July 29, 2019
Research is showing that encouraging staff to get a good nights sleep is one of the most effective ways to reduce workplace fatigue, improving workplace health and safety and overall workplace performance.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is an important biological function, essential for good health and wellbeing. Sleep is the time your body and brain rest and recover from a day’s work.
How much sleep do adults need?
Everyone is a little bit different, but most adults require between seven and nine hours a night to feel properly refreshed and to function at their best the next day. Younger people tend to need a little more.
How do you know you’re not getting enough sleep?
- Mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause adults to be irritable and moody all day.
- Behaviour. Adults who are not getting enough sleep are more prone to risk-taking behaviours.
- Work Performance. A decline in performance such as slower reaction times, failure to respond to changes, and the inability to concentrate and make reasonable judgments
- Thinking. Sleep deprivation can result in attention problems, poor memory, bad decision-making and impaired reaction times
Tips to maximize the quality of your sleep
Get into a routine:
- Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning, even on weekends.
- Remove all technology including smartphones and computers from the bedroom. Do not use devices one hour before sleep time because the blue light can reduce the levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
- Try not to go to bed either on an empty stomach or a full stomach as both can make sleeping difficult.
- Go to the toilet before bed to help reduce the need to get up in the middle of the night.
- Create a sleep-friendly physical environment. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot or too cold.
Other things you can do to promote better sleep:
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. It may help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply Take a break and go outside for some time every day, especially in the morning. Getting sun exposure helps your body keep its internal clock on track.
- Deal with the issues of the day while awake: In the early evening spend no more than 20 minutes writing events of the day that concern you, along with potential solutions. Close the book and put it away.
- The bed should only be used for sleeping or sex. Try not do other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music.
Things that can make sleep harder:
- Avoid caffeine four hours before bedtime (coffee, tea, energy drinks, Coke).
- Reduce Alcohol – although alcohol may help you to fall asleep it will make it harder for you to stay asleep and will disrupt your sleep.
- Smoking also disrupts sleep. It is best for your health not to smoke at all but try to not smoke for at least an hour before bedtime if you do.
- Napping late in the day or on the couch at night will make it harder to get to sleep once in bed. If you choose to nap, nap no later than mid-afternoon and for a maximum of 30 minutes.
- While you love them dearly, children and pets can disturb sleep and ideally should not be allowed in/on your bed when sleeping.
What if I can’t sleep?
Sleep is not something that you can force, that is why a routine is really important.
- If you are not asleep after 20-30 minutes, then get out of the bed. Find something else to do that will make you feel relaxed. Once you feel sleepy again, go back to bed.
- If you find difficulty in getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking up not feeling well-rested, ask your GP to help you identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatment.
More information on a wide range of sleep topics can be found at the Sleep Health Foundation.
The Workplace Wellbeing information and resources are provided as part of the Water Industry Alliance's Healthy Workplace Awareness in the Water Industry project. This prioject is funded by SA Health in partnership with Business SA and the Water Industry Alliance.