Sleep researcher Christian Benedict's second book on sleep will be published in October 2023. Photo: Tobias Sterner.2023-11-06
Sleep your way to better life and health
Hello, Christian Benedict, Associate Professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, sleep researcher, lecturer and author.
Can we really sleep our way to a better life?
“You don't need to sleep on it to come to the conclusion that sleep can give you a better chance of having a better life,” replies Benedict. “When you’ve had a good night's sleep, your mood is better, you have more energy and you’re less emotionally affected when making decisions.”
According to Benedict, these are qualities that can help us in our personal career development. But sleep is also important for health.
“Good sleep affects your well-being and performance, but it is also an important piece of the health puzzle with links to better immune defence,” he explains.
Sleep is an important part of life
According to Benedict, evolution has determined that we humans should spend a third of our lives sleeping, even if we expose ourselves to potential dangers during sleep, as in the Stone Age.
“Sleep is an important part of life and a time during the day when the body and mind can digest the experiences and challenges of the day, retain what is important and create better conditions for the next day,” he notes.
But what happens at night when we sleep? How does sleep affect the body and mind?
“During the night, the relevant procedural and factual memory – what we learned during the day – is consolidated, while superfluous information connections are removed,” explains Benedict. “The brain processes emotions and removes waste products. The cardiovascular system recovers. The body’s immune system is very active and the gastrointestinal tract prepares for future challenges.”
Sleepwalkers and sleeping aids
Unfortunately, there are things that interfere with sleep.
“Some of the biggest sleep disruptors are alcohol, mobile phones, caffeine, family stress, financial stress, job stress, societal crises such as a pandemic according to my own research, Friday night fun becoming everyday fun, cats, insufficient breathing during sleep, heartburn, menopause, children and much more,” outlines Benedict.
In other words, sleep problems can have many different causes. Trends like taping over the mouth are just idiotic, he says, because they cannot reasonably serve as a universal solution to societal problems.
In October 2023 you published your second book on sleep, Sov dig till ett bättre liv (Sleep Your Way to a Better Life). The book has a long subtitle that mentions some sleeping tips.
But do the popular sleep aids really work?
“The point of the book is to enable the reader to fill their toolbox with as many sleep-promoting tools as possible, including fun ones, such as sex, and different but scientifically proven ones, such as eating kiwis,” continues Benedict. “But you need to test your own specific sleep problems by yourself or perhaps together with your healthcare provider. If you have obstructive sleep apnoea, your sleep will not improve until the causes are treated, such as with CPAP therapy.”
The brain loves regularity
You wrote your last book together with a journalist, whereas you wrote this one on your own. Was that easier?
“I have been wanting to write this book throughout my entire career,” replies Benedict. “But writing a book is never easy. As an author of a popular science book, you want to reach as many people as possible without oversimplifying at the expense of the science. It's a challenge, but that's the kind of challenge I enjoy!”
You give a lot of tips and advice on how to improve your sleep in your book, but what is your best sleep tip?
“Go to bed at the same time every day! Your inner Sandman loves regularity.”