I recall the time of about a year, when I suffered from lack of sleep and it had nothing to with drinking or not going to bed early enough, or even when our children were babies. It was when I had a stressful job, when I was working away from home throughout the week and I either could not get to sleep in the first place or woke up regularly at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep again. How many of us have suffered from this at some stage of our life?
For me fortunately my sleep deprivation was many years ago. I have subsequently found out that poor quality and quantity of sleep can have a dramatic impact, both personally and in the workplace. The behaviours an individual may exhibit when they’re drunk are certainly not the kind to ensure a productive working life!
It doesn’t take months or years of reduced quality or quantity of sleep for the effects to show themselves. Two weeks of poor sleep can lead to a three-fold increase in vulnerability to the common cold, and just one night of poor sleep can adversely affect a range of cognitive functions such as memory, attention, decision-making, problem solving, creativity, innovation and mood.
The following tips are given by Vicki Culpin who is professor of organisational behaviour at Ashridge Executive Education and the author of The Business Sleep: How Sleeping Better Can Transform Your Career
Establish a regular bedtime routine – a regular routine allows the body to build consistent patterns of sleep and helps improve both the quantity and quality of sleep. Treat yourself like a small child having a regular wind-down routine, go to bed and wake up at the same time in the week AND at the weekend ( I have never managed this, with one day at the weekend being there to top up my lack of sleep during the week)
Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only – The body, both physiologically and psychologically, needs to recognise the bedroom as a space for sleeping. Any cues that can be connected to wakefulness, such as working, watching TV or using technology will not encourage “winding down” ( I get this and abide by it too)
Try not to sleep binge (My weekend catch ups are not good for you!)
Think about the levels of darkness in the bedroom – The sleep cycle is strongly determined by light and dark, so a bedroom that is too light in the morning can bring the body into a state of light sleep and wakefulness (It doesn’t mention birdsong which wakes me up in the Spring months which actually I quite like!)
Avoid napping too close to bedtime – napping can be useful(but not falling in front of the television in the evening – so far this has never impacted me!)
Avoid heavy food close to bedtime – Heavy, spicy food can take a while to metabolise and may be the focus of the body while you are trying to relax and fall asleep. Leave a gap of at least 2/3 hours (no late- night curries then!)
As you can tell from my comments in italics, I am not an expert in these matters. I do know, however, that when Zebedee (for those old enough to remember Magic Roundabout) says ‘time for bed’ and you can’t sleep, there is nothing more frustrating and debilitating.
So hopefully the above tips may help you a little. I do miss the Magic Roundabout!