Top tips will help combat common problem of poor sleep patterns

Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Sleeping badly can make you feel wretched the next day – but new research suggests it may also have serious health implications later in life.

A US study has found that poor sleep may be linked to the creation of deposits in the brain that are a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia affecting 465,000 people in the UK.

The study’s author, Dr Yo-El Ju, has these top tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

· Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. The best sleep occurs when the body’s clock is in sleep mode, and the best way to set this clock is to wake up and go to bed at consistent hours.

· Avoid caffeine after mid-afternoon. Even if you fall asleep with caffeine in your system, it makes sleep light and restless.

· Alcohol can make you sleepy initially, but causes many awakenings in the night, so moderate drinkers should give themselves one to two alcohol-free hours before going to bed.

· Exercise during the day deepens sleep that night. However, exercising just before bedtime may wake the body up, so avoid hitting the gym late in the evening.

· Watching TV, eating, surfing the internet, texting, or doing other activities in bed apart from sleeping, can teach the body bad habits about staying awake while under the covers.

· If you have persistent sleep problems, seeing a sleep specialist can be very helpful. Many sleep problems can be treated.