Sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing yet lots of us may not be getting enough. Some people may experience other sleep problems.
It is important to see your GP if you experience difficulty breathing, pain and sleep disturbance, chronic snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness.
It is perfectly normal for sleep patterns to change over our lives, for example babies and children need a lot more sleep than older adults. The quality and length of our sleep is often affected by a change in routine such as a new bed or starting a job. Other factors include light, alcohol, meal timing and stress.
Modern patterns of eating late, drinking sugary, caffeine laden drinks and using computers, TV, and phones late in to the night mess up the Circadian rhythm. This is our own internal 24 hour body clock which governs our biochemical, physiological and behavioural processes. In turn this may lead to a vicious circle of overwork, sleeping less and using more and more caffeine, sugar etc to cope the next day.
The National Sleep Foundation is a US website with information on all aspects of sleep.
MIND, the mental health charity has webpages on sleep problems.
The BBC website has useful pages.
Mark's Daily Apple is a health blog which has more info on how light affects our sleep.
Not having enough sleep can have significant effects on our health andwellbeing
Short term effects include:
In other words, sleep deprivationis often a factor in accidents, poor grades and exacerbated emotional and behavioural problems.
Longer term, not getting enough sleep can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity (among other things).
Political leaders may only get 4-5 hours but as a general rule most adults need 7-9 hours sleep per day (this may include daytime naps).
A good clue is that you wake up without an alarm clock feelingrefreshed and alert.
Some people get more sleep than they think. This sleep profile test from the BBC will help you see what type of sleeper you are and give tips to improve your sleep.
How much sleep is enough?