One third of our lives are spent in bed. We all know a good night’s sleep is a great way to recover and rest after a full day. Getting a full night’s sleep is not a luxury, it is a health necessity and for those of us in the world or work or studying it is essential to productivity and wellbeing. It is recommended that adults have between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and more for teenagers and children. Yet it is estimated that a staggering 40% of adults are not getting enough sleep, Public Health England state that the annual cost to the UK employers is a resounding £30 billion pounds and 200,000 working days are lost to sickness and mental health every year.
Sleep is crucial in the maintenance of our cognitive skills. Being adequately rested enables us to communicate well, remember key information, be creative and flexible with our thoughts, and improves our decision making ability. Furthermore, sleep is essential to building a healthy immune system, making you less likely to catch a cold and thus less likely to need time off work.
In addition although this may seem obvious, sleep is free, there are no side effects of having a great sleep, unlike taking caffeine tablets or drinking caffeinated drinks to try and stay awake. Good sleep also makes you less likely to over-eat – so it’s good for your waistline.
There are many reasons we can struggle to fall asleep, work related stress, long hours at work, illness or injury and money worries are just a few issues that keep us awake at night. This is where sleep hygiene comes in effect, (nothing to do with your bed sheets!) but all to do with how you create the ideal settings for a good night’s sleep.
Here are a few points to think about:
- Try sticking to regular bed times, set an alarm on your phone.
- Making an effort to relax before your bed time approaches.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks and heavy meals late at night; they’ll prevent you from falling asleep.
- If you’re finding it hard to slow down, breathe in for a count of four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and breathe out for four seconds. Repeat as many times as needed.
- Also think about how your technology usage too – Checking emails late in the evening or before bed is often a cause of unhealthy anxiety and distraction.
- Computer screens, tablets and phones all emit a blue light which keep us awake by suppressing melatonin, the hormone which sends us to sleep.
Public Health England and Business in the Community have partnered to put together a free downloadable sleep toolkit for employers, click here for more information>
Consider how effective your workplace well-being strategy is working. If lack of sleep is a growing problem within your organisation then it’s time to re-evaluate the strategy and its effectiveness. You could be contributing more towards the £30 billion then you think.