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Jeff Archer

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Men’s Health Week: better sleep is four simple steps away


It’s Men's Health Week, and while sleep issues can affect anyone, there are a few specific ways in which men manage themselves and their approach to professional life that are clear triggers to poor quality or quantity of sleep.  So what are the details when it comes to men and sleep?

One issue is that men sometimes consider surviving on minimal rest as a bit of a toughness test and they position themselves in the working environment as more machine than human – a vital business asset that can plough on regardless producing success after success with little rest and fueled by whatever they can get their hands on or in some cases fueled by nothing at all other than the sheer will to get the job done.

Others view quality sleep as a bit of a bonus rather than an essential part of their routine but sleep is when the body regenerates and recharges and if we don't get enough there’s a danger of under-performing in every single area of life – at work and in your personal life.

The danger of not prioritising sleep, rest and recovery is that the body becomes encouraged to run on adrenalin from the moment you leap into action and this can soon result in lack of focus and clear thinking.  It also sets you up for an energy crash which will come eventually no matter how much you delay it with caffeine, sugary snacks and constant distractions. And although you may crash, this isn’t the same as quality recovery so there’s a distinct possibility that living this way leads to a vicious circle of poor sleep followed by sub-optimal performance day after day.

The solution? Four Simple Steps

1. Take charge of your sleep routine

It may sound like an obvious question but do you know how much sleep you need? When you've worked it out, prioritise getting to bed at a time that will allow you to sleep for your desired duration before the alarm goes off.

2. Make daily lifestyle choices that support good sleep

Everything you eat, drink and do during the day will positively or negatively affect your sleep later.  Make choices that promote concentration and focus for the daytime and a calm mind and body for the nighttime.  That means limiting caffeine and sugar, staying well hydrated and considering new strategies for coping with stressful situations. The bonus of this approach is that even if you may end up compromising on your sleep quantity, you can maximize the quality of the sleep you do get.

3. Eat regularly throughout the day

Select appropriate choices to ensure that your body runs off good fuel rather than adrenalin. You'll find your energy levels, your mood and your concentration are much more consistent this way and there is less work for your body to do to restore a stable environment prior to sleeping.

4. Manage adrenalin levels with exercise

Get active during the day to dissipate any adrenalin that your body produces. This will help you stay calm and focused and will help you sleep at night.

Troubleshooting your sleep problems

Can't get to sleep?

Design a pre-sleep routine. Set some clear guidelines around when you finish work, stop reading emails, turn off the TV, have your final snack or drink of the day and switch off technology. You must proactively manage how you wind down from the 'busyness' of the day. It's not possible to blast through your waking hours at 100mph and then expect your optimum sleep routine to follow. Allow yourself time to transition from energetic and busy to calm and relaxed. This transition should be managed with positive choices like quality family time or a hobby you can lose yourself in rather than more online activity, comfort food or alcohol, all of which can reduce the quality of your sleep.

Keep waking up?

Regular waking is a sign of over stimulation during the day – mental, physical or both: too much sugar, too much caffeine, too much stress or simply too much to do. A couple of minutes each morning to review last night’s sleep in relation to your lifestyle choices and how you prioritsed your workload, social and family commitments through the previous day will highlight very quickly where you may want to make some alternative choices with your food, drink, activity, work and life balance today that will result in a more consistent sleep tonight.

Wake up groggy?

Aside from raising a question mark over the quantity or quality of the sleep you're getting, if you persistently wake up feeling groggy it may be a timing issue and due to your alarm ringing half way through a sleep cycle rather than at the completion of a cycle when you are in a lighter sleep an more ready to wake. Sleep cycles last around 90 minutes and we need 4 or 5 of them. Everyone is different when it comes to their precise sleep routine but identifying your ideal pattern so that you are woken up as you complete you fourth or fifth cycle is the best way to ensure you begin the day rested and ready to go. 

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Jeff Archer


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