As I get older and I'm juggling career,kids,studying and chores I really do crave an early bedtime. The reality..and I'm guessing I won't be alone here, is that I don't get to the finish line of the day until midnight. Consistently. My husband and eldest daughter are no better although my youngest is something of a morning lark rather than a night owl.
The more I read about the undisputable benefits sleep has on body and mind, the more I feel compelled to get more shut eye. In fact since reading Matthew Walker's international bestseller 'why we sleep' I have become a 7.5 hours a night fanatic! An interesting fact about sleep is that we roughly spend 25 years of our life asleep. A sizeable chunk you might say. Or perhaps you think what a waste?
Remember the Iron lady herself, Mrs Thatcher, who was renowned for her capability to function on a mere 4 hours sleep. Ronald Regan was also an advocate of minimal downtime. Now think back to how these two eminent politicians health faltered in later life? They both suffered from the cruel and progressive clutches of dementia which leads me to my most compelling point about sleep. Lack of it has been linked to Alzheimer's disease which 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 now suffers from. As if that isn't alarming enough, its also linked to diabetes, stroke, depression and anxiety.
Blimey makes you want to crawl under the duvet and never get up doesn't it? How much sleep do we need exactly? Well the sleepfoundation.org reckons we need the following:
12-18 hrs as a newborn
14-15 as an infant
12-14 for toddlers
10-11 for pre teens
8.5-9.5 for teenagers
7-9 for adults
That all sounds so simple, get more sleep have better health outcomes? What if you are one of the many people in society who sleeps badly or suffers with insomnia? Maybe you wake up frequently and find it hard to go back to sleep?
I absolutely love Charlotte Bronte's wise and timeless quote 'A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow'. It highlights how many of us toss and turn, mull over the events of the day or worry about the future which prevents us from getting the quality of sleep our bodies and mind's need. Insomniac's never feel refreshed or invigorated by a night in bed but many of them will just get used to the chronic sleep deficit and feel there is no hope.
There are changes you can make however. Most people are beginning to hear the term 'sleep hygiene' by that I'm not referring to how clean your sheets are or if you've brushed your teeth (although lets face it everything feels nicer when its clean!) I mean making sensible small changes in the bedroom area such as getting black out blinds (we have had them in each bedroom since the children were babies, I highly recommend it). Keeping the temperature nice and cool, perhaps opening a window slightly. Removing all electronic devices from the bedroom and limiting your time on them for an hour pre bedtimes (usually when I'm on pinterest so that was very hard for me) reducing caffeine and other stimulants like alcohol and exercising just before bed (not so difficult!)
Some people finding listening to guided imagery audio's or self hypnosis helpful. I certainly see a number of clients who suffer from poor sleep patterns and they do feedback that listening to audios I have made specifically for them have helped. One lady told me she never got to the end of hers as she always dropped off to sleep. I will take that as a compliment considering the context.
If you would like to give one of my audios a try , I have loaded up a general one titled 'peaceful sleep' for free.
Enjoy and sweet dreams zzzz