Over the last 12 months we've had more people telling us that they're struggling with sleep than ever before. Here are 7 tips that can help promote good sleep as well as an effective and enjoyable day at work (from home) and play...
1. Prioritise sleep
It’s tempting to steal time from sleep in order to pack more into the day, but always be aware of the quality of what you do as well as the quantity of things on your list. At some point skipping sleep can create a situation where although we do more, we might end up achieving less. The ideal situation is to establish a sleep routine that leaves you rested, recharged and refreshed ready for a day of being effective and productive. You’re far more likely to enjoy a busy routine of work, family, friends and hobbies if you’re well rested. By the same token, if you enjoy life more, you’ll sleep better and so the virtuous circle continues.
2. Routine is key: choose a wake time and a bedtime
You’ll probably have a rough idea of how much sleep leaves you feeling refreshed. Set yourself a time to wake up and a time by which you’d like to be asleep so you can fit in your chosen hours of sleep. Experiment over a few nights until you establish the optimum times for you.
3. Avoid daily jet lag
Ideally you should stick with the sleep routine that suits you best for all seven nights of the week, but you have to be realistic as well here. There will be valid reasons for going to bed a little later sometimes or getting up earlier or later on occasion. Just be aware of when these adjustments leave you feeling that your daily performance is suffering and if this happens, make an effort to return to your optimum routine until you feel back on top form.
4. Prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep every evening
Let your mind and body know that a restful night is approaching with rituals and routines that calm you and prepare you for good recovery. For most people this means a period of winding down leading carefully towards falling asleep. Listening to relaxing music and reading are popular strategies. Deep breathing or meditation is becoming very popular. Set aside sufficient time for sleep preparation.
5. Close off the day
Unfinished business is something that keeps a lot of people awake – things can pop into your head to prevent you from dropping off or, if you’re unlucky enough to wake up in the night, these thoughts can come flooding into your head and prevent you from falling asleep again. Each evening, put your worries to bed before you put yourself to bed. Take a few moments to note down anything that’s on your mind and either write a practical action to resolve it, or schedule a time to tackle it. Ideally do this in the early part of the evening so you can spend the latter part of the evening on things that you enjoy and that you find relaxing.
6. Take charge of technology
Technology is one of the greatest sleep robbers around at the moment. It’s tempting to finish off a document or send a final email, and even if it’s for something we enjoy like checking that last social media update or having a look at a few more holiday websites, the danger is that screen time eats time and before you know it you’re late getting to sleep and also your mind is buzzing. You have to create some boundaries around your screen time and some guidelines for how you use your email. Be proactive in this regard because how we rule our technology (or how technology rules us as it sometimes feels) is usually simply a result of habits forming loosely over time and being left unchallenged. Things like staying up late to clear emails – this may have been a good idea one night but if it ends up being every night then the balance probably isn’t how you’d like it to be.
7. Clear out the clutter
Your sleep environment should be a haven of calm. Make sure your room is tidy and dark enough to sleep well in. Remove all exercise kit from your bedroom as well as ridding it of television, technology and associated cables, chargers and wires.