Rhythm and Blues: The significance of Sleep Patterns

Sashi Sehgal

7/1/20245 min read

For some of you, the idea of having someone like me nearby in the morning would be alarming! Thriving in the morning has been something I have enjoyed doing since I began working at the age of 13. Whilst personally being an early bird, there are others who enjoy life at the opposite end of the day; those that are night owls might find their rhythms coming together when the sun goes down and the moon takes the platform for light and life to unfold. Functioning can so often be tied up with how well we sleep and for some people this is easier than for others.

One’s schedule is not necessarily dependant upon personal likes and dislikes. Preferences give way to the impacts of a routine which might be part and parcel of a chosen career, or at least the job had for a particular time. Regardless of your desires, you may have been thrust into a life rhythm which gives you the blues.

A challenge which has commonly arisen within my therapeutic work is assisting clients with their sleep pattern. Like a physical clock, the body has a rhythm to it, a pattern which provides structure to one’s day. Rhythms like this exist in various spheres, inclusive of animal life. Why, for example, do roosters crow at dawn or owls screech at night? How does your dog know what time dinner was? Do they have a Smart Watch? Well, of types, yes; but their design precede that of Apple’s. The body has an inbuilt clock ingrained into it. The ‘circadian rhythm’ is the biological clock which helps our bodies navigate through the day. Whether it’s time to sleep, have breakfast (or just a coffee) or wake up, your body might be telling you it’s time for some kind of need to be fulfilled. When you’re travelling, it’s your circadian rhythm which interferes with your sleep causing jet lag. When you’ve stayed up late, it might have been your circadian rhythm which stopped you from enjoying a morning in bed!

We want to enjoy life, but need to get to our work too; is it possible to ‘burn the candle at both ends’ successfully? Once in a while you might come across someone who seems to be able to exist on 4 hours of sleep – certainly there are those that are able to do it, but this is not the norm. Most healthy adults have need of between seven and nine hours of sleep. There are those that want to sacrifice their sleep for leisure time. Once in a while, this might not have any significance beyond being grumpy and less present for a day. Research however suggests that regular sleep deprivation leads to significant impacts both physically and mentally. It has been linked to obesity, diabetes, strokes, a weakened immune system and heart disease. Further, research links sleeplessness to increased stress, worry and a general decline in mental health which might also affect personal focus and fatigue too.

If you are struggling with your overall mood – if you find yourself living life in the blues, it is really worthwhile to assess some general points around your lifestyle. Are you eating a healthy diet with fresh foods and plenty of liquid? Do you exercise regularly? Do you ‘scroll’ regularly on your phone? And, are you giving yourself time to sleep regularly? If these are out of balance, you may well be following them towards imbalance internally too. Working therapeutically with people, positive outcomes have definitely resulted from working on this area.

Whilst there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution to sleep difficulties, some general points may be worth considering in order to aid your sleep process:

1. Develop a regular pattern of sleep with a regular waking- and sleep- time, and try to maintain this daily (inclusive of weekends).

2. Ensure you are sleeping seven to nine hours each night.

3. Reduce or eliminate napping time during the day.

4. Seek to turn off your phone 30 minutes before sleeping, potentially replacing scrolling and texting for a paper book.

5. Assess your caffeine in-take. About two standard cups of coffee is recommended, and having these before midday is recommended.

6. Engage in a spiritual routine. Ideas might include prayer, meditation, and the reading of scripture. Utilising these can aid the body and mind into relaxation.

7. If you also endure nightmares, it is also worth reflecting upon your work stresses and further, your media in-take too. Both social media and tv have been linked to increased nightmares in research which has been carried out.

Beyond these, if your sleep is being impacted, it may well be worth making contact with a pharmacist or GP to gain advice on what can be done to help.

You have value, an innate and significant design which has been sculptured for more than wasting away without a point. Purpose is written in to you. Self care is thus a worthwhile exploit. Taking the time to intentionally ensure that your whole being is well cared for, nurtured and provided for is important. To care for oneself is an important step in caring for others, then you’ll give them the best version of yourself. Further, it may be that by you making some changes, those around you will follow suit! Now is as good a time as any to do life to a different rhythm!

Root this now

1. Carry out a self care assessment. Take time to reflect upon how well you are really looking after yourself. Consider, what adjustments might be useful? What step might be the first to implement now?

2. Return to the points made specifically around your own sleep routine. Were you to make some changes here, what effect might it have? What knock on affects might this have?

3. Feel like making a change but need help? Share your intentions with a positive friend who may help you become accountable.


1. Cutrone, C and M Nisen (2012). ‘19 Successful People who barely sleep’. Found at: https://www.businessinsider.com/successful-people-who-barely-sleep-2012-9#indra-nooyi-chairman-and-ceo-of-pepsico-6. Accessed June 2024

2. Smith, M and L Robinson (2024). ‘How much sleep do you need?’. Found at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-needs-get-the-sleep-you-need.htm. Accessed June 2024

3. Suni, E and A Dimitriu (2023). ‘What is Revenge Sleeptime Procrastination?’. Found at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/revenge-bedtime-procrastination. Accessed June 2024

4. The Sleep Charity (2021). ‘Sleep Deprivation’. Found at: https://thesleepcharity.org.uk/information-support/adults/sleep-deprivation/. Accessed June 2024

5. Whelan, C (2018). ‘Caffeine Sensitivity’. Found at: https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-sensitivity#hypersensitivity. Accessed June 2024

6. Paharia, C.T (2024). ‘Study reveals link between social media use and nightmares, impacting sleep and mental health’. Found at: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20240523/Study-reveals-link-between-social-media-use-and-nightmares-impacting-sleep-and-mental-health.aspx#:~:text=Increasing%20social%20media%20usage%20is,use%20to%20alleviate%20these%20nightmares. Accessed June 2024

7. Ohio State University (2016). "Consuming violent media linked to 13x surge in violent dreams." Found at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161115132558.htm. Accessed June 2024

8. Psalm 139:13-17, The Holy Bible (2011), New International Version (NIV).