You will all have heard of insomnia. Some of you may even suffer from it. But insomnia is actually a medical condition with specific diagnostic criteria: people who are just sleeping poorly or feeling a bit jaded during the day may claim to have insomnia when strictly speaking they do not.
A few years ago, I came up with the word “semisomnia” to describe the everyday poor sleep and low-grade daytime sleepiness that many of us experience on a regular basis. Try giving an honest answer to the question “How do you feel during the day?” on a scale of 1 to 10. One means that you have an irresistible desire to fall asleep, while 10 means you feel the most awake you have ever been. I can pretty much bet that none of you are going to be 10, but what is perhaps more worrying is that I also doubt that many of you will be an 8 or 9.
So why are you going through each day at less than your full potential? It is probably because you are not sleeping well. And because you don’t feel good during the day, you spend time – and indeed money – on trying to feel better: the multi-vitamin pill to supposedly keep you healthy, the cup of coffee to get you going, the glass of wine to help you relax. At the end of the week you treat yourself to a spa treatment and you cannot wait to take a holiday.
Just imagine how much better life would be if you were at your best each day. The good news is that there is something that could make you feel and look good each and every day: it is simply getting good sleep.
Dr. Neil Stanley
Dr Neil Stanley is an independent sleep expert who has been involved in research for over 35 years. After starting out at the R.A.F. Institute of Aviation Medicine, he moved on to the University of Surrey's Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit, where he was Director of Sleep Research. Today, he travels the world lecturing on various aspects of sleep to both healthcare professionals and the public at large.