Are you exhausted, groggy and bleary-eyed with relentless, stupefying tiredness? Then you are far from alone.
That’s because this country, according to experts, is in the midst of a sleeplessness epidemic that poses a serious risk to our health and wellbeing.
A recent poll found six in ten of us don’t get enough sleep — a greater number than ever before.
The average adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep a night to stay healthy and, while sinking occasionally below this doesn’t necessarily matter, a regular nightly total of less than seven does and is associated with numerous problems including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stoke and potentially cancer — not to mention irritability, stress and headache-inducing brain fog.
So why, whether a corporate high-flier or a busy mum, are we so grateful for just five hours beneath a duvet?
Dr Guy Meadows, sleep researcher and clinical director of The Sleep School, believes it’s symptomatic of a greater shift.
‘The fundamental issue is that our lifestyles are cutting short the time available for sleep.
‘We are working longer hours than ever before — far longer than we set aside for sleep — so we stay up late, keen for a bit of down time, surrounded by technology that excites our brains too close to bedtime.’
Oxford University scientists found we are getting one to two hours’ less sleep than people 60 years ago. Colin Espie, professor of sleep medicine at Oxford University, says stress invariably plays a role.
‘The biggest enemy of sleep is a racing mind. People wait until bedtime to think about their day, tomorrow, their life, the future and, worst of all, worry about sleep itself and how they will cope tomorrow without it. This makes sleeps even more elusive.’
To end the self-perpetuating nightmare and reclaim the bedroom, we consulted the country’s leading sleep experts to find out exactly how to maximise your 40 winks.
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