Resident Doctor

Something keeping you up at night? Don't suffer in silence - ask our Soak&Sleep resident Doctor who’s on call to answer everything and anything!

What is sleep anxiety?

This is the fear of sleep. Stress and anxiety can cause serious disruption to our sleep patterns which can, in turn, cause anxieties related to sleep itself. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder with difficulties getting off to sleep, maintaining sleep, early morning wakening or waking unrefreshed.

Why can’t I sleep even though I am tired?

A number of causes can disrupt our ability to sleep; stress and anxiety being the most common reasons. However, medication, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, exercising late in the day can all disrupt our sleep pattern.

Can you die from lack of sleep?

I don’t believe there is any evidence of this but lack of sleep impairs our ability to function and therefore may have an impact on our day to day life, like causing you to drive more dangerously for example.

Can you die from too much sleep?

Not directly but too much sleep is linked with obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression and pain which could result in an early death.

What causes insomnia?

Mental health conditions, most commonly anxiety, stress and depression

Noise or environmental factors like heat or cold

Medications e.g. Steroids

Recreational drugs e.g. MDMA, Cocaine

Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine

Jet lag

Shift work

What is best treatment for insomnia?

Looking at your sleeping habits is a good place to start with treating insomnia. Make sure you wind down before bedtime - this can include having a bath, reading a good book or watching television.

Address your bedroom environment - make sure you are sleeping on a comfortable mattress with the right pillows and duvet for your preference, ensure your bedroom is not too warm or too cold and reduce the amount of light and noise you are exposed to.

Exercising earlier in the day and not looking at devices like mobile phones can also help you switch off. If all of these measures don’t help, medications are available from your pharmacy or can be prescribed by your doctor.

How long does the flu virus last on bed sheets?

The flu virus can live for 24-48 hours on hard surfaces like doorknobs and handrails but much short periods of porous soft surfaces like sheets and fabrics, perhaps from minutes to a few hours. The amount of time will be dependent on environmental factors like temperature and humidity.

Can you get sick from bedding?

Yes, bedding can spread germs as viruses and bacteria can live for some time on fabrics.

Why do my allergies get worse at night?

Pollen counts can be higher at night and for those with allergies to house dust mites these are present in and around our beds, as is pet hair if dogs and cats are allowed to sleep on our beds. Nasal congestion and rhinitis (running nose) are worse lying down compared to standing up, and we have less to distract us from irritations at night.

Why do I wake up to pee at 3am?

There are quite a number of reasons both medical and habitual for this to happen. I would recommend talking to you GP to explore this further. However, in simple terms, what you consume must come out so large volumes of fluid consumed throughout the evening, in particular alcohol and caffeine, can all cause you to urinate more often.

Is light sleep good?

There are five different stages of sleep split into non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. All are important but a lot of the memory consolidation and repair functions occur during the deep stages of sleep, stages three and five in particular. 

Light sleep is still important, but REM sleep mainly comes in the latter stages of sleep so if you cut your sleep short, this is what you are missing out on, and this is what can leave you feel groggy and unrefreshed the next morning.

What is a good sleep pattern?

A good sleep pattern varies from person to person but ideally one should have 7-9 hours daily. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each night can help you develop a healthy sleep pattern.

What is the most important stage of sleep?

There are five stages of sleep. Stages one to four constitute non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and stage five is rapid eye movement sleep (REM). We cycle through these approximately every 90 minutes four to six times a night. All are important but a lot of the memory consolidation and repair functions occur during the deep stages of sleep, stages three and five in particular.

Sleep Expert, Dr Timothy Hodgson, shares his small tips that can make a huge difference to your sleep. Give them a try and see how you get on.

He is a GP (General Practitioner) at Wimbledon Village Surgery
MBBS London 1999 MRCGP
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