Over the last century the amount of sleep people get has declined by over an hour. It is estimated that at the turn of the twentieth century we averaged nine hours per night. Today the average is under eight hours per night.
It is fair to say that life has changed. The invention of the electric light has allowed us to be active after the sun goes down. For most people before this invention there was not a lot to do after dark except go to sleep. Furthermore people in most instances were tired after a hard days work.
Today we have a 24/7 society where the electric light allows for a multitude of activities to be done after dark. Even sports that were once played only during the day can now be played under lights. Many people continue to work after dark. Of course electronics allow us to be entertained when the sun goes down too.
Tiredness is one of the most common complaints I hear from patients. Many people complain of the difficulty to sleep or staying asleep.
Whilst asleep every part of the body is “active” except the conscious mind. The lungs breathe, the heart pumps, the kidneys filter the blood and so on. To get to sleep means we need to slow the mind down. We need to reduce external and internal stimuli. It is the “chatter “ of the mind the keeps many awake.
The Sleep Guide
There are two categories here. The first group is what you do during the day to help you sleep better at night.
1) Do regular exercise.
2) Take up meditation, yoga or tai chi.
3) Eat more fruit and vegetables and less refined processed carbohydrates.
4) Manage your stress.
The second group is things you do in the lead up to, and the time of going to bed. Not everything works for everybody, so use what works for you.
1) Have a routine. Go to bed around the same time each night.
2) Switch off screens, be it TV or computer at least 45 minutes before bed time.
3) Burn some fragrant candles with a calming scent.
4) Do not drink caffeine after 6pm.
5) Listen to calming forest music or play a guided relaxation.
6) Have a comfortable mattress and pillow.
7) Make the bedroom dark and quiet.
8) Drink a calming tea like chamomile tea.