Research suggests that over 70% of the UK sleep on average for less than seven hours a night, with over a quarter regularly experiencing poor quality of sleep.
In the past few years, cultural attitudes towards sleep have changed. We are now all too prepared to sacrifice sleep as we pursue career goals, chores, and social activity, and as we increasingly engage with digital outlets such as television, games, and social media.
The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) states in their sleep guide that the four pillars of the optimum sleep are Health, Environment, Attitude, and Lifestyle (HEAL). Anything from a blocked nose, a loud clock, our state of mind, or even our diets can prevent us getting the sleep we need.
It's important to understand though that 'good sleep' is not necessarily just 'lots of sleep'. It is recommended that adults sleep, on average, between seven and nine hours every night, but we all have different needs. A seemingly uninterrupted nine-hour sleep can still leave us feeling groggy if the factors above are not addressed.
Stress can often be both a cause and a symptom of a restless night as our brains continue to process thoughts and worries into the night. If this is affecting you, there are things you can try. Mindfulness (a form of meditation) can help by reducing the stress and anxiety that keeps us up at night.
External factors such as light pollution from electronic devices surpresses melatonin - the hormone used to help you drift off - and can be a constant distraction throughout the night. Similarly, noises produced by traffic, clocks, pipes, or other residents in your street will continue to stimulate your brain when it is trying to relax.
Consumption of alcohol and caffeine, how much we exercise, and even the temperature in our bedroom can also drastically affect how well we sleep.
Thanks to our partnership with MHF, you can now access our handy little guide, 'How to...Sleep better', which goes into more detail about HEAL and the things you can do to have a completely restful and rejuvenating night's rest. Download yourself a copy, and start working towards better sleep today. If you find that effective, why not browse through our other wellbeing guides too?
You can also try some basic breathing exercises to help you prepare for sleep. Have a listen to the below clips and see if they can help.