SLEEPING for under seven hours a night could put you at risk of dying early, an Oxford Uni prof has warned.
Brits are in the midst of a 'sleep crisis', with too few of us getting over six-and-a-half hours shut-eye a night.
Professor Colin Espie said that "mortality rates are higher in short sleepers".
He added: "It's every bit as important as diet and exercise and needs to be on the public health agenda."
Brits are in the midst of a 'sleep crisis', with the average adult getting six-and-a-half hours shut-eye a night.
A third of us say we're not getting the sleep we need.
Sleep expert Dr Sophie Bostock said that seven hours was the "minimum" for adults, with many of us needing much more sleep if we're to function effectively.
The real problem comes, she says, when sleep loss accumulates over time and we build up a sleep debt.
That debt is being called a "public health crisis" by health boffs who believe that up to a quarter of all fatal accidents is caused by tiredness.
Tired workers are less productive, which is costing the UK more than £30bn a year.
"We're really struggling as a society to switch off," Dr Bostock said.
"Without sleep, we can't survive. It's essential for our physical and mental health."
These findings are all part of a hard-hitting ITV documentary called Why Can't We Sleep, looking into the devastating impact a lack of sleep can have on our bodies.
Top tips for getting a better night's kip:
1. Sleep naked
Ditching your pajamas could be the secret to a more sound sleep.
Sleeping naked is ideal for helping us stay in a deep sleep because it aids with maintaining the perfect body temperature.
In order to get a quality night's sleep, you need to be cool – which helps your body to release the sleep hormone, melatonin.
We previously revealed that ditching the jammies can also help you to lose weight, improve your sex life and make your vagina healthier.
Reducing stress and improving the quality of sleep has been proven time and time again to increase the body's ability to burn fat as we reduce cortisol levels.
2. Create a routine
It's a lot harder to get quality shut-eye if you go to sleep at different times and you've been doing different things before you get into bed.
Treat your bedtime like a ritual.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy but there is evidence to suggest that getting into the habit of, for example, spraying your pillows with lavendar spray can help you in the long-term to wind down as you start to associate that smell with sleep.
So get some nice linen for your bed, spray your pillows with a calming scent and just take 30 minutes or an hour to wind down in bed every night.
You could also try downloading a meditation app like Headspace which offers lots of very simple but effective 3-20 minute sessions for mentally winding down.
We're all super busy but we need to be prioritising sleep.
3. Ditch the caffeine
Dr Bostock says calls caffeine "one of the biggest threats to our sleep in modern life".
If you've had a load of tea or coffee during the day, you're more likely to have a lighter, more broken sleep.
So if you need caffeine to get going in the morning, fine – but try to switch to caffeine-free drinks from 11am onwards.
4. Ban tech from the bedroom
Everyone says it but few people actually do it.
It's so tempting to watch Netflix in bed or a have a pre-snooze scroll through social media.
But all that blue light can wreak havoc with your body's ability to shut down.
So invest in an old school alarm clock and keep your bedroom a tech-free zone.
5. Avoid sleeping pills
Tempting as it may be to reach for the heavy-duty sleeping draughts after a few nights of crap sleep, it's much better to try to go for holistic options first.
The more used to sleeping pills you are, the harder it can be to sleep naturally.
If you are struggling, you could try taking CBD oil which has a relaxing but not intoxicating effect.
6. Eat earlier
It's hard when you work long hours to come home, sort stuff out, eat and be in bed by 10pm.
But if you possibly can, eating earlier will make sleeping a lot easier.
MORE ON SLEEP
BEDTIME BLUES This is the exact time your kids should go to bed – according to their age
SLEEP BREEZY Scrap booze & sleep alone – 12 tips for staying cool in bed during a heatwave
HEATMARE The heatwave could be giving you nightmares – 5 tips to sleep through it
When we eat late, we wake up our digestive systems which set to work breaking down dinner – while we lie in bed.
To fall asleep, we want all of our bodily processes to be slowing down and for inflammation to be at an all-time low.
If you do struggle to eat early, try having a bigger lunch and a lighter meal when you do get home.
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