On August 10th, the Genos Spotlight Series hosted a masterclass with Nancy Rothstein, The Sleep Ambassador®, on ‘Intelligent Sleep: A Key to Optimal Living’. Nancy is the director of sleep health at Resonea, is on a quest to help people live fully 24/7, and as a sleep expert, she inspires people to have a new respect for sleep and all its impacts on our life and work. The following blog highlights some key takeaways from the masterclass. To watch the full hour recording, sign up for the Genos Spotlight Series.
Why is sleep important?
We all know how important it is to get good sleep, not only for our physical wellbeing but also for our mental health; prioritising sleep is key to our wellbeing. How well rested we are, impacts the interactions we have every day with our families, friends and colleagues. It affects how we ‘show up’.
“Sleep is not a luxury, but just like breathing, it’s essential.”
Over the next ten years of your life, about three of those years are (or at least should be) spent sleeping. Now, we all know that might not happen. As humans, we often deprive ourselves of sleep, prioritising other things like work or spending time with loved ones. But think of it this way; when you are overtired, do you have the best connection with those people? Probably not. Our internal environment dictates how we interact with those around us, and not getting enough sleep just isn’t sustainable.
‘Is sleep a waste of time or is time a waste without sleep?’
Nancy tells us, ‘a good night’s sleep begins when you awaken’. Life is a 24-hour cycle; how you sleep is impacted by how you set the stage during the day, and how your next day plays out is coloured by how you slept the night before. Many of the things we do during the day (like our diet and exercise) affect our sleep, but likewise, our sleep affects our activities during our waking hours.
Not getting enough sleep affects so many areas of our lives, like our resilience, energy, weight, reaction time and judgement, to name just a few. In fact, according to research, a sleep-deprived brain operates up to 5 times slower than a well-rested brain.
So, what’s important for optimal sleep?
Many of us may think it’s about how much sleep we get, you might assume that ‘once I’ve gotten the recommended 7-9 hours, I should be well-rested.’ It’s about more than that. The quality and, even more so, the consistency of our sleep are so important. The more consistent you are with your sleep and wake times, the better you’ll feel. It may be easier to start with your wake time and work from there. While it’s not always possible (sometimes life can throw a spanner in the works), being aware of the need for this consistency can really help.
6 Steps to Intelligent Sleep
1. Put technology to bed.
All our devices like TV, laptops, tablets and certainly the ones closer to our eyes like phones or tablets are just keeping us awake, stimulating the brain and keeping us from getting good sleep. Avoid exposure to blue light an hour before bed. When you use devices, it sends a message to your brain that you’re not going to sleep and this stops the release of melatonin, which will prevent you from getting good sleep.
“Charge your smartphone outside the bedroom so you can recharge in bed.”
2. Create a sleep sanctuary
The environment you sleep in also has a huge impact on how you sleep. Make sure you create a good atmosphere in the room, with simple things like adjusting for dark lighting and cool temperatures and having the room uncluttered to help put you in a relaxed state. Similarly, things like having a comfortable mattress, pillows, sheets, all the tangible elements of your sleep sanctuary will help you get a better night’s rest.
“Spend what you can afford on good quality bedding. It’s worth it!”
3. Have a bedtime routine
We prepare for so many things in life like meetings and travel. So why should sleep be any different? Have a routine every night before bed. Try having a warm shower or bath before bed to help you decompress, or maybe have a sleep-friendly snack – something that won’t keep you up during the night like a banana. Other recommended parts of sleep routines are reading (a book not on a device), yoga, mindfulness or listening to calming music. Why not try two or three of these suggestions as your new bedtime routine?
4. Process worries as best you can during the day
Many of us don’t think about our worries until we are about to settle down to sleep. This can keep us awake, being in a stressed state and overthinking our challenges. Try to spend some time during your day thinking about these challenges so that when you finally get to settle down at night, you have a clear head and can get some real rest.
5. Eat healthily, stay hydrated and be active
Having a good, well-balanced lifestyle is essential for a good night’s sleep. For example, research has shown that getting good exercise can decrease the amount of time you lie awake at night. Similarly, diet and nutrition can influence the quality of your sleep, and certain foods and drinks can make it easier or harder to get the rest you need. So ensure you are eating a balanced diet to help get the best sleep possible.
6. Be consistent with your wake and sleep times
Where possible, try to be consistent with your wake and sleep times. This is essential for good sleep. While it’s not always possible, sometimes we may be out socialising or travelling, which affects our sleep schedule, but as best you can, try to establish a routine time for waking and sleeping to help you get optimal sleep.
We learned so much on the live session about the science of sleep, and how to sleep intelligently. Massive thank you to the wonderful Nancy for her expertise and time. If you’d like to watch the full session, sign up for the Genos Spotlight Series. Remember:
“ We are so intelligently designed. Only you can sleep for you, it is important that each of us are empowered to get the best sleep we can.”
If you’d like to learn more about Nancy Rothstein and her work:
- Her LinkedIn Learning Course: Sleep is Your Superpower
- Sleep Well / Live Well Program
- Her recommended reading: Breath – The new science of a lost art
- Visit her website for a series of useful content on sleep.
Visit her website and explore her wonderful programs and sleep resources https://thesleepambassador.com/
To sign up for the Genos Spotlight series for access to the recording of Nancy’s full session, as well as other webinars on parenting, leadership, dealing with worry and more, visit https://genosemotionalintelligence.com/spotlight-series
What’s your best piece of advice for a great night’s sleep?