THE STRESSED MIDLIFER
Midlifers often find that their suggested seven to nine hours of sleep is disturbed by the stresses of holding increasingly senior positions at work while caring for younger and older generations – and that’s before we throw alcohol, caffeine or lack of regular exercise into the mix. “Mid-adulthood can certainly feel like the rush-hour years of our lives,” Gregory says.
Women have the added nocturnal challenge of hormonal changes, which can lead to sleep disturbances. “As we approach the menopause, our overall oestrogen levels decline, which causes disturbed sleep,” Pennicotte-Collier says. She suggests employing visualisation techniques if you wake in the middle of the night, such as imagining your muscles relaxing from the feet upwards, instead of reaching for the phone.
But if night wakings leave you knackered, power naps could be the answer. If you work in an enlightened company there might be a sleep pod available (many tech companies have them). If not, your local gym might have one, such as the David Lloyd clubs (nationwide) which have a nap class, or Third Space (thirdspace. co.uk). For those who work at home the answer is simple: spray This Works Power Nap Spray (£28; thisworks.com), the latest in the sleep range and set an alarm for 20 minutes – any more and you’ll slip into deep sleep and wake up feeling groggy. “Studies show that those who’d had a nap performed much better on cognitive tests than those who didn’t,” Pennicotte-Collier says. Want to supercharge your nap? Have a cup of coffee just before you hit the pillow; you’ll wake up raring to go.
HOW DO YOU SLEEP? STEPHEN CRONK, 54 CO-FOUNDER OF MIRABEAU EN PROVENCE
“I get up at around 7am, often after a fitful night of sleep. I take around 60-70 flights a year, so my sleep is often interrupted by jet lag, and I find it hard to sleep in hotels.
“My wife and I spent two years building our house in the most remote, peaceful spot in Provence, but when we moved in we discovered our neighbour has hunting dogs who bark for hours in the middle of the night. So, ironically, we use a white noise machine and we go to bed with the sound of a jet engine to mask the dogs.
“About three times a week I have a 10-minute nap in my office at 3pm. I arrange some cushions and wake up feeling refreshed. My wife and I both go to bed by 10pm, but we often both wake up in the middle of the night, obsessing about our business (mirabeauwine.com). We are both guilty of reaching for our phones in the night, so I’m trying to ban them from the bedroom.”