Experts answer the 'most Googled' questions about sleep

By Kristine Tarbert |

It's clear people are still generally struggling to get a good night's sleep if the most Googled questions around the topic are anything to go by.

The number one query from around the world over the last 12 months is 'How can I fall asleep faster', according to new research conducted by Bed Kingdom

Sleep experts involved in the study say sleep issues and disorders are unfortunately becoming more and more common due to people leading more stressful lifestyles.

"Inadequate sleep over time can increase your risk of chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression," the experts warn.

"Therefore, having a night-time routine and getting adequate sleep every night is essential for leading a healthy lifestyle."

READ MORE: What different people's sleep routines really look like

A good rest resets everything
People are still turning to Google for answers around sleep issues. (iStock)

Here, the experts share some of their advice around the most popular questions.

1. How can I fall asleep faster?

215,000 monthly global searches

The analysis revealed that the Internets most Googled question relating to sleep is, "How can I fall asleep faster?", which receives an average of 215,000 monthly searches worldwide.

Melatonin is a key to sleep; it is the hormone secreted by the pineal gland, and a lack of melatonin is one likely reason you cannot fall asleep quickly.

Melatonin is affected by an inconsistent sleeping pattern. Waking up and falling asleep at various times can confuse your circadian rhythm, your body's internal clock. Your circadian rhythm regulates the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, so without a consistent sleep-wake cycle, the body will be confused and not know when to release the hormone. You should maintain a regular sleeping pattern, which can help you fall asleep faster at bedtime.

Melatonin is also affected by light sources, including TVs, phones, and tablets; therefore, you should avoid using these devices before you sleep. A dark room is excellent for melatonin production, as the pineal gland responds to darkness by secreting the hormone.

Another way to help that can help you fall asleep faster is relaxation techniques such as PMR (progression muscle relaxation). This technique improves sleep and anxiety by focusing on muscles rather than intrusive thoughts. This can be done by closing your eyes, focusing, and tensing then relaxing individual muscles around your body to help you become more relaxed, which can help you fall asleep.

READ MORE: Do sleep apps really help with insomnia? An expert explains

Sleepy young woman rubs her eyes while sitting in bed in the morning feeling tired after waking up. Bad restless sleep. stress, nightmares
The amount of sleep an individual requires depends on their age, health conditions, and previous sleep quality. (iStock)

2. How much sleep do you need?

105,000 monthly global searches

The amount of sleep an individual requires depends on their age, health conditions, and previous sleep quality.

Infants require a minimum of 12-16 hours of sleep daily, including naps. Commonly, newborns will be asleep more than they are awake, as sleep is essential for their development. As a child ages, the hours of sleep they need will decrease; toddlers will need between 11-14 hours of sleep, including naps, and those in nursery, 3–5-year-olds, will need 10-13 hours of sleep. 6–12-year-olds will require 9-12 hours of sleep, and 13–18-year-olds will require 8-10 hours.

Adults require a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. The older you become, the more hours of sleep your will need because your sleeping pattern can change. It is common for older adults to sleep more lightly, have trouble falling asleep, or wake up multiple times in the night.

Pregnant women will require at least 8-10 hours of sleep, which is vital for the baby's and mother's health. Those ill with a cold or flu will require at least 7-9 hours of sleep, which can help the body go into repair mode.

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3. What is sleep paralysis?

90,900 monthly global searches

Sleep paralysis is a condition that occurs when REM sleep is disrupted, typically when one is waking up or falling asleep. It is harmless, and some people will only experience it once or twice in their lifetime.

Numerous things can happen during sleep paralysis, but the most common thing is the paralysed feeling where you cannot move, speak or even open your eyes.

When you experience sleep paralysis, you may feel frightened, as if someone is in the room with you or something is pushing you down, though these feelings will dissipate within a few minutes.

It is not clear why sleep paralysis occurs, though it has been linked to insomnia, narcolepsy, PTSD, and disrupted sleeping patterns. You may be able to prevent this by improving your sleeping habits. Ensure you get at least seven hours of sleep a night, maintain a consistent sleep pattern, and get regular exercise.

READ MORE: Tired after eating? Here's why and how to fix it

4. Why can't I sleep?

89,900 monthly global searches

Though this question is highly subjective, and a doctor should assess those with insomnia, there are a few potential reasons as to why someone can't sleep.

One likely reason is stress and anxiety, which can result in poor sleep. Numerous factors can contribute to someone feeling anxious, including work stress or the consumption of caffeine or alcohol. If you are consuming alcohol frequently and interfering with your sleep, this should be reduced or stopped. Any caffeine consumption should not be had later in the day.

Surprised scared funny african girl lying in bed covering face with blanket, young black woman awake from sleep hiding peeking from duvet feel shy afraid or bad dream nightmare embarrassed, top view
Stress, anxiety or a poor sleeping environment can all contribute to difficulty sleeping. (iStock)

Another reason could be an uncomfortable environment; as aforementioned, the environment you sleep in significantly impacts your sleep quality. If your bed is uncomfortable, it would be worth investing in comfortable bedding and pillows, which can contribute to a whole night of rest.

5. What is sleep apnoea?

80,900 monthly global searches

Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder where breathing stops and starts while you sleep, and it can be severe if not diagnosed or treated.

Symptoms include gasping, snorting, choking noises, loud snoring, and waking up often through the night. Those with sleep apnoea may feel tired and have headaches or mood swings during the day.

If you think you have sleep apnoea, you must see a GP, who will refer you to a specialist sleep clinic for tests. Sleep apnoea is often treated by a CPAP Machine, where a mask is worn overnight that pumps air into your mouth or nose while you sleep.

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