So there’s a new craze erupting and it’s not the latest diet fad or this summer’s fashion. No, apparently the new trend is ‘sleep hacking’ – where we’re training our mind and body to cope with far less sleep.
When I read this article, I was horrified. There are women out there who are too busy to sleep more than four hours a night so are forcing themselves to sleep less and training themselves to not feel exhausted.
They hope to get by on just three to five hours a night by following a range of techniques to improve the quality of their sleep. These include everything from using blackout curtains to having an ice-cold bath before bed (said to speed up the natural drop in body temperature needed to fall asleep swiftly). We often talk about sleep in terms of quality rather than quantity and this is true, we don’t all need eight hours – but to a certain degree you still need enough sleep to function well and four hours really isn’t enough.
With the NHS guidelines recommending six to eight hours a night, four hours falls far short. Even our own report found that a third of us Brits get by on just five to six hours a night. Regularly getting less sleep that you need brings with it a whole host of possible health issues including heart disease, diabetes and stokes not to mention how lack of sleep affects your mood, concentration and alertness.
In a world where we women in particular, think we need to ‘do it all’, it seems we’re forgetting some of the most basic needs we need to survive. Did you know for instance that lack of sleep will kill you as quickly as lack of water?
So think carefully before trying to cut down on your sleep – an on-going battle against your body clock may lead to long term, serious sleep problems. Being properly rested means you’re clear-headed, more focused and more patient. Ultimately you’re actually more productive than if you try to cram more into the working day by forgoing sleep.
For me, sleep hacking is certainly not a trend I’ll be following. While I will always have a list of thing to do as long as my arm and not enough hours in the day, there’s nothing I need or enjoy more than getting into my bed to sleep.