Dr Hilary Jones gives advice on how to sleep with coronavirus
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Sleeping through the night is not something everyone is always able to do, and there is a lot of advice to be found around improving your quality of sleep, and adopting healthy sleep routines. Researchers have looked into which foods and drinks are good for sleep, and also those which may not be.
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. On average adults need seven to nine hours, while children need nine to 13 hours. Toddlers and babies need 12 to 17 hours of sleep, every day.
If you have insomnia for less than three months, it is called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts three months or longer is called long-term insomnia.
For most, sleep problems tend to sort themselves out within about a month, according to the NHS.
The NHS says: “Most people experience problems with sleep in their life. In fact, it’s thought that a third of Brits will have episodes of insomnia at some point.”
The Sleep Foundation says that overeating can affect sleep, and “eating too much, especially when it involves heavy or spicy foods, can worsen sleep by interfering with digestion and raising the risk of heartburn”.
It states: “For this reason, most experts advise against eating too much and too close to bedtime.”
The charity also explains that nutritionists recommend eating a balanced and consistent diet “that is made up mostly of vegetables and fruits”.
Indeed, it explains that “many principles of a balanced and consistent diet go hand-in-hand with general tips for avoiding sleep disruptions related to food and drink”.
These include making sure to “limit” caffeine intake, “especially in the afternoon or evening when its stimulant effects can keep you up at night”.
Moreover, it suggests that you should moderate alcohol consumption “since it can throw off your sleep cycles even if it makes you sleepy at first”.
It suggests that people also be careful when consuming spicy foods, particularly in the evening.
The NHS explains that caffeine interferes with the process of falling asleep, and also prevents deep sleep.
Cutting out caffeine is not as simple as just ditching coffee. Caffeine can be found in other sources too. These include:
- Some fizzy drinks
- Energy drinks
- Some pain relievers.
People who smoke also tend to take longer to fall asleep, wake up more frequently, and often have more disrupted sleep.
The NHS says that you need to wind down before bed, and get relaxed. It states: “Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed. There are lots of ways to relax.”
Not getting enough sleep can cause an array of issues, and getting enough of it at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life.
The health body recommends a warm bath as this will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest.
It adds that reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it, and that you should avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed “as the light from the screen on these devices may have a negative effect on sleep”.
The health body adds that some people find it useful to write down their worries and concerns, and set aside time before bed to make a list for the next day, if these stresses keep you awake.
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