Very few of us are getting enough sleep these days, and our increasingly stressful lives, coupled with mobile technology, means switching off and getting quality shut-eye is getting harder and harder.
And it doesn't matter how many hours you spend lazing in bed, without a good night's sleep, you'll forever feel groggy come the morning. Check out our tips for waking up feeling energised and refreshed.
Get into a routine
We all have a natural body clock, but it's no use if you keep changing the time. Getting into a regular sleep-wake cycle (your circadian rhythm) is important if you're to make the most of your time in bed. Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time day each day, and don't be tempted to stay up late and sleep in at the weekend. If you're still feeling sleepy on a Saturday or Sunday, try a little catnap rather than an indulgent lie-in, as this will enable you to stick to your routine.
Bright lights, bad night
Your body produces a hormone called melatonin, which is controlled by exposure to light and helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. When it's dark, you produce more melatonin as it makes you sleepy - too much brightness in the evenings has the opposite effect.
So while it's a good idea to get plenty of natural daylight during waking hours to keep sleepiness at bay, when it comes to the evening, all those hours spent in front of the TV or tablet are doing you no favours.
Try to switch off at least 30 minutes before you head to bed, and opt for low-level bedside lights. When your head's ready to hit the pillow, remember, the darker the room, the better you'll sleep.
Just as exposure to light before bed is a no-no, so is a late-night session at the gym. Evening workouts are all very well but if your body temperature and heart rate are too high, you'll end up tossing and turning at night. If after work is the only time you can exercise, make sure it's three or four hours before you hit the sack, or better still, switch your fitness regime to mornings or lunchtimes.
A little relaxing yoga, however, is a bedtime hit, and you can squeeze a few gentle stretches in from the comfort of your bed. Simple moves such as lying back and pulling each knee to your chest, sitting cross-legged and twisting round to the back, bending forward at the hips for a back stretch, or extending your leg towards the ceiling and holding it there with your hand behind the knee, all while taking a few deep, measured breaths, will work wonders for your stress levels and lead to a deep, satisfying sleep.
Back off the booze
You might drift right off after a few glasses of vino, but you'll inevitably feel sluggish when the alarm rings. As your the alcohol is gradually removed from your system, it acts as a stimulant so that even it seems like you've been sleeping soundly, it won't have been the quality shut-eye we all long for. Swap the Chardonnay for a soothing chamomile tea instead.
Sleep apnoea is a relatively common condition in middle-aged men and women, as well as the elderly, and this troublesome issue can wake you up many times during the night. It occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your throat blocks your airway, stopping your breathing and waking you up, and those who snore loudly or wake up with a choking sensation are often sufferers. Try sleeping on your side and grab an extra couple of pillows to help ease your symptoms.
Remember, quality sleep is just as important as getting your eight hours, so make a few of these simple changes and you'll find you're bright-eyed and bushy-tailed come the morning.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you found any of the above help you to get a good night's sleep? Leave your comments below...