How to Sleep Better - latest tips from science

There was a fascinating Panorama program on the BBC looking at sleep problems in children and proposing solutions (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08hymf3/panorama-sleepless-britain - available until early 2018)

More and more people we see report problems sleeping, so I watched the program with interest. Their focus was on technology, particularly the blue light emitted by smart phones, tablets and televisions. Blue light tells our body that it is daytime. More importantly this suppresses a hormone called melatonin that we produce naturally and this is essential to help us sleep.

The program focussed on children and stated that with the increased availability of technology more and more children were being over stimulated and this was not only affecting their sleep but also their performance at school. The tracked a group of teenagers and as they limited their night time use of technology with none in the hour before sleep, all the children reported better sleep and cognitive tests were used to demonstrate that they all improved in performance.

So how is this relevant? I know personally that I use technology more and more. Personally I’ve always been “allergic” to having it in the bedroom so I don’t have a mobile phone by my bed or watch TV in bed, But none the less I’m pretty sure that I could improve.

In the “good old days” we’d read before bedtime or have a hot bath. It was all about relaxing and winding down. If sleep is a problem I would consider the following:

·         Can you reduce/limit your use of technology (phones ,ipads, computer, TV) in the time leading up to sleep

·         If you have a mobile phone by your bed, turn it to flight mode overnight. Get used to not being available 24/7. It’s important to have down time.

·         If you must use technology at night, invest in software or apps to change the light settings on your phone/ipad. We found several free apps and programs that change the light settings on your computer depending on the time of day (One example was https://justgetflux.com/. I’m sure there are more).

So clean up your use of technology and observe how your sleep changes.

Of course this is not the whole picture, but it is something that you can do to support your health and improve your sleep.

I lose track of the numbers who report improved sleep as their back heals. Your use of technology will support this process, along with eating the right foods and exercising appropriately. It’s all important, just don’t let technology be the thing that gets in the way of your best health yet.