Calm down calm down. It’s not what you think! I’m just quoting the brilliant Adrianna Huffington who rates sleep as the No. 1 thing you can do to improve your personal wellbeing. So, coming off the back of our ‘July off-season’ (more on that later), which is all about rest and recovery, I thought I’d throw out a challenge to myself and you guys, if you are up for it?
The challenge: research say’s we are a nation of walking tired. What if better sleep, rest and recovery routines could be the game changer in our energy levels and our ability to perform? So, if you have hit a mid year energy slump, consider yourself a poor sleeper or, the ability to rest ‘guilt free’ has alluded you, in the next 5 minutes let’s put sleep to the test!
I want to let you in on a little secret.
I often sacrifice sleep or rest to prioritise morning exercise, get an early start on ‘the to do list’ or, calculate in my head ‘have I got somewhere between 7 – 8 hours sleep?’ Therefore I can get out of bed and get on with things! You see to me ‘sleep’ is a bit of a chore. Sure I value it and I’ve made huge strides to improve the quality of my sleep (after ‘stress-based’ insomnia hit in my 20s), but it’s a necessary evil in my mind.
But, my attitude towards sleep was recently turned upside down by Agapi Stassinopoulos (Adrianna Huffington’s brilliant sister), who I had the pleasure of spending a day with being trained in their Thrive program. They say, hands down, sleep is the No. 1 thing you can do for your wellbeing. Arianna Huffington has in fact been on a mission to instil the benefits of sleep ever since she collapsed from exhaustion in 2007. She says;
“The impact on our health is dramatic, we have all the data now that shows how it affects every aspect of our health.” This includes everything from a suppressed immune system (hello that constant cold you keep getting), hypertension (if we sleep less it’s harder to process stress), and obesity (when we are tired we crave bad carbs and sugars to pick us up). She goes onto say, “the irony is that a lot of people forego sleep in the name of productivity,” she points out. “But in fact our productivity is reduced substantially when we’re sleep deprived.”
This is backed up by the research done by James Maas and Rebecca Robbins for their 2011 book ‘Sleep for Success! Everything you must know about sleep but are too tired to ask. They reported;
• 51 percent of the workforce reports that sleepiness on the job interferes with the volume of work they can do.
• 65% of us will have trouble falling asleep tonight and be tired tomorrow
Good sleep hygiene & routines are king
Research gun and CLARETY partner Emma Hart says, “When we think about a ‘Whole-System’ Leadership approach, sleep & rest is a crucial element in taking care of our physical body. It’s all about creating good sleep hygiene and routines”. She goes onto say, “Having worked with many leaders experiencing signs of stress and burnout the first question I ask them is ‘how is your sleep?’ The second, ‘what are you doing to rest & recover given your schedule load?’” Time and again she says, “we get their sleep patterns changed and it’s transformational to their lives, their relationships and their business”.
At CLARETY we love to model powerful leaders like Adrianna Huffington.
So, in the last 2 months, I’ve challenged myself to change up my attitude & patterns towards sleep, rest and recovery. Here comes full disclosure and also the exercise’s we work through with clients to chart a course to better sleep & rest.
Want to give it a go?
Start with the current state around your behaviour towards sleep. For example,
I’m a great maintainer – if I get 8 hours sleep I feel good. I religiously shoot for 7 – 8 hours sleep a night, by the end of the week I get less sleep as things get busier and I start to get tired. I often get off to sleep well but then wake up early with the ‘to-do-list’ and can find it hard to get back to sleep. Even if I’m tired I’ll get up to exercise believing this is the best for my wellbeing.
I don’t lie in on Saturdays I have an early yoga class, food shopping and breakfast with my partner routine, which I love. Sunday’s are my only shot at a lie in – patchy at best. I never nap or rest in the week. I’m often over-heard telling my partner (who LOVES sleep) “you can sleep when you are dead!” Frankly there’s just other things I’d rather be doing….I can maintain all this for about 4 – 6 weeks then my batteries start to get low.
Some questions to ask yourself;
• What are your current patterns around sleep & rest?
• How many hours sleep do you get?
• How many hours sleep do you actually need?
• What is your quality of sleep like?
• What are your beliefs or attitudes towards sleep?
• Do you take time in the day to rest?
How do the sleep patterns of others in your household affect your sleep?
What I wanted to test was what might change to my energy levels & ability to perform if I had a better relationship with sleep? What if I could enjoy it, sleep restfully through the night and took the opportunity to sleep or rest more when my body feels like it needs it? Ultimately, I’d like to feel more energised at the end of the week & have better focus and clarity in the day to be more productive.
What would you like your future state to be around sleep?
Now the HOW!
Attached is a worksheet we share in our Wellbeing Programs, which provide some ideas around common sleep disruptors and sleep hygiene tips. Note the disruptors that apply to you and the things you would like to try.
I also loved some of the top tips from Adrianna Huffington’s book the Sleep Revolution. She talks about re-kindling your romance with sleep as perhaps you had when you were a young child. The rituals of a warm bath, putting on your PJs, saying goodnight to people & your toys, reading a story with a lovely night light on…she even puts her phones in their own bed (with silk sheets) outside her room and powers them down!
What did I try?
1. If I’m tired in the morning I swapped that hour of exercise for another hour of sleep
2. Strictly no phones in my bedroom & got an old school alarm clock vs the alarm on my phone
3. Stopped watching any screens (TV, phones, laptop) after 9pm
4. Dimmed the lights in the house (especially bedroom) from 8.30pm
5. Stopped making plans on Sunday’s and make it a full day of rest, Saturday afternoon baths
6. Don’t make the annual pilgrimage home for holidays (UK) about seeing loads of people and travelling to too many places
What will you try? Insert your top 4 – 6 things here;
Loving it!: taking the pressure off to exercise when I feel tired in the morning – I’ve noticed my energy levels going up at the end of the week. I’m also sleeping more deeply in the week and this weekend I managed an unheard of 11 hours sleep through to Sunday morning! I felt ‘sleep drunk’ at first for over-sleeping but then felt really energised at the end of the day.
Needs work!: Confession time, despite changing my schedule for my holiday to 2 / 3 days in each place and reducing the number of commitments, I managed barley any lie ins, drank way too much and picked up a cold on the flight back…mmm back to the drawing board on this one!
Have a crack and let us know how you go.
Our favourite rest tip ‘Beditation’ came from hearing Shamash Alidina speak at the recent ‘Happiness and it’s causes event’. Beditation is about meditating while drifting off to sleep or, allowing yourself to stay in bed and meditate when you need that extra bit of rest. Especially if you’re used to waking up early and not able to go back to sleep, but still feeling tired.
Happy beditation times!
P.S. Whenever you’re ready…here are 3 ways we can help you personally or, the people within your company, thrive more;
1. Grab a free copy of our ‘Whole-System LeadershipTM’ assessment & plan
It’s the roadmap to start making a difference today to your energy levels and your ability to find a better sense of balance between work and life. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “assessment” in the subject line and we’ll ping it over to you.
2. Join our Implementation Program and be a Case Study
We are putting together a new coaching case study group for our Whole-System LeadershipTM Program in the back end of this year. If you’d like to work with us on transforming your personal wellbeing and leading with more passion and purpose then just email email@example.com putting “case study” in the subject line and we’ll get you the details.
3. Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to support you through a major leadership, cultural challenge or transition, then email firstname.lastname@example.org putting “private” in the subject line….tell me a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together and I’ll get you all the details.