Podcast episode 12: Sleep well, feel well w/ Frances TaylorNov 04, 2021
Welcome to this twelfth episode of the Make Your Difference podcast! In this series, I am interviewing founders and leaders of different sized wellness and education businesses as well as specialist marketers who support them to help them make their difference.
This latest episode of the podcast is with sleep expert, Frances Taylor, founder of Sleep Well Today. With several people on the podcast mentioning the importance of sleep and having read some books on it myself, I was keen to catch up with Frances to get her thoughts and tips on sleep.
Natalie is the founder of Sleep Well Today, an organisation helping people to sleep well so that they can both work and live well.
Why is sleep so important
Although people often don't prioritise it in the same way, sleep is absolutely essential, along with diet and exercise for the maintenance of our physical health, and well being. It's also important for our cognitive function and our productivity.
Previously many people didn't realise the importance of good sleep but we now know that nighttime hours are just as important as daytime hours. They support us by maintaining body systems, healing and repair, memory function, and a whole host of processes that are essential for good daytime functioning.
Why don't people prioritise their sleep?
People often see sleep as a nice to have rather than as an essential. They often don't take it seriously. Also, our 24/7 culture reduces our sleep opportunities, as does our high achieving culture. Sometimes people struggle to put themselves first or struggle to find the time.
Why using evidence-based insights matters
Rather than wasting time, following evidence-based advice helps people to save time and instead focus on the best approaches that deliver results. Studies we've had over recent years have come up with a number of excellent treatment pathways.
Physical and emotional benefits of sleep
It's important to remember how much easier life is if you actually wake up and you're ready for the day ahead:
- studies show that you're likely to have a spike in blood pressure after being sleep deprived.
- impacts the hormones that control hunger, so you eat more than you need
- keeps the immune system functioning well.
- there's also ongoing research about the association between chronic lack of sleep and dimensions of development of dementia. This is because sleep enables you to sweep toxins out from the cells of the brain.
- the part of our brain that helps us stay rational, clear thinking, able to make a good decision doesn't connect so well.
- the emotional part of the brain that gets over overstimulated
- you're more likely to fly off the handle or feel tearful and overwhelmed
How does sleep affect our performance
During sleep, new learning is shifted from short term memory storage to long term memory storage. Lack of sleep can cause brain fog and difficulty with making decisions and with concentrating. It's about performance and productivity, not just at work, but in your whole life as well
How much sleep do we need?
We need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
What sleep tips can you share?
- Address worries and concerns during the daylight hours, for example, journaling or creating a list with action points
- remember that waking up at night is normal
- set good work boundaries
- ensure you have a long enough sleep opportunity for the 7-9 hours you need
- remember to unwind before bed to allow you to transition to sleep.
What should we do before sleep?
Make sure to avoid things you find stressful. Having a bath or shower can be beneficial as it causes your body temperature to drop afterwards, which supports sleep. Also doing any activities you personally find relaxing, like stretching, listening to music, etc. By keeping regular sleep hours, you make it easier for yourself, especially on a Monday morning after the weekend!
What are the 5 essential elements of good sleep?
These are from Frances's sleep programme:
- Look at how you're organising your day and ensure sleep has priority
- Have a positive sleep mindset - anticipate a good night's rest
- Be an efficient sleeper, so you're maximising the time you're asleep when in bed
- Remember mind management. Learn to switch off your brain and remember that waking up is normal
- Practice relaxation techniques.
The evidence is that even with a really severe sleeping problem, everyone can improve their sleep dramatically with the right approaches. It's also a very common problem, so don't worry if it impacts you. There are effective ways to get back on track.
The Make Your Difference podcast is hosted by Vicky Mason. To find out more about her work with organisations:
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