Well, if I could bottle it I would make a fortune! First of all I think you have to ask how much sleep you actually need. If you’re forced out of bed by an alarm clock, rather than waking naturally, if it takes a long time to wake up, or if you’re feeling drowsy or muggy for a long time, you’re not getting enough sleep.
So you now need to think about the second half of the day, about when you do go to bed. If you are waking up tired, you need to think about going to bed earlier. And then you have to think about the nature of the bedroom. At least half an hour before you go to sleep you need to be winding down; stop playing games, watching TV and DVDs, and texting. Expose yourself to reduced levels of light, and so then when you go into the bedroom, you’re actually starting to think about sleep.
The bedroom itself should be capable of being very dark and slightly cool, and so get those black-out curtains out so there is no street light coming in, and also turn of the radiator. You don’t want to be cold, but you don’t want to be too hot. And relax. Embrace sleep. Think of sleep as this wonderful duvet that you can wrap yourself in, and as a result of a good night’s sleep you will be a more amusing, innovative, reasonable human being!
Hear other Festival scientists talk about some of their BIG questions.
See Russell Foster in Sleepless in Cheltenham.