Recently, I’ve invested my time learning about sleep.
The past 4 years have been a challenge for me when it comes to getting adequate sleep. So, I decided to find out what I could do to improve my quality of sleep.
These are the books I’ve read so far…
‘Why we sleep’ by sleep researcher Matthew Walker (2017). And ‘Sleep‘ by elite athlete sleep coach Nick Littlehales (2016). The first book covers the WHY and the second covers the HOW. I highly recommend both if you want an in depth understanding.
To improve my own sleep – these two books provided incredible insight. That said, there is one thing I believe in our society that is still a major issue when it comes to sleep.
Not getting enough sleep affects so many aspects of our life. If we don’t get enough sleep we tend to make poorer choices when it comes to eating and exercising. We often experience mood swings or are easily irritated. We become forgetful, stressed and even anxious or depressed.
The biggest shock I got during reading these books, relates to the slight change of the clocks for daylight savings.
There is a spike in the number of heart attacks the day after we lose ONE hour of sleep due to daylight savings. Researchers have collated millions of hospital records to prove it. It also works the other way. When we gain an hour of sleep at the other end, the following day the number of heart attacks drops. (Why we sleep – Matthew Walker)
Having a baby or toddler who doesn’t sleep through the night is tough. Waking countless times through the night to attend to a crying child is disruptive to our sleep.
Remember that saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’?
When it comes to sleep, humans had it right during the time of living in tribes. With adults taking turns to comfort a child during the night.
Yes, there are sleep schools available now to ‘train’ our kids to sleep soundly and ‘self-soothe’. But, is that healthy either? I mean, babies are supposed to cry when they NEED something. They don’t yet know how to be manipulative. I’m sure there will be many who disagree with me… Letting your child cry themselves to sleep is only letting them know that no one is coming to help. And we wonder why this generation is dealing with self worth issues.
So what is the solution?
Here are a few ideas I have come up with (after seriously struggling through this time myself).
1. Let yourself sleep when they sleep
For me, this one was hard. Being an over achiever, I was always trying to cram as much as possible into the times when my child was napping. In hindsight, now knowing about what sleep does for us, I would have been much more productive having a nap too!
We do really need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you can’t get it all in one go, then over a 24 hour period will do.
2. Remember this is temporary
The good news is that children grow out of waking up at all hours of the night. Having this thought in the back of your mind makes it easier to push through those hard times.
This is one of the Mantras that has gotten me through some tough moments. ‘This too is temporary’. Life goes on.
3. Make sure your bedroom is set up for sleeping well
Ok, so what the hell does that mean?
There are a few tweaks that I have made to my sleeping space that I learnt from the books mentioned above. Firstly, do not do anything but SLEEP in my bed… no reading books, no watching Netflix, definitely no working! Make your room as dark as possible. Remove any bright lights (including phones/laptops charging). Create a bed time routine. This allows your body to know when it’s nearly time for bed.
It seems to me that getting enough sleep is the most important aspect of our health. Everything else hinges on getting a good night sleep.
Are you getting enough?