The “always on” culture is being blamed by four out of five adults who feel stressed, overwhelmed and unable to sleep.
Recent research by Axa Insurance found the UK is in the grip of a stress epidemic brought on by people feeling unable to turn off from their work and constantly accessing their phone and email during the evenings, weekends and whilst on holiday.
People who are striving to improve their life, are asking the question, “Surely there must be a different way?” Business owners, leaders and employees have recognised that being constantly connected to their phone, email and social media is significantly reducing their quality of life. The biggest problem they face is the poor quality of sleep leading to difficulties concentrating during the day.
This is not a new problem we are facing. In fact, back in 2015 I was working with business owners and encouraging them to make the link of how critical sleep is for business improvement and success.
The time has come to take action and improve the quality of life for people at work.
What can we do to reverse the sleep deprivation trend and get good quality downtime?
Sleep your way to the top!
In human terms, the answer seems to be simple – sleep!
Here are the top 3 sleep habits adopted by people who are sharp, focused and productive during the day.
1. Turn off phones and mobile devices at night.
More people are becoming addicted to their phone and social media, so it is even more important to unplug and give our minds a rest from the constant bombardment of attention grabbing posts and the temptations of social media.
Our body naturally needs time to adjust to the idea of sleep. Creating that adjustment is the job of our pineal gland by the production of melatonin. However, if we are using light emitting devices the pineal gland is fooled into thinking it is still day and will not trigger the production of sleep inducing melatonin.
The lack of sufficient levels of melatonin triggers the so-called “junk sleep” where we wake frequently throughout the night. This type of sleep doesn’t allow deep REM sleep so needed to replenish our energy levels.
By adopting a no phone rule for at least an hour before bedtime you are more likely to have a restful night of restorative sleep.
2. Read a physical, paper book.
Research over many years continues to find that reading is the quickest, most effective way of reducing stress. Cognitive neurologist Dr David Lewis who has conducted many tests, says “losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.” Just six minutes of reading could be sufficient to reduce stress levels by up to two thirds.
Reading a Kindle or any other device that emits light from the blue spectrum will keep you awake. The blue light supresses melatonin production and alters our natural body clock. In turn this alteration creates mood swings and can have significant effects on our overall health, immune system and cognitive function.
3. Meditating or visualising.
A racing mind can be the biggest reason why falling asleep is difficult. Calm, focused meditation may help to turn off those unwanted bedtime thoughts.
However, “thinking of nothing” for people with a busy mind is virtually impossible. Our minds have been created for problem solving and that’s exactly what has been happening during the day.
The switch from full speed active to calm and slow is simply too much and the mind flatly refuses not to think. Instead listen to a guided meditation that softly captivates your mind through imagery. Because your mind is being given something to focus on, it will stay in the moment. The distracting and worrying thoughts will fade, leaving feelings of relaxation before sleep.
And, if you’re serious about creating and improving aspects of your life, clearly visualising your future desired life just before sleep programs your subconscious to start creating exactly what it is you really want.
The take away?
If, as the overwhelming results of the research suggest, a key to improved productivity, reduced stress and feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep is to turn off electronic devices an hour or so before sleep, why wouldn’t you?
________________________________________________________________________________Gail Biddulph is a business & personal transformation strategist. She works with business owners improving employee productivity and business profitability.
As a business psychologist and business consultant with over 20 years’ experience, she knows business success comes from a multi-dimensional approach and specifically from within the individual and within the organisation.
She takes a holistic approach to success and effortlessly “joins the dots” to refine individual well-being and staff happiness as well as improving the operational performance and profitability of the business. She advocates successful businesses are created from continuous small changes across many matrixes.
Gail regularly speaks at conferences and is the author of “How Your Brain Blocks Your Business and What You Can Do About It”. She is the co-founder of Business Shamans and can be contacted personally firstname.lastname@example.org