Anxiety specialist offers advice as part of Sleep Awareness Week

The National Sleep Foundation advises that healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, and...

The National Sleep Foundation advises that healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, and advises people struggling to achieve a decent night's kip to follow simple guidelines. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Love it or loathe it, it is an important part of being human. It's never been a difficulty for me, personally. I can do it anywhere. Standing up on a train, in the bath or even at my desk... Shhhhhh.

Over the course of their lifetime, the average person spends a third of their life asleep .

The National Sleep Foundation advises that healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, and advises people struggling to achieve a decent night's kip to follow simple guidelines.

This includes sticking to the same daily schedule, even at weekends, minimising disruption from light and sound, disconnecting from electronic devices like mobiles and laptops at least 30 minutes before bed, and monitoring the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume immediately before going to sleep.

As part of World Sleep Day on March 19 and Sleep Awareness Week (March 14-20) we approached author and anxiety specialist Stacey Turner for her own tips on how to get the best night's sleep.

Over the course of their lifetime, the average person spends a third of their life asleep .

Over the course of their lifetime, the average person spends a third of their life asleep . - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto


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Stacey, who founded mental health awareness charity It's OK To Say, stressed: “Of course, everyone is different, and our needs are unique, however good quality sleep plays a key role in overall health and is one main part of maintaining your essential well-being so you can thrive.

"It is known that poor sleep may result in negative effects on physical performance, brain function, hormones, and mental health.”

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She offered six pointers for all ages to help make sleep a top priority.

1. Pay attention to what your body needs. How are you feeling? What is going on in your world right now and use that as your guide. Do you have things tumbling around your mind? If so, it can be hard to wind down, so how do you feel you can manage them?

2. It is not only essential to pay attention to food, coffee, alcohol, and stimulants during the day and evening, but look at the timing. What time was your last coffee? What time do you like to have your last meal? Try to have a rough routine in mind factoring in all your needs to pace your body. How do you like to eat? Little and often or three meals?

3. Evening exercise may be considered too stimulating, yet many people sleep soundly, so please consider what works best for you.

4. Wash off the day and bring calm to your evening by having a hot shower or bath. Consider your breathing, your thoughts and how you feel about your day. What are you grateful for?

5. Consider your bedroom. Lighting, mattress, and linen. Do you get hot? Do you like to feel snug? It is also important to consider how you wash your linen, do you use a fabric softener?

6. Sleep aids such as, lavender, aromatherapy, music, meditation, reading, calm apps are all useful and help to calm the mind and body. What are your essentials?

Stacey added: “The impact of anxiety at bedtime can be significant if symptoms intensify around this time, whether it’s intrusive thoughts or worrying about the day ahead. It helps to understand how your days require support and put things in place for better well-being.

“Pacing yourself is being aware and taking control of the balance of activities you can comfortably manage while taking your overall health into consideration to prevent overload, stress and is considered a form of pain management. It also means becoming comfortable in communicating what you can and cannot do (putting boundaries in place). Always have compassion, some days are tougher than others and you may need more or less on varying days.

“Please pay attention to your needs and always consult your doctor or a professional therapist if you have a continued pattern of sleep disturbance.”

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