World Sleep Day is an annual celebration of sleep and a call to action on important sleep issues. Nearly half of us are getting just six hours sleep or less a night. And an alarming four out of five people complain of disturbed or inadequate – or ‘toxic’ – sleep. (Sleep Council ‘Toxic Sleep’ survey, January 2011). This has a direct impact on the way we work.
Our sleep expert, Kathryn Pinkham, has a few top tips to share with your staff:
1. Keep your bedroom for sleep. It’s not for watching TV, work or eating! You need to strengthen your association between your bedroom and your sleep, so remove anything ‘busy’ from your room – ie.desks, TVs, radios…they’ve gotta go!
2. Only go to bed when you’re tired- simple rule- if you are in bed, awake and not sleepy then get out of bed. This stops you associating your bed with feeling frustrated.
3. Make good use of light during the day- just as we need dark to sleep, we need the light to wake up. Our bodies are ‘programmed’ to use the light and dark to tell us when we should sleep and wake up, so try and get as much daylight as possible. This will help to regulate your body clock.
4. Caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and it will keep you awake. If you’re struggling with sleep loss then this might feel like a positive during the day but at night it becomes a problem. The stimulating effects of caffeine last for around 3-4 hours so you should stop drinking caffeine at least four hours before bed.
5. A little nightcap might seem like a good idea, as the sedative effect of alcohol may help you drift off to sleep. Unfortunately, as the effect wears off the body starts to experience withdrawal which makes us restless and can lead to night-time waking. If you have a sleep problem then it’s best to avoid alcohol for 4 – 6 hours before bedtime.