In light of world sleep day last week we thought we would share why you should catch some good zzzzs tonight! read our latest blog by Marie-Ellen Dove
‘We are all realising that sleep is a powerful tool not only in our efforts to improve our physical health but of course our mental health too.
I have long been fascinated by the power of sleep and its mechanics. I am thankful that as I hit 40 I sleep very well and in actual fact have a tendency to oversleep especially if my depression is particularly bad. However, I have had two children and know the effects of little or no sleep and what broken or low-quality sleep can do to us and how it can make us feel.
I have read a lot about sleeping and napping and am known for trying to impart this wisdom on to friends and family so I’m really excited to share my top tips with you.
Tip no.1 – Naps: Go short or go long!
Sleep happens in 90-minute cycles and the length of the nap will depend on when you wake up during this cycle. It is best to go either for a quick 20-minute power nap or a full sleep cycle of 90 mins. With the 20-minute power nap you only enter into the lighter stages of sleep meaning it is easier to wake up and hit the ground running; great for an energy boost. Try to avoid the 30 and 60-minute nap as you will wake mid-sleep cycle and will often wake feeling groggy or lethargic.
Tip no.2 – Count cycles not hours!
We’ve all heard we should get eight hours of sleep each night, but this doesn’t actually add up. We know a sleep cycle is 90 minutes so the ideal length of your night-time slumber is either six hours (4 cycles), seven and a half hours (5 cycles), or nine hours (6 cycles) of sleep. It is recommended we have 35 sleep cycles in a week or 5 cycles in a day which is seven and a half hours. So don’t beat yourself up about not having that strict eight hours instead just keep a track of the cycles over the week and take off the stress and pressure of that elusive eight.
Tip no. 3 – Sleep tech?
They say there’s an app for everything and sleep is no exception. I personally cannot fall asleep to silence; I need the distraction of listening to something to quieten my busy mind. My app of choice is BBC Sounds and my audio preference is a radio play of which hundreds can be found on the BBC. I’ve also in the past used a Fitbit to not only track my sleep but more interestingly the quality of sleep. We all know quality is better than quantity and the Fitbit proved this was true for sleep too. Also, our Youth Track coordinator, Cherry Dakin highly recommends the app Sleep Restore’. She has found it invaluable and it has made a big difference after only using it for a few days.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful. If you struggle with sleep my last piece of advice is to read up on it and find out what works for you. I highly recommend ‘Sleep’ by Nick Littlehales, an elite sports sleep coach, don’t worry you don’t have to be an athlete!
Right, I think I’m ready for a nap!’ Marie x