Skip to main content

Dr Anna M L Smith

Tel: 077175 70805

I Talk About Sleep Today...

03 July 2024
Man sleeping in a bed

Sleep is hugely important to our health, as it allows time for our bodies to heal and repair, a good night's sleep can reduce the risk chronic disease such as BP, diabetes, mental illness and obesity as it affects insulin and glucose levels - so why does it elude so many of us? or what do many of us oversleep?

I do think you need to prioritise sleep, to decide what hours you need for sleep, ideally 7-9 hours a night.

Then we need to consider our natural day/night rhythm- the circadian rhythm, so start with some morning light for 15-20 minutes. This can be a morning walk to work by getting off the bus a stop earlier, getting outside with a cup of tea, doing any stretches outside or get walking with your dog as early as you can.

Caffeine matters! Ideally, have all your caffeine before midday as caffeine stays in our system for longer than we think, the half-life is 6-8 hours but if you have a caffeinated drink at midday, it is effectively like having a quarter of that drink at midnight! That's a surprise, isn't it!

Alcohol at night may cause you to be sedated overnight but causes a poor quality of deep sleep- so that explains why alcohol makes us tired.

Stress levels in your day affect your sleep- if you are stressed and wired in your day then you are going to struggle with sleep at night and may find yourself waking through the night (just in case that lion.. or email does appear!), so finding a healthy way to unwind in your evening is vital. It is not about distracting yourself from stress (TV, alcohol, food, internet...) it is about actually calming your mind and body (stretches, emotional journalling-what did you really feel?, a walk on a lighter summer evening, reading a book, sitting by a fire in winter, a bath, talking with someone you care about, meditation).

Oversleeping each night can be a sign of severe stress or 'freeze', so also needs healthy ways to reduce stress after a hard day.

Then consider the 90 minutes before bed, try and close down any screens and TV and find some peaceful activities to do in lower level lighting. You may read a book or kindle, potter around the house tidying, listen to a podcast, do a meditation or have a bath. It may be that 90 minutes feels like an eternity to you - so start with 30 minutes and increase the time slowly.

We all wake up at intervals overnight- it's normal, so just tell yourself "I am safe under the duvet and I will just rest my mind and body here in bed".

Have a 'whatever' attitude overnight rather than 'what if ...'

Watch this video about healthy habits for better sleep:

Watch Video

Sweet dreams.

By: Dr Anna Smith