This simple life change will make you more productive at work

Struggling to get things done during your work day? This lifestyle shift could help you find the energy you need.

It should come as no surprise, but a quality sleep makes all the difference to how you perform in your job.

As this week marks National Sleep Awareness week, now is a better time than ever to actually change your habits in order to let your body get as much rest as it needs to properly function.

The role of technology

“We’ve become an ‘always-on’ society and while it may seem like a win for businesses, what they gain in hours is lost in efficiency,” says Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP.

“Keeping our phones and laptops within arm’s reach at all times to work at any given time has a significant impact on our mental and physical health. In this fast-paced environment, something has to give, and for many it’s sleep. We are in a dangerous cycle of not getting all of the work done because we’re sleep deprived, and not sleeping because we’re not getting all of the work done,” Marcela tells.

The serious impacts

You might think that the only side effects of a poor night's sleep is yawning and maybe a bit of brain fog, but this lack negatively affects our ability to concentrate and retain important information, which affects efficiency in the workplace. In a recent study, employees who reported ‘almost always’ feeling tired during the day had 4.4 times more productivity loss than those who reported ‘almost never’ feeling tired.

Insufficient sleep also impacts our mood and emotional wellbeing. Think about it - when you're tired you might be impatient or irritable, which can prove challenging in a professional environment. Teamwork and cooperation play an essential role in a business success, so when short tempers flare, relationships between colleagues become strained. 

What you can do to help your sleep at work

The road to better sleep starts when you're in the office during the day. “Try to make sure you are exposed to natural light," says Marcela. "This activates the circadian rhythm, the natural 24-hour cycle that regulates our sleep/wake cycle, and keeps our internal body clock in balance ensuring that we are ready for sleep at night," says Marcela.

So, it's as simple as taking a few minutes to soak up the sun, or eating your lunch outside and away from your desk. "Disrupting the circadian rhythm has direct links to health problems such as obesity and diabetes. Lack of natural sunlight can also lead to depression, especially in the winter months,” explains Marcela.

Marcela's advice for getting a good night's sleep:

• Regular sleep patterns: Establishing a sleep routine or ritual is about what you do leading up to a set bedtime and also having a set wake up time.
• Take a warm bath or shower: Doing this before bed can trick the body into relaxation by loosening the muscles.
• Optimise your conditions: For your best chance at sleep, your bedroom should be dark and comfortable with moderate to cool temperature and importantly free of electronic devices.
• Wind down: A helpful approach for a busy mind is to write notes or lists before bedtime, to help calm the mind. Listening to soft music can assist with calming. 
• Diet right: Spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, exercises just before bed, all have a detrimental effect on sleep.
• Boost magnesium: Muscle spasms or cramps can keep people awake; magnesium may help to alleviate symptoms. Incorporate pulses, nuts, spinach and potatoes into your diet to make sure you’re reaching the recommended levels.
• Helpful strategies: If you regularly wake up during the night and have difficulty falling back to sleep, it may be helpful to get up, drink some water or a soothing chamomile tea, sit and gaze at the stars or quietly breathe, rather than lying in bed tense and frustrated. Once you are feeling soothed and settled, return to bed.
• Try meditation and deep breathing: can be helpful before sleeping to still the mind.

In some situations, no matter what self- relaxation techniques are used sleep is not possible. For medical conditions such as hormone fluctuations please consult with your GP. Alternatively, seeing a clinical professional to discuss the wider work/life impacts on sleep and how to manage them, may be of assistance.

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