We spend about a third of our lives in bed so if we live until 75 we’ll have been asleep for 25 years! We all know that a good night’s sleep is important but how much sleep do we really need and why do we do it?
The question of why we sleep is actually quite mysterious. In simple terms it is a daily extended bout of rest where we lay down with our eyes closed. But there is more to sleep than meets the eye.
During this time, our bodies replenish energy stores and make vital repairs, while our minds organize and store the memories from day before. The amount of sleep we need depends on our age, sex, health and other factors, and our sleep cycles change as we grow older.
Each sleep cycle lasts around
90 minutes, and in order to feel fully rested and refreshed when we wake up, we must experience at least four stages. A full night’s sleep will include five or six cycles, while a disturbed, restless night consists of fewer.
The perfect sleep environment:
Comfortable temperature (16-18C).
Fresh air circulating but no draughts.
Dark – try using blackout blinds or an eye mask.
A large bed – Buy the largest you can accommodate.
A quality mattress – try out lots and buy the best you can afford.
Ban technology – The blue light emitted by screens is hazardous to good quality sleep.
Quiet – you can buy soft earplugs if noise is a problem though some people sleep better with white noise in the background.
Routine – A regular bedtime routine is an important cue to help us fall asleep. Think about the bath, book, bed routine we often establish for our children. You can use essential oils, a good book and a warm milky drink.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and screen use too close to bedtime, and never go to bed on an argument!