HOW TO SLEEP: The clocks go back an hour on Sunday which means an extra hour in bed in the morning. But daylight saving can disturb your sleep routine. A sleep expert recommends seven tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
Sleep problems such as insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns can cause an abundance of health problems.
Insomnia is thought to affect around one in three people in the UK and can last for months or even years at a time.
Not only can it limit what you’re able to do during the day and how well you perform, but it can also affect your mood and relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
So with the clocks changing on Sunday 28 October, how can you get your much-needed sleep? Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director of The London Sleep Centre, has provided advice on how to treat insomnia.
Write it down
If you’re lying awake worrying about your to do list, or how financially or physically you’re going to achieve something, then simply writing it down can help make things feel more manageable.
Dr Ebrahim suggests keeping a small notebook on your bedtime table and anytime you’re lying in bed feeling overwhelmed, sit up, turn the bedside lamp on and just note down everything that’s on your mind.
Reduce exposure to blue light
The bedroom should be a place for rest and not a working office. Dr Ebrahim explained: “With today’s life demands it can be hard to fully ‘switch off’ from emails and social media, but if you can it will really benefit your sleep.
“If you do insist of having a phone in the bedroom then try not to look at the screen at least 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep, so that your melatonin levels have a chance to regulate. Try reading a book instead and put your phone on do not disturb mode if possible to limit distractions.”
Find a way to relax
Whether it’s a hot bath, some meditation, or listening to music. Dr Ebrahim advised: “Try and find something that helps you wind down after a busy or stressful day so that you put your body and mind in the best position to sleep.
“Everybody is different and no matter how big or small it might be it can be a big help in improving your sleep.”
Gentle exercise, such as a short walk around the block can help to relieve tension and is a great way to boost melatonin and make you feel sleepy, according to Dr Ebrahim.
He added: “However, make sure you don’t exercise too close to your preferred bedtime as it can have the opposite affect and don’t do any vigorous exercise.”
Stick to the same sleeping hours
Although it’s sometimes impossible, going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday can really help get your body in to a good rhythm for sleep.
Dr Ebrahim said: “I would suggest sticking to the same bedtime every week night and weekends if possible.”
Watch what you eat and drink
Things to avoid in the evening include alcohol and caffeine, including chocolate, which can keep you awake.
Dr Ebrahim explained: “Many people think a glass of wine helps them sleep better and although it may help you fall asleep quicker, it will disrupt your quality of sleep throughout the night. Also, avoid spicy or acidic foods that can give you heartburn and cause discomfort when you get in to bed.”
Ask your pharmacist about a short-term sleep aid
If you’re worried that your insomnia isn’t improving, then speak to your local pharmacist.
Dr Ebrahim said: “They are highly trained healthcare professionals who can offer expert advice and will be able to recommended a short-term sleep aid to help you get a good night’s sleep and break the sleepless cycle.”
Dr Ebrahim does not endorse any medicines but teamed up with Pheneran Night Time to issue advice for helping people get to sleep when the clocks go back this weekend.
So how much sleep do we need? A recent study revealed the right number of sleeping hours you should be getting.