This World Sleep Day, here's everything you need to know if you're struggling to catch those zzz's...
You all know sleep is an absolutely essential part of any healthy lifestyle. Yet, sadly, while juggling work, working out, and, ahem, life, way too many of you are struggling to get even six hours of sleep a night.
As the NHS website explains, getting anything less than six hours sleep a night puts you at risk of medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, plus it can shorten your life expectancy. Not good.
So yep, sleep is really important. Studies have proven enough sleep can help relieve stress, improve memory, sharpen your attention span, and boost your general mood. So why are you finding getting a good shut-eye so damn difficult?
Why am I struggling to sleep?
It's been a rough few years, so understandably, your stress levels are probably higher than usual. Stress can trigger a whole load of issues - poor digestion, skin flare-ups, and even sleep troubles.
So, if you are struggling to sleep, know that you're not alone. People had particularly vivid dreams all throughout the spates of UK lockdowns, with many dreaming about exes and some even experiencing sleep paralysis, too (read our guide to the most common sex dreams, here).
Here are five tips for easing yourself to sleep, if you find yourself lying awake most nights. And don't miss our round-up of the best mattresses, sleep masks, weighted blankets, and beauty sleep products, while you're at it.
Struggling to sleep? 5 simple tips and tricks
1. Download apps that can help
Sounds counter-intuitive, can actually be really useful, especially if you opt for an app like Calm, which has specifically designed sleep stories to soothe you to sleep from the likes of Harry Styles, Matthew McConaughey and more.
2. Try a sleep tracker
If you're unsure what's stopping you from getting to sleep, mobile sleep trackers are an efficient way of recording your sleep patterns and sleep cycles, helping you to identify where the problem lies.
Plus, you may drift off easier knowing that you don't need to try suss out why you don't nod off - your tech can, for you.
3. Use a sleep aid
Sleep aids come in many forms and the best remedies differ from person to person, depending on preference, the sleep condition in question and the severity of each case.
For some, the problem is something as minor as room brightness, in which case sleep masks would be sufficient, sleep meditation is recommended for those who struggle to fall asleep and for people having problems with their sleeping patterns, a sleep calculator is the best bet.
In the more severe cases of sleep deprivation like insomnia, some people tend to resort to more extreme measures, trying everything from sleeping pills to sleep therapy - but do see a medical professional, before trying at home.
4. Make sure you don't have a sleep disorder
A sleep disorder is, simply put, a problem sleeping. It may sound minor but, as above, if you're not getting some much-needed shut-eye, the long terms effects can be harmful. Common sleep disorders causing sleep deprivation are insomnia, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.
Other sleep disorders can occur depending on situation, with sleep regression occurring in families with newborn babies, jet lag occurring after crossing two or more time zones and sleep paralysis typically stemming from stress.
There are numerous other factors that can affect the amount of kip you get - everything from sleep hygiene and bed bugs to snoring. Oh, and global pandemics. Those will undoubtedly have an effect, too.
5. See a professional
Most sleep disorders are temporary and will go away naturally as your situation changes.
If however you have been suffering with a sleep disorder for an extended period of time or think that it could be a bigger problem, do consult your doctor.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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