Most of us aren't sleeping as much
as we think we are, according to the National Institute of
Neurological Disorders. Most people lie in bed for 7 hours but are
only actually sleeping for 5 or 6 due to a lack of 'sleep

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     Image: Shutterstock 

Sleep efficiency refers to the percentage of time you
spend lying down that involves you actually being asleep. You may
be going to bed at a reasonable time or even try to have an early
night but are sleeping inefficiently, therefore causing you to
still feel tired the next day and wondering why. 

The science of sleep efficiency is
still young. Ultimately, what really matters is how well-rested and
attentive you feel during the day, but that can't always be
measured accurately. There are three basic factors that make up
good sleep: how long you sleep, when in the day you get to sleep,
and the efficiency or quality of sleep.

Our resident sleep expert, Dr
Nerina, has several tips to help you start sleeping more

Turn off TV's, computers and other
technology 90 minutes before bed

"If you can, try and switch off from
work as soon as you leave the office and avoid checking your emails
or social media accounts 90 minutes before going to bed - put your
phone, laptop and tablets away! Using an electronic device,
including tablets and computers, for just two hours before bed can
cause sleep problems as it suppresses the body's sleep chemical
called Melatonin, which controls your body clock."


Keep a consistent wind down

"Winding down properly before
getting in to bed is crucial to helping you sleep better. You are
more likely to access efficient deep sleep if you allow your body
and mind to relax. If you keep to a consistent wind down routine
and you will notice a huge difference to the quality of your sleep.
A calm, relaxing routine may include reading a book, listening to
relaxing music or having a bath."


Not too much alcohol before

"For centuries, humans have relied
on alcohol as a relaxant to ease our passage into sleep. I enjoy a
glass of wine as much the next person but from a psychological
perspective, any alcohol will effect your sleep. Apart from low
quality of sleep there are other issues. Alcohol makes you more
likely to snore loudly as it relaxes the muscles in the body
including the tissue in your throat."

Try not to exercise intensely before

"Competitive exercise can cause the
production of stimulating hormones such as endorphins making it
more difficult to get to sleep. If you regularly take part in
competitive exercise it might be worth delaying sleep by at least
45mins to wind down properly before getting in to bed."


What do you find helps you relax
most before bed? For more tips on how to get the most efficient
sleep, have a look at Dr Nerina's Sleep Toolkit