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Is a lack of sleep affecting your work? Advice for insomniacs

A lack of sleep can also affect their focus and productivity in the workplace

Working people in the UK are recommended to get seven hours sleep a night; however, as many as three-quarters of the working population are unable to achieve this. Although a minority of people claim to survive perfectly well on very little sleep, a good night’s sleep is necessary for most people for their physical and mental health.

The more anxious you become about getting sufficient sleep, the more difficult it becomes to relax and sleep through the night. There are various strategies you can try to help with this, starting with trying to work out what is preventing you sleeping well.

Keeping a sleep diary can help to identify problems. Record information such as the time you go to bed and get up, how long you are sleeping, and how long you are awake in the night. Write down any anxieties or anything that you feel may be causing sleep problems, such as emotional issues or moods, as this may give you some insight into why you are not sleeping well.

Anxiety and stress can affect sleep patterns; therefore, trying to relax and de-stress before bedtime can help. Turning off devices such as tablets and smartphones for a minimum of one hour before you go to bed and avoiding using them in the bedroom can help to get you ready for sleep. Devices that emit blue light can interfere with the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, adversely affecting your quality of sleep.

Try to wind down and relax before bed. A bath or shower can often help, and listening to an audio book or some relaxing music can get you in the mood for sleep.

A warm non-alcoholic drink, such as chamomile tea or milk, and dimming the lights can also help. If you find you cannot sleep, you should get up after 10 to 15 minutes and sit quietly, possibly with a book or a caffeine-free drink, until you begin to feel sleepy rather than lying in bed and worrying about it.

The environment of your bedroom is also important. It should be a comfortable temperature, dark and quiet to give you the best chance to sleep well. Practical considerations, such as how comfortable and spacious your bed is, can also make a difference.

If you are unable to improve your sleep pattern, you could try cognitive behavioural therapy. You could see a therapist or perhaps try one of the apps that are available. There are also gadgets that some people find helpful, including white noise machines that help to mask noises that may be keeping you awake and clocks that simulate sunrise and wake you up naturally, improving your sleep pattern.

Getting a good night’s sleep can make a real difference to how you feel and perform at work, so it is well worth addressing any sleep problems you have. Feeling more energetic during the day and sleepier towards night-time will positively affect your health and wellbeing.

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