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Occasionally tossing and turning at night isn't uncommon. At some point, most of us will have suffered a bad night's sleep. But for some, restless nights have become the norm and no matter what you try - a relaxing bath, a warm glass of milk, counting sheep - nothing seems to do the trick. And with working from home now commonplace, the lines between work and rest have become blurred. Many of us now find ourselves working and sleeping in the same room, which can prevent us from truly switching off.
World Sleep Day is on Friday 17th March, and the theme this year is ‘Sleep is essential for health’. Quality of sleep can directly affect your mental and physical health and wellbeing. This, of course, has a knock-on effect on your performance at work. Not getting enough good quality sleep is likely to lead to a shorter attention span, difficulty remembering things, higher stress levels and low mood – none of which is good news for your career!
That being said, we know that overnight stays during a conference mean sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, which can in itself make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. So, what can you do to improve your sleep quality at home and when you're away? Here are some tips to try:
Switch off before bed
Long, busy days can often leave our minds racing. It's important to fully wind down before bed, so that you can focus on getting a restful night's sleep, rather than trying to digest all the information from the day. Reading a book, meditating or trying out some simple relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, can help to clear your mind before bed.
Exercise during the day
Even just 10 minutes of exercise a day can help to improve sleep quality. Squeezing in a lunchtime walk will do more for you than you think, not only stretching your legs but also allowing you to get a proper break from the working day.
Phones, tablets and computers emit blue light which is especially disruptive before sleep. Try avoiding bright screens 1-2 hours before you go to bed, or leave your phone out of the bedroom at night so you're not tempted to use it. If you really have to check your phone before bed, make sure the brightness is turned down and limit yourself to 5 minutes.
Don't watch the clock
We've all been there! On those nights where you just can't seem to drift off to sleep, avoid looking at the clock. Spending time worrying about how much sleep you're not getting can stop you from falling asleep altogether. Instead, focus on resting and thinking nice thoughts - and if you can't stop watching the clock, try moving it to another side of the room.
Avoid worrying and planning ahead
Lying in bed at night is often the only time we get to stop and think about the day ahead, but worrying about what's to come can hinder your ability to drift off. Writing a to-do list before bed can help with winding down from the day and clearing your head of all the things you need to do tomorrow.