Dr Sophie Bostock is a sleep evangelist on a mission: to help millions of people to improve their sleep and wellbeing. Sophie has always been intrigued by what makes us feel good and function well and following degrees in Medicine and Entrepreneurship, she completed a PhD in Health Psychology at University College London (UCL), investigating the links between happiness and heart disease. Sleep emerged as an unsung hero of health and performance and Sophie has spent the last 6 years championing the importance of sleep, and sleep science.
Sophie Bostock Q&A:
What is your job? Tell us about your business and day-to-day?
I think I have the best job in the world – I help people to understand how to get more of something they enjoy, which is completely free, makes them feel good and perform at their best.
My day-to-day role is very varied. Last week I was working with a healthcare provider to develop a self-care app for patients with chronic conditions. This week I’ve spoken at a seminar for HR Directors about what employers can do to support a positive sleep culture, and I’ve been working with athletes to help them reach their peak performance at match time.
What have been your career highlights?
The best part of my job is when I get feedback from someone I’ve worked with and they tell me that sleeping well has made a really important change in their life. I’ve seen sleep become a catalyst for better relationships, success at work, weight loss, more energy and a better quality of life.
What made you want to pursue a career in sleep?
When I studied medicine, I realised that I wanted to do more to help people to stay well, and to prevent disease. It was only when I studied a field called Psychobiology that I realised how interconnected our mental and physical health are, and that sleep has a critical influence on both.
After my PhD I started working on Sleepio, an online sleep improvement programme. We published research showing that better sleep significantly reduced anxiety and depression in NHS patients. Few of us learn about sleep in school, or university, so I think there’s a huge opportunity to help more people understand the science of sleep and gain more control over their health and wellbeing.
Why did you want to work with Bensons?
I am so excited to work with Bensons because our goals are already closely aligned: we want to help people to sleep well. Bensons customers already have a wide range of products for the bedroom to choose from, designed to suit a wide range of needs. Hopefully we can work together to supplement that with a wide range of evidence-based sleep advice, so that every customer can get support with not only their sleep environment, but also their lifestyle, sleep thoughts and routine.
What are you looking forward to most about working with Bensons?
I’m really looking forward to working with in-store staff. They help poor sleepers everyday. I’m hoping to find ways to help to build on their existing knowledge so that they feel more confident about answering questions not only about beds and mattresses, but about Sleep Wellness™ in general.
What is the most important sleep lesson you have learned during your time as a sleep evangelist?
It’s incredibly easy to neglect sleep, and most of us underestimate the impact this has on our performance. Two years ago (before my Sleep Evangelism days!) I went climbing after too little sleep and had a serious accident. As I was whisked away in a helicopter, I realised that I’d underestimated the impact of lack of sleep on my decision-making capabilities. Now I use that as example of what not to do.
What are the most common issues people come to you with regarding their sleep?
The most common enemy to sleep is worry. Ironically, worrying about not sleeping can keep you awake. The most important advice is also the simplest – waking up during the night is normal, try not to worry about it. If you can’t get back to sleep after 15-20 minutes, get out of bed and do a calming activity to distract yourself until you feel sleepy, then get back into bed.
If you could tell everyone to do just one thing to help improve their sleep, what would it be?
If you are frequently glued to your phone after 9pm at night, try a digital detox. Switch off your phone at least an hour before you get into bed and don’t turn it on until the morning. Exposure to light at night can have a really disruptive influence on sleep. Try it for a week and see if it makes a difference.
How well do you sleep?
Very well, thank you! Like anyone else I have the odd poor night’s sleep, but I always try and make time to recover the following night.
Twitter – @DrSophieBostock
YouTube – @TheSleepScientist
Website – www.thesleepscientist.com