Thursday, 11 June 2015

How to improve your sleep hygiene

Participants at our Sleep Well webinar yesterday evening received lots of information from psychologist, Jaclyne Di Croce about sleep, sleep problems and sleep disorders and ways we can improve our sleep quality. 

In particular Jaclyne introduced the concept of 'sleep hygiene' and ways to improve yours. Sleep hygiene can not only help you if you already have a sleep problem, but it can also prevent any future sleep problems.

Here are some of Jaclyne's tips for achieving good sleep hygiene

Keep it regular

Try to maintain a regular sleeping and waking routine - this includes weekends and holidays too! Your body will get used to this and start winding down automatically as you near your regular sleep time.

Keep your bed for sleeping

Aim to spend an appropriate amount of time in bed and don't work or do other tasks such as sending emails etc from your laptop or phone in bed or watching tv as you can start to associate your bed with work or entertainment, not sleep.

Avoid stimulants before bed

Try to avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bed as these can perk you up when you need to calm down.

Exercise

Take regular exercise to work your muscles and rid your body of pent up tension.

Watch your food

Avoid heavy meals just before bed as they can be disruptive to your sleep as your body works to digest them.

Get outside

Aim to get out side during the day to expose your body to natural daylight. This helps promote a healthy sleep/wake cycle.

Prepare your room

Make sure your bedroom is warm, pleasant and relaxing. Dim the lights and remove or turn off all distractions such as phones and tablets.

If you missed this webinar, keep your eye on our Autumn programme of wellbeing events, coming soon!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

How to make friends with technology in the age of 'work/life merge'

The school holidays are fast approaching and with them the possibility of beach visits and time to chill out. Not so long ago, holidays were likely to have been a time when we had no contact with work. However more and more people are choosing to keep in touch with work while on their holidays or days off. And people's social lives are coming into the workplace too with many people checking and commenting on social media posts while at work.

It is clear that something is happening to our lives in the face of mobile technology - what were once two distinct areas of our lives are merging into one and this has been dubbed 'work/life merge'.

So what of this 'work/life merge' and if we vow to keep our working and social lives separate, will that reduce our stress levels?

Unfortunately it's not that straightforward. First Psychology recently carried out research on the impact of technology on work-life balance and found that 89 per cent of participants checked their work emails in the evenings and the figure was an even higher 94 per cent for morning and before work checking. While we found that work was definitely coming into the home, we also found that staff continued to use social media sites while at work and interestingly felt this helped to reduce their stress levels.

If mobile technologies aren't raising stress levels, what is making people more stressed?

From our research, it seems that having control over how we use mobile technology is vital if we are to keep stress levels down. Some people find receiving work texts and emails while on holiday stressful, whereas others like to know what's going on and struggle with 'radio silence'. Simply placing restrictions on people's working hours, use of technology, etc does not help reduce stress and indeed often causes more stress as people try to fit into a restricted way of working. The key is use technology in ways that work for you.

If you're the sort of person who finds 'radio silence' stressful:

  • While on holiday, set aside certain times every day to check your messages and stick to these times.
  • Try to switch off your phone after a certain time each evening to give yourself time to completely switch off before bed.
  • Keep mobile use to a minimum while meeting friends and family. If you're eating out, perhaps check your phone between courses and put it away while eating. 

If you're the sort of person who feels invaded by mobile technology:

  • Make use of technology where it helps you stay flexible, for example, you can use it to stay in touch with work while at home waiting for the boiler repair man, or while away on business.
  • Set aside times to check and respond to emails so you don't feel constantly interrupted and obliged to immediately reply.
What was clear from our research was that mobile technology can be both friend AND foe, it's how you use it that matters, and for it to become a friend, the decision on how it's used has to be personal to you.

Read our full research report on the impact of technology on work/life balance  >