Dr Jim Brown is a consultant physician and sleep specialist at the Centre for Human Health and Performance, 76 Harley Street London, which recently launched its sleep clinic.
I treat sleep disorders and optimise sleep for everyone from office workers to elite performance athletes. Lack of sleep causes poor performance at work, low moods, weight gain and chronic ill health including increased risk of diabetes. Seven in 10 people sleep less than seven hours (seven to nine hours is the recommended amount). Key indicators of quality sleep include sleeping more than 85 per cent of your total time in bed, and falling asleep within 30 minutes.
In today’s society, there is a vogue for always being connected, leading to insufficient time to wind down before bedtime. Stress and anxiety are big factors in sleep duration, quality and can lead to established insomnia. Ingesting the likes of caffeine to keep us “on top of our game” further affects our ability to sleep. Also, our bodies are influenced by external stimuli – including temperature and the “light-dark cycle” – along with internal biological processes that govern our sleep/wake cycle. This is known as the circadian rhythm.