While some of us can be asleep within minutes, others can spend night after night struggling to doze off. To mark World Sleep Day (March 19th), we’re sharing some top tips on how to get that all-important rest our bodies and minds need.
Quality sleep is when you have the amount of sleep recommended for your age, which is between 7 and 9 hours for an adult. And, while all four stages of the sleep cycle are important, to feel the most rested and rejuvenated, we need between 1 and 2 hours of deep sleep during each 7-to-9-hour period. So, you may be getting the recommended amount of sleep, but still not enough deep sleep to feel your best the next day.
Other common sleep complaints include frequent awakenings during the night and difficulty falling asleep due to environmental (noises) or mental load (stress, anxiety, worry). Heck, some people can’t fall asleep because they’re thinking too much about getting to sleep!
Mental load can be a huge cause of sleeping issues, with the stress of the day and the to-do list of tomorrow weighing heavily on many tired minds. Add into the mix the pandemic, it’s no surprise that many of us are struggling to achieve quality sleep.
So, what can we do to help ourselves get a more peaceful slumber?
- Fix a bedtime and a waking time
- If you’re in the habit of napping in the day, try not to exceed 45 minutes
- Avoid excessive alcohol from four hours before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine for at least 6 hours before bedtime, including coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and chocolate
- Reduce the amount of spicy, heavy or sugary foods you eat before you head to bed
- Exercise regularly but not just before you sleep
- Make your environment comfortable — have some cosy bedding and keep a tidy room
- Block out distracting noise and light
- Keep your room at a comfortable temperature for sleeping and keep it well ventilated
- Keep the bed for sleep and intimacy — don’t use it as an office, workroom or recreation room
At Paycare we’ve been benefitting from online yoga and massage classes, ran by Wellbeing with Gemma, which has helped many of us realise the distractions that may be keeping us awake at night. Simple tasks like writing to-do lists before bed and meditation can help to remove some of the noise in our minds.
In more severe cases where sleep is consistently poor due to mental health issues, as a Paycare Policyholder, the MyPocketGP can help you to secure a doctor’s appointment and receive any medication to your home, and our Employee Assistance Programme provides confidential access to a qualified counsellor who can assist you with anything from financial worry and stress, to workload pressure, anxiety, depression, and grief.
We also run dedicated Mental Health First Aid sessions which are designed to help employers learn about mental health in the workplace, how to spot some the signs of poor mental health (which may be consistent employee tiredness), and how to respond to possible problems.
If sleep is impacting your mental health, the Mental Health Foundation has a ‘How to Sleep Better’ booklet which may be useful: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-sleep-better
Through your Paycare Policy, if covered, you can access Confidential Telephone Support and Counselling or the EAP service by logging into your MyPaycare account online, or by calling a member of the team on 01902 371000.