How harmful is sleep loss to your mental health?

Occasionally we all suffer from the odd night of disrupted sleep, either having difficulties getting off to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night with thoughts running around or unfinished conversations.  Nights like those are inevitable from time to time, the bigger issue is when these occasional occurrences turn into long term issues and even form a nocturnal habit. Training around sleep is one of the more regularly requested wellbeing training organisations request from me; which is why I decided to write this blog.  Organisations looking to improve key performance and resiliency use wellbeing tools to decrease stress and anxiety.  Most pieces of training are bespoke to individual organisational requirements.  So this blogs serves as a brief outline to accompany the training delivered inside organisations.  A simple and brief outline that will illustrate how harmful sleep loss is to your mental health, how it affects your focus, productivity and affects the organisations’ productivity and in turn profitability.  This blog will outline how harmful sleep loss can be to your mental wellbeing and health, why you need to stick to a regular routine and how you can get a good nights sleep on a regular basis.

What are the effects of sleep loss?

The occasional evening when you can’t nod off because your mind is buzzing is difficult but in the longer term, it creates a much bigger problem for your health and your ability to do your job well.   If you are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis not only will it affect your immune response; your body will not be able to repel invaders,  taking you longer to recover from illness. In addition, long-term sleep loss means you are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and weight gain.  Other issues will also affect not just your daily personal life but also your work, career and your ability to get on with your colleagues that work alongside you.

Sleep loss on a regular basis will also affect your ability to perform your role at work:

  • Affect your ability to concentrate as well as your creative problem-solving skills.
  • Relationship with colleagues can be affected by mood swings because of your disrupted sleep
  • The increased risk of accidents at work to both yourself and others
  • Feelings of confusion, anxiety and depression can escalate over time
  • Weakened immunity and reduced defences against illnesses and chronic diseases
  • Increased blood sugar levels caused by your body producing more insulin and cortisol means an increased risk of weight gain.

I’ve outlined below a few things that you can gradually add to your routine so that you can improve your sleep routine. Rather than trying to add everything in at once, take the pressure off, add in one new habit, establish the habit and then move on.  Recognising your own behaviour pattern will help you to solve the long term issue.

Be aware of your own rhythm

You may be an owl or a lark? Which is it? Knowing and understanding yourself will aid your sleep routine and sticking to regular waking and sleeping hours will be of great benefit to you and your circadian rhythm.

Start ironing!

If you are having trouble getting to sleep – start ironing. It sounds like a joke, however, the idea behind the comment is to do something that is mind-numbingly boring. A task or a job that requires no thought, something that you don’t have to think about. Reading a book is not the way to get to sleep, unless of course it is a book that is tedious and doesn’t excite or become too emotional; otherwise it will wake y brain waves start firing off, I do not get sleepy.


The best tactic is to exercise in the morning, become exhausted and so at night you fall into bed. Exercise in the morning is not only great for personal motivation but also works well with your body’s natural rhythm.

Overdoing it during the day can have a negative effect on your sleep routine. The hormone cortisol is raised when you get stressed, you can become stressed by pushing yourself. Exercising hard and fast in the evening is going to make that cortisol rush worse. Of course, it depends on you and the sort of exercise you choose.

Eradicate blue light

Blue light is on your telly screen, computer screen, iPhone, is not conducive to a good nights sleep. Your body wakes up to blue light, the colour blue is genetically and fundamentally part of your DNA and it is used by your body to keep you awake. Blue lights wake you up!

Ideally, 90 minutes before you go to bed, switch off your computer and all blue light devices.  Remove your iPhone from your bedroom, charge it elsewhere in the house.

What you eat during the day

What you eat during the day will have an effect on how you sleep at night. Eating protein evenly throughout will help you sleep at night.  Whilst eating less sugar and more protein will help you to get off to a night of restful sleep. Once asleep, one of the things that can wake us up is magnesium deficiency, and it is proven to prevent insomnia

High magnesium foods include:

  • dark leafy greens,
  • nuts,
  • seeds,
  • fish,
  • beans,
  • whole grains,
  • avocados,
  • yoghurt,
  • bananas,
  • dried fruit,
  • dark chocolate.

how harmful is sleep loss to your mental health?

When sleep disruptions are a sign of burnout

I’ve recently been having conversations with managers who are increasingly using words like ‘overwhelm,’ burnout, exhaustion and phrases like ‘I can’t take this anymore.’

Listening to the cues and being aware of the signs from your team is a good way to recognise a mental health issue before it affects the workplace and of course the welfare of the individual.

Whilst attrition is increasing, organisations are losing valued staff and exhaustion is affecting productivity, as key performing employees who are responsible for driving sales and increasing revenue are becoming overwhelmed and are looking for new strategies to cope with the pandemic.

A proactive approach is one where organisations create a resilient workplace strategy that will reduce work stress; if you like to read more about How can organisations develop an effective Wellbeing strategy?  And whilst many organisations are now taking mental health seriously, most have MHFAs, EAP systems even in-house or external psychological support systems; the next level is assessing the level of engagement with these facilities and training.  How connected are employees to the training, is it relevant to them?  This is now the next stage in the resiliency process moving from awareness to behavioural change.

Many organisations profess to have well established mental health and resilient wellbeing programmes but how often do these programmes match both the:

  • actual culture of the organization
  • the requirements, vision and mission of the recipients

This is why I created my resilience training.  The 6 core levels begin with a simple check-in.  Identify and recognising the current corporate or organisational culture and whether it is in alignment or opposition to the wellbeing strategy.  The first step is an accurate picture of what is going on within an organisation.

organisational resilience

How does resilience training work?

The 6 Core Levels of Organisational Resilience ™️ is a continuum of six organisational resilience levels which in a perfect world would start at level 1.  Each level ideally is strengthened and build upon the previous level. and built upon through each level or stage.

The first level is an increased awareness of how the organisation wellbeing programme is perceived throughout the company.  How employees really feel about the culture of the company, does it match their values? Does the wellbeing strategy match what senior management say and do every day or is there a mismatch?

Checking in on the reality of the situation in terms of what the senior leaders want and what the employees feel is actually happening.  The organisation vision and mission match what employee value and wants from their work. A check to understand where the company is right now and matching this with where the organisation senior leaderships sees its future and where it wants to go.

Are managers simply exhausted from lack of sleep or closer to burnout?

For example, one of the biggest gaps I’ve noticed when working with organisations in the UK is the parity between what key managers say and how they feel.

Managers are comfortable with feelings of overwhelm. This is a safe phrase.  ‘Overwhelmed’ is in common usage and has no negative consequences.  It happens, workloads get too much.   However ‘burnout’ is not an open and honest conversation discussion.   As a consequence, whilst teams are comfortable using the word overwhelmed their actual reality is closer to burnout, which is a state they are not comfortable to admit to.  This can change with an organisational culture that is comfortable around ope and direct conversations around mental health.

In many organisations,  burnout is attached to personal behaviour and is the consequences of a personal failing and therefore shame.  An individual behaviour’s that they couldn’t manage. The fault is theirs, it is not discussed which means it is harder to spot, diagnose and avert.

Passionate organisations that have enhanced and developed the ’employee wellbeing proposition’ a stage further. Organisations that have prioritised staff wellbeing but also created a culture that is committed to the diversity, wellbeing and social values that align with the individuals’ view of the world.

Retaining and attracting key performers is crucial so that business thrive.

If you are interested in reading more about How to Build Resilience in the Workplace: The Ultimate Guide

What’s the process of hiring me?

How can you work with me as a Wellbeing and Resilience Trainer? With over 20 years of experience, I have a unique insight with a powerful combination of personal experience and industry background means that I am ideally placed to understand the needs of businesses looking to improve wellness programmes and specifically tailor them to your requirements.

The workshops and training development have been delivered inside construction companies, law firms, technology and data management consultancies, commercial property developers as well as the financial sector.

The best way forward is to book a call with me, Adele Stickland and together we can discover what stage your organisation is currently at, and how you can best implement the most proactive strategy that will serve your employees.

If you or your organisation would like assistance in creating or developing an existing wellbeing programme to frame conversations and support managers and employees then:

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Book a call with me: Book a call: Adele Stickland and together we can discover what stage your organisation is currently at, and how you can best implement the most proactive strategy that will serve your employees.

Adele Stickland

Adele Stickland

With over 20 years of experience in the wellbeing industry, Adele has a unique insight into stress awareness and resilience within organisations. With a powerful combination of personal experience and industry background Adele is ideally placed to understand the needs of organisations looking to improve corporate Resilience Programmes and specifically tailor them to their requirements. As a former leader in the marketing world, Adele was employed in a variety of corporate roles spanning advertising, retail, and marketing together with over 20 years of running her own wellness business. After becoming a victim of ambition-burnout herself, through personal development, training and learning. Adele recognises that resilience is a skill that can be learned and developed using a crafted framework bespoke to each organisation.

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