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Declining mental health and sleep problems are inextricably linked. Being unable to cope with events and stresses in our everyday life can leave us in a state of insomnia at night, and lack of sleep causes us to be tired and unable to cope with daily life. This may lead us to feeling low or anxious, and in turn, keep us up at night because of the hold anxiety takes on our thoughts and our ability to go to sleep.
Mind, the mental health charity, says: ‘Sleep problems are a sign of declining mental health’, but while sleep and declining mental health can exacerbate one another, they are more likely to be brought on by outside factors, such as, stress at work, heavy workloads, personal problems with friends or family and financial problems. These are all factors we cannot control, but can learn to manage better.
Even a single night of the recommended amount of sleep will radically change the way we think about problems such as these. There are steps employers should encourage employees to take which will ensure they get a good night’s rest and that good mental health in the workplace is being maintained.
Sometimes sleep problems can be fixed, or at the very least improved, through lifestyle changes. Simple things such as relaxing before bed, cutting down on stimulants and getting exercise is enough to radically affect how well someone sleeps.
If an employee is unable to sleep and it’s affecting them in work, recommending that they visit a GP to check for physical causes that may be disturbing them at night can be a good start. Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that can go unnoticed but may cause serious mental health problems such as depression if left untreated.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising regularly also does wonders for sleep and mental health. Food rich in protein boosts the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and eating earlier in the evening means the body’s temperature is not at its highest when it’s time to go to sleep.
There are also other avenues employees can explore that will help them deal with stresses in their day-to-day life better and reduce the chances of these stresses affecting their sleep. Stress management training is one such avenue, and helps employees and managers identify symptoms and triggers of stress.
Another way to help employees resolve problems, whether at work or at home, is by providing them with outside assistance. Talking therapies can give employees an outlet, which is sometimes all that’s needed to gain new perspective on a stressor and improve quality of sleep and mental health.
Other ways of assisting employees to get enough sleep is by giving them a reasonable workload so that they’re not required to stay late to finish their work, and providing them with good avenues of communication that allows them to voice any work-related problems they may have.
Sometimes, the simple fact of not being able to sleep is enough cause for the kind of anxiety that can leave us sleepless. This is why making time to unwind before bed or preparing your body for sleep is a simple way of not ruining what could have otherwise been a good night’s sleep.
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