Doctor warns modern lifestyle habits are causing health and sleep problems
Sleep Expert Sammy Margo talks best sleeping positions
Between long working hours and diets fuelled by convenient but ultra-processed foods, modern lifestyles don’t often allow a lot of space for healthy habits.
Dr Tim Mercer, a GP partner in Wirral, explained that factors like poor work-life balance, low-value diets, lack of movement, incorrect desk set-ups, excess alcohol and caffeine and detrimental social media habits, can lay the groundwork to a number of health issues.
The GP warned that many mental and physical health problems are becoming more prevalent among patients seeking medical help.
Dr Mercer highlighted conditions such as insomnia, acid reflux, poor circulation, muscle pain, digestion issues and anxiety.
He shared his concerns with the sleep specialists at adjustable bed retailer Opera Beds, who are highlighting the health benefits of elevated sleeping, particularly in the NASA-developed “zero-gravity” position.
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Achieved by raising your head and feet slightly above your heart level while you are laying on your back, the sleeping position aligns your spine naturally.
What’s more, it could help combat some of the common health issues the doctor described, including muscle pain, insomnia, digestion and circulation issues.
Dr Mercer told the Liverpool Echo: “In recent years, there’s been a noticeable increase in health conditions influenced by modern lifestyle habits, many of which contradict our natural biology.
“Our current lifestyle patterns often involve less physical activity and reduced social interactions compared to previous generations.”
The GP explained that a lot of these issues also affect sleep because shut-eye has a bi-directional relationship with overall health.
People who are generally healthier tend to sleep better, and those who sleep well are also more likely to enjoy a healthy life, according to the expert.
While you probably can’t imagine going about your day without a cup of coffee, drinking too much could be detrimental to your sleep and therefore spell bad news for your overall health.
Dr Mercer shared that excess caffeine could spur on issues in your sleep cycle.
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The doctor said: “Many people rely on caffeine to get them through the day and experience varying side effects they see as ‘normal’.
“The sleep-signalling hormone adenosine accumulates in our bodies in the day and the more it builds, the sleepier we become.
“Caffeine prevents the drowsiness it triggers. It can disrupt our sleep-wake cycle and remains in our system for longer than many realise, with a half-life of up to six hours in some.”
Furthermore, binge drinking culture also puts quality shut-eye at risk.
The doctor warned that drinking culture is “prominent” in the UK, putting many Britons at risk.
Alcohol may induce drowsiness and make you think it’s easier to sleep, but your slumber can actually become more fragmented and restless once the popular drink is metabolised by the liver.
Dr Mercer added: “It can cause muscle relaxation, leading to increased snoring and acid reflux.
“The combined use of caffeine and alcohol can contribute to a chronic cycle of sleep difficulties.”
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