How to get better sleep (and live longer and become more intelligent).

I am obsessed with getting at least 7 hours a night. Any less and I have to drag myself through the day: I become forgetful, I can’t make quick decisions, I forget how to spell (pretty embarrassing seeing as I am an English teacher!) I even feel like my driving is affected.

I was listening to a podcast by the sleep scientist Matthew Walker – and he gave some very sobering facts about sleep deficiency. On 4 hours of sleep you will have a 70% drop in your bodies immunity, not just in fighting common colds and viruses, but in more severe, life threatening illnesses.

The World Health Organisation has classed working night shifts as a carcinogenic: sleep patterns are disrupted so much that there are clear links to many types of cancers.

The very day after the clocks go forward for daylight saving hours there is a 24% increase in heart attacks, and when they move in the opposite direction and we gain an hour, there is a 21% decrease! Pretty powerful stats!
Studies shows that moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication. With only 4-6 hours sleep, performance was equivalent or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.05 percent (difficulty in focusing, tracking visual objects becomes tricky, decision making becomes impaired).

As a teacher I regularly see pupils falling asleep in class because (and they are honest about it) have been gaming or binge watching TV until the early hours! When we are asleep our brain process our memories of the day and stores them in a different part of the brain for long term memories. The next day we wake afresh, like a dry sponge as Walker puts it, ready to soak up new learning and memories. But if we haven’t had enough sleep and yesterday’s learning hasn’t been processed, and our sponge is still full…how can we be ready to absorb new learning? We can’t. There can be up to a 40% deficit in learning with a lack of sleep. Sleep then, is vital for our intelligence and knowledge retention.

My husband has no issue getting off to sleep, he is usually snoring within minutes of lying down, but he wakes up in the night and cannot go back off. He has recently started to take a cup of turmeric tea before bed and it has transformed his slumber. I can vouch for it completely as I don’t get awoken with his tossing and turning. I am a good sleeper, but seem to sleep even better after drinking turmeric. I also wake up very refreshed and energetic.
Turmeric is one of those wonder spices – it makes food taste great but it is also reported to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, fight inflammation, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, promote neuron growth in the brain…I could go on…phew!

We take turmeric two ways, both equally delicious!
We buy turmeric teabags, often infused with orange and star anise. Tasty and easy.
The second way is my favourite, and only slightly more tricky, golden milk.

Here’s my recipe for Golden Milk:

1 cup of milk (I use oat milk, but any type of milk works)
1 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper (you can leave this out if you think it’s too weird)
1tsp of honey (any other sweetener will work)

Add everything in a pan, heat slowly whisking as it warms for a nice frothy consistency. It’s so comforting and a little bit tingly on the tongue! It tastes a little like a chai latte.

Try it: you’ll be sleeping like baby and feeling much better for it in no time!

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