talkhealth meets... Dr Neil Stanley
Whether you’re great at getting shut-eye or find it hard to sleep soundly, we can all learn from a sleep expert. That’s why, before his webinar, we asked Dr Neil Stanley to share his tips and tricks for a good nights sleep.
The sleep expert also shares his thoughts on the way that sleep has changed thanks to our 24/7 lifestyles and busts some of the biggest myths that surround it. If you want to learn more about sleep from Neil, you should attend his webinar where he will be exploring how we can manage sleep with long term health conditions.
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When did you first realise that sleep was something that you’re interested in?
I started working in sleep when I was 16 years old when I worked alongside the Airforce at the Institute of Aviation Medicine. After 40 years it is a bit like that Billy Preston song ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with’. I only occasionally struggled with sleep issues (like everyone does) so it wasn’t something that came from personal challenges. Now, as a sleep expert, I don’t find sleeping hard as I practice what I preach.
Your career has been wide-spanning - where do you think you learnt most about sleep? Why?
My career (which has spanned working in universities, hospitals and on the NHS supported Sleepstation) has been diverse but I still learn something new about sleep every day. I have a personal library of over 2500 books about sleep and I add about 3 books a week to it, so there is always more to learn.
What areas of health do you have to consider when you are studying sleep?
Sleep is vital for good physical, mental and emotional health. It underpins everything we do from cutting a cucumber to developing cancer. If you want to learn more about your own sleep you should listen to your body and people like me, sleep experts.
You have a strong stance against the so-called ‘sleep market’, can you tell us more?
We have slept perfectly well for millennia and now people have decided they can make money from this most natural of processes. You don’t get rich by talking common sense, trust me! It is important to remember that sleep is a pleasure in its own right, not just something you do at the end of the night.
Do sleep aids really work?
The vast majority of sleep aids (including natural remedies) have no scientific evidence behind them. Most of them are just sold on meaningless marketing statements. However never rule out the power of placebo, if you think something works for you, then it probably does.
What are the biggest sleep myths these days?
We don’t all need 8 hours
We don’t need less sleep as we get older
Sleep trackers are inaccurate
How can we improve our relationship with sleep?
You should start by prioritising sleep and treating it as important. If you make sleep an integral part of your well-being routine then you will naturally develop better sleep habits. My top three tips for good sleep are:
Make your bedroom conducive to sleep: You should think about how your bedroom is decorated, whether you are able to move around the room easily, reduce clutter and of course think about light, sounds and temperature.
Relax your body: The NHS recommend taking a bath before bed, this can help it reach the ideal temperature for sleep. Also, you could try slow pace exercises like yoga to relax your muscles.
Do things that soothe your mind: There are simple tricks that can get your mind ready for bed like writing a to-do list. You also shouldn’t use a screen for an hour before you go to bed as the light can wake you up.
If you need extra support for your sleep, our mysleep support programme is great for actionable, weekly advice. You should also check out our talksleep hub where we have loads of articles and expert insights too!
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team