In today's Daily Mail, you will find a feature that has followed on from the findings of our study with the University of Leeds. Nearly a quarter of Brits get by on less than 5 hours sleep a night. So our sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan worked with four females who survive on little sleep, giving her expert advice on how to improve their sleep patterns.
The first lady, aged 44, claimed her business has to come before sleep. She said, "The moment I put on my pyjamas and fall into bed at around 10.30pm, I'm dead to the world...until - ping! - it's 3am and I'm wide-awake. I instantly check my phone and spend the next 40 minutes in bed answering emails on my laptop. By 4am, my brain is in overdrive".
Dr Nerina said, "I find that women are much more likely to be up in the small hours, multi-tasking. After all, they're so often grappling many roles - wife, mother, professional - and try to get everything done before they relax. While it's perfectly normal to wake at night, when she does she shouldn't look at the clock or her phone. Instead, she should relax and take some slow deep breaths to help her get back to sleep".
The next woman, aged 32, blames her lack of sleep on her kids, and never gets more than two hours straight sleep. She said, "On an average night, one child will wake up for the toilet and, just as I get them back to sleep, another will have a bad dream. That will disturb one of the others, who'll then sneak into my bed. Each time it takes me at least an hour to drift off again".
Dr Nerina suggested, "Claire needs support, such as good friends who can help her with the children. She also needs some coping strategies, such as the occasional massage to help her rest and even a night out with friends".
The third lady worked for 10 years on nights shifts at a nursing home and slept in the daytime. She claims she never got more than three or four hours no matter how hard she tried. She was exhausted.
Dr Nerina commented, "All those years of working at night can break your internal circadian timer, which regulates when we feel sleepy and when we feel awake".
The final woman is aged 40, and is consumed by anxiety at night. She is a stay at home mother, who has many worries which keep her awake in the early hours. "I eventually drop off, but by 4.30 am I'm awake again. Worrying. I try not to let it affect me but it can make me grouchy. I just keep on going. Sometimes, when I get back from the school run, I feel so awful that I want to go back to bed. But I never allow myself to - I'd feel too guilty".
Dr Nerina said, "Another vital factor in sleeping well is living in the present - don't worry about the past or the future. Think of something you feel grateful for in life".
We worked with Leeds University to look more closely at the UK's sleep habits. Our research found that a worrying amount of Brits suffer from dangerously low levels of sleep - with many of us getting as little as five hours per night. Dr Anna Weighall, a psychologist from Leeds University, believes the British population are in a debt to their bedtime, losing a minimum of one hour per night. Alarmingly this equates to many losing up to 15 days worth of sleep a year, which is nearly three and a half years in an average lifetime. And for many Brits this debt is even more serious.
Read more of Dr Nerina's advice in the Daily Mail here: