Do You Sleep Enough?

Posted: 3rd November 2010

Today is National Stress Awareness Day. The very fact that we have a 'day' for it at all highlights that negative stress and its devastating side effects are becoming major problems for us as both employees and employers.

Stress in itself is not a bad thing, we need some stress/pressure to motivate us to get things done and work towards our goals. The chart below shows the classic 'upturned U-shaped' relationship between performance and pressure (why don't we call them "n" shape?) If there's too little stress we get bored and apathetic but too many demands put upon us can leave us distressed and unable to cope. Neither of these are the ideal frame of mind for achieving worthwhile goals.

Inverted U diagram

The key is to find the sweet spot in the middle. We need appropriate goals to motivate us away from boredom and we need techniques to help us cope with the negative effectes of distress when we are under too much pressure.

Last month I published a book called "Achieving a Work-Life Balance" which takes the above approach and as it's National Stress Awareness Day I thought I'd treat you to one of the 12 mini lifestyle challenges from the book for FREE (see the bottom of the page to download).

This challenge is to make sure you are getting enough sleep and going to bed at a reasonable time every night for a week.

I'll share a little secret with you... my lifestyle weakness is staying up late. I'm a real night owl. Actually it's not much of a secret, because I have shared it with the hundreds of delegates who have attended my Psychology of Health Behaviour workshops. I task them to design a system for me that I could install into my home to GUARANTEE I will go to bed early for a week and they are allowed to use the realm of their imagination.

I have had some wicked systems planned for me. They have included:

"" sprinklers installed in my wardrobe which will ruin my clothes if I'm not in bed before 11pm
"" boxes containing category 3 spiders which are released at 11pm if I'm not in my bedroom (This one is fail proof!)
"" a bath that auto-fills, lavendar-oil burners and all power off at 10pm (except for the fridge/freezer)
"" a sofa that delivers electric shocks after 10pm
"" a television that starts automatic channel hopping at 10pm
"" complete 'Wallace and Gromit' style contraptions which will scoop me up and dump me in my bed
"" Jack Bauer... better leave that one there!

I spent most of the last 24 hours in the company of a great friend and inspirational lady, Glynis Francis. I told her I wanted to use National Stress Awareness Day to inspire me to get early nights for a week. Rather than one of the wonderful ideas above we have decided to use Twitter as my accountability.

For the next seven days I will be going to bed by 11pm and my reward will be that I can get up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7am (rather than Homer Simpson state) and will have plenty of time for a healthy breakfast followed by my half hour walk to work and still be at my desk early enough to get ahead of the day.

So if you see me on Twitter after 11pm over the next week, feel free to tell me off. If you are a 7am Twitter bird, I look forward to saying hello to you too. If you would like to join me... click on the image below to download your copy of the challenge.

Do You Sleep Enough?


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