How does your sleep affect your quality of life?
‘Being grown up means assuming responsibility for yourself, for your children – here's the big curve – for your parents. In other words, you get to stay up later, but you want to go to sleep earlier!' Wendy Wasserstein
50% of people fail to get enough sleep An article in the Observer in November caught my eye about the health risks of not getting enough sleep. The Great British Sleep Survey interviewed 11,129 adults in the UK in early 2011 and found that 51% said they were not getting enough sleep (75% of women reported problems and 25% of men) and that of those who had trouble sleeping, they reported that:
55% were having relationship difficulties as a result of it.
77% had problems with concentration.
64% said they were less productive.
83% said they had problems with their mood.
93% said they had problems with their energy levels
It is somewhat worrying as you drive down the road, sit at your desk at work, hop on a bus or train, that many people around you may be suffering from lack of sleep, will be less than productive, lack concentration, be moody or lacking in energy!!
And yet, we are resilient human beings and it is amazing what we can achieve on less sleep than we really need, just imagine what we could all achieve if we were getting a good night's sleep every night.
I am reminded of the many years I spent from 1998 onwards with disrupted sleep due to allergy attacks. It certainly impacted on other parts of my health and although I carried on working most of the time, social life went out of the window, as I was too tired to do much else. But I did learn to cope, survive even if I was not exactly thriving. But now that I sleep well most nights (partly thanks to antihistamines for the allergies!!) I do really appreciate a ‘good night's' sleep.
Of course there are those with sleep apnoea who although they appear to get a full night's sleep are not getting a ‘good' night's sleep and end up falling asleep in meetings, in the car, even at the start of the day. See this website for more information on sleep apnoea, click www.britishsnoring.co.uk.
On a scale of 1 (insomniac) to 10 (sleep like a log) how good is your sleep?
‘Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you're going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.' Oprah Winfrey
Developing good sleep habits Think about some of the following points and which ones relate to you:
What is your evening routine? Do you have a good routine that helps you to prepare for sleep? Parents often talk about getting their babies and young children into good night time routines, but as we get older our routines change and we often get into bad habits which are not conducive to getting to bed in a state where sleep will come easily.
Do you wind down in the evening? Being able to wind down before going to bed is generally seen as one step to a good night's sleep, even if it is just 30 minutes before you go to bed. I find that if I have been out at an evening meeting or social event I need to have 30 minutes chilling in front of the TV before I go to bed, in order to switch off and chill out.
Are you getting to bed early enough? It is interesting when I am training or coaching that I find individuals, feeling stressed at work, who find it hard to deal with challenges, often doing very little on a daily basis to support themselves and manage their moods. And what often is revealed is that with a fixed time to get up in the morning they are not getting to bed early enough to stand a chance of getting enough sleep even if they sleep well.
Dealing with worries and fears – This is often a major cause of sleeplessness and in the current climate there is often even more to worry about. Quite a few of my current coaching clients are people facing challenges in their work, family life, businesses, facing changes in their circumstances, and one of the areas I work with them on is in terms of how they process their thoughts, fears, and manage their mood and state. I do seem to be referring most of my clients to exercises in my book ‘Master Your Inner Critic', as it has sections on Managing Your Mood, Supporting Yourself, as well as Mastering Your Inner Critic. Click here if you would like to order a copy or email email@example.com if you would like to talk about how coaching can help you to deal with your worries and fears. Also take a look at the back issues of Inspire from January 2006 onwards, which cover many topics which might be of use to you - www.inspiretransformation.co.uk/inspire_newsletter.html.
Are you stuck in a cycle of using caffeine to boost your energy? Without really realising it many years ago I started to cut caffeine out of my diet. In the early days, when it was not a conscious thing, I might have an occasional coffee and wonder why my hands were shaking and my heart would race. Then I discovered that if I had a Coca Cola after lunchtime I would have trouble sleeping that night. You then start to realise what a drug caffeine is. The problem is that it is often a vicious cycle of feeling tired and drinking caffeine to keep going during the day, then not being able to sleep, waking up tired, having coffee and downward goes the spiral.
Are you getting enough exercise? Exercise is a great way to help with getting a good night's sleep, although the advice is not to exercise too near bedtime. Exercise not only tires you physically, but also helps you mentally and emotionally to deal with the challenges of the day, which can help you sleep more peacefully at night.
When do you get a moment's peace and quiet? For working families it is often hard for parents to get any peace and quiet, but some do manage it. It might be about getting up 15 minutes earlier than everyone else so that they can have that quiet time before the busyness of getting children to school and themselves to work. Now, you might be wondering how that will help with sleep. However, if you start the day off in a good state, you are more likely to have a good day and feel more relaxed in the evening, leading to a better night's sleep.
What do you do when you can't sleep? Do you fret about not falling asleep? Do you get worried about the next day? Do you get up and read or write down what you are worried about? Or do you chill out? In the past I used to be one of those people who lay in bed fretting about not getting to sleep, worrying about the day ahead. Then having had years of interrupted sleep because of health issues and learning to cope with them, when I do have a night when I can't sleep I either lay in bed relaxing or read in bed, avoiding getting uptight and fraught, even if it might take a few hours to get back to sleep.
Have you got your children trained?!! I find it interesting to observe my many friends with children, some have got them well trained. As soon as they are of an age to start to do things for themselves, they encourage them to do so, freeing up time for busy parents in the evening. One associate of mine got her 12 year son making his own packed lunch, and he enjoyed the feeling of independence that he was trusted to make decisions about his own lunch. How often do parents carry on doing tasks for their children long after they reach the age where they are capable, with support in learning, to do things for themselves. Last year when running a workshop for parents of teenagers it was interesting that one mother was able to get her children to do most things without nagging. She said they knew that if they wanted a lift to school or a hot meal on the table then they needed to be there the first time she called. Whereas the other parents were running themselves ragged nagging or shouting at their children with little positive effect.
Are you not an early morning person? I knew one manager who said he was terrible in the mornings and was grumpy first thing at work until he discovered the snooze button. He found that spending 20 minutes snoozing and gently coming to in the morning put him in a much better frame of mind, much to the benefit of his family and friends.
Do you share the ‘lie ins'? – I know some parents of young children who take turns having a lie in at the weekend while the other gets up early with the children. Which sounds to me a great way to make sure you each have one day where you can catch up on some sleep!
Surfing the net for information about sleep problems I came across a 16 page self help guide from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust. Click here to download your own copy. This is a very down to earth and practical guide. I liked the bit where it said to reserve bed for just sleep – the only exception is making love that can, in fact, help with sleep, especially in men!!!
What action are you going to take to get a good night's sleep?
‘It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterward.'
What stops you from changing your habits? As you read this edition of Inspire, did you hear yourself thinking:
- ‘I can't wind down in the evenings because I've got to get the children to bed, emails to catch up on, phone calls to make, etc.'
- ‘I'm just a bad sleeper, there is nothing I can do.'
- ‘If only X would change then I would be able to sleep.'
Listen to a free webinar that I held earlier this year on Changing Habits of a Lifetime for some ideas on what you might need to change within you to change your behaviour and your sleep patterns. Click here to listen.
‘Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.' Brian Tracy