Winston Churchill, newly of our five pound notes, is famous for sleeping only around four hours a night during World War II. He had a lot on at the time, so that makes sense. But he is also famous for his naps – twice a day totalling another four hours. That’s a pretty respectable eight hours in total.
They were quality naps too – signs were hung to warn that the prime minister was sleeping and that quiet should be observed. Secretaries who needed to keep using the heavy and loud typewriters of the day used special sound-insulating keyboards invented for that very purpose.
He also sat in bed to do much of his work reading, writing, and even dictated some of his famous speeches from there.
At the Churchill War Rooms just behind Downing Street you can walk through the underground complex used during the war. Even Churchill’s bedroom slash office, where he also used to take a bath.
Churchill was under more stress than most of us can imagine but knew he had to take care of himself in order to get the job done. He also faced the challenge of a war being 24/7 work and often spent time isolated in underground bunkers and the like where night and day blended into one.
We now understand more about sleep patterns and the circadian rhythm than they did in the 40s. The circadian rhythm is the natural daylight-night time pattern and how that relates to your body. To align with daylight hours our body uses a lack of daylight to trigger a sleep hormone, so we start to feel sleepy at night.
Modern living has affected that – now with artificial lighting, shift work and 24 hour conveniences we can find our waking hours all over the place. But remove all that and studies have shown that people default naturally back to very close alignment with daytime and the fall of night.
Another big problem with modern life is the artificial light coming from our mobile phones and other devices. Unlike normal indoor lighting from bulbs, the light from these screens is in the blue part of the spectrum – closely mimicking sunlight. Even worse is when we try to use these devices to relax before bed hoping to get a good night’s sleep. The blue light is like daylight preventing the sleep hormone from being produced.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep, and at the right times? Sleep deprivation can cause moodiness and a lack of concentration leading to a greater risk of accidents. Also stress, depression, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
What lengths would you go to to protect your sleep?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!