Sleep loss can be a complex phenomenon to be unpick, with many potential factors contributing to the problem.
People often blame living in the modern age for their sleeping woes, with erratic work patterns and the unrelenting pace of technology hindering the sleep-cycle.
While these factors may play a role, more often than not, sleep deprivation is the result of poor lifestyle decisions.
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Drinking coffee too near to bedtime, for example, is a common trap many people fall into.
Coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.
In fact, revealing the extent to which coffee can impede the body’s ability to unwind, one study found that consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality.
Research shows that caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for six to eight hours.
Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3-4 pm is not recommended — especially if you are sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.
Not all hot drinks are off-limits before bedtime, however.
On the contrary, certain hot beverages have been shown to improve your overall quality of sleep.
Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea that has been championed for its sleep-inducing benefits.
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Research attributes the effects to apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.
One study in 34 adults found those who consumed 270 mg of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days fell asleep 15 minutes faster and experienced less night time wakening, compared to those who did not consume the extract.
Another study found that women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported improved sleep quality, compared to non-tea drinkers.
Those who drank chamomile tea also had fewer symptoms of depression, which is commonly associated with sleep problems.
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Other ways to aid sleep loss
One simple self-help tip to remedy sleep loss is to keep regular sleep hours.
According to the NHS, this programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.
The health site explains: “Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.”
It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day.
While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine, warns the NHS.
While simple self-help tips may provide short-term relief, it is important to tackle the underlying cause to curb the problem once and for all.
Keeping a sleep-diary can help to uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness, says the NHS.
“If you see your GP or a sleep expert they will probably ask you to keep a sleep diary to help them diagnose your sleep problems,” explains the health site.
It adds: “A sleep diary can also reveal underlying conditions that explain your insomnia, such as stress or medicine.”
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