Do you get enough sleep? If you’re a parent, then I’m guessing the answer is probably a resounding no! I was asked by Bensons for Beds to take part in a sleep study. They were interested to find out how much sleep I got, the factors which affected my sleep and then provide me with advice on how I could improve the quality of my sleep.
For a week I slept with a sleep monitor beside my bed, which handily tracked the amount and quality of sleep I managed to grab each night and sent the information straight to an app on my phone. The S+ monitored my movement, breathing and room conditions; syncing all this information into the app, which analysed my sleep pattern. This was then turned into personalised feedback on improving my sleep.
I was asked to keep a diary every day, noting down if the day had been busy, stressful, how I felt when I woke and this was sent with the data from the app to renowned sleep physiologist Dr Guy Meadows, who provided me with some hints, tips and advice on improving my sleep.
The results were very interesting. Now, I know I don’t get enough sleep, but learning quite how bad my sleep was from a professional was another thing entirely. I often work past midnight; falling asleep on the couch while I’m working is not new to me and if I’m honest happens nearly every night. I think as a busy parent, you just get used to surviving on whatever sleep you can get and you don’t really think much more about it.
My results showed that I was having between four and six hours sleep on average and, although I obviously realise that this isn’t great, I didn’t fully realise the potential effects this could have on my health.
Dr.Guy (find his profile here) analysed my diaries, sleep data and here are the results:
Aby’s sleep hypnograms suggest that she is a normal sleep, however she rarely gets enough sleep for her biological need. As a consequence she regularly feels wiped out and stressed and is potentially lowering her immune system and increasing her risk of infections.
- Make sleep a priority – Aby suffers from ‘Insufficient Sleep Syndrome’, which basically means she not getting enough sleep for need. The fact that she regularly falls to sleep whilst working suggests that she is chronically sleep deprived and needs to prioritise sleep in her life. Doing so would help to improve her daytime energy, mood, health and overall performance.
- Wind down – Aby regularly works right up to the point to falling to sleep. The cognitive and blue light stimulation associated with such behaviours reduces the quality of sleep. I would recommend allowing for at least 30 minutes of wind down time before bed, where all light emitting devices are switched off and work is stopped. Using this time to gently prepare for bed can be a helpful way to prepare the brain for sleep. It might be helpful to get into the habit of setting a ‘go to bed’ alarm to ensure that this habit is stuck to.
- Blue light filers – Given that Aby appears to spend a lot of time working late on her devices I would suggest where possible downloading a blue light filter (e.g. F-LUX, Apple Night Mode or Kindle Night Shift). Doing so would help to increase the production of the sleep promoting hormone melatonin.
I will definitely take Dr Guys points on board, especially the ‘go to bed’ alarm, which is a great idea.
There’s a post, which also includes the results of the other blogger’s taking part, over on the Bensons for Beds site if you fancy having a look you can read it here.
How much sleep do you have each night?
Disclosure: This is a collaboration with Bensons for Beds.