Understanding its importance, many people put much of their effort into their quest for the 'Perfect Sleep'. Different levels of effort may range from investing in luxury mattresses or waterbeds, to buying the finest Egyptian cotton sheets or silk pyjamas, to routinely taking sleeping pills or chamomile tea before bed.
Some tips to assist in a good night's sleep is to avoid big meals, alcohol and coffee late at night, to regulate light, sound and temperature in the bedroom and reduce any stress-inducing activity before bedtime (this may be especially difficult for students, whose education relies on their nocturnal study ability).
While altering your pre-sleep habits and environment may not sound too complex a task, it is easier said than done. Especially for those of us who don't have total control over aspects such as the temperature of their room or fabric of their sleeping attire. Let's use the example of, say, homeless people. Each day almost one in every two hundred Australians is homeless.
In their situation, I doubt that finding Egyptian cotton sheets with a 1500 thread count ¬would be on the top of their 'How to have a successful sleep' list. Yet for those sleeping on the streets, despite their inability to control the light, turn down the sound and alter the temperature of their 'bedroom', many seem to have the remarkable ability to sleep anywhere, despite what is going on around them. And for this I admire them. It also makes me think that maybe the more fortunate of us (i.e. those with clothes to wear, a bed to sleep on, a mum to hug) have a little thing or two to learn from our local street dwellers.
Around Christmas time last year I did a brief stint volunteering with the homeless ministry run by my local church. I was intrigued by the simple approach this ministry took, with their main purpose being to interact with the homeless people of Sydney city while being a source of friendly support.
One guy we chatted to was a middle aged man from the Middle East. He had originally come to Australia as an athlete just to compete in the Olympics, but ended up seeking asylum here, never to return to his country or family. One lady was a mother of two who had no money to support her children and so resorted to begging and eating others' food waste. Another elderly man was there who was rarely allowed to see his young grand children and had nowhere to go.
Each of these people had stories. Each of these people had needs. It wasn't even difficult to discover, as they were all so desperate for human interaction and non-judgemental love that all it took was a little scratching of the surface with kindness. And by discovering who they are and what they need, we can also discover how we can help. The answer is not always to give people in need money or a handout, but rather a hand up; a lift – in their confidence, skill and relationships.
So the next time any one of us walks past a homeless person asleep on a park bench or huddled up in a bus shelter, instead of disturbing their much-needed sleep, start thinking about how you can assist in their quest for the Perfect Sleep. This could involve giving them something as simple as a blanket, or something as humble as a friendly conversation (as long as they're awake). So then in helping someone else, you too will be closer to the finding Perfect Sleep.
'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:40)
Cherisse Mathew is a student of politics and psychology at the University of Sydney.