The secret to a great night's sleep

Britain turns back the clock: Sleep experts give extra hour heart warning

Experts have warned that the chance of having a heart attack increases by eight percent the next day after the clocks go back.


 This is thought to be a result of increased stress and changes in daily routine. 

 The National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping between seven and nine hours a night, but research has found the average Brit gets just six hours and 35 minutes. 

 We carried out a study on 2,000 people, which highlighted that due to our lack of sleep we are missing the equivalent of a shocking seven days sleep a year. 

 What's more, almost half the nation describe themselves as "permanently exhausted" or "sleep deprived" - we're a nation that could definitely benefit from an extra hour's sleep. 

 As we set our clocks back an hour in preparation for winter, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, our  sleep expert said: "The average UK sleep-debt is an alarming figure, but I would always advise that people don't get fixated on the sleep that they have lost, instead focus on making lifestyle changes to ensure quality sleep in the future. The clocks going back is the perfect time of year to put in place some positive changes that will help to promote a great night's sleep."

 Here, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, shares her top tips to get back into GMT with ease, while improving your sleep patterns and the quality of your sleep:

 1. Follow a regular wind down routine. Allow your brain to switch off by avoiding checking emails or social media accounts for 90 minutes before bedtime. Instead read a book, listen to relaxing music and have a bath using relaxing essential oils, such as lavender, to help promote sleepiness.

 2. Regular exercise. During the winter people are often less motivated to exercise but it's crucial to take part in exercise regularly, as it's a very effective way of reducing stress hormone levels and thus enabling you to sleep more deeply.

 3. Minimise stimulants. Caffeine can severely reduce sleep quality - after just one cup of coffee it can take up to 10 hours for the caffeine to leave your system. Avoid coffee close to bedtime or try switching it for decaffeinated alternatives. Dehydration is a key cause of frequent waking or 'shallow' sleep, so increase your fluid intake by drinking more water, herbal teas and diluted fruit juices before bed. 

 4. Create the perfect sleep environment. Making your bedroom tranquil, calm and free from clutter, junk and technology will help you become more relaxed and rested. You should never bring your work life into the bedroom - make it a technology free zone. 

 5. Watch your diet. Diet plays a significant role on the quality of sleep we have. It's best to avoid having a heavy meal before bedtime. If you often wake up in the night feeling hungry then try having a little snack before bedtime. Snacking during the day on low GI foods such as yoghurt, nuts, fruits, seeds and lean meats will also keep your blood sugar level stable, which results in a better night's sleep. 

 6. Change your sleep mindset. The more pressure we put on ourselves to sleep, the less likely we are to actually fall asleep. Often when we have a big event the next day we struggle to sleep, in such cases it is often more beneficial to focus on getting some good quality rest, rather than sleep. When you focus on rest instead you will be surprised by how quickly you fall asleep. 

 For more information and further advice, check out Dr Nerina's Sleep Toolkit: /sleep-matters/dr-nerinas-sleep-toolkit/





Research from the sleep council 

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