Everything you need to know about sleep

If you think you can get everything you need to know about sleep in a blog post, you obviously don’t know there is a lot to know about sleep, too much to be contained in a blog post. 

Everything you need to know about sleep can be found in the book Night School by Richard Wiseman. Wiseman has an accessible and lighthearted style, making the science of sleep and the brain and the history of research accessible. Even if you don’t have issues with sleep, get S hold of this book and read it. There are interesting “quizzes”, including one to test how susceptible you are to hypnosis. 

Here’s some interesting points. 

  • Most of us do not get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for health, learning new skills and knowledge, and dealing with life’s problems. Dreams act as therapists. 
  • Sleep deprivation causes health problems, road accidents, and work place accidents; increases risk of diabetes, obesity and death; decreases your willpower and ability to problem solve. Most of us don’t know we are sleep deprived. 
  • Hours spent asleep have decreased, first with the electric light and then with TV and electronic devices. So switch off, at least an hour before bed time. 
  • There are five stages of sleep – 1 to 4 and REM. Stages 1 & 2 are light. 3 & 4 are deep. REM is where you dream. All stages are needed for different reasons. When you dream your brain paralyses your body so you don’t act out your dreams. (Well, all your body except your genitals.)
  • It takes 90 minutes to go through the full cycle of sleep stages. You wake most rested if you wake up at the end of a 90 min cycle. So you can work out when you should go to sleep to wake best refreshed. Say you want to wake up at 6am, then you are best to go to sleep at 10.30 or 12 or 9. 
  • An afternoon nap is good for you, helping you think more clearly. Aim for about 20 minutes, or for a long nap 90 minutes as that takes you through one cycle. 
  • You can become a super sleeper! Make your bedroom dark and not hot. (Easier said than done in much of Australia in summer.) Make a list of things that are worrying you – writing them down helps take the load off your brain. If you lie awake in bed, think nice thoughts, or count sheep, or do some mind games like naming countries going through the alphabet, or tell yourself to stay away. If you wake during the night, and cannot get to sleep, get up and do something that requires you to use your hands like a jigsaw. 

If you want to know more about dreams – how to control them, remember them, stop nightmares – read the book. 

I take my own pillow when we go away as it helps me sleep

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5 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about sleep

  1. That’s especially interesting about timing sleep and wake times via the 90 minute cycle. That must help explain why some days you wake more or less refreshed than others despite having a similar amount of sleep. Interesting too about the naps (and would explain why an hour long nap seems to leave me trashed.)

    I slept such insane amounts in France because it didn’t get light till 8:15am, which never happens in Australia even in winter. Shops opened about 10am so I slept in every day…soul-deep rest!

    You will feel so different with both sleep and alcohol changes to life. Do you track sleep via an app or Fitbit?

    • That’s very interesting about the impact of late sunrise on your sleep. There’s sense in the late shop openings. I thought it was a bit strange when I was in London but it is more civilised. Wonder how teachers and students cope. My school starts at 8.15. When do French schools start?

      I used to use my Fitbit but haven’t for ages.

  2. I set reminders on my Fitbit to tell me to go to bed! I worked my way up to 7 hours sleep on weekdays and 8 or more on weekends. Unfortunately the Fitbit is kaput now, but I have done much better at getting to bed early. And Rom would not dare wake me up at night with his chatter any more, ha!

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