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The beauty of sleeping

Around 50,000 years ago, our ancestors invented bedtime. They thought, ‘Let’s go to sleep at night and get stuff done during the day’. It was a revelation. Since then all sorts of theories have sprung up about slumber, from how much we need to why we dream (to keep it interesting?). Here are three of our favourite discoveries.

Go to bed, get to work

It’s REM sleep, the deepest state of rest, that our bodies (and minds) need. Without it you can wake up feeling restless and grouchy. Sound familiar? The good news is that just 20 minutes longer in bed can help. Amazingly, that extra time can make you up to three times more productive the next day.

Dream of birds

You can influence your dreams. Professor Richard Wiseman studied 800 people and found that those who listened to the calming sounds of birdsong and swaying trees as they slept had much pleasanter dreams than participants who listened to traffic noises. Those tranquil dreams also meant they woke up in a better mood.

Sights & smells

Of course, it helps if you can get to sleep in the first place. Screens that emit blue light (laptops, phones, TVs) have a disruptive effect on our sleep patterns and are best avoided before bed. However, keeping with the blue theme, the smell of lavender (according to one university study) can help you slumber.

Yes, the science of sleep is a curious thing. What have you discovered about your own napping habits?

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