Sleep resources

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation constitutes anything less than seven hours according to the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley.  The sleep cycle of slow wave and REM sleep is 90 minutes and we need 4-5 cycles of this to recharge.

The causes:

Night shifts. Electrical light (LED light reduces melatonin levels).  Social media at our fingertips 24:7.  Anxiety.  Pressure to work or socialise all hours.

Attitudes; “We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour… After being awake for 19 hours, you’re as cognitively impaired as someone who is drunk“.  Matthew Walker, sleep scientist

The effects:

Increased risk of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimers, poor mental health – suicidal thoughts and addiction, certain types of cancer; the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen.

Sleep deprivation results in 60% amplification in the reactivity of the amygdala – a key spot for triggering anger and rage.

Dr Michael Farquhar, Consultant in Sleep Medicine, gives an ARIES talk on how fatigue affects the body and the potential impact on anaesthetists and patients.

The Solutions:

Think about sleep as a kind of work, like going to the gym, and prioritise it for your health and wellbeing.

Have a bedtime alarm with a half hour notice to start cycling down;  turn off electronic devices, take a hot bath, have a hot (non-caffeinated drink), go to bed in a cool room, use lavender oils in the bath or bedroom.

Consider meditation and/or yoga.  Combining cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) with mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve sleep better than CBT-I alone.

Listen to soothing music; it stimulates parasympathetic nervous system, to help your body relax and prepare for sleep. Adults who listen to  relaxing music before bed fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less during the night.

Companies should think about rewarding sleep. Productivity will rise, and motivation, creativity and even levels of honesty will be improved.


VetLed HALT campaign includes free resources on ensuring staff are not Hungry/Angry/Late/TIRED, in line with NHS Guy’s, St Thomas’ HALT campaign.

Vetlife has a sleep hygiene page with links to resources, and a section for insomnia advice and support.

The National Sleep Foundation has lots of great blogs and advice