Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sleep - it's important.

According to the BBC, scientists in China and the US have used advanced technology to study the brain during sleep, determining that a good night's sleep is important to learning.

For a while I have been guilty of under-playing the importance of sleep and I have to admit that I don't do as much of it as I should ... until the weekends anyway.  This is obviously not doing me any favours as I like to learn.

The main problem I have is that I don't like to sleep.  Or at least, I don't like going to bed until I am literally dropping off.  I can easily sleep for 8 hours once I get there, but usually I have to get up for work, meaning I only get between 4 and 6 hours sleep a night during the week, if I'm lucky.

However, I've noticed since losing weight recently and taking more exercise (running mainly) that I am feeling that tiredness sooner than I was.  In the past 3 to 5 hours sleep a night was not unusually with occasional bouts of insomnia.  That hasn't happened in a while.

There are a few main problems which I think contribute to my current sleeping patterns:

  1. Caffeine.  I like to drink caffeinated drinks, my current favourite being Pepsi MAX.
  2. Work addiction.  I'm lucky enough to do my main hobby as my day job.  This means I'm pretty much working all the time.  I'll go to work and code, then come home and code some more.  I love it.
  3. Society(?).  Usually I have to be in an office between 9am and 5pm.

To solve these problems I am going to have to make some changes.

The obvious one is to stop taking caffeine. That'll stop me from being over-stimulated at the wrong times of the day and hopefully allow my body to sleep when it's tired, not just when I get in to a state where I am dropping off.  I'll have to switch from drinking caffeinated drinks to water, though I don't really like water as I find it boring.  That said, I suspect there will be additional benefits to not drinking

The work addiction is just a matter of discipline.  At a certain time in the evening I am going to have to put the computer away and do something else.  Read a book, watch some TV, play a game, anything.  This should get my head in to a mode where it is starting to relax instead of trying to solve problems.

There's little I can do to change the working day, but I wonder if this is something society should be looking to address.  My job involves technology and I don't work a shift in a factory, so why do I need to be in an office at particular times of the day?  I do know that I have to work as part of a team and working face to face is far more effective than working remotely, a conclusion I have come to after 15 years of trying various working methods.

So that's where I am just now.  I'm going to make a conscious effort to get more sleep and improve my ability to learn, as well as get the other health benefits associated with sleep.

Do you get enough sleep?  If not, what do the think the main reasons are and what do you plan to do about it?