Saddleworth Leisure Centre played host to an incredibly popular series of seminars on sleep last weekend. Oldham has a LOT of insomniacs, me being one of them, so the local authorities funded the information sessions to help the town's people. I took one of the places on one of the 20-minute slots, where the presenter Nick gave us a taster of what we can learn on a 4-week programme. He demonstrated his advice using a mattress laid out on the floor of the room- Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy's bed. Dropping by to see how the session unfolded was Debbie Abrahams, MP for Saddleworth. Here's Nick's information and advice:
- Men sleep heavier than women, as women are genetically wired up to listen for babies at night.
- During work, tailor the jobs you have to do to the time of day. If you're more productive in the afternoon, if possible tend to more taxing jobs then and work on simpler tasks in the morning.
- Sleep is repair for your mind and body. You're not sleeping in your “bedroom”- you're sleeping in your “sleep repair room”.
- Going to sleep is a process, not an event. Think of it as climbing stairs. You're at the bottom of the stairs. Don't jump to the top. Climb them one at a time.
- Fruit juice speeds up the process of digesting food, so this kind of drink is good for before bedtime.
- Light from a lamp will keep feeding your body with light as if it were daytime. So reading by a lamp will keep you awake.
- Lamp lights are necessary for getting to bed in the first place, though, so in the bedroom try switching your lamp light from a white bulb to yellow or red.
- A shower before bed will raise your body temperature. This will help, provided your bed is cooler. Your bed should help your body to cool down. Don't be too warm.
- De-clutter. If you can't drop off without thinking about the little jobs- tidying up, doing the dishes, hanging up the ironing- do it before you go to bed. Allow time for this. Think, what will I be thinking about when I go to bed?
- If you have a late night- you come home after a night on the town, or have been working late for instance, keep the routine. Don't just go to bed.
- Wake up with a Lumie body clock. These alarms will wake you with light instead of sound, steadily illuminating the room.
- The best bed products are like trainers- you're not just using them, you're wearing them for 7-9 hours. They are soft, not hard or aggravating. Memory foam is the general term for many types of density of mattress, many of which are soft in this way.
- Melatonin is a chemical that aids sleep. This is currently available over the counter in the US, but not the UK, according to Nick. Google shows some UK distributors. Can anyone shed light?
- Although it is ideal to get a full stretch of sleep for 7-9 hours, short bursts of sleep with regular wake-ups is more normal than you might think.
- In the office, you may find that having meetings straight after lunch can make your colleagues / employees lethargic. Try moving the meeting time to around 2:30pm, after we've all digested our food, and you'll find people are much more attentive.
My plan is to book on to this course as I'm tired of being tired. I'll let you know how it goes.