28 Feb Can’t Get No Sleep?
We’re showing our age here with a reference to this house tune by British electronic band Faithless, but the relentless refrain from this 90s classic does accurately sum up how it feels when good sleep eludes you.
It seems sleep problems are increasing worldwide – so much so that there’s now even a day dedicated to educating the public on the issues and importance of sleep. As we recently discovered while doing research for a client, World Sleep Day falls on 18 March 2022, so we wanted to share some interesting nuggets of information we learned about this vital part of our wellbeing.
Every year global household brand Phillips conducts a sleep survey, last year interviewing 13000 people in 13 countries across the world to unearth the attitudes, perceptions and trends behind the world’s sleeping patterns. It’s immediately apparent that the stressors and uncertainty of the pandemic have made a bad situation even worse. Some key stats from the survey are:
- 70% of adults say they are experiencing one or more new sleep challenges since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Using a cellphone in bed has risen from 74% in 2020 to 84% in 2021.
- 46% say the last thing they look at before they fall asleep is their phones
- 36% of women interviewed say they are currently suffering from insomnia, as opposed to 28% of men
And what are people reading on their shiny oblong screens just before they try to get to sleep? They’re doom scrolling through the day’s (mostly terrible) news, or checking social media, neither of which are designed to relax or soothe. This is clearly having a detrimental effect on our sleeping patterns.
But why are we so fixated on sleep? Well, we all know the short-term effects of not getting enough of it, including an inability to focus, being short-tempered or moody, and being low on energy the next day. This is a state that entrepreneurs and small business owners like ourselves just cannot get by on. We need to be all systems go, because after all, there’s no one else in our department – we are the department.
Beyond the short-term impact on our mental and physical health, not sleeping well for prolonged periods can have much more serious long-term consequences too, resulting in conditions like heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, low libido and depression.
While it’s one thing to be educated on the importance of sleep, how do we actually put good sleeping habits into practice? Especially if you’re running your own business, trying to have a family life, and still trying to carve out time for hobbies, exercise, socialising and other interests, how do you fit it all in? Here are some sleep tips that have worked for us:
- Switch it off. This has both a metaphorical and literal meaning when it comes to your devices and phones. Catherine turns her phone on to airplane mode and puts it into a cupboard from a certain time each night, so she isn’t tempted to check it and get distracted. I listened to a podcast recently about “breaking up with your phone” which recommends that you place something like a hair tie or elastic band around the circumference of your phone. Then, every time you are tempted to check or scroll mindlessly, there will be a small obstacle in your way that may prompt you to stop and think if you really need to use it. Hopefully this will start to reduce unnecessary use.
- Soothe yo’self. The number one tip given by sleep experts is to stick to a soothing routine each night, starting about 30-60 minutes before you climb between those sheets. What soothes you personally? We’re all different, so for some, it may be gentle yoga poses in the bedroom, while for others it may be a warm bath, a cup of tea, or listening to calming music. Whatever it is, try to perform the same activities each night, as this tells your brain that it will soon be shutting down and resting.
- Give your bedroom some love. Buy better sheets, order some blockout blinds, replace your mattress, spritz some lavender water on your pillows…do everything possible to create a comfortable, cool, quiet and dark environment to sleep in. Little changes can make a big difference to the quality of sleep you get.
- Confront what’s stressing you out. This is a tough one, but we all know that bad sleep is often a symptom of deeper issues. Is it cashflow worries, a troubled relationship with a client or business partner, generalised anxiety about the future or something else? Noticing and naming the problem helps a lot, as then you can address it, as can therapy and various other stress management techniques. Serious mental health problems should never be left to fester though, so do book in to see a medical professional if these problems can’t be resolved.
Sleep is one of the most important factors in a balanced and healthy life, so if you’re struggling to get shuteye and stay sharp, it’s worth addressing your sleep issues head on. Your mind, body (and business) will thank you.