VENTEUR spoke with Suzanne Roynon, an International Interiors Therapist, writer, and member of the International Feng Shui Guild, about improving our sleep. She helps clients look differently at the things they keep around them to understand how they may be harming their relationship, health, wealth, success, satisfaction, and home life. In addition, she shares hints and tips to create a home and office space her clients love and propel them forward rather than keeping them tied to the past.
In addition to her Interiors Therapy and Feng Shui consultancy and teaching, Roynon is a professional speaker and the author of the award-winning bestseller “Welcome Home, How Stuff Makes or Breaks your Relationship.”
Sleep Health Generally
How many hours of sleep should entrepreneurs get each night, and why?
Everyone is unique, so inevitably, some entrepreneurs will function effectively on less sleep than others, but 7-9 hours seems to be regarded as optimal. A more significant concern comes when an individual burns the midnight oil to the extent they deprive themselves of the sleep they need or when their sleeping environment is unsupportive to the degree it prevents their body and mind from recharging effectively overnight to maintain mental and emotional well-being.
What does healthy sleep look like?
To me, healthy sleep means slipping off into mild drowsiness within a few minutes of nestling on the pillow. If one wakes during the night, returning to deep sleep quickly with minimal disturbance to mind, equilibrium, or companion.
What is REM sleep, and why does it matter?
REM is one of the four sleep stages, and it's the place where the mind is most active while the body is resting. It matters because this is where dreams and unexpected inspirations occur. The brain is sorting through memories, thoughts, emotions, and subconscious beliefs to try and make sense of them.
How can someone develop a regular sleep schedule?
It starts by noticing what works best for the individual because something which works brilliantly for one person may be a disaster for another. It's also important to be aware of the changes which come with age and hormonal changes and adapt accordingly.
Some generic elements include switching off screens and bright lights well before you want to sleep and keeping cell phones away from the head, ideally out of the room altogether. Be hydrated, so thirst isn't an issue, but not to the degree that regular bathroom trips are required. Have the room at a temperature that works for you and avoid a stuffy environment that can cause headaches, a blocked nose, and a dry mouth. If noise and light are an issue, use an eye mask/ear plugs. Finally, if your brain keeps whirring, use meditation or a distracting (dull) audiobook to lull it into submission.
It's essential to allow the body and mind to wind down. From hideous personal experience, after working under bright lights, it takes a couple of hours for my brain to be calm enough for sleep, so even if I'm in the most comfortable bedroom, I need to factor in chill time with muted lighting while I prepare for sleep. Conversely, an excellent, dark room with fresh night air helps me wake feeling refreshed and at my best.
How does a lack of quality sleep affect one's mental health, and why?
Insufficient sleep, at a minimum, leads to poor decision-making, irritability, and frustration. When inadequate sleep becomes a habit, psychological health and well-being are compromised on many levels, which is precisely why sleep deprivation is used as torture. It's impossible to think clearly, assess risk and recognize inappropriate responses or behaviors. As a result, mistakes mount up, relationships suffer, trust diminishes, anxiety and depression grow, and this becomes a downward spiral for emotional and mental health. It's terrible news.
How does a lack of quality sleep affect one's physical health, and why?
It's well known that sleep is essential for the body to regenerate correctly. While the body makes billions of cells daily, the period when the organs, nervous system, muscles, blood circulation, and brain are at their least active enables healing. In addition, cell generation can work more efficiently when the body isn't stressed.
A lack of quality sleep denies the body this vital time to nourish and renew. Dark circles under the eyes and dry skin are the first warning signs of damage occurring, and you ignore these at your peril. Leave it too long, and immunity to infection diminishes while the risk of damage to organs increases, compromising the ability of the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and spleen to perform at their best. In addition, cell mutation, which is the root of cancers, is more likely in a sleep-deprived person. Finally, chronic pain and tension when nerves, muscles, and bones fail to heal may become an uncomfortable new normal.
What three outside-of-the-box sleep tips can you share, and why?
The best quality of sleep is achieved in an environment where an individual feels safe and protected. Implementing simple interior therapy tips can create a nurturing bedroom that benefits the sleeper and extends to other areas of their life.
1. Create A Healthy Sleep Space
The bedroom is ideally used purely for rest, romance and rejuvenation. Place the head of the bed against a solid wall and always have a robust and comfortable headboard to reduce the sense of vulnerability during sleeping hours. Add matching nightstands and lamps with warm white, dimmable bulbs to support a tranquil ambiance and preparation for sleep to bring balance to body, mind, and relationship.
2. Things Interfering with Sleep
Clutter and possessions around and under the bed interfere with sleep quality. Aside from attracting dust that will impair breathing and encourage snoring, they can trigger negative subconscious thoughts. Shoes, tech, books, and exercise equipment stored under the bed disturb slumbers (remove them and see!); photos of friends and family members don't belong in a bedroom. If you wouldn't let them see you naked, put the images elsewhere. Discomforting art or anything about work is destructive to relaxation. If you have to work from home in your bedroom, put everything away at night.
3. Feng Shui
If every part of life is going well, there is less to lose sleep and much to gain in terms of emotional and practical stability. Feng Shui is the 6,000-year-old practice that invites positive energy, balance, and good fortune to a building and significantly improves stress levels and anxiety, which means poor quality or interrupted sleep has become a thing of the past.
Using traditional Feng Shui to identify and neutralize negativity in a home is beneficial at a practical and emotional level for everyone who resides there. It will remove obstacles and open the flow of positive energy, influencing nine critical areas of life along the way; health, finances, relationship, career, opportunity, friendships, knowledge, family, and reputation will all receive a boost when a home fully supports its occupants.
Sleep and Technology
How can technology prevent entrepreneurs from getting a good night's sleep, and why?
It's universally known the blue light emitted from TVs and screens mimics daylight and will prevent the brain from entirely switching off to allow sleep. However, it's also worth considering the potential risks from technology's electromagnetic radiation that has yet to be thoroughly evaluated. For example, having a phone on the nightstand as an alarm or emotional security blanket means electromagnetic waves vibrate close to the head throughout the night. If you must keep a phone close by, use a drawer or the floor so it's not within immediate proximity of the skull.
How can technology help entrepreneurs get a good night's sleep, and why?
Find a method of generating theta brain waves that work for you. At an optimal level, Theta waves support relaxation and encourage free-flowing creative thought, pushing the brain from Alpha activity into a more dream-like condition, which is ideal for tipping you over into sleep. Mindful breathing is one option that can be learned. Meditation is an easy and accessible way to achieve this. If it doesn't come naturally, then using an audio-guided meditation through a soft wireless headband resolves the issue of having a phone close by. Suppose a fear of oversleeping exacerbates wakefulness. In that case, a dawn-light alarm clock can train the brain and body to wake more gently than the jolt of a strident alarm will ever achieve.