13 August 2018
By Oliver Bonas
The power of a good night’s sleep is untouchable. We know that getting a solid eight hours increases productivity, improves your memory, helps build your immune system and reduces stress.
Unfortunately in today’s world, with a heady mix of busy schedules, competing demands and late night scrolling, we are just not getting enough.To help us improve our sleep routine we spoke to elite sports sleep coach and author of SLEEP Nick Littlehales.
You wake up to your alarm, on your phone, and reach over to turn it off. While you’re there, you check the notifications beamed in overnight from your news, sport and entertainment feeds, your social media apps, emails and texts from work and friends. Your mouth is dry, your head already awhirl with what’s to come this morning, the curtains leaking light and the TV standby light at the foot of the bed staring unblinking at you, reminding you how you finished the night before.
Welcome to your day. Did you sleep well? Do you know how to sleep well? The average person in Britain gets a little over six and a half hours’ sleep a night. Furthermore, over a third of the population get by on only five to six hours a night, 7 per cent more of us than just three years before. It’s a similar story around the world, with over 20 per cent of the population in the USA reporting less than six hours’ sleep on work days, and Japan not far behind. The statistics show that in these countries, as well as the likes of Canada and Germany, most people ‘catch up’ on their sleep at the weekend. Their work lives are limiting their sleep. Almost half of the UK population report being kept awake by stress or worry, and when you take a look at the schedules of many people, it’s not difficult to see why.
Whatever it is you’re doing, I want you to think about the two of us out on an island, in harmony with a biological process as old as mankind. That is our ideal. Every step we make to improve our sleep, no matter how small, needs to be a step towards us sitting by the fire. Below I’ve outlined seven steps to sleep smarter than you can introduce into your daily routine today!
1. Get outside! Set your body clock with daylight, not artificial light.
2. Take the time to learn about your rhythms and how they affect you – engage family and friends too.
3. Know your peaks and troughs: monitor yourself against what should be happening naturally – use a wearable fitness tracker to measure.
4. Peak sleeping time is around 2–3 a.m. If you go to bed as the sun comes up, you are fighting against your body clock.
5. Slowdown in your mornings: rushing off from the word go can disrupt your body.
6. Blue light is badly timed light in the evening – dim it down when you can.
7. Picture yourself by the fire on our island: What are you doing right now that is in conflict with this? What are you going to do about it? Plan simple changes to current routines (early morning run, digital detox, a calming pillow mist) to align yourself better with the circadian rhythms chart.
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