Want to achieve more at work? Swap your “24/7 workplace” mindset for a “Sleep Healthy” approach with these four tips from HSG.
You don’t need us to tell you how much brighter the day looks after a great night’s sleep, but did you know you’re also much better at your job when you invest in a good rest?
In fact, improving sleep is one of the easiest ways to increase workplace productivity. Employers and employees alike benefit from a good night’s rest – they have increased focus, and are more able to get the job done within the day, without the need for extended hours. Rest gets a bad rap in our culture, says Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work, but getting quality sleep, apparently, is a precursor to unlocking people’s creative and innovative potential.
Sadly, it’s common for people to forgo sleep to keep up with the demands of everyday life. Successful individuals are often identified as those who work day and night. However, this is not viable for their long-term wellness, nor is it healthy for the company’s bottom line.
Studies* on the effect of poor sleep on workplace productivity show that tired employees have less ability to refocus once they lose concentration and will eventually drop the ball, costing the company in lost revenues. Likewise “presenteeism”, or people showing up but not getting much work done, counts for longer hours and eventually more sick days.
The good news: getting quality sleep doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
Here are HSG’s Top Four Sleep Training tips to improve your sleep health overnight.
1. SOOTHING FOODS
We have to choose what to eat very carefully before bedtime, as digestion is a time-consuming process that can keep us awake at night. If you like to comfort eat after a hard day’s work, be aware that foods high in carbs and sugar can further extend the time it takes for your body’s internal processes to wind down.
If you’re selling yourself short on sleep, chances are you’re not eating right either. Hormones ghrelin and leptin are released during sleep boost to our immune system and make us hungry. According to studies by Swinburne University, when we get less sleep than normal we may feel an urge to eat more – enter the carb cravings!
HSG recommends: Avoid carbs and sugar-loaded foods, and stay away from stimulants like chocolate and caffeine for six hours before your scheduled bedtime. Eat mostly fresh vegetables, proteins and fruits to make digestion easier. Herbal teas such as chamomile can help soothe your body into a more relaxed state, and the classic glass of milk before bed is still a healthy standby.
2. CLEAN HEADSPACE
How do we conquer a restless mind before bedtime? The two big things that keep our minds occupied are worry and distraction.
If worrying is keep you awake at night, write it all down. Journaling is a great way to clear your thoughts. List the first three priorities that pop into your head and make a plan to tackle them the next day. That way, you can feel that you’ve done something, and this can help you relax.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says that rest time is in fact when you’re most likely to come up with all the answers: “Even in our brain’s resting state—when we are not directly focused on a task—it’s still active, engaging its “default network” to plug away at problems, examine and toss out possible answers, and look for new information.”
HSG recommends: Start a bedtime ritual to taper off activities, as you approach your time for rest. Unplug devices and turn off your Wi-Fi, so that you can disconnect from the 24/7 distractions of the world. Journal, read a book, or listen to some soothing music to get you in the mood for bed.
3. WAKE UP CALL
Think you’re too old for a strict bed time? As it turns out, people’s body clocks tend to work better when they follow a consistent schedule. Dr Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, says every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight. So, the cut-off for getting optimal sleep is 11pm.
If you are in bed before 11 but can’t sleep, rather than tossing and turning do something relaxing, like reading or a guided meditation, until you start to feel drowsy.
HSG recommends: If you don’t get to bed on time, don’t give yourself insomnia worrying about not getting enough sleep! Instead, focus on getting up at the same time, every day. This will help train your body clock to rest well.
4. CREATE A NAP ZONE
If you’re feeling a productivity dip, a 20 minute nap can restore your focus by giving your brain a chance to restore depleted energy, says New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt. But for most of the working population, the luxury of popping home for a lunchtime sleep in their own bed is not realistic. Take advantage of company sleep pods, lie under a tree in the park, or crash in a hotel bed.
HSG recommends: No matter where you lay your head, a sleep mask and earplugs can mimic that dark and quiet atmosphere to trick your body clock into thinking it’s time to rest, Sleepfoundation.org recommends. Of course you may prefer sunglasses to a sleep mask if you’re napping in a public place. If you don’t like earplugs, try white noise to mask background noise. There are white noise apps with ocean and nature sounds that you can tune out to on the go.
CORPORATE SLEEP TRAINING WITH HSG
If you want to learn more about Sleep Health, HSG offers Sleep Well Workshops to help people feel their best at work.
A well-rested worker:
– Can focus more easily and for longer on priorities
– Is in a better mood
– Has more flexibility to meet challenges
– Is less distracted at work
– Has the ability to innovate more
Improved sleep wellness is not only an asset for you, but for your company’s ROI. It’s a win-win all around.
*“The Cost of Poor Sleep: Workplace Productivity Loss and Associated Costs” by Rosekind et al, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Jan 2010