In the second of our series on how to combat the stresses and strains of working in events, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, talks to us about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleeping Beauties… don’t make sleep a fairy tale
How many of us have fallen for the common myth of “Busy, productive people need less sleep” ? I certainly had! I’m wonder woman, aren’t’ I?
I hacked my sleeping pattern and, for years, I tried to survive on 5/6 hours of sleep a night so I had time for my morning rituals and fitting everything I had to do in a day.
As we know, events life can be super crazy and our phone can easily take over our lives… “What? Are you not on your emails 24/7?” “Does this mean you are actually off on a weekend?”
Most of us are getting far less sleep than we actually need and lack of sleep is affecting us in so many harmful ways.
Here are 5 simple examples on how lack of sleep can affect our system:
- Weight Gain – the less you sleep, the more your hormones will have fun increasing and decreasing as they please. Cortisol (the stress hormone), insulin and the appetite hormone are directly linked with the lack of sleep and they increase exponentially when you haven’t had enough rest. The hormones’ rollercoaster can affect your metabolism, increase risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.
- Concentration & Productivity – let’s imagine your body requires an average of 8 hours of sleep and you only sleep 6. This means you are forcing your body and your brain to skip 2 hours of beauty sleep! According to a couple of studies this leads to a one-third reduction in your cognitive abilities… it’s pretty much like showing up to work after having downed a pint of beer and pretending to have a super-productive day!
- Mood – lack of sleep impacts your mood, increasing anger, anxiety and depression. It also decreases your ability to empathise with others and makes you less able to calm your mind when needed. A study on over 10,000 people, showed that insomnia sufferers are 500% more likely to develop depression.
- Learning Abilities – did you know that if you study something before going to bed, you are increasing your probabilities to learn it faster? It is called the ‘consolidation’ method. Also, a rested brain will thank you at work and it will be your ally even on your most difficult day!
- Immune System – a healthy sleeping pattern will help your immune system to heal you faster, to fight colds and to naturally protect your body. For those who care, lack of sleep also ruins your skin! When you do not get enough sleep, your body releases cortisol, the famous stress hormone, and also the cause of breaking down skin collagen. Lack of sleep increases the C-Reactive Protein, the ‘inflammation’ protein, and can increase chronic inflammation in the body.
I’ve now made sleeping an essential part of my life, both in the working and personal-growth realm. How have I done that? Here are a few tips I hope you can adopt in your life.
- Discover your OAS (Optimal Amount of Sleep)
We all have different sleeping needs. Generally it varies between 7 and 9 hours. Whenever you can, try not to set any alarm for a few of days and see at what time you naturally wake up. Check how many hours that is and get an app on your phone so that you can time your sleep until you get the hang of it and become a master at allowing yourself to sleep
- Routine your sleep
Try to get a super simple routine before you go to bed. It can be as straightforward as: brushing teeth, reading, snoozing; or more detailed such as night yoga, stretching, meditation, etc. Whatever works and can be applied daily so that your body knows that it’s time to go to bed!
- Can I have a nap?
In Asia, napping is compulsory! To increase productivity, Chinese workplaces include a 15-20 minutes nap during lunch break. In western culture napping is for kids but why not try a nap yourself? Imagine what you could do with the energy of a toddler every afternoon! Here’s one method to ensure you power nap and not sleep the whole day – hold an object (it needs to make a lot of noise when it hits the floor!!) in your hand and start napping. Once you start getting into deep sleep, your muscles will release and the object will fall. The noise will wake you up and you will be power napped!
And, the obvious:
- Avoid coffee after 2pm
- Use the bed for sleeping only (do not work/eat/watch TV/play, etc)
- Avoid sleeping pills, all they do is get you hooked so you believe you will never be able to sleep without them
- Do not eat right before going to bed.
After reading this post you might get a sense of denial and still think that this is all BS and that you can easily make it with 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Do yourself a favour, do some reading on the subject – there are so many interesting resources available online.
P.S. For the event leaders of the world – I know how we love to rock in our job and I completely understand how difficult it can be to actually find time to sleep. However, please allow yourself to rest whenever you are not physically on an event, switch off the phone when you get home at night and enjoy some “you” time.
Happy dreams everyone!