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How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 14 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to help reduce stress levels – but it’s not always easy. For some it’s simply a case of getting to sleep in the first place. For others, it’s more of a problem of actually staying asleep once their head hits the pillow.

Serious Problems

Poor sleep has been linked to a number of major illnesses including obesity, type two diabetes, depression and heart disease. And, as well as the more serious, long-term effects of lack of sleep, not getting enough shut-eye can cause problems such as irritability, poor performance and lowered immunity.

It has also been linked to marital problems and divorce, absence from work and unemployment. One in five car accidents is also reportedly caused by tiredness.

Some people actually suffer from genuine sleep disorders. These include all sorts of problems, including teeth grinding, sleep walking and snoring. About three to four per cent of those of those who snore will also have sleep apnoea, where they also stop breathing a number of times in the night. Anyone who thinks they might have a serious sleep disorder should seek medical help.

Reduce Stress

As we sleep, we go through cycles of deeper sleep, in which our body and immune system are repaired, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, in which we dream, lay down memories and deal with stress and emotions.

In other words, the better you sleep, the more able you will be to deal with the daily stresses of your life.

So, what can you do to help you achieve some decent shut-eye?

  • Work out how much sleep you personally need by using a 'good day' as a measure i.e. If you feel great one day, calculate how long you were asleep for the night before
  • Treat sleep as an important part of your existence. Allocate plenty of time for it and begin your night time routine early
  • Try to unwind and relax before going to bed. Try having a bath and reading a little in bed. Some gentle music might also help
  • Have some time without the TV or the computer on – it is important to give your mind time to slow down
  • Check the temperature of your bedroom - make sure it’s not too hot or too cold
  • Consider your curtains - are they keeping the light out adequately? If not, try black-out blinds
  • Think about your bed - is it large enough and comfortable enough?
  • Think about your pillows – are they soft or hard enough? Do they support your neck adequately?
  • Try not to eat before going to bed. Avoid spicy meals or any food that might cause indigestion any time after lunch
  • Do not use alcohol to help you get to sleep. It might help you to drop off but you are more likely to have a broken night
  • Only take medication to help you sleep if it has been prescribed to you by a doctor
  • If your partner snores, try earplugs. If all else fails you may need to sleep apart sometimes

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