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Catching ZZZs

Updated: May 5, 2021

Did you know that humans spend about a third of their life sleeping, whereas cats manage a whopping two thirds of their life (cat)napping?

We are all different and need different amounts of sleep, but research shows that between seven and eight hours out of every 24 is ideal for 95% of us. If you struggle to wake up for your alarm, or still feel tired a few hours after waking, then you're probably not getting enough sleep. Ideally, falling asleep at night should take about 10-15 minutes and if it takes you less than five minutes, you may be sleep deprived.

This Sleep Calculator can help you find your ideal bedtime.

Scientists believe that differences in preferred sleeping habits is partly determined by genetics. You can’t really change this, but you can use it to improve your sleeping habits.

There are three different types:

  • Owls (go to bed late and want to wake up late)

  • Larks (go to bed earlier and get up earlier)

  • Ambivalent (more adaptable to sleep schedules)

Find out if you’re an Owl, Lark or Ambivalent

There’s a common myth that sleeping one hour less will make us more productive. Research suggests the reality is that even small amounts of sleep deprivation have a negative impact on our health, wellbeing, cognitive abilities and productivity. No other mammals willingly deprive themselves of sleep. It’s so bad that Amnesty International list sleep deprivation as a form of torture. If you were deprived of it for a week, you’d be unable to function.

Sleep and mental health are closely linked. Poor sleep affects mental health and poor mental health affects sleep. Losing only one hour of sleep a night is associated with increased feelings of depression, hopelessness, nervousness and restlessness.

How to improve your sleep

· Establish a nightly routine

· Get natural light, ideally in the morning, around the same time every day

· Daytime exercise

· Avoid caffeine or stimulants before bedtime

· Turn off tech devices at least 30 minutes before sleeping

· Don’t use alcohol to sleep

· Ensure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet before bed

Where to get help

· The Sleep Council have a range of advice and tools including Sleep Diaries, Nodcasts and a Stress Test

· The Sleep Charity have advice and information to help improve sleep including Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation

· The NHS have an interactive sleep quiz which gives individually tailored advice

· Sleep Station run a clinically validated sleep improvement programme that can help you sleep better after just four sessions. This is an approved NHS service, available on the NHS in England since 2012.

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