How much sleep did you get last night, what was the quality like, what keeps you up or awake at night … and how is it that even when you’re super tired you can’t get to sleep? For many of us instead of having a sleep, taking a moment to rest or going to bed earlier when we do feel tired we keep on doing what we’re doing and end up feeling exhausted. What’s our relationship with sleep all about?
We know how sleep affects our productivity, mood, concentration, alertness, engagement and attitude to life as well as our work too, plus the relationships we have with people. Sleep is important. And we all want to know how to get a good night’s sleep. Is sleep all about the hours, the quality of those hours… or is there something else worth considering too?
The worst effect of poor sleep isn't how we feel at night - it's how it affects us during the day, both physically and emotionally – The Great British Sleep Survey, 2012 by sleepio.com
Their survey reports the top persistent thoughts as -
- What happened today & what I’ve got on tomorrow – 82%
- How long have I been lying awake – 79%
- Trivial things of no importance – 76%
- What the future might hold – 71%
- Things that happened in the past – 71%
Essentially how we are in the day is how we will be at night. In other words – the quality of our day generates the quality of our sleep. This is important as a consideration because it means that when we are working in the daytime we are working on our later future sleep too. It’s an interesting proposition. It makes sense because if we are fractious in the day, doing a hundred and one things at the same time to leave ourselves scattered, not completing things, wasting our energies that that same quality follows us to dinner time and so to sleep time. We can say sleep is foundational. Yet so is the day foundational to make them both form part of a one-rhythm.
Maybe then instead of focusing on just sleep alone, it’s worth focusing on what we are doing and how we are being in ourselves during the daytime. When we look at it like this we see that being asleep and being awake are a mirror of each other when it comes to quality. It makes sense because when we’ve had a great day, we feel complete. We might have appreciated how things have gone and go on to have a good nights’ sleep to wake up feeling fresh, ready for the next day. Getting a decent quality sleep requires preparation.
So how can we prepare? Some tips worth a thought could be -
S – Self-respect. When we respect our bodies, we respect what it’s communicating to us and respond accordingly to our needs emotionally and physically.
L – Love. We love what we already respect. Love is something that comes from within our body to integrate into the way we live and the way we work. Love then is a livingness and a way of being.
E – Enjoy. Enjoy making a space for yourself through simply creating space to honour how you are feeling, what you are sensing and not ignoring or dismissing these feelings.
E – Enjoy again. Enjoy taking some time to wind down at the end of the work day, allow quietness before bedtime, switch off devices (emails, internet, TV) avoid anything that stimulates. Get to know your body. Get to know yourself and the rhythm that works for your own body. You are unique.
P – Prepare. Prepare for sleep through observing how you are feeling during the day and the things that support your body in its well-being, perhaps meditation, a gentle walk to re-connect to yourself so that you take to sleep.
And so, is there something else that’s worth considering too when it comes to our sleep? Yes: the type of relationship we’re having with ourselves via our bodies as we work in our job. Seeing with honesty how in-tune or in rhythm we generally are and making new and different choices that truly work to support us. This can encourage us to enjoy a level of freshness and vitality during the day right through to the night.
Zofia Sharman - all about relationship, leads the HR practice for Hanover Search Group and for many years has been deeply committed towards the importance of well-being and vitality at work, to those careers she helps manage and to those clients she recruits for too.