πŸ—£ sleep

This is an account of a talk I gave at my local Toastmasters club last night. The intention of the talk was to incorporate facts and research.


Thank you Mr Toastmaster. Good evening Toastmasters and special guests.

I’d like to you raise your hand if typically sleep less than 6 hours per night (a few people raise their hand). Raise your hand if you sleep six to less than eight hours per night (almost all of the audience raises their hand), finally if you sleep eight or more hours per night (one person raises their hand sheepishly – there are a few giggles and looks).

Sleep deprivation is defined as anything less than seven hours of sleep per night1.

Research by the WHO has shown typically sleeping less than 7 hours per night is as bad as smoking2.

The AAA has found that driving a car on less than 4 hours of sleep means you’re eleven and a half times more likely to have a crash. 3

An adult sleeping only six hours and forty-five minutes a night would only be predicted to live to their early sixties without medical intervention. 1

It wasn’t until I had kids that I realised the importance of sleep. Suddenly I became fascinated with it.

Both from the kids point of view: they don’t sleep and they’re so grumpy. And from the parent’s point of view: they don’t sleep and we’re so grumpy.

Why are we grumpy when we don’t sleep? Brain scans have shown a 60% amplification in the reactivity of the amygdala1 which is the part of your brain which causes the fight or flight response. So we’re more angry, anxious and stressed when we don’t sleep.

But why don’t we respect sleep? Kids are so cute when they’re sleepy. You can’t not smile looking at a cute little sleeping child. But if an adult is sleepy, or sleeps a lot, we look at them like they’re a sloth. They’re lazy. Hero’s don’t sleep. The CEOs of multinational organisations are applauded as heroes who survive on a few hours of sleep a night.

And we don’t sleep. In 1942, less than 8% of the US population survived on 6 or less hours of sleep per night, now it’s one in two. 1

It’s a huge economic problem too. Sleep Scientist Matthew Walker at the University of California has showed sleep deprivation costs the UK economy alone 30 billion pounds per annum, 2% of the GDP of the United Kingdom.1

So why don’t we sleep like we used to. There’s a number of reasons. The most obvious is electrification of the night: 24×7 electricity has made the world less dark, and we need darkness to sleep well. Also work. The grey lines between work and home, for example, I work at home, mean we’re working more and working more in our homes: checking emails on our phones all night. Not only that, we desire larger more expensive houses with longer commutes which means we have less hours to do other things. And we all suffer the modern phenomenon known as FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. We’d rather miss out on sleep than anything else.

This talk has been pretty bleak and depressing so far. So what can you do?

The first thing you can do to improve your sleep is sleep more. Try to stick to regular sleeping hours every night. We set alarms to wake up: why not set one to go to bed so you know you can sleep for eight hours that night? Every iPhone in the world has this feature built in.

Avoid sleeping pills, they delete your memory.1 Limit alcohol and caffeine – they are enemies of sleep, much like light. And do things like reading (paper) books at bedtime, or take a hot bath which helps you get to sleep1.

On sleep, Heroclitus said “Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.”

President Donald Trump proudly declares he has 3 hours of sleep a night4, which raises the question: do you really want to be like Donald Trump?

Mr Toastmaster.

audience erupts in loud and sustained πŸ‘


[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/sep/24/why-lack-of-sleep-health-worst-enemy-matthew-walker-why-we-sleep
[2]: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/584425/Smoking-sleep-stroke-heart-attack-risk-unhealthy-tired
[3]: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/12/06/driving-5-hours-sleep-like-driving-drunk/94992718/
[4]: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/243275

day trips

Presented at my local Toastmasters Club 7 August 2017


See AustraliaΒ is our family theme for the next few years as a recent family event has put a constraint on family overseas travel. This has made me realise that I’ve actually visited more cities and places abroad than in Australia even though I was born and raised here. I am embarrassed to admit that, despite living for over 20 years in Queensland, the furthest North I have ventured is Noosa.

It’s all good and well to plan holidays and See AustraliaΒ but this requires two things: time off work and money. A family of five with a sole income may not have a lot of either! This is where Day Trips come in.

Day Trips are the perfect solution to our mundane nine-to-five existence. They require little upfront planning to arrange, need not be convoluted, are low-cost and allow us to see our own backyards that we so often overlook.

There’s no costs for accommodation during a day trip, and no sleeping in uncomfortable tents.

Sometimes you feel like you’re stressed and you need a holiday but choosing and planning a holiday is stressful in itself! You get into a never-ending cycle of stress: β€œI’m so stressed I need a holiday, taking a holiday is so stressful!”

Earlier this year I felt a little bit ‘meh‘ so I decided to take a last-minute day trip to Toowoomba: a wonderful Queensland city that sits on the Great Dividing Range West of Brisbane and Ipswich. I started at the crack of dawn and arrived into Toowoomba early enough to climb up and see the sun rising over Table Top Mountain. I saw some world class street art which is created every year as part of the First Coat Street Art Festival. I also ate some delicious street food from Toowoomba’s thriving hip cafe scene. I finished the day descending into the Lockyer Valley where I purchased some locally grown road-side produce.

I had an amazing day trip to Toowoomba and the best part was that I was home in time to cook dinner (with my sourced produce) and sleep comfortably and soundly in my own bed.

There are some downsides to Day Trips. There can be lots of driving for one day, but you can overcome this by sharing the driving with a family member or friend. Day Trips also typically require a car which makes it hard if you don’t own one, but there are plenty around South East Queensland that don’t require a car: you can catch a train/bus to the Gold Coast or Noosa, or a train and ferry to the beautiful North Stradbroke Island. There are also lots of car sharing schemes you could utilise.

The latin phrase Carpe Diem translates into English asΒ Seize The Day. ItΒ is one of the oldest philosophical mottos of the Western World. My own personal motto is Carpe Diem Trinus or Seize The Day Trip.