It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that we all love to sleep. Nothing beats getting in between the covers after a long hard day and drifting off. However, the importance of sleep and all the ways it affects your body and mind might not be so well known. That’s why, for World Sleep Day on March 18th 2022, our Health & Wellness team decided to run a Sleep Week challenge for ten volunteers.
It might sound obvious, but the better you sleep, the better you feel. As your memories are consolidated when you sleep, a restful brain will imprint more positive experiences. An overtired brain will hold on to the negative memories more. The impact this could have on your waking life is huge, with negative imprints leading to anxiety and even depression. As well as our mental health, a good night’s sleep can help with healthier hair, fewer bags under the eyes, and even less wrinkles!
So why don’t we spend more time getting ready for sleep and ensuring we have the best sleep we possibly can? This was the challenge for our volunteers, who had the opportunity to try a different method each night to see if it helped them get to sleep quicker and have an overall deeper sleep.
Before the week began, we encouraged the volunteers to download a sleep tracker app called Sleep Cycle. The team took readings off from the app at the weekends to see a baseline of their night’s sleep. This app was great at highlighting the days when people were in a deep or light sleep. Unfortunately, it also picked up when people snored, which was a surprise to many of us!
We jumped into the week with a sleep cast. The team were dubious to begin with, not believing that listening to a story would actually help. However, they were pleasantly surprised at how quickly they dozed off – not one member of the team could tell you the ending of the story they were listening to.
Results: 6.4/10 on how comfortable the team felt using the app
Tuesday evening had a more traditional approach. The team had a range of Pukka Night Time teas to try and lavender pillow spray. This really helped people get to sleep quickly – the only issue for one person was the cats deciding 4am was a good time to play! It’s converted Madeleine, who found this the easiest habit to implement and will be going over to decaf teas before bed.
Results: 7.1/10 on falling asleep faster than usual
Huge thanks to our very own Matt who led the meditation with Headspace on Wednesday. The first half was a rain-based meditation to get you in the right frame of mind, followed by a led meditation in the second half. This must have worked too well, as we had two team members who were still on the call at midnight! Ingrid really noticed what the mind is capable of with meditation but how often it can be very difficult to relax the brain and stop concentrating.
Results: 7.75/10 on how they slept that night
Our in-house DJ Ros created a Sleep playlist for the team for Thursday night. Unfortunately, this was the night where the team felt the most stressed during the day, which could be why it only scored a 5.5/10 in helping volunteers get to sleep quickly. A Sleep playlist could be good if you’ve not had a crazy day and have an account with Spotify or YouTube – you really don’t want the adverts to disturb you as you drift off.
Results: 7.25/10 on their stress levels for the day
We were very lucky to have a Yoga Nidra instructor lead a session with us on Friday – huge thanks to Liz – which is very different from any yoga you may have done before. The biggest difference was that our volunteers could be under their duvet for the second half. This sleep event was by far the favourite of the week, with the highest score of 8.25/10 on how comfortable volunteers felt doing the Yoga Nidra. The team had the best night’s sleep of the week too, with some drifting off during the session, and one who felt like she had an out-of-body experience during the session. However, this could be that she just fell asleep, she’s not too sure!
Results: 8.25/10 on how they slept that night
From all the sleep events the team tried, yoga had the highest impact on the team. Volunteers couldn’t believe how neglected some of their body parts were and how challenging they found some of the movements. The effect it had on the body was huge, with immediate results – the sleep tracking app reflected deep and longer periods of sleep on Friday.
Overall, the week was a huge success. Belen felt that this week allowed her to enter a special mindset to schedule sleep properly. By preparing to go to sleep and allowing her body to fully relax, she improved her sleep dramatically. This is definitely something we all should strive for, making our sleep routines as peaceful as possible (yes, the cats might need to go in the other room!) and giving ourselves the best chance of a long and deep sleep.