The relationship of the human body with sleep is an inherently complicated one. It is intertwined in ways that are hard to comprehend and a multitude of us experience sleep with a mind as fickle as the London weather.
To help us untangle this relationship and learn the art of centering ourselves, we have the editor-in-chief of People Who Sleep – Michelle Randall, as the next expert on Pillow Talks!
True to the title, your blog aims at helping people of all ages achieve healthy sleep. We would love to know what inspired you to start this amazing journey?
Sleep is an essential pillar of health and wellbeing, but not enough people see it that way. We launched People Who Sleep in 2020 (in one of the most sleepless years of our time!) with a vision to make the world healthier and happier by helping people get the sleep they need.
Like most of our readers, we know what it’s like to have sleep issues (or deal with sleep issues in our families) and how frustrating it is to search for sleep solutions that can make an immediate difference – whether it’s breathing exercises, body scans or a warm bath in Epsom salts.
At the same time, we want to help our readers prioritise their sleep by giving them all the information they need to make sustainable changes to their lifestyle so that they enjoy better quality sleep for years to come.
So whether you’re a night owl, morning lark, side sleeper or pillow-hugger, we are here to help you get the best quality sleep with proven tips and expert insights.
Your site mentions your team of sleep experts, health pros, journalists. How did you all come together and how big is your team as of now?
We put out a call to content creators who wanted to be part of the conversation about sleep and help us build a community of people who sleep. Our team comes from different backgrounds, but we all share a common goal: to redefine our relationship with sleep and voice its positive impact on wellbeing.
Our journey has only just begun, and our core editorial team is small (there are only four of us so far), but we’ve met some incredible people along the way. We are slowly growing our community to include niche experts in sleep, diet, mental health, parenting and more. Sleep affects every aspect of our lives, so we want to make sure we’re providing value to our readers.
We’re still new, but we’re fortunate to have the support of skilled digital experts who are helping us to keep improving our site. And because we’re growing, we’re committed to adding fresh content daily to grow our library and help our readers find their way to a natural night’s rest.
Lots of teenagers and young adults suffer from sleep troubles. Did you as a teen also go through these problems and how did you tackle them back then?
We all did, to a certain degree, and for various reasons. For some of our contributors, it was a different time back then. No mobile phones, no social media… teenage sleep issues were typically associated with environmental or social stress.
Today’s teenagers and young adults face entirely different challenges, and digital technology certainly doesn’t help – usually because we’re exposing ourselves to blue light at night, which hinders the production of melatonin. However, it’s important to mention that there can be any number of factors causing poor sleep quality, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to sleep issues.
However, “old school” sleep hygiene is the best place to start! An uncluttered, clean bedroom with minimal distractions and a regular sleep schedule. Of course, getting plenty of exercise and following a healthy diet play a big role in sleep quality too!
Along with addressing sleep issues and providing solutions, you aim to educate people about the different aspects of our sleep. Why is it important for us to know more about factors like stages of sleep and our body clock?
We want to demystify sleep and make sleep science accessible to everyone. When you understand “how sleep works” you can optimise it. So whether you’re changing your sleep-wake schedule to align with your sleep cycles (so that you’re going to bed at the right time to allow your body to move through 5-6 full cycles and waking up in the optimal sleep stage), or you’re using light therapy to biohack your sleep, we’re giving you all the information and tools available to make the best choices for you.
Since the pandemic has started, all people working in the healthcare sector have been working day and night. What advice would you give people struggling with catching up on their sleep in these situations?
There are different schools of thought when it comes to catching up on sleep. Some say it’s impossible to reclaim lost hours of sleep – or that trying to do so will throw your body clock out of sync.
We say: It’s better to get some sleep than no sleep at all. Catching up on sleep after going a few days on a short sleep schedule shouldn’t affect you negatively. This is because during sleep, your body revitalises itself by repairing tissue and stimulating cell growth, and your brain consolidates your memories of the day to help you learn and retain information. When you sleep in to catch up on lost hours, it’s like you are plugging your body into a charger that replenishes your energy and fills up your sleep bank.
So, if you’re a frontline worker or working shifts as a healthcare provider, and you’re falling short of the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep you should be getting per night, then reducing your sleep debt on your days off could help you feel more rested.
And don’t forget the power of napping (but don’t overdo it). The ideal nap length should be around 20 minutes and before 3 pm. You want to keep your sleep cycle in stages 1 and 2 to enable you to wake up alert. Any longer and your body will go into a deeper stage of sleep which could leave you waking up feeling cranky and seeking more sleep.
Since your blog works towards helping so many people sleep better, why don’t you share your sleep schedule with us? What are the special tricks that help when you are unable to sleep or relax?
Everyone’s sleep schedule is different, based on their unique circumstances. But as a rule of thumb, we aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and stick to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.
As a team, we can all agree that some of the best bedtime habits include abstaining from alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime, eating a light supper of tryptophan-rich foods, and banning devices at least an hour before it’s lights-out.
Your bedtime routine is also important. Some of our contributors believe in guided meditation before bed while others swear by sleep stories. And there are those of us who follow up a warm bath with some gentle yoga. It’s about finding what works best for you.
What’s the biggest feedback yet that you’ve received on your services that has motivated you on your journey?
It’s early days, and we appreciate any feedback we receive to help us improve our content and share our message with the world.
We’ve heard from some readers who have found our blog to be incredibly helpful, especially shedding light on how to fix their sleep “mistakes.” Other readers have asked us to focus on certain areas of sleep that we haven’t had a chance to cover yet. (If you’re one of them, we’re letting you know that we’re on it!).
Hope this instalment of the PillowTalks helps you in the way you understand the relationship between your body and your sleep because I certainly did! Their team of dedicated professionals sure make me feel positive about all of their future endeavours.
That was Michelle from People Who Sleep! Visit their Instagram page and their website to know more about the amazing work she and her team does in the field of sleep education and information. Do check them out for all of your sleep-related queries and show them some love!
Featured Photo by People Who Sleep
Written by Priyansh Bhattacharya
The author often finds himself shuttling between Pacific Standard Time and Indian Standard Time not because he frequents between the places but just by virtue of the timeline of his daily activities. He can also be found running in his sleep at 6 a.m during morning PT and therefore considers himself qualified to write these articles. Viewer discretion is advised. Hit him up on his email!