When did we become so obsessed with sleep?
With books and podcasts like ‘Why We Sleep‘ (which if you haven’t read, I really recommend!) turning into multiple best-sellers and fitness watches giving us in-depth analysis and sleep scores, it comes as no surprise than we now value our sleep more than ever. And when you really think about it, why shouldn’t we care about how many ZZZ’s we’re getting every night?
On average, we sleep for 7 – 9 hrs. If you assume that the life expectancy in the western world is 79, that means we’ll spend around 26 years of our lives sleeping. I’d say that goes to show just how important it is.
The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health. It affects the quality of productivity, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight (but I’m not putting emphasis on that factor).
I know all too well how hard it can be when you’re scrambling around trying to meet the demands of a super busy schedule – staying up for that extra hour might seem like a good idea, but minimal sleep can and will take its toll on your mood, energy and ability to handle stress. In fact, 24% of Brits loose sleep over worrying.
While you rest, your brain stays busy, overseeing biological maintenance that keeps you running in tip top condition. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn or create.
The good news is that you don’t have to choose between health and productivity. By addressing any sleep problems and making time to get the sleep you need each night, your energy, efficiency, and overall health will go up. In fact, you’ll likely get much more done during the day than if you were skimping on the all important shuteye!
There are four stages of sleep: Non-REM (NREM) sleep (Stages 1, 2 & 3) and REM sleep. Periods of wakefulness occur before and intermittently throughout the various sleep stages.
Typically, a person would begin a sleep cycle every 90-120 minutes equalling 4-5 cycles per night.
So. What is sleep hygiene?
Have you ever noticed than on the odd occasion when you’re in a hotel, you sleep super well? It’s because hotels do their best to ensure sleep hygiene is spot on. Dark blackout blinds, reading lamps by the bed, minimal distractions – all these little things really help.
In 2017, a sleep study discovered that..
- 30% of us get a poor sleep most nights.
- 74% of Brits get less than seven hours of sleep a night.
- 12% getting less than five hours.
It’s no wonder that leading sleep scientist Matthew Walker says we’re struggling with a “global sleep-loss epidemic”.
A ‘racing mind’ is another issue that can keep us up at night. Worrying about money, jobs and health can mean its very easy to get lost in your thoughts and loose minutes, if not hours, of sleep a night. And if you are having trouble falling asleep due to a busy mind, try developing and adopting a simple night time routine.
I’ve started charging my phone away from my bed to avoid mindless scrolling just before I start winding down. Less screen time before bed definitely helps!
It’s important to remember that sleeping well isn’t an exact science. It’s normal to have short periods of poor sleep for no particular reason, and without changing anything these periods should pass. If however, your quality of sleep is impacted for a sustained period of time or, if you find it affects your ability to go about your daily tasks then I’d maybe suggest talking to someone. A problem shared is a problem halved.
SAD lights, CBD, magnesium sprays even pillows are all things you can add into your regime that might just make a difference. Of course it’s very individual but it’s worth a try right?
And speaking of pillows, have you come across the brand Nectar?
They’re primarily a mattress company providing the best mattresses to guarantee a great nights sleep. However, their most recent campaign is in partnership with the mental health movement #IAMWHOLE. Their mission is to help normalise the conversation and stigma that surrounds mental health.
Nectar understands how important sleep is which is why they teamed up with Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan Stephens to get more people talking about it.
The Whole Nights Sleep Pillow combines an adjustable gel-infused memory foam core with a soft, breathable cover for a supportive and restful nights sleep.
I was very kindly gifted one of the pillows and I can honestly say, it’s helped. Each pillow comes with an advice card offering sleep and mental health facts. It also directs you to a bespoke online page with further tips and advice.
I’ve linked that page here and if you are struggling with sleep or mental health, I urge you to have a look.
If you’re interested in purchasing one of the pillows, you can also shop the range here.
Sleep doesn’t have to be something you dread every night. It should be a time of relaxation and recovery not anxiety and worry!
Do you have any sleep tips? I’d love to know what works for you!