Home truths about sleep

iStock_000014593304SmallQuality sleep is essential for maintaining the infrastructure of our well-being. When our health is good and life is busy it’s easy to neglect sleep routines. But when health issues such as stress, illness or major life events arrive, and our sleep patterns are erratic, our energy infrastructure collapses like an un-reinforced building in an earthquake zone. The key to restful sleep is not complicated but it can take a long time to re-establish if poor sleep patterns have been present for a long time.

Start with regular bedtime routine, dim the lights, have a warm shower or bath, use aromatherapy/scented candles, de-clutter the bedroom and remove electronic devices from the zone!

Don’t call a friend or relative or have an important conversation just before you turn in or your mind will be far too active for sleep. Instead listen to relaxing music. Avoid caffeine (in coca cola, coffee or tea, energy drinks) for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.

Don’t drink excessive fluids (or alcohol) before bed as you are more likely to need to empty your bladder overnight if you do.

Try to relax and empty your mind in the hour before you turn your lights out.

If you follow these strategies for a couple of days and they don’t work, keep going…Rome was not built in a day… poor sleep habits can take weeks or months to reverse.

Only allow yourself 8 to 10 hours sleep. Waking unrefreshed is not a free licence to sleep longer. Excessive sleep is toxic. It does not result in less fatigue and often causes rebound insomnia and further sleep disruption in a vicious cycle. It can also result in muscle deconditioning if resting/sleeping/relaxing occurs for more than 12 out of 24 hours on a regular basis.

Don’t rely on sleeping tablets and pain killers. They do not produce restful sleep they just cause dependence, side effects and more problems along the line.

Consider simple adjustments like earplugs if your partner snores and blackout blinds in summer so you don’t wake at 4.30 am with the Dawn Chorus and Sunrise!

Here is an excellent sleep document that you can also access direct on the internet from and NHS resource:

Sleeping literature  C/O Sunderland NHS

Dr Annice Mukherjee, Hormone Consultant & Fatigue Expert