Remember the brilliant Big Breakfast interviews on the bed? Well, we thought it was time to bring them back and lie down on a comfy Drift mattress with some of the most inspiring people in the health and wellness industry. It’s the perfect excuse to find out what they’ve been up to, learn some tips and tricks to live a little healthier, plus get their personal thoughts on how to get a better night’s kip.
To launch the series, there is no one better than our good friend Rhian Stephenson, the trailblazing CEO of Psycle. Since it’s launch over two years ago it’s been the most talked about spinning class in town. The flagship studios are packed full each and every day (you’ve got to be quick off the mark to book a bike in Rhian’s class!) and with a second site in Canary Wharf, a brilliant pop-up studio in Selfridges, the launch of their very own nutritional offer, the Energy Kitchen (Rhian’s also a nutritionist), and plans signed for two more studios, you could say she’s not hanging around.
So in between classes and site visits we jumped into bed with Rhian to talk about those all-important Zzz’s.
What’s new, Rhian?
I've been very busy with Psycle classes and growing the brand but I'm also trying to find time now to find a little balance in my life.
How important is sleep to your personal daily life?
Sleep is incredibly important to me. I’ve always been able to function on little sleep so I’ve never really thought about it that much. It wasn’t until I became CEO of Psycle that I felt first-hand just how important it really is for health when you’re under a lot of stress.
About 18 months ago, I went through a period of intense stress and it started affecting my sleep. It was manageable to begin with but, after a few months, it really started to affect me. Everything was down – my mood, my immune system, my energy, my ability to deal with challenges, my concentration…
It really proved the importance of sleep for me.
Talk us through your typical weekly sleep routine. What time do you go to bed and wake up?
Well, my workdays start really early. During the week, I try to get to bed by 11. It doesn’t always happen but that’s when I feel best! I wake up at 5:30 and usually I sleep right through. Come the weekend, it’s far more relaxed and depends what I have planned socially.
Describe your sleep environment.
I’ve always invested in my sleep environment – for me, it’s so important to love how your bed feels! I need a great mattress for a supportive base and I also invest in nice sheets. In the spring and summer, I’ll sleep with an eye mask.
Do you have a typical sleep position?
Yes! It’s on my back, always.
Do you follow any rituals to help you sleep better?
I don’t have a lot of rituals. If I’m having a particularly stressful week though, I use aromatherapy oils. They smell incredible and I feel instantly relaxed.
As a nutritionist and health expert, can you explain why sleep is so important to all of us?
Absolutely – sleep is one of the cornerstones of health. It plays a part in every aspect of both physical and mental wellbeing. It’s when we mentally and physically repair the body. Sleep also plays an important part of hormone regulation and is a vital process for healthy cortisol, growth hormones and other chemicals involved in appetite regulation. Sleep provides time for memory consolidation and mental rejuvenation. It is also essential for mood, concentration and mental energy. If you are under sustaining periods of stress, coupled with a lack of sleep, it eventually starts to affect your outlook on life. It can compromise how you deal with challenges and how motivated you are, not to mention your positivity. Small things can feel like mountains because you lack the mental energy to comprehend it rationally and approach it as you would if you were rested. Sleep is intrinsically linked to our immunity and ability to ward off infection too.
Sleep also has a massive effect on body composition. The spike in growth hormone is essential for repairing muscle and reducing inflammation. If you are training hard and not sleeping, you may not reap the benefits of the efforts you put in whilst exercising. Lack of sleep will impair the body’s ability to build muscle, will spike appetite and can contribute to an impaired metabolism.
Do you have any good tips to help people rest and sleep better… such as meditation, tea, reading?
I’d say definitely get rid of the tech! Reading or meditation before bed really helps calm down the nervous system. If you’re on your email or phone, it’s easy to stay in a heightened and stimulated state.
Avoid stimulating foods like caffeine, soda, sugar, MSG and alcohol but choose camomile teas to help relax you. Also, never go to bed on a full stomach.
Have you read any good bedtime books lately?
I just finished A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara – the best book I’ve read in years! I would literally try to force myself to stay awake because I was enjoying it so much. For me though, reading puts me to sleep almost instantly.
Thanks for talking sleep with us, Rhian. Sleep well!