I love sleep, sleep is God to me. I need a lot of sleep. On Saturday night I fell asleep at 9pm and woke up at about 6:30am, that was a good night’s sleep to me. I could start the day feeling alive, happy, creative and productive. Last night I had about 6hours sleep, which some of you may think is more than enough. It did not work for me, I have felt unwell, unproductive, my body temperature is fluctuating rapidly between hot and cold, my joints are stiff and achy, my mind is all over the place, I can’t get all my ducks in a row! I skipped training because I feel Ill and time constrained. I just generally feel eughhh! I think I am still a little jet lagged, I had over a week of shifting my sleep pattern by about 8 hours.
So, I thought that I would listen to some TED talks about sleep:
This playlist includes Russell Foster who is a circadian neurologist, he studies sleep cycles and the impact that sleep has on quality of life. He explains the neuroscience behind the vital importance of sleep, he urges us to take sleep seriously and understand the importance of sleep. “Good sleep increases concentration, attention, decision making, creativity, social skills and health.” The general consensus is that different people have a different optimum amount of sleep, but that not getting the optimum amount of sleep is linked to a whole lot of problems including mental health problems. One of my goals that I spelt out in my blog Coming up…..in 2015 was to give my self a technology curfew, and to go to bed with a book at a certain time, this is corroborated by Russell’s talk about what helps to give us a good night sleep.
If you only have a few minutes then watch Ariana Huffington’s talk, she puts a hilarious feminist spin on the need to sleep, she talks of this bragging culture where people seem to think that it is cool to say that they only have a few hours sleep, like it makes them a superior human to be so busy and important to over-fill their days and function on hardly any sleep. She thinks that women can lead the way in “sleeping our way to the top”.
Jesse Gamble reports that in studies where people were exposed to no artificial light they would sleep twice every night, with a couple of hours of meditative rest in between. They felt significantly more alert and healthy during their waking hours.
Jeff Illif’s talk gives an insight into why a good night’s sleep makes us feel so cleansed. It turns out that our brain does not clear it’s waste in the same way as the rest of our body does and that brain cleansing only takes place when the brain is sleeping. So I need a lot of sleep because my brain creates a lot of crap, that and that I clearly have a subconscious OCD, I can’t start the day unless my brain is in tiptop condition. But I’m wise to feel that way, this TED talk also shows that the cleansing of the brain is linked to quality of thought and Alzheimer’s disease.
I actually bought a SAD lamp earlier this year, to wake me gently with light in the winter when we have no natural sunrise until 8am (or later), I like to wake up early in the morning and go to bed early when I can although I don’t always achieve this. The lamp is sort of working but it only helps if I don’t do stimulating things later on in the day, it has helped in shifting my sleep pattern a bit, so I feel more tired at my preferred bed time.
One thing that all the TED talks in the playlist agreed with is that we don’t take sleep seriously enough. In the 1950s the average amount of sleep was about 1.5 hours longer than it is now. I posted about priorities the other day and we are swamped with so many priorities that are counter to sleep, social media and multiple handheld technology devises. I can easily lose at least an hour to surfing the web, watching videos or social media after I have gone to bed.
So I urge you to “enjoy the honey heavy due of slumber”, I know it is not always easy to make sleep the top priority, however I will be trying to follow Ariana Huffington’s advice to “sleep my way to the top”.