To snooze or not to snooze?
Sleep has been hugely underrated in the past. World leaders like Thatcher and Franklin famously said they only needed 4 hours a night. There’s a bit of bravado around needing very few ZZZs. Wiser men say that most of us mortals need 8 hours sleep each night.
However, like most things there’s no one size fits all with sleep – some of us feel bright and breezy in just 6 hours, while some of us need at least 8 hours to be firing on all cylinders. Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a day plus power naps. Imagine that!
We’d all be solving the universe’s secrets if modern life let us lie in every day. What seems to be in agreement though is that the quantity, quality and consistency of sleep is important for mood and performance for all of us.
Snooze you DO NOT lose!
Sleep science and performance is now big business. Smart money is investing in sleep tech in an industry called The Sleep Economy. Manchester United even has a Head of Recovery and Regeneration monitoring players’ sleep.
Why? When we’re in deep slumber all kinds of bodily repair processes kick in, to helping us function the next day and configuring our long term health. When we’re snoozing our breathing slows and our muscles relax, allowing almost every part of our body to undergo change when we’re out for the count.
Toxins are flushed out, DNA is repaired – your brain, heart, hormones, skin and immune system all rest, repair and reset. This helps us consolidate memories, protects us against mood ups-and-downs, enhances cognitive functions like problem solving and decision making. So, if in doubt, ‘sleep on it!’
“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
Author, John Steinbeck
The architecture of sleep
The land of nod is a mysterious place. Conscious thought stops and our subconscious reveals itself in weird and wonderful dreams. But when does all the important work happen?
Well, every night we go through four to five sleep cycles lasting between one and two hours.
Stage 1 is about nodding off with a book in your hand and your mouth open.
Stage 2 is transitions into light sleep – when we’re all too easily awoken by noises that go bump in the night.
Stage 3 Sleep becomes deeper and the magic starts to happens – repair and recovery gets into full swing.
Stage 4 is pure rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the brain is waking up and dreams become more vivid.
The sound asleep club helps you relax before bed so you’re ready to nod off and move through your sleep phases smoothly – giving your body the best chance to get on with deep cellular repair work.
Don’t sweat it
Tricky times and restless nights come to all of us no matter how good at sleeping we usually are. Often trouble sleeping passes on its own or with our relaxation efforts. However, if you’re concerned about your sleep, mood or general health always talk to your GP.
The ZZZ list
Reasons why sleep is such a winner.
- Beating kids at memory games
- Feeling pumped and positive
- Stepping off the emotional roller-coaster
- Being resilient against what life throws at you
- Giving your immune system time to prep
- Looking fresh-faced and fancy-free
- Giving tension the heave-ho
- Feeling wildly creative
- Problem-solving like Einstein
- Having razor sharp concentration
- Whizzing through tasks and chores
- Keeping weight fluctuation in check
- Knocking a few seconds of your PB
- Good muscle maintenance