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World Sleep Day – Stress During the Pandemic

World Sleep Day – Stress During the Pandemic
18 March 2021

On World Sleep Day, research reveals that in the UK, roughly 75 per cent of people have experienced a change to their sleep patterns since March 2020.

Friday 19 March marks World Sleep Day 2021, a global awareness day organised by the World Sleep Society, to support the prevention and management of sleep disorders.  It’s also almost a year to the day since the UK entered into national lockdown. 

In that time, research indicates that the stress and uncertainty of multiple lockdowns and the threat of the virus has caused more people sleepless nights, including increased levels of insomnia and other sleep-related problems. 

Findings indicate that in the UK, roughly 75 per cent of people have experienced a change to their sleep patterns since March 2020.

Research by IT company Insight based on a recent Kantar survey (of 1,250 working adults) calculated that nearly 9 million sick days are taken because employees can't cope with the pressure of work – and disrupted sleep is one of the most common effects of stress.

As people prepare for their “new normal”, the latest research from Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) - a science-based workplace consultancy that provides expert training and research in cognitive fitness, human performance and new ways of working - in partnership with the Center for Evidence-Based Management, has identified sleep as one of the major factors behind cognitive performance.

Cognitive performance research studies conclude that sleep deprivation has a negative impact upon almost all brain functions, including decision-making, problem-solving, memory, controlling emotions / behaviour and coping with change. Reaction times may be slower, more mistakes may be made, and tasks often take longer. All of these will impact mental performance and employee relationships at work.

This was a topic addressed at ThisWeekinFM's Workplace Excellence channel at RE:Connect, with Dr. Jo offering practical strategies to sustain concentration, focus, and stamina in order to improve productivity and prevent burnout.


Tips for A Better Night’s Sleep


Born from its latest research findings, AWA has shared the following top tips to guarantee a better night’s sleep and improve cognitive performance:


  1. Develop a regular sleeping schedule – go to bed and get up at the same time. This can help establish a routine, reinforcing the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  2. Create a bedtime ritual – experts believe that doing the same things each night tells your body that it’s time to rest. Warm baths, reading or listening to relaxing music eases the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness.
  3. Consider your intake before bedtime – avoid heavy meals, stimulating activities, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
  4. Time your exercise wisely – it can help prompt you into a restful night’s sleep, but only if you do it during the day (not in the late evening).
  5. Minimise light and noise when trying to sleep – turn off electronic devices like tablets and phones as changes in light can kid your body that it’s time to wake up.
  6. Maintain a comfortable bedroom temperature so your body doesn’t overheat and dehydrate while you are asleep.
  7. Manage stress – having too many things on your mind can disrupt sleep. There are many ways to address stress, depending on the source. For example, writing down the things that are on your mind may help “park” them for tomorrow.


Picture: a photograph of a person sleeping at their desk

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 March 2021


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