the fight to get forty winks

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It’s 3am, and even though you’ve counted what feels like thousands of sheep since your head hit the pillow, you’re still staring at the ceiling, wide awake. While it often feels like there’s never enough time to get the recommended eight hours of shut-eye, many find that when the chance to switch off finally comes around, they are so stressed that sleep remains the stuff of dreams.

If you struggle to get to sleep then you’re not alone. According to the Great British Sleep Survey in 2011, just over half of the participants found getting to sleep difficult. Unfortunately a lack of sleep can have more serious consequences than simply making you groggy the next day. Experts are now suggesting that getting less than six hours sleep a night can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Fortunately for the sleep deprived, you are far from doomed! There are ways to tackle bouts of insomnia, and it’s important to see going to bed as the time to relax. With so much mobile technology on offer, it can be hard to fully disengage before sleep, but studies have shown that the blue light emitted from many devices can interfere with the brain as it tries to unwind. Turn off your laptop a couple of hours before you go to bed, and try something that will gently stimulate your brain while also relaxing you, such as reading or doing a crossword. 

Popping on your favourite pair of pyjamas will help to keep bedtime distinct from the rest of your day, and choosing sheets to suit your taste will create a pleasant atmosphere for sleep. If you still find it difficult to go to sleep then it’s certainly worth seeking advice from your doctor.

Switching off from the stresses of life when you’re trying to get those elusive forty winks can be tough, but by paying careful attention to your own habits and planning ahead you can beat the nightmare of insomnia.

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