Unlike nutrition and exercise, sleep (still) isn’t recognised as one of the three key pillars of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, lack of sleep is glamorised, even idolised, with the ‘5am club’ of executives celebrated in the financial press, and comments like ‘sleep’s for wimps’. But lack of sleep, or ‘chronic sleep deprivation’ is the greatest unseen health crisis affecting the western world.
With the average Briton sleeping just over 6 hours a night, and more than one in 10 regularly getting less than 5 hours, we’re storing up huge problems for our health, happiness and societal well-being. 49% of the UK rate their sleep as ‘poor’ and this ‘sleep deprivation’ is a causal factor in issues as wide ranging as anxiety and depression, weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, as well as simply preventing you from being your ‘best self’ (aka, making you a grumpy old so and so!).
And to top it all off, this poor sleep costs our economy dear, losing the UK some 1.6m working hours each year, hitting our economy to the tune of some £40 billion.
But all that sounds heavy, hard and somewhat overwhelming. Not getting enough sleep. Ugh. Something else to lie awake worrying about, alongside Boris, Brexit and the Blue Planet.
At eve sleep we believe in the power of sleep, and we’re here to help unleash it, for everybody. We know that every great day starts the night before, and we’re here to help the world get better starts, and better days.
Great sleep rests on comfort. Three sorts of comfort to be precise. There’s physical comfort, from your mattress, to your duvets, pillows and bed-frames. Make sure you have the right ones for you, for your room, and for the season.
Everybody is different, with different needs when it comes to physical comfort, so it may take some trial and error to get it right. When you sleep in a great bed – try and take note of what sort of bed it was. Make use of free trial periods on products, and be ready to change your sheets, duvets and even pillows with the seasons. That might take a bit of clever bedroom storage.
Next there’s environmental comfort. Temperature, light, noise – the golden triad of the insomniac (and we’ve not even mentioned clutter). Keeping the temperature down may necessitate opening a window, which then makes it noisy. Have a look into noise cancelling blinds, curtains, or even earplugs.
A partner who snores, or noisy neighbours can also interfere with sleep, preventing you dropping off, and even preventing proper deep sleep. Earplugs are often the only solution. And if your room is too light – often an issue in urban settings- it’s worth looking into an eye mask, there are some very comfortable ones out there which can make a big difference.
Finally, the end of level sleep baddie. Mental comfort. This means winding down to drop off smoothly and getting back to sleep easily if you do wake.
Everyone has a million ideas and solutions to this puzzle, but few can compete with the biblical temptation of another Netflix episode in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. The best solution we’ve found is to return to the classics. A good book (ideally a better book than whatever box set you’re binging on) or a bedside radio tuned to mellow music or talk radio is the tried and tested wind down routine. 15 minutes of reading gives your mind time to slow down, and ready itself for sleep. If reading feels like one more chore after a long day, switch on a radio or bedside speaker, and leave it on a timer to drift off to.
If you do find yourself waking at night, try and avoid putting on overhead lights. These will break your dreamlike state, tricking your body into waking up fully. Low level lighting can be helpful on your way to the bathroom or a crying child. If you find yourself waking in the early hours regularly and for no apparent reason, take some time to examine your routine and try and see a pattern. Is it every Sunday? The night following a night of heavier than usual drinking or eating? When a partner comes in late, or leaves early? The night after a particularly sedentary day? If you take a moment to listen to your body, you may find the cause of the problem, and be able to remedy it more easily.
The sleep you get can be actively managed, and with the right steps, you can enjoy the sustained, well-slept feeling of being ‘sleep well’. This, like physical fitness takes time to achieve, but will make a massive difference in helping you be healthy and happy long into old age.