.
A recent study carried out by the respected science journal ‘Nature’ followed up patients over a 25 year period, looking at how many hours of sleep adults between the ages of 50 to 60 years old had a night. They found that people who had consistently less than 6 hours of sleep a night during the ages 50 to 70 years old, were found to have a 30% increased risk of dementia.
Knowing how important sleep is for our health, and preventing chronic disease, how can we get better quality and a long night’s sleep?
A regular nighttime routine to prepare for getting ready for bed can help. Trying to relax and get into the mood to stop worrying can be hard, especially if you are anxious about sleeping anyway.
Relaxation tips include:
- A warm bath to help you relax and get ready for bed.
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening can also help, as this can stimulate you and interfere with sleep patterns.
- Practising yoga, meditating and listening to a relaxation track can get you ready for bed also.
- Try to avoid screens in the bedroom at least an hour before bedtime and consider charging devices in another room.
- For those of you with pets, if you have a pet that sleeps with you and is disturbing your sleep, consider moving them to another room.
Your sleep environment is also important. An uncomfortable mattress that is too hard or soft will affect your sleep. Mattresses should be replaced every 6-8 years. Blackout blinds are important if light keeps you up, as is double glazing or earplugs to ensure noise does not disturb your sleep. Turning lights off or keeping them as dim as possible helps the body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and will help you achieve better quality and longer sleep.
Sleep coaching can also help, and I have helped many clients to specifically look at their sleep environment, sleep routines and have finally considered medication if appropriate to help with their sleep.
If you are concerned about sleeping related issues, or worried that your partner may have problems with sleep, or have insomnia that lasts for more than four weeks, please discuss your concerns with your general practitioner and make an appointment to see them today.
Dr. Hana Patel BSc MBBS FRCGP MSc (Med Ed) ILM7
NHS and Private Senior General Practitioner (FRCGP). For appointments with Dr. Hana Patel please look at her website to book a range of private messaging, online and face to face consultations.
Dr. Hana Patel has passed the rigorous process and is also known as a ‘Topdoctor’- GP and Life Coach in the UK, and is a leading specialist in her field. Click here to find out more.
If you want to read more about Dr. Patel please click HERE for her first article of introduction.