The importance of sleep

The phrase ‘work/life balance’ is one that is regularly bandied around in media and the work place, often in respect to the balance between our professional life and leisure time.

We have always had to work, but the character of our work has changed dramatically since our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. Although their lives were undoubtedly hard and short, their workloads were relatively low. It is approximated it would have taken around 20 hours per week to acquire and prepare food, and to make tools, clothing, and shelter!

We now live in a drastically different society. While work is still essential to the ability to live a successful life it is now, in the main, focused on employment outside the home. The minimum ‘full time hours’ in Australia are 35 and often with long commute times to factor in as well there is no denying that we have significantly less time for leisure and rest.importance of sleep

Whilst the focus on work/life balance has often reiterated the importance of ‘wind down’, family or leisure time one essential factor that is often over looked in this equation is the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Simply put, not getting enough sleep can lead to a whole number of negative outcomes which can make it hard to effectively juggle work and life and can even affect your performance in the workplace.

Lack of sleep can lead to;

  • Feeling irritable and moody.
  • Forgetting things that you need to do and taking a long time to complete tasks.
  • Falling into micro-sleeps where you experience a lapse in attention.
  • In extreme cases it can even cause hallucinations and anxiety.

It has been shown that by sleeping for less than 5 hours for more than a couple of nights in a row, can lead to similar levels of impairment as somebody who is over the drink drive limit. Also by going without sleep for just one night you can cause a similar effect to your brain as a knock to the head!

So if you wouldn’t consider going to work with concussion or after one too many, maybe it’s time to look at how much sleep you are getting too!

An adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night and anything less than 6 has been shown to impact on productivity. On the flip side, getting a good night’s sleep can keep you on the right track to being successful, happy and focused!

So here are our top tips to a good night’s sleep;

  • Have a clear bedtime routine just like we do with babies – your brain picks up that this is what happens before sleep and begins to prepare itself for a good night’s sleep.
  • Make sure to eliminate all sources of light and turn off your screens before you actually make it to bed. The glow from TV, computer and phone screens is thought to delay the release of melatonin, making it harder to get to sleep.
  • Exercise and move more during the day – this reduces cortisol, which can cause insomnia, and increases serotonin which is a sleep regulator. Plus the more you move the more energy you’ll have in the daytime too!
  • Make sleep a priority. While it may not seem as important as work or as enjoyable as your leisure time it is an essential part of the equation and deserves to be given the focus it deserves!

So here’s to a better night’s sleep and more effective work-life balance!