Sleep – are you a python or a giraffe?

Did you know that pythons can sleep up to 18 hours a day and giraffes, generally less than 2?

Sleep needs and patterns for us humans, are as diverse as they are for animals. Some of us require total darkness, a certain temperature range, no caffeine in the previous 6 hours etc etc. Oh and of course, you have to have ‘the right pillow’! Others can drop off on planes, trains and well, even mid conversation…

If you’re the type of human that struggles to get, or even stay asleep you’ll probably be all too familiar with the feeling of ‘chasing sleep’, the desperation of trying to stay relaxed in order to not chase it away. External factors such as being a new parent or having noisy neighbours can cause temporary sleep issues, just as well as internal factors such as having a heavy cold, certain medical conditions or mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

Guidance as to the duration of good sleep required is 7-9 hours for adults and 8-10 for adolescents.

Undertake an internet search on sleep solutions and you will find yourself spoilt for choice as to where to start. Below are some ‘simple’ steps to reflect on before more specific solutions:

  • Establish a regular sleep routine, going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time (resist the temptation to nap in the day)
  • Undertake a relaxing activity before you go to bed such as having a bath, reading a book etc
  • Reflect on the environment – is your room dark enough, quiet enough and cool/warm enough?
  • Avoid the bright screens of tech devices for at least an hour before going to bed
  • If you are on medication check with your GP to see if this could be a contributing factor
  • If there is something on your mind, make time to chat about it with someone you trust

It can be trial and error identifying what is getting in the way of those elusive hours of good sleep, maybe a structured approach may help, something like keeping a sleep diary. Click here for a downloadable version from the NHS.

Some useful links:

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