Wellness Wednesday: Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

Stay Well at Home

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

We will all have heard the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby’.  Parents will usually tell you that their offspring did not sleep soundly all the time; ask any new parent and they will be able to tell you about the long weeks of sleepless nights endured in the first few months of a newborn’s life.  However, it remains an aspiration of adults, to benefit from that deep, restful sleep that we attribute to our younger members of society, undisturbed by the cares and responsibilities of adulthood.

Getting a good night’s sleep is becoming more of a problem for many.  Information on the Sleep Council’s website states that 40% of people ‘suffer with sleep issues’, 20% of road traffic accidents are related to fatigue from lack of sleep and that sleep deprivation costs the UK economy £20 billion.

Do you realise, though, that scientists have not decided definitively the reason we sleep?  It is a habit we share with every animal; insects, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals.  The sleep expert, Matthew Walker, makes a presumption from this that sleep has a positive evolutionary purpose for our existence and our wellbeing.

There are reasons that the quality of our sleep may be affected by the lockdown and working from home.  It could be a positive effect stemming from not having to get up as early to commute and get to work.  It could be a positive effect from having to exercise outdoors while not being able to get to the gym.  However, the stress and anxiety arising from the uncertainty of this exceptional time could mean that sleep quality reduces.  Or it might be because of not exercising regularly as normal.  Maybe late nights engaging in TV, video calls and games leads to too much blue light which can lead to disturbed sleep.

The sixteenth century poet, Thomas Dekker, wrote ‘Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together’.

There are some simple rules that can help us to achieve and maintain better quality sleep which is essential to our wellbeing. Here are links to some articles which can guide you:

Sleep Foundation website: Sleep Guidelines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

BBC website: Five tips to sleep like an Olympic athlete during coronavirus crisis

Boots website: How to get a good night’s sleep; Six expert approved ways to help you sleep better

If you want to learn more about sleep, there is this article on the BBC website: The Science of Sleep  For even greater depth, try Matthew Walker’s best-seller: ‘Why We Sleep’

Wellness Wednesday is part of Kent Sport’s  #KentSportStayWellAtHome series of daily blogs and vlogs to keep you positive during these unusual times. To be sure not to miss our updates, Like us on Facebook and follow on Instagram and Twitter @UniKentSports – we hope you enjoy and join in!

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