It may be of no surprise to industry insiders that new research found Britain’s hospitality sector to be the most sleep-deprived in the country.
Wellbeing and mental health in the on-trade have been important topics for the hospitality sector in the last few years, as so often in this industry it’s a game of work hard, play hard.
The survey by bed manufacturer Sealy found that 86% of hospitality workers believe they're sleep deprived, and that they'd function better with more shut eye.
Of the 830 hospitality staff questioned, many said that a few more hours in the land of nod would make them less irritable, less likely to be late and less accident-prone. And 30% of those workers said they would be more productive with a bit of extra kip – a timely reminder of UK workers’ dismal productivity, which made headlines again and again this year.
‘Lack of sleep is often treated as an incidental issue by bosses, with a "pull yourself together" attitude,’ said Neil Robinson, Sealy’s resident sleep expert.
‘This is not helpful for employees, especially when there are some potentially severe consequences of turning up exhausted.’
Here are Neil Robinson's top tips for on-trade workers to help you get the best of your bed time:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: While surviving on caffeine to get you through a busy evening shift or enjoying an end-of-night tipple when you close may seem like an inviting option, this can have a negative impact on your rest as it dramatically reduces REM sleep. REM, or 'rapid eye movement' in full, is one of the five stages of sleep, and is crucial for allowing your body and mind to rest and recover. So, as tempting as it may be, avoid caffeine at least six hours before you go to bed, and bypass that end-of-shift wine. Instead, opt for relaxing drinks such as camomile tea or water.
- Set up a calming routine: As far as you can, it’s important to maintain a regular sleeping routine. Routine is vital when it comes to your body clock – and even more so when your natural sleep patterns are disrupted by shift work. Indulging in a relaxing bath, using aromatherapy oils, or reading a good book before bed (whenever that may be) can all help. Avoiding technology is also a must, as using these devices before you drop off disrupts your sleeping pattern, increases your heart rate, and impacts on your quality of rest. Meditation or relaxing breathing exercises are also an effective way to still your mind before you hit the sack.
- Don’t eat too late: After a busy late shift, it’s always tempting to eat a full dinner before going to sleep. However, laying down so soon after eating can not only leave you feeling uncomfortably bloated and can cause acid reflux, which is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. This is due to your stomach taking a few hours to empty out after a meal, allowing acid to spill out and leak into your oesophagus. If you are on the evening shift, try to eat earlier on in the day and have a light snack when you go home.
- Avoid napping: If you are on a split-shift, try to avoid naps during the day to enjoy a fuller night’s sleep. If you do feel the need to get some shut-eye between shifts, make sure you just limit it to between 10 and 20 minutes. That way you will benefit from an energy boost without compromising your ability to sleep properly when you do finish work. Also, if you can, make sure you make use of your allocated breaks while at work, even if it’s just to take the weight off your feet.
- Keep a ‘worry’ journal: Working in a busy, loud environment and dealing with members of the public can be stressful, which often leads to an overactive mind at night, inhibiting your ability to drift off. A good tip is to invest in a journal to write down your day’s worries, working through your anxieties on paper and thinking about how you can resolve these issues. Once you have done this, close the book on them until the next day – you’d be amazed at how effective this is.