Your Memory, Waistline and Your Employer May Thank You

Late last week we returned from a very relaxing twelve-day, South Pacific Island cruise on P & O’s Pacific Dawn. Although we were engaged to deliver five different stress management keynote presentations, the sleep, relaxation and the joy of cruising meant that the ‘working’ aspect of our trip was virtually non-existent.

We ditched the alarm clock and made getting plenty of sleep and reading wonderful books a key aspect of our working holiday.

More than 40 per cent of Australians get too little sleep to feel rested and able to function at their best. The average amount of sleep for an adult is about seven hours, while only 8 per cent get more than nine hours. About 12 per cent of Australians get less than 5.5 hours, and three-quarters of those struggle to get through their day.

Not enough sleep is common now in a world being ravaged by stress.

This Weeks Video…

Meditation For Healing The Body and Good Sleep – The White Flame – Dr Judy Hinwood

Losing sleep can send your levels of stress hormones in the wrong direction. Although research has been mixed, one study seven years ago in the journal Sleep found that sleep deprivation boosted stress hormones. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, (and we are all different and have different sleeping needs) the hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis does not shut down and it keeps secreting chemicals, mainly cortisol. This is the nasty hormone which does damage not only in the now to your health, but also long term as too much cortisol constantly being pumped into your system will cause your brain to shrink and cut off needed neuronal connections in your brain.

Our brains use sleep time as a ‘pruning’ tool to sort through our daily experiences and ‘clean up’ and delete information connections we don’t need from the day just gone. It also uses this time to store the good stuff for future use. Without adequate sleep, we may not be creating enough space for new learning and memories to be stored.

Getting enough sleep also ensures we are safe to drive on the roads and less likely to make costly mistakes at work and home. An excellent article in the International Journal of Science, Nature, reported that being awake for longer than 17 hours impaired your ability to think clearly as much as having a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05. After 24 hours awake, your ability to perform cognitive tasks is as poor as if you had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10.

The results of the 2016 Australian National Sleep Health Foundation Survey found that 29 per cent of Australian workers reported making errors at work in the previous three months specifically because they were not getting enough sleep. One in five respondents reported having nodded off while driving.

Research is also telling us that getting enough sleep may also be helpful for managing our food intake. If you exercise regularly and eat well but still can’t shift the weight around your middle, this could be the real reason why.

The body’s response to eating food changes when sleep is restricted, even as little as one week of restricted sleep is associated with glucose (sugar) levels approaching a pre-diabetic state in the body.

Not only does solid and adequate sleep decrease your stress levels, increases your memory and it supports your waistline with the reduction in ‘belly fat’ and a craving for sweet treats. A bonus for employers is that workers who get adequate sleep  are less likely to take a sick day. And maybe, your employer will thank you!

The Stress Management Institute® conducts training for those individuals who wish to become a qualified Stress Management Practitioner or Stress Management Facilitator and in 2018 we are launching a new short course, the Stress to Strength System Advocate. We invite you to embark on one of these exciting career courses for supporting people who are struggling to cope with stress. If you are looking for a career change, or you wish to add a Stress Management and Emotional Resilience specialty to your current career, please call us on +61 1 300 663 979 or email

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