Top tips for how to sleep well..
Getting a good nights sleep can be a challenge for many of us at the best of times but with all of the changes and uncertainty we’re currently enduring it would be understandable that you and your team may be struggling to get a good nights sleep. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to help both you and them!
- Routine – To have a good nights sleep we need to be in sync with our circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythm is our inbuilt body clock that runs at 24 hours. Its signals to us when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. Ideally we need to be awake for 16 hours and asleep for 8. Trying to sleep during the awake part of our circadian rhythm is nearly impossible. Hence why we experience jet lag. We can also feel pretty rubbish when we’ve had a lie in at the weekend, because we’re experiencing the social equivalent of jet lag due to having interrupted our circadian rhythm. Encourage and support your team in setting a routine that works with their circadian rhythm rather than against it. This means setting firm working time boundaries so they are able to go to sleep and get up at the same time each day. This will help them to get a quality nights sleep.
- Darkness – Encouraging your team to only work during daytime hours and to have a break outdoors will help them to sleep. During the day sunlight and the light from gadgets and technology emit blue light which signal to our brain that it is daytime. Our brain responds to it by producing melanopsin which increases alertness and how ‘awake’ we feel. This is doubly effective as it also blocks the release of melatonin. (our sleep hormone). We need as much natural light as possible to synthesise vitamin D and produce melatonin which is then released at bedtime. If we stop working and exposing ourselves to light at a reasonable time, we encourage the release of the days melatonin and help signal to our brains and body that it is time to sleep.
- Re-train your brain – When we go through a period of stress and anxiety our brains can get out of the rhythm of knowing how and when to fall asleep. So if some members of your team are struggling to sleep at the moment this may be why! A repeated bedtime routine can help signal to our brain that it is time for sleep. ( you need to stick with it!) This signalling encourages the brain to play its part in releasing the hormones that prepare us for sleep. Keeping the bedroom cool, dark and free from electronics can all help the brain and body to prepare for sleep. Apps such as ‘calm can be useful in aiding the quietening of anxious thoughts and feelings that often occur at bedtime. Also limiting the consumption of stimulants such as caffeine from lunchtime on-wards can be hugely beneficial. Even if you’re lucky enough to fall asleep the quality of your sleep is likely to be impacted. (The picture illustrates the impact of stimulants on the brain of spiders)
When we sleep well we are able to be more productive during the day and more positive. Sleep isn’t a luxury, it is essential as it is when we process our emotions and memories: Taking the sting out of the day and filing away what we don’t need to actively remember. Putting appropriate boundaries and knowledge in place to help you and your team sleep well, will help them to navigate through the current climate and beyond.