Forget commuting, is getting more sleep the real bonus of WFH?
15th May 2020
Sure, we now have time to clean the gutters and bake banana bread. But should we be catching up on sleep during lockdown?
Our commutes and office life seem a distant memory for most of us.
Without relying on a Dublin Bus or DART timetable, or having to dodge traffic on the M50, many of us are getting used to our newfound lie-ins and rolling into work, virtually, in our lounge wear.
And for those of us not bogged down in homeschooling, it’s now easier than ever to steal a little nap in between Zoom calls.
But are you getting enough sleep, and more importantly, is the sleep you’re getting quality sleep?
Everything from our bedroom furnishings, light and noise can affect our quality of sleep. Photo: White & Green
Quality not quantity
We’re often told that eight hours of sleep a night is the optimum amount. However, it really depends on the individual, says sleep physiologist and behavioural sleep therapist Motty Varghese.
“Our sleep needs vary, so some people may need eight hours or more, but not all of us need eight hours. We don’t need to be striving to get eight hours of sleep each night, and that is one mistake people often make,” Motty tells image.ie.
“The recommended sleep duration is seven to nine hours. It is not recommended that you sleep for less than six hours, or over 10 hours.”
But just how do we ensure we are getting good quality sleep?
“The quality of the sleep can be affected by various factors and it’s very hard to pinpoint one and say ‘this is what we all need to do’. But one of them is to eliminate any kind of sleep disorder that may affect your quality of sleep,” says Motty.
Create a calm, minimalist atmosphere in your bedroom with organic bed linen from Irish company White & Green. Photo: White & Green
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea and restless legs syndrome are the most common.
“A lot of people have a tendency to snore, and every time they snore their airways can narrow in the back of their throat and that can obstruct the air flowing to your chest and further can lead to reduced oxygen levels in your blood, waking us up,” says Motty. “That’s sleep apnoea.
“Some people complain of restless legs where they have a tendency to keep their legs moving because they have that urge to move their legs and that also wakes people up. Every time you stop breathing or you have leg movement you get a little arousal in your brain and when you have that you don’t progress into a nice, refreshing stage of sleep. Which results in you feeling tired.”
Another factor affecting the quality of our sleep is our sleep environment. Everything from noise pollution, lighting and furnishings can have an impact.
Read more: Why investing in a silk pillowcase is the most luxurious thing I’ve ever done
If you’re situated on a noisy street, or near traffic or an airport, this can disrupt sleep, says Motty.
He says keeping the bedroom as dark as you can, as quiet as you can and at the right temperature will help us sleep better.
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“It is a personal preference on the type of mattress and how firm it is, and a person’s body weight has to be taken into account as well,” says Motty.
Irish family owned company White & Green sells 100% organic 300 thread count cotton sheets and duvets. Photo: White & Green
And if you can’t quite wait until bedtime to enjoy your 100% organic sheets, could napping during the day also have health benefits? Yes and no, says Motty.
“The recommended nap duration is about 30 minutes and never over 45 minutes,” says Motty. “The reason is that once we cross that time limit of 45 minutes you’re into the deeper stages of sleep and when you wake up from that deeper stage of sleep, you feel more tired than refreshed, because you weren’t able to complete that sleep cycle.”
Motty recommends completing your nap before 4pm in the afternoon to really see the benefits.
“Naps improve a person’s alertness levels, and hence improves our performances. If we are involved in a sporting activity or are in an office, naps are also proven to improve an individual’s creativity.
“Nap if you really need to nap, but if you’re getting good quality of sleep at nighttime you wouldn’t have to nap during the day,” says Motty.
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