Sleep is a key to good health, but are you sleeping? There are very few people in my audiences who are getting more than five or six hours of sleep a night; and many more are reporting that they can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep. Why is this and what can you do about it?

What disturbs your sleep?

You only have to experience a bit of sleep deprivation to know that it is important for keeping yourself together, but it can be disturbed by many things such as:

  • Becoming a new parent which definitely disrupts your sleep patterns; I always say to new parents, “Welcome to the Sleepless Nights Club!”.
  • If you work full time and have kids you, like me, will likely be catching up on work after your kids go to bed.
  • Even when my kids were teenagers, I would work while they were up late doing homework ‘to keep them company’ and get through my long ‘to do list’.
  • When you have lots on your mind it can stop you falling asleep or wake you up in the middle of the night.
  • When loadshedding is at odd hours, you can wake up in a sweat because the fan has stopped working, or the lights or the TV have come back on.
  • When there is disruption in the air, fear of what might happen or what you can’t control can interrupt your sleep.
  • When you have been traumatised your sleep patterns will more than likely be disturbed. I was never one for taking sleeping tablets until my life was turned upside down.
  • When you are unwell your sleep patterns are affected.
  • I’m sure you can think of more that may apply specifically to you.

Sleep is a key to good health, but are you sleeping?

Consistency is the key to self-regulation

Teaching babies and children to fall asleep is a life skill and part of learning how to self-regulate. As an adult, self-regulation continues to be important. Even if you can’t get the magic 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night, be consistent with what you get, whether it is five or six hours instead of 8!

I was comforted by my conversation with Dr Jon Molidor, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine last year. He told me that we are creating more problems for ourselves by obsessing over not getting enough sleep and should rather improve the quality of what we get and keep it consistent because sleep impacts on all your other internal rhythms.

On World Sleep Day, listen to my podcast interview on Why and How to Avoid Sleep Debt with Joni Peddie, behavioural strategist and founder of Resilient People. It’s about our deep need for sleep and how we can’t catch up on lost sleep on the weekends. Joni is a professional speaker, executive coach, strategic facilitator and is on the faculty of GIBS.

The how and why to avoid sleep debt podcast answers these questions:

  • What is sleep debt?
  • How much sleep do we really need?
  • What is good sleep hygiene?
  • The connection between sleep and Alzheimer’s pathology
  • Sleep, memory and learning
  • The value of blue blocker glasses

Now, get a good night’s sleep, please! Looking after your mental and physical health is part of future-proofing yourself.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life