Everyone loves to get a good night's sleep. Waking up refreshed helps us to be better prepared for the day ahead. There are however, many reasons why we may not sleep, from emotional reasons, like anxiety, to physical problems such as heartburn. Whatever the reason is, sleeping poorly is a very common problem:
- In Britain, one in three of us suffers from poor sleep1
- In 2012 the NHS spent over £50 million on sleeping pills alone2
So let's look at the importance of sleep, the effects of not sleeping well and how to get better sleep.
How your quality of sleep may affect you
The amount of sleep you need varies from as much as 21 hours when you were a baby, to 7-8 hours as an adult.3 We all know that one of the nice things about sleeping well is to awake refreshed. But regularly sleeping well also helps other aspects of our health and wellbeing, including:
- Boosting your immune system
- Helping to keep your weight down
It's well known that you can feel sluggish in the morning after sleeping poorly. A poor night’s sleep can affect your mood, your ability to concentrate and leave you feeling tired and lethargic. The occasional night of poor sleep happens to most of us and should give you no great cause for concern. However, sleeping poorly on a regular basis could ultimately put you at risk of other problems too:
- Heart disease
- Depression and anxiety.
The NHS states that: "It's now clear that a solid night's sleep is essential for a long and healthy life."
So it's certainly worth examining how you might sleep better, rather than just accepting that's how it is.
What can be the causes of not having good sleep?
There are many reasons why you may not be sleeping well, including emotional worries and medical conditions, but some of the most common reasons are money concerns and work issues.2 You may have your own specific reasons for your troubled sleep, that go beyond the physical, and you should consider discussing them with health professionals if you feel you have been unable to find solutions.
How can you sleep better and wake feeling refreshed?
The simplest way of helping to improve your sleep, is to address the reasons why you’re not sleeping well. Here are 10 tips that cover many of the common reasons for disturbed sleep:
- Treat your bedroom as the room for sleep - not just another living room
- Lights in your bedroom can keep you awake - turn them off, or cover up if possible. The sleep- inducing hormone melatonin is very sensitive to light and may not be produced sufficiently in your body if your room isn't dark enough
- Television, computers or mobiles in your bedroom - it's a good idea to switch them off, remove or mute them, so that lights or sound alerts don't distract you
- An uncomfortable mattress - get a new one if you possibly can. We can spend more time in bed than on other pieces of furniture, so consider prioritising if you are planning to buy new things for your home
- Temperature - it can help if you try to keep your bedroom cool. An ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep is around 18 °C or so
- Try not to exercise late at night, as this can raise your adrenaline levels, preventing the relaxation necessary for sleep. The movement and agitation also increases the chance of an upset stomach or heartburn.
- Wear earplugs if noise is keeping you awake
- Have a relaxing bath before bed, or read a book in bed to help you relax before trying to sleep
- Food - eating late at night or eating the wrong type of food for your evening meal can trigger heartburn. Caffeinated drinks can keep you awake, so try to examine what you eat and drink, and when, and make some adjustments if necessary.
- Heartburn – Heartburn is a condition that commonly disturbs sleep, and symptoms are often more at night. If you’re finding that heartburn is giving you problems with your sleep, then Gaviscon Double Action can help. It neutralises stomach acid while also forming a protective barrier on top of the stomach to help keep the contents in place and provide effective relief that lasts up to twice as long as antacids.
All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Gaviscon Double Action for Heartburn & Indigestion. Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist.
Article published 1 January 2021