Sleep has important biological and psychological functions regarding physiological processes, learning, memory and cognition. An individual’s sleep history has a marked impact on their daytime functioning. Restricting sleep to less than 6 h per night for four or more consecutive nights has been shown to impair physical performance, cognitive performance, decision-making, judgement, emotional intelligence, mood, appetite regulation and immune function. This has led to the recommendation that adults should obtain 8 h of sleep per night for optimal health, well-being and performance.
Recent evidence suggests that 96% of Australian’s (of a survey of 13,089 individuals) report waking up tired. Poor sleep can be caused by numerous factors including: stress, anxiety, shift-work, jet-jag, poor routines, computer/phone use, caffeine intake and a poor sleeping environment. Individuals with high degrees of cognitive rumination and worry experience longer sleep latencies and poorer sleep quality.
The impact of poor sleep on both the individual and the workplace is significant. Sleep-deprived individuals demonstrate increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, increased errors and increased illness.
This seminar will outline to participants the importance of sleep for physical and psychological well-being, what may disturb sleep and practical strategies to enhance sleep
1. All You Need to Know About Sleep
This section provides a basic understanding of the importance of sleep. When an individual has awareness of the importance of sleep and the reasons why people may not sleep well, adherence to recommendations for improving sleep is greater.
Importance of sleep- the reasons why sleep is critical to psychological and physical health.
- Consequences of sleep deprivation- description of what happens to performance, mood, cognition (etc) when an individual is sleep deprived.
- Benefits of additional sleep- outline the improvements individuals can expect with enhanced sleep.
- Reasons why people don’t sleep- identification of the types of activities and thought patterns that individuals should be aware of and may identify in themselves.
2. Strategies to Enhance Sleep
Sleep Hygiene Basics
Sleep hygiene is the strategies and habits that are used by individuals to aid sleep. Research has shown that providing education on sleep hygiene is more effective than the prescription of sleep medications.
- Routine & shift work- the importance of regular sleep and wake times and what to do when engaged in shift work.
- Pre- bed routine- strategies that can be used prior to sleep to increase sleep quality and quantity.
- Other strategies- nutrition, exercise, etc which can be utilised to enhance sleep.
- Things to avoid & manage- caffeine, screen time etc which may impair sleep.
Psychological Strategies for Sleep
Psychological strategies to assist with the management of emotion and cognitive deactivation will provide individuals with the ability to let go of conscious control and effort when trying to get to sleep and allow for the spontaneous physiological process to take place.
- Relaxation training –breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation training to relax the body and clear the mind for sleep.
- Practical strategies – creating lists and plans to assist in ‘switching off’ the mind ready for sleep.
Dealing with Shift Work
Shift work can present unique challenges when trying to obtain optimal sleep when faced with a non-traditional work schedule.
- Developing good habits- eating, exercise and sleep.
- Rotating shift work- how to adjust bedtimes with schedule changes.
- Using sleep aids and stimulants- how to use sleeping pills, melatonin, caffeine and light therapy appropriately.