How to get a good night’s sleep…

“I slept like a baby”

How come people never say “slept like a stressed out entrepreneur?” For the very good reason that often, adults don’t sleep so well and as a result their energy and performance suffer the following day.

We invited Dan Collins, Team Facilitator and Sleep Coach to speak at our January techUK Marketing and Sales meeting to tell us how improved sleep can improve our performance and effectiveness.

It was a brilliant workshop, packed with useful tips and information. Here are some key points that I took away with tips to try out, and I’m noticing improvements already.

  1. Tiredness is more significant than length of sleep. As an adult you probably need between 6.5 and 8 hours of sleep. If you are constantly feeling tired you may not be getting enough sleep, or there may be underlying medical problems.
  2. We sleep to reset our biological clock, restore some physical attributes and to erase memories no longer required! If we have poor sleep, those vital functions are impaired.
  3. We have about five sleep cycles per night, each sleep cycle ending with Deep Sleep and REM which is the most restorative phase. The longest REM is at the end of the night, so if you are woken by an alarm clock it is interrupting the most valuable part of your sleep. Ideally, wake naturally.
  4. Things that adversely affect our ability to sleep include:
    • Looking at TV, laptops, tablets and phones immediately before going to bed
    • Drinking alcohol near bedtime
    • Worn mattresses and pillows (see below)
    • Lack of exercise during the day
    • Obesity
    • Coffee – which has a half-life of 4 hours! Don’t drink coffee after lunch.
  5. Mattresses need to be turned to even out the wear and replaced every 10 years at least. Pillows lose their support too, so they need to be replaced if they are past their best.
  6. 17 hours without sleep has the same effect as 0.05 blood alcohol (drink/drive limit is 0.08). 20 hours without sleep is the same as 0.1 blood alcohol – over the limit for driving.
  7. Poor sleeping patterns have been linked to the physical consequences of weight gain, depression, high blood pressure, weakened immunity, increased cancer risk and Alzheimers.
  8. Your core body temperature drops during sleep so the ideal bedroom temperature is 17degC.
  9. To optimise your chances of a good sleep, your sleeping area needs to have low or no light, no or low noise, comfortable bedding, to be an area reserved for sleeping and your sleep process needs to be part of a regular routine including a regular bedtime.
  10. Napping is good! A power-nap of 15-20 minutes when you feel tired can recharge you. Don’t nap too late in the day though or your body will confuse it with your night-time sleep. In an emergency such as being tired on a long journey, try the expresso nap – an expresso immediately followed by a nap. The caffeine won’t kick in for about 20 minutes then you’ll be awake and raring to go.

Good night, and see you bright and early tomorrow…

Neville Merritt