Sleep habits I formed when working in the City

It all started so innocently. In late 2010 I began my recruitment career as a consultant-in-training. The training centre was by Waterloo Station and, looking back, was as much a gentle ease into the world of commuting and “city life” as it was into recruitment.

Like for many, working in the city meant early starts, late finishes and up to 3 hours of commuting each day. The days were long, yet the months seemed to roll on by and, before I knew it, I’d been in recruitment 4 years. Woah. How did that happen?

Partly what had happened was I had gotten into a systematic routine that I just felt used to. Here’s a snapshot of my week in the context of sleep:

Monday: wake up, struggle out of bed as — inevitably — the weekend sleep pattern (lie ins) would throw me off for the start of the week

Tuesday & Wednesday: gradually get back used to ‘weekday sleep pattern’, though still feeling tired on the always-less-than-8/often-less-than-7.5hrs sleep I would get during the week

Thursday: as the end of the week nearer, the tiredness (physical and mental — phone calls + meetings take it out of you!) would really set in now. Topped off with socialising/drinking after work, that’d be the nail in the coffin… long week coming to end (and already not enough sleep), with definitely not enough sleep Thursday night (and lower quality due to the booze, even if just the classic ‘1 or 2’).

Friday: sometimes a head-down admin day, sometimes a good ‘meetings’ day — often easier to get meetings on a Friday, folks are in a better mood, and it would force me to be out and about and reasonably productive versus staring at my computer screen amongst short bursts of admin.

Saturday & Sunday: sleeping, recharging, some exercising, lots of dossing.

Having been 2 years out of recruitment now, I realise just how unsustainable and unhealthy that routine was for me, especially comparing it to now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some all-singing, all-dancing sleep guru now (though I do have more energy for that these days… :D) — ironically, I had less than 6 hours’ sleep last night.

However, my sleep routine is far healthier for me, and forms just one part of my self-management of energy, and overall wellbeing. Forget all the benefits you read about, I feel better. If I feel something, generally I don’t question it. (It helps that I have more time to pause and feel my emotions, more on this in future posts).

And the key part of the above paragraph is healthier “for me”. We’re all different. We have different lives, routines and — most significantly — different internal systems.

Getting more sleep, and better quality, is what I consider one of my fundamentals, being one of the key factors in my maintaining a steady base-level of wellbeing. I know I’m better for it, as I feel better. I have more energy, and it helps that I manage it better, too.

I’ll be continuing to share more in the coming weeks and months about my wellbeing, and the changes that have taken place in the last 48 months or so.

In the meantime, here are a couple of sleep-related facts to leave you with:

- Current research dictates that most of us need somewhere between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep each night

- We meander through cycles of REM and non-REM sleep, approximately 1.5 hours of each (often when you wake up feeling ‘groggy’ even after you’ve supposedly had ample sleep, this might be because you’ve woken up during ‘deep sleep’ (REM)

- Sleep debt doesn’t follow the straightforward patterns of a typical debt — i.e. ‘missing out’ on, say, 6 hours of sleep in a given work-week doesn’t mean you can ‘pay it all back’ in one or two nights over the weekend. Uh-uh. Not so easy unfortunately.

- Experts say getting more than 9 hours of sleep each night can actually be detrimental

by Jasraj

Friday 18th August, 2017

This article first appeared here.