Snoozing Through the Silly Season

As the December holidays draw near, the stress of work deadlines, events and Christmas catch-ups with distant Aunt Sally loom closer and closer. As a result, our regular routines tend to suffer – and one of the first compromises we make is sleep. By reducing our sleep, we decrease our already suffering end-of-year energy levels, which can then impact job performance. Plus it’s Christmas party season, and we want to be primed and full of energy for that! #priorities

So, if you’re feeling groggy or heavy-eyed, we have 6 tips that are sure to help you get a better night’s sleep right through to the New Year!

Exercise…Daily.

Exercising on a regular basis is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and general wellbeing. Vigorous exercise is best, although if you’re pressed for time and need a quick fix, here’s the ultimate ten minute workout you can do at your desk.

Wherever possible, exercise should be performed during the day, preferably before sunset. If left too late you may find yourself tossing and turning all night due to the stimulatory effect of exercise.

Catch some rays!

A great piece of advice for sleep (particularly useful for dealing with desynchronosis, or Jet lag) is increasing your exposure to natural sunlight. This helps to keep your circadian rhythm healthy by regulating your production of melatonin. Melatonin production generally decreases as we age, which can result in an increased rate of insomnia sufferers amongst older adults. As such getting out and about throughout the day is increasingly important as we get older.

Taking your lunch outside the office is a great way to catch a few rays while at work. Not only does this get you out of the office, it helps you put in some light exercise, especially if you decide to take the stairs! Don’t forget to Slip-Slop-Slap!

Disconnect at night

We are constantly connected to our smart devices, even beyond the confines of the office. The blue light wavelengths emitted by these devices can provide productivity benefits by boosting attention and reaction times, and provide energy efficiency for the device itself. However, exposure to blue light at night is shown to be disrupting our regular sleep patterns, with the stimulatory effect upsetting our body’s biological clock.

An easy way to get around this (on enabled devices) is to turn down the brightness, and where possible turn down the blue backlight. If you have to work on a device at night, opt for a pair of glasses designed to block blue light.

Re-think that afternoon coffee

A single dose of caffeine can enhance your focus, energy and even sports performance. Once again, due to its stimulatory effect on the body, it’s best to avoid consuming caffeine late in the day, as it may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.

As caffeine can stay in your blood for 6-8 hours, it is recommended to avoid drinking large amounts of coffee after 3 – 4 p.m.

So, if you’re really craving coffee late in the afternoon or evening, grab yourself a decaf.

Evaluate your bedroom

The temperature, noise and lighting of your bedroom are key factors in getting a good night’s sleep.

In Australia, particularly in summer, controlling your bedroom’s temperature is critical to a good night’s sleep. On average 20°C seems to be the most comfortable temperature, although you may need to adjust this to suit your personal preference.

External noise and lighting will also play a large role in regulating your quality of sleep. By minimising external noise, light and artificial lights, you can make your bedroom a quiet and relaxing environment that’s ideal for a good night’s sleep.

Calculate sleep debt

It is recommended that the average adult gets 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night. Anything less is called “sleep debt”. Most sleep debt is caused by failing to get to bed on time and to stay there until we’ve slept enough. Planning around sleep debt is a great idea if you have a busy schedule, and have the opportunity to plan your sleep needs in advance.

The effects of sleep deprivation can be reversed when the hours of sleep lost have been made up, or the debt has been “re-paid”. Over a short-term period this means allocating your lost hours of slumber to a quieter night in advance. When treating long term sleep debt it is recommended to plan a holiday with a light schedule and few obligations.

Keep in mind it could take a few weeks to recoup your losses, so kick back, relax and by the end, you’ll be getting the amount of sleep you need to regularly awake feeling refreshed.

We hope you find these sleep tips useful, particularly for the approaching holiday period. Don’t forget, if there is a particular topic that you would like us to investigate, or you would like to feature in the wellness blog please feel free to let us know. Drop me a line or give me a call on 03 9963 4804.

Enjoy the silly season and sleep well,

Oliver Szklarz

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