Sleep….we all need it but many of us fail to do it well enough for it to be truly beneficial to our health.
Sleep is arguably the most important fundamental of life. You could survive for three times as long without food as you could without sleep, and 17 hours without sleep produces performance impairments equivalent to 2 alcoholic drinks.
Latest research from the Sleep Council states that over a third of UK adults get less than 5-6 hours of sleep each night. Further research from Bensons for Beds and the Sleep School found that lack of sleep is costing the UK economy more than £1 billion in annual revenue due to 8% of respondents calling in sick when they feel too tired to work, after a poor night’s sleep. Nearly a quarter (22%) said that poor sleep affected their ability to do their job, and 12% had actually fallen asleep at their desk or during a meeting.
Sleep is important to ensure adequate repair of our muscles and blood vessels. It helps us maintain a healthy weight and a hormone balance, as well as controlling sugar levels. A good night’s sleep rejuvenates the brain and helps to suppress stress related hormones.
It’s somewhat scary that recent global disasters including the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion, nuclear power plant explosion in Chernobyl and the Exon Valdez oil tanker spillage have all been linked heavily to sleep deprivation.
Fortunately, there are lots of quick and easy practical solutions to improve your sleeping habits.
Here are our Top 10 Sleep Tips
- Stick to the same sleep schedule every day, including weekends. This will help regulate your body clock.
- If you can’t get to sleep within 15-20 minutes, get up. Otherwise, you’ll start to form an unhealthy attachment to sleep and your sleep environment. Go to another room, read a book (don’t watch television or look at your devices) and return to bed when you feel sleepy.
- Avoid naps if you are struggling to sleep in the evening. If you feel sleepy in the day or early evening, try to occupy yourself with a physical activity.
- Keep your bedroom slightly cooler than is comfortable, to help induce sleep.
- Remove or limit the use of electronic devices closer to bedtime. Most emit blue light which reduces the brain’s ability to induce sleep.
- Get as much natural sunlight as you can. This will nourish the pineal gland in the brain and help to promote the release of melatonin when light fades in the evening.
- Keep as active as you can but not too close to bedtime, as this will over-stimulate the brain.
- Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime as this will affect your sleep quality.
- Keep a sleep diary over the course of a week. Note down your bedtime, rising time and hours of sleep and rate the overall quality of sleep. This may help you understand your current sleep behaviours in more detail.
- Keep track of when you yawn. A yawn around 8:30pm means the best time to go to bed will be around 10:00pm or 11:30pm. This is because our alertness levels peak and trough in a predictable 90 minute cycle. Some trial and error may be required but learning your ultradian rhythm may be very useful for you if you are having some sleep problems at the moment.
Our Practical Sleep Management Training Programme is proving very popular with organisations who want to provide their employees with advice and improve their knowledge on how to achieve better sleep. If you’d like to find out more, contact us via our website, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0800 170 1777.