Absolutely everything you need to know about sleep
After my recent family trip to New Zealand I’ve been thinking, or maybe daydreaming, about sleep. You know what it’s like, family of four on a plane, the travel to and from the airport, and then everyone is just a little out of whack because they’re not sleeping in their usual bed. As wonderful as time away with your family is, there’s always that hint of tiredness which hovers over you when you make it back home.
As I’ve been thinking longingly of a good night’s sleep I’ve also been doing a bit of reading and, I thought I’d share with you some interesting things I’ve learned about sleep.
What’s so good about sleep?
Did you know, when you add up the total amount of hours you’ll spend sleeping, it amounts to basically one third of your whole life?! To me, this information alone demonstrates how important sleep is.
While scientists don’t yet know exactly why we need sleep, they have pretty good reason to believe that while we sleep, our organs are restoring and replenishing, and our brain is processing the days’ events and storing the information we need in our memories.
Without sleep, people basically don’t think straight. They tend to make poor decisions when it comes to diet, opting for sugary treats and caffeine. Perhaps even more concerning are the irrational thoughts and feelings which often come with poor sleep. People have been known to demonstrate behaviours such as reduced mental functioning; a lack of awareness and attention to the world around them; a distorted sense of time and extreme fatigue. When you’re experiencing feelings of this nature, how can you possibly feel positive about yourself?
How can we get the best sleep possible?
The amount of sleep we need varies from person to person. However, a rough estimate would be approximately 8 hours for adults and more for children and teenagers. With that in mind, how can we give ourselves the best chance of getting that full 8 hours?
- Keep it consistent – as much as possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even better if you can keep these hours close to natural daylight. Your body’s circadian rhythms are in tune with things like sunlight and, as it starts to get dark, your body will begin to wind down. In order to get the ultimate rest, you need to listen to your circadian rhythms.
- Reduce unnatural light – to the point above, you’re best to expose yourself to as little unnatural light as possible, in the lead up to bedtime. This means having downtime between turning off the TV and attempting some shut-eye. Further to this, you should avoid the bright lights of a screen, or any appliance which has a stand by light, in your bedroom.
- Cut out alcohol and caffeine – I’m 100% certain you’ve heard this one before but seriously, cut out the alcohol and caffeine! Or, at the very least, limit the amount you’re having, particularly just before bed. That sleepy feeling you get from a few glasses of wine can be deceiving and is more likely to result in a night of broken, restless sleep. And, don’t get me started about drinking a stimulant like caffeine before going to bed!
What about sleep and the workplace?
It may seem a little crazy but, there are some things you could be offering in your workplace to ensure your team is getting the sleep they need to consistently perform at their best. Some notable suggestions include:
- Sleep pods – some workplaces are now offering pods for their employees to have a power snooze and return to their desk refreshed and ready for the afternoon.
- Limiting overtime – when the work is piling up, people naturally put in extra hours to get it done. Unfortunately, this may be counterintuitive. Rather than letting your team slave away at their desk until all hours, their ability to get their job done is likely to be improved by heading home for a good night’s sleep.
- Offering healthy snacks – as I mentioned earlier, sugar, caffeine and other easy-to-access snacks are not conducive to restful sleep. Consider having a fruit basket or other healthy, nutritious snacks available to encourage your employees to make good food choices.
- Letting the light in – remember I spoke about circadian rhythms and daylight before? By allowing sunlight through lots of windows, everyone in your office will be more in-tune with their natural circadian rhythms.
With all of this information, sleep doesn’t have to be something others seem to be getting and you can only dream of…should you ever drift off to sleep! If life is feeling overwhelming, I would recommend taking a step back, trying out some of these suggestions for sleep and attacking your task with a fresh, well-rested mind.
Shannon Wood, Managing Director S8 Expert Recruitment Solutions. I have over 15 years recruitment experience specialising in the animal health industry across the ANZ region. Areas of expertise include sales and marketing, technical roles (Quality Assurance, Quality Control & Regulatory Affairs) and operational & financial positions. I work extensively in the veterinary, ruminant, monogastric, aquaculture and the pet specialty industries and I look forward to the next 15 years.