Understanding the importance of sleep
We hosted an online event with the Bank Workers Charity on 16th April 2021 looking at the importance of sleep and the impact poor sleep has on our mental health and wellbeing.
We asked Paul Barrett, Head of Wellbeing at the Bank Workers Charity, to come and talk to our members about:
- What has happened to our sleep during the pandemic
- Why sleep is important and what happens if we don’t get enough
- Sleep at different life stages
- Sleep and the workplace
- Sleep and wellbeing
- How we can improve sleep quality and quantity
Paul began the session by detailing some statistics about sleep issues during the pandemic:
"A UK study published during the first lockdown found people were getting an hour more sleep than before, yet one in four said sleep was 'worse than ever', and as many as 48% said they were being kept awake worrying about Covid-19."
‘Covid-Somnia’ refers to the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic which has made getting a good night’s rest significantly harder. Many of us have been finding it difficult to drift off, experiencing disruptive sleep or not getting a good restorative night’s rest. In addition to this, a lack of routine, spending a lot of time at home, and not getting enough daylight has resulted in us feeling more nervous, emotional, irritable and anxious. Over time, poor sleep quality can have a negative impact on our wellbeing, effecting our energy, focus and ability to function - making us more susceptible to illnesses.
A UK study published during the first lockdown found people were getting an hour more sleep than before, yet one in four said sleep was "worse than ever”, and as many as 48% said they were being kept awake worrying about covid-19. More recent research conducted by UCL found sleep problems have increased during the three lockdowns with fewer than one in ten adults reporting they're getting good sleep. People may be less worried about catching the virus than they were at the beginning of the pandemic, but that hasn't translated into improved sleep as the worries have shifted to fears over finances and job security.
That's why we teamed up with the Bank Workers Charity for a wellbeing webinar that focussed on improving the quality of our sleep. Paul identified a range of strategies we can employ to get us safely through the pandemic and set up good habits that minimise the risks to our mental health and wellbeing.
You can access the recording below, along with links to download the slides and a link to our feedback survey.
Members told us that the next webinar topic they’d like us to cover is loneliness and social wellbeing, so that’s what we’ll do. We’ll deliver this session with the BWC in early June – keep an eye out for the invite!Download the recording Download the slides Tell us how we did
Surviving the long pandemic
We look at the uncertainties created by the long pandemic and identify strategies we can use to minimise the risks to our mental health and wellbeing.
Importance of taking breaks & suicide prevention
Every year on the 10th September, organisations and communities across the world come together to raise awareness and to focus on creating a world where fewer people die due to suicide.
Tips for better sleep
The good news is, there are healthy sleep habits that we can introduce to our routine to help us get some well-deserved rest, and in turn, protect our physical and mental wellbeing. So, what can we do to manage ‘Covid-Somnia’?
- Sleep at regular times – aim to wake up and go to sleep around the same time each day - even on weekends. It’s recommended that we get 7-9 hours sleep per night so build in enough time to achieve this. It’ll help set your body’s internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep.
- Dodge daytime naps – it can be tempting to make up for a poor night’s sleep by taking a nap, but this can make things worse. If you have to, limit naps to no more than 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
- Avoid working in your bedroom – find a space to work in that's not your bedroom, even if it’s for a portion of your working week. Your mind will begin to associate your bedroom as a place of sleep, helping you to unwind at night with ease.
- Find time to move – it’s recommended that we take 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, five times per week. You could go for a walk or jog in the morning or late afternoon, but not too close to bedtime or it could interfere with your sleep.
- Cut down on caffeine – you may love your tea, coffee, fizzy drinks or chocolate, and they're fine to enjoy but all of these contain caffeine which acts as a stimulate. Try cutting back in the early evening so that your body has chance to naturally wind down. Some teas are naturally caffeine free like rooibos (red bush) which can be calming before bed, but if you can't stomach flavoured there are decaffeinated teas and coffees.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine – turn off all digital devices at least an hour before bed and begin to unwind - devices keep our brains stimulated, and the blue light may decrease melatonin production which is needed for sleep. You could read a book, listen to music, have a bath, or practice a mindfulness technique. Your bedroom should ideally be dark, quiet, tidy and kept at a temperature of between 18°C - 24°C.
- Don't toss and turn – there's a temptation to remain in bed no matter how frustrated it makes us when we're struggling to sleep. Break the cycle of frustration by getting up, stretching, reading, or doing something else that will calm you, in low light, before trying to fall asleep again.
- Make gradual adjustments – the temptation is to make changes all at once, but it's important to take it step by step so that you can settle into the adjustments.
There's a two-way relationship between poor sleep and mental health conditions. The key is to practice good 'sleep hygiene' which means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Find what works best for you and stick to it.