My deep sleep mystery

I’m a little obsessed with sleep and have a visceral reaction when I hear people boast that they only need a short amount of sleep each night, wearing it as a badge of honor and toughness. 

I know that sleep is essential for our overall wellness; too little sleep affecting our physical and mental well-being. I’ve personally known for a long time that I don’t feel as good when I don’t get around eight hours of sleep, and after a night out or a late meal, my sleep is disturbed. I’m the person that wants to be in bed by 10.

Now in my 50’s, it seems to have a more detrimental effect if I don’t get enough sleep, and I have to be much more conscious of my habits if I want to stay balanced. I want to be at my best every day, to enjoy every moment. I’ve dabbled with sleep apps connected to my watch, but  I feel uncomfortable wearing a watch to bed.

Last year, I discovered the Oura ring and jumped on it as a possible solution to diving deeper into knowing my sleep and finding out whether I really do get a good night’s rest.

Wearing the ring for a week or so, it became blatantly obvious I was not getting enough deep sleep each night.  This worried me as I want to set myself up for the healthiest life in my later years, and not enough deep sleep is linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

I have to geek out for a moment.  Our bodies are amazingly efficient at keeping themselves healthy if we don’t get in the way and allow them the right conditions. Specific cells in the brain, called glia, shrink and then expand during deep sleep, enabling an influx of cerebrospinal fluid to flow into the brain and then rapidly flush out toxins that are linked to the onset of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. 

Wow!

A slight panic ensued, and I started making sure my sleep hygiene was up to par.

  • Getting my 8 hours – big check.
  • Ensure my 8 hours were in a reasonable window of time between 10.30 pm and 7.30 am – check.
  • My bedroom was cool enough between 65 and 67 degrees – more or less a check.
  • Soft light in the bedroom – check.
  • No screen time for an hour before bed – yes, I love to meditate and have wind-down time – check.
  • No caffeine after noon – I’d recently cut back my intake to only a caffeinated tea first thing in the morning – check.
  • No big meal within 3 hours of bed – yup – check.
  • No energetic exercise within 3 hours of bed but some exercise earlier in the day – check.

The only thing I could think of was that I read my kindle before I drop off to sleep, so I decided not to read for a week and see if it made a difference.  Frustratingly it didn’t.

Hmm, I was puzzled; what more could I do?

Then one night, my dog, a medium-sized English Cocker Spaniel called Oscar, decided that he didn’t want to sleep on our bed with us and settled in his bed. 

Bingo!

Deep sleep galore in the early part of the night!  I tested this again, and yes, when he slept on our bed, even though I thought he wasn’t disturbing me, there it was, red alert for insufficient deep sleep on my app. 

My poor boy relegated to his cozy bed on the floor from now on, do I feel guilty? Not one bit!

If you need help finding sustainable ways to change your bedtime routine so you can improve your sleep habits, book a call with me, I’d love to work together to increase your health and wellness!

Georgie Coote, NBC-HWC
Georgie Coote, NBC-HWC

Georgie is passionate about offering health and wellness coaching to women at midlife who have let their wellness fall by the wayside, to discover and implement healthy habits so they can maximize their health now, and flourish into later life.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, youngest daughter, and a menagerie of animals.

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