How did you sleep last night? How do you normally sleep? Was last night’s slumber better than usual, not as good as usual… worse?
Though we need sleep as much as we do food and drink, many people suffer chronically with poor sleep. In the UK, a third of us are sleep-deprived, and a quarter of us feel sleepy in the daytime as a result (the figures are roughly the same in the U.S.A. too).
Some people have difficulty getting to sleep, others wake frequently or sleep so lightly that they are under the impression that they have barely slept at all. It is a debilitating problem, but with the right guidance, insomnia can be beaten.
It doesn’t take much to upset out sleep patterns, but equally, it doesn’t take much to restore healthy sleep, if you know how and are committed to your slumber-studies. One of the problems is that modern lifestyles often mean that the habits of self-care and attention to our needs are easily pushed aside by things that seem more urgent than sleep. We treat sleep as though it is an option rather than a necessity.
Stress and sleep(-lessness)
Stress is endemic in all developed societies. It has risen dramatically in recent years and a high proportion of people say that it is a regular feature in their lives. As well as the obvious consequences of this – such as performance at work, the effects on mood and relationships – stress affects all sorts of less visible aspects of wellbeing, Healthy sleep combats stress and helps repair the damage it does.
Stress compromises the immune system, which in turn affects physical health. Because of the way our stress response works, when it is prolonged stress affects our psychological health and can eventually produce long-term effects like depression and anxiety, from which some people never recover.
Stress management techniques
Stress, tension and worry are just a part of the poor-sleep cycle, but they are a big part and so make a good starting point is learning to restore healthy sleep. Practicing effective stress management techniques can be extremely beneficial. This is also a natural starting point in learning how to improve your sleep.