Modern technology and a twenty-four-hour society are thought to be the main reason for a world that rarely sleeps. However, in more recent studies it is suggested that insomnia ‘poses serious health risks’ as lack of sleep increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, infections and obesity – according to health professionals.
In addition, another survey revealed that up to 30% of Brits could suffer with insomnia. You would probably assume that not getting enough sleep merely leaves you a bit groggy and agitated but the stark reality is that it’s far more damaging. It is estimated that we sleep two hours less on average than in the 1960’s and increased light caused by technological devices is the overriding reason for this.
Prof Russell Foster, at the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle.”What we do as a species, perhaps uniquely, is override the clock. And long-term acting against the clock can lead to serious health problems.”
The news regarding the amount of Brits that suffer with insomnia is quite astonishing and there have been many different reports about the condition. However, sleep professionals have been relatively unified on ways of how to combat sleeplessness.
Here are a few top tips.
If you tend to be a bit of a worrier, or have a really busy work schedule that you can’t relax from, then make a list for the next day. Too often people lay awake at night thinking about what you have to do for the following days tasks. Try and set aside time every night before you go to sleep to review the following day and make plans. The aim is to avoid doing this when you’re trying to get to sleep.
Therapists often use reconditioning as part of a treatment plan for insomnia. This technique is all about the power of the mind, where people are programmed to associate the bed with sleep. If you should ever find yourself lying awake at night, then remover yourself from your bed and go into another room. This will then ensure that every time you go up to the bedroom, you associate your bed with sleep.
Having the correct mattress can be invaluable. For the sake of a little more money, a good mattress can improve your health, so don’t just put up with one that is too soft, hard, small or old. There are specific shops that can help you understand exactly what style of bed suits you. Just like a tailored suit, you will have a bed that is made to measure and tells the test of time.
It is true that all types of light will stop you feeling sleepy but blue light in particular has the strongest links for keeping people up at night. All tablets, laptops, kindles, smart phones and PC’s have LED lighting that all emit blue. If there is no way around using technology and you have to use your smart phone in the evening, then reduce the brightness setting and ensure that it’s at least 30cm from your eyes.
It is recommended that your bedroom temperature should be at around eighteen degrees Celsius. With a thin layering of pyjamas in the summer and thick layering in the winter, your body will remain thermally neutral at this temperature. However, if you are prone to bad circulation then beware of cold feet as they will keep you up at night. Simply cover your feet with a pair of socks and you shouldn’t find a problem with your temperature and hopefully your sleep.
It is clear that insomnia and sleep deprivation are on the rise here in the UK and the trend doesn’t look set on slowing down. However, with the combination of different methods to combat the condition, we can all work towards getting a restful night’s sleep.
For more information from the NHS about insomnia – click here.