Welcome to Byrdie UK's Wellness Week. Over the next seven days, you'll get to read about how to make your body, mind and, well, your life more balanced. We know it's not January, but wellness has become an all-year-round focus for many, and with autumn on the way (read: cold and flu season), now seems like a good time to talk about not just keeping well but boosting our wellness from all angles. From the best tech to improve your health to the small tweaks anyone can do to bring about more happiness, we've thought about everything you might want to factor a little more wellness into your life with ease. Sleep is a massive part of wellness, and here's how to find out if you're getting enough of the stuff.
Sleep deprivation is a thing, people. But we probably don't need to tell you that. How many times in the day do you tell your colleagues/partners/parents/pet cat how tired you are? We bet it's more than you even realise. According to a report from the end of last year, sleep deprivation costs the UK economy £40 billion a year, which is proof alone that we're not getting enough shut-eye. The Sleep Council (yes, that actually exists) also found that 70% of people in the UK get seven hours or less a night. Even worse, 27% of people have a bad night's sleep on a regular basis. With the recommended amount of sleep per night being eight hours or more, there's clearly a lack of sleep epidemic going on.
It is, of course, important to point out that everyone is different. My dad, for example, goes to bed at midnight and wakes up at 5 a.m. every day. He's in his 60s and is still fitter than many men who are younger than him. So considering that we're all individuals with a range of different sleep needs (and that's before we've even spoken about insomnia), how can you tell if you're sleep deprived? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that there are many symptoms of sleep deficiency, and many people have problems with "learning, focusing, and reacting." You might also find that you can't hold a conversation with someone or stay awake in a public place. While this is one way to work out if you're getting enough sleep, there's an incredible trick we've learnt that is so simple we can't believe we haven't heard of it before.
Keep scrolling to try this sleep-deprivation test.
In a clip from The Truth About… Sleep, Michael Mosley shows us how to do the Sleep Latency Test, which reveals whether or not you're sleep-deprived. All you need is a watch, a metal spoon, and a tray. To start, lie in bed (in a comfortable position) and note the time. Hold the spoon over the tray and try falling asleep. Once you've fallen asleep, your hand will drop the spoon and hit the tray, which should wake you up. When that's happened, note the time and how long it took you to fall asleep. If it took you 15 minutes to get to sleep, you're okay; if it was 10 or under, you're a little sleep-deprived; but if it took you less than five minutes to get to sleep, then you may have "severe sleep deprivation," says Mosley.
So now you know you're sleep-deprived, but what next? One editor found an exercise that managed to get her to sleep in under a minute.