Sleep, it turns out it’s vital to our wellbeing. Sadly it’s massively over
looked and amazingly, when you think about it, deliberately avoided. Having read Mathew Walkers fascinating, insightful and at times scary book on Sleep, I feel the need to share with you the general ideas and concepts. As always I thoroughly recommend you take the time to read or listen to the book, it’s crammed with both interesting and really useful stuff.
From my perspective as a wellbeing practitioner, I was reminded of the basic fact we really need 8 hours of good quality sleep. That’s not on average over a week, or a year, but daily. There are so many myths out there about sleep. Walker’s book is great at showing you the evidence to overcome these myths. From here on in, please take that what I’m saying has evidence, that you can easily find it in Walker’s book, or online, preferably in journals.
I’m going to whistle through the things you need to think about and try to
do on a daily basis in order to improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
That way you can look to apply the wisdom, without spending hours having to wade through the text.
best to get 8 hours, uninterrupted sleep. Every single day. (You
can’t catch up on lost sleep binging on sleep over the weekend or time off, our brains just don’t work like that).
Ensure your room is dark enough, your bed comfortable and essentially your room is cool enough. The room you sleep in needs to feel cool, around 18 degrees. Higher than that and it’ll effect your ease and quality of sleep.
Regulate the amount of light you get before bed-time, but also during the
day. You’re trying to assist your body in finding it’s natural daily rhythm.
It’s especially important in the run up to bedtime. If you “have” to
use electronic devices before sleep, put them into a night mode. Otherwise
you’re fooling your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. The best idea is to
try to avoid all electronic devices a good hour before you want to fall asleep.
Do your best to clear your mind before bed. Try to avoid solving difficult
“puzzles” before bed, such as life events or upcoming worries. Learn
to tackle these in waking hours, when you can do something about them. Churning them over at night is massively counter-productive.
Caffeine needs to avoided totally if possible, it takes 7 hours for caffeine
to be processed in the body. So that cup of tea or coffee at 3pm is going to
keep you awake till at least 10pm. That’s without the cumulative effect of caffeine throughout the day. It really does mess with your body’s way of telling youwhen you need sleep and throws you out of natural rhythms essential for good regular sleep. As a minimum look to cut down, I have and it makes a huge difference, I didn’t even drink that much caffeine (2 to 3 cups of tea a day and maybe a coffee).
Follow the advice above, as consistently as possible (as I appreciate we
can’t do this every day in a busy lifestyle), and you’ll reap rewards. Among
which include a likelihood of a longer life, reduced incidence of cancer,
diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Your mental wellbeing will be greatly
increased, you’ll have greater focus, reduced temper and your memory will
improve. These are genuine, proven facts. You really need to ensure you build a lifestyle that allows for good sleep.
My final note, is a warning. Which was one of the books most shocking
findings. Do not drive when tired. It massively increases your chance of having an accident. It’s the equivalent of drink driving, so imagine if you decide to drive home at night after a few drinks, it’s a recipe for disaster.
reiterate – Get your much needed 8 hours of good quality sleep every day
you can. Your life actually depends on it!