Improve how you rest, and you can reap the rewards

With the holiday season approaching, many of us will get a chance to take some time off, unwind from the stress of our daily routines and spend more time focusing on ourselves and the people around us. Which is great, of course, but should we try and incorporate rest and recovery like this into our everyday lives?

Focus on how you and your employees rest

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.”And he was right – a relaxed state of mind can give a boost in creativity, an improvement in concentration and a reduction in stress levels, to name just a few benefits.2

Throughout history the importance of rest has been well documented, but it has, perhaps, never been as neglected as it is today – busy work schedules, high stress loads, overuse of digital devices and a disconnect between our brains and their circadian rhythms are some of the leading causes for physical and mental fatigue. In fact, a study of 1,500 people published by showed worryingly high rates of burnout – pre-pandemic data showed 43% of respondents were experiencing burnout – rising to over half (52%) of respondents in 2021.3

If someone said to you 50% of your employees are exhausted and not producing work to the quality that they are capable of, you’d be worried right? If you could help your employees rest more, would they produce higher standards of work? It’s hard to know for definite, but the benefits could be well worth having a long think about it.

The importance of a good sleep

For most of us a good sleep means getting the recommended 7-8 hours every night, but a lot of us aren’t achieving this. Did you know that over 35% of adults in the US say they get less than 7 hours sleep a day?4 

And not only is the quantity of our sleep bad, it’s often poor quality too. As many as two thirds of UK adults say they often suffer from disrupted sleep.5
Considering how crucial sleep is to our wellbeing, we think it’s fair to say that we can and should do more to get a peaceful night of rest. So, what can we do?
Here are some key tips to improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Reduce ‘blue light’ at least an hour before going to bed. Electronics that emit blue lights reduce the production of melatonin – a hormone that helps induce sleep.6
  • Have a routine. Having set times to wake up and go to sleep (and sticking to them consistently every day) will allow your brain’s natural circadian rhythm to prepare you to wake and sleep at the correct times.7
  • Make your environment work for you – it is important that your bedroom is dark, quiet and at a temperature that is beneficial for sleep. Although it slightly varies per person, 18°C (64°F) is optimal for most people.8
  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink – caffeine shouldn’t be consumed later in the day as it is known to cause disruptive sleep, along with particularly sugary foods. However, some foods could aid sleep, for example milk which contains melatonin and turkey which contains tryptophan may help some people sleep.7

Be mindful of wellbeing

While these tips are important for creating positive sleep habits and achieving high quality rest, there is more to it – there is growing research that your mental and physical wellbeing is strongly connected to sleep and vice versa. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health issues often cause sleep disorders.9
Given that, it’s worth thinking about controlling your stress levels. Do you take the time to relax, and unwind during the day? Prolonged stress can lead to people struggling to fall and stay asleep as well as a reduction in something known as ‘slow-wave sleep’ which is a crucial sleep stage for maintaining your physical and mental health.10

Here are some ways you can manage stress and benefit your wellbeing.
  • Mindfulness techniques – build meditation into your daily schedule, taking just ten minutes out of your busy schedule to practice meditation could benefit you. Research shows that it may sharpen your attention, help you build resilience to stress and lower levels of anxiety – all of which are likely to benefit your sleep later in the day.11
  • Regular exercise – research has shown that thirty minutes of moderate exercise a day has been effective in reducing levels of chronic insomnia12  as well as reducing the negative effects of stress on your body, leading to an improvement in mood.13
  • Practicing gratitude – perhaps a less recognised method of reducing stress is to spend some time every day practicing gratitude, A study revealed people keeping a ‘gratitude journal’ slept on average, thirty minutes more per night. They also benefitted from more energy during the day. Taking even five minutes out of your day to think about what you are thankful for is known to promote physiologically restorative behaviours – with the main being better sleep.14

How to encourage some of these things within a workplace

Rest is a fundamental part of success, health, and happiness.  So make it a priority to encourage your people to improve their own habits and routines and achieve the best rest they possibly can over the holiday period. Although you can do little more than encourage your employees to take these steps in their own time, there’s no doubt that it will benefit their wellbeing, boost their productivity, and create a happier workforce overall. 

Here are just a few ways you can encourage your workforce to improve their sleep and overall quality of rest.
  • Educate your employees on the impact sleep has and what they can do to improve both their night-time routines and their day-to-day habits to encourage both better sleep and lower levels of stress.
  • Encourage positive behaviours, for example – build quiet areas in offices where people can relax and destress from work, offer deals for local gym memberships, ensure you have facilities for people to cycle, run or walk to work or encourage activities outside of work that include moderate exercise like sports, hiking or cycling clubs to name just a few examples.
  • Introduce employees to meditation by inviting instructors to work with you, providing access to apps or setting aside a time in the work-day to practice mindfulness.
  • Give access to employee assistance programmes (EAPs) to support mental health concerns, provide financial advice and help tackle problems that can cause additional stress. 

1 Joshua Becker, becomingminimalist - (Sourced October 2021)
2 Amy Gallagher, Bupa - (Sourced October 2021)
3 Jack Kelly, Forbes - (Sourced October 2021)
4 Anon, CDC - (Sourced October 2021)
5 Anon, Aviva - (Sourced October 2021)
6 Anon, Mentalhealth - (Sourced October 2021)
7 Eric Suni, Sleepfoundation - (Sourced October 2021)
8 Danielle Pacheco, Sleepfoundation - (Sourced November 2021)
9 Anon, Harvard Medical School - (Sourced November 2021)
10 Juliann Scholl, Sleep - (Sourced November 2021)
11 Jeremy Adam Smith et al, Mindful - (Sourced November 2021)
12 Danielle Pacheco, Sleepfoundation - (Sourced November 2021)
13 Anon, Mayoclinic - (Sourced November 2021)
14 Jessica Stillman, Inc - (Sourced November 2021)

This document has been prepared by MAXIS GBN and is for informational purposes only – it does not constitute advice. MAXIS GBN has made every effort to ensure that the information contained in this document has been obtained from reliable sources but cannot guarantee accuracy or completeness. The information contained in this document may be subject to change at any time without notice. Any reliance you place on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.