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Sleep Easy

Sleep Easy

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Sleeping, or lack of it, became a personal obsession for many years after having children.  Months of broken sleep created new sleep patterns and led to insomnia, which I would try to overcome by having early nights, late nights, Horlicks, wine!  The more that I obsessed, the worse I slept.  Thankfully with the support of my family and employer I took steps to overcome the problems and regain control over my night-time trauma (a dramatic word to use, but that’s how it felt).

Most of us need around 8 hours of good quality sleep, but sleep problems – and the problems they cause – are now common.  The NHS cites that one in three of us now suffers from poor sleep.  This can be in the form of not being able to get to sleep and lying awake, waking several times during the night or waking early and not being able to get back to sleep.  Regular sleep deprivation can contribute to serious health issues, such as heart disease and blood sugar imbalances.  Lack of sleep causes an increased release of insulin, which leads to increased fat storage and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.  There are also mental ramifications.  If insomnia affects you to the point that your resilience is lowered and you are not able to cope with daily life, then help from a GP should be sought.  Sometimes a referral is made for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Work can also directly impact on sleep as we take more work home, try to work across time zones, work tech invades the bedroom or work issues generally play on your mind.

Lack of sleep can be linked to presenteeism, where employees feel pressure to be seen at work far beyond their required working hours.  In the workplace it affects cognitive skills by reducing memory, creativity, concentration and productivity, increases accidents and negatively impacts mental health and general wellbeing.  Sleeplessness creates a corporate challenge and managers need to look out for and recognise the signs and impacts of sleep deprivation and signpost colleagues to support.  The UK Government has worked in partnership with Business in the Community and Public Health England to produce a sleep toolkit, to help businesses create an understanding environment and take a proactive approach to support sleep recovery (bitc.org.uk).

5 top tips to combat sleep deprivation:

  1. Keep to regular sleep hours (bedtime and waking up) to help manage your ‘body clock,’ even at weekends.
  2. Don’t just lie awake. Get up and do something until you feel sleepy.  A colleague swears by night-time yoga.
  3. Create a peaceful environment and remove tech from the bedroom and ‘blue light’ devices. Checking late night emails on the iPhone can wind you up, not down!
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime and have a wind-down routine.
  5. Talk to your employer so they understand why your work might be affected and discuss support that could be provided.

World Sleep Day is an annual event to raise health awareness and this year falls on the 13th May 2020. https://worldsleepday.org

Recommended Reading:
https://www.nhs.uk/
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk

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