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How sleep can help you manage burnout

How sleep can help you manage burnout


Early starts, late finishes and round-the-clock work schedules mean quality rest is often put on the backburner. But chronic sleep deprivation and burnout go hand-in-hand. Indeed, sleep is the Swiss army knife of health; it’s the elixir of life. Without it, emotional, mental and physical health falls to the wayside: your mind shuts down, your energy tank sputters and eventually, you burn out.
Getting quality rest every night is the single most effective thing you can do to support your health and recover from burnout.

Honour your body’s need to rest

We need to debunk the myth that sleeping makes you lazy. Likewise, the idea that if you sleep less, you’re somehow more productive is just factually incorrect. Sleep is the ‘Archimedes lever’ of health; it’s one thing that will raise all of the other singular health boats on the tide. A restful night’s sleep can improve your cognitive functioning, recall, concentration, energy levels and overall sense of wellbeing.(16) With rest, there’s health and vigour; without it, there’s sickness and burnout.

Sleep, like you’ve never slept before

If you’ve reached burnout, you must commit to getting quality sleep every single night – no ifs, no buts. Make an effort to go to bed early, turn off your alarm at the weekends and enjoy long lie-ins when you can. Most healthy adults require around 7-9 hours of sleep each night. To achieve a minimum amount of rest, you need to give yourself the right ‘sleep opportunity window’.

Think about your ‘sleep opportunity window’

Since most healthy people have a sleep efficiency of 85-90% – and spend 10-15% awake each night – you’ll need to be in bed for around 9 hours and 30 minutes if you want a minimum of 8 hours sleep each night. If you’re chronically underslept and well and truly burnt out, you may need more rest each night. Listen to your body and respect what it needs. 

Take regular naps    

Besides achieving a non-negotiable 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, taking microsleeps throughout the day may also help you feel less frazzled. To quickly decompress, try a 20-30 minute power nap. Research suggests a short burst of shuteye may positively affect mood and productivity without disrupting sleep at night or leave you feeling dazed.(17) Feeling especially fatigued? Try a full 90-minute sleep cycle. That way, your body can enter deep, nourishing rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep.
Why not schedule naps into your diary? 
To determine your ‘sleep opportunity window’, divide the minimum amount of sleep you want each night (7-9 hours) by 85%.

How to fight pre-bed anxiety

If you’re on the road to burnout, chances are, your never-ending to-do list keeps you up at night. But since sleep is overnight emotional first-aid for your mental health, disrupted rest and anxiety often operate in a negative feedback loop. The more anxious you feel, the worse your sleep, the more anxious you feel in the morning. And so the cycle continues.
To break the hamster wheel of worry, take 30-60 minutes to relax fully and wind-down before bed: soak in a hot bath, practise meditation, do a few minutes of deep breathing, read by a soft lamp and disconnect from technology. 

Sleep practices to fight burnout 

  • Set an alarm to prompt you to start getting ready for bed

  • Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day

  • Ensure your bedroom is dark, temperate and quiet 

  • Aim to have eaten your dinner and exercised by 7pm 

  • Avoid alcohol before bed. If you want a drink, enjoy it earlier in the evening. 

  • Refrain from drinking caffeine after midday 

  • Try to get lots of natural morning light to calibrate your circadian rhythm

  • Implement a strict curfew on all technology 90 minutes before bed

  • Remove all clock faces from your bedroom 

  • Don’t count sheep! Take yourself on a visual walk instead

  • If you can’t fall asleep within 25 minutes, get out of bed and head to a different room. In dim light, do some gentle stretching, yoga, or reading until you feel sleepy. Don’t check your phone!


Natural remedies to help you sleep


Valerian is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances and mild anxiety.


Magnesium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and muscle function, making it a popular choice.

Lavender essential oil

For centuries, lavender has been celebrated for its calming and soothing properties. Why not diffuse this relaxing fragrance in your bedroom before sleeping?

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