Anyone who boasts that they do not need sleep is an idiot. Do not listen to them. In fact, improving your sleep is probably the single most effective step to improve your health. There is no health condition for which good sleep is not an effective prescription.
So begins a podcast mini-series on sleep that I wrote and recorded for Himalaya Learning, an audio learning platform that launched a couple of years ago and offers “short, actionable audio courses”. If you want to learn from experts in their field (and me), Himalaya is the business. For example, you can pick up “The 7 Secrets of Success” from the likes of bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, Breaking Bad lead Bryan Cranston and Google CEO Ruth Porat; you can get advice on how to create a global phenomenon on a low budget from serial entrepreneur Tim Ferris; or listen to Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps as he reflects on how to stay grounded.
Himalaya’s podcasts are distinguished from the competition by their focus on self-help but also on really short episodes. In my podcast Getting Good Sleep, there are eight episodes, which range from between 6 minutes and 20 minutes long with a total run-time of around 2 hours. Each episode has three distinct parts: a brief introduction, a story and piece of actionable advice, like how to keep a sleep diary and work out the actual number of hours your individual brain actually needs to sleep.
The episodes cover the effects of sleep deprivation, the importance of sleep for proper neurological function, the structure of a good night’s sleep, optimal sleep duration, the role of light in setting the stage for healthy sleep, how breathing, snoring and sleep apnea can affect sleep, how to handle chronic insomnia and a round-up of other less common sleep disorders like narcolepsy. As I aimed to set out in my book Sleepyhead, sleep disorders – and the damaging consequences they have for the body and mind – are perhaps the clearest indication of the vital importance of sleep for health.