Work & Wellbeing

Three tips to help tired workers catch up on their sleep

4 min read

16 March 2018

To mark World Sleep Day on 16 March, Real Business looks at how lack of sleep physically impacts our health, makes us less productive and is costly to the wider economy.

You may have impressed your boss by working through the night to polish off that all-important report, but there’s mounting evidence to suggest that the exhaustion you feel as a result actually damages your health, and limits productivity in the long-term.

On World Sleep Day 2018, new research from Brighter Business has shown that lack of sleep is costing the UK economy around £40.3bn a year in lost productivity.

With the average UK employee now spending more than seven and a half years of their life feeling tired, it’s become more important than ever for business owners to know when it’s time to switch off and get some shut eye.

To help you avoid feeling asleep at your desk, here’s some top tips for SME owners and staff alike, to help you catch some Z’s and go to work fully recharged.

1) No more “working” from home

You won’t achieve a healthy work-life balance by bringing unfinished work home or staying late at the office too often. This is likely to result in lower-quality work, and lower productivity.

Try to set boundaries between home and work so that you don’t end up compromising the quality time of either. You shouldn’t let work compromise the time you spend with friends and family.

Similarly, if you’re spending a lot of time at work thinking about personal plans you’re not going to be entirely focussed on doing the best job you can do. Trying to strike a balance and finding the middle ground will end up reaping rewards.

2) Turn off your tech

Eliminating screens from your routine before bedtime is one of the best possible ways to ensure you’re getting proper rest.

It’s become widely accepted that blue light from phone, laptop and TV screens disrupts the production of melatonin – the hormone which helps to regulate the body’s “circadian rhythm” – leaving you feeling groggy and slow when you wake up.

In addition, having late-night notifications ringing off can stop you from feeling relaxed, preventing you from drifting off.

Non-screen activities like listening to the radio, reading, or breathing exercises can help you to relax before bed. If you need your phone in the bedroom (for your alarm, for example) try switching it to silent, ‘Do Not Disturb’ or airplane mode to reduce disruption.

3) Exercise

Working out is proven to best stress-buster there is, releasing endorphins and helping you get a deeper sleep.  However, it’s hard to exercise during the day if your job only involves sitting at a desk!

Trying to incorporate exercise into your daily working routine is the best way forward. Cycling or walking to and from work, going for a run at lunchtime, or doing a few small office-friendly exercises throughout the day, are all novel ways of making your day more active.

Mindfulness practices, including meditation, are also becoming more popular as ways to lower stress and improve focus and relaxation. Exercising your mind in various ways can help press the reset button, and make you feel more refreshed.