IT WORKED FOR ME!H&F features writer Becky Fletcher took part in the Bensons For Bed sleep tests. Here’s how she faired My body and mind depend on a solid eight hours and days were less productive and my workouts less efficient if I’d woken up feeling groggy or tired – but I didn’t realise by how much. After having a week of nine hourssleep, compared to the previous week’s seven hours, my reaction times improved by 12 per cent and endurance, 10 per cent. My pain threshold improved by a whopping 50 per cent! This firmly cemented the idea that sleep – where possible – will always be a key part of my training.
I always felt that my achieve it by having the darkest, quietest rooms and all the sleep gadgets, explains Dr Meadows. But people are getting the basics wrong. He explains that he often finds himself telling people simply to make time to sleep. It’s the most ridiculously obvious thing to do, but people do not leave time for a decent night’s sleep, he adds. Alongside not making time for forty winks, Dr Meadows says that he’s surprised about the number of people who drink caffeinated drinks close to bedtime. Stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol will lower the amounts of deep and REM sleep you have, and mean that you have more light sleep so you wake up feeling unrefreshed, he explains.
Other sleep-zapping culprits include stress which means we experience more REM, and exercising later in the evening, which can induce a light sleep. Alongside making sure you have got the basics down to a tee, Dr Guy Meadows advises investing in your bed and mattress. If you are spending a third of your life asleep, a mattress that’s comfortable and supports your spine, and which won’t activate any pain receptors, is essential. On top of a comfortable bed, ensure the room is dark. It does not have to be pitch black; what’s important is removing all the light that comes from gadgets, says Dr Meadows. Ensure the room is cool, as we sleep better in a cooler environment of around 16-17°C. A quiet environment is better for sleep, but it does not have to be silent – sometimes this can make you more sensitive to noise. As well as your sleep environment, keep regular sleep and wake times. Dr Meadows explains that social jetlag has a huge impact on regular sleep patterns and that a quarter of UK adults do not have a regular wake time.
If you go to bed later, still get up at the same time, he says. This, in turn, prevents the bodyclock from shifting and offsetting the biological processes linked to this – think hormone release, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. We’re treading a fine line between people who do not consider their sleep nvironment or give themselves nough time for sleep, and those who overdo it and cause sleep anxiety, explains Dr Meadows. It’s about balance and looking at sleep in a more positive, optimistic way.
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