Building Resilience. There’s a nap for that: Sleep!

The importance of sleep is well-documented, so it might seem surprising that only 40% of working adults get enough of it. So what can we do to get more of the good stuff?

Dreaming of a good night’s sleep?

Ah sleep – an opportunity to relax, recharge and refresh, and to forget any troubles and drift happily into the land of nod…

Research indicates that sleep boosts our immunity, supports in maintaining a healthy weight, prevents diabetes and even wards off heart disease. Sleep is also fantastic in improving our wellbeing; it can improve our mood, reduce the potential for anxiety and in turn help us to be more positive, productive and peaceful. 

Given all the positives, the study by Horizons Workforce Consulting*, still found that only 40% of working adults get enough sleep to awaken refreshed for the day ahead.

Obviously we all have the occasional late night with limited sleep. We might find ourselves watching ‘just one more episode’ of our favourite Netflix show, catching up on a few last minute emails, caring for a dependant or looking after little ones who don’t care that it’s 2/ 3 or 4am!

The challenges, however, lie when the ‘occasional’ becomes the ‘norm’, and a regular lack of sleep starts having a significant impact on our wellbeing, especially when we’re trying to balance family and personal lives with work.

In the short term, this can often leave us feeling short-tempered, reaching for chocolate (in the hope of revival) and struggling to concentrate.  In the long term, it can also have an impact on our quality, performance and productivity both at home and at work – leaving us feeling tired and burned out.

In a world which is constantly changing, with new challenges every day, increasing pressures and the demands of a busy life, sleep is an important factor and major source of the ability to face these obstacles with resilience.

Building Resilience

Resilience is that ineffable quality which enables certain people to adapt to stressful situations and bounce back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them, resilient individuals can adjust, rise from the ashes and quickly recover.

The reality is we all face stress at certain times in both our personal and professional lives, and it’s important to recognise that a certain level of this is normal. In fact, a small amount of pressure is healthy, as it helps us strive for excellence, create goals and objectives, and reach our potential as individuals and teams.

But as sleeping and resilience work hand-in-hand, additional hours in the land of nod can help wellbeing increase – and enable us to be healthier, more committed, engaged and productive.  This in turn starts building a virtuous circle that extends and impacts other aspects of our wider wellbeing – from job satisfaction and financial matters to our community.

So what are we waiting for? If we can understand the ‘why’, we can work out the ‘how’. While there may be factors outside our control, there are a few things you can do to help get a great night’s sleep, including:

  • Set aside time to wind down before bed
  • Try taking a warm bath
  • Write a to-do list for the next day to organise your thoughts
  • Read a book or listening to the radio or relaxing playlist
  • Try light relaxation exercises (such as yoga stretches or meditation)
  • Avoid TV and bright screens or other electronic devices at least an hour before bed
  • Create a relaxing environment with candles or scent
  • Heat/cool your bedroom to an ambient temperature
  • Ensure your bedroom is dark and quiet (and tidy also helps create a calm mind)
  • Try to create a haven of relaxation in your bedroom with calming, neutral colours – if you walk in and breathe a sigh of relief and release, you’re halfway there.

Top Tips

In addition to preparing for a good night’s sleep, two simple techniques can also really help to transform your thoughts and build resilience.

  • Look at the Positives
    Each day, write down three positive experiences and a strength you have used, particularly in a different context from where you would expect to use it. Try to practice this for 21 days, which will strengthen and train your mind’s positive circuit. Apply this to your working day and you will notice the impact on your performance and how you manage day-to-day stress.
  • Manage the Worry
    We all worry – whether it’s an upcoming meeting at work, receiving feedback or something in the home. If you find yourself worrying, ask yourself ‘can I control or change this fear’? If the answer is no, try to drop the worry from your mind and focus your attention elsewhere. If the answer is yes, look for ways you can improve the outcome, such as additional planning.