If you’re a shift worker then lack of sleep is definitely a problem.
But how much sleep is enough? The standard advice that I hear from specialists is that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – it’s what’s right for you. So when people like Madonna say they can get by on four hours sleep, (is she a shift worker too?!) – then it certainly is possible, but it’s not desirable.
Now for those fortunate souls that work “normal hours” – ie, 9-5 – the vast majority of these people get 7-8 hours sleep which is certainly going to help restore their bodies after a hard day at work.
Incidentally though, latest research is nudging toards 9 hours sleep as optimum! So if you’re like Madonna and you think you’re doing pretty well on 4-5 hours, it’s time for a rethink.
Four Simple Lessons that you can learn from a baby!
1. Babies need a lot of sleep – and so do most adults, whether they like it or not. But are you shaking your head and thinking that you’d love to sleep more, but you keep waking up in the middle of the night? Well for the record, stress is the number one reason for short-term sleep problems such as frequent middle-of-the-night waking and insomnia. So if this is you, then you need to find a way to resolve this stress in some way.
2. Babies are good at recognising what’s keeping them awake – but most grown ups aren’t. So without resolving things like stress, you will never get enough sleep.
3. Babies need a restful routine, like a warm bath and a bedtime story before bed – and so do adults! Grown-ups who are drinking, partying, emailing, watching TV, chatting with their mates on the phone or in other ways keeping their brains active could well be too stimulated to sleep. What we all should be doing is having a relaxing 10 minutes in the tub prior to tucking ourselves into bed with a good book.
4. Babies sleep best in a dark room – and so do adults. We evolved as a species to sleep in almost total darkness. Even a small amount of brightness can be strong enough to enter our retina even when our eyes are closed. This then sends a signal to the brain that upsets the internal clock … ahh … the wonderful world of shiftwork!
So if you’re trying to sleep during the day, or when somebody else has the lights on in the house – make sure that absolutely no light can enter your room.
This even includes the light from your digital alarm clock so make that this is turned off too! (OK, so you might need to set another type of alarm clock so that you don’t sleep in …)And of course, don’t fall asleep with the TV on, and use blackout curtains if you have to sleep during the day or if your streetlights are particularly bright.
So try and learn to apply some of these simple tips that you would have learnt (and forgotten) as a baby. Because your sleep and ultimately your health – depends on it.