Byline: Wendy Green
Forty-two per cent of us who visit our GP complain that we sleep badly some or most nights, according to recent research. The nation's inability to sleep is estimated to cost the NHS [pounds sterling]290million a year. So before you visit your GP, check if you have explored every possibility of achieving a good night's sleep.
WHAT SORT OF INSOMNIAC ARE YOU? The London Sleep Centre defines insomnia as inadequate or poor quality sleep with at least one or more of the following: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, waking up too early in the morning and non-refreshing sleep. The centre offers an online sleep assessment to help determine whether you have a sleep problem (www.londonsleepcentre.com).
There are different insomnia classifications: Sleep onset insomnia: you find it hard to fall asleep. The average sleeper takes between one and 20 minutes to fall asleep. Insomniacs take half an hour or much longer.
Sleep maintenance insomnia: you have problems staying asleep and constantly wake up during the night and are awake for half an hour or more at a time.
Transient insomnia: you have problems sleeping for a few nights.
Short-term insomnia: you have sleep problems for up to a month.
Chronic insomnia: sleep problems for longer than a month.
Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, says there is a further type, one he terms 'semisomnia'. He believes that while few people suffer from chronic insomnia, two-thirds of us sleep poorly most nights, largely because of the stresses of daily life.
UNDERSTAND YOUR SLEEP CYCLE There are two main types of sleep - rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM).
Sleep is also classified in stages. Stages one (drowsiness), two (light sleep), three and four (deep sleep) are NREM sleep and stage five is REM sleep. You progress through each of these stages, descending from one through to four and then on into REM sleep in 90-minute cycles. An average adult has four to six cycles each night. …