If you’re anything like me, you try and get an extra half an hour of sleep whenever you can. These days, with a young family, it’s those little things – like an uninterrupted sleep – that make all the difference. If I get a good night’s sleep, I feel like I can conquer the world.
So why, then, do we regularly neglect our sleep? We eat greens because we know our bodies need nutrition, we drink water because we know everything works better when we’re hydrated. But more often than not we don’t give sleep the attention, or time, it requires. It’s often the first thing to be sacrificed in a busy schedule.
As a former sportsman, my training and performance were always notably better after a decent night’s sleep. I still dream about those afternoon naps in-between training sessions. When I decided to take on the challenge of running from Adelaide to Melbourne in 2010 to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Network Australia, I had to average around 70kms a day on foot – so sleep became a major priority. I thought if I had enough sleep I would definitely make it. Little did I know the pain that I would experience along the way.
During that challenge, I had pains that took me back to the feeling of growing pains I experienced as a kid. This led to sleepless nights which, in turn, made some days a hell of a lot harder than others. I managed it, thankfully, but the whole experience reinforced the importance of sleep and its restorative effects.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but that run was actually preparing me for sleep-deprivation on a whole new level, with the arrival of four boys under the age of five. As you can imagine – or some of you have experienced – crying babies, sleepwalking toddlers and kids just wanting to sleep with you can be a real shock to the system.
As contributing editor this month, I’m calling out for you to make sleep your number one health priority. Together we’ll look at ways to manage energy levels, the tactics for enabling restorative sleep, plus ways to tackle any sleep issues that come up. Because when we’re rested, the body is naturally prepared to run headfirst at all of life’s opportunities.