Did you know that studies have shown a link between the quality of our sleep and our waistlines?
Research suggests that when we have a bad night’s sleep it changes the body’s hormones that regulate appetite – leaving our hunger levels at an all-time high. But it gets worse – we not only feel hungrier, but studies show that we specifically reach for high-calorie/high-fat foods, in an attempt to boost our energy levels that have been left depleted by poor sleep. What’s more, a poor night’s sleep can significantly raise the level of cortisol that can increase belly fat and put us at risk of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more.
So, if a solid 8-hours is eluding you, Boots Pharmacist, Angela Chalmers has some suggestions for ways to improve your sleep patterns and tackle common problems in this quick Q&A:
I often wake up groggy, even though I’ve had a full night’s sleep – why could this be?
Waking up groggy could actually be because you’ve had too much sleep! 8 hours is considered the optimum number of hours an adult requires. Perhaps you have woken up in the wrong part of your sleep cycle (deep sleep or REM sleep) or it could possibly due to the condition sleep apnoea. This sleep disorder occurs during deep sleep when you unknowingly experience prolonged pauses between breaths, or insufficient, shallow breathing that wakes you up. This happens frequently throughout the night, causing restless, broken sleep and fatigue – consult your GP if you feel this may be the case.
Or it could be something as simple as the fact your mattress is old or needs turning. This could be causing to you to toss and turn in your sleep. Which can make you feel tired & unrested the next day.
I’d like to take something to help me sleep but I’m worried it will affect me at work the next day. What would you suggest?
There are herbal versions of sleep remedies that should not cause as much grogginess the next day as their medical counterparts. Look for products that contain ingredients such as valerian, hops & passion flower, which have been used traditionally to aid sleep and may be of some benefit.
What simple changes could I make to my sleep habits or lifestyle that might improve my sleep?
Electronic lockdown after at least 8pm – so no phones, computers, TV – just relaxation to wind down body and mind. A warm bath can help, as well as a milky drink before bed. Valerian is a herb that may help you to fall asleep & have less broken sleep. If this doesn’t help speak to your pharmacist about behind the counter remedies & general sleep hygiene which can help get you back into a regular sleep pattern.
What should be my first port of call if I’m having trouble sleeping?
We all have trouble sleeping from time to time but you can make it easier to get a good night’s sleep every night with simple steps such as cutting out caffeine at least four to six hours before bedtime, taking some time to relax before bedtime and keeping your bedroom dark, quiet and comfortable. Try to avoid watching TV, eating and discussing emotional issues in bed and avoid the temptation to use alcohol as a sleep aid. An alcoholic drink may initially help you fall asleep, but it also causes disturbances in sleep resulting in less restful sleep, so is best avoided.
Visit sleepcouncil.org.uk for more advice on achieve a good night’s sleep.