An interview with Stephanie Romiszewski, Bensons for Beds Sleep Expert
We have recently announced our exciting new partnership with Sleep Physiologist, Stephanie Romiszewski. We caught up with her to find out why she is so passionate about sleep and her opinion on the sleeping habits of the UK.
How did Stephanie become a Sleep Expert’?
I knew that I wanted to help people as part of my profession, but I didn’t know how. After working as part of the Sleep Division at Harvard, my passion for sleep began.
I hold a BSc Hons degree in Psychology and an MSc degree in Behavioural Sleep Medicine, my interest in this field started whilst studying Chronobiology, during which time I worked and assisted sleep research at Harvard Medical School.
I have worked in NHS clinical sleep disorder centres across the UK, diagnosing and treating a wide range of sleep issues such as sleep apnoea, narcolepsy, parasomnias, insomnia, movement disorders and circadian rhythm disorders. I’ve also set up sleep services and run training courses for other medical professionals.
I started to see how insomnia and general sleep problems were still somewhat neglected compared to other less common sleep disorders, and this is when I started Sleepyhead Clinic. Sleepyhead Clinic uses the most scientific and evidence based ways (without the nonsense and more common advice which doesn’t work and that most people have tried) to treat insomnia and related sleep problems, provides training and education in sleep medicine and also runs corporate workshops and contracts.
I run bespoke courses online and in person. They come with a high success rate and the service has started to become international, which just goes to show how big a problem poor sleep is, and that we need to tackle it properly and scientifically. Currently as well as the Sleepyhead Clinic, I’m running NHS sleep clinics and run a research team with Professor Adam Zeman in Exeter, Devon in conjunction with Oxford and Exeter University.
Stephanie’s Tips on a good night’s sleep – how people can improve their sleep?
The tips I have provided will improve the quality of most people’s sleep when done consistently – some of the other tips you hear out there people have tried to death and they are not sleeping better. It’s important that we stick to the evidence!
What is the impact on the rest of a person’s life if they have a poor night’s sleep/don’t sleep well?
One poor night’s sleep isn’t going to impact your sleep cycle and life significantly, and that’s really good to know because the worry that people have around this is growing, which only increases anxiety which leads to worse sleep!
Really, sleep issues are normal after a disruption in our lives, and our bodies are really good at recovering and making sure this is only short term. However, if sleep problems aren’t going after a few weeks, it means something else has been making them worse, and that it’s become a habit.
Unfortunately, it’s usually us and our behaviours that do this. Things like going to bed early, lying in, cancelling social and exercise activities to ‘cope’…all this adaptation actually makes things worse because your body has no pattern or rhythm to follow anymore. We also have some terribly inaccurate beliefs about our sleep which scare us into all this unnecessary adaptation.
The reality is, we need sleepiness in order to sleep because it’s a drive state, yet we are desperate to get rid of sleepiness. Frightening people with stories of chronic sleep deprivation and what it causes, makes people thing they are sleep deprived, and so they try to ‘encourage’ more sleep. Which is funny really when you think about it – you can’t just take yourself to bed because you think you need it – you have to be feeling like you’re going to nod off first otherwise you’re just lying in a dark room!
So really back to your question, I think all this information being thrown at us that’s not necessarily reported correctly, is impacting on our mental health and causing problems. Yes, if you are chronically sleep deprived you would be very sick, and yes, we definitely cannot survive without sleep. But guess what? Most of us with sleep issues are still here and not very sick. A third of us have suffered with poor sleep symptoms yes, but that doesn’t mean a third of us are chronically sleep deprived.
Try and stick to your routines (and use the sleep tips above) be as consistent rather than changing things all the time. Consistency is key!
Are people struggling more with sleep these days?
There is a lot of scaremongering around sleep at the moment in the press, and things like sleep tracking just make people worry that they aren’t getting enough sleep. Also, the world that we live in now incorporates technology into everything we do which does have an impact on our sleep.
All of this only makes us less likely to stick to simple healthy routines and to be consistent. There is almost too much choice and stuff going on these days, that we forget about the basics. This only seems to make loneliness and anxiety worse, which also lead to sleep problems.