Sleep is awesome. And sleep deprivation is not so awesome. I think we can all agree one of the best feelings is crawling into your bed after a long hard day at work and drifting into a deep relaxing sleep. But what if that isn’t a possibility? There can be many factors contributing to someone not getting enough sleep, such as stress. This is bad because sleep is very important in how you function during the daytime. It serves to recharge your batteries and if you don’t get enough of it, it can leave you feeling fatigued and lifeless. And that’s not good when you have important business to attend to. Or you are required to fly a plane. You get the jist – sleep deprivation= BAD.
Studies suggest that you need between 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night for your brain and body to be at maximum functionality. This obviously varies from person to person but even having just one less hour’s sleep than your body needs can have a massive impact on your work performance. Not only will it affect performance it can also be very detrimental to your health if being sleep deprived is a regular occurrence. In the long term it is associated with many serious illnesses including: heart attack, high blood pressure, heart failure, mental impairment, depression and a poor quality of life amongst other things.
Even if you aren’t a chronic insomniac, even a couple of days of not getting adequate sleep can leave you with difficulty concentrating, learning and communicating. Memory lapses increase. Sleep deprived employees can be moody and less tolerant of co-workers opinions making them more prone to relationship destroying behaviours… and work relationship problems can impact the entire organization. It can basically turn you into an unmotivated, cranky zombie worker who is no good for business.
Improving your sleep
So what can we do about it? Sleep! Yes, obviously, but it’s not always as easy as that for some people. It’s estimated that 25% of the UK population suffer some form of sleep disorder that results in excessive daytime sleepiness. But do not worry your sleepy head! There are ways of combating these awful bouts of wakefulness!
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, such a soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book or listening to soothing music.
- Create a sleep conducive environment that’s dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
- Only use your bedroom for sleep and sexy time. You need to help your body recognize that this is a place for rest so doing things such as work won’t help you at all.
- Avoid caffeine for at least 4 hours before bed; even having a cheeky chocolate bar in the evening can increase the amount of caffeine in your blood stream which will only keep you awake.
- Avoid alcohol. Some people like to have a “nightcap” before they go to bed but this isn’t a very smart thing to do. Whilst alcohol does sedate you and can make you sleep more easily, the quality of the sleep whilst under the influence is much lower. So you will still wake up feeling tired, groggy and possibly hung-over.
- Try and leave stress at the office. One way to do this is to write down the next days to do list at the end of each work day and then put the items out of your mind until you return to work. Easier said than done but if you can do this, it will help a lot.
So there you have it! Getting the right amount of sleep is vital. So if you’re reading this now and it’s past 1AM, get some sleep!