October 27, 2020

Staff wellbeing: how can we sleep better?

One of the things that lockdown and the pandemic has had a huge impact on is the quality of our sleep.

Our Respiratory Medicine department has dedicated sleep specialists and experts, who were willing to help with advice on sleeping better and coping with prolonged hours at home.

Dr Liam Hannan, Deputy Director of Respiratory Medicine, explained that when people are under stress or exhausted from work, they often forget even the most simple advice.

“Our routines and habits have been thrown out by the lockdown. It is very important to keep a schedule, and our brains really like a routine. It’s when we move away from those routines that sleep can become more difficult,” he said.

Having and maintaining a routine during the day helps us sleep better – that means exercising at a similar time each day, waking up at the same time, and following the signals our bodies are sending.

“When you feel tired, that is normally a very good time to go to sleep. If you feel sleepy in the evening, try not to spend more time on the couch or in front of the TV. Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol and smoking and electronic devices,” he explained.

Bedrooms should be dark and quiet, and we shouldn’t be spending more than 20-30 minutes awake in bed. If a person doesn’t fall asleep within that time frame, it usually means they are not tired enough and should get up and leave the bedroom rather than staying in bed and getting frustrated at being unable to sleep.

“We were really pleased to be asked by the Workplace Wellbeing team to contribute this sleep advice. We are really keen to keep promoting the importance of sleep and sleep disorders here at Northern Health,” said Nicholas Romeo, Head Respiratory Scientist.

Alison O’Sullivan, Workplace Wellbeing Coordinator, said, “We are very fortunate to have expertise in the hospital regarding sleep and managing fatigue. The information and resources that the respiratory team have compiled are especially important at this time, as we work towards a COVID-normal. Sleep has such a direct impact on your overall wellbeing.”

The wellbeing program at Northern Health continues to support staff using a holistic and evidenced-based approach and this resource that can be found on the Thrive intranet page.

Featured Image (left to right): Dr Liam Hannan and Nicholas Romeo