UK’s lack of sleep has to be taken seriously

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From broken bones to new beginnings

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Sleep is big news. Already this month, a study into the nation’s sleeping habits found that the happier we are, the better we sleep.

But when sleep is constantly elusive, it can be a nightmare, particularly for around a third of Britons, whose lack of sleep is putting them at greater risk of a host of health problems, ranging from depression and anxiety to immune deficiency and heart disease.

The nation’s insomnia problem is so bad that the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has warned it’s a ‘major public health concern’, and has launched a campaign and a report, Sleep Matters, to raise awareness of the importance of sleep.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the MHF, says: ‘For too long, sleep has been neglected as a major influence on the physical and mental health of the nation. It’s crucial we now treat the issue of sleep problems as the major public health concern it is.’

If you struggle to sleep try the following tips:

* Don’t eat a large meal before going to bed.

* Drink less tea and coffee and eat less chocolate and other sugary foods late in the day.

* Exercise regularly, earlier in the day.

* Don’t nap during the day – go for a walk instead.

* Don’t watch TV, play computer games or eat in the bedroom.

* Tackle sources of light and noise in the bedroom, and use an eye mask or earplugs if necessary.

* Make sure the room temperature is correct.

* Keep a sleep diary (downloadable from the Mental Health Foundation’s sleep website howdidyousleep.org).

* If you can’t sleep, get up, have a warm milky drink, and go back to bed when you feel sleepier.