might think the answer would be a holiday or retail therapy or even
relaxing with a nice bottle of Rioja but most people, when asked the
question 'What would make you feel better?', said a good night's sleep
was what they wanted. In its annual Health of the National survey, BUPA
found that 83 percent of those interviewed said hibernating under the
duvet was the thing most guaranteed to rejuvenate them.
Annabel Bentley, assistant medical director at BUPA, says: "The
fact that so many people feel they're suffering from lack of sleep is a
sign of the times. More women than ever are juggling motherhood and a
career, Britons work longer hours than most of our European counterparts
and an increasingly 24 hour society means we can check our bank balance
and do our shopping at 3am, or collapse in front of the television until
the early hours."
continues: "The pressure to juggle home, work, family and social
life means many people can't switch off from the day's exertions to
relax and get a good night's sleep. They end up feeling tired and
stressed and getting poor sleep. It's a chicken and egg situation which
is tough to crack."
severe cases, lack of sleep can result in serious disorders such as
insomnia. As well as making us feel dreadful, there is also some
evidence that our immune system and physical health also suffer when we
experience chronic sleep deprivation, as well as our ability to enjoy
life in general.
you are suffering from lack of sleep, or more serious sleep related
problems, BUPA has some tips to help you back to sleep:
to do during the day:
a healthy breakfast containing plenty of vitamins and minerals.
It's the most important meal of the day and sets you up with
plenty of energy to get through the daily routine.
up on a protein-packed meal for lunch, such as fish or chicken
breast with vegetables which will stop you from feeling lethargic
in the afternoon.
you are deprived of sleep for some reason, such as a new baby,
having a 15-20 minute catnap during the day can refresh and
revive. However, if you are merely finding sleeping at night
difficult, catnaps during the day will not help.
in the early evening. Try yoga or Pilates for a more relaxing way
to keep fit and supple. But don't exercise close to bedtime
because this can cause poor sleep.
worrying. Anxiety and stress are the commonest causes of poor
sleep. It's important to try and resolve as many problems before
you leave work. Time management is a skill that can be learned, so
if you work at a desk that's piled high with papers and frequently
find yourself working long hours these courses will help you learn
to a bedtime routine. Try to go to bed at the same time each night,
and set your alarm for the same time each morning and don't leave it
too much later at weekends.
how many hours of sleep you actually need. Some people need eight,
others only six.
eating heavy meals late at night. Stick to a light
carbohydrate-based meal, like egg on toast or soup with bread or
drinks immediately before bedtime, especially caffeine-containing
drinks, such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cocoa. Choose cold
or warm milk or a herbal tea such as camomile.
small nightcap is ok, but high alcohol intake will disturb your
sleep. When the alcoholic effect begins to wear off and you start
to become dehydrated, you're more likely to wake up.
is another no-no - it also stimulates your brain, and you may find
it hard to switch off.
off the telly! It stimulates the brain and can result in muscle
tension, preventing you from falling asleep. Instead, wind down
with some relaxing music or treat yourself to a warm bath.
some aromatherapy oils, lavender is renowned for its soothing
properties. Burn some on a special oil-burner, or put a drop under
and staring at the ceiling?
you wake up, don't turn on the light or read or make tea, this
wakes you up more
a relaxation technique. Lie on your back, with your arms to your
sides, palms up. Starting with your feet, gently flex each muscle
and then release. Imagine that each part of your body is sinking
into velvet darkness. Work all the way up your body until all your
muscles are relaxed, before emptying your mind of thoughts...
you've tried all the self-care techniques and you're still not
sleeping, try herbal sleep tablets, which tend not to leave you
feeling groggy in the morning. Homeopathic remedies may also help.
people are so debilitated by insomnia that they are unable to
function, maintain relationships or even hold down a job. If this
sounds like you, you should visit your Doctor for advice. He or she
will often begin by looking for underlying problems such as
depression, anxiety, a drug or alcohol problem, or for physical
causes such as snoring, chronic pain or sleep apnoea.
you are waking up very early in the morning e.g.
, and can't get back to sleep, this could be a sign of depression so
you should visit your GP.
HEALTH OF THE NATION SURVEY 2005-06-24
Which, if any of these things, would you say makes you feel 'better'?
Socialising with friends 62
Being financially secure 54
having a glass of wine/beer 49
Listening to music
End of the week
Respondents were allowed to tick more than one item