Bill Gates Foundation : What is sleep sickness?
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If you have insomnia for less than three months, it is called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts three months or longer is called long-term insomnia. For most, sleep problems tend to sort themselves out within about a month, according to the NHS.
The Sleep Charity explains that achieving a great night’s sleep can be affected by what you eat in the hours before bedtime.
It suggests that almonds are a “winner” as they contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation.
It states: “They have the added benefit of supplying proteins which help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping and switch the body from alert adrenaline cycle to rest-and-digest mode.
“Try swapping your afternoon snack to a handful of nuts or mix with milk and honey for a comforting bedtime snack.
The charity says: “Certain foods are known to calm the brain and help promote sleep so eating the right things in the evening is definitely part of the recipe for a good night’s kip.”
It adds that the charity does not recommend eating a big meal just before bedtime “as it can lead to discomfort and indigestion”.
Indeed, the Sleep Foundation says that overeating can affect sleep, and “eating too much, especially when it involves heavy or spicy foods, can worsen sleep by interfering with digestion and raising the risk of heartburn”.
It states: “For this reason, most experts advise against eating too much and too close to bedtime.”
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Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. On average adults need seven to nine hours, while children need nine to 13 hours. Toddlers and babies need 12 to 17 hours of sleep, every day.
Caffeine and alcohol can stop you falling asleep and prevent good quality sleep. Therefore, it is recommended that people cut down on alcohol and avoid caffeine close to bedtime.
Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things.
Caffeine interferes with the process of falling asleep, and also prevents deep sleep.
Electronic devices, including computers, televisions, smartphones, and tablets, all emit strong blue light. When you use these devices, that blue light floods your brain, tricking it into thinking it’s daytime. As a result, your brain suppresses melatonin production and works to stay awake.
People with insomnia will regularly find it hard to go to sleep, can wake up several times during the night and lie awake at night.
They might also find it difficult to concentrate during the day because they are tired, or wake up early and find they cannot go back to sleep.
“Some people are naturally lighter sleepers or take longer to drop off, while some life circumstances might make it more likely for your sleep to be interrupted, like stressful events or having a new baby,” the NHS states.
If poor sleep is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, you can talk to your GP.
The NHS says how we sleep and how much sleep we need is different for all of us and changes as we get older.
The NHS says: “Most people experience problems with sleep in their life. In fact, it’s thought that a third of Brits will have episodes of insomnia at some point.”
People who smoke also tend to take longer to fall asleep, wake up more frequently, and often have more disrupted sleep.
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