There is no right way to ensure good quality sleep, but plenty of wrong ways. Sleeping well is achieved through preparation, habit and maintenance, and like a lot of life’s essentials, it is often prevented through unhelpful beliefs, attitudes and practices.
We are all busy and aspiring to fit in ever more by way of work, chores, pastimes, duties, interests and commitments. So much so that in some cases leisure isn’t leisure at all, but just another ‘to-do’ list. The paradox is that we need adequate sleep to perform well and to stimulate creativity and energy.
Yet four out of ten people will cut back on sleep-time to fit more in, thirty per cent of us complain of too little of it, and many people consider sleeping to be a waste of time, or at least unproductive. It seems that we just don’t value sleep the way we should, and sleep doesn’t get the respect it deserves.(in so-called ‘westernised’ cultures, at least).
Our nightly trip through slumberland does far more than simply heal and restore our energies. Sleep should be first-class if we are to get the best from it, but we rarely take the time to think of it that way.
Sleep needs to be sufficient in a number of ways, and whatever the sleep-deniers might say, we need eight to 10 hours of it within each 24. It is only then that we can take the odd night of disrupted or disturbed sleep in our stride.
It is not a passive process where our body systems shut down and lie dormant until morning, there’s a lot going on during sleep, and with forethought, we can actually use sleeping time to get things done, like solving a problem or composing something we intend to write (blog posts in my case).
Poor sleep should not be taken lightly, and I know that people find it devastating to be deprived of sleep, particularly when it happens on a regular basis. The good news is that sleeping well is within reach for most people, so there’s a lot you can do to improves sleep, even if you are one of the many who have suffered chronically through disturbed nights.
If poor sleep is a problem for you the first step is to attend to what is known as ‘sleep hygiene’; here’s some sleep guidance from the NHS in the UK.