If you’re a regular reader of the Warp It blog, you’ll probably have asked yourself why we talk about things like productivity, climbing mountains and storytelling. The answer is that our customers and potential customers work in a wide array of organisations, on a whole host of different initiatives and projects. We are a huge supporter of these people and so we provide value to them, to help them win and excel at work.
Considering this, we are now going to talk about sleep, as it’s now common knowledge that getting enough sleep is directly linked to innovation, productivity, satisfaction, health and quality of life.
And did you know the following?
You will know the importance of being productive, trying to grow, trying to have a positive effect and trying to keep on top of everything. It’s hard, and it can be overwhelming sometimes. But, it’s made easier with a good night’s rest. So, let's jump in!
Warp It Founder Daniel’s Story
When I first started Warp It I was working full time during the day for Newcastle University. In the evenings I was knuckling down to bring about the reality of this reuse Marketplace. Our first baby, Ellie, arrived at the same time, so things become a bit stressful and nobody was getting enough sleep.
Up until that point, I had never had trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, however, with the extra stress of a new business venture, and the arrival of our first child, I suddenly started to struggle with my sleep. Getting to sleep was fine, but if I was woken up in the middle of the night and had to do a feed, I would struggle to get back to sleep because I was worrying or stressing about something to do with the business or our baby.
Alex did most of the feeds I admit, but in those days I would get up for a feed at around 2am and then I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got into the habit of just getting up and doing work. This meant that I was exhausted at work in the day!
The power of the nap!
It was about this time that I met my Spanish friend Salvador Bravo when I was working in Newcastle University. He had just been given the job of Energy Assistant, helping Matt Dunlop, the Energy Manager, to do energy audits and the like across the large estate.
Salvador noticed that I was increasingly tired and so one day he came up to me and told me about the culture of the siesta. He said that he, his friends and his family back in Spain would take a nap in the middle of the day because it gets too hot.
He suggested I should try this at Newcastle University, and he went on to advise me of the all the best sites across the campus where you could grab a nap on a comfy sofa out of the way of prying eyes.
Another technique Salvador advised was having a cup of coffee.. then immediately having a siesta. The caffeine takes 15 mins to kick in, and wakes you up out of your siesta with no drowsiness. I am yet to harness this skill!
However, I did develop the habit of taking siestas, which I still have to this day.
The research phase
It was also at this point when I started looking much more seriously into how to get a better night's sleep and the productivity rewards it can bring. It's been quite a long journey to get where I am now, but I don't struggle with sleep any more because I have a few techniques that I've discovered, been told about, or developed, which might help you too.
4-7-8 Breathing Method
This is the most impactful life skill I have developed in the last 12 months.
This takes a little while to get right, but if you practice this before you go to sleep for 10 to 15 nights without any expectation (because there's nothing to lose), you will find it to be much better than any sleeping pill. From my experience, the 4-7-8 method works about 95% of the time. Personally, when I start to do this breathing, my body knows it's ready for sleep and it's like taking a hit of sleeping gas, because I just pass out straight away.
My second top tip for getting some good sleep is to always carry a box of silicone in-ear plugs. I have found that these are the best to have because they do not come out during your sleep, they can be reused a number of times, and they create a firm barrier in your ear canal so that no sound enters.
To buy them, you can go to your local chemist, but they might be expensive there, so try finding a good deal online and even buy them in bulk to save money. I carry these everywhere, even if I'm in a a coffee shop or waiting to go in a meeting and I have spare time 15 minutes for snooze.
My third tip is about your attitude. You should look at the tips above and the tips below and think ‘I have nothing to lose by trying’.
You should approach sleep with the belief that you will sleep, not the thought that you might sleep, or that some external factor will keep you awake.
But if that doesn't work I switch to think the worst. "I am not going to sleep tonight so I might as well use these techniques as I have nothing to lose." When you take the pressure away to get to sleep...if you really take that away.. something weird happens...you fall asleep.
No screens before bedtime
My fourth tip is to stop with all the screens! The backlight of your screen actually affects the chemical in your body called melatonin, and it makes your brain think that the sun is still up. The result of this is that your pituitary gland does not secrete the right chemicals to give you a good sleep. Take a break from screens for at least 1-2 hours before sleeping, it will help.
Other tips from me
- I make the room dark so that no light can get in.
- I keep my covers light, if at all, getting too hot keeps you awake.
- If I wake up in the night and I am troubled enough not to be able to get back to sleep, I write down whatever I am thinking about in my notes. Then I try to sleep again. If it is still bugging me, I get up and do a bit of work. Then I go back to bed when I get tired.
What did Joseph say?
Joseph helps me with some of the Warp It content, and he’s been travelling around the world for over 3 years now, sleeping on every kind of transport, in all kinds of climates, on all sorts of beds. I wanted to know how he sleeps so well.
‘I have to be somewhat cold or cool to sleep, that’s my fundamental need. I sleep with a fan on most of the time, with no duvet. I’m like a radiator! So, the summer is my hardest time of the year, but I make it work for me by following these rules. No coffee after 10am, just to be safe. Don’t get into bed until it’s time for sleep. Take a sports towel (you know the thin ones that dry very fast), soak it in cold water, wring it out, and use the damp towel as a blanket (this is thermodynamics in action, the wet towel conducts heat from you better than a dry one, so it feels colder). Once I’m awake, get up - I’d rather get up at 5am and start my day, than snooze for hours and waste useful time - this has trained my brain to know that the bed is just for sleeping. Read before bed, even if just a few pages. If I do all of that stuff, even if it’s 40 degrees, I’ll sleep very well’.
‘When it comes to public transport, it’s a case of forgetting my environment. I will wrap a t-shirt around my head to block out the light, and put my headphones on quite loud with instrumental music (lyrics make you think, and you need to stop thinking to sleep well). If I can’t see or hear that I’m on a plane, my brain is more likely to switch off’.
‘I’ve slept in every kind of ‘bed’ you could imagine. Cloth hammocks in Cambodia, nylon hammocks in Spain, bamboo bunk beds in Thai jungles, on sand, on beach mats, on sun loungers, on night buses, on train stations floors, on the grass, and of course on all sorts of different mattresses. My methods are the same. Don’t drink too much caffeine, try to keep cool, block out the light and sound, and if I’m in a vulnerable position, don’t have any valuables with me. One more thing, if there are bugs around me (especially mosquitoes), I have to get rid of them first, they are the enemy of my sleep!’