The government is due to publish official guidelines on how much sleep we should be getting, and some of the details are pretty worrying.
Getting a good night’s sleep often proves to be tricky for many of us. Burnout, anxiety and diet are just some of the common factors that prevent getting some serious shut eye. And, despite the numerous relaxing podcasts and books out there which are proven to promote sleep, some of us are just natural night owls.
But new official guidelines on sleep are set to be published by the government, as a response to the health implications that often come with bad sleeping habits.
According to health secretary Matt Hancock’s public health green paper, seen by The Times, ministers are backing proposals to give advice on “sleep hygiene” to improve general public health.
Within the guidelines, it is expected to state that regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep per night could damage most people’s health.
It reports that “failure to sleep between seven and nine hours a night is associated with physical and mental health problems, including an increased risk of obesity, strokes, heart attacks, depression and anxiety”.
Hancock is reported to be supportive of the proposals but, as the guidelines will be given according to age brackets, he will likely emphasise that they are not meant to be prescriptive to the population at large.
With such severe health issues being a serious risk associated with sleep, it’s thought that this new official advice will be presented in the same way as alcohol and obesity guidelines.
Tips for improving your sleep pattern
A recent study showed how sleep patterns could be improved in just three weeks.
The research, carried out by scientists at universities in the UK and Australia, suggested that simple techniques really can make a huge difference – including keeping consistent bedtimes, avoiding caffeine and getting plenty of morning sunshine.
Here are the simple changes that participants were instructed to make:
- Wake up two-three hours earlier than usual and get plenty of outdoor light in the morning
- Eat breakfast as soon as possible
- Exercise only in the morning
- Have lunch at the same time every day and eat nothing after 7pm
- Banish caffeine after 3pm
- Have no naps after 4pm
- Go to bed two-three hours earlier than usual and limit light in the evenings
- Maintain the same sleep and wake times every day