You're sat at your desk in the post bank holiday slump. Sleep deprived and wondering how long it is until the next pay day. Now seems like a good time to tackle the activity many of us love but seldom get enough of. No it's not sex. It's sleep.
"You need your 8 hours a night or you're gonna be a nightmate tomorrow! Now put Shirley Bassey's autobiography down, turn off the lights and get to sleep." Words your mum probably bleeted at you most nights growing up, maybe minus the fabulous Shirley part...
Anyway it turns out your mum was wrong all along. Top sleep scientists (yes that is a profession) now believe that it is the number of sleep cycles you get each night which is more important. A complete sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, consisting of 5 stages of sleep, starting with relatively light sleep, progressing to deeper sleep and coming back to light sleep at the end of each cycle. This explains why you might feel groggy when you wake up for a day of work after what you thought was a solid 8 hours; your f&*%ing alarm clock has woken you up in the middle of of a sleep cycle, in the deepest part of sleep, the inconsiderate bastard. You're then left in a half dazed stupor for the rest of the day and by the afternoon your boss is giving you grief for missed deadlines.
Scientists suggest that we need 4 or 5 sleep cycles a night, or 35 a week in total as a minimum. So if you're tired (pun intended) of waking up groggy after you're supposed solid 8 hours sleep or simply struggling for energy during the day it might be worth considering changing to sleep cycles. It might not be realistic for all, but for some it could be a game changer. Here's how it works:
- Decide what time you want to wake up. At Mobfit we're early risers so we'll plump for 6am.
- We like somewhere between 7-9 hours a night (everyone is different though), so applying the 90 mins cycles we choose either 7.5 hours (90 x 5) or 9 hours (90 x 6). We're feeling good this week so let's go for 5 cycles tonight.
- Working backwards that means to get our 7.5 hours sleep we'll need to be catching flies by 10.30pm. That means a cup of chamomile by 9.30pm, jim jams on by 10, tucked up in bed reading Shirley and lights out by 10.20pm.
It may seem a bit technical but using sleep cycles means you'll wake up at the end of one of the cycles in the lightest part of sleep, feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day!
If you're really interested in the topic this book by @Nick Littlehales is an amazing read. Nick has worked with top sportsmen from Cristiano Ronaldo to Team Sky, he is the sleep guy.