The value of good sleep habits in later life

How did you sleep last night? We all need sleep but so many of us are not getting enough of it.

Even people who don’t feel chronically sleep-deprived can be getting less sleep than they need, which may have important health effects both short-term and long-term. For adults, most people need 7-9 hours every night. And if you are not getting enough sleep over a long period of time, then here’s what might be happening to you.

  • Having a harder time paying attention.
  • Being more irritable, more anxious, and sometimes more depressed.
  • Daytime sleepiness. People can actually fall asleep for a few seconds if they are driving, sitting in a meeting, or otherwise doing something boring or sedentary. Obviously, this can be quite dangerous and is a major contributor to car accidents!
  • Having a lack of physical or mental energy. So you feel tired, but not the kind of tired where it’s easy to fall asleep.

If you are struggling to manage 7-9 you’ll be pleased to know we have an idea about how to tackle it! And surprisingly another idea about what might not help you as much as you might have thought!

The first thing to say, is that all the medical advice we see, says that you should only use medication as a last resort. This is because any medication that can make you sleepy can also make your brain foggy – and no one wants that!

From our research, what really seems to work is Cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). Which is a fancy way of saying, helping a person avoid all the negative thought patterns that can lead to insomnia and introducing good sleep habits and relaxation techniques.

What isn’t as effective as you might have thought, is exercise. Whilst exercise is great for your overall health and well-being, it is suggested that it can take a few months for exercise to have a real effect on sleep, so exercise alone is not going to give you the fastest resolution to repeated sleepless nights.

So the message here is good sleep is more about the mind than the body!

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