In this podcast, Tougher Minds Founder Dr. Jon Finn explains the science of sleep.

Dr. Jon also discusses the importance of good quality sleep and how this boosts brain function and helps us manage the stress in our work and life.

The podcast also covers how we can begin to overcome the challenges and distractions that prevent us sleeping well and why good sleep is a key component of mental resilience.

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Podcast Transcription

This is the Tougher Minds podcast. In this episode, we’re talking about the importance of sleep. I’m Andrew Whitelam, I’m joined by Dr. Jon Finn, Tougher Minds founder. 

Jon what’s your big picture take on the importance of sleep in people’s lives and in their work?

Well, first and foremost, good quality sleep is essential for being healthy, happy, and at your best. That’s because it helps the brain to work properly.

And in particular, an area of the brain called the hippocampus, so the hippocampus is one in each hemisphere.

And big picture wise, if your hippocampi are not working properly, it becomes more difficult for your brain to produce new brain cells. And new brain cells are absolutely essential if we want to get good at managing stress. And also, if we want to be good at learning new things, which we need to do in this very challenging world that we live in, then the challenge with securing really good sleep is that big business don’t really care if you get a good night’s sleep or not. They’re more interested in you consuming the media, they’re put out whether it’s on a streaming service, like Netflix or on the internet, or on your phone. So it feels more challenging than ever to get really, really good quality sleep.

And connected to that. Is it worrying all the time understanding more about the importance of it, and why we need to do it really well? And what are some of those potential consequences of poor sleep in people’s lives and under work?

Or if we start with the world that we live in, which we know we live in a challenging world, and we sometimes describe that world, or the world we live in is the vuca world. vuca stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. 

That’s a term that’s, I understand, coined, first by the US military to describe the post cold war situation but now applied in business. Yeah, so it’s been adopted pretty widely in the business world. And really, the crux of that is that the only constant in the world that we live in is change. And that is because technologies are evolving faster than we’ve ever seen before. Why things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, we’re seeing that if businesses don’t keep adapting and changing, they get left behind very quickly. You know, the shelf life of a top performing business now is about 15 years, unless they’re rare, keep innovating, and developing some of the biggest companies in the world, at the moment didn’t exist 15 or so years ago, including the likes of Amazon and Facebook and an Uber and companies like that. So we live in a world where this is changing. If we’re going to keep up with the change, we need to learn we need to adapt, if your brain isn’t working properly, and the brain will work properly, if you’re not sleeping properly, that’s going to limit your ability to learn well, so to learn new skills at work, for example. So in the factory model of work, we used to once we learned the job that we were going to do, we then did a very similar job for the next maybe 40 or 50 years. It’s not the same anymore. And we could repeat that without too much more thinking about is what you’re saying. Yeah, so that sort of became a habit. And we learned what we needed to do. Now we’re being asked to change. So there’s a big shift at the moment from having a dedicated desk where you turn up for work, you’ve got your dedicated desks and now having open planned offices with hot desking, where organisations are asking their employees not to even come to work so regular anymore.

We’ve got the introduction of new technology all the time into the workplace. So we’re moving into agile workplaces, where the way we’re working is changing. So if we want to get good at learning those new skills, then sleep is absolutely essential. And if we’re not sleeping, well, it will hinder our ability to do that.

Connected to this is we need people to be able to innovate and be creative. And to keep refining and adapting what they’re doing to make it even more efficient and effective and more aligned with what customers want and need. And that’s certainly an attribute that’s seen as desirable and important in business, isn’t it and often very highly prized. Yes. And again, if your workforce are not sleeping properly, they’re not going to be able to do that as well as they could. And part of that connects to failing fast, which is a term we often hear about in the world of work. And that connects to what are the the lean model of learning so you know, not we got to keep refining our ideas.

Getting them out there getting the feedback and getting to the position and getting the products to the position we want to get them to, to delight our customer as quickly as possible. So again, if we’re not sleeping properly, it’s going to limit our ability to learn from our mistakes.

And then also connected to the area of learning is if we want to not just learn new functional tasks, like how to use a new operating system. If we want to learn new personnel performance skills, personal well being skills, like for example, we want to build a new stress management habit, then if again, if we’re not sleeping properly, it’s going to limit our ability to learn that.

So that’s, that’s the learning element. So it’s so it’s this environment, then that’s challenging for us now the environment we find ourselves in, and the need to be able to perform as a person. And as a professional, if you like in that environment then to summarise, you’d say, yeah, so learning is absolutely essential. If we want to do well, in a world where the only constant is change, because we have to keep adapting to change. In order to help ourselves to be healthy, happy, and at our best. This is the top of minds podcast. Thanks very much indeed, for listening, we hope the insights that we share are going to be helpful for you in your life and work. We very much appreciate you giving us a moment of your time to listen to this episode. 

Jon, talk to us more than about what are the potential pinch points if you like when someone is trying to sleep? Well, for all the right reasons you just outlined in their lives there, they might have a busy job, they might have a busy family, how, how can that affect their quality of sleep?

Well, in lots in lots of different ways. We live in a world where you know, more people than ever before are reporting, they don’t feel very well. And I would suggest that’s connected to this, this constant need to change and adapt to changes. And as we’ve said, that leads to if we’re not sleeping well, at least a poor, poorer function of bread. And that means as well as may be more difficult to learn, it’s also going to be more difficult to deal with stress and deal with all this, these little what we call disconnections that lead to stress that happen every single day. Stress is simply caused because what you expected to happen didn’t happen.

Could be a simple as you held the door open for someone, and you expected them to say thank you. And they didn’t, that might be a little disconnection, or someone got a little bit too close to you on the tube this morning. That might be a little disconnection. Or the email from your boss’s mind didn’t say what you thought it would, sir. But these, it’s going to be more difficult for our brain to recover from these disconnections.

One of the reasons is that we, the brain will, will be producing fewer new brain cells. And that when we’ve got lots of new brain cells, it makes it easier to think flexibly around difficult problems, to put perspective on things and to step back, if we don’t have lots of new brain cells, we find ourselves getting sucked into these negative thinking rocks. And it gets harder to gout. And then we just get sucked in. And all we can pay attention to is the unhelpful thing. As well as this, what we’re starting to understand with reduced sleep and poor quality sleep, is we get this thing called reduced functional connectivity happening in our prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for helping you to feel calm, to be rational, to be reasoned. So when this part of the brain isn’t working properly, we are going to say more negative things to ourselves, we are going to do more things instinctively and do more things that we regret.

We’re going to be more forgetful. And I have lots of people reporting to me that when they’ve been through periods of stress their memory wasn’t working as well. And that leads to more stress. People talk about I couldn’t think straight because your prefrontal cortex isn’t working properly. So you know, the consequence of, of not sleeping well. And I’d say if there’s one thing that anyone should prioritise, every single day’s preparing to have a really good night’s sleep tonight. The consequence, if we’re not doing that is that our life just gets more difficult and actually, it gets more difficult to secure a good night’s sleep. So we get in a negative cycle. We’re going to talk later very much in much greater detail about how to do that, how to secure that good night’s sleep we’ve talked about and some of the excellent tips that you have for that and I also want to talk to you

More about this idea of, of, of using willpower and judgement if you like, and how that’s damaged by sleep, as you’ve just alluded to.

And also, what I wanted to ask you about in a few moments is this idea that what you’re saying then is that there’s an actual physical, chemical change or changes happening in the brain. When we don’t sleep properly, there is an actual physical consequence within the human body, which perhaps people don’t quite understand that may be associated with some sorts of feeling. And they don’t have that feeling to actual physical changes. 

So I’m going to ask you about that in a moment. But we want to say to everyone, send us your questions. If you have any specific questions for Dr. Jon Finn, we’ll answer them, we’ll do our very best to answer them on the Tougher Minds podcast, just email them to contact@tougherminds.co.uk, please email in your questions. 

So Jon, if you would just just summarise for us then I think you would describe it as a neurobiological consequence for poor sleep in the brain chemicals changing, things like that happening.

So sleep has two core functions. One is you organise everything you’ve been paying attention to that day. So almost your library and in your brain, if you want to think about it, like filing things away, and getting rid of some stuff that are becoming less and less relevant, because you’re not paying, you know, thinking stuff anymore. So your brain starts to get rid of it via a process called pruning. And then the stuff that you’ve been paying attention to your brain strengthens its connections around those areas. If you’re sleeping well, if you’re not, but that doesn’t happen. And you talk about it in terms of like almost a little army inside your head doing it. But you’re actually saying these are chemical processes. Yeah. So our brain is a living thing.

We learned via a process called neuroplasticity. That’s our, the way our brain changes, and that that word just means the neurons in your brain, which are about 100 billion. I like plot, like the plastic button thing might pass the same there reshare, bubble re moldable, we didn’t really understand that until we got this technology called functional MRI scanners that allow us to see inside the brain for the first time in real time. And it shows that our brains are changing all the time.

But if we’re not sleeping properly, our ability to learn, is compromised. And we can see this very clearly, from compelling sets of data, whether it’s in sport, or in academic studies, those people who are sleeping the best, they learn better, they’ll learn faster. And you increasingly see professional sports teams are building almost hotels on their training grounds. So they’re athletes that can have an afternoon siesta, because they get the recovery and the learning benefits of that. So that’s one part of sleep. The second part of sleep is that we allow our brain to clear out all the nasty toxins that are gathering during the day, literally chemical toxins. Yeah. And what we’re starting to see, we know that, you know, if you didn’t sleep very well, last night.

 

This idea of reduced functional connectivity. And the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that is doing the rationalising and the reasoning, and connecting your mind to the outside world, it doesn’t work properly. So you get that if you’re tired, it’s harder to concentrate, it’s harder to focus, it’s harder to be clever, it’s harder to retrieve. But there’s a longer term impact as well. And what we’re seeing is that big sets of compelling data showing that poor sleep habits, they are being connected to prefrontal cortex diseases like Alzheimer’s, to the point where a recent addition of the new scientists from cover was, Why lack of sleep is killing your bread. Wow, is when we’re not allowing, if we’re not sleeping properly, we’re not allowing the brain to clear out all the nasty chemicals that are building up during the day. And that goes on and on and on. And ultimately, your brain can’t recover. So if we’re not sleeping well, our brain is not going to be able to clear out all the nasty chemicals that build up during the day which has both short term and long term consequences. So yeah, it’s quite sobering for people to learn. They might think they just feel bad for a particular week or have a bit of a poor day in the office. But you’re saying there could be long term health consequences for poor sleep in your lives.

I’m sure That’s something people will be very much mindful of. This is the Tougher Minds podcast, please rate and review us on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts from. We’re regular series, hopefully with plenty of insight that you can apply in your life and your work. So please do rate and reviewers on your podcast platform of choice when you have the opportunity. 

Thank you very much for that. Jon  you talked about the idea that this has an impact on people and hence has an impact on business and organisations and often, quite rightly, businesses are keen to understand these things in an empirical way, they try to really understand how this might impact them more broadly. And I understand the consultancy McKinsey, and carried out some research into the effects of sleep on businesses and organisations. Yeah, they’ve created a report called the organisational cost of insufficient sleep. And it was particularly focused on business leaders. And he found that actually 46% of those leaders that are in the study, believe that lack of sleep had little impact on their leadership performance. But paradoxically, 83% of the same leaders believe that their organization’s didn’t spend enough time educating their people about sleep, and the importance of it. And this brings us back to the impaired judgement that happens when we’re not sleeping properly.

And to understand that you’ve got to think Well, how do we make a judgement about anything? And obviously, this is a process that happens in milliseconds, you know, when you meet someone new, you are judging them in milliseconds. And that means that two parts of your brain are working in sync together.

Your prefrontal cortex, and the limbic regions, your prefrontal cortex is taking in the new information from the environment. And it’s connecting that with what’s already stored in your brain from past experience in the limbic regions. Now, if your PFC isn’t working properly, by this process of reduced functional connectivity, you’re not going to be able to make good judgments and decisions, because there’s not going to be a good flow between these two very important parts of the brain.

So if we’ve got an organisation where people are not sleeping properly, they will be making poor decisions, and that will be costing your business money. And in the same way, any we’ve touched talks about a management consultancy, of course, they would be their watchword, I suppose is objective decision making and analysis and any person wanting to perform well and be their best and manage Well, in a business of any size or organisation? They’ll want to exercise good judgement. So is it? Is it also, is there an analogy with high performing sports people who prepare their bodies, people in business and industry should think about preparing their brain with sleep?

Exactly. And one very interesting insight I’ve seen recently was the technology company Slack, which is a British startup that moved out to Silicon Silicon Valley, there are an equivalent to email cleaner kind of email channel, which makes it easier for people to communicate, not plugging in tasks in Slack, but just trying to explain what it is if you don’t know what it is, it’s a very big company.

They are absolutely prioritising good quality sleep in their people. Their trigger this everywhere in the organisation, you know, from how they are expecting their people not to be engaging in work, communications after a certain point in time, to how they’ve the signage around the offices continuing with triggered so clever high performing businesses are really getting onto this. What I would say is one thing knowing that you need to have good quality sleep. There’s another thing, being able to do it because that we live in a world where it’s becoming more and more difficult to secure really good quality sleep, so we need to help automate some skills that allow us to build new sleep habits. This is the Tougher Minds podcast if you want more resources and some useful downloads which can help you build new habits around sleep and give you some insights into performing well in your life and your work. Go to tougherminds.co.uk That’s the website  and you’ll find a lot of different options and opportunities to download some resources on that website’s homepage. That’s tougherminds.co.uk. This is the Tougher Minds podcast. Thanks for listening to us. We do appreciate it.

Jon, we’ve talked then, about the importance of sleep, the consequences of poor sleep, how, how it can have these very profound negative consequences for businesses and organisations. I guess the final element then has got to be how do we go about improving and securing good sleep? 

So, we feel well, and we perform well. Yeah. So the first step that we need to take if we’re going to improve sleep quality is by doing something that we call self watching. This sounds a little bit creepy, watching ourselves. But it does what it says on the tin, he said literally about being more aware, not just doing what you always did. Turns out that most of what we’re doing and thinking is a habit. And we understand that at least 98% of what we’re doing right now, is a habit. If you go onto our website, scroll down the homepage, you can see a link and explain all about how your brain works, and it will give you some more insight there. But because most of what we’re doing is a habit when always that self aware. So to change what we’re doing. And to build new habits, we need to do self watching. And an example of how we might self watch our sleep would be to think about our sleep last night, and give ourselves a score out of 10. So 10 would be the best qualities, the best night’s sleep that you could have. And your score is whatever it was, so am I so last night in my sleep was about an eight out of 10. And when I’m making that judgement, I’m thinking about not just the quantity of sleep, how many hours, also the quality of sleep, you got to factor those two things are often the messaging we hear about good sleep is how long.

And the thing that we need to bear in mind when we hear that messaging is that scientists are always looking for average is. And we know that the ideal length of sleep actually changes as we get older. So as we get older, we actually need less sleep.

But what we need to work out for ourselves is okay, let’s look at what the sign says. And for adults, the scientists would say we need somewhere between seven and a half to eight hours sleep per night. Is that an average for most people? Would you say? Yeah, but what we need to bear in mind is that we’re not average. We are who we are. Yeah. And our life is as it is. So we know we need to work out well. What does it look like for me? What does a really good night’s sleep look like for me? And you can do a little bit of personal research on that. And I would like my experience to be different times of the year, that’s gonna change slightly. You know, when that workload is really up, you’re going to need more sleep. Which feels counterintuitive, because I have less time. But actually, I’ll take you longer to get that work done if you’re not sleeping properly. So you got to work out what is the talent right for you. And then give yourself that ranking. And that’s the first part. So you got to self watch. And if you are really serious about building a new sleep habit, you have to do that every single day, for a week, same try for a week. But if you want to if you want to do it well, you will soon notice that when you stop self watching, it becomes more difficult to do.

Once you’ve worked out what your score is, we then move on to what we call the aim. So I’ve recognised Okay, well last night, my sleep was an eight out of 10. I’d like to improve that tonight. So I want to set myself on an improvement there. So I might say well, I want to only get to a 10 out of 10. But in reality, that’s too big a jump is too big a goal to work towards. So we need to make our ends really small. So a good end for me would be to get from an eight to an eight and a half. That might mean I’m aiming for an extra 10 minutes sleep tonight that I got last night.

We often can become very helpless when we’re trying to change behaviours like sleep.

We imagine that we’ll never be able to get any better sleep because I’m just a poor sleeper.

We’ve got to reframe that conversation with ourselves. And we talk about the P2 continuum  to help people to think about so P2  is poor to perfect.

It isn’t that you’re a great sleeper, all your rubbish sleeper, you are somewhere on that continuum, not just an average sleeper, you might be somewhere in the middle, you might be closer to the poor end or closer to the perfect end. But in reality, you’re probably not at the absolute extreme of either end. So you might think that poor is zero. Perfect is 10. All we can do is recognise where we currently are.

And think about what’s the next little step that I can make forwards and I would think about it as Can I get One more minute sleep tonight that I got last night. And you might think, john, you’re crazy. What’s the point in doing that? The point is, you start to build some positive change momentum, you start to show yourself that actually, if you will fully work towards having a better night’s sleep, you will make some progress. Sure, you’re not going to get an absolutely perfect night’s sleep, but you will improve. And the more you practice that, the better you will get at it.

So we set ourselves a nice little achievable, manageable. Yeah, but I’d go further tiny, make it tighter. Yeah, yeah, when it’s difficult to make a change, make the change smaller, because we’re not going to achieve all our dreams tomorrow. Thus, in the distant future, what we can do by tomorrow is make a small step in the right direction. So we’re trying to do so the easier you make it to do, the more likely it is you will do it. And you start to build your confidence that you can make a positive change here. So we call this the habit factor, keep the change really small. So we self-watch, we recognise Well, here I am, I’m an eight out of 10 or you might be a five out of 10, you might be a two out of 10. You might be a one out of 10. Wherever you are, you’ve got to think what’s the next little step forwards. And it can be an extra minute, an extra 10 minutes, an extra 15 minutes, whatever you think is doable for you.

But unfortunately, just self watching and making an error is not going to be of any use unless we make a plan. Because an aim or a goal. without a plan is just a wish won’t happen. So we say okay, well tonight, I want to get an extra 10 minutes sleep, what’s the plan that’s going to get me there?

And your ability to sleep well tonight has been influenced, since you got up this morning. When we think about when we hear about interventions about getting a better night’s sleep, we often start with the hour before we go to bed. But in reality, everything you do today will impact on how well you sleep tonight.

Or how poorly you sleep tonight.

So you’ve got to have some tools, some insights that you can use to actually help you to plan for a better night’s sleep.

So there are some kind of obvious, obvious things in in when we talk about these, these, these insights, these tactics if you like, but remember, it’s not about knowing their good ideas. It’s about implementing them and implementing them regularly.

So the first thing I always say to people, if they’re trying to improve sleep, the number one, the first important thing to pay attention to is what time you got up this morning. And that might sound really obvious. But what people do on the weekend, especially on a Sunday, they fall into the trap of wanting to have a lion but then wanting to get an early night. And you can’t do both? good sleep quality is about consistency.

So we’ve got to be aware that if you want to be on a bed nice and early on a Sunday night what time you get up on a Sunday morning will impact and of course then people find they couldn’t sleep well on a Sunday and that just throws everything out for the week. And it kind of compounds itself through the week presumably then, yeah, and I can do you fuels the helpless story that I can’t change something.

Next thing I discuss with people is the importance of exercise.

If you’re struggling to sleep, you need to be doing more exercise. And when we say exercise, it isn’t about necessarily going to the gym, you know walking counts, just accumulating more steps.

I travel around the world a lot and delivering Tougher Minds programmes and doing consultancy work, you know and jetlag becomes a factor but I know that if I’m jet lagged and I increase my exercise it helps me to sleep. So I do that. So you got to bed I mind. 

Caffeine is a factor. Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you awake and it doesn’t just come from hot drinks like coffee and tea control.

Soft drinks, not just things like Red Bull, but also things like Coca Cola and things like that. So we have to be aware.

Do we want to be putting this stimulant into our body so close to being before we’re trying to watch it relax and calm down and get into this nice sleepest that personally I don’t drink while I drink less caffeine than I ever have before. Probably have only three caffeinated drinks per day. Now, I don’t drink caffeine after 4pm anymore. So I want to be on it before honestly, personally by 930 10 o’clock. And I found that it’s really helpful for me. So something to pay attention to how much alcohol you drink, and when you drink, it impacts on sleep quality.

Although it might help you to get to sleep faster, it seems to stop those getting into those good quality, high quality restorative sleeps. So we don’t wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, because it stopped us getting into what we call the non REM cycles where all the sleep magic really happens. When you say restorative, you mean that that chemical renewal that you were talking about earlier in the podcast? Yeah, so the, the, the, in the brain, the brains equivalent of the lymphatic system, we don’t think we don’t think the brain has a lymphatic system. So that when the brain shuts down and kind of clears itself out, that’s not happening. 

So alcohol will make it more difficult to get high quality sleep, even though you know, some people I think are using it as a sleep err, ed. And it’s actually getting in the way.

Connected to exercise and alcohol and caffeine is hydration. If you are dehydrated, before you go to sleep, then it’s going to be more difficult to do it well. And caffeine, alcohol and exercise will dehydrate you. So you need to be aware of that.

And so personally, again, I probably drink more water throughout the day than over Harvard. I’ve kind of a two litre bottle that I’m working through. And I see the difference, you know. And also we live in a world where we can eat more processed foods than ever before, often that is really salty. And again, I would see the difference if I ate the wrong kind of stuff in the day. So you’ve got to be aware of hydration.

There’s some interesting science that shows that sour cherry juice….drinking sour cherry juice for adults can enhance sleep quality. That’s about melatonin. Melatonin is our brain sleepy neurotransmitter. So the neurotransmitter tells our brain is this time to rewind to unwind and relax now and ultimately get into sleep so that we can get melatonin supplementation from the doctors but like most supplements, we understand that our body’s not very good at absorbing them. 

According to studies there is naturally occurring melatonin sour cherry juice and sour cherries. sour cherries are interesting. Yeah. 

So and there’s some brands on the market. Not that we’re endorsing any particular one, but that you can, if you if you do some research online, the sour cherry juice, I’m sure we’ll be there to have a look at. 

Yeah, it’s something interesting to pay attention to. Nothing that we ever say to Tougher Minds is prescriptive. We never say you must do these things. We’re just trying to give insight and that’s something that’s interesting. That study shows that adults who drank two glasses of sour cherry juice per day achieved an extra 35 minutes of sleep per night, which is not bad. But you know, some things will work for you some things, they’re not going to work for you. Another substance that I use – a legal substance for sleep –  and I’ve only started to do this quite recently is Valerian supplement, which is a herb and it’s it’s been anciently understood, I think that in back to the Greeks it’s a sleep aid and sometimes people use it for anxiety as well. I found that helpful person. 

And that’s available in health food shops?

Yeah, so I would buy that from the supermarket. Okay, yeah, the next level sometimes is as a sleep aid.

We also know that what you eat before you go to bed impacts on sleep quality.

So we should be avoiding eating large, heavy meals. But there’s some science showing that particular carbohydrate and protein snacks combined, they increase possibly the release of melatonin.

So maybe a ham sandwich or something like that.

And something that I would use again, if I’m jet lagged and maybe I’m working in the middle of the night, I might use that get get something inside me to get my body back onto that sort of sleep pathway if you like just to reduce everything and unwind

Only a small amount?

Only a small amount. Yeah, just literally a couple of slices of bread and maybe something in there Yeah.

So that’s about putting things inside our body. Also, we now live in a world of what’s called the attention economy where everyone’s trying to get your attention because they’re monetizing that.

So, you know, things like, do you check your email before you go to bed? And is that a good idea for you? I don’t know, let you answer that some people would find that very stressful.

We know that looking into our handheld technology, like our laptop and our tablets and our smartphones, the light that’s coming from those devices, is telling your brain not to release any melatonin.

And that obviously makes it more difficult to go to sleep. So we should be turning that technology off at least an hour before we go to bed one hour, to an hour before you go to bed. Right? Yeah. You know, and also think about, can I readily reach out and grab that technology, if I’m waking up in the middle of the night, and I’m looking into that light shining a light in my eyes, basically, at three o’clock in the morning, and then thinking it’s really hard for me to get back to sleep? Well, guess what you just told your brain not to go to sleep to stop reducing melatonin. And it’s time to go now. So is that a good idea? I’ve long since got that technology out of my bedroom. You can buy a traditional alarm clock. It costs one pound from the market.

So that and also on the messaging of lighting, we now live in modern homes where we can have bright lights on all into the evening. But that’s…… think about the signal given to your brain. You want to be messaging to the brain. No, no, it’s getting time to go to sleep now, so let’s turn down the lights, get the right kind of lighting in your bedroom, the adjustable lamps just just emit enough light for you to be able to read the book, right kind of thing.

Other things…….room temperature, again, we started to understand that we fall asleep as our body temperature reduces, I’ll save you have a hot bath and start to feel asleep when you get the bath because your body temperature starts to reduce if our bedrooms are too hot, to be really difficult to allow our body temperatures to reduce.

And you think, again, modern home central heating etc. Got to be really mindful of that, especially if we’ve got a living in a country like the UK where we get these often extreme temperature fluctuations can be freezing one minute and then quite mild the next, but we’ve got the same set central heating or something to pay attention to.

One of the things that I did this summer, actually, so I bought a new mattress, one of these mattresses that are marketed as being really helpful for sleep. And I found that it has been really helpful for sleep, I already slept pretty well based on applying all these ideas, but it’s been really helpful. So thinking about what you sleep on, etc. And do you need to make maybe an investment, which will pay you back again and again.

Other ideas do you have to get back to a sleep routine? If you wake up in the middle of the night, if you wake up in the middle of the night, if you don’t, you’ve got to stay awake routine.

There’s a rediscovered understanding that seems to become quite popular in the last 12 months that we used to have. We used to have two sleeps per night. So in Victorian times where they would go to sleep, and then it would be quite normal to get up again in the middle of the night, do something and then have another sleep.

So there seems to be a natural tendency that when we do wake up in the middle of the night, we can’t really avoid that. It’s about how well you’re able to get back to sleep again.

And for me, if I can just secure an extra 10 minutes sleep, I’m happier than if I would just know I stayed awake. And I’ve got to get back to sleep routine. And what is that routine? Well, it starts with not being able to see a clock if I wake up including in the hotel rooms. I’ll be covering all the clocks up because it stresses me out if I see three o’clock in the morning. Oh no.

Here we go again. Yeah.

Lots of preparation work. So I’ve been preparing for a good night’s sleep. Since I got up this morning. The first thing I do is I go for a run. I’m staying hydrated throughout the day. I’m not drinking caffeine after a certain time. And I’m taking that Valerian tablet before I go to sleep. But then maybe I need to go to the bathroom. So I tried to get to the bathroom without turning any lights on if that’s possible.

I’m not going to check my phone. I don’t want to put the shining light into my eyes. So my first default is just to get back into bed and try to move or perhaps hang a leg out of the two out of the duvet….whatever people do to cool down. But if that’s not working again, what I would do is I get up maybe have some water, maybe try some of that little snack.

You know, I just do do something to relax my brain, maybe stick on a podcast or even watch TV from a safe distance not to get the light to just try to get my my body back into the get back to sleep again, I might read a book, perhaps a book, not advice, read a book, have a maybe another filaria and tablet and we’ll show him after checkout. You can have loads. But yeah, now and again, that’s what I would do. But, you know, getting a good night’s sleep is the most important thing you can do in any 124 hour period. But it’s not easy to take this hard work like everything was worthwhile.

And the final thing is connected to that get back to sleep routine. But also the overarching idea of getting a good night’s sleep is that thinking about your bedroom is a place that is designed to prioritise sleep, he should be quiet, calm, dark, not full of technology, it should be clean.

So you might need to just declutter your space, get rid of the tea, you don’t want to be in bed watching TV, he will reduce your sleep quality, simple and practical things you can do by changing your environment will make it easier for you to get a really good night’s sleep.

And if I was trying to move my sleep from wherever it is, at the moment, I said mine was an eight up to an eight and a half, I’d be using some of those tactics that we just went through to formulate a plan. And I tried to think of three distinct tactics that I was going to use. So I might say, Well, I’m going to stop drinking caffeine. After that. I’m going to stop drinking and caffeine by 4pm. Today.

If I want to basically by 10, I’m going to make sure that I’m in bed by 930 reading my book. And I’m going to make sure therefore that I’ve turned all my technology off by 830.

So that’s the plan. That’s the plan. So we self watch.

We make an M, and we make a plot and in combination, we call that the swap cycle.

Well, those are some absolutely fantastic, practical, really readily applicable tips to improve your sleep. And that’s been a fantastic conclusion to this Tougher Minds podcast. You’ve been listening to the Tougher Minds podcast. We think it’s a great idea if you share this with your friends and perhaps you could even find a friend, colleague or perhaps your partner to discuss these ideas with and maybe work together to make a plan for each of you a personalised plan to improve your sleep. It might be more effective for you that way. Thanks very much for listening to the Tougher Minds podcast. Keep listening out for more episodes, which will have insights to help you in your life and work. And we’ll be back very soon. Thanks for listening.

 

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