Self-care is important. But, getting enough rest to stay healthy can be difficult when you work in hospitality. To help, Phil Lawlor, Sleep Expert at Dormeo, shares his tips for getting sleepy when you need to.
Hospitality is a very rewarding line of work, but it can be extremely demanding on your health and wellbeing. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of working in a hotel is the variety of shift patterns available, which can have a knock-on effect on almost every part of your life including your diet, life, and ability to get enough sleep.
However, there are plenty of ways to make winding down easier, even if you have night shifts and an irregular schedule to deal with. Below, Phil takes you through some of the best ways to help members of the team to get the sleep they need to do their job properly, while protecting hotel workers’ wellbeing.
Establish a bedtime
Establishing a routine by going to bed at the same time every night makes it much easier to fall asleep over time, but that can be difficult if you work irregular shifts. Instead, there are two approaches you can take that can help you get the right amount of rest.
If your shifts vary during the day, try to stick strictly to your bedtime and normal getting up time even if that means you have less hours to yourself some days than others. It’s far better for your health and wellbeing to prioritise getting enough sleep than squeezing in a few extra episodes of your favourite TV show. If you work a mixture of day and night shifts and don’t have a regular bedtime, try to get the same amount of sleep each ‘night’. The average recommended amount for healthy adults is between seven and nine hours.
Get into a routine
Don’t underestimate the impact a positive evening routine can have on your ability to fall asleep when you need to. Starting around two hours before you want to fall asleep, have a bath, shower, or wash and change into some clean, comfy pyjamas. Then, do a relaxing activity like reading a book, drawing, or working on a puzzle. Try to avoid screens including TVs, phones, and tablets as much as you can during this time, as the blue light can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime and you may find it harder to nod off when you get into bed.
Try to avoid getting under the duvet until it’s time to fall asleep — this will train your brain to learn that it should start to wind down once you get into bed. If you struggle to drift off or you wake up frequently during the night, you might need to reconsider your choice of mattress and try a firmer model that supports you properly. This can be of particular help if you are a back or side sleeper as a firm mattress can be healthier for your spine.
Consider your diet
Our diets can also have a major impact on the quality of our rest. When we finish work at odd times, it can be tempting to grab a quick meal from a fast food restaurant or opt for unhealthy snacks instead of proper food. Sometimes we have no choice, as we have to rely on what is open during the night. However, the high saturated fat content of these products can keep us awake as our bodies digest them, and that’s not to mention the long-term health issues associated with eating poorly, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
To avoid falling into the trap of eating unhealthy foods after work, try preparing some quick and nutritious meals ahead of time so you can simply reheat them when you get home. Whole-wheat pasta and noodle dishes are perfect for this because they’re packed with fibre, which can keep sleep-disrupting blood sugar spikes at bay.
Coffee can be your saviour if you’re a hospitality worker, more so if you work irregular shifts. But it can also be a major cause of unrest if you overdo it. Limit your caffeine intake four hours before bedtime — this includes coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, and hot chocolate. I would also advise staying away from fruit juices, as they contain far too much sugar to be conducive to a good night’s rest. As it’s important to stay hydrated, do so with water or squash instead.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, one of the best things you can do is enjoy a glass of milk. The calcium in dairy products can help you produce melatonin, which reduces stress and can even make you drowsy. If you warm it up a bit, you’ll feel even sleepier and nod off in no time.
These tips can help you get the rest you need, no matter what your shift pattern. Focus on your routine and what you’re putting into your body to make it easier to get to sleep on time.