Getting a good night’s sleep is something we often take for granted — until something goes wrong. With our hectic lifestyles, crammed full of deadlines and family commitments and with little room for relaxation, our sleep can suffer. Many people, most nights, use their devices and do work just before going to bed. It’s no wonder a restful night’s sleep can be elusive.
Health effects of poor sleep
Many adults have a ‘sleep debt’ — that is, they regularly sleep less than 8 hours a night. This can lead to negative health effects such as:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- reduced immunity to illness.
Workplace effects of poor sleep
A sleep-deprived worker’s concentration, alertness and reaction times may be reduced; these can lead to an increased risk of incidents and injury, and decreased productivity.
Combined with increased sick leave from any negative health effects, poorly managed sleep can eat away at a business’s bottom dollar.
- Educate workers on the importance of good sleep and how to achieve it (and the consequences of poor sleep). Include sleep as a topic in your wellbeing program.
- Consider flexible work hours to help accommodate different sleep patterns and schedules.
- Discourage your workers from taking work home; encourage them to disconnect from their work devices and screens in the evenings.
What individuals can do
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet and cosy. Remove unnecessary distractions like TVs and devices, use soft lighting, and make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature.
- Avoid ‘sleep stealers’ like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, which can affect your body’s ability to relax effectively.
- Before bedtime, opt for quiet activities that help you wind down and prepare for rest; for example, have a warm bath and listen to quiet music.
- Get your body into a routine of sleeping and waking. Go to bed and rise at the same time each day — even on weekends if you can. While a long sleep-in feels nice, it can often leave you feeling groggy and extra tired.
- If you want to nap during the day, limit it to less than 30 minutes. Any longer can disrupt your sleep at night.
- Upon waking, expose your body to bright light or sunshine, as this helps stimulate your body’s natural hormones that cause you to wake and feel alert.