Louise Minchin and Annie Emmerson talk to The Sleep Scientist, Dr Sophie Bostock.
The Sleep Scientist was launched by Dr Sophie Bostock with the aim of helping more people to sleep well, and thrive. Sophie is a scientist and speaker with a bias for action.
Sophie has always been intrigued by why what makes us feel good and function well. Sophie's research pointed to sleep an unsung hero of mental and physical resilience.
In this episode learn how sleep can unlock so much mental and physical positivity in your life and how your very attitude to sleep may need to change.
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Louise Minchin: 0:04
Hello everybody, welcome back to the Her Spirit podcast. With me, louise Minchin and the lovely Annie Emerson. And I'm kind of super excited today, Annie, because we've now gone down, because life has changed a bit. We're now down to only every two weeks, which makes it even more exciting when I get to see your lovely face.
Annie Emmerson: 0:21
Oh, I know I've missed you a lot. It's a sort of like yeah, I would say there's a bit of a hole. There's always a hole when we don't do a podcast, like a little void in the week. But things are changing, aren't they? I don't know about you, but life's kind of speeding up a bit now and we're getting busier.
Louise Minchin: 0:36
I had this sort of thing where I went kind of like you know FOMO fear of missing out, outness, and I just went. I went bonkers with booking stuff and I booked I don't know outdoor cinemas. I booked theatres. I booked Jimmy Carr. I booked so many things. I booked Espade and Annie. I'm really excited about this. So obviously we've been talking over the last few months about my foot and my operation and everything. I did a race, you did a race. Where did you do a race? I did a 5K race because I've been doing couch to 5K and I was on the week nine and that's when you were meant to run for 30 minutes, anyway. So I did an actual, real outside race, which was super terrifying because I didn't know I could actually run for 30 minutes and also I didn't actually know that I could actually run for 5K. So ask me where I came.
Annie Emmerson: 1:29
Okay, we were talking about your time last week and you could talk about yeah talk about time. I don't really care where you came, because I always think that's kind of quite irrelevant, unless you're sort of at the Olympic Games, really. So I think that you ran 30 minutes to start with.
Louise Minchin: 1:47
Well, do you know what? I was thinking? That I would run 30 minutes. And let's face it, annie, in your world that's pretty slow, but in the world of most of our listeners, probably, 30 minutes is pretty respectable. It's okay, isn't it, anyway? So I thought I'd run 30 minutes and, first of all, I don't want to dominate this whole podcast by the race. Anyway, I'll get to the end later. But I was running towards the finish and I could see the clock and it was literally it was 29, 29. And I was like a couple of hundred meters away. I was like, oh my gosh, I sprinted for the finish and I got over just before 30 minutes was up, and they were like, well, I was like, oh my gosh, I made it. I'm so excited. And they said but when did you leave the race? What time did you actually start? Did you start at the back? And I was like, yeah, and he goes, it won't be 30 minutes, I'll be much less. It was 27.
Annie Emmerson: 2:39
No way. That is because, of course, because of your chip time right, so your time starts as you go over the line the race starts.
Louise Minchin: 2:49
Yeah, because it's socially distanced. They did us in waves, so I was like two, three minutes behind the start. Anyway, I had 20, about 27. I think chip time was 28, but my watch was 27. So I'm going with the watch, obviously, and I came last.
Annie Emmerson: 3:04
Last. Brilliant, I mean honestly, you did it, that's the main thing. Right, you got out there, you did a race, and this is post-foot operation we're talking about. We're not talking about Mo Farah or something like that. We're talking about Louise Minchin, who had a major foot operation only a few months ago. So absolutely bloody brilliant, well done.
Louise Minchin: 3:26
Yeah, anyway, I'm just glad I've done it. Anyway, there you go Over to you. What have you been doing? Well, come to our guests, who I really can't wait to meet. Speaker. So I'll stop delaying. Go on, annie.
Annie Emmerson: 3:34
I've been swimming a lot Six o'clock in the morning. Yesterday I was in the pool Six o'clock. I don't sleep actually. Actually this will bring our guest in very shortly. I'm not very good at sleeping when I have to get up at quarter past five. Actually, there's me saying I'm a great sleeper, but you know that thing where you just kind of are, Anyway, but it's been amazing and actually everything we've talked about. I always say that running is my therapy, but I've now added swimming to my therapy as well, because I actually feel the days that I swim, that I've been in the water and I'm probably in there for about 40 minutes. I actually feel on quite a nice little high for the rest of the day. So I'm loving my swimming and I'm going after this podcast, I'm going for another swim. I've got a bit obsessive about my swimming.
Louise Minchin: 4:15
Annie, you are, you just are extraordinary because, since you've been doing this podcast, you've re-taken up cycling, which you haven't done for X trillion years, and now you've gone back in the pool. Honestly, I've gone back in the pool. It's brilliant, it's amazing and I'm loving it and I've got a very I think.
Annie Emmerson: 4:29
I was in four yeah, this time probably be three. And then I suddenly thought why I'm behaving like a triathlete. Anyone would think I'm a triathlete, and I'm definitely not any longer a triathlete.
Louise Minchin: 4:42
But why? Why suddenly All right?
Annie Emmerson: 4:44
Okay, two things. One, it makes me feel brilliant and two, it's vanity. I've noticed I've got this little bit of flesh bit that hangs over my breast. Okay, I know that everyone is going to go oh, skinny cow, what are you going on about? But when you're skinny, you have this flesh business.
Louise Minchin: 5:00
Did my eyes say that, Annie?
Annie Emmerson: 5:01
And did my eyes say skinny. And I've got this slight old age skin thing hanging over my bra top. Too much information for all of us, our listeners, but just keeping it real. And actually I don't think you're a skinny cow, I just think you look amazing. But you know what the swimming is a lovely way of toning up A really natural way. I'm not a big fan of weights, however much I try and say I do weights and press ups, I don't enjoy it. So I'm in the pool with my big hand paddles on toning up my back, getting rid of that bra you know skinny flesh bit that hangs over anywhere. Should we call it bra flesh? I've got bra flesh.
Louise Minchin: 5:36
Anyway, let's talk to our guests, because I know that on the Her Spirit community, thank you so much for all your questions and I entirely I feel your pain in so much of this. We asked for questions about our guest and we've been inundated because it's all about literally my favorite subject in the world sleep today. It is.
Annie Emmerson: 5:54
It's very appropriate that the Her Spirit podcast is all about inspiring every woman to become fitter and stronger and healthier, and we do have mental health awareness week approaching, so I think it's very apt today that our brilliant guest that we're so excited to chat to is a sleep expert. She's Dr Sophie Bostock. Welcome to the Her Spirit podcast, sophie, is so lovely to have you on.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 6:20
Thank you very, very much. It is an absolute privilege to be here.
Louise Minchin: 6:25
I just don't even know where to start, sophie.
Annie Emmerson: 6:28
Can I just explain? There were so many questions Can. I just stop and explain to our listeners that suddenly your glasses have come off, your head is forward, you've got your sort of resting your fist on your forehead, because I know that not only have we got a more long list of questions from our listeners, but also from Louise Minchin Far away, my friend.
Louise Minchin: 6:47
I'm not the only person who works weird hours either. You know, there are lots of people aren't there who do much more responsible jobs than I do. I mean, you know from everybody, from a nurse to a doctor, to a truck driver, to somebody with stacking shells. You know, sleep becomes an issue for so many people, and because of their jobs. Actually to Sophie, doesn't it? Hello, by the way, hi.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 7:10
Yeah, we were talking just beforehand that your job is one of the most challenging, I think, in terms of waking up in the early hours of the morning, but particularly having very haphazard sleep patterns. And most people have probably heard the advice that you know, in an ideal world, probably the number one sleep pack that I would give out. If someone says, look, can we just have one tip to improve your sleep, I would say wake up at the same time every morning, seven days a week. And Louise is shaking her head. This is because it helps to anchor all of your internal rhythms. So we've got these intrinsic circadian rhythms throughout our body. Literally every single cell in our bodies is programmed to operate on this cycle of 24 hours activity and recovery, again and again, and again. So when you stick to a lovely rhythm, you wake up at the same time. It's like this anchoring, everything's in sync. You start to anticipate your alarm, you start to feel hungry before mealtimes, you start to feel sleepy at the right time. But unfortunately, if this tool is not available to you, your circadian rhythms can get a bit confused and unfortunately they're only able to shift by an hour every 24 hours. So when you suddenly get up four hours earlier or go to bed five hours later. Then there's this kind of lag effect and you're literally sort of giving your body jet lag as your circadian rhythms get out of sync.
Louise Minchin: 8:44
I mean it's just, you know, I know this podcast is not just about me, obviously, obviously, and there will be people listening who have similar issues, I'm sure, for whatever reason it might be shift working, it could be children, it could be lots of different reasons, but that just. I mean. It's not, sophie, the first time I've been told that. I know that. And today, for example, I was laughing when we first saw you, because it's a complete case in point. Yesterday I did breakfast, so I woke up at 3.40 in the morning and went to work, and I suspect I probably said this before. I do have a sleep in the afternoon and I have an hour and 45, no an hour and a half, and that's specific because of circadian rhythms. We'll come to that later, anyway, so 3.40 yesterday. This morning I woke up, naturally at quarter to nine.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 9:38
Delightful. You must have felt great.
Louise Minchin: 9:40
No, I felt like, oh my gosh, what's going on? Actually I do, you're right, I do feel great, but that's I know this is not essentially very good for me. So can you catch up on your sleep?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 9:53
So I guess I don't want to scare people. Let's face it, you're absolutely right. You are not the only person who has to cope with these haphazard rhythms. I do a lot of work with the police and the military, where you have all sorts of crazy schedules that you have to stick to, and not to speak of all the wonderful workers in the NHS who've been looking after us so well. So we've got to learn to adapt as best we can in the conditions that we're in. And there is good news as well. It's not only your circadian rhythms that control your sleep, so we've also got sleep pressure which builds up the longer you've been awake. So you probably find that after a really long stint, a very long shift, it probably is easier to fall asleep because you've got this buildup of something called a denazine that makes you feel very drowsy. So we can use that so that if we're struggling, if we're kind of really waking up a lot during the night sometimes actually it's better to go to bed a little bit later increase our sleep pressure, which means it's easier to sleep through the night. So there are ways to use other aspects of your sleep system to help your body clocks, but we can also use what we call zeitgebers or time-givers, and these are I love that word, I love it, I love it, I love it. So it means time cues and these are things which indicate to our body clocks what time of day it is. And the most powerful is bright light. Bright light has this incredible impact on our brains, on our bodies. Light lands on receptors in the back of the eye and it sends a message to a master clock in the brain and, if you like words, it's called a suprachiasmatic nucleus. It's a beautiful, tiny but powerful tool which essentially spreads the message throughout the rest of the body that it's time to be alert. So this is why you've heard the advice to dim the lights before you go to bed. This is simply to remove that cue to the brain that it's time to wake up. And when it gets dark your body produces melatonin which helps you. It cues up the body for arrestable sleep. So we can use light and we can use exposure to light at specific times to help us control the rhythm. So if you're waking up crazy o'clock in the morning, at five o'clock, whether you're going for a swim or you're going for to work, bright light as soon as you can. Some people use those dawn simulation alarm clocks, you might have seen. So if it's dark outside you can still flood your bedroom with bright light, which is going to help energize you. And if you get bright light in the morning, that really sends a cue to the master clock that the time that the day has started it's like a kickstart and that means that automatically 17, 18 hours later you're going to start to feel sleepy. And one of the problems that a lot of people have had during lockdown is that when we were asked not to go out much people weren't doing so much activity. They never got that wake up call in the morning. You know they kind of drudged out of bed first thing, but they didn't get outside. And artificial light is much less alerting than the natural alerting effects of bright light, sort of outdoor light. So outdoor light is much more intense, has a much more powerful effect on the brain. So when you're feeling sluggish during the day, get outside. One of the reasons that exercise is so powerful as a mood enhancer is often you do it outside. So you're getting not only the mood enhancing effects of exercise but you're also getting bright light which cues that cues the brain that it's time to wake up.
Louise Minchin: 13:48
Sorry, I went on rage. I get very excited about light. I just want to write it all down. Annie, go for it.
Annie Emmerson: 13:55
Okay, so here's a question. So we're talking about, you know how we can sleep better. Why is it some people sleep so much better than others? I mean, god, I'm guessing that's quite a long answer, but some people won't have any of those things and they'll just sleep fine, yeah it seems very unfair, doesn't it?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 14:13
There are myriad things which influence your sleep. I think there's a really useful model that we call the three P's model, which helps to explain why some people have more entrenched sleep problems. So to decide whether or not somebody's going to suffer from insomnia, which is a more chronic sleep problem, you kind of got to look at their predisposing factors, their risk factors. Now, unfortunately unfairly, I would say being female and getting older are two of those risk factors that we cannot change. It's just the way we are. Another thing that you can't really change is a family history. So we know that there is a genetic element, as well as what you learn from your family about their sleep habits. There does also seem to be an impact of genes, but those things on their own are not enough to cause a sleep problem. It just simply means that you're probably at an elevated risk, and I'd add to that probably having a nervous or perhaps a bit more of a type A personality. If you're somebody who worries about things and wants to get stuff done, I think you tend to be a little bit more vulnerable to sleep problems. You think a lot, but what sort of pushes you over the edge into more of a sleep problem. So our predisposing factors are risk factors, and then we've got our precipitating factors, which are the triggers, and those things are usually stress, some kind of stress, and different people are more sensitive to stress than others. Some people are able to buffer the effects of stress better. For example, if you've got a great social support network, probably the same situation won't affect you as much as someone else. Again, another problem with lockdown if we've been feeling more isolated, we're more vulnerable to those effects of stress. But the thing that really can cause an ongoing problem are what we call perpetuating factors, and those are the things that actually are a response to a sleep problem that make it worse. Right, keep it going. So this is what we've got to walk out for Now. For some people it's behaviors. So, for example, everybody knows that caffeine is a stimulant, but if you're totally shattered during the day, it's quite hard not to reach for caffeine to keep you going. But actually that then further disrupts the quality of your sleep if you're having multiple cups of coffee during the day and so you get stuck in this kind of cycle where you're craving caffeine to keep you going. Alcohol actually has quite a similar effect. So if you have alcohol before bed, a lot of people think that it's a relaxant. But unfortunately, once you metabolize that alcohol it turns into a stimulant, so it disrupts the quality of your sleep. So again, you can get into this sort of dependent cycle. But I think most people are now quite well educated about sleep. There's a lot more information out there. So caffeine, alcohol like this is not going to surprise people. So the other thing that can keep you awake is actually the obsession with getting the perfect night's sleep. And the more you worry about whether or not you're going to sleep well, the more tense and anxious you are about your sleep. So for anybody who has had the experience where you've been sitting on the sofa and you're pretty tight it's probably only about eight, nine o'clock you haven't been sleeping well, you're a bit snoozy and you feel like you could just drop off. But the moment that you walk upstairs into your bedroom it's almost like your heart starts racing. Why aren't I sleepy anymore? And it's because our brains are brilliant, sort of taking shortcuts. And if you've spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks and months lying in bed worrying about the fact that you can't sleep, then your brain associates your bedroom with that kind of feeling of frustration and tension and so you start to worry and you get this stress response. So people are probably aware of that fight or flight stress response, that cascade, that sort of gets the body going ready to fight predators, which is not what you want in bed.
Louise Minchin: 18:27
Yes, Louis, I'm just going to interrupt you because there's a question exactly to this point and so we want how to fix it. So I can't see who it's from. So this is from one of our, one of our. Her spirit sent it through the app. I, like I can't get to sleep, sometimes falling asleep early in the early evening on the sofa. At seven to eight o'clock in the evening I can get to sleep in bed, but then I wake up in the early hours and have struggled to get back to sleep. So they're doing exactly that sleeping on the sofa and then not sleeping in bed. So she says my GP's been really helpful. I'm now using calm app to listen to sleep music stories. If I wake up, it has been advised to and you can talk about all of this as well Not to get up, make a drink, write anything down, as it encourages the brain to switch on and create a vicious cycle. Lots to unpick.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 19:15
Okay. So there's a couple of things going on here and it's quite it's a really great question because it recaps a few of the things that we've spoken about. So if you have that little snoozlet at seven or eight o'clock on the sofa and this is a big thing for parents with kids who are maybe putting their kids to bed and they just kind of put their head down on the pillow, you have a little nap and what happens is that you use up some of that sleep pressure that you've been building up during the day so that when it's time for you to go to bed, you've got less sleep pressure and it's harder for the brain to sort of fall asleep. So that's definitely one thing that's going on. But the second thing, which is probably the most important, is this element of learned behavior, of anxiety about sleep. Now this person, like the rest of us, mentions they wake up during the night. Now, this is really really important. We all wake up during the night. We sleep in cycles of about 90 to 120 minutes. They vary a little bit and in between each sleep cycle of progressively deeper and then lighter sleep, there's often a brief period of wakefulness. This does not mean you've had a terrible night's sleep. This is a natural element of sleep and if you think from a survival perspective, you know it probably makes sense that people took a brief kind of arousal to make sure they were safe before just turning over and going back to sleep. So a good sleeper will do that and they won't worry about it, and in the morning they're probably totally forgotten about it. But the moment that you start to worry about your sleep, then that waking up in the middle of the night is sort of a trigger for what's wrong and you can kickstart that fight or flight. That stress response so increased heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, you know this is all ready to sort of key you up for action. And so what you've got to do is convince your brain it's okay that you are safe and you are secure and there's no reason to panic. And unfortunately, when you're in that fight or flight mode, the brain reacts in a very specific way and it channels all the energy to your emotional centers, the things that detect threats, and it dials down the activity in your prefrontal cortex. So the part of your brain which is logical and rational and goal directed, you know the best person that you can be during the day. That part is kind of dialed down at night. So at three o'clock in the morning there's no point trying to have a rational discussion with yourself about why it's silly to be anxious about sleep, because your amygdala, which is your threat detection system, is in charge. It's overriding everything else. If anyone's read the chimp paradox, your chimp is out of the box and your chimp is in charge. So we've got to with the chimp. You know, you've got to distract it, maybe with a breathing technique, a relaxation exercise, maybe a nice sort of positive visualization, and I can talk more about those. Or you can kind of in a way sort of give up and you just say you know, the gym's gone wild, I'm going to get out of bed. And sometimes, if you've been awake for 15 or 20 minutes, the best thing you can do is get out of bed. Don't fight it, don't dwell there. The bed should not be a place for fighting. You know. At that point get out of bed, get somewhere else in your house, sit in a nice comfy chair, read a book, listen to music for a bit until you feel that sleep pressure starting to build up again and only then get back into bed. The whole idea is to rebuild a positive connection between you and your bed and sleep.
Annie Emmerson: 23:09
That makes a brilliant lot of sense to me. It really does. On the very odd occasion that I have that I do wake up at night. Yeah, it's controlling that side of your brain that wants to have a chat with you. Do you think these sleep problems have become worse?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 23:25
It's a really good question. I think sleep problems have been around for a long time. I certainly think that in response to the pandemic, things have got worse. I mean, we've seen international research literally all around the globe saying that people have been struggling more with their sleep, and there's so many reasons for that. That stress response that I talked about. It is something which is stimulated by fear and threats to our survival, but it's also something which is stimulated by uncertainty and novelty. Our brains want to know what's going on, and when you have an incomplete picture of the world and you don't have a map of what's going to happen next, your brain goes into this higher state of arousal. And I mentioned this, it happened to me as well. I mean, I've always thought of myself as a good sleeper, and then I started to wake up at two, three o'clock in the morning. And what's going on here then? And, being quite curious as a sleep scientist, I was like, oh okay, maybe it has something to do with that lockdown thing, and so it was great because I got to experiment with different breathing techniques. But even though I didn't feel stressed, I was in an environment which was actually very stressful, very uncertain, and we certainly know from the research that anyone who was consciously aware that they were under stress, for example through financial stress, was more likely to report sleep problems. Having said that, for about one in four people, their sleep got better. Suddenly, they're not having to commute anymore, which is kind of cool. Early mornings are pretty stressful for the body, and so not having to travel and having maybe a little bit more control over your day for a lot of people was a great benefit, so it wasn't all bad news.
Louise Minchin: 25:11
I'm so interested by so many things you said, and one of the things that you mentioned earlier, annie, didn't you about not being able to sleep before you get up early in the morning. So is that and that's a really common theme. And when I'm in gosh, I've now discovered I've nearly been doing breakfast for 20 years. So you'd think I would find some ways of coping, which I genuinely have, and I used to have that. You know, that kind of. You know, there's always that thing when you I don't know, you're catching when, when we used to be able to go on holidays, the flights are normally at middle of the night, o'clock, aren't they? Yeah, so that, and invariably, if that's happening, you know, like you, annie, before your early morning swim, you can't sleep. So there's that. There's so many different niggly things aren't there. And what I found worked for me was and I don't have to do it anymore was thinking, just lying in my bed, going, I'm resting. I may not be asleep, but I am resting, just rest, I'm sitting here like nodding vigorously.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 26:05
So many things that you've said are so true. So I'll start with the early shifts, because actually that's something that I looked at when I was doing a PhD and I worked with airline pilots and we got them to measure their cortisol, so cortisol being the sort of it's called the stress hormone, but it's actually the energizing hormone and it's totally normal to have a huge injection of cortisol first thing in the morning. That's a that's a healthy rhythm for your cortisol is that within half an hour of work waking, you get this big peak. So we got these airline pilots to do cortisol measures using this saliva to chew a bit of cotton wool, and then we analyze this saliva on an early shift day, when they had to wake up at about four o'clock in the morning to fly a plane at 6am on a sort of a regular shift day, when they woke up between about seven and eight in order to get to work about nine, and then also on a rest day. So then they got up at sort of eight or nine o'clock in the morning and what was fascinating, looking at the cortisol patterns, was that the same people had entirely different rhythms when you wake up at four o'clock in the morning. It's what we call the circadian low. It's when your body expects you to be resting. Your body temperature is an absolute minimum and to get out of bed at that time your body has to respond by giving you this humongous injection of cortisol. So what we saw on those early shift days is that cortisol peaked really high and then it did decline over the day, but it stayed a little bit higher. So on those days people said they felt more stressed and overall they produced more cortisol. So on those days I think it's really important A just kind of to say look, if you don't have to get up at ridiculous o'clock in the morning, maybe that's not a good choice the whole time. But also, if you are having to get up for early shifts, be kind to yourself. That is a stress on your body and therefore, taking opportunities to rest, taking opportunities to switch off that stress response by doing a bit of mindfulness, by going for a gentle walk, these are all things which are going to help dial down those cortisol levels.
Louise Minchin: 28:16
I've really learned, and actually really, particularly during lockdown, actually that and it's very interesting that you say a lot of this is to do with sleep, because I think it's to do with. You know, my job is quite stressful. You can imagine six million people watching at any point. You could basically mess up and they'll be watching. So I've learned that and lockdowns really helped me with this that I'm pretty much incapable and Mel will know this that on Monday, tuesday, wednesday, there's no point talking to me about the podcast. I am pretty much incapable of doing anything else but my job. You know, I just don't seem to have the headspace for anything else and I think I've learned to just embrace that, go with it. That's just the way it is. You're nodding their mail, by the way.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 29:06
I think you know when you are putting your body through so much stress and strain. I think the most important thing is to become more intuitive about it and you know you will hear and there'll be people listening to this who are going well, this is all very interesting, but I know that I need to get my eight hours and that's just simply not realistic for a lot of people a lot of the time. And when you actually look at the evidence, yes, on average, we need seven to nine hours of sleep to function our best, but that is an average. It's based on huge, great populations and there's always this kind of bell shaped curve. So you've got people who actually can function really well on six hours sleep, but then there are a few more that will also need a little bit longer, more than nine hours sleep, and no one can tell you where you sit on that spectrum. You have to work it out and it sometimes is a case of trial and error. And so, listening to your body and how much energy you've got and when you're naturally tired, and giving yourself opportunities to catch up, like you said, having afternoon naps if you really have slept really badly, that's healthy. You know being intuitive about sleep.
Annie Emmerson: 30:18
So is there, like I mean I think all the things you're saying there is, everyone is is slightly different, but is there an average time, like I feel? I don't know why no one's ever told me this I haven't, I don't think I've particularly tried it or anything that's the 11 to seven would be perfect for me, but it never really happens like that. Is there a sort of average time to go to bed and get up in the morning for a human being? That kind of works for most people.
Louise Minchin: 30:44
Or is it that some of us are early birds and some of us are night owls? That's the other thing, isn't it? Because I think I'm an, I know, I think I know that I'm a night owl. Go on, sophie.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 30:55
I'm also laughing because for a night out, having a job that involves waking up early in the morning is fairly dreadful. I tell you why I do. You are very resilient, louise. I'm even more impressed, okay.
Louise Minchin: 31:08
The reason, I know, is because when I was off for my operation, annie, I didn't have to get up. I was just able, for the first time in 20 years, to just do what my body wanted to do. And I am up at 11 o'clock at night, 12 o'clock at night, totally happy writing emails not tired at all, really in my own space, and then waking up really late in the morning. Anyway, go on, sophie.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 31:32
Yeah, so this is a real thing. Whether you're an early bird or a night owl, this is called your chronotype and we are genetically predisposed to a certain pattern. So, annie, you're absolutely right. Actually, between 11 and 7 is probably pretty average. Mr or Mrs. Average might well they might thrive on that, but we're all sitting here on a spectrum and actually it changes with age as well. So anybody who has teenagers in the house will know very well that actually they're not tired until after midnight. They're not trying to be difficult. This is their body clock. It's delayed and it also makes it extremely difficult for them to get out of bed in the morning. So then getting out of bed at seven o'clock in the morning to go to school is actually the equivalent of most adults waking up at five o'clock in the morning. It just doesn't feel right, and so a lot of teenagers end up accumulating a sleep debt during the week, which is why they end up with this big lion on the weekends. Not only does their body clock want them to stay in bed later, but they've also been missing out on sleep during the week. So chronotype is a real thing. Teenagers tend to have a delayed chronotype as we get older, sort of post retirement. Often the body clock will shift back so that it becomes a little bit earlier again, almost like grandparents and their grandchildren have similar body clocks and there is a question about whether you can change it. So you know, for the likes of Louise, wouldn't it be nice if you could just naturally become an early bird? Well, it all depends on teens, I was going to say. I mean, the best fix that people have come across, researchers have come across, is to go camping. So if you are a night owl and you want to become an early bird, the evidence shows that actually if you head out into the wilderness with no electric light and are just exposed to the natural environment, then that could work for you. Within a matter of days your body could actually start to shift forward. Unfortunately, yes, absolutely, this may not be practical. So I appreciate that's not very practical. So a few other things that you can do If you want to shift your body clock forward. Yes, it is about getting bright light in the morning and having routine. Also, eating breakfast Food is another one of those zeitgeibers. So eating within an hour of waking up, that gives your body clock a bit of a nudge that it really is time to wake up and avoiding eating late at night. So if you want to go to bed at sort of 10 or 11, if you can stop eating by about seven or eight in the evening, that's going to help with that transition to sleep. The other thing that you can do is to think about when you're exercising. So if you exercise first thing in the morning, that tends to advance your body clock, so you're going to want to go to bed earlier, whereas if you exercise later in the day it can push your body clock back, annie.
Louise Minchin: 34:26
you're an early morning, you see. This is where you and I disagree, because you're an early morning exerciser and I am loving these late evenings. So last night I was out running at seven. So everybody's different, aren't they, annie?
Annie Emmerson: 34:37
No, I mean to say I'm not good first thing in the morning To run. I'm utterly useless, like I don't know whether they talk about sort of like VO2 max and not being able to sort of, I mean, how your VO2 max can't. You can't change it, can you? It is what it is, but for some reason I cannot run in the morning. I'm utterly useless, or it would take me 45 minutes run before I actually started feeling human. I'm a bit better in the water. But one thing I'd like to ask about this and I don't know if this is a common problem or not, but I've Googled it and I think the best example of how I feel first thing in the morning was roadkill. It was obviously someone, an American person. It's like why, whatever I do do, I feel horrible when I wake up in the morning. Horrible, I mean, I sort of lie in bed for about 20 minutes and I just like, I want like almost an intravenous coffee into me. I just don't know why. I mean it doesn't matter whether I've drank a bottle of red wine or no red wine, or it doesn't seem to always necessarily be a rhino reason, but it's funny because everyone talks about like so all the brilliant questions we've had have been people with a problem of waking up at night. I don't have that, and it's not necessary to have a problem to wake up in the morning. To wake up, but I feel horrible in the morning. Is there an explanation?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 35:58
Is this with an alarm clock or is this waking up? Naturally.
Annie Emmerson: 36:02
This is probably with an alarm clock, I guess.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 36:07
Yeah, there's our issue, you see, if usually so, I mentioned earlier that we sleep in cycles, so we start off with very light sleep, stage one sleep stage two sleep is a kind of transition stage where we spend most of our time, but after about 45 minutes, if you're very lucky, you'll get into stage three or deep sleep, and that is the juicy, physically restorative stage of sleep where your muscles start to repair themselves, growth hormones produce, the immune system really goes to town and that's a delicious place to be. And when you're younger you spend a lot more time in deep sleep and as we get older, unfortunately, we have a bit less time in that deep sleep zone. After a chunk of deep sleep we come back through REM or rapid eye movement sleep, which is associated with dreaming, and that's a light stage of sleep, and so usually it's more natural to wake up from REM sleep if you haven't set an alarm, and because it's a lighter stage of sleep, we usually transition out of it reasonably well. But if you wake up from deep sleep, what you're describing is probably sleep inertia, that grogginess that comes from being woken from deep sleep. So the good news is when you're waking up, if you've been in deep sleep, happy days. You know that's really going to be energizing your body, but don't be worried if you don't feel fully functional for 20, 30 minutes afterwards. The more sleep deprived you are, the more sleep inertia you can get, and often it will take a full hour to wake up afterwards.
Louise Minchin: 37:45
Okay, that's really interesting. So that answers Deb's point. She says and so many, all, pretty much all of our questions about being middle of the night wakers, which I think you've answered. But let me read her question. She says I'm another middle of the night waker when I'm stressed. I'm an exam season, so avoidance isn't an option. About the stress she's talking about, I find it so hard to not off again, usually about until about 45 minutes before the time when I have to get up anyway, at which point I seem to magically fall asleep, but I'm subsequently really hard to wake up and the rest of the day is painful to stay awake. So that's really interesting and it's similar, that isn't it, to what Annie is talking about, is it?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 38:23
We've got something, probably something else going on there and I'm really glad this person mentioned that. Basically, at the time that she decides 45 minutes before she's got to wake up, when you really there's no point in sleeping anymore. So she's not even going to try what happens, she's getting into this beautiful sleep, and this is just a perfect example of how screwy it is when we try and sleep. So this actually sort of taps into what you were saying earlier, which is that sometimes, when you can't sleep, you almost just tell yourself you're just going to rest. Doesn't matter if you can't sleep, you're just going to rest. And this is actually a technique, a tactic, which is called paradoxical intention.
Louise Minchin: 39:05
I love all the things. I love this.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 39:07
This is one of my favorites. So if you wake up at three or four o'clock in the morning, you need to cheat your chimp and basically convince it that you know what. The thing that you want to do is stay awake and you're just going to lie there. You're going to be warm and comfortable in your bed and it's okay if you don't fall asleep. You're just going to rest. If your brain needs to sleep, you will sleep, but in the meantime you're just going to enjoy the sensation of resting, and if you can try and do that two or three o'clock in the morning, then hopefully by 45 minutes before you need to get out of bed, you're going to be fast to sleep again. Oh I love this.
Louise Minchin: 39:48
I hope, marie, that answers your question, because Marie was asking top tips to help go back to sleep after repeating waking during the night. So that's one of your top tips. You may have others as well. Sophie Holly says this is my nemesis at times of stress how do I stop waking up? A moment of anxiety. She mentions she getting really hot when she wakes up, which you also mentioned earlier. So you called it. What was it? The paradox? What was it?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 40:09
It's paradoxical intention. It's using reverse psychology to convince yourself that you can sleep.
Louise Minchin: 40:15
So that's one. Any other, any other things people could use, because you talked earlier, didn't you, about positive visualization as well.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 40:22
Yep. So again, when, when lockdown hit and I had these my goodness, I'm waking up in the morning. What am I going to do? This is like a field day. It was like a circus. I got to try out all these different techniques that I try and help other people with. My own personal favorite was probably the most simple and I just call it one, two breathing, and it's just to focus on your breath and slow it down. So I count in through the nose for a count of one pause and then breathe out for a count of two into the nose for a count of one pause and breathe out for a count of two.
Louise Minchin: 41:03
Dr Sophie Bostock: 41:05
Yeah, I like this. Honestly. It's like this, like secret hack. So if you're in fight or flight mode and you're about to run or fight some kind of dangerous predator, then your breathing goes totally haywire. You're either going to sort of freeze or you're going to start panting. So you can hack that by controlling your breath and slowing it down. So the first thing is get your breathing under control and then if your mind is still going a little bit sort of too active, then you can distract it by taking it to a happy place. So I mentioned positive visualization, and here the aim is not to fall asleep. A little bit like paradoxical intention. We're never trying to sleep, we simply want to get into a nice space. The emotions that we want to evoke are calm and content and maybe a little bit of humor. You know humor is never a bad thing. You can laugh at yourself and the fact that you're not having a great night of sleep. That's a positive. So whisk yourself away to your favorite beach, your favorite retreat. You can take whoever you like to that retreat. I often like to revisit the same place with the same person. Just you know it's a nice, pleasurable way of passing the time and you know you can. You can spend a few minutes there. It doesn't matter if you're not sleeping. At least you're happy. So emotional content of what you're doing is really important.
Louise Minchin: 42:32
Does this person know Sophie?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 42:34
Well, if you know Matthew McConaughey, just put in the bird for me Brilliant, Brilliant. I have sometimes transitioned to George Clooney, but I find that Matthew McConaughey is generally more effective. So, yeah, tear yourself off with whoever you like.
Louise Minchin: 42:51
Visualize this delightful environment, and the whole idea is that you know it feels good I could put a good word in for you If I ever meet them. I haven't met George Clooney, but you know that's just a total name drop, annie.
Annie Emmerson: 43:02
No, george Clooney doesn't do it for me, but anyway, moving on, what about that big word that starts with M for women, and how menopause, how it impacts sleep, because this is quite a big one, isn't it? And is there a solution other than what you're talking about? And when we've had the brilliant Louise Newsom? Dr Louise Newsom, who's the menopause specialist you know, talking about HRT, but that's obviously not everyone's. You know road they want to go down. It may not be possible, but what's your opinion on that?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 43:41
So I've got good news and bad news. I mean, the bad news is that, there is no question, at times when women's hormones are in flux we are more susceptible to sleep problems, and that's actually not just around menopause, also around puberty, and pregnancy is a big, massive one. You know that last third of pregnancy, when hormones are going all over the shop and you've also got other bodily changes as well, but sleep is a massive problem. The good news, however, is that menopause doesn't seem to cause any lasting problems on sleep. I mean, as we age, men and women, sleep does become a little bit more disrupted. But if you're ready for that and you just say, oh yeah, yeah, it's just another gap between cycles, I'm all good. There's no reason why some of these changes will persist. So some of the biggest problems that people have during menopause are around hot sweats, you know, waking up, feeling sort of burning and sweating, and sometimes HRT can help with that. Interestingly, according to the research, the most effective solution for women during sort of perimenopause or menopausal transition who suffer from insomnia is an approach called CBT cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and really everything that I have been talking about is based on CBT principles. So the idea is that you've got sort of cognitive techniques to tackle that racing mind and that frustration. So things like getting out of bed if you're really getting super frustrated and not trying to fix it on the perfect night of sleep, that sort of educational piece. And then the behavioral side, which is about routine when you're able to have routine and practicing the skill of relaxation. So this whole idea that when you haven't slept well you're a migtela, that fight or flight switch is hyperactive. You are actually more vulnerable to stress when you haven't slept well. The smallest thing can trigger that stress response. So anything that you can do to practice relaxation techniques to wind things down and actually regular exercise as well, is a great way of switching off that stress response. So I did just sort of check on the research before I came on because I wanted to make sure that I have the latest evidence on this and I think there was one really helpful study which I found called the MS flash trial and in fact it was a combination of lots of different studies and they compared it was the flash stands for finding lasting answers for symptoms and health around cut menopause, and they tested CBT, which is this cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, exercise, venlafaxine, an SSRI, omega three fatty acids, yoga, estradiol like they tested all these different things and basically the summary is that CBT led to the greatest improvements in sleep quality, followed by exercise and venlafaxine. What's?
Louise Minchin: 46:50
that, what is the last one?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 46:51
Venlafaxine. It's an SNRI, it's a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, so it's kind of an antidepressant type of drug, but it's specifically for given around menopause. So smaller reductions for that. But I think the really positive thing is that cognitive behavioral therapy this is not rocket science, this is just about understanding your sleep and being sort of sensitive to that. So the most powerful improvements are through cognitive and behavioral interventions rather than necessarily relying on drugs.
Louise Minchin: 47:30
There's so much on the everybody I mean most people who know listen to the podcast, will know that on the app, for example, on the Her Spirit app, there's so much. We've got information about meditation, also about yoga, and I just just took to that point about, you know, sleeping pills, your view.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 47:47
Sleeping pills sometimes will be prescribed by a doctor if you are in a really acute crisis. You know, I often speak to people who really just feel like they can't carry on, and the sleeping pill is a sedative it switches off your conscious awareness. Unfortunately, what it doesn't do is give you true sleep, so I've talked about the sleep cycles that you get, and when you take a sleeping pill, you get into something that looks as if you're in deep sleep, but actually the restorative value of the sleep that you get it's sedation. It's not really sleep. So often when you wake up in the morning, you almost get this sort of hangover effect where you're still groggy, perhaps from the pill, and you don't feel as refreshed as you might have done if you'd had a natural night of sleep. The real problem with sleeping pills, though, is that if you take them over a long period so they should really only be prescribed for a couple of weeks, unless you're, you know, even close contact with your doctors, and this is because you can build up a tolerance, so you have to keep taking more to have the same effect and also dependence, so that when you do finally want to come off, actually one of the side effects is called rebound insomnia, so stopping taking them can make your sleep worse. So there's a real danger of getting stuck in that cycle. So you know, if you ask someone who has been prescribed sleeping pills, talk to your doctor about it. Ask about CBT for insomnia. There are books, there are online programs. There's lots of different ways to access that help and that might well be more effective in the long term.
Annie Emmerson: 49:23
I think that it's important to really important to address sleep issues, isn't it? But I think what we don't want to do with this podcast is, you know, we want to give people like brilliant ideas, exercises, tips and things. But a very, very close friend of mine is a terrible insomniac and it's great this advice on the CBT, but I think the importance for advising women to address sleep issues, or anyone with sleep issues, is the long term negative impact it has on health and I really worry about my friend because she can be up two, three, four in the morning many days a week and that's her done, and I'm like you know what. You can't carry on like this.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 50:05
There is such a fine line. You know you want to share the research with people, and the research does suggest that if we don't regularly get our sleep need, which for most people is a minimum of seven hours, then you are at increased risk for a whole raft of different health conditions. But the more that I say that, those people that are anxious about their sleep might well get more anxious. So I think the important message is that, yes, it is about risk, but if you really feel like your sleep problems are out of control, you don't have to suffer in silence. There is so much effective treatment out there. And if you're a short sleeper and you seem to be functioning pretty well on six hours of sleep, please don't worry about that. That might just be what you need. But if you're a shift worker or your sleep patterns are haphazard, I think it just means you've got to put more energy into looking after yourself in other ways, Because regular exercise, sticking to a healthy diet, practicing mindfulness, looking after yourself that's going to be great for your sleep. We know that has positive impacts on your sleep, but it's also going to protect your overall health. So don't get too freaked out. There are a lot of studies out there. There's a brilliant one that came out very recently actually looking at sleep and dementia, and it showed that you know, for 50 year olds who are getting six hours of fewer sleep, the headline was that they are at 30% increased risk of dementia. And when you actually unpick the study, the absolute risk in terms of the number of people that went on to develop dementia was actually 6.7% versus 6% for those people getting seven hours or more. So the headlines kind of look into the data and they pull out the scariest statistics. But you know these are small risks and lots of other things will impact your risk of ill health, so I don't want to freak you out?
Louise Minchin: 52:00
Yeah, no, it's really interesting what you said there Because you know, if you believe the headlines, everything that, for example, I do police workers, nhs workers, working up, working all night, all the rest of it you know the headline. It is really bad for you, but you're right. I suppose you know. We all in our own individual way, because you wouldn't be able to. You know, I've done this for 20 years. It can't be that bad for me.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 52:22
There is massive individual variation. There really is. I mean, I kid you not, you are very resilient, definitely, and some people would cope better with it than others. And we do tend to find it a bit harder to cope with shift workers. We get older, so you know, if you're feeling a little bit tired, there's good reasons for it.
Louise Minchin: 52:38
But it's interesting, isn't it, that you put in. You know you put it, I suppose you know. I suppose what's really good about listening to you is everybody can choose their own bit to add. You know, if you know this thing is not brilliant, you know there are things you can add in to make it better for you, aren't there?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 52:52
Yeah, and I think you know this is an exercise all about. Sorry, this is a podcast. All like people who love exercise and exercise is brilliant for sleep, and the lovely thing is that the research shows it's not really about how fit you are or how long that you've spent doing exercise, it's just that it's a regular part of your life and studies have found that actually, tai Chi is probably just as effective as going running three times a week. The important part is that you're not sitting down doing nothing.
Louise Minchin: 53:22
It's just about being active, and just to brief you to that point so exercise, regular exercises, I think, is what you're saying. What about exercise late at night? Really?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 53:31
variable actually. So they used to be advised to not exercise in the last two to three hours before bed, but more recent studies have found that for some people that doesn't seem to be an issue. I think the big thing is body temperature. So if you are a competitive sports person I work with footballers, for example, who really struggle to go to sleep after a match. So there there's lots of things going on. It's not just the physical exercise, it's the adrenaline and tension and the body temperature has gone up and you've got lactic acid buildup. You might be in pain. You know there's a whole gamut of stuff going on there and usually in that circumstance my advice is actually do not try and get into bed too early. Give yourself time to wind down. You know, have a warm bath, relax first before you get into bed, which might sound counterintuitive because of course you want to optimize recovery. But if your body is still in this kind of heightened state of arousal, it's very, very difficult to switch off. But you know, for most people I'd say experiment. If you find that after your hit class at 9pm you're not sleeping so well, that's a pretty good indication. Maybe try something else at that time of night, maybe a bit of yoga pilates. That should be good Guys. It's all brilliant stuff isn't it.
Louise Minchin: 54:44
I'm looking at the clock, thinking poor Sophie. We, you know we could do two hours here. We'll keep you another few minutes because I've conscious that you've got people to go and help Annie go on.
Annie Emmerson: 54:53
Let's just talk, and I love this because I was just having a little bit of a look online. It's amazing what you can pull out on people these days, isn't it on the internet? I love what she found I found about I mean, because you're also not only a brilliant sleep expert doctor, obviously an academic, you're also a bit of action woman too, sophie, and so I read up a little bit on your climbing trip in Swanage. That went a little bit wrong and, to quote you, the irony is I was sleep deprived when I fell. So it's that. Do we all practice what we preach, busted? There's brilliant patches on the internet and actually I love climbing. I did quite a lot of indoor stuff, but the heights that you go to, I have terrible vertigo. You are action woman. I mean, you were pretty high. Just tell us briefly, yeah, what happened there.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 55:47
That was the old me. So I have been working in sleep science for a long time and been very passionate about it, and I worked for a digital health startup you know, small company, very busy. I went, I flew around the world telling people about sleep and I didn't look after my own, if I'm completely honest, and three years ago. You know I'm embarrassed about it now, but actually it was brilliant. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. I had flown in from overseas, my flight was delayed, probably had about four hours sleep max, but I'd already agreed to go and meet people to go on this climbing trip. So, you know, I turned up and I ended up making some really stupid decisions. You know, I took risks that I wouldn't normally have taken, and one of the things about sleep deprivation is that because it downgrades this prefrontal cortex, you get more impulsive and you take more risks than you probably otherwise would. So on this particular day I was doing a difficult climb at a time when my body clock was sort of two hours later, because I just just flown in from overseas and I had a pretty nasty fall. I was helicoptered off the cliff in Swanage and I spent four or five months on crutches, and so I had a lot of time to reflect on the importance of sleep and also how I was spending my life. And that was the point when I decided, actually I'm going to change focus and focus on sleep education and helping people to sleep better, because we already have a whole lot of research. We just need to get it out there. And so my entire focus now really is about trying to evangelize about the importance of sleep and helping people understand it and demystify it.
Louise Minchin: 57:31
Oh well, I mean so kind of really straight. That's kind of strange, isn't it, that that happened. You know that that's what took. It took to change your life.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 57:39
But so many of us we operate at sort of you know, 95, 100% effort all the time. What was getting stuff done, and it was only when I was forced to slow down and rest and get more sleep that I became a lot more creative. You know, I started to think about actually how else could I do things? And I think we're all on this treadmill. And one of the great things actually about the pandemic for a lot of people is that it forced us to slow down, go to fewer places, do a little bit less and reflect. And I really hope, now that things are opening up again, that people are really mindful about what they want to bring back into their life and hopefully not being too busy. And Louise, this is so mean. I'm going to pick on you because you were saying earlier, you know you booked all this stuff and that's great and it's brilliant to reconnect. But I think if there's one thing you know people can take away, it's okay think about sleep in the same way that you think about planning your exercise. So if you're looking at your week ahead and you're like, right, okay, I'm out five nights a week here, when are you going?
Louise Minchin: 58:47
Dr Sophie Bostock: 58:48
No, of course you wouldn't.
Louise Minchin: 58:50
But the bookings are till November. But no, I do. I. I entirely agree with you that that's what I've really, really learned. That you know because we were all. I think you know and in different ways you know anybody who's listening to this. You know we were taking our children to school and doing our jobs and you know, doing the trillion things and to have that all taken away has actually been a massive benefit. A massive benefit and there's so many things that now I won't do and I would, I probably wouldn't do the five nights a week anyway, but just won't do because I just know that, I know that I had been stretching my limits.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 59:29
Yeah, I think it's a great message that plan ahead in the same way you plan what what meals you're going to eat, you know. Just make sure you've planned in time for recovery. So you've got a late night, you're being sociable, brilliant. But the next night, make sure that you've got some time off. Should we talk to you about your rowing?
Louise Minchin: 59:43
I want to talk to her about her rowing.
Annie Emmerson: 59:44
Yeah, that's what I was going to talk about as well because you're going to sort of put yourself in a bit of a sleep deprivation from the 13th of June onwards when you sail. I did have a look what it was. How many miles is it? It's round Great Britain. It's 1,600. It's not sailing either. No, it's rowing, sorry, rowing 1,650 nautical miles around Great Britain.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 1:00:08
Yes. So this is just to prove that you know everybody suffers the odd bad night of sleep and that you shouldn't let this scare you off doing crazy stuff. So, if I'm totally honest, I turned 40 this year and I wanted to mark it in some significant way, and initially I'd hoped for a spa trip to Fiji, but that wasn't going to happen. So instead I'm going to be rowing around Great Britain in a boat for 12 people. There is a tiny cabin at either end where three of us will sleep at a time will be operating on 24-7 shift pattern. So you know, all those people to whom I've given advice about shift work will be laughing as they sit at home watching me rowing for three hours at a time and then sleeping for a maximum of three hours at a time. And part of my interest is obviously I'm going to be tracking my sleep, tracking my mood and also testing my alertness at different times. So I think it's going to be very interesting, and I'll be raising money for the British Heart Foundation as well. So you know it's all in a good cause. It should be fun and hopefully sharing a lot of the journey as I go around.
Louise Minchin: 1:01:18
Well, listen, massive good luck with that. How's the training going?
Dr Sophie Bostock: 1:01:22
It's good. I mean, trying to find enough time is challenging, but I really, really enjoy it. So, rowing, paddle, boarding, any excuse to get out on the water.
Louise Minchin: 1:01:31
Yeah, and I love the way you say a maximum of three hours, because you know very well that it won't be you, won't you? Just because you'll have to feed yourself, you'll have to do. You're never going to sleep for three hours. I mean, maybe you will when you're absolutely exhausted.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 1:01:42
But yeah, I think sleep deprivation is going to be an interesting aspect of the challenge. I'm very intrigued to see how it influences how we get on as a team, because I'm going to be with people that I don't know well, and what tends to happen when we're short of sleep is we get a little bit irritable, and I've never quite experienced this sort of sleep debt before. So, yeah, I'm usually quite upbeat, but we'll see how it goes.
Annie Emmerson: 1:02:08
I think you'll do brilliantly. I'm convinced that you will be absolutely fine, sophie, but we will definitely be staying in touch with you and following you on that one, and I think, just one final question before we go.
Louise Minchin: 1:02:19
This is from Sarah and I know we mentioned it before we started recording the podcast and people will want to know this what about tracking sleep cycles? And also because I did go for that brief period where I was tracking my sleep and I gave up because it was just too depressing.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 1:02:35
There are some plus sides of tracking and I mentioned, you know, on this row. I want to track because I want to learn. I really genuinely want to see how I function with very little sleep. But I speak to quite a lot of people who get quite anxious about sleep so they buy a sleep tracker just to convince themselves how bad their sleep really is. And getting that reinforcement can be quite unhelpful, and more than once I said to people look, I want you to take that off for a couple weeks until you can tell me that it's not important to you, because the most important measure of your sleep quality and how well you, how much do you get is how you feel during the day. None of those trackers can tell you that. They're based on algorithms that are based on average people, but we are all different, so we do not have a recipe for the perfect night of sleep. In fact, your sleep changes from night to night. If you didn't sleep well last night, you're more likely to get more deep sleep tonight and there's lots of variation. So if you are someone who actually finds it very helpful, it helps you stick to a routine to track your sleep brilliant, in the same way that for a lot of people, tracking their steps can be quite motivating and empowering. But if you find yourself feeling anxious and worried about it, just just put it away. Rely on if we go back to that idea of intuitive sleeping sleep when you feel sleepy until you feel refreshed, brilliant oh, should we leave it there when you feel sleepy so if you think it's been so lovely, I think I've learned a lot.
Louise Minchin: 1:04:10
I've learned a lot for myself.
Annie Emmerson: 1:04:13
Yeah, brilliant stuff, and stuff for my husband, stuff for my friend. Everyone's gonna be sleeping brilliantly I really, really hope it's helpful.
Dr Sophie Bostock: 1:04:22
Okay, one more actually before we go, very final tip, because it's super useful and I know a lot of people wrote in saying that they struggled to sleep at night. So we talked about positive visualisation and, matthew McConaughey, we talked about breathing techniques. I didn't talk much about mindfulness, but it's the same idea. But one final, final technique if you've woken up at night feeling a little bit groggy, you just want to avoid that sort of racing mine scenario, say to yourself the word the two seconds later. It's the most boring word in English and you're just by repeating that a couple of times is quite an effective thought blocker. Don't worry if it doesn't work the first time with any of these sleep techniques, the first time your brain is going, what are you doing? This is weird, but actually, when it becomes familiar, two or three nights later, I guarantee you that really you fall back to sleep. Brilliant.
Louise Minchin: 1:05:25
I just, basically, you're boring yourself to sleep, which is perfect. Thank you so much. Listen, best of luck with the rowing, and that has honestly been one of the most intriguing podcast, hasn't any? There's so many takeaways and so many things to learn, and I think the thing I'm gonna take away from it is all is not lost. You know, if you're an insomniac, if you're waking up in the middle of the night, there are things that can make it better. So that's really optimistic note to end on. Thank you so much thank you, I was really interested by so much that she said, but also about that thing about what was it when you wake up in the morning and why you're not able to kind of wake up quickly, was really interesting as well, wasn't it? Because I do wake up, I mean, I think it's because I'm in flight or fright mode when that alarm goes up, like right, that's it, and I'm zoom out of bed, as there's no kind of sleepy, kind of slow option for me at that point. But anyway, she's brilliant. And what can you tell us?
Annie Emmerson: 1:06:20
What can I tell you? All sorts of exciting things happening. I think it's great at the moment that we're looking ahead to mental health awareness week, because we kind of know there's this, quite a few people out there struggling, struggling a bit coming out of the last 12 months I think also any, I just think the last you know, because it's been a long time.
Louise Minchin: 1:06:39
I think the last few months five months have been it's all been difficult, particularly difficult.
Annie Emmerson: 1:06:44
it's been really, really hard and it's a kind of it's going back to I hate to use with this world normality, but you know, everyone's kind of been in survival mode, haven't they? And now it's kind of like the ship wreck Picking up the pieces. You know, not everyone's like that, but I think more people are struggling than not and I think that's why, you know, mental health awareness week is so important for people to be able to speak out and I think, crucially knowing that you're not alone, because I think there would be a lot of people going to just me. It's just me, but of course it's not. I think that's a great thing about what her spirit is doing. So there is the 21 day challenge, where her spirit challenging are members to get out there for 30 minutes a day, and I think for me personally I don't know about you, but it's all about being, you know, out there in the fresh air and seeing nature wherever you are, however, that you know comes across. It might be that you just have a partner by all, you might have a lot more countryside, but it's 21 days yeah, we're talking about the importance of that, doing that with friends, of friends of friends.
Louise Minchin: 1:07:46
For example, a friend came round for a walk yesterday and, gosh, I've missed my friends, I've missed being able to be out. Just you know, chit chat Doesn't have to be deep, it doesn't have to be heavy, just actually being able to laugh with your friends or people that you love laughing, exactly.
Annie Emmerson: 1:08:02
So it's a 21 day challenge and it's to get out every single day 30 minutes. However, that is walking, running, jumping, jumping, whatever however you see it to be, but bring someone along with you and and brilliantly, and her spirit are offering anyone who's a member to bring along a friend for 14 days for free, and that challenge starts on Monday, may the 10th, which is my birthday, so it's obviously gonna be a great challenge.
Louise Minchin: 1:08:28
Birthday and happy birthday. And listen, we'll see you in a couple of weeks because, as well, we've got looking forward to the leads triathlon and I know that lots of people I'm on her spirit of going to that and training for that. If you are, don't worry, we've got fantastic advice for you, lots of support for you. And one of the top triathletes in the world. She is Awesome. She's called. If you don't know her, you need to know her. She's called Lucy Charles. She is something else, isn't she any?
Annie Emmerson: 1:08:57
oh, she is and she is. She's been runner up at the world championships iron man Three times and she's sort of done it in a reverse fashion. So most people start short course triathlon and they move across the long course once they've built up the experience and they've got older. But she started in her early 20s really young. But she's a great swimmer, she's a great ambassador, she's great fun and she's going to be here chatting with us as our next podcast guest.
Louise Minchin: 1:09:24
Yes, they should give us lots of advice, and I am in the moment training for the her spirit, the attack, the big bike ride, the big thumbs up. We got an email saying it's on at the moment. That's obviously, you know, precluding that fact that we can leave the country and come back to the country. So yeah, the pressure's on, let's do this.
Annie Emmerson: 1:09:45
The pressure's on, let's do it, baby. Okay, my darling lovely chatting with you. Happy birthday, thank you. See you next week. Bye.