Every day I hear employees who have struggles of unhappiness and stress on the job, and their number one complaint is a lack of sleep; usually, they cannot fall asleep as they describe feeling tired but, as soon as they lie down, their brain comes alive. These racing thoughts seem to have a life of their own and, no matter how much they try to find calming ways, the more their thoughts race. A lack of sleep can have several causes but the impacts it can leave are significant. The downside of a lack of sleep include:
- mood problems like anxiety or depression
- stomach problems
- inability to focus or problems with concentration
- pain-related problems
- aging issues, such as bags under the eyes
When you don’t get a good night sleep, you can’t function well at your job and this can have serious implications to your job-security and for the safety of self/others. The recent Fedex airplane crash was attributed to lack of sleep and stress. Understanding the necessity of sleep is critical to your emotional well-being and to your work performance. With adequate rest, you will feel better able to handle whatever lies in your day, have more fulfilling interpersonal relationships, and happier (which has far- reaching positive effects on performance).
Here are some tips that can help if you find you are sluggish at work and lacking sleep:
- Uncover the source of your issues – digging deep and identifying what your thoughts consist of is a key step to why you can’t sleep; is it worry about money, your family, your health or your job; is it a health issue that prevents you from sleeping, such as sleep apnea, body aches or restless leg syndrome
- Drain the Brain – this is where you take time, say 15 minutes, before your retire and write down all your worries and list all the tasks you believe you need to get done the next day. You can’t hold on to those thoughts once written; it is helpful to keep a notepad and pen beside your bed so you can write down any thoughts if you wake up during the night
- Meditate – sitting in quiet and deep-breathing, such as with meditation, will help to push oxygen to your blood cells and provides relaxation
- Turn off the Switch – make a time every night where you disconnect from all social media, such as turning off your computer, cell phone, and even the TV. Those only stimulate the brain so you want to ‘teach’ it to unwind and calm down
- Set a timer for bed – I read this somewhere to set a timer to signal bedtime, just as you do to wake-up; doing so trains your body and puts it into sleep-mode
- There are some foods you can eat, like turkey, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, honey, and drinking tea
- If needed, some supplements can help, like DHEA, Omega 3 fatty acids, Melatonin, or an over-the-counter aid. If sleep issues continue, then I would recommend a visit to your doctor to ensure it not anything more serious or for prescribed medications.
If work is causing you stress and leading to an inability to sleep, it is imperative to get a handle on it; look at what you can do to alleviate the work situation, such as looking at it from a different perspective, talking to your boss about how you might structure your work differently, and by having an ‘exit strategy’ if the situation does not improve. Another downside of a lack of sleep is feeling hatred towards it so make sleep your friend and welcome it with open arms. You will feel more refreshed and energized to get those work tasks done, and done well.