I have been guilty of sleeping 6 hours every night without fail for a couple of years. I got sucked into the 4am club and work harder not smarter club. I’ve also lost count of the amount of blog posts telling you successful people only need 4 hours sleep.
I stumbled upon a book called “Why We Sleep” by Berkley Neuroscientist Mathew Walker. Within a few chapters I began to panic when discovering Sleeping 6 hours per night or less is very bad for your health, is a risk factor for alzheimer's disease, cancer, poor immune function, is an injury risk and creates poor food choices. In professional sport these days a lot of people are now calling sleep the new wonder drug! Manchester United and Arsenal actually have a sleep consultant working with their teams to optimize sleep performance.
If you are a guy that sleeps 6 hours or less you have the testerone level of someone 10 years your senior. ( not ideal guys )
You should be aiming for 8 hours of sleep every night. Yes, every night. Interestingly you cannot make up sleep on the weekend, for optimum health we need to encourage all our patients to work towards getting the required 8 hours nightly.
What if I am a parent with a young child?
There is a great chapter in the book for parents on ways to get more sleep for both you and your child and I encourage you to read it.
Below are some of Matthew's tips for better sleep health.
Sleep tip 1: Put your phone on flight mode an hour before bed and don’t look it again.
Did you know that when we look at our screens before bed it delays the release of melatonin by 3 hours. Melatonin is crucial for getting us into a deep sleep where all the good stuff happens such as injury repair, memory processing and immunity boosting.
Sleep tip 2: Have a shower before bed.
In order to initiate sleep the brain needs a drop in body temperature of 1 to 2 degrees celsius. When this happens it initiates the sleep process. By having a warm shower just before bed your core temperature immediately drops as you come out of the shower tricking your body into initiating the sleep process.
Sleep tip 3: Dim all the lights in the house an hour before bed.
Did you know that when your house is fully lit it inhibits the brain from commencing the sleep process. By turning off as many lights as possible and dimming the lights you can greatly improve your chances of commencing sleep.
Sleep tip 4: Don’t ingest coffee 8 hours or less before bed
Studies show that the depth of your sleep is significantly less in those that have caffeine in their system. Reverse engineer 8 hours back from your usual time of bed. Are you having coffee at this time? Are you finding it hard to sleep? If so consider having that coffee several hours earlier.
Sleep tip 5 Meditate for 10 to 20 minutes then read a book before going to bed.
Meditation can help dampen down the parts of the brain responsible for anxious and stressful flight/ fright thoughts. Doing this before bed can really aid a good night sleep. If you don’t know where to start email firstname.lastname@example.org for some tips. Also instead of watching the latest Game of Thrones Episode on your ipad consider reading the book instead.
There we have it! It has been a real eye opener personally and professionally about how crucial sleep is. If you have any other tips you think are amazing then email email@example.com or comment below.
If anyone found these tips helpful comment below. Sweet Dreams!