How much sleep did you get last night?

We have all heard that everyone needs at least 8 hours every night, but how many of you have actually questioned why we need it and what happens when we don’t get it?

I’m pretty sure a lot of people I know don’t get the right amount of sleep they need. When I look back at my own life I can see there has been a huge amount of time where I definitely haven’t had that much! From being up all night with my children when they were babies (and teenagers waiting for them to come home from a night out!) to times when I’ve had trouble switching off my brain thinking about stuff I need to do the next day and how I’m going to fit it all in, I can tell you now that sleep has sometimes been pushed back in my priorities list. I bet some of you are nodding in agreement as you read this.

I’ve had a lot happening this year which has definitely effected my sleep pattern. From ill health to expanding the business, it has all had a hand in giving me a taste of insomnia due to the stress that comes with it. I realised how much it was effecting me when I would wake up in the morning and the first thing I thought was ‘I can’t wait to get back in bed tonight’, and my whole day revolved around how tired I felt.

This got me thinking and I’ve looked into the effects bad sleeping habits have on us. My ‘symptoms’ are made up of:

1.Lack of concentration

2.More procrastination than normal

3.Eating more unhealthy food as I couldn’t be bothered to make anything

4.Being snappy and irritable

5.Forgetting EVERYTHING

6.And the most annoying one………The less sleep I had the more anxiety I had about not sleeping!

The last one by far seemed the worse for me as it became this vicious circle of laying there hoping to get to sleep, then pretending to myself that I am asleep and getting angry that I can’t sleep before giving up and doing something that is bound to make it worse like working or eating. My thought process with that one normally goes like this.

MY REASONABLE BRAIN: I’m going to be so tired tomorrow I won’t be able to work properly

MY TIRED UNREASONABLE BRAIN: But I could do the work now while I’m still awake and then I can sleep tomorrow.

MY REASONABLE BRAIN: That never works normally. Let’s try to relax and get some sleep now, ready for the day ahead.

MY TIRED UNREASONABLE BRAIN: No, I think I’ll go and have a sandwich to wake me up a bit more and then get all my work done.

When I get up tired in the morning, I realise what a ridiculously bad idea that was again and then walks around in a zombie state all day. To be fair, I normally get a second wind around dinner time but I’m convinced that’s because I’m a little excited that the day is coming to an end and I can relax and sleep soon. That excitement normally leaves when I’m lying in bed pretending to be asleep again!

It’s also really hard socialising when you are tired all the time!

Imagine this scenario …

You’ve been invited to friends for dinner. Should you have an afternoon nap or will that make you feel even worse?

You arrive full of beans and ready for the night. You start with a bit of chit-chat, enjoy the lovely meal that has been prepared for you, and have a few drinks before you get down from the table. That’s when it hits you, and you can immediately feel you are falling into that wonderful feeling of sleep! Your eyes are heavy, all your muscles in your face are dropping, you can’t help it you are actually falling asleep in full view of all your friends!!

It’s even happened at a restaurant before!!!!

Here are some facts I have found about sleep:

  • It only takes 10 days to die from sleep deprivation. That’s less than starvation which takes 2 weeks!
  • Women find an extra hour of sleep more valuable than men
  • About half of adults (49%) do not feel they get enough sleep; however, adults 55+ are less likely than other age groups to feel this way
  • Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity
  • Sleep insufficiency is linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.
  • A study of more than 21,000 employees has found a strong connection between lack of sleep and lower productivity at work.

If that isn’t enough to make you take sleep seriously, then I don’t know what is! Considering I find myself eating whilst working in the middle of the night, I’m sure the top fact will definitely get me first!

So those of you like me that need to create healthier sleeping habits, here are a few things you can do –

1.Give yourself a routine. We do it for children but forget how well it works as adults. Have a bath, get into bed, listen to some music etc.

2.Don’t watch TV, read you’re Kindle or use your phone, iPad or laptop in bed. The bedroom should be for sleeping so only go in there to sleep!

3.Don’t eat and drink an hour before you want to go to bed.

4.Try relaxation techniques when struggling to fall asleep. Mindfulness is a good one to start with apparently so I might try that first.

I’ll let you all know how I get on. If I find something that works well, I might start introducing them into my Wellbeing Workshops.