S L E E P T A L K
Are you getting enough?
The chances are, you’re not. Neither am I. And lets face it, with around 72% of the Events Industry saying they suffer with sleep problems – we’re not alone.
Last week I attended a talk by Laura Capell-Abra highlighting some of the steps we can take as events professionals to reduce stress in our working environment. There were some really insightful ideas, and she shared the above statistic relating to sleep- or the lack of- in our industry.
In a survey carried out in 2017, Event Coordinator ranked fifth place in the most stressful jobs, right up at the top with roles which are quite literally saving lives – Police, Airline Pilot, Firefighter and the Military. We’re not fighting fires (well, real ones) or serving our country on a daily basis, so why does our career rank quite so highly, and how does working in a stressful career take its toll on our sleep?
If you’re anything like me you’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking about table plans, to-do-lists and whether you remembered to order flowers for an event the next morning. But then running on empty and relying on that extra shot of espresso shouldn’t be the norm, and it’s time to look at how we can take simple steps to a better nights sleep.
In a career where long days and irregular schedules are all too frequent, sleep needs to be higher up on our priority list to avoid burnout and fuel the busy working weeks. Although many of us can and do get by on just 4 or 5 hours a night, this needs to change. Here are some tips to catching a few extra zzzz’s at the end of the day.
Using electronic devices before bedtime is all too common – checking that last email or scrolling through social media can have a really negative impact on both falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night and the blue light emitted by electronic devices blocks your melatonin production, which is essential to your sleep. The Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) say: besides increasing your alertness at a time when you should be getting sleepy, which in turn delays your bedtime, using these devices before turning in delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep.
Whilst it’s all too tempting to charge your phone on your bedside table or attempt to wind down by browsing the internet, having a ‘device detox’ in the hour before bed can work wonders in helping your body and mind to switch off – try swapping the screen for a book, or write a list of your thoughts to help close down the day and prevent you waking up worrying in the night.
Try to set as regular a bed time as you can – of course there will inevitably be long nights and early starts to throw you off schedule, but helping the body to create a natural sleep-wake cycle can go a long way in having a better night’s sleep. Try setting a reminder for when you should be winding down, to avoid the all too common extra episode on Netflix or losing track of time in front of the laptop. A regular wake-up time is important too, and try to keep it consistent!
Do you struggle to switch off? Whilst reading before bed works for some people, it’s not a quick fix for everyone, so why not try a meditation app such as ‘Headspace’ or ‘Calm’ to ease you in to the sleep mindset with guided breating or meditation? There are also some great yoga and stretching sequences online (I love Yoga with Adriene on youtube) which can help your body to relax with some gentle movement before bed.
The journey to a good night’s sleep can begin hours before if you take simple steps to keep on track of tasks rather than letting them keep you awake long into the night. Try writing yourself a list of reminders for the next day when leaving the office, to help you mentally switch off from Monday and be ready and prepared for Tuesday when you next sit down at your desk. I also without fail check the weather and plan my outfit for the next day to avoid the inevitable rifling through the wardrobe early in the morning!
I hope this inspires you to focus more on sleep as a priority – even small steps towards a better sleep routine can go a long way in fuelling a busy working week.