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Sleep loss: The facts

Posted on June 25, 2016 by Urban Wool

Are we to blame for our lack of sleep?

Sleep issues

The Sleep Health Foundation found in 2011 that 1 in 3 people have mild insomnia.
This is quite a large number of people who aren’t getting all the sleep needed. Sleep is important to recharge the brain, allow for cells to repair themselves and during sleep the body releases important hormones.

What are the causes of insomnia?

There are a lot of contributing factors that cause insomnia, including mental health conditions, medication and physical health conditions. For more information, please visit the NHS website.
Today, we will focus on the factors that we cause ourselves.
  • Stress and Anxiety
Stress levels in the 21st century have increased significantly, so much so that stress has been called ‘The Health Epidemic of the 21st Century’ by the World Health Organisation. It has something to do with the Gen Y generation, the recession and increase in business demands, but also technology. Because of technological advances, it’s hard to actually become detached from work. A lot of people are now connected 24/7. Work-life balance is almost a distant memory.
  • Poor Sleep Routine/Environment
Think about what you do before bed. A lot of us check our phone right before we go to sleep, or watch something on a TV or laptop. Again, as technology advances there is something that is affecting our sleep. For the younger generation, it is a habit we started in adolescence. Aspen Education published statistics that show watching television is the most popular activity for adolescents in the hour before bedtime. A whopping 76% of teenagers do this, while surfing the internet and talking on the phone aren't far behind.
  • Lifestyle Factors
This includes alcohol before bed, drugs and stimulants. Stimulants seem to be the larger factor when it comes to lifestyle factors. Have you noticed the ever increasing numbers in coffee shops? In fact, The Telegraph published an article in 2014 that claimed coffee shops had taken over the popularity of pubs. On top of this, not many of us actually take into account how long the caffeine stays in our system. It takes 5 - 6 hours for caffeine concentration to reduce by half. Meaning, if you have a small cup of coffee, containing around 250 milligrams of caffeine at 7am, by 1pm your body will still have 125 milligrams of caffeine left. Most of us also forget that caffeine is addictive, so if you're drinking too much, try and reduce your intake slowly to prevent withdrawal.

So, how much sleep do we need?

  • Babies: 16 hours
  • 3 - 18 year olds: 10 hours
  • 19 - 55 year olds: 8 hours
  • 65 and over: 6 hours
Insufficient sleep has also been known to contribute to depression, skin aging and weight gain, among various other side effects.

Top Tips to Sleep

  • Routine
If you go to bed around the same time every night, your body should start to settle into a routine and prepare itself for sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom for sleep only
A lot of us watch TV, use our phones or play around on our laptops all in one room. Often, our brains are active in a room that should be reserved for sleep. Set up your sleep environment in the best way you can.
  • Create comfort
This one seems a little obvious. But, even before bed, make sure your bed is set up in your own preference. If you know you sleep with a pillow at a certain angle, make sure it's set up that. Know your best sleeping position and use it.
  • Relax before bed
So, this means no checking your phone and no using anything electrical. Your brain has had a busy day, let it take a break at least half an hour before bed. Let your brain realise it's about to get some z's.
This article from the News Hub doesn't tell us anything we don't know - so why do we not follow these simple steps?
Even here at Urban Wool we struggle doing the right thing by ourselves but at least when we do drop into bed it's a deep fitful sleep we have...

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