It’s official, we’re a nation of yawners.
Nearly one in two of us is getting by on just six hours of sleep a night, meaning, 50% of the UK population is suffering from chronic sleep deprivation—or close to it. Rewinding the clock to the first half of the 20th Century and it was wildly different. Back then it’s thought that over 90% of us were getting a proper night’s sleep. That’s eight hours of uninterrupted, refreshing rest. Something we desperately crave nowadays.
A perfect analogy are chickens...
During a solar eclipse chickens head to their coop, to bed down—only to continue pecking minutes later. For them, as purely instinctual creatures, light means wake, dark means sleep. It’s immediate and inflexible.
This might sound silly, but it’s a prime example of a circadian rhythm in action. This is a 24-hour repeating biological process controlled by the light-dark cycle. Sleep is one of these. The lives of chickens, like all animals, apart from those under our roofs, are entwined with sun-up, sun-down.
However, as humans we’ve conquered the darkness and the light. If it’s dark, we use electricity. If it’s too light, we black the photons out. We say good day to circadian rhythms. When the sky darkens, we don’t think “oh best go to bed”. We think nothing of it. We go to bed when we want.
The kicker is that we’re no different to other animals and still have a sleep cycle linked to light and dark. This is biologically coded into us. Simply put, our bodies still want us to sleep when the sun goes down, only we ignore this and degrade our sleep time with electric lighting.
The point of the 8-hour day...
...was to tackle the hideous, unregulated power companies had over their employees.
Most of us may not be in intolerable factories, but we work long hours, sometimes into the night. Plus, when we do “finish” we’re still available via email and social media. The boundaries between work and home have eroded.
Rest, and sleep, and recuperation are seen in some company cultures as a weakness. It’s a brag to work late, turn up early and still deliver results. Sleep is for the weak.
With work, family and friends, and entertainment—of an evening—sleep and relaxation are too often the compromise.
Fall backwards: how will it affect you?
Many of us will see the clocks going back as a welcome extra hour of snoozing; a much awaited lie-in.
Many will not even notice the shift or have the mind marker of turning the clock back. Our phone will automatically update. Life will be the same, except we’ll wake up in the dark.
However, if you struggle with sleep, the change may disrupt your sleep (or lack of) routine even further and leave you seriously sleep deprived.
Secondly eat fatty foods...
Although fat has been demonised for a long time, low fat diets are not conducive to great sleep. The hormones which help us sleep are made of fat, so not eating enough of it contributes to an imbalance. Eating fat doesn’t mean cakes and biscuits or overly processed foods, it means eating avocado, oily fish, seeds, and nuts.
Thirdly make sure you exercise regularly. The problem for so many of us is feeling mentally tired, but “awake” from overstimulation. Exercise requires a minimal mental input and expends physical energy, so quieting our minds and relaxing our bodies. Sleep after exercise is deep, restorative sleep. The best type bar none.
Fourthly, stop checking your phone before bedtime! Not only is it over stimulating, but the harsh white light is playing with your circadian rhythm.
This isn’t party time, it’s relaxation time.
We do go on holiday, sure, but frequently this is not the chill time we’d envisioned. Exhausting flights, tourist attraction hopping, fitting in as much as possible for fear of missing out. Sound familiar?
Travel to the wild, secluded Exmoor coast and stay with us at the Porlock Weir hotel.
We’re truly a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. We have beautifully comfortable rooms, because we firmly believe in a good night’s sleep and delicious seasonal dining.
With us you can relax and have a genuine breather, recharging yourself, before returning to your every day with a renewed energy.
Stroll along peaceful shores, amongst moorland heather, and under vast Exmoor skies. Eat well, sleep well, be well.