International Women's Day
Struggling to get to sleep at night is a problem we all face at times. We all know that a poor night’s sleep can seriously dampen our mood, leaving us feeling particularly miserable and groggy the following day. However, as many famous women show, it doesn’t have to be this way, and in fact – having a bad night’s kip doesn’t have to spell daytime disaster.
Nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale is famous for many reasons, but what you may not know is that she survived on just four hours sleep a night. Although this may have been due to the stressful nature of her job, doing what she did despite her apparent lack of shut eye remains a constant inspiration to anyone with similar struggles in the modern day.
Another woman famous for not getting enough sleep was former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. During her time in office between 1979 and 1990, it was well documented that, similar to Florence Nightingale, the ‘Iron Lady’ only managed an average of four hours sleep each night.
Baroness Thatcher was also known to nap in the back of her official car on the way to and from meetings, according to National Archive statistics published last year. Now, there’s lots to be said on whether ‘catching up’ on sleep is genuinely effective, but, imagine if you were only getting four hours kip a night coupled with the stress of governing the country too – you’d probably try and do the same.
Silentnight’s resident sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, however, is quick to stress the importance of not worrying too much about the amount of hours you are getting, and instead to think of the quality of sleep.
Commenting on the topic, she said: “While it is important to get enough sleep, there is far too much significance placed on the holy grail of eight hours. Everyone’s sleep requirements are different and it’s unhelpful to focus on getting a set amount.”
It’s true that many of us struggle to go to bed early due to the difficulty we have switching off after work or a particularly long day. This can fill our heads full of wild thoughts as we try to drift off, and as hard as we try, sometimes we just can’t ignore these thoughts after our lights are turned off.
Singer Kelly Clarkson has long been open in her struggles with this. With her mind often racing with song lyrics and ideas, she has often found herself physically writing down her thoughts on a piece of paper – a method that Dr Nerina highly recommends for dreams in particular.
She said: “A good place to start with dreams is to write them down as soon as you wake up. Keep a diary on your bedside table and write the dream down before you tell anyone about it. You may not immediately arrive at the meaning of your dream but the interpretation may come hours later, for example, while you are daydreaming or exercising.”
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, also takes her sleep seriously (and who could blame her!)
When heading to bed each night, there are several steps she takes, according to reports, and picking a few up yourself could help you get a better night sleep too.
- Firstly, she turns off all of her technology and ensures it’s out of the bedroom.
- She then takes a hot bath with epsom salt and lavender; ingredients that are proven to help nourish and calm the body, before reading to try and help her drift off to sleep.
Dr Nerina is a strong advocate for ridding the bedroom of technology as the blue light emitted from phone screens can trick the mind into feeling awake. Similar to Arianna Huffington’s bath, Dr Nerina also recommends adding bicarbonate of soda to your bathwater to relax before bed.
These leading women show that success isn’t necessarily dependent on sleep, and your success in life doesn’t have to be restricted by the amount of sleep you get each night. It’s always important to remember, however, that everyone is different – and what may work for one person might not work for another. But don’t lose hope and never give up on sleep – you might find that by experimenting with a variety of methods from these highly influential women, your own routine will improve.