Sure, that extra cup of coffee during your afternoon break seemed like a good idea at the time, but if you’re lying awake at 3 am unable to sleep, you may soon be regretting that decision.
Research shows that even the most diligent of people who get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night can still wake up feeling groggy and tired. The reason behind the heavy eyelids often comes down to sleep saboteurs.
This is certainly reflected in the data we found in our recent study of 1,000 Australian white-collar workers. We saw an outbreak of poor quality sleep and fatigue among Australian office workers, with the majority reporting their sleep quality had suffered in the past year.
While a lot of that came down to bad flexible work habits and the stresses of COVID-19, we also found that people's sleep could be suffering due to common sleep saboteurs.
With the rise in alcohol sales over the last 12 months, more than three in five (62%) white-collar workers revealed that they drink alcohol in the evening as a way to disconnect from work and to help fall asleep.
“It’s a common misconception that a night cap helps you get a good night’s sleep,” ISS CEO Dr Adam Fletcher says. “It might help you fall asleep, but because alcohol is a diuretic, you’ll need more toilet wakes during the night and you’ll get less deep restorative sleep as a result.”
It may make us feel drowsy as the night goes on, but the effect of alcohol actually hinders our sleeping. Drinking alcohol may cause you to fall asleep faster but in actuality you have more awake periods and less REM (rapid eye movement) sequences even if you have a glass or two in your system.
Our study also found a concerning reliance on caffeine, with more than two thirds (70%) of white-collar workers saying they need coffee to be productive and get through the day with one in five saying (19%) saying they drink it well into the evening as well.
“There’s nothing wrong with caffeine, and everyone has different tolerance levels, but it’s best kept for when you need a boost of energy and you should aim to have your last one no later than 4pm,” Dr Fletcher says.
While asking people not to consume caffeine or alcohol is both unrealistic and unecessary, it's important to know how these things can affect your sleep.
The Eclipse Subscription Service is a great suite of resources for anyone wanting to know more about getting better sleep.
“We’ve found progressive leaders are quick to recognise the link between high-performance teams and a healthy sleep culture – and that culture starts with education and empowerment,” Dr Fletcher says.
Based on decades of applied research and practical training across a range of industries, businesses and government agencies, Integrated Safety Support has channelled that knowledge into online training courses and smartphone applications that are simple to deploy and integrate into the modern workplace.
You can read our research featured in the AFR here (full article access):
You can access the media release featuring all of the results of our research here: