What Is Hypersomnia?

What Is Hypersomnia?

We all have those days where we can’t seem to wake ourselves up. However, for some, it’s a serious issue. Hypersomnia is a condition in which you feel excessive daytime sleepiness and struggle to stay awake during the day, even after long stretches of sleep. People who have hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time – at work, school, or even while driving. Someone with hypersomnia may also have other sleep-related problems, like a lack of energy or trouble thinking clearly. Read more to discover the symptoms of hypersomnia and if it can be treated.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypersomnia?

Excessive sleepiness and sleeping are not the same as feeling tired all the time. If you have hypersomnia, you will:

  • Regularly nap during the day and still not feel refreshed
  • Fall asleep during the day, often while eating or talking
  • Still sleep for long hours at night
  • Have low energy
  • Be irritable and/ or anxious
  • Have a loss of appetite
  • Have trouble thinking or talking
  • Struggle to remember things
  • Be restless

The Different Types of Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia can be primary or secondary.

Primary hypersomnia occurs when there is no other medical condition present. The only symptom is excessive fatigue.

Secondary hypersomnia is when there is a medical condition present. These can include sleep apnoea, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, or chronic fatigue.1

What Causes Excessive Sleeping?

Primary hypersomnia is thought to be caused by faults in the brain system that controls your sleep and waking functions2, like the circadian rhythm.

Secondary hypersomnia can be a result of pre-existing conditions that cause fatigue or insufficient sleep. For example, sleep apnoea can lead to hypersomnia due to having trouble breathing at night. This forces people to wake up multiple times throughout the night.3

Some of the symptoms that can be caused by medical conditions are:

  • Falling into a deep sleep anywhere and without warning – caused by narcolepsy
  • Loud snorting, breathing, and snoring at night – caused by sleep apnoea
  • An unusual feeling in your legs, especially during the night – caused by Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Low mood, little interest in things, irritability – caused by depression4

Some medications can also cause hypersomnia, so check the side effects of any medication you may be taking.

Other potential causes of hypersomnia include being overweight, drug or alcohol abuse, a head injury, or even genetics.5

How Is Hypersomnia Treated?

Treatments for hypersomnia vary depending on what’s causing it. While hypersomnia and narcolepsy are different conditions, there are many drugs used for narcolepsy that could help someone struggling with excessive sleeping. These drugs are stimulants that help you feel more awake, like amphetamine or modafinil.6

Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Having a regular sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day)
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, or drugs
  • Eating a high-nutrition diet to maintain energy levels naturally

When Should You See Your Doctor?

You should visit your doctor if you often fall asleep during the day, and if sleepiness is affecting your life. Your doctor will look into why you’re sleeping excessively, so they might ask you questions that test for depression, suggest you keep a sleep diary, or refer you to a sleep specialist.

Don’t try to self-treat yourself. While lifestyle changes usually help you sleep better, if there’s an underlying medical condition causing hypersomnia, you won’t do much to help yourself. Talking to your doctor is the first step towards sleeping well.

What Is Hypersomnia?

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Five Ways Exercise Helps You Sleep

Five Ways Exercise Helps You Sleep

We all want to be healthy – but sometimes the thought of going for a walk or heading to the gym just makes us want to curl up on the sofa and flick through the TV. It can be hard to motivate ourselves to exercise, especially if we convince ourselves that we’ll just not eat any chocolate instead of walking. However, there’s more to exercising than just losing a bit of weight. If you’re exercising regularly, you may find that not only do you feel better during the day, but you’re sleeping better during the night, too. This is because exercise can massively improve the quality of your sleep – it’s not just a myth.

How Can Exercise Affect Your Sleep?

There are many benefits of exercise when it comes to your sleep – especially regular exercise. Exercise can …

Improve Your Sleep Quality

Exercising regularly can contribute to a more restful and restorative sleep, which you always need at the end of each day. Physical activity increases the time you spend in deep sleep, the most restorative sleep phase. Deep sleep helps to boost your immune system, support cardiac health, and can also help to control stress and anxiety levels.1

Increase the Length of Your Sleep

Exercise can also help you to increase how long you sleep for. Being physically active during the day requires you to expend energy, so you’ll feel more tired in the evening. This means that you’ll be ready to sleep when you go to bed – no more tossing and turning while you watch the clock tick. Going to sleep easily also means you’ll feel more refreshed in the morning.

Reduce Levels of Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common causes of sleep problems, including trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. When you’re stressed or anxious, you’re less likely to fall into a deep sleep that restores your body after a long day, making you more tired and irritable. This in turn can keep you awake at night. However, exercise is a natural remedy for both stress and anxiety. Just five minutes of exercise can trigger anti-anxiety responses in the body, such as reducing fatigue and improving your alertness and concentration.2

Plus, it doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise – even mind-body exercises can help, like yoga. Yoga can help to quiet the parasympathetic nervous system, which can encourage you to relax. Yoga will also lower your cortisol levels and reduce blood pressure, as well as having a positive affect on your mood.3 If you’re feeling better, you’re more likely to want to go outside and exercise – and this will help you sleep well at night-time.

Help with Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders

Scientific evidence suggests that exercise can also be an effective natural remedy for insomnia.4 Insomnia is a sleeping disorder in which someone has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting up in the morning. As insomnia is largely due to stress and anxiety, exercising regularly helps ease these symptoms so that you can enjoy a restful snooze. Exercise can also help lower the severity of sleep apnoea, a breathing disorder which interrupts your breathing and sleep, and Restless Leg Syndrome.

You can read more about these sleep disorders in our topics, ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Restless Leg Syndrome’, and our article about sleep apnoea here.

Improve Your Sleep-Wake Cycle

Exercising in the early morning and afternoon may also help to reset your sleep-wake cycle to improve your sleep. This is because exercising will raise your body temperature. If you exercise in the earlier parts of the day, your body temperature will drop and trigger sleepiness in the evening. This encourages you to sleep when you go to bed. Also, exercising outdoors when the sun is out will let your body absorb natural sunlight. This is important for your circadian rhythm – an inner clock that dictates when you’ll feel tired and when you’ll be alert. As the circadian rhythm is influenced by sunlight, exercising outdoors when the sun is out is a great way to help the quality of your sleep. Read more about the circadian rhythm here.

Watch the Clock

When you’re exercising, make sure you’re not doing it too close to bedtime. Exercising in the evening or within a few hours of going to bed could actually keep you awake. This is because exercise will leave you feeling energised and stimulated. You don’t want to feel like this when you’re trying to get to sleep, so avoid exercising within five hours of going to bed.

How Much Exercise Do You Need to Sleep Well?

According to the NHS, adults aged between 19 and 64 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week – or thirty-minute sessions, five days a week. This could be walking, dancing, riding a bike, or even pushing a lawnmower. If you’re doing more vigorous exercising, like strengthening activities (lifting weights, push ups, etc.), then you should be doing these on at least two days of the week.5

You don’t have to be lifting weights at the gym to sleep well – a walk is just as effective. It’s up to you what kind of exercise you want to do. Talking to your doctor is a good way to find out what kind of exercise is right for you. Whether it’s lifting weights or a casual walk with a furry friend, regular exercise will help you get the sleep you need at the end of each day.

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Is Sleep Important for Your Health?

Is Sleep Important for Your Health?

We all make sure that we look after ourselves. We eat well and try to fight the temptation to eat sugary or fatty foods – a hard battle to win. We exercise often, whether it’s a vigorous workout at the gym or it’s a walk with your furry friend. We watch what we drink and limit our alcohol intake. But do you make sure you get a good sleep every night? It’s often overlooked, but getting a good sleep is important for both our mental and physical health,1 with sleep deprivation having profound consequences on them.

You can read more about the connection between sleep and mental health in our topic, ‘Mental Health and Sleep’.

One in three of us suffer from poor sleep,2 with the effects of a lack of sleep, like grumpiness or not working at your best, making our days a challenge. However, the cost of sleepless nights is more than just a bad mood and lack of focus. Regular poor sleep can put you at risk of medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Missing out on sleep on consecutive nights can even shorten your life expectancy!3 A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy life.

How Much Sleep Do We Need?

Generally, you should be getting eight hours of good-quality sleep every night in order to function properly.4 However, some people may need more than this, and others may need less.

Dr Lindsay Browning states that your sleep needs are also dependent on your age. She points out that an eight-year-old should be getting 9 – 11 hours of sleep, while a teenager will need 8- 10 hours. Adults aged 18 to 68 should get 7 – 9 hours, while people aged older than this will need 7- 8 hours as their sleep needs begin to decline.5

As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a nap, it’s likely you’re not getting enough sleep. A good way to find out how much sleep you need is to go to sleep without setting an alarm clock. Check what time you go to bed and wake up naturally. When you wake up, check the time and you’ll find out how long you slept for. You could do this over a couple of nights if possible – this way, you’ll see if your sleeping hours are consistent.

A variety of factors can lead to poor sleep, including health conditions such as Sleep Apnoea.6 Sleep Apnoea is a disorder in which your breathing pauses while you sleep. You’ll wake up and your breathing will resume without any trouble, and you’ll fall back asleep. However, these brief awakenings can happen many times during the night – this can lead to sleep deprivation. Find out more about Sleep Apnoea here.

Poor sleep could also be linked to bad sleeping habits,7 such as irregular sleep patterns, an inconsistent bedtime routine, or not having a good sleeping environment. Your sleep can also be harmed by using technology before going to bed. Find out more about this in our article, ‘Technology’s Impact On Your Sleep’.

What Happens If You Don’t Sleep Well?

 
 
 

We’ve all experienced the fatigue, short temper, and lack of focus that follow a poor night’s sleep. An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health.8

However, after several sleepless nights, the effect on your mental health can become more serious.9 You’ll find it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll also find that your mood is low – poor sleep can even lead to developing depression or anxiety.

You may also find yourself falling asleep during the day, and your risk of injury and accidents at home and work also increases.10

Plus, poor sleep makes you more likely to be prone to accidents while driving. If you’re unable to concentrate or struggle to keep your eyes open, you shouldn’t drive. Studies have shown that drivers don’t just fall asleep at the wheel suddenly. Instead, they’ve tried to fight against their tiredness by opening a window or turning up the radio. These solutions do not work for long, with sleep-related accidents more likely than others to result in a fatality or serious injury.11

If you’re still struggling to get a good sleep after a couple of weeks, this can affect your overall health. You could be more at risk of developing serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.12

Here are some ways in which a good night’s sleep can boost your health:

Sleep Boosts Immunity

If you’re one of those unfortunate souls who seem to catch every cold or flu that goes around, your bedtime could be to blame. Prolonged lack of sleep can disrupt your immune system, so you’re less able to fend off bugs.13

Sleep Can Keep You Slim

Sleeping poorly could mean that you put on weight. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a day tend to gain more weight, with a higher risk of becoming obese than those who manage to get their eight hours of sleep.14 This is believed to be because sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full). They also have increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone).15

Sleep Boosts Your Mental Health

A single sleepless night can make you irritable and moody the following day. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that regularly missing out on sleep can lead to long-term mood problems, like depression and anxiety. When people with anxiety or depression were questioned about their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than six hours a night.16

Read more about this in our articles ‘Sleeping with Depression’ and ‘Sleeping with Anxiety’.

Sleep Prevents Diabetes

Studies show that people who usually sleep less than five hours a night have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Missing out on deep sleep can lead to Type 2 diabetes by changing how your body processes glucose.17

You can read more about this in our article, ‘Diabetes and Sleep’.

Sleep Helps Your Heart

Long-standing sleep deprivation can be associated with an increased heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, and higher levels of chemicals linked with inflammation.18 All this may put an extra strain on your heart – which won’t be helped by the risk of obesity.

Sleep Increases Fertility

Sleep deprivation in both men and women has been claimed as one of the reasons of difficulty conceiving a baby. Regular sleep disruptions reduce the secretion of reproductive hormones.19

How Can You Help Yourself Get A Better Sleep?

The good news is that there are ways you can help yourself get a good snooze at night. However, it’s not an overnight cure – if you’ve had months of restricted sleep, you’ll need to expect recovery to take several weeks.20

Make sure you have a healthy sleeping environment – your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet. Try to go to bed in a good mood and avoid using screens about an hour before you go to sleep. Read more about these tips, and others, in our article, ‘7 Tips and Tricks to Get A Good Sleep’.

Make sure you have the correct pillow and duvet to provide support and comfort. Natural and synthetic options exist to offer exceptionally light, soft, and breathable solutions which are practical and long lasting. To find out how to choose the perfect pillow and duvet, read our buying guides and enjoy the good night’s sleep you’ve been dreaming about.

Exercising regularly is also a good way to help yourself get a better sleep. You can read more about how exercise helps improve your sleep in our article, ‘Five Ways Exercise Helps You Sleep’.

The best way to help yourself get a good sleep is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will ask you about your sleeping habits and can determine if there’s an underlying cause, like a health problem or sleeping disorder. They can work on from this to find out if you need medication or sleeping aids, so make sure your doctor knows if you’re sleeping poorly.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What Is Hypersomnia?

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Diabetes and Sleep

Diabetes and Sleep

The quality of our sleep is closely linked to any health conditions we have – if we’re not feeling our best, we’re not sleeping our best. Diabetes is no exception. Sleep can affect your blood sugar levels, and blood glucose control can affect your sleep.1 This leads to trouble sleeping. If you have high or low blood sugar levels throughout the night, you could feel tired during the day.2 So, what exactly is the relationship between diabetes and sleep?

What Is Diabetes?

People who have diabetes do not produce insulin the same way as others. Your body converts the food into glucose (sugar) as an energy source. This is done with the help of your pancreas, which produces insulin – a hormone that takes the glucose in your blood and stores it into your cells for energy. People with diabetes either can’t produce enough insulin or can’t use insulin well. When you have diabetes, the sugar in your blood – or blood sugar – is dangerously high. This can lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage, and eye damage.3

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. If you have Type 1 diabetes, your pancreas isn’t producing insulin, so you’ll have to take it on a daily basis. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body can make some of its own insulin, but not enough. Your body can’t use insulin correctly. Type 2 is more common than Type 1, with around 90% of adults with diabetes in the UK having Type 2.4 Symptoms of both types are the same, and they can include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Thrush that keeps coming back
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts and grazes that aren’t healing

What’s the Connection Between Diabetes and Trouble Sleeping?

When your body has extra glucose, it draws water from your tissues. This can make you feel dehydrated, prompting you to get up for regular glasses of water.5 Also, Lynn Maarouf, education director of the Stark Diabetes Centre at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, highlights that, when your blood sugar is really high, your kidneys “try to get rid of it by urinating”. When this is the case, you’re likely “getting up and going to the bathroom all night long – and not sleeping well”.6 These constant disruptions to your sleep – whether it’s getting up for a drink or to go to the bathroom – will damage your sleep quality. As well as this, symptoms of low blood sugar, like shakiness, dizziness, and sweating, can affect your sleep.7

Unfortunately, diabetes and sleep problems often go hand in hand. Diabetes can cause sleep problems, and there’s evidence that not sleeping well can increase your risk of developing diabetes.8

People with diabetes can develop sleep disorders, too.

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep Apnoea (SA) is a sleeping disorder that’s typically accompanied by loud snoring. Someone with SA will stop breathing for a brief moment while they’re sleeping. This will wake them up, but their breathing will resume, and they’ll go back to sleep. While someone with SA won’t remember having woken up at all, this can happen many times through the night. These constant interruptions to their sleep will make them tired during the day and sleep deprived. You can read more about SA here.

SA is the most common sleep disorder that people with diabetes can have – especially Type 2 diabetes. Part of this is because people with Type 2 diabetes can be overweight. This can lead to the air passage being constricted. Also, the increased carbon dioxide in your blood that’s a result of SA can lead to insulin resistance, worsening your body’s struggle with using insulin correctly. This can also increase your blood sugar levels, making sleep even more difficult.9

Insomnia

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get up in the morning. You can read more about insomnia here. You’re more at risk of struggling with insomnia if you have high stress levels, as well as high glucose levels. It’s a good idea to find out why you’re not sleeping – you could be stressed or anxious, or it could be because of your blood sugar levels being too high.10 Talk to your doctor to find out how you can help yourself get a good snooze.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that’s characterised by an irresistible urge to move or stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It usually interferes with your sleep. You can read more about RLS here. Risk factors for RLS include blood glucose levels and kidney problems, both of which can be a result of diabetes.11

How Can A Lack of Sleep Affect Your Diabetes?

Experts associate a lack of sleep with an altered hormone balance that can affect food intake and weight. If you have diabetes, you face a challenging circle. It’s common to compensate for a lack of sleep by eating an excess amount of food. The reason for doing this is to gain energy through the calories. However, doing this can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. This’ll make it harder to achieve a decent amount of sleep at night. And then, you’ll find yourself in the same sleepless situation.12

A lack of sleep also increases the risk of obesity. Obesity can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.13 Clearly, sleeping poorly while experiencing symptoms of diabetes can be a hard cycle to break.

Help Yourself Get A Good Sleep

Getting a good sleep is key to reducing the symptoms of diabetes, and it’s also key to preventing diabetes leading to other health problems. We’ve gathered a handful of tips for how you can help yourself get a good snooze.

Avoid screens

Watching TV or using your phone, laptop, or tablet in the evening can harm the quality of your sleep. This is because of the blue light that’s emitted from these screens, which can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This can delay your sleep, and it can also keep you from drifting off to a deep, restful sleep that your body needs after a long day. Keeping away from these screens for about an hour before you go to bed is a great way to get a better sleep. Read a book instead or listen to relaxing music. You can read more about this in our article, ‘Technology’s Impact On Your Sleep‘.

Have a regular sleep schedule

Going to bed at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning, is a good way to promote a healthy sleep pattern for yourself. It’s recommended that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, so work your schedule around what time you have to get up in the morning – especially if you’re getting up for work or school. It’s important that you’re consistent with this – keep the schedule for weekends, too!

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

While the first cup of coffee will help to raise your alertness in the morning, drinking coffee during the day is bad for your sleep. It’ll keep you too alert and awake for when you want to be sleepy. You’ll not go to sleep when you want to, and you could take longer to drift off into the deep, restful sleep that you need after a long day. Also, you should avoid or limit your alcohol intake, too. Even though alcohol can make you feel sleepy, drinking it in the evening will actually harm your sleep. You’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, and you could find it hard to get back to sleep.

Exercise

Exercising is a great way to help yourself get a good sleep. Not only does it tire you out to make you feel sleepy at night, but it also keeps you healthy and reduces the risk of obesity. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous work out in the gym. You could take a walk, try yoga, or go for a swim. However, make sure that you exercise in the morning or earlier part of the day. Exercising in the evening will make you alert and awake – not how you want to feel when it’s bedtime. You can read more about how exercise helps improve your sleep in our article, ‘Five Ways Exercise Helps You Sleep’.

While the above are a few ideas for what you can do to get a good sleep, the best way to help yourself is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will know your symptoms of diabetes, and they can also find any symptoms of a sleeping disorder you may have – this will help them make sure you’re getting the right treatment for the best sleep.

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Sleeping with Multiple Sclerosis

Sleeping with Multiple Sclerosis

Poor sleep is common in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), with about 50% of people with MS reported to experience some form of sleep disturbance.1 However, sleep disorders are still under-diagnosed in people with MS. Poor sleep quality affects everyone’s health, but getting a good sleep is much more important for those with MS as a bad sleep could make MS symptoms worse.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys myelin, a membrane that covers axons in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin protects axons and speeds up the conduction of electrical impulses along nerve fibres. The destruction of myelin results in the scarring and loss of nerve cells.2 This can lead to many symptoms of MS, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision
  • Problems controlling the bladder
  • Numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Problems with balance and co-ordination
  • Difficulty thinking, learning, and planning
  • Paralysis
  • Depression
  • Loss of memory
  • Poor bowel control

However, MS is a disease that progresses slowly. It can be mild for some patients or can sometimes cause serious disability.3

MS is most commonly diagnosed in people in their twenties and thirties, but it can develop at any age. It’s also about 2 – 3 times more common in women than in men. The cause of MS is still not clear, but environmental and genetic causes may play a role.4

Why Does Multiple Sclerosis Affect Your Sleep?

There can be many reasons why getting a good sleep is difficult for people with MS. Some of the symptoms of MS can make sleeping difficult, such as depression or muscle spasms. Depression can make it hard to fall asleep at night, as it can be difficult to quiet any troubling thoughts. Depression is also linked to anxiety and stress, which can trigger insomnia. Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or even to get up in the morning. You can read more about depression in our article, ‘Sleeping with Depression’, or find out more about insomnia here.

Daytime Fatigue

High levels of daytime fatigue could also make it harder to fall asleep as night, as you lack the stimulation during the day to make you tired when the sun goes down. Plus, being less active during the day can harm your sleep pattern, or circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is your inner body clock that decides when it’s time for you to be awake or asleep. It’s also influenced by daylight, which is why you’re up when the sun is up. Being less active during the day could mean that you’re not being exposed to enough light, disrupting the circadian rhythm. If this clock is disrupted, your sleeping pattern is a bit skew-whiff. If this happens, your body and brain don’t know when to settle for sleep, making it hard to get to sleep at night-time. Read more about circadian rhythm here.

Restless Leg Syndrome & Sleep Apnoea

People with Multiple Sclerosis may also have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder characterised by the irresistible urge to move or stop uncomfortable and odd sensations. This disorder can keep you from getting a restful sleep, and you can read more about it here.

Sleep Apnoea could be another reason as to why people with MS have trouble getting a good sleep. Sleep Apnoea is when someone’s breathing pauses for a brief moment, waking the sleeper up. Their breathing returns to normal and the sleeper goes back to sleep. Although they won’t remember this moment of waking up, someone’s breathing could be interrupted many times throughout the night. This constant disturbance to your sleep results in a poor sleep quality, which can make the symptoms of MS harder to cope with. Find out more about Sleep Apnoea here.

There could also be side effects of certain medications that could be keeping you awake at night or disturbing your sleep. Talk to your doctor about any medication that they’ve prescribed and try alternatives if you think this is keeping you from getting a good sleep.

How Can You Get A Good Night’s Sleep?

Have a regular sleep schedule

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends. This regularity will help your circadian rhythm get back on track. Exposing yourself to sunlight during the day will also help your circadian rhythm, and you’ll start to feel tired enough to sleep when you go to bed.

Clear your mind before going to sleep

If you replay the day’s problems in your head, or worry about what tomorrow brings, when you’re in bed, sleeping will not be easy. Quieting your thoughts can seem impossible, but there are ways to do it. You could write a to-do list for the next day, which will help you get a better idea of what you need to do. These lists can also help you see that you don’t have as much to do as you thought. Consider writing a diary, too, as writing thoughts and worries down can help relieve the burden of them. The action of writing itself can be calming, too. You could also try meditating, which involves breathing exercises that relax your mind – read more about meditation here. Mindfulness is another great way to calm your thoughts, as it forces you to focus on the moment. Find out more about mindfulness and its benefits here.

Exercise

If you can, try exercising during the day – ideally in the morning. It doesn’t have to a vigorous exercise – a gentle walk can be enough to stimulate you for the day. However, make sure you don’t exercise within four – six hours of your bedtime, as this could actually keep you more alert. You can read more about how exercise helps improve your sleep in our article, ‘Five Ways Exercise Helps You Sleep’.

Limit your caffeine

While the first cup of coffee can help you feel more alert in the morning, drinking caffeine during the day will keep you alert when you want to feel sleepy in the evenings.

Limit alcohol intake

Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns, and it’ll prevent you from drifting off into a deep, restful sleep. You can read more about the affects of alcohol on sleep here.

Have a relaxing bedtime routine

If you have a routine each night, you’ll send signals to your brain and body to settle and get ready to sleep. Have a relaxing bath, put your pyjamas on, listen to soothing music or read a book for about an hour before going to sleep. It’s important that you’re consistent with this, as your mind and body need to learn the routine to recognise its meaning.

Have a healthy sleeping environment

Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. You should also make sure that you don’t do any hobbies or work in bed, as your brain needs to associate your bed with sleep. Don’t watch TV, use your phone, tablet, or laptop in bed. If you are still awake after twenty minutes of going to bed, get up. Go into another room and do something relaxing, like reading. If you stay in bed, your brain will associate your bed with restlessness, making it even harder to fall asleep. Only go back to bed when you feel sleepy.

While these are ideas for how you can help improve the quality of your sleep, the best way to help yourself is to see a doctor. Your doctor will be able to link any symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis with sleeping problems or can determine if there’s an underlying cause. They’ll also be able to prescribe medication, but remember to check side effects if you’re still struggling with sleep.

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Does Sharing A Bed Affect Your Sleep?

Does Sharing A Bed Affect Your Sleep?

An estimated 60% of us share a bed with someone else.1 It’s completely normal, just a part of everyday life. Yet, it’s possible that sharing a bed can affect your sleep. Obviously, if the person next to you snores or hogs the duvet, you’re not going to get the sleep you need. Plus, if they’ve got a sleeping disorder that makes them restless, you could be kept awake as well. Read below to find out how sharing a bed can affect your sleep.

Sleep Disturbance

50% of sleep disturbance is caused by sharing a bed.2 With many of us struggling to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, having someone else in your bed makes it even harder to get that quality shut-eye.

Sleeping apart usually suggests that there’s trouble in paradise, but it could be much better for you and your partner. If you’re sleeping alone, no one else is disturbing you – you’ll enjoy a better snooze, better health, and even a better relationship.3 If you and your partner sleep apart, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have all those intimate moments of sharing a bed. You can – you just go to your own space to sleep.

However, there are some pros to sharing a bed. Researchers at the University of Utah investigated what happens when partners are temporarily separated at night-time. They found that some individuals showed anxiety at being separated, so their sleep worsened.4 Therefore, sleeping in the same bed as your partner could be a relaxing and comforting experience – it just depends on how well your partner sleeps. If they don’t get a good snooze, you won’t either. Some evidence also shows that couples who sleep together stay healthier, too. Sharing a bed is the ultimate intimacy, with research suggesting that this intimacy helps to lower stress hormones and encourage feeling safe.5

If you like sharing a bed, but you’re struggling to sleep, we’ve got some helpful solutions to have a good night together in bed.

Size Matters

The majority of British couples still sleep in a standard double size bed – this provides each sleeper with just 67.5cm, which is less than a baby has in a cot.6 With the average sleeper tossing and turning up to sixty times a night7, you’re bound to be disturbed by a restless sleeper. Investing in a bigger bed is also an investment in your relationship.

There are many things to consider when you’re buying a bed, especially if it’s for two sleepers. The first thing you need to think of is the length of the bed. You should buy a bed that’s at least 10cm longer than the tallest person. As the length of a standard double bed in the UK is only 190cm, anyone taller than 5ft 11” should choose a bed that’s 200cm in length – a kingsize or superking bed suits this.8

Plus, the width of the bed is just as important. Although a double bed means you’re cosy, you don’t have much room to move if you share your bed. You’ll disturb each other anything you move, so you’ll disturb each other’s sleep. Getting a wider bed should result in a better night’s sleep for you both.

For more information about what to consider when buying a new bed, read our article, ‘Your Bed Buying Questions Answered‘.

More Duvet

Duvet hogging is a common grumble amongst those who share a bed, so make sure you’ve got enough duvet to go around. You could even consider separate single duvets, especially if you and your partner have different temperature requirements. As a comfortable temperature of 18°C – 24°C is essential for a good sleep, individual duvets with a tog rating suited to each partner will put an end to debates of whether the bed is too cold or too hot.9

Take Snoring Seriously

It can be incredibly frustrating when the person next to you snores. No matter how hard you try, you can’t block the noise out and you lose sleep. Snoring is one of the main reasons why couples sleep separately. If you or your partner has a snoring problem, it could be a sign of another sleeping problem, such as sleep apnoea, so it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. Find out more about snoring and sleep apnoea here.

Leave Gadgets Alone

Who wants to snuggle up to someone who’s focused on their phone? Not only is looking at your phone, tablet, or laptop a turn off for your partner, but it’s a turn off for your sleep, too. The blue light that’s emitted from these screens disrupts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This’ll keep you awake, and it’ll mess up your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is an internal body clock that runs in the background, deciding when you need to sleep or be awake. If this is disrupted, you won’t fall asleep easily and you could wake up in the middle of the night. Instead, read a book or have a relaxing bedtime routine that you and your partner can both enjoy. Not only does this help you settle for sleep, but it lets you and your partner have quality time together after a busy day.

You can find out more about how technology affects your sleep here, or read more about the circadian rhythm in our article, ‘An Introduction into Circadian Rhythm‘.

Go to Bed at the Same Time

Try to go to bed at the same time together for at least three nights a week. Different body clocks mean that many couples tuck up at different times. If you’re already sleeping when your partner goes to bed, you could be woken up if you hear them moving about. One study found that couples who have similar sleep-wake cycles have stronger relationships.10

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