‘Just like eating well and exercising, sleep is a behaviour that is foundational to one’s physical, mental, and social well-being. However, sleep is not yet commonly considered an essential behaviour for good health.’ World Sleep Society
Understanding the role we play as a mattress and bedroom furniture company, this year we are supporting World Sleep Day® and we have partnered with Sravya Attaluri to spread awareness around the importance of sleep health.
Sravya Attaluri (@srvaya) is a multidisciplinary artist and activist focused on creating illustrations destigmatising mental illness as well as promoting intersectional feminism and representation. Sravya was born in India, raised in Korea, spent her formative years in Hong Kong and is currently based in London where she is to pursuing a masters in neuroscience and psychology of mental health. She uses art as a language to connect with others and manage her own mental health issues. Sravya is classically trained in fine art at the University of Southern California, worked in the digital marketing world and then went on to found Hello Colour – a multidisciplinary design lab built by people of colour using brand strategy, storytelling and design to drive social impact. Sravya is currently working to combine science, art and activism to educate and motivate people to take better care of their mental wellbeing.
What is World Sleep Day?
The World Sleep Society hosts World Sleep Day - an annual event to celebrate the importance of healthy sleep. The event is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox of each year. This year is on the 17th of March under the theme of ‘Sleep is Essential for Health’.
Getting healthy sleep is important for your physical and mental health, improving productivity and overall quality of life. Sravya explains ‘As an anxious and constantly stressed individual, my sleep is easily disturbed so I try to follow a routine and build habits to cultivate better sleep hygiene.’
What is Sleep Hygiene?
The NHS UK defines it as ‘Your bedroom environment and your habits (behaviours) during the day, as well as your habits before you go to bed, all play a role in how well you sleep. ‘Sleep hygiene’ is the term used to describe healthy habits that you can practice during the day to help you get a good night’s sleep’
Tips for a Good Sleep Hygiene
1. Start winding down an hour before bed
Your wind-down time should begin 1-2 hours before you plan to fall asleep. This time will include your wind-down routine activities and your bedtime. Make sure your bedtime is not the same time you plan to fall asleep. Sravya says ‘I like to get my work and errands done an hour before bed so that I can relax and I have a short nightly meditative skin-care routine that I follow before bed.’
2. Be consistent
The World Sleep Organisation recommends establishing a regular sleep and wake up schedules. Start by selecting a bedtime when you can fall asleep easily; if you feel you are not getting enough sleep, try to go to bed earlier.
Sravya explains ‘I try to give myself at least eight hours of sleep with an additional buffer before waking up; this way I wake up naturally without an alarm clock, which is very important to me.’
3. Create a restful bedroom environment
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. For Sravya, having comfortable pyjamas is key because when she changes into them, she feels cosy and mentally start to wind down. Sravya also makes sure that the room is at the right temperature and the windows are blacked out so that she is not disturbed.
4. Avoid technology in the bedroom
This includes computers, smartphones and televisions, as they can all stimulate your brain for several hours after use, making falling asleep difficult.
5. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
The NHS guide explains that going to bed too full can force your digestive system to keep working when it should be resting. Likewise, going to bed hungry can also disturb your sleep.
Also, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that take time to wear off and will keep you awake. Alcohol may make you feel drowsy, but it does not improve sleep quality and will make you need the toilet more often than usual, which will disrupt your sleep.
6. Get some exercise
Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. The Sleep Foundation has amended its sleep recommendations for good sleepers to encourage exercise without any caveat as to time of day as long as this is not at the expense of sleep duration.
Sleep Hygiene is not the same for everyone. The Sleep Foundation explains that it can vary based on the person. It is important that you try what works for you and better that trying lots of changes at the same time, try to change small things that can put you in the right direction to get a restful night sleep.
World Sleep Day Key Messages
To create awareness about sleep health we partnered with Sravya to create 3 illustrations. The illustrations are based in 3 key messages under this year theme selected by the World Sleep Society ‘Sleep is Essential for Health’. Sravya explains why she selected this messages and why these are important to her.
1. Sleep supports brain health, and brain health supports sleep
2. Sleep is a pillar of human health
For these 2 messages, I wanted to draw attention to the link between sleep and brain health, because many people don't realise how important sleep is to their mental and physical health. It should be prioritised as much as a good diet and regular exercise. In fact, many studies have shown a link between poor sleep and mental illness and long-term disorders. If people are beginning to take steps towards improving their mental health, then it is important that they prioritise their sleep schedule as well.
3. Healthy sleep is more than simple duration
It is often misunderstood that you need to sleep for a certain amount of time in order to get the benefits of sleep. However, there are many more aspects that need to be prioritised when it comes to sleep, such as the amount of deep sleep and comfort that you get while sleeping. You can improve all of these things by developing good sleep hygiene.