How to Balance Work & Sleep
Twenty-four hours never seems like enough time in a day in our busy hectic life. Between work, family, social obligations and just trying to carve out some “me” time, our sleep schedule is usually what suffers the most as we try to cram so much into our day. We are endangering our lives when we don’t get enough sleep though. Adults need at least 7 to 9 hours a sleep at night and doing a big sleep fest on the weekend to catch up really won’t help decrease the deficit.
Lack of sleep is associated with increased stress levels and poor decision-making which can affect your performance at work. When you are foggy from a lack of sleep, you also can’t think on your feet which is another important skill. Besides affecting your work performance, regularly getting 6 hours or less of sleep a night can also increase your risk for health issues like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
When you are a shift worker or have a demanding job that requires a lot of overtime, trying to find a way to balance work and sleep can be especially challenging, but it is crucial to do so. Here are some tips for ways to balance work and sleep.
Make sleep a priority
If you don’t make sleep a priority, you will never force yourself to get to sleep at a reasonable time. Have you ever noticed that if something is really important to you, you will find the time? The house doesn’t have to be spotless, your work will be there in the morning. You need to make sure you are setting aside enough hours to rest and rejuvenate. You will love how sharper and more efficient you will be at the office the next morning.
Really clock-off from work
With iPhones and laptops at home, it is very hard to truly unwind from work even if you are not actively doing a work project at home. There is that constant need to check to see if you received a call or email about work and to constantly scan your social media accounts. In order to truly unwind from your day and prepare for a good night’s sleep you need to take a break from all work stress. Set a definite time where you log-off all your accounts for the night.
Switch careers or get a new job
When you are in certain high-demanding jobs, it might seem impossible to find that work-sleep balance. If you find yourself stressed and fatigued to the point that you don’t find your job rewarding enough then you should consider a new career or position. Or if you are able, go part-time for a while.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise
Maintaining a healthy diet and regularly exercising will not only help you sleep better at night, it will help you handle better the times you can’t get a good night’s sleep. Stay away from processed foods as much as possible and watch how much sugars, fats and carbohydrates you eat and drink. Good foods to eat include:
- Fish and seaweed
- Beans, lentils and spinach
- Avocado, blueberries and pineapple
- Walnuts, chai and flax seeds
When you don’t eat well, your fatigue is quadrupled and you feel that lack of sleep even more.
Also schedule time for exercise whether it is simply going for a walk or going to the gym. This will also help with your fatigue.
Make time for fun with friends and family
If you are in constant work mode, then you can’t really relax and unwind from your day, and you will burn out quickly. Make time for activities with friends and family, but keep them low on stress. Go out to eat or see a movie, take a walk in the park. If put a lot of expectations on these gatherings you will only add to your stress.
Make time for “Me Time”
Besides time with friends and family, you also need “me time”. Whether it is taking a long bath or reading a book after a long day or starting your day with yoga, you need to take care of yourself.
Use a planner to schedule and prioritize
It is easy to let sleep and healthy living slip through your fingers when you go through your day being reactive instead of proactive. Instead make a list of all the things you need to get done and schedule them into their own time slots. It is also a good idea to rank them by priority so you know what absolutely has to get done and what can wait if you run out of time. Eating healthy, sleep and exercise should all be non-negotiable though. They need to happen every day.
Still struggling to get a good night’s sleep after following all these tips? Try also tweaking your bedtime routine to help you fall asleep more quickly. If you tend to just collapse into bed at the end of the day or fall asleep watching television or playing on your phone, then you need to create a bedtime routine to follow every night. About an hour or two before you want to be in bed, shut off all electronics and do something relaxing like take a bath or read a book. Some people enjoy a little meditation or yoga before bed. Also, keep your bed just for sleeping, not for checking emails or scrolling through Facebook for the millionth time. If you use your phone for your morning alarm, keep it on the nightstand, but resist the urge to keep checking every update.
Sometimes the quality of your mattress might also be to blame. If your mattress is 10 years old or older, it is probably time to replace it. Go physically to a mattress store and try out different types so you can find the one that conforms to your body the best.
If after trying all this, you still find yourself tossing and turning through the night, it might be time to make an appointment with a sleep specialist to rule out any health issues or sleep disorders. A good night sleep is crucial to your productivity on the job and to your health, so start making it a priority tonight.