World Sleep Day, on Friday 15th March is an annual, global call to action about the importance of healthy sleep which focuses on raising awareness and understanding of sleep problems. To celebrate this great initiative we’ll be speaking to a number of sleep experts to bring you the best sleep tips and advice
First up is Johann Callaghan
Johann Callaghan is a sleep expert who regularly runs seminars and talks on how to sleep better. She is the author of How to get a Good Night’s Sleep and has just started a ‘How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep Seminar Series’ which will cover many specific topics related to sleep deprivation including weight loss, menopause, teenagers and anti-ageing. Johann is a firm advocate of Perfection Pillow too!
Tell us about your bedtime routine? Do you have one?
I go to bed about 10pm and read before. I never use my mobile phone before bed. This is crucial. It stimulates the brain and the blue light stops the production of Melatonin, our sleep hormone. I turn my phone onto flight mode every night and turn off my Wi-Fi router. Sometimes I take a bath with magnesium flakes, great to relax the nervous system and muscles. I usually take a shower to switch off my busy mind- it’s like being in a meditative state. I finish off my shower by turning the temperature down for about 30 seconds which brings the core body temperature down which is a cue for the brain that it’s time for sleep.
How do you wake up in the morning? Do you wake naturally or use an actual alarm clock or your phone?
I do wake up naturally for the most – usually about 15 -20 mins before I need to get up. I do set an alarm, just in case, as a backup. Most people’s wake up time is socially determined so it’s really important to go to bed at the right time to get the right amount of sleep, whatever that is for you. I usually wake up naturally at about 7:30am and get up at 7:50am. My alarm is set for 7:45am. I spend those 20 mins or so thinking about the day ahead and being grateful that I have my health. I turn my phone on about an hour after I get up. Most people start their day looking at their phone from the bedside locker to see if they have messages, emails or what post likes they got. This is an extremely disempowering way to start your day because this is reacting to other people’s requests.
What first piqued your interest in Sleep Health?
“You’re not healthy, unless your sleep is healthy” – Dr. William Dement
I realised sleeplessness as a big problem when I identified that most of my massage clients were mentioning sleep difficulties on my client intake form. 80% of Irish people are sleep deprived with half of those experiencing general anxiety ( according to a survey by Laya Healthcare) This is what inspired me to write my book How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep which is now a best seller and has helped many people. From there I designed workshops and online courses.
If you had to narrow it down to three, what are your most important sleep tips?
There are lots of tips but probably the most important in my opinion are:
- Get sunshine first thing in the morning or as early as possible. This helps to reset your circadian rhythm and get you synced into your day.
- Get up at the same time every day even on the weekends. This seems harsh when you want to have a lie on but consider if it’s difficult to get up on Monday morning, this is because you have shifted your circadian clock back from lying on in bed and going to bed later at the weekend. Research carried out by alarm clock app Sleep Cycle found 90% of people around the world admitted to having a sleep-in on Saturday morning.
- Switch off mobile phones at least an hour before bed and put on flight mode.
Do you think that in general as a society our quality and quantity of sleep is getting worse, why do you think this is and how can we improve?
Seventy years ago, 92% of the population was getting sleep for more than six hours a night and in 2017, almost one in two people is trying to survive on 6 hours or less. That is pretty significant. There are two main things I would contribute this to. One is light and the other is technology and mobile phones.
Light is probably the main driver of our circadian rhythm which drives all our daytime and night-time hormones. Every metabolic process in the body is influenced by light but we are now getting less light during the day and exposing ourselves to more blue light at night, all of which is reducing our metabolism and having a major impact of the reduced production of melatonin, our sleep hormone.
Technology is everywhere now. A staggering 60% of Irish people use their smartphone before bed. The blue light emitted from these electronics devices reduces the production of Melatonin, our sleep hormone. It is important to note that Melatonin helps us not only to get asleep but more importantly keeps us transitioning smoothly through all the sleep cycles during the night. Using technology before bed also stimulates the brain and results in the production of dopamine which is what makes it difficult to get off Facebook and other social media. What is most frightening is our children are adapting these behaviours not realising the deleterious effects, not only just on sleep, but social connections and addictive behaviours.
What difference has the Reflex Pillow made to your sleep?
It is really important to have a good pillow that supports your neck and back. Many people don’t realise it, but pillows serve a very specific role in their sleep. Consider how long you spend in bed each night. Your posture is so important to prevent pain as well as being comfortable so you don’t wake up during the night. I have tried a lot of different types of pillows. The Reflex Pillow for me is the one. It is comfortable and supports my head and spine. It is not too firm and not too soft. The only difficulty I had was other people robbing my pillow so I have since sorted that after buying 2 more pillows. I truly love this pillow. It’s what makes me look forward to going to bed at night. I even bring this with me when I’m staying over with family. It is the best investment I have every made when it comes to getting good quality sleep.
Do you have any events coming up for World Sleep Day on March 15th?
I have a seminar ‘How To Get A Good Night’ Sleep for Weight Loss’ in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel, Dublin, Wednesday 27th February at 7:30pm – 9pm. I will be discussing some very interesting information that may help anyone struggling with weight loss. Tickets are €10 Buy here
I also have a FREE Online Masterclass on Monday evening 18th March. ‘5 Surefire Strategies to Your Sleep Success’ For more info and to register you can check out: https://YourSleepSuccess.com