With all the reading that I’ve been doing over the last couple of years on health and wellbeing I have come to realise that sleep is probably one of the most underrated, and yet essential, elements of wellbeing. Yes there’s a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Many of us have experienced this and we know that it has a negative impact on all areas of our life. How many times have you been awake all night and then got up late, rushed to get ready, had an argument with a family member, not had the safest of journeys to work, snapped at your colleagues, made silly mistakes and binged on coffee and chocolate?
Despite us being aware of how vital sleep is it still seems there is a badge of honour to be gained by going without and we’ll still focus on food and exercise as a priority in our quest for health.
For me personally it was menopause and the accompanying night sweats that made me start to pay attention to my sleep environment. I’ve made small changes over the years but having recently read the book ‘The Power of When’ I am more committed to making small and regular changes.
Recent changes have included: no caffeine after 2pm (latest), natural light on waking, cooler temperature in the bedroom, a charging point outside the bedroom for electronic devices and regular wake and sleep times (the latest being a work in progress). These are all relatively small changes to make and I am already feeling better when I wake up. Having always considered myself to need 8 hours of sleep I find, thanks to my fitbit, that I’m actually only getting about 7 hours. This is going to be a work in progress but it’s one I’m committed to as it makes sense that good rest sets you up for a great day.
“One study found that losing 90 minutes of sleep reduces daytime alertness by nearly one-third”, Tom Rath from the book Eat, Move, Sleep
It’s a shocking thought and one that leaves me committed to making more changes over the coming weeks.
For anyone struggling to achieve the plans they have set out for themselves at work or at home I would stop to think about how much sleep are you getting and is it good quality sleep. Making any other changes in your day to day life while being tired is likely to feel like running uphill with your legs tied together. I know many of my clients who have sleep issues struggle to create new habits and that’s why I’ve been looking into this in more depth.
Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath
The Power of When by Dr Michael J Breus
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
If you would like to look at how to make incremental changes to your sleep habits and see what impact that has on your health and wellbeing please get in touch.