Are you having difficulty sleeping due to work-related stress?
As a healthcare leadership coach, I work with senior doctors and public health leaders every day providing medical career mentoring, medical leadership coaching, and coaching for public health leaders, and many of you are reporting difficulty sleeping at the moment.
If you’re waking at night with a racing mind thinking about work, or are having difficulty falling asleep for the same reason, the key is likely to be lowering your stress levels through the day so that you are less physiologically aroused at night.
Here are some self-help tips
- Who can you ask to support you at this time and what can you drop or delegate (at work and home) – so that you can have time for basic simple pleasures that don’t demand you to tax your brain any further and can dial down your cortisol and adrenaline production.
- Start your evening wind down earlier – low level stimulation, avoid caffeine (caffeine has an 8 hour half life – so having a cup of coffee at 4pm is like having half a cup of coffee at midnight), you’re trying to give your brain and emotional system a rest.
- Carve out time for cosy, soothing things that nurture you. Engage in gentle, mindful exercise rather than pushing yourself to athletic standards etc.
- Focus on being cosy and warm in bed even if you wake up and try to rest even if you can’t sleep. Don’t do things that ‘wake your brain up’. Have a plan before you go to bed of what you will do if you’re awake.
- Wake up at the same time and get exposure to daylight or a bright light as soon as you can after waking up, this sets your timeclock for the evening to come by turning off melatonin secretion, allowing it to then build up again during the course of the day. If you can’t access daylight then use a high luminosity light such as a ring light for 20 minutes first thing in the morning.
While executive coaching for physicians and healthcare leadership coaching can help you to cope with the stresses of being a doctor or public health leader, don’t forget to seek clinical help if you need it. You are likely to be able to get free CBT-I on the NHS or through work, ask your GP or occupational health service.
If you’re working shifts or nights, get expert advice from a sleep expert to help you.
Dr Fiona Day is an expert Leadership & Career Coach and Coaching Psychologist, specialising in the leadership, careers and wellbeing of doctors, medical and public health leaders. She is a former medical and public health leader, is based in the UK and works internationally. Sign-up to her email list here for free resources, news, and more. You can unsubscribe at any time.