Sleep!!! Not a Luxury but a Biological necessity

Many people are reporting difficulty with sleep right now, as well as more dreaming than they usually would remember.  In some cases, people are reporting super vivid dreams that can be very upsetting and/or literally difficult to tell if they were a dream or actually happened.

So, let’s start with the sleep thing.

Many people have significant and long term problems with trying to maintain healthy sleep patterns, while others are bothered at different times to different degrees.  Nationally it is believed that the entire adult  population is actually sleep deprived, and we are surviving with significantly less sleep per night than we require to operate at our optimum level -children and adults!

This is, therefore, the perfect reason to trying to develop good, healthy rest and sleep habits.  

And it’s not just good because it is annoying to be awake in the middle of the night and because it makes you feel grumpy the next day.  It is because our bodies desperately need healthy sleep patterns to process what we have experienced during the previous day and be ready for what we need to do and learn tomorrow, and critically, to carry our physical repair processes that can only take place during our normal sleep rhythms.

This is a brilliant, though scary talk, about the importance of Sleep!

Using our Sleep Super Powers, let’s start with the obvious

Purpose, Structure and Exercise

Make sure you have purpose, structure and activity in your days, if you possibly can take some exercise and get some fresh air.  It doesn’t have to be gymnastics and skiing - chair yoga, walking, gardening, couch to 5k, whatever is right for you but represents you exercising your body and trying to stay supple.

Sticking to a routine regular time to go to bed and a regular time to get up

This does not mean you can’t stay up to finish watching a late movie occasionally or even go out clubbing till the early hours (when we can and it that is your thing), but that should be unusual - not usual.

Your habit should be a process that enables you to get between 7 and 8 hours (mostly undisturbed) sleep per night (Parents of young children, we’ll be getting to you in a few minutes) and fits with your work or home life.

Come off digital devices

Ideally you would stop playing, watching or reading any digital device at least two hours before you want to be falling asleep.  Even turned down screen light can be very activating.  The TV can also be a big stimulant, especially based on what you are watching, so try and keep that down too.

Try music or reading

Listening to gentle music or reading can be an excellent way to relax and wind down 

Bath time

Some people really enjoy a bath, which activates the parasympathetic system helping you to calm down and settle for sleep

Candle Light

Candle light is both soothing and said to be a positive benefit, especially when hours of daylight are short

Keeping Worry away from Bed

If you are inclined to worry about a topic such as family or work, which can then get on your mind during the night, perhaps think to create a time after which you try not to talk or think about it.  If you find this very difficult, with lots of these thoughts popping into your head, you may need another strategy for dealing with that.  Perhaps writing things down so that you can deal with them tomorrow - giving space for you to relax once that is put away.

Your Sleeping Room

Then comes the room you sleep in - try to make it clean and tidy, restful so that you are able to just climb calmly into bed and settle down.  Avoid having TVs in the bedroom.  The evidence is that they do not help you sleep, they keep you awake, and you can quickly develop a TV watching habit that then interferes more with your sleep. Try to have nice low lighting in your bedroom to get your mind and body ready for sleep. 

Fresh Air & Temperature

Keep the room fresh and cool rather than warm and wash your bed clothes regularly to keep them comfortable. 

Shut out the Light

Make sure your curtains or blind block out the light and are properly drawn so that early light doesn’t wake you if you don’t want it to.

Wait until you are sleepy, having done all these slow down and calm down actions before getting into bed - we don’t want to associate bed with wakefulness.  If you are really awake - get up and go to another room to get to a sleepy state and then return to bed.  You are training your brain to associate bed with sleep.

And then….There’s more

Waking up - to get the best from your nights rest…

Try and do this kindly

If you have to use an alarm, try and make it a gently one, set it for at least 5 or 10 minutes before you have to get up and use that time to gently prepare yourself for the day. 

Maybe a gently stretch while still in  bed and a think about what you would like to achieve. 

Don’t grab for your phone straight away - give you and your family first attention. 

Older Folk

There seems to be some indication that older people don’t need as much sleep but this could be linked to lots of reasons.  And even if very elderly, good sleep patterns are really positive and helpful - so whether 7 or 70 - follow a good routine and sleep well.  It is so important in fact that there is current research investigating how sleep might be used to reverse some of the signs of aging and dementia. 

Sleep when you have babies and young children

If you have young children awake during the night our hearts go out to you.  New parents often have a very tough time with poor sleep and sleep deprivation that can make every task seem bigger and harder.

There is lots of good advice out there but we would add a message of kindness to you all.   If its night, try and keep things quiet, dark and calm to mark the difference between night and day, and do rest whenever you can.  Naps during the day can be a life saver.

Parents with Young Children

Parents often feel they should be able to do everything and will compare themselves to other mothers and fathers who they think look so much more together than them.

The truth is, everyone struggles, reach out to your friends and family for support and assistance and sleep when you can 

As bad as it may feel right now “this will pass”, your children will eventually sleep and you will make it back to your own bed.  But if you are feeling bad and want to talk, then please call us, we want to hear from you.  We are thinking of you and know how tough this can be.


Dreams can be very disturbing.  It is not clear why so many are reporting more and sometimes more vivid dreams at this time.  Some people think that the slower pace that some of us are going at means we are getting more time to think about our lives and what has happened to us.  This extra thinking might be playing out in our dreams.

In any case, on the whole, this is nothing to worry about.  However, if you are finding the dreams very upsetting and/or distressing then please give us a call and we can have a chat to see if there is anything else we can explore that might be helpful.

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