It’s been a long time since I wrote a book review, and though I have read an awful lot of books they’ve pretty much all been university reading. I could perhaps write you all some reviews of the more interesting texts, because I’ve been looking at a lot of crime fiction- but for today we’re looking at something which more of you may find helpful: sleep.
I bought this book in September, when I had just returned to university and was struggling to sleep. Third year is a massive jump up from second year, and I also had a myriad of little things causing me small amounts of stress (e.g. flatmates who don’t know how to tidy up after themselves, trying to maintain a social life, job hunting for when I graduate, deciding what I actually wanted to do when I graduate etc.). Lack of sleep was not helping in the slightest.
For as long as I can remember I have been told that 8 hours is the minimum amount of sleep I should have been getting each night. 10 was the best. So here I was trying to get 8 hours sleep, and then waking up even less awake than when I went to bed. I tend to wake up at 6am naturally, and I still was, but was struggling to function because my body didn’t seem to understand that we had gotten a night of very poor quality sleep.
This book did provide me with some tips on how to adjust my sleep, and much as there were some things I refused to implement or simply couldn’t, overall it was a useful and informative read. Lets take a look at the things I took away from this, and the things I wasn’t so eager to try out…
The best points I took away:
- Which side of the bed I should be sleeping on
- What position is actually the best to sleep in and why (Nick gives reasons for everything, which I love; writers who expect me to accept what they say blindly are never among my favourites)
- I don’t need 8 hours sleep a night: I personally only need around 7 hours of good quality sleep
- Constant wake times are a god send hat I stick to (though I discuss this in the things I “haven’t” implemented/ have adjusted to suit me as well…)
- I can go to bed later than I was, 10:00/10:30pm instead of 9:00pm, and get a better night’s sleep, as the quality of my sleep is better
- We actually sleep in 90 minute cycles
- The diagrams of the 90 minute sleep cycles made a lot of when I was waking up in the night make sense
- Naps are a good thing, but only at certain times, according to hormone release in our body
- I am an AM-er (hence the 6am wake time), meaning my body clock is slightly too fast. PM-ers are the opposite, and some people are genuinely in-between (Nick gives tips on how to manage this)
- I no longer work sat on my bed- but at a desk. In fact, anything that isn’t sleeping I now tend to do at my desk, or somewhere else away from the bed
Things I wasn’t so keen on…
- As a student I can’t afford a massive mattress, and I also can’t a) expect my landlord to buy me one, or b) expect my parents to buy me one. I also don’t fancy trying to carry one up the narrow staircase in my student house
- I also can’t afford to install a daylight simulator lamp in my room, or in the common room of the English building at uni
- I have one day a week where I allow myself roughly an hour’s lie in, and get up at 7:30am/8am , instead of 6am. If it’s been a rough week sleep or work wise, then I just need to make myself take an extra hour, and give myself a slower start
- I can’t always take 90 minutes to wind down before bed: I aim for one hour
- I don’t want to assemble a sleep kit. I want to sleep in a bed. Granted though, some hotel beds are very uncomfortable, and so I would consider this if I was travelling a great deal
- Though my dog doesn’t sleep on my bed (black fur, white bedding…), she is allowed into my room when I visit home, and I was not going to change this. My dog calms me down and being at uni I get to spend little time with her, and so I actually felt that banning her from my room would cause me to lose sleep
Ultimately, Nick is a Sleep Coach for elite athletes. Though I am not an athlete, I found his work incredibly interesting, informative, and highly useful. My sleep quality has increased 10 fold, I am waking through the night much less frequently, I’ve established a great sleep routine, morning routine, and evening routine- tailored to me and not general advice-, I have much more energy, and my head is clearer the majority of the time. Even in periods of intense university work, my sleep has been affected very little. The idea of sleep being a very flexible concept, instead of a strict 8 hours per night, really helped me to relax. I was no longer panicking about getting to bed later than expected, and so actually slept much better.
So, if you are struggling with sleep, then you may want to purchase this book. Some of the advice you will easily be able to implement, and see benefits from- but do keep in mind that some of the advice is for athletes who travel frequently, and so require an even more constant sleeping environment/ routine. I do highly recommend this book, but in everyday life as a student some of the tips aren’t so practical. I found it was best used as a tool to find my own ideal sleep routine and environment, adjusting/ compromising on some of the advice given.