According to Chemist4U’s UK 2018 Sleep Survey, just 1 in 10 of respondents said they wake up feeling recuperated every morning.
The issue is similar in Ireland; with research showing that only three in 10 Irish workers get seven to eight hours sleep a night.
Mental health & sleep
While many of us may be aware of the physical ramifications of a lack of sleep, such as tiredness, yawning and fatigue, there are multiple mental health concerns that poor sleeping habits can produce.
For example, the Sleep Foundation report that those who live with sleeping conditions such as insomnia or sleep apnea are 10 times more likely to have clinical depression and 17 times more likely to have clinical anxiety.
In addition to the mental health issues caused by a lack of sleep, research has found that many of us turn to unhealthy lifestyle habits to maintain to help us sleep. 1 in 5 of us drink alcohol to help us nod off according to The Sleep Council.
COVID-19: Improving our sleep
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, many of us are spending more time at home without a daily commute taking away precious hours of our personal time.
Why not take this time at home as an opportunity to analyse your sleeping habits and add measures to improve your sleeping routine Here are a few of our top tips…
- Sleep at regular times – Most adults need between 6 -9 hours of sleep every night. By sticking to a regular bedtime schedule, you will programme your internal body clock to get used to this routine.
- Increase exposure to natural light – Natural sunlight or bright light during the day will help you keep your circadian rhythm healthy, which in turn, will have positive effects on your mental health.
- Create a sleep-friendly space – Make your bedroom a relaxing and calming environment. Optimise the noise and temperature levels to suit your needs and avoid blue light exposure, as this will trick your body into thinking it is daytime e.g. smartphones, TV’s and laptops.
- Separate your sleep form your work – If possible, try to separate your workspace from where you sleep. Working on your laptop on your bed may sound comfortable, but when the time comes to sleep, you may find it hard to shut your mind off from your work responsibilities. Creating a designated work area in your home will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Exercise – One of the most effective ways to improve your sleep, exercise can help relieve the tension built up over the day and relax your mind. Try to avoid exercise late in the evenings, as it may have the opposite effect.
- Avoid alcohol – Drinking alcohol before you go to sleep is a known cause of increasing the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns.
- Relax – Before you go to bed, do an activity that helps you switch off from the pressures of daily life. This could include a warm bath or a meditation session.
While we are living through these times of uncertainty, it’s important for us all to take extra care of our mental and physical wellbeing – and sleep is a significant part of that.
By putting these measures in place, you will start to see the many benefits of a healthy relationship with sleep can provide, such as an improved mood, less stress and even a better memory!