Whether you have an established wellness program or you are just thinking about starting one, remember the importance of supporting a good night’s rest for your employees. A full 48 percent of Americans report insomnia occasionally, while 22 percent experience insomnia every or almost every night. According to Andrea Bloom, ConnectWell CEO, “Good sleep is a critical component of overall wellness for employees, and in some cases, it’s is a primary wellness issue for companies.”
Regular Sleep Promotes Healthy Eating
While it’s common sense that sleep contributes to overall health and well-being, it may come as a surprise that good sleep is important for maintaining healthy eating patterns. According to a Stanford University study of Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study participants, not getting enough sleep is associated with an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin, a decrease in the satiety hormone leptin, and an increase in body mass index. That means employees that don’t get enough sleep are more likely to feel hungry, feel less satisfied when they eat, and gain weight.
Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
So how do you help employees sleep better? Research shows that medications are prescribed to more than 95% of insomniac cases. But medications can create dependence and don’t get to the root of the problem. A better place to start is with good sleep hygiene. Below are some tips for healthy sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same general time each day. Avoid the temptation to stay up late and sleep in on weekends. The disruption in your sleep schedule will make it more difficult to fall asleep and wake up at the appropriate times during the week.
- It takes about an hour for your body to wind down after exercise, so take this into consideration when planning your exercise, so it doesn’t interfere with going to sleep at a reasonable time.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day. Caffeine can stay in your body for up to eight hours and wreak havoc with your sleep.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Alcohol robs you of deep sleep and can awaken you in the middle of the night when its effects have worn off.
- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. A large meal can cause indigestion, and fluids can make you get up to urinate.
- Avoid medicines that disrupt sleep.
- Avoid naps after 3 p.m. Late naps make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Relax before bed by reading, listening to soothing music or meditating. According to ConnectWell’s MJ Ryan, if meditation sounds daunting, just think of it as taking 10 minutes to sit still and breathe. Notice your breath, and every time your mind wanders elsewhere, bring it back to your breath.
- Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after getting out of a warm bath can make you feel sleepy and the bath can help with relaxation. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the bath for extra relaxation.
- Create a good sleeping environment. Remove distractions from your bedroom such as a TV, computer, or bright lights. Make sure your bed and pillow are comfortable and that the temperature is not too hot.
- Get outside for natural light for at least 30 minutes a day, and wake to the sun if possible.
- Don’t lie in bed awake. If you are still awake after 20 minutes in bed, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Feeling anxious about not being able to sleep while you are lying in bed perpetuates the problem.
- See a doctor if you have continuous sleep problems.