Sleep your way to the top?
Much has been written about the health impact of remote working. Many of us delight in no longer having to force our tired minds and bodies through over-crowded journeys to work. A commute that lasts as long as it takes to slip into comfortable clothes and move from one room to another without having to get cold outside? Yes please!
But as time passes, much is now coming to light about the negative side of this supposed “easy” alternative to the rat race; the social isolation, less exposure to natural light, lower levels of Vitamin D and Serotonin. And if you don’t have an ergonomically designed desk and chair – good luck with keeping your neck and back healthy!
But what about sleep?
It is no surprise that many of us are experiencing broken sleep during the pandemic. Aside from the reasons cited above, many of us are also worried about our families, our finances, the economy, our jobs, our children and their education, and our own health. So now more than ever, it is vital to pay attention to how much we are sleeping and the quality of that rest.
So how do we do that?
It’s not hard to find information on the relationship between good sleep and our health. A quick glance on the NHS website reveals that not enough sleep can have an impact on not only your mood, but also your likelihood of developing diabetes and heart disease, and can even have an impact on your weight. Those who sleep less than seven hours per night are 30% more likely to be obese than those who sleep nine hours or more!
Shelley Ibach (President and CEO of Sleep Number) says that now – more than ever – we need to recommit to getting enough sleep. She advises us to:
- Check that what you’re sleeping on is still fit for purpose, as a bad mattress will vandalise any plans you had to rest!
- Develop (and stick to) healthy routines. Make sure you support your body’s clock by giving it a regular bedtime (of course that means you can party like it’s 1999 at Christmas – just not all the time!).
- Make sure there is a reasonable period between your last meal and bed. It’s hard to sleep with a belly full of treats, so give yourself a fighting chance to rest by making sure that sugar and caffeine don’t feature after 6pm.
- Ensure these routines work for you and help you to ease into rest. Have a “screen time cut off” to ensure the dreaded blue light doesn’t keep your brain whirring. Change into your sleepwear (if you have any!) and remove make-up (if you’re wearing any!) as a calming routine. Put away the washing up before going to bed and treat it as a symbolic “packing away the day” activity.
- Calm your thoughts when you’re ready to start your sleep. A good tip is to concentrate on what you are thankful for and to focus on those positive thoughts.
Sleep is your ally
Sleep is one of the biggest gifts you have to help you to “get through anything”. Whilst not enough good sleep can hijack your overall health, the reverse is also true – good sleep and enough of it can be one of your biggest health allies.
So in the words of The Waltons (I’m showing my age now), “Goodnight, John Boy! Good night, Elizabeth! Good night, Daddy! Good night, Son! Good night, Mary Ellen…………zzzzzzzzzzz”.