Not getting enough sleep has to be one of the biggest bugbears for woman everywhere. But if you have trouble sleeping there are steps you can take throughout the day to ensure you get a good night's rest (and not one of them involves popping a pill).
We spoke to one of the best rested sleep experts, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan to find out her advice for women. Being a a sleep expert for Silentnight, a psychologist, author, consultant and sleep therapist at Capio Nightingale Hospital, London, we thought she may know a thing or two. We were right...
'There are many issues affecting women today that can have a detrimental impact on sleep - from career pressures, relationship issues, lack of exercise, poor diet and excessive alcohol to wider value conflicts, when people find themselves living a life which they don't seem to fit any longer.
Technology such as smart phones, tablets and laptops have also started to play a significant role in affecting sleep patterns. Spending too much time on social media sites in the evening, working in bed on a lap top and checking phone messages during the night are all factors which can affect quality sleep.
It is important to practice good sleep routines to optimise sleep quality. Here are some tips to help you break away from the stresses and strains of your day and improve your sleep:
Take regular breaks during the day
Try to take a lunch break of between 20-30 minutes. Use the time to walk, stretch and recharge mentally. Try to avoid checking emails or surfing the internet during this time.
Follow a regular wind down routine
Get into the habit of winding down every night before bed by reading a book, listening to music or having a relaxing bath. Delay going to bed if you feel tense.
Manage the work/home boundaries
Try not to let work talk spill over into your entire evening and bedtime. Allow your mind to wind down and switch off.
Write a to do list before leaving work rather than at the beginning of the day. This stops you worrying about work in the evening and you are less likely to wake up in the night worrying about tasks that need to be done.
Regular exercise is the most effective way of reducing stress hormone levels, enabling you to sleep more deeply.
Caffeine has a direct impact on reducing sleep quality. It can take up to 10 hours to remove the caffeine from your body from one tea or coffee. If you are having trouble sleeping minimise caffeine and drink more water or herbal teas. Alcohol can also impair deep sleep quality.
Waking up in the night
Avoid looking at the clock and registering the time as this will make you worry further. Lie on your back and try to consciously relax each part of your body starting from your toes, working up to your head and your face whilst breathing deeply from your diaphragm.
Short naps of 5-15 minutes have been proven to be very effective at promoting energy renewal. A power nap involves relaxing into a near sleep state without actually falling asleep and still being aware of your surroundings.
Keep your sleep environment free of clutter and junk. Don't bring work into your bedroom and keep your laptop and phone out of your bed. The ideal temperature is slightly cool so keep windows slightly open or have a fan in the room.
Good rest vs. poor sleep
The more pressure that we put on ourselves to sleep, the less likely we are to actually fall asleep. This may be the case the night before a big work event or getting up early to catch a plane. In these situations it is often helpful to replace the word 'sleep' with 'rest' - so tell yourself 'It doesn't matter if I don't sleep tonight, I'm going to use the time to rest.'
For more information and sleep advice from Dr Nerina please visit silentnight.co.uk/sleep-you
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