How often should you defecate? Dr. Zoe shares the perfect routine

Being tired all the time may seem like your normal daily condition now, but severe fatigue and constantly interrupted sleep should not be ignored.

We all feel groggy sometimes and can wake up in the night if we’re stressed or need to pee, but if your daily life is getting a little kippy, review your sleep hygiene habits and try to make some changes. I summarize a few below.


Dr. Zoe Williams answers some of the most frequently asked questions sent by readers

For new parents, or those with young children climbing in and out of their beds at all times, sleepovers can become a pipe dream.

But you are not alone.

Visit for tips and strategies for sleeping well and dealing with postpartum fatigue.

Here’s some of what readers asked me about this week. . .

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Q) My sleep has been horrible since I hit my 40s a few years ago.

I get off quickly but I wake up around 1 or 2 am and have a hard time getting back to sleep. What do I do?

a) You’d be surprised how many people are affected by this.

If you wake up in the night with your mind racing, write down your thoughts before you fall asleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping, I can tell you all about establishing a sleep routine and making sure your bedroom is set up for comfort — ie, it has no TVs, and it’s dark and dark.

But your problem is staying asleep, not falling asleep, which is a completely different matter.

First, what happens when you wake up? If it’s because you need to go to the bathroom, try not to drink anything after 6 p.m.

If you wake up suddenly and feel very alert, find your last caffeinated drink—after-dinner coffee may be a trigger.

It is advised not to have caffeine after lunchtime, if you have trouble sleeping, as it takes, on average, five hours for half of it to be eliminated from your system.

If it comes to checking your phone, try sleeping with it outside the room – phones are notorious sleep thieves, so don’t put them in your bedroom environment, and if you have to, make sure they’re out of your reach and not next to you.

There are also lifestyle factors that can play a role: Do you exercise during the day? Do you go to sleep tired enough? Do you find yourself snoozing on the couch or dozing off while watching TV?

You may be going to bed thinking you are tired but you are not as sleepy as you think.

Certain mental health conditions can also interrupt sleep such as anxiety and depression, so if you have a history of these conditions it may be worth speaking to your GP.

If you haven’t already, try guided meditation apps.

Quiet is a good idea to start with and it has free software.

Also think about the hours before bed.

If you find that you wake up with your mind racing, keep a notebook next to your bed and write down the things you’ve been thinking about before bed.

Many people find that their “to-do” list for the next day takes things out of their minds and puts them down on paper.

If you like warm baths, try them before bed. And a small-scale study found that nodding with the window open improved participants’ sleep quality, too, so if it’s safe to do so, consider it.

The answer to your question is likely how you spend your waking hours and what you consume in the second half of the day, so keep a diary and see if you can see any patterns.

If it persists after changes and you’re getting less than six hours a night, it may be worth considering CBT sleep.

There is an app called CBT-i Coach that you can take a look at first.

s) I am on hormone replacement therapy but my sleep is interrupted every two hours. What can i do to stop this?

a) Like so many of our biological processes, sleep can be affected by our hormones.

Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can all contribute to our ability to sleep well.

Estrogen and progesterone levels drop significantly at menopause, and testosterone levels gradually decrease with age.

In fact, sleep problems are one of the most commonly reported symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

There is a lot of evidence that HRT can be beneficial for many in treating insomnia related to menopause, because it replaces some of the hormones that are lost.

In addition, some small studies have also found that HRT can cause sleep disturbances.

You can’t say how long you’ve been on HRT, or if there’s an additional reason for your awakening, such as night sweats, but either way I’ll make an appointment or try to get a phone consultation with your GP.

Adjusting your HRT may be a reasonable first step to resolving the problem.

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Your GP will be interested to know if sleeping is a problem or if simply staying asleep is the problem.

Sleep can fluctuate a lot with HRT and menopause, but it’s important to try to make things better, as long-term sleep deprivation can cause other health problems, such as difficulty concentrating, and is linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression.

Many factors affect how you defecate. The key is to observe what is normal for you.

Defecation habits vary greatly

Q) I go to the toilet twice a week and my partner goes twice a day. Who among us is normal?

a) Health care professionals generally agree that a healthy bowel movement frequency can range from three times a day to three times a week.

Many factors can affect how often you have bowel movements, including your diet, the amount of water you drink, genetics, and your stress levels.

It is important to keep an eye on what is normal for you, and if there is a significant change in bowel habit that persists for more than a few weeks, it is worth getting checked out.

This is especially true for people over 60 years of age or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as blood in the stool, abdominal pain, or unexplained weight loss.

These can raise the suspicion of a serious underlying health condition, such as bowel cancer.

We should also look at our stools, otherwise we won’t know if something is changing.

It should be brown, moist, woody in appearance, and usually lightly scented.

If it is runny, darker than normal, or has an overwhelming odor, it may be due to an upset stomach or a poor diet.

For good gut health, it’s important to make sure your diet includes a variety of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes (such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans).

It is also important to try to limit ultra-processed foods.

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