Skip to main content
Sleep deprivation: how to beat the silent epidemic

Sleep deprivation: how to beat the silent epidemic

What was Edison thinking when he invented the light bulb? Did it occur to him that his bright invention would deprive millions of healthy sleep patterns for the rest of time? Before electrification, we tended to go to bed when it got dark, to avoid the tedium of stumbling into furniture by the feeble light of oil lamps or candles. We pretty much went to sleep when most animals did. Sure, bedtime changed with sunset times throughout the year, but people practiced natural ‘sleep hygiene’. We evolved to function in this way, after all. The cycle of day and night has literally made us what we are. Disrupt that cycle and there can be unintended consequences, like nightclubs and energy drinks and day-glo jackets.

In modern life we tend to think sleep is a commodity that we can use how we like as long as the average hours’ sleep per night is about right. But research tells us that it’s a bad idea to go regularly overdrawn at the sleep bank, even if we pay it back later.

As life gets ever busier, especially since the internet connected humanity together globally, people are scoring lower on things like the Epworth sleepiness test – a measure of our likelihood of falling asleep during a variety of activities. Poor sleep hygiene can lead to mood disorders – we all know lack of sleep can make us grumpy. But studies have shown increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and shortened life expectancy among the sleep-deprived.

We might try to combat this by using an app that measures our sleep, or taking sleeping pills, but these are panic measures. All we really need is to somehow get back to that natural pattern and our bodies will take better care of themselves.

Advice on how to do this comes in the form of a short online program on ofcourse.co.uk called Sleep Optimisation. Adam Hayes has co-authored 3 books on ‘sleep hacking’ and used himself as a guinea pig for a variety of sleep experiments. He has developed a step-by-step plan to identify environmental, medical and emotional triggers that affect our sleep, and how to re-train ourselves for better sleep discipline. He teaches how to overcome sleep roadblocks and use quick ‘sleep hacks’ to get to sleep when needed, sleep well, and wake up refreshed.

So thanks and everything, Mr Edison, but we’ll take it from here.