According to recent research from Leeds University and Silentnight, we lose more than fifteen days of sleep on average every year. Add another hour on to this soon for the clocks changing to British Summer Time and we are an even more sleep-deprived nation.
Diabetes, heart problems and depression are just some of the proven side effects of getting too little sleep. Car accidents are said to increase by 17% the day after the clocks go forward, due to people paying less attention and having lower concentration levels on this day.
Silentnight sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, said "The loss of an hour in bed is particularly detrimental to individuals that already struggle with their sleep. If you are one of the 25% of the nation that gets less than 5 hours sleep a night, this time change could see you drop down to as little as four hours, which is a dangerously low amount.You'll be glad to hear however there are alternative things that people can do to ensure they get the best night's sleep possible."
Here are Dr. Nerina's top tips for a great night's sleep:
- Try a new wellness craze to relax before bedtime. Adult colouring books and origami books are two of the latest crazes that will promote relaxation and sleep. Do this every night just briefly so it becomes part of your regular wind down routine.
- Breathe easy. Try kundalini breathing as this is particularly good for a wired mind and body. Sit up straight in bed, pucker your lips as if holding a 10p coin, breathe in forcefully through the lips and exhale through the nose. Do this for one to two minutes.
- Take an extra bubbly bicarbonate bath. Add two big mugs of sodium bicarbonate to a bath of comfortably hot water. Immerse yourself completely for 20 minutes. The bicarbonate neutralises the skin's acidity, softens dry skin and is a good aid in detoxification. Don't use soap or shampoo as the chemicals will reduce the effect. Rinse off and go to bed soon afterwards. You will feel very tired.
- Shake it out. Just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise makes us sleepy and this doesn't mean you need to head to the gym. Jump up and down on the spot, imagining that you are shaking the energy out of your system and you will induce tiredness.
- Say 'Aaaah'. Chanting the sound 'Aaaah' can help to release pain and stuck negative energy. It might feel weird but go for it, don't hold back. Loosen your jaw up and let the sound out. Ten minutes of this can help to clear the mind allowing for deep, clean sleep.
If these are a bit too alternative for you. Here's my more traditional sleep tips to beating the British Summer Time clock change:
- Move bedtime a little earlier, just by 10 minutes or so, in the days approaching the clocks going forward. It won't seem too bad when you lose those precious 60 minutes at the end of March.
- Create the perfect sleep environment. A calm, tranquil bedroom free from clutter, junk and technology will help you become more relaxed and rested.
- Follow a regular wind down routine. Read a book, listen to relaxing music, have a bath and use some relaxing essential oils, such as lavender, to help promote sleepiness. Do this regularly as we respond well to routine.
- Minimise stimulants. Caffeine has a direct impact on reducing sleep quality so reduce caffeine and increase your fluid intake by drinking more water, herbal teas and dilute fruit juices. Dehydration is a key cause of frequent waking or 'shallow' sleeping.
- Avoid looking at your clock. If you do wake up in the night, avoid registering the time, as you are more likely to start worrying about how little sleep you will get and therefore reduce your chances of getting back to sleep. Instead, lie on your back, relax, and breathe deeply, then tell yourself if you don't fall asleep and that you will just use the time to rest.