Better Sleep for Better Work: The Optimal Sleep Toolkit
“How did you sleep last night?”
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan asked the audience at the June networking HR Innovators event, hosted by Soma Analytics.
Every month, Soma hosts a network of HR Innovators, wellbeing leaders, academics and policy makers for a discussion on mental health in the workplace. As sleep is so vital to performance and health both in business and beyond, on June 20th Soma invited Dr Ramlakan to speak about her experience as a leading sleep expert.
Dr Ramlakhan is a physiologist who has specialised in maximising individual and organisational performance for over two decades. As the original founder of BUPA’s Corporate Wellbeing Solutions, she is a regular speaker at many City groups. As a self employed consultant, she has worked with high ranking individuals in almost all industries from legal, healthcare and pharmaceutical, to police services. She has also worked with various sporting organisations such as Chelsea Football Club. The author of 2 best selling books on sleep, her work has been featured in The TImes and The Telegraph (to name a few!), and has appeared on CNN and SKY NEWS discussing technology addiction.
With such an amazing repertoire and work experience, you might not believe she was once an insomniac! Dr Ramlakhan captivated the audience with her story of struggling with sleep right up into her 30’s. Her first book, Tired But Wired explained why she and so many others find it difficult to wind down and find a place of rest in such a chaotic and technology driven world. With a never-ending supply of information to process, our brains have work to do, even once the lights go out. She insists however, that the DNA to sleep perfectly is within us all; the key is having the right tools to unlock this power.
Dr Ramlakhan treated the audience to her secrets to a good night sleep, or what she calls:
The 5 Non-Negotiables of a Good Night Sleep
- Eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. This simple act stabilises your melatonin production and blood sugar levels and kick starts your circadian rhythm (body clock) the right way.
- Drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water every day.
- Limit your caffeine intake to 3 cups of tea or coffee a day, and no caffeine after 3pm.
- Try to get to sleep before midnight. Research has shown that falling asleep before midnight has multiple restorative benefits as this is the time for rest in our daily rhythm.
- Finally, a no brainer – No technology in the bedroom. Dr. Ramlakhan suggests a technology ‘sun-down’ of 30 minutes prior to hitting the hay.
In addition to this last ‘Non-Negotiable’, Dr Ramlakhan also prescribed to take a break from technology every hour and a half throughout the day to allow the brain time to digest information. This leaves less to process at night in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep stage and allows more room for deep, restorative sleep.
Dr Ramlakhan advised that it is common for people to worry and feel anxious about sleep. The act of calculating how many hours of sleep you are getting can often do more harm than good. One technique she suggested for professional football players to sleep before playing for England is to focus on rest, not sleep. By focusing on simply resting and giving the body time to recuperate, you will naturally find a place of comfort and hopefully sleep.
Before opening up for questions, Dr Ramlakhan led 2 exercises to assist sleep. First was a gratitude exercise where the audience was asked to close their eyes and picture someone in our lives who we are grateful for and imagine saying thank you and embracing them. The explanation behind such an exercise is that from a feeling of gratitude and kindness comes a peaceful state of mind that encourages sleep. The second exercise was in the form of a slow, relaxing body scan to help you fall asleep, or as Dr. Ramlakhan put it, “bore yourself to sleep”.
As with every Soma event, following the main speaker, Lorena Szerman Soma’s Chief Revenue Officer, conducted an ice-breaking game where audience members had to answer 3 questions regarding their sleeping habits and share their learnings from the presentation. These questions are in the image below.
There were a large number of sleep tools and tips provided from Dr Ramlakhan in just a 45 minute presentation and we’re sure all attendees walked away with the tools to have the perfect night sleep!
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