It’s the age-old debate – how much sleep do we really need? For many of us, the importance of sleep is often overlooked, as we endeavour to cram more and more into our busy lifestyles and already packed schedules.


But have you ever stopped to think about how improving your sleeping quantity and quality could, in return, improve your brain integration and performance on a daily basis?

Join us for this i4 Tales taster, as we chat with Sleep Research Scientist, Dr. Carmel Harrington, who reveals how our “3rd pillar of health”, plays in both our creativity and performance, and the importance of making it a priority. 

As a researcher of metabolic sleep in adults and sleep apnoea in infants and young children, Dr. Harrington believes that “sleep is vital to brain function, and we’re only just beginning to understand how vital is really is.”

We live in a world where we’re constantly turned on… a world that is very different to that of our grandparents, and it’s important to study the affect these lifestyle changes are having on our sleep.

Dr. Harrington reflects on a discovery that demonstrates a direct relation between sleeping poorly, or not enough, and the development of depression and chronic diseases. But how do you know if you’re sleeping poorly?

Dr Harrington guides us to look to our behaviours for signs - are you relying on clocks to wake up or ‘get me up’ foods? Do you fall asleep when we watch TV or read a book? And importantly, how do you feel?

Wake up feeling good

Whilst our brains are capable of three neuro-behavioural states: wakefulness, rapid eye movement sleep (also known as R.E.M.) and non-R.E.M. sleep (light sleep); the most important of the three that contributes towards improving our brain integration and performance is R.E.M.

This sleep state, also know as ‘dream’ sleep, is where our bodies, aside from breathing and eye movement, become paralysed, allowing our brains time to restore; and thus it plays a crucial role in a good night’s sleep from which you wake feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.

“When I think about sleep, I think about it as our 3rd pillar of health. It’s as important as eating and as our nutrition and our exercise.” So it’s time to “make sleep a priority.”

Tips to sleep better:

  1. Make sure you know how much you need to sleep and to be at your optimal best.
  2. Give sleep the respect it needs.
  3. Prepare your body and brain to go to sleep at night at a reasonable hour  -don’t think you can cut corners on this, it’s not worth it in the long run.
  4. Don’t exercise or eat within about 3 hours of going to sleep.
  5. Avoid caffeine after lunch.
  6. Alcohol is a no, no – especially if you have trouble sleeping.
  7. Make sure you nurture yourself, because sleep will nurture you.

Dr. Carmel Harrington at i4 Tales 2015

i4 Tales - Vivid Ideas

Dr. Carmel Harrington joined us at the i4 Tales Conference in 2015 to explore how sleep can improve brain integration and performance.

To join us at our next i4 Tales Conference visit our website for upcoming dates!

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