Sleep is important. A lack of sleep can affect our health in a number of ways, including our productivity, our memory, our heart health, mental health and more. A recent study has even shown that abnormal sleeping patterns such as sleeping too much or sleeping too little could lead to obesity. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a number of issues, and if you’re struggling to get it, you may wish to book an appointment with your GP for some options on help with sleeping.


Why sleep is important

Sleep is important to help us to carry out a number of functions. Whilst you’ll already know that a lack of sleep can leave you feeling tired, irritable, grumpy and even a bit clumsy, you may not know about some of the other effects such as affecting your memory and increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. A recent study by the University of Glasgow found that an abnormal sleep pattern in those with a high genetic risk of obesity were more at risk of carrying excess weight than those who had a normal sleeping pattern. You also run the risk of having an accident as your brain will be foggy and unable to make decisions quickly.

Eight hours is the recommended normal amount of sleep we should be getting, and this should be quality sleep. You may need more or less, but if you find yourself tired during the day and feeling like you could nap – you’re probably not getting enough quality sleep.


Regulating your sleeping pattern

If you’ve been suffering from a lack of sleep for a prolonged period, it’s important that you take steps to regulate your sleeping pattern and catch up. It won’t happen overnight, and it’s best that you pick a day over the weekend to begin so that you don’t have the pressure of work to get up for in the morning. Add extra hours to your sleep, and turn off your alarm clocks so that you wake up naturally when you’re ready. Try to limit your caffeine intake and when you start to feel more rested you can reduce your sleep down to around the eight-hour time.


When to see your GP for help with sleeping

If the above doesn’t work and you’re still struggling to sleep at night, it’s important to make an appointment with your GP for advice. You could have an underlying sleep disorder that could be preventing you from sleeping.

A sleeping disorder relates to a psychological or physical problem that prevents you from sleeping and is affecting your day to day life. Sleeping disorders can become a problem when they affect your health and safety such as falling asleep whilst driving, not being able to stay awake in meetings or whilst watching TV, poor performance at work or school and other symptoms.

By booking an appointment with your GP, you can help to address the underlying cause of your inability to sleep such as stress or depression, or even if there is a physical reason, such as pain, that is preventing you from sleeping. To make the most out of your appointment, keep a sleep diary for a week leading up to your visit, documenting any symptoms you suffer as well as how many hours you slept, how many you were awake, etc.

As well as seeing your GP, there are other health resources available to you such as Richmond Care and Support which offers advice and help with sleeping disorders, whilst the NHS Choices website has a sleep self-assessment tool to help you establish if you have a sleeping disorder.

Any concerns you have about sleeping can be addressed by your doctor, so make sure you get an appointment to help you get the sleep you need to practice self-care and live a healthy lifestyle.