PUT STRESS ON SNOOZE
Eight hours of snoozing. If only we could master it, we’d be healthier, happier, calmer, sharper and generally all-round better versions of our usual groggy, yawning, puffy-eyed selves. Roughly 35 to 40 per cent of UAE residents have suffered from a sleep disorder at some point in their life, according to Arab Health Online, and sleep problems constitute a global epidemic affecting up to 45 per cent of the world’s population according to theWorld Association of Sleep Medicine. Research suggests that long-term bad sleep can damage health, while in the short-term, our immune systems suffer and it leaves us zapped, irritable and unable to concentrate.
“Poor sleep among people living in the UAE is often caused by obesity and accompanying obstructive sleep apnea, stress, shift work and jet lag,” says Dr Suresh Menon, medical director and a specialist in internal medicine, Lifeline Hospital, Jebel Ali, who says he sees two to three patients per week with sleeping disorders.
During particularly stressful phases like exams or relationship breakdowns, or after trauma, grief, physical illness or pain, it’s normal for sleep to suffer and insomnia can become a chronic problem for some.
If insomnia does become chronic, speaking to your GP is important. Aside from pills, therapies like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be effective.
But if poor sleep is simply a niggling problem you could really do without, here are some simple steps you can take to help. Bad sleepers are often trapped in a worry cycle. “The anxiety of thinking you’ll not be able to sleep is one of the things that feeds the problem,” says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, author of Tired But Wired: How To Overcome Sleep Problems, The Essential Sleep Toolkit.
Also, lying in bed worrying about the day’s events or things that might happen in the future is not going to help, but it’s a habit you can address.
Dr Ramlakhan recommends a 12-step toolkit, which includes adapting your activities throughout the day, like exercising to reduce stress and writing a to-do list for the next day at bedtime.
Well-being coach and hypnotherapist Kam Birdee (www.kambirdee.com) agrees. “Keep a notebook by your bed and write things you’re worrying about. They’ll be out of your head and can be dealt with in the morning.”
CREATE A SLUMBER-ENHANCING HAVEN
Your surroundings have a big impact on your mind, so it makes sense that the place you sleep in should be a peaceful retreat. “If there’s clutter around you, it can be cluttering your mind,” says Birdee.
Dr Ramlakhan recommends clearing your bedroom of all technology in order for a good night’s sleep, which means no computers or TV. If that’s not possible, at least find a way to hide work-related stuff. “If you lack space, make boundaries in other ways, for example a white sheet over your desk area,” she says.