The average human spends 25 years of their lives sleeping. However, sleep isn’t a waste of time. We all need to sleep. If we don’t get enough sleep, we not only become tired and less alert, but we put ourselves at greater risk of illness.
Sleep is necessary for our physical and mental health. It helps us fight off viruses and infections, supports growth and healing, gets rid of toxins in the body, improves our memory, and even helps us to keep a healthy weight! Humans are the only animals that control the amount of sleep they get, and our sleep habits are getting worse because of our ‘always on’ culture.
Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep. Some people need a lot less sleep than others, and the amount we need changes as we get older. Information on the Young Scot website explains that:
It’s not uncommon for young people to reverse their sleeping patterns – staying awake late into the night and then feeling sleepy during the day. However, this can interfere with schoolwork and home life. If you’re up all night, gaming or messaging friends, and feeling tired all day, you might need to think about how you can have some screen-free wind-down time before going to bed at a reasonable time each night.
Caffeine, sugary foods, drugs and alcohol can also affect your sleep. Avoiding these things before you go to bed will help you get a better night’s sleep.
Sometimes people find it hard to go to sleep or stay asleep for other reasons – for example, because they’re worried about something. Sometimes children may feel anxious about being alone in the dark. This is not unusual. Being worried about other things in your life can also have a big impact on your sleep – things like:
If you’re struggling to get to sleep (or stay asleep) because you’re worried about something, there are things you can do to help yourself.
Not every one of these ideas will work for everyone, so try different things and see what works best for you.
Once you learn these techniques, you’ll be able to practice them without looking at your screen before bedtime!
If you’re worried about not being able to sleep for weeks or months, make an appointment to talk to your GP.