Enter Sandman: How to get a good nights' sleep

Two of the standout statistics from our recent Wellbeing Survey were that 44% of working chartered accountants say they suffer from tiredness and a loss of energy, writes Wendy Saunders, head of development at CABA.

A further 33% reported that they suffer from sleeping problems.

There is some interesting research from the University of California that shows only a small minority of people – around 3% - can lead healthy lives on limited sleep.

Most people need between 7.5 and 9.0 hours and anything less than six is probably just not enough.

This seems to indicate that there are a large number of weary people in the profession who would benefit enormously from a decent night’s sleep. However, the good news is that some simple strategies can be very effective in beating sleeplessness.

Create a sleep routine

Your body likes routine so go to bed and wake up at regular times. Don’t be tempted to break this cycle at weekends by treating yourself to a late night and don’t take naps. Try to get some sunlight every day – natural light helps regulate your body clock.

Make sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly

Sleep in a dark and cool room. It is best to avoid having televisions or computers in the bedroom – even dim standby lights can confuse your body clock.

Keep noise and distractions to a minimum. It’s not a good idea to take that iPad or laptop to bed!

Practice relaxing

Learning to relax is a skill that responds to practice and routine. Wind down to sleep by taking a shower or reading a book. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualisation or meditation.

Think about what you eat

A balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight will help you sleep. Stay away from big meals at night.

Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods especially take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you awake.

Take some exercise

Regular exercise at least two hours before you go to bed also promotes sleep. Sleeplessness is also another factor on the long list of health reasons to stop smoking because nicotine is a stimulant and smokers take longer to fall asleep.

Additionally, caffeine can cause sleep problems up to 10 to 12 hours after consumption.

If you wake up, stay rested

Try to remain in a relaxed position and don’t get stressed about your sleeplessness – just relax and stay calm. If you’ve been awake for more than 15 minutes, try getting out of bed and doing a quiet, non-stimulating activity such as reading a book. Keep the lights dim so as not to cue your body clock that it’s time to wake up.

To find out more about health and wellbeing, visit CABA's website.

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CABA is a charity that provides practical, emotional and financial support to current and former ICAEW chartered accountants and their families. 

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