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Is your job keeping you awake at night?

Insomnia, clock watching

3 out of 10 people living in Britain suffer with sleep problems. Insomnia is defined as:

Lying awake for a long time or waking several times a night.

Waking and not being able to get back to sleep.

Feeling tired, irritable, unrefreshed and unable to concentrate during the day.

Sleep difficulties normally happen at least three times a week and persist for between one and four weeks (short-term insomnia). Long term insomnia is where symptoms persist beyond four weeks. Often the effects impair the person’s ability to function during the day properly.

Perhaps not surprisingly one of the top reasons for insomnia is worrying about work and matters related to work such as money. In the current economic climate this problem is more real than ever. People are worried about their performance as they want to stay employed, they are concerned about being made redundant or experiencing a cut back in hours and overtime. Many people experience short term insomnia following holidays or Sunday night as they prepare to go back to work after the weekend – where concerns about work life balance and whether they are in the right job, or is this all there is too life become common thoughts.

The problem is that worrying and a lack of good quality sleep actually make you less able to do your job well. The situation reduces your ability to cope with normal levels of stress and this cycle can eventually lead to depression.

So, what can you do? Well first things first you may want to visit your Doctor to rule out any medical reason as to why you are experiencing sleep problems. Secondly and perhaps more importantly is don’t panic. The reality is that most of us can survive on less sleep than we imagine, and often the more we focus on not being able to sleep the worse the problem gets.

Most GP’s will advise what they call a good sleep hygiene routine:

Set a fixed bed time and waking up time – avoid sleeping in at the weekend or after a poor nights sleep.

Make sure your bedroom is not too hot or cold, not too bright or noisy.

Avoid the temptation to nap during the day. But do take time to relax in the period preceding your bedtime.

Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of bed time and take exercise earlier in the day (no later than four hours before bed).

Do not use the bedroom for multiple activities, watching TV, playing video games etc.

Lastly avoid eating late at night and try to not clock watch if you are not sleeping.

Whilst there are herbal remedies and prescription medicines available most pharmacists and Doctors would encourage you to get to the route cause of why you are not sleeping and address that issue and in time your sleep problem should resolve itself.

So if work worries are keeping you up at night try talking to your partner or a friend, the old adage of a problem shared is a problem halved is often true. Just getting your concerns out in to the open can lift a weight off your shoulders. If you have an approachable boss or a friendly HR team then consider having a job chat to discuss your concerns.

In simple terms you need enough sleep to make you refreshed and able to function efficiently throughout the next day. For most adults that is between six and nine hours, but many people will function well on less. It is well documented that Margaret Thatcher survived on fours sleep a night and she was probably in one of the most stressful jobs in the country!