Thursday, 29 January 2009

Kicking off the blankets

There's an article in the Telegraph about premier league football clubs hiring "sleep coaches" that has all kinds of sleep nuggets. In the first place, it's quite interesting that top clubs have such coaches and a recognition of how important sleep is to well-being and recovery. But even more of an eye-brow might be raised to learn that some players use musical pillows to improve their sleep. There is advice on mattresses (they should be completely white) and the insight that players sometimes sleep between training sessions. Also, there are players who have 12 hours sleep per day.

What a spectacularly good life that must be. Absurdly high wages, a playboy lifestyle and as much as sleep as you can manage.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Sleep is nature's cold cure

Here's how things work in reverse. Research from Carnegie Mellon University, published last week, shows that sleeping less than seven hours a night trebles the risk of catching a cold. Lack of sleep means that the immune system is weakened. So all of us worker ants buying those sticky bottles of cold cures might be better off sleeping longer and that way we might avoid catching the cold in the first place.

But when did common sense ever get its way? Instead, we work long hours and go home late, we get distracted by TV or the internet and stay up too late, but still have to get up early the next morning. So we reduce the hours of sleeping. By missing out on sleep, we raise the risk of getting a cold. Once we catch the cold, we have to take time off work to get better.

So by working long hours and losing out on sleep, we end up being less productive. Getting eight or more hours sleep isn't being a slacker, it's a way of making our working lives more effective. Having a lie-in could be a way of cutting the number of sick days. Sleep might be nature's cold remedy.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

How about sleep gyms?

The odd thing is that every week there are loads of stories saying how much we need sleep, with the implication being that we don't get enough. Except sleep doesn't cost anything. It's not as if you need a lot of space or equipment for sleeping. So why do we starve ourselves of sleep?

I would like to turn the tide. Rather than having gyms for running around to improve our health, there should be places to go for a half-hour kip. Rather than lots of sweating middle managers on treadmills, looking glazed and martyred, there could be comfortable, softly-lit sleep gyms, where people could get under the blanket for a decent stretch. Which would make you happier and healthier?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Sleepyhead's Bedside Companion

It's a cold, wet winter morning. The alarm clock rings and I have to look twice at its angry little face to make sure that it's really that time already. I know what I want to do. It isn't get up for work, it isn't make the children their breakfast, it isn't listening to some bores shouting and showing off on the radio. What I want is sleep. It's what I love. It's what I miss most when I don't get it.

Sleep. Is there anything better? It's good for you, it's mysterious, it doesn't cost anything.

This blog is dedicated to the cause of sleep. It's not worth getting into bed for anything less.