2017 saw the emergence of quantified sleep tracking - but one expert thinks it’s on its way out in 2018.
Tracking our personal data – whether it’s steps, calories or sleep – is now second nature to many of us. But this may not be as healthy as we think (or hope) it is.
“Putting a number on how many hours of sleep we should get just isn’t realistic. When we talk about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sleep we’re creating fear about something that is as personal to you as a fingerprint,” she says.
With this in mind, Dr Simic shared what she thinks should be our 2018 sleep resolutions – and has a few predictions for trends we might expect, too.
We should all be aiming to get our full night’s sleep every night, Dr Simic says, but that’s just not realistic for many of us, especially when we have hectic schedules.
Catching up with sleep at the weekends (or “sleep bingeing”) can “help our body do all the repairing it needs to do” - meaning we shouldn’t feel guilty for those Saturday morning lie-ins.
Other research has found that sleep bingeing (also known as “social jetlag”) can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, an increase in alcohol consumption and depression – so don’t do it too often.
Stop comparing yourself to everyone else
“I hear people say they don’t sleep well, but when you dig a bit deeper, most of the time they are comparing themselves with those (literally) closest to them – usually their partners or the people they live with,” Dr Simic says.
So work out how much sleep you really need – and stop comparing notes with your flatmates.
No more sleep trackers
“With more of us counting sleep rather than sheep, 2018 should be the time when we reflect as individuals on what we need, and what we can realistically achieve,” Dr Simic says.
What does this mean in practice? Stop tracking your sleep via apps, and try to avoid looking at the time when you wake up in the middle of the night.
When we start to get sleepy we tend to “rush to prepare for bed”. But this fills us with adrenaline and makes it harder to sleep.
“I encourage people to lose this race to bed and instead do all the necessary bed- preparation before they sit down to relax. Get your PJs on and teeth brushed before chilling out. Avoid screens, dim the lights and let yourself relax. Once you feel sleepy, just take yourself straight to bed.”
Naps of about 30 minutes long can “help improve mood, alertness and performance, especially in the early afternoon when blood sugar levels are low”, Dr Simic says.
But make sure you don’t miss out on proper, full-length sleep – your body needs it to stay healthy.