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General Practice

General Practice General Practice

Sleep problems

We spend about a third of our lives asleep. We need sleep to survive because, like eating and drinking water, it is a biological need. Sleeping allows us to replenish our physical and mental energy levels to perform at our best. That is, we need to sleep in order to be awake, and vice versa. This daily sleep-wake cycle is called the circadian rhythm.

The lack of sleep and its consequences

The quantity and quality of our sleep can be affected by biological, physical and psychological factors. Sleep disorders are a common reason for medical consultation. Of these disorders, insomnia is the most common, ranking among those with the greatest health and social impact. It is estimated that about 30% of the general population has suffered from at least one of the typical symptoms of insomnia: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night, and early nocturnal awakenings.

 

Sleep disorders affect not only sleep itself, they may also have repercussions on wakefulness: fatigue, problems concentrating, drowsiness, mood disturbances such as irritability, dysphoria, stress and even dysthymia or mood depression.

Tips for sleeping better

During the day, try to keep to a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up. Avoid taking naps. Restrict your consumption of tobacco, coffee, tea, cola and alcohol, especially in the evening. Get moderate physical exercise, preferably before mid-afternoon and, if possible, with exposure to sunlight.

 

For the last few hours before going to bed, try not to carry out activities that are stressful or require a lot of attention. Avoid large and/or heavy meals. Do relaxation exercises. A body-temperature bath can help to relax your body.

 

At night, create the proper environmental conditions for falling asleep: a pleasant temperature, minimal light and noise, comfortable nightclothes, etc. Before going to bed, you can carry out a nightly routine that helps to prepare yourself mentally for falling asleep: cleaning your teeth, putting on your pyjamas, etc. If more than 30 minutes have gone by since you went to bed and you are still awake, get up and go to another room to do something relaxing, such as read a book, watch TV, etc., and go back to the bedroom when you feel sleepy again. That way, your bed will become associated with falling asleep immediately.

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