19 March is World Sleep Day. The aim of this annual event is ‘raise awareness of sleep as a human privilege that is often compromised by the habits of modern life.’
‘Privilege’ is an interesting term to use about sleep. Unpack it and several important themes emerge:
- sleep is an essential pillar of health and wellbeing yet many people struggle to get enough on a regular basis. It’s reckoned that around 10% of people suffer from insomnia and many more have sub-optimal sleep.
It is indeed a privilege that people who sleep well often take for granted. People who enjoy restful sleep don’t always understand or empathise fully with the impact that poor sleep can have on their family, friends and colleagues. That’s why many of the people I work with often feel embarrassed about admitting just how bad their lack of sleep makes them feel. My first step is to remind them that even the most competent professional can struggle to fix their sleep themselves. When you’re stuck in the middle of a problem it can be hard to find the way out
- we seriously undervalue the benefits of healthy sleep and allow our 24/7 culture to relegate it to an optional extra. Surviving on a few hours is often seen as a badge of honour. Yet numerous robust studies show that lack of sleep is linked to many health conditions including cardiovascular problems, diabetes and depression. This is why I call sleep the ‘Cinderella of Good Heath’. Although more workplaces are now including sleep in their wellbeing initiatives, more needs to be done to educate and support people. Good sleep is as important to your ability to perform as all the hours you clock up in the week
- many people in our western culture have everything they need to sleep well – a safe, comfortable sleeping environment – yet don’t make the most of the opportunity for restorative sleep. This may be an active choice – other things in life seem more important, enjoyable or worthwhile – or they’ve somehow lost the good sleep habit. I see this a lot and really understand how it comes from a place of good intentions. You want to be the best spouse, parent, carer or friend you can be. It’s very easy to prioritise everyone else’s needs above your own. Before you know it, through lack of habit, you can’t sleep well even when you have the opportunity
- people who don’t have the privilege of a safe sleeping environment are vulnerable on many levels – physical, emotional and psychological. Well before I started my work as a sleep coach, this often occurred to me as I tucked my two little boys into bed at night. I saw how they could relax and look forward to sleep. I felt for every child who didn’t have this chance. Being homeless has a devastating impact. Everyone has the right to a safe and comfortable place to sleep. It’s a basic human right.
Sound sleep really is a privilege. Like all privileges it needs to be valued, nurtured and protected.
Because without this, it’s all too easy for healthy sleep to slip away.
If you or someone you know would benefit from learning ways to protect and nurture sleep, then my free Regain Control of Sleep diagnostic is the place to start.
Just answer a few questions and you’ll receive tailored feedback with my personal recommendations for better sleep. Click here to start.
It takes just a few minutes – and it could be your first small step towards regaining the privilege of healthy sleep 🙂