Finding the right balance in our lives to get enough sleep seems to be a battle we are losing more and more as we get older.
As children we would fight to stay up for an extra hour and now we would jump at any opportunity to get some shut eye.
Simple things like stress, nightmares or your partner snoring can all make sleep harder to find, while others struggle with conditions like insomnia and sleep apnea.
Struggling to get a good night’s sleep can affect a lot more than just feeling a little groggy the next day.
The amount of sleep we get can have an influence on our weight or our susceptibility to serious problems like heart disease or stroke.
Sleep expert Neil Stanley, author of How To Sleep Well, answers the questions we all have about sleep, as reported by the Metro .
How much sleep should we be getting?
Neil explains that sleep is individual to us all and the right amount is variable from person to person.
As low as four hours sleep and as high as 11 hours can be considered normal but getting just one hour less than we need can have a huge impact.
Between seven and nine hours is the recommended amount for adults and we actually need less sleep as we get older.
Neil advises for people to judge the amount they need by how they feel day-to-day. If you find you are often tired, you aren’t getting enough.
How to get to sleep
It’s the question we all wish we had the magic answer to.
A dark, quiet room with the fewest distractions possible are the ideal conditions to find before you try and nod off.
Having a set routine to prepare your body for sleep is also important, which includes no blue light from phones and other devices, as well as keeping a set bed time.
Finding the right body temperature and avoiding caffeine should also help.
If none of these are working, Neil suggests trying sleeping apps or even seeing a GP if it’s becoming a real problem.
Which sleep position is best?
Just like knowing the right amount of sleep to get, the best sleeping position is individual to us all.
The most common with adults is the foetal position, on the side with the knees tucked, with 41% of adults drifting off this way.
Neil says sleeping on your back is the ‘ideal position’ as it can reduce pressure on muscles and joints, as long as you don’t have sleep apnoea or snoring issues.
The bad news for people who sleep on their front is that the position offers very little in the way of benefits.
If it’s the only way you can get to sleep, it’s advised you sleep with your head against a pillow facing forward so you have room to breathe, which reduces pressure on your neck.
Pregnant women are recommended to sleep in the foetal position to increase blood flow.