In my younger years, back when I thought being busy was a badge of honour and success was something you only achieved if you blazed through the candle at both ends (I wish you could see the eye roll I’m giving my former self), I thought sleep was pretty irrelevant.
I vividly remember seeing a headline about how Hillary Clinton lives off just four hours sleep a night, along with a list of “successful” world leaders and CEOs who “didn’t need” more than 4-5 hours a night. It seemed then, that if you wanted to get ahead in life, you needed to pretty much divorce yourself from being human, start acting more like a robot – and pretend that you loved living like that. YAY being an adult!
But thankfully, when I started looking at what affect my lifestyle was having on me (AKA when my body started screaming at me) I quickly saw sleep in a whole new light.
One of the books I read that turned out to be massively helpful was Thrive by Arianna Huffington. She’s raved about sleep in the last decade or so and to see a successful woman prioritizing sleep and actually achieving more (both professionally and personally) as a result has been, well, liberating!
So, I figured today – World Sleep Day – would be a perfect time to recap some of the great info that’s out there, plus some of the great articles we’ve talked about right here on Capsule already!
You can’t have it all – and not make sleep a key priority
Ariana Huffington writes in Thrive that her wake-up call to the importance of sleep was a painful one – she literally came-to with a broken cheekbone after fainting from sleep deprivation and exhaustion, hitting her head on her desk on the way down.
When she toured the world promoting the book, it was all anyone wanted to talk about – how do we get more sleep? How do we fall asleep? HOW DO WE STOP BEING SO TIRED ALL THE TIME?
So, she committed herself to the subject and wrote a whole new book – The Sleep Revolution, which is a game changer. Stuck in that cycle of thinking that getting three to four hours sleep is what needs to be done to be successful, she instead discovered that she was more productive, inspired and joyful when she got eight hours. She spoke to medical professionals, neuroscientists, doctors, psychologists and the more research she did, the more she learnt that sleep really is vital.
Have a watch of her 2010 TedTalk on the topic where she encourages women to literally sleep our way to the top!
Ariana changed her ways by making sleep a priority. If she goes to an event she’ll leave early, and no longer makes excuses about where she’s going – she wants her staff, and the world to know that sleep is something that should always be a priority.
Ariana’s Top Six Sleep Tips
- No electronic devices starting 30 minutes before bedtime
- Take a hot bath with Epsom salts before bed to calm your mind and body
- Always change into a pyjamas, a nightdress, or special T-shirt to wind down before bed.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool.
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm.
- Remember, your bed is for sleep and sex only.
Zoe Foster-Blake’s number one desire as a mother-of-two littlies: SLEEP
“It’s said that the night before you give birth is your last good sleep, but as anyone who’s been 39 weeks pregnant knows, a man probably said that,” says Go-To founder, fashionista and writer, Zoe Foster-Blake in an exclusive essay for Capsule. “Your last good sleep was probably pre-conception as there’s a high chance even that interrupted your slumber.
It’s also been said (by me) that the true concept of tired doesn’t sink in until you’re a parent. Of course you can be tired sans kids, but there is a special level of fatigue reserved just for parents on the Ladder of Tiredness. (It’s the one covered in stickers and texta scribbles.)”
To keep reading (it’s well worth it!), head here!
Playing “spin the wheel” at 3am, yoga breathing and weighted blankets…
At Capsule we all have varying approaches to sleep and napping, but all know how incredibly infuriating it is to be watching the clock tick by at 3am, as you assess all your worries rather than catch your zzzzzzz’s. So last year, we wrote about all the strange (and wonderful) things we’ve tried to get a better night’s sleep.
Can I add that one of the best tips is one Emma was given about making yourself a “sleep bomb” before bed. Here’s the recipe: Make yourself a ‘shot’ of camomile tea: two teabags and about 1/3 cup of boiling water, let it steep and then drink half an hour before bed. YOU’RE WELCOME.
How poor sleep is affecting your health – but could separate bedrooms help??
One of the most interesting books I’ve read was Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker – the professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California in Berkley. After 20 years of research he released this best-seller in 2017.
He defines a decent night’s sleep as being seven to eight hours – something that two-thirds of adults in the developed world fail to get on a regular basis.
So what the heck is that doing to us all? The answer, in short, is nothing good.
As part of his research he studied volunteers in his purpose built sleep lab – there he discovered – conclusively – that sleep deprivation contributes to depression, anxiety, obesity, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke, infertility, heart attacks, an impaired syndrome and more.
He described a second epidemic to the sleep crisis – the abuse of prescription sleeping pills, which fail to induce natural sleep, are addictive, have devastating side effects and significantly raise mortality risk.
His advice for improving your physical and mental health substantially is simply to prioritise getting a good night’s sleep over everything else.
And it’s advice he listens to himself. Sometimes it means his social life suffers (he socializes between 10am and 6.30pm), meditates four times a week, goes to the gym daily, avoids caffeine after midday, and alcohol after 6pm.
If that sounds strict, there’s one more sleep rule he sticks to – separate bedrooms for he and his partner. Yes, a year into their relationship they negotiated a “sleep divorce” to reduce disturbance throughout the night – which, apparently isn’t all too uncommon.
Matthew says it’s something we don’t often talk about because there’s a stigma attached to it – that separate beds or bedrooms implies that you don’t have a good sex life. Yet, his studies showed that the opposite is true – that the quality of your physical relationship will actually improve, provided you have a bedroom goodnight routine (and morning cuddle!).
It’s advice that relationship expert Susan Winter wholeheartedly agrees with. “Traditionally, we assumed that couples who slept apart were either having relationship issues or had lost the desire to be intimate,” she says. “Research has shown us the value of a good night’s sleep. If you have a partner who tosses and turns at night, your sleep cycle is interrupted,” says Winter. “Lack of sleep makes us overly emotional, prompting bickering and arguments, which aren’t particularly well known for being ideal ingredients in a healthy relationship.”
Are you someone who sleeps separately to your partner? We’d love to hear your take on it – send me an email at [email protected] (we’ll keep it anonymous!).