LIVE WELL Are you get­ting enough sleep?

In the Moment - - Contents -

WE ALL KNOW WHEN WE'VE BEEN BURN­ING THE CAN­DLE AT BOTH ENDS AND NEED A FEW EARLY NIGHTS, BUT IS YOUR SLEEP ROU­TINE GIV­ING YOU THE REST YOU NEED?

When it comes to sleep we’ve been told for years that the magic num­ber is eight (hours a night, that is). Yet a re­cent sur­vey by the Sleep Coun­cil found that only 22% of us sleep be­tween seven and eight hours a night and over 40% of us reg­u­larly get less than six.

Of course our sleep needs are as in­di­vid­ual as we are and some of us feel bet­ter with more, while oth­ers feel top of the morn­ing with less.

If you’re not sure whether you’re a more or a less per­son, the Na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion rec­om­mends giv­ing your­self a week to sleep with­out an alarm clock (prob­a­bly best to do this while you’re on hol­i­day un­less you have a par­tic­u­larly un­der­stand­ing boss!). Make a note of how many hours sleep you need each night and by the end of the week you can av­er­age them out for your per­sonal magic num­ber.

The idea is that you can then take your­self o to bed at the op­ti­mum time and, apart from when you fancy a night out, do away with your alarm clock for good.

For those of us who nd the idea of leav­ing our wake up time to chance a lit­tle un­nerv­ing, it’s cer­tainly worth try­ing to break the alarm habit, as many stud­ies have found that an alarm-free wake-up is bet­ter for our health.

Re­search by sci­en­tists in Ja­pan found that wak­ing up abruptly can cause higher blood pres­sure and in­crease your heart rate, as well as in­duc­ing stress by get­ting your adren­a­line rush­ing. The study con­cluded that wak­ing up to nat­u­ral light is best for your body – easy to do in the sum­mer, but not very prac­ti­cal in the depths of British win­ter when it stays dark un­til eight o’clock. For morn­ings when an alarm is un­avoid­able, soft mu­sic or sooth­ing sounds are, un­sur­pris­ingly, your best bet for rous­ing your­self gen­tly from your slum­ber.

For some of us, it’s not wak­ing up that’s the is­sue, it’s get­ting to sleep in the rst place. Ac­cord­ing to the NHS, in­som­nia reg­u­larly af­fects around one in three peo­ple in the UK.

Search the in­ter­net and you’ll nd more sleep tips than there are bed­time hours in the week, from the well known (avoid caf­feine, al­co­hol and blue light be­fore bed­time) to the slightly wacky (ever tried rub­bing your belly in a circular mo­tion?).

While un­for­tu­nately there is no cure-all there are many tech­niques that have been shown to help im­prove sleep: a warm bath, mind­ful breath­ing (in through the nose for the count of four, hold for two, then ex­hale slowly through the mouth), a 20-minute walk or a run rst thing in the morn­ing (the early morn­ing light should help re­set your in­ter­nal clock, mak­ing sleep eas­ier) and keep­ing to a rou­tine (that means no binge sleep­ing at the week­end).

To send you o to the land of nod, we’ve gath­ered some of our favourite sleep aids on page 38 to help you drop o , sleep soundly and wake up feel­ing en­er­gised and re­freshed.

Wil­son Mizner

“The amount of sleep re­quired by the av­er­age per­son is five

min­utes more."

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