Sleep deprivation sucks. It can quickly turn you into a physical, mental and emotional wreck: not good for work or relationships. So here’s an idea to mark this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May) and its important “sleep” theme.
#BetterBedtimes with IP Inclusive
All you have to do for your #BetterBedtimes week is:
- Sleep more
- Sleep better
- See how you feel at the end
Commit to giving yourself an extra hour’s sleep every night during Mental Health Awareness Week. That probably means going to bed earlier than usual. Yes of course there’s often no set routine for a busy IP professional, but you’ll know what you normally aim for, so just alter that for a week.
Remember: it is not more important to faff about checking your Twitter feed, channel-hopping or looking for biscuits than it is to give your mind and body a rest. Just quit faffing and go to bed.
Create yourself a bedtime routine and keep to it every night during the week. This is time without screens, without caffeine, without alcohol or massive sugar hits; it’s maybe 15 minutes or so of winding down to get your body ready to switch off. Maybe it’s a hot bath, a herbal tea, five minutes’ meditation, or a good book (no IP journals please!). Allow yourself some small luxuries: essential oils (try lavender and rose geranium), candles, restful music, fresh bed linen… You need to look forward to your hours of oblivion; they’re not just a tedious interlude between what you can enjoy now and what you’ll be forced to do tomorrow.
(Employers: how about a gift for your employees, to show you care about their wellbeing: for example a sleep pillow spray, a relaxing herbal tea, or let’s be practical about this, permission to work slightly shorter – or more flexible – days during Mental Health Awareness Week?)
See how you feel…
At the end of the week, reflect on how it’s affected your mood, your energy levels, your work, your resilience and your relationships. If you’re feeling better for it, continue with the good habits you’ve begun to establish.
Employers can also keep an eye on how productivity and workplace atmosphere changes when sleep levels rise. Either way, please share with @IPInclusive using the #BetterBedtimes tag.
There may be all manner of causes for sleep deprivation – physical, mental and emotional. Anxiety and depression are big risk factors. Hormones can play havoc with sleep patterns. Jet lag is a killer. And then of course there are the practical barriers to a good night’s sleep: young children waking, loved ones snoring, having to stay out late for business events, wanting to stay out late for parties, over-estimating your superpowers.
But whether you struggle to nod off in the first place, or to stay that way through the night, there is nothing worse than having to face the day on an empty sleep tank. So for this one week of 2020, top yours up and see what happens!
For more on getting to sleep and bedtime routines, see the NHS advice here and some useful tips from the National Sleep Foundation here. The link between sleep and mental health is explored by the Mental Health Foundation here and by Mind here.
Page published on 8th March 2020
Page last modified on
The sleep pillow and relaxing herbal tea are great ideas. I'll raise these at work!
Great, practical article. It's also recommended to keep your sleeping space free from work/chore associations, so no working in bed or keeping 'paperwork' in the same room! And if you do find yourself awake for a long stretch in the night, it is recommended to get up and have a warm, milky (or milk substitute) drink, read something relaxing for a bit and then go back to bed. Apparently, back in the day, humans used to sleep in approx. 4h blocks, amounting to being awake for a few hours in between (in what we would now term 'the middle of the night'). The advent of artificial light and enforced scheduling cannot quite obliterate these natural rhythms in us all, so accepting and working with this, rather than getting cross, irritated or panicky, may be better for us. Sleep well!