The Sleep Solution - W. Chris Winder, MD - Why your sleep is broken and how to fix it
Take a moment to reflect on your most recent sleep. Was it overnight in your bed, on the couch or have you just had a nap? Was your sleep uninterrupted? Did the duration affect your current mood? Would you say your sleep is broken?
For me, sleep is central to my Wellbeing. I measure my day by the sleep I’ve had. However, of late, I’ve had regularly interrupted sleep. So, I can say that my sleep is fractured … but not broken!
I have always been curious about sleep. Being a natural early riser, I plan my sleeping and I become very frustrated if I can’t fall asleep when I want to.
When I discovered The Sleep Solution on the bookshelf, I became quite excited as I had been searching for some cure to solve my interruptions. One being, my snoring! I reckon we all share this ‘little’ problem as I’ve been asking everyone I meet and in my research, I’ve uncovered that in almost every household, there is at least one snorer!
The Sleep Solution is a resource, full of gems, insights, busted myths and practical activities to remedy what’s broken in your sleep.
In my business, we’ve been concentrating on the Wellbeing of Women and at our recent workshop, I was stunned at the number of women who identified with the importance of getting their sleeping right. It wasn’t until we raised the subject, that the sleeping conversation gained priority in the goal setting.
Above all other aspects of our wellbeing, our life, our family, it is sleeping which is the most important. We can go without food for many days, water for possibly three days, yet, try and function beyond 30 hours without sleep.
Author, doctor, neurologist, Chris Winter is a comedian. Seriously, this is a fun book to read – I mean, who would expect such a scientific subject to be such an interesting read. Whilst there is science, research and many facts, Chris does well to keep you engaged in a subject which has been his passion for many years.
I am now far more attuned to peoples’ excuses for their poor sleeping habits: people complaining that they only had five hours sleep although they fell asleep watching Netflix whilst in bed, double-screening on their Facebook, their curtains open and lights on. These are all examples of ‘what not to do’ if you want a good night’s sleep. Sorry!
So, stop taking those sleeping pills, take off your ‘I’m an Insomniac’ badge and get empowered to have the best sleep of your life. Get ready to declutter your bedroom and sleep solidly as an adult should– not like a baby which wakes every two hours!
What did I learn?
· Surprisingly, we all sleep – do not believe people when they say, “I don’t sleep.” Everyone sleeps.
· We get confused with fatigue and sleepiness – fatigue is lack of energy whereas sleepiness is the desire to sleep.
· We do not operate properly if we don’t sleep properly – if your sleep is constantly ‘broken’ you may have forgotten how to effectively function at your best. (Chris works with elite sports people and helps them increase their performance by focusing on their sleep.)
· Melatonin is produced in conditions of darkness – it’s secreted from a small pea sized part of the brain and we need melatonin to sleep.
· We are most likely the cause of our sleeping problems – we tend to disrupt the natural science of our own sleep i.e. double-screening in bed watching TV with the lights on!
· We need to arrive at and stay at Deep Sleep, this is where Growth Hormone (GH) is produced which is needed by sports folk, and us mere mortals to recover from the wear and tear we cause our bodies.
· We have three phases of sleep: light sleep, deep sleep and dream sleep. Dream sleep, also know as REM sleep is need for memory and our mood regulation. And the goal is to repeat this cycle 3-4 times during your sleep.
· Working towards sleep consistency should be your goal – we sleep in patters and you need as much deep sleep as possible. Don’t rob yourself of this much needed sleep.
· There is a disorder called ‘shift work disorder’ – some research has been completed, and much more deeded as it’s difficult to stimulate melatonin unless you take drugs.
· Sleep hygiene involves controlling your sleep behaviours and environments which includes the types of sheets on your bed, your pillow, the material your pyjamas, whether you have a Television in your bedroom. You must have complete darkness in your bedroom.
· It’s OK to sleep in separate bedrooms. You can share when you’re having sex but best to schedule time apart. Especially if the issue is snoring!
· Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol worsen your sleep. I’m sorry, this is common sense, yet so many people are not common.
· Don’t eat at night. If you get the munchies, eat high glycaemic-index foods such as dried fruit, cereal and bananas. And, food which includes melatonin such as walnuts, cherries or building blocks of melatonin such as chickpeas and high in magnesium such as almonds, milk, kale and chamomile tea or passionflower tea sweetened with honey.
· Have a routine for bed – just like when you were a kid. Keep exercise to the morning and meditation to the evening. Write down in a notebook, everything that is on your mind and tell yourself that you’re not allowed to think of anything else for the night.
· And, if all else fails – have a hot bath before bedtime. Works a treat.
· And read a print book in bed … not on your device because it’s not allowed in your bedroom.
· Insomnia is generally related to anxiety and stress and you can work to minimise these. You can find a solution – it is generally about educating yourself, having a plan and dismissing your fear and fighting your helplessness
· Pills to induce sleep should only be used in stressful situations and not on a continuing basis.
· Make sure you have a consistent wake time and work around that time.
· And Sleep Apnea is a terrible disorder, yet it can be treated however more research needs to be invested in this space.
These notes only skim the surface of this important subject and I hope if your sleep is broken, you’ll take time out and order this useful book. I have an order button below.
I also plan to read Ariana Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution. When you consider sleep consumes a third of everyday of our life, I believe we can increase our wellbeing and performance by giving it the focus it is due.