The importance of sleep – and how to help your employees who struggle with it
If, like me, you find it a challenge to quieten your mind enough to get 4-5 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis, you will fully understand just how much of a negative impact sleep deprivation has on all aspects of your personal and professional life. After all, it is a known form of torture.
To keep my story short and on point, to avoid putting you to sleep (ironic given the subject matter!), having turned several times to the medical profession for assistance, I soon realised that whilst pharmaceutical help can work in the short term, I needed to find another (non-medicinal) way to effectively treat myself over the longer term.
It was at this time that a couple of close personal friends and a member of the medical profession suggested that I research the potential benefits of meditation – or guided relaxation, as I prefer to refer to it as. My rather blasé, uneducated initial response to them was basically, if you think that sitting in a field of flowers, cross legged, fingers pinched together, humming, was going to solve my problem, then they needed to take a look themselves!
I kept thinking about what they had said for a few days and having got past the “this isn’t a particularly ‘manly’ pursuit to engage in” stage, I turned to my favourite education tool, YouTube, to at least look into it a bit further. It didn’t take long for me to understand that I was way off the mark with my initial perception of this practice and that a regular investment of just a few minutes per day could provide benefits in the following areas:
- Reduce stress
- Increase self-awareness
- Calm negative emotions
- Widen imagination
- Strengthen patience
- Help control anxiety
- Help insomnia
- Improve physical health
It soon became apparent to me just how powerful the mind is, and that I definitely wanted mine to be in my corner, fighting for and not against me.
To bring my story fully up to date, about 18 months ago, through my employer, I was introduced to the “Calm” app through YuLife’s employee wellness engagement application, which has helped me stay on track through regular reminders and provides a huge variety of sleep stories and relaxation session scripts in order to keep my interest levels up; it even provides me with monetary rewards for just taking the time to relax! This type of self-service support is now readily available for employers to roll out to staff, and is often available as a complimentary benefit from group risk insurers.
Whilst I still have some way to go before I reach my own personal sleep goal, guided relaxation (A.K.A. meditation) has at least helped brighten and bring closer the light that at times to me has seemed unreachable. If any of my story resonates with you, I would certainly recommend at least keeping an open mind to how guided relaxation could help your employees.
Mark Bliss – Group Risk Consultant