What can I do as an employee?
Sleep disorders and sleep problems affect as many as 40% of Australian adults at any one time. Find out more on what can be done.
There are many physical dangers of failing to get enough sleep including an increased risk of weight gain, due to the fact that inadequate sleep can impact appetite hormones like leptin and ghrelin. A lack of sleep can also lead to a three times greater risk for Type 2 diabetes and a 48% greater risk for developing heart disease1.
Poor sleep can also result in less concentration, reduced focus, memory issues, difficulty with mood regulation, and poor mental health. There is a strong link between sleep deprivation and mental health disorders: 50-80% of psychiatric patients have sleep problems, compared to only 10-18% of the general population. Sleep issues are also a particular challenge for those with mental health issues like anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder2.
Adequate sleep is important for maintaining good mental and physical health throughout the course of a lifetime. Here are some tips and advice on how you, as an individual, can achieve healthy sleep.
Obtain adequate sleep
This point may seem obvious to most people, but there are some who believe that sacrificing sleep to be more productive at work truly works. It actually has the opposite effect; the more profound the sleep deprivation, the less productive someone becomes. This is because the brain needs glucose to function, but sleep deprivation lowers the levels of this much-needed energy source3. Ensuring you sleep for the right amount of time (7-9 hours per night for an adult4) will help to enhance alertness and productivity in the workplace, and at home.
Adopt a sleep routine
Consistent, restorative sleep is key to good health. The comfort of a predictable, repeated bedtime routine can ease you into a better night’s sleep. Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable, a little cool, dark, and quiet5. For shift workers, this may be more of a challenge. There are ways that you can help achieve good sleep at any time of day, particularly through timing and lighting.
Refresh your morning routine
Feeling refreshed and energised each morning can change everything – from how efficiently we do our work, to how well we communicate and interact with others, to how engaged we are in accomplishing daily tasks, and even to how well we sleep that night6. If you can, introduce something you enjoy, perhaps some exercise, to your morning routine. And remember, waking up works in tandem with a solid bedtime ritual; if that routine is soundly in place, you’ll get a better night’s sleep.
Get your move on
Go for a walk or a jog, follow along with an online class, put on some music for a home dance party – anything that gets you moving is a good thing by helping to prepare your body for good sleep.7
Look for the light
Natural light exposure is a crucial part of maintaining your circadian rhythm (the biological sleep-wake cycle we go through each day)8. Access to natural light at least once a day will help with circadian alignment and therefore sleep improvements. You can also make changes to achieve the right indoor light for improved sleep, health and safety.
Be device-free at bedtime
Evening blue enriched light, such as that from your mobile phone or laptop, can delay the onset of sleep. It can also reduce or delay the onset of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the deepest sleep – and can suppress slow wave sleep9. It is advised that you do not use such devices at least 1-2 hours before sleep.
For many of us, a hot cuppa is just the thing to start the day off right. But that caffeine boost goes from wonderful to woeful the later you have it during the day. Limit caffeine in all forms – coffee, soft drink, and chocolate – as bedtime approaches10. In addition, start the day with water, then caffeine. It’s best to consume caffeine only after we have begun to rehydrate.
Educate those in your home
You will be more rested if you can help your partner achieve better sleep, too. Try to establish your routines as a family and look for solutions to night-time disruptions. If you’ve got a noisy partner, look for ways to help them – and you – sleep more soundly11. If sleep issues persist, you or someone else in your home may be experiencing a clinical sleep disorder. If you suspect that this may be the case, a doctor’s visit should be arranged.
Avoid sleeping alongside pets
Whilst we love our pets, there are many reasons why allowing them to sleep alongside us might be a bad idea. Our pets can actually be disruptive to our sleep and may be affecting our sleep quality. Indeed, it has been found that many people who co-sleep with pets wake up more often in the night12. If you can, source some alternative solutions so that you can feel better rested. Providing nice alternatives and being consistent is a good place to start.
1,2,3 Philps blog: Top 3 Reasons to Invest in Your Sleep Health https://www.philips.com.au/c-e/hs/better-sleep-breathing-blog/better-sleep/top-three-reasons-to-invest-in-your-sleep-health
5 Philips blog: Sleep Well Stay Well https://www.philips.com.au/c-e/hs/better-sleep-breathing-blog/better-sleep/sleep-well-stay-well
6 Philps blog: The Keys to Refreshing your Morning Routine https://www.philips.com.au/c-e/hs/better-sleep-breathing-blog/better-sleep/the-keys-to-refreshing-your-morning-routine
7,8 Philps blog: Sleep Well Stay Well https://www.philips.com.au/c-e/hs/better-sleep-breathing-blog/better-sleep/sleep-well-stay-well
9 Chang, Aeschbach, Duffy, & Czeisler, 2015; Chellappa et al., 2013
10,11 Philps blog: Sleep Well Stay Well https://www.philips.com.au/c-e/hs/better-sleep-breathing-blog/better-sleep/sleep-well-stay-well
12 Philips blog: Why Sleeping with pets might be a bad idea https://www.philips.com.au/c-e/hs/better-sleep-breathing-blog/better-sleep/why-sleeping-with-pets-might-be-a-bad-idea