Making do with less
If you need seven to nine hours of sleep each night but you are clocking less than six and can’t see your way of out of the newborn haze or mountain of work at the office, what can be done? The best cure for insufficient sleep is, of course, sleep, but in the short term Rush University’s Gemma Paech says caffeine and afternoon naps can help to keep mind and body functioning throughout the day.
“With caffeine you can develop a tolerance to it so you want to use it strategically and only have it when you feel you need it as opposed to having it all the time,” she says. “Short naps of up to 30 minutes can also be beneficial, but they can make you feel groggy so don’t have a nap right before you have an important meeting or you need to drive. It’s best to keep naps and caffeine away from bedtime – you don’t want to be having a nap or coffee at 9pm then try to sleep at 10.30pm.”
Ultimately, however, Angela Campbell of the WellSleep Centre says it’s crucial to remember that getting enough sleep is just as important as the other pillars of a healthy lifestyle.
“We’ve got into this state where it’s almost acceptable that you’ll be on call 24 hours a day,” she says. “We’re doing ourselves a disservice by doing that and not giving ourselves the time to switch off and make sleep a priority. We all know the importance of diet and exercise, and sleep is just as important for a healthy lifestyle as getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.”