It’s no surprise that lack of sufficient sleep is a productivity killer.
Lack of sleep affects our thinking, recall, the ability to focus, visual sensitivity, reaction times, and mood. At an organisational level, it impacts unplanned leave, can result in suboptimal or poor behaviour in individuals and teams, which ultimately impacts workplace culture.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, approximately 1 in 3 people in Australia suffer from at least mild insomnia. It bears repeating … 1 IN 3 people.
Whether you’re seeking to manage your personal productivity or a leader in an organisation, this is HUGE.
Insomnia can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes worry keeps us awake. Sometimes worrying about not sleeping keeps us awake. Other times our subconscious sidles in, keeping us hung from the rafters in a noose of wakefulness.
Your subconscious is trying to work through complexity—things you’re not yet even aware of. It has things to do. Stuff to ponder.
Our emotions are often the culprit. Say you experienced feelings at work, at home with your partner, or when you dropped the kids to school, you felt you didn’t have time for or weren’t equipped to handle in the moment, so you pushed them aside to deal with later.
You just made a contract with yourself.
Your subconscious won’t ‘give it to you straight’ either, but instead hulks around, not allowing you to drop off, until in desperation you shout, ‘just tell me what am I trying to figure out here!’
‘And could we possibly practice mental acrobatics at a time other than 2am?’
Don’t be surprised if your subconscious—ever the industrious partner—ignores any such tedious scheduling requests.
You programmed your mind and it’s taking you at your word. It’s doing its best to figure things out and present you with a conclusion later when you have the mental space. As you requested.
Try these back-to-sleep helpers next time you’re tossing and turning:
Acknowledge you’ve signed a contract
If your subconscious is at work, acknowledging you’ve signed a contract with yourself is the first step in easing the pressure. However, this won’t be enough to convince your subconscious. It might prick its ears, but it’s still committed. Try mindfulness or meditation instead. Practiced consistently, meditative techniques are proved to reduce stress and worry. Your subconscious will jump on board in a heartbeat if it thinks you’re going to actively participate in doing the work. You’ll free up your attention then and be able to focus on other tasks.
A regular night-time ritual gets your mind ready for sleep. Avoid computers, mobile devices, and TV. The light stimulates and will keep your brain active. In my experience, I sleep much better if I’ve stepped away from any technology at least twenty minutes before bed. Instead, try very gentle stretches, deep breathing, a warm shower or listening to a guided meditation. I find my subconscious mind settles down if I’ve allowed it space to flex its muscles before going to bed.
As children, we loved stories at bedtime. I find I’ve carried this love with me into adulthood. Sometimes, as suggested above, reading a book before sleep will help me sleep through the night. (As long as I listen to my body and don’t push through ‘just one more chapter!’). If reading doesn’t work, try telling yourself a familiar story—one with a peaceful ending. Fairy tales resonate well because they address our fears in safe ways. I often find a story’s easy rhythms will lull me to sleep again.
Try these back-to-sleep helpers and encourage your subconscious to work with you rather than against you.
Thanks for spending time with me today.
Roberts, M. Understanding Organisational and Personal Behaviours to Sustain High Productivity and Safety, presented at: Coal 2005: Coal Operators’ Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institue fo Mining and Metallurgy, 2005, 113-128. Downloaded from University of Wollongong Research online.
Sleep Health Foundation https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/