The Big SleepWe all know we should be getting approximately eight-hours kip a night, but how many of us actually achieve it? Not many, according to the latest findings of the Great British Sleep survey 2012, which compiled responses from more than 20,000 adults between March 2010 and June 2012, only to reveal that 51% of us aren’t sleeping well. Somewhat surprisingly, London and Scotland come equal first place in the sleep league, achieving Britain’s highest average sleep scores at 5.6% - compared to a national average of 4.9%. Women were found on average to have a 10% lower sleep score than men, with 56% of women suffering from long-term poor sleep.
So what's keeping us awake at night?No it’s not a PB. A ‘racing mind’ was found to be the number one cause of sleeplessness in both men and women, with work stress and concerns for the future causing us to toss and turn at night. The physical factors causing lack of sleep include; bodily discomfort, noise, a (snoring) partner, light levels and room temperature. The study shows that the daytime energy levels of those who routinely enjoy a good night’s sleep were on average twice as high as those who suffer from lack of sleep. Lack of sleep was also found to affect mood and mental health with long-term poor sleepers more likely to suffer from depression and mood swings. If you suffer from poor sleep, the good news is that there are easy steps you can take to improve the quality of your sleep. This is vital to help your body recover and repair effectively from running.
MR top tips for a good night’s sleep
Just 20/30 minutes of light exercise a day, such as walking, running or cycling, can help improve your ability to drop off and stay asleep as it is thought to improve the deep sleep cycle. However, avoid exercising late at night as this can make it harder to sleep as endorphins and other chemicals can make the body more alert.
Cut the coffee
Avoid drinking caffeine late at night or even during the afternoon. Instead, drink a warm milky drink packed full of the amino acid tryptophan, which is thought to encourage drowsiness 30 minutes before bed. Turkey and bananas also contain tryprophan.
Not a fan of hot milk? Try drinking chamomile, passionflower or valerian root herbal teas for a natural and relaxing sedative.
Hit the hot tub
Enjoy a warm bath an hour before bed to relax your muscles and help you mentally switch off. If you're feeling fruity, try adding a couple of drops of lavender oil to the bath water or to your pillowcase as this can also help promote relaxation and send you off to the land of nod.
Many of us will suffer from a bad night’s sleep from time to time, so if you can’t sleep don’t panic and instead try distracting yourself by reading or listening to music.
Stretch it out
A 20 minute easy yoga session in the evening, which finishes with simple poses such as child’s or corpse pose is a good way to stretch out your muscles and get you in the sleep zone.