Lorraine: Daisy Maskell discusses living with insomnia
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There are many things that can disrupt our night time routine and make it harder to sleep. For example, increased feelings of stress and anxiety are common contributors to insomnia. And changes in temperature and light outside can also have an impact.
Sleep expert Dave Gibson, from mattress firm eve Sleep, spoke to Express.co.uk about how to prepare yourself for new sleeping habits as we approach the winter months.
Adjust your bedtime slowly before the clocks go back
October 30 marks the end of daylight saving time, and whilst the clocks going back essentially gives us an extra hour in bed, it can upset our circadian rhythm by making us feel sleepy sooner than usual as the sun goes down “earlier”.
Combatting this is simple, slowly but surely alter your bedtime in increments in the three to four weeks leading up to the clocks going back.
This will allow your body to get used to your new sleep time gradually as opposed to changing it abruptly on the day and throwing out all your hard work on better sleep.
Create a good morning routine and avoid oversleeping
When the mornings are dark, it can be easy to want to stay in bed, but I cannot stress enough the importance of not oversleeping.
Doing so can cause you to feel lethargic the following day, meaning you might be tempted to take naps or go to bed earlier, with the latter having the ability to throw out your circadian rhythm.
One way to get yourself out of bed at a reasonable time is to create an enjoyable morning routine that will make you want to be up and cracking on with your day.
Whether you want to start your day with a run, some light yoga or even cooking yourself a deliciously healthy breakfast, make sure you are starting your day with something you really enjoy to make it worth getting out of bed on time for.
Keep up with your exercise routine
For those of us that like to incorporate exercise into our day, we are already very aware of the positive impact that it has on your sleep, so it is important to try and maintain our exercise routine when the seasons start to change.
Of course, when it’s cold and miserable outside, the appeal of getting out and exercising is little to non-existent, but it is essential to either continue your regular routine or join a gym and take your exercise indoors.
Sustaining your exercise routine will make sure you reap the benefits and drift off to sleep easily in the evenings.
Get plenty of daylight
Light is important, especially early morning light. The hazy and dim autumn days often blur day and night and it’s the difference between the brightness of the day and the darkness of the evening light which strengthens our body clock.
So ensuring that we get enough exposure to daylight during the autumn and winter months is important. Low mood or seasonal depression (SAD) can be common during the colder, darker months and this is often linked to the lack of daylight.
If this is something you suffer with, then I really recommend considering a SAD lamp.
Don’t ramp up your heating
As temperatures drop it is tempting to ramp up the heating in your home, because who enjoys being cold? However, increasing the temperature too much could affect your ability to get a good kip.
The ideal temperature for sleeping is around 18C and sleeping in a room that is much hotter or colder than this can affect the natural drop in body temperature that happens when you go to sleep, causing you to have disrupted sleep.
Keep your air moist
During the winter months, the air can get dry, which for many, can cause skin irritation and even irritate your nose and throat. The irritation from the exposure to dry air can make you itchy and very uncomfortable which is guaranteed to disrupt your sleep.
I would recommend investing in a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air which will help you combat any dry air-related irritation and make sleeping much easier. However, if you do take this tip onboard, make sure you regularly clean your humidifier as mould and mildew can build up in the system if it is not maintained, which can cause additional health issues!
Prepare your body to beat the seasonal lurgies
With cold weather comes colds, flu and all the other seasonal lurgies that rob us of a decent night’s sleep. This is where you need to act in advance before you get struck down with one of the dreaded winter illnesses.
Do what you can to prevent it by washing your hands regularly, not sharing cups and cutlery and most importantly, keeping a healthy diet – avoiding starchy comfort food which we tend to increase consumption of in the winter and eat all the colours of the rainbow, especially foods that contain vitamin C (citrus fruits) and zinc (nuts and seeds), which along with vitamin D are great for the immune system.
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