Sleep: A Manager’s Secret Weapon

04 July 2017 -

Workplace boredom

Feeling tired at work? You could be sleep deprived. Get some top tips for sleep experts on boosting your slumber

Guest blogger James Barrass-Banks

The answer to employee motivation, productivity and well-being might not lie in a fancy new motivational tool but in something that’s been around for much longer and something we’re all very familiar with: sleep.

Many managers think working around the clock (and encouraging their staff to do the same) is the way to get ahead. But the evidence suggests otherwise. Rather than working every hour under the sun, it’s vital you ensure you and your team are getting plenty of shut-eye.

If you find yourself coming into work tired in the mornings or struggling to get through the afternoons, you could well be sleep deprived - which isn’t good for your company... and certainly isn’t any good for you.

In fact, getting the right amount of sleep - generally thought to be at least eight hours a night - is absolutely crucial. It will help you function, think clearly, enjoy good emotional well-being and help you work creatively, productively, and efficiently.

Recent research reveals just how bad a lack of sleep can be, showing it can:

  • Make us eat more than 300 extra calories a day
  • Increase risk of diabetes, weight gain and heart disease
  • Lead to mental health problems in cases of insomnia
  • Affect productivity and academic performance

For Ines Respini Jones, HR Business Partner at Simply HR Consulting, manager burnout has “significant implications” for businesses.

“Burnout is being caused by prolonged emotional and physical stress and is heightened by a lack of sleep,” she says.

“The lack of sleep combined with high-stress situations reduces employee productivity, leads to disconnect at work and loss of motivation, as well as fostering anger and resentment.”

So how to sleep better?

Use blackout curtains

If you wake up when the sun does and can’t get back to sleep, buy some blackout curtains. These curtains block external light from coming into your room, helping you sleep on through, regardless of light sources trying to interrupt your flow.

Relax before bedtime

It might be tempting to check your emails or make another tweak to that all-important presentation just before you hit the hay, but don’t. Stimulating your brain just before bedtime can make it much more difficult to fall quickly into sleep. Instead, get into the habit of doing something relaxing - like taking a soothing bath.

Can you get 40 winks at work?

If you work in a modern office, you might be lucky enough to have couches or large cushions you can relax on. If you feel tired, why not grab five minutes shut eye and take it out of your lunch break? “Notice when you start to feel tired and pay attention to it rather than pushing yourself through it for another hour or so,” says leadership consultant Anni Townend.

Keep fit

“Ensuring that you have enough exercise during the day is important, be this choosing to walk rather than use transport. This, along with sleep, refuels us physically, mentally and emotionally – we feel better after it, if not always whilst doing it,” Townend adds.

And here are some more tips from sleep expert Sharon Stiles:

  • Avoid really bright lights in the evening because they confuse your body clock. Use dimmer lighting so your body can start producing melatonin so you can sleep well.
  • Keep a notebook by the side of your bed so that if, and when, you do wake up with something on your mind, you can jot it down rather than letting it keep you awake.
  • Breathe from your abdomen because that's where you naturally breathe from when you are asleep.

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