Whether it’s kids, a big weekend or just your brain thinking 3am is a good time to run through your to-do list, chances are you’re pretty tired.
According to neuroscientist Matthew Walker, two-thirds of adults in developed nations don’t get the recommended eight hours’ sleep a night.
And the damage is far worse than anything coffee or concealer can fix. “Insufficient sleep demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer,” says Matthew.
Even moderate sleep reduction for a week disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly you’d be classified as pre-diabetic, and a lack of ZZZs increases your risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart failure.
It also contributes to psychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety, while further studies have found lack of sleep can jeopardise relationships and that “beauty sleep” is real – sleep-deprived people were perceived as less attractive by others. In short, sleep = good.
Not sleeping = pretty darn bad. So here’s how to create the perfect bedtime.
Pinterest reports that searches for “moon milk” – think a more photogenic version of your nan’s night-time Horlicks – are up 115% since January.
Based on an Ayurvedic remedy, the pastel-hued blend of warm milk, spices, herbs and honey is believed to induce sleep.
“Try adding ashwagandha – thought to lower anxiety – to warm almond milk,” suggests Sasha Sabapathy, founder of Glow Bar. “Almonds contain tryptophan, which helps the body make melatonin, and magnesium, which promotes relaxation.”
A flat white might feel like your friend after a bad night’s sleep, but don’t drink any after midday.
“Caffeine has an average half-life of 5-7 hours, meaning if you drink a coffee with dinner at 7.30pm, 50 per cent of that may still be circulating through your brain tissue at 1.30am,” Matthew said.
And know that decaf isn’t really decaf – it actually contains 15-30 per cent of the caffeine of regular coffee.
Quantity and quality
“The minimum sleep needed varies by person – some studies say it’s hereditary – but most of us need seven to nine hours a night,” says sleep coach Nick Littlehales. “However, it’s more helpful to think in cycles of 90 minutes. This is the length of one full sleep cycle, so aim for seven and a half or nine hours rather than being obsessed with eight.” And more isn’t always better – a study by Keele University found that people who sleep 10 hours a night are more likely to die early.