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									         The Staff Counselling & Welfare Service
          House K, Freemen’s Common Houses                              The Staff Counselling
           Welford Road, Leicester LE2 6BF
                                                                          & Welfare Service
                      0116 223 1702
         E-mail: staffcounsel&

        The Staff Counselling and Welfare Team

                   Veronica Moore
       Service Manager and Senior Staff Counsellor

                           Caroline Hall
                          Staff Counsellor

                          Maggie Thomas
                          Staff Counsellor

                           Chris Wilson
                        Service Administrator

 If you would like to see a counsellor, please contact the
 service beforehand to make an appointment. The Service
 is available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fri-
 days between 9am and 5pm and on Thursdays between 12
 noon and 7pm.                                                                 Get some
        December 2007

12                                                           Series 2
                                                             No. 1
                                                                       The Staff Counselling and Welfare Service
Why do we need sleep?
                                                                       Coming to see one of the University of Leicester’s Staff Coun-
Sleep is as necessary to our health and well-being as the air we       sellors might be the first step on the road to recovery. Counsel-
breathe and the food we eat. When we sleep well, we awake              ling involves talking things over with a counsellor trained to listen
feeling refreshed and ready to face whatever life throws at us.        with empathy to help you to find your own solutions to problems.
When our sleep is disrupted or of insufficient duration, we can        You may wish to talk about anything affecting your work, includ-
feel irritable with our work colleagues and family. Tasks which        ing stress and anxiety, relationship difficulties, bereavement, de-
we would normally tackle without a thought become overwhelm-           pression or family problems: problems do not have to be specifi-
ing: sometimes it seems impossible to even make a start on             cally related to your work. If you have taken sick leave due to
them. We struggle to make decisions. Concentration is difficult.       depression, you might wish to consult the service about the best
We have a higher risk of injury when deprived of sleep and tens        way of easing yourself back into work.
of thousands of car accidents are attributed to sleep deprivation
every year.
                                                                       Information leaflets produced by the Staff Counselling and
How much sleep do we need?                                             Welfare Service include:

How much sleep we need varies from person to person but in             Be Assertive!
general we need an average of 7-9 hours per night. While some          Bereavement
feel rested on less than this, others may need more. Basically,        Coping with Panic Attacks
we are getting enough sleep if we wake up feeling rested and           Dignity at Work
get through the day without feeling sleepy.                            Effective Communication
                                                                       Planning for Retirement
How does the quality of sleep affect us?                               Stress Management
                                                                       Talking to your GP about mental health concerns
Quality sleep is continuous and uninterrupted. Worry and stress
                    can result in poor or irregular sleeping pat-
                    terns. In addition, as we get older, sleep can
                    be disrupted by pain or discomfort or the                          Visit
                    need to empty the bladder. Establishing a                         to access information leaflets and
                    regular routine for going to bed and waking                           for advice and information
                    up can enable us to sleep in accordance with
                    our internal biological circadian clock and to
                    reap the benefits of restful, restorative sleep.

2                                                                      11
                                                                     How does lack of sleep affect our work?
Pets If you are a pet owner, you may find it comforting to allow
your cat or dog to share your bed. Unfortunately, pets come          A recent survey of 1,700 adults (funded by the hotel firm
and go during the night, oblivious of how much they might be         Travelodge in 2007) said that it took participants two days to re-
disturbing you and can disrupt your sleep considerably. If you       cover after a sleepless night. Almost half of those surveyed re-
can’t bear the thought of excluding your pet from the bedroom,       ported that they felt less confident if they were tired and that
at least consider providing it with a bed of its own!                their productivity levels were affected if they had only managed
                                                                     a few hours sleep. This is backed up by Chris Idzikowski, a
Television You may find watching TV a relaxing way of winding        sleep expert from the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, who has found
down before bedtime. However, watching an action movie or            that lack of sleep has a sizeable impact on work productivity.
horror film before settling down to sleep can start the adrenaline   “Ironically,” he says, “the findings reveal that while businesses
pumping and make it difficult to get to sleep or to stay asleep.     are suffering the consequences of employees sleeping badly, in
The same can apply to reading: books that get the mind racing        many cases they are directly causing the problem, with a quarter
are not conducive to peaceful sleep!                                 of respondents saying that work stress keeps them awake at
                                                                     night. Employers should encourage employees to raise issues
Keep computers out of your bedroom, too, and never, ever             they are having with sleep and try to understand what is causing
work in the sleeping space! The bedroom should be a haven of         the problem and help them identify how they can help them im-
peace . . . not an extension to the office.                          prove their sleep.”

Learn to relax!                                                      In sleepmatters (Volume 6, Issue 4, 2004), Dr Jan Yager recom-
                                                                     mends that, before we go to bed, we write down what we need
Practise deep breathing techniques and relaxation exercises!         to do the next day. He claims that having a plan for the next day
Try using visualisation techniques: the Staff Counselling and        replaces the feeling of free-floating anxiety about the multiple
Welfare Service leaflet entitled “Coping with Panic Attacks” will    demands on our time and enables us to go to sleep more
tell you how to go about this.                                       quickly. He recommends drawing up a “shopping
                                                                     list” to help us to:

Devote some time to yourself. Establish a bedtime routine to         •    Prioritize goals
help you to wind down: relax in a warm bath, read a book, listen     •    Plan the working day
to soothing music. Sprinkle a few drops of                           •    Stay focused on key tasks
lavender oil into your bath or onto your pil-
low. Drift off into a peaceful sleep . . .                           He observes the rise of a new trend of bragging
                                                                     about not needing a lot of sleep and spending more and more
                                                                     time at work. He sees “workaholism” as a sign of poor time
                                                                     management that takes its toll on our family and social life.

10                                                                   3
“We need to change the attitude that workaholics are more pro-        home, take an eye mask with you.
ductive than the rest of us,” he writes. “What’s important is the
number of hours sleep you get and that it is the right amount for     If you find yourself waking earlier than you want to, increase
you but also what you are doing with your waking hours so that        your exposure to bright light in the evening: as little as one or
you are productive and getting enough done. This will help you        two hours of evening light may help you to sleep longer the fol-
get the sleep you need and enjoy sleeping more without guilt.”        lowing morning. It is important to avoid exposure to light in the
                                                                      middle of the night so if you do have to get up to go to the loo,
Lack of sleep can make you irritable and impatient and lack con-      minimise light by using a lamp with a low wattage light bulb.
centration which can turn you into a dangerous driver, according
                            to a 1997 National Sleep Foundation       Your bed We all know that sleeping on a sagging old mattress
                            poll (Sleeplessness, Pain and the         with a lumpy pillow is a recipe for a disturbed night so it is worth
                            Workplace, NSF, 1997). So if you          thinking about replacing your bedding if it is past its sell-by date.
                            have trouble sleeping and your job        Research on patients with back pain has apparently discovered
                            involves driving or operating machin-     that sleeping on an ultra-firm mattress is not the answer and that
ery, you could be risking injury to yourself or others.               a less firm mattress leads to better sleep. When shopping for a
                                                                                               new mattress, take time to choose one
Potential causes of disturbed sleep                                                            that feels comfortable to you: half an
                                                                                               hour spent trying out beds in-store is
Stress During periods of stress, hormones are released into                                    better than spending the next ten years
the bloodstream causing hyperarousal of the body’s stress                                      being uncomfortable.
response system and resulting in disturbed sleep patterns. As a
result, you remain awake for long periods during the night and                                 The same goes for pillows: choose one
sleep less deeply. It is important to take stress seriously and to                             that suits you. One is better than two as
address the causes of it in your working or personal life. This       it enables you to lie with your spine in a relatively straight line.
may mean talking things over with your line manager or head of        Whether you opt for a feather, down or synthetic pillow is a mat-
department or making an appointment with the Staff Counselling        ter of personal taste. However, the National Sleep Foundation
and Welfare Service. Try to make time for some rest and re-           reports that synthetic pillows harbour five times more dust-mite
laxation. Treat yourself to a massage or an aromatherapy treat-       faecal matter than feather pillows, so not only can a pillow affect
ment. Practise deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Take         your posture and quality of sleep, it can also impact on asthma
some exercise: a walk, a swim or a trip to a gym.                     and allergies.

Shift working     Shift workers are particularly prone to car         Space If you share a bed, make sure it is large enough for you
crashed and accidents at work. Adjusting to differing sleep           and your partner to move around in. If one of you is a particu-
schedules is never easy and it is often difficult to get quality      larly restless sleeper, you might consider buying one of the lar-
sleep during the day. It is important for shift workers to create a   ger beds that incorporate two separate mattresses. This will en-
good sleeping environment at home (see pages 7-10).                   able you to remain undisturbed if your partner tosses and turns!

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environment leads to lighter sleep and more frequent wakening          Jet lag Similar difficulties are encountered by University em-
at night; a cooler room contributes to better sleep because it         ployees whose jobs involve crossing time zones. Shifts in time
mimics what occurs inside the body when, about four hours after        and light force the brain and body to alter its normal pattern in
the onset of sleep, the body’s internal temperature drops.             order to adjust to new time zones. This results in disturbed
                                                                       sleep. If possible, gradually change your sleep and wake times
An air conditioner or electric fan will help to keep you cool. Try     to the new schedule a few days before you leave home and
                 positioning an electric fan on the opposite side      adopt the sleep/wake cycle of your destination upon arrival.
                 of the room from the open door and placing a
                 dish of ice-cubes in front of the fan to cool down    Snoring Snoring disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives you of
                 the air being circulated. Freezing a damp             the rest you need. It can also disturb your partner leaving him or
                 washcloth to use as a cold compress during the        her feeling tired and resentful! Snoring is caused when the flow
                 night is also worth a try. During hot weather,        of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose is
                 keep blinds or curtains closed during the day to      obstructed. It is exacerbated by alcohol, some prescription
exclude sunlight. Open windows at night and try to get a               drugs and heavy or spicy foods. It is more common in males
through-draught by opening your bedroom door, too.                     and anyone who is overweight. If you suffer from sinus infec-
                                                                       tions or hay fever or have a cold, you may snore more than
Light nightwear and a sheet and light blanket instead of a duvet       usual.
will keep you more comfortable. Nightwear that draws sweat
away from the body is now on sale and is useful for women go-          When snoring is interspersed with episodes of totally obstructed
ing through the menopause who sometimes experience hot                 breathing, you may have a condition known as obstructive sleep
flushes during the night.                                              apnoea. Sleep apnoea sufferers may be disturbed by obstruc-
                                                                       tive breathing as many as 300 times per night. Apart from caus-
If you and your sleeping partner disagree about the ideal room         ing the sufferer to be tired the next day, these episodes can re-
temperature in winter, try using an “all-night” electric blanket on    duce blood oxygen levels which cause the heart to pump harder,
one side of the bed only or having two single duvets of differing      resulting in raised blood pressure and heart enlargement. So, if
“tog” values instead of one double or king-size.                       you or your partner suspect that sleep apnoea is the problem, it
                                                                       is important to see your GP to have this checked out.
Light Light is a big factor in regulating sleep. In fact, it is the
most powerful regulator of our biological clock, which influences      If you suffer from mild or occasional snoring, think about chang-
when we feel sleepy and when we feel alert. Finding the bal-           ing your way of life to incorporate some of the following:
ance of light and darkness exposure is important: you need to
make sure you expose yourself to enough bright light during the        •    Eat a healthy diet to keep your weight at the desired level
day. So if you aren’t able to spend time outside, think about          •    Take some exercise to develop good muscle tone
buying a light box to supplement your exposure time. Then, at          •    Avoid tranquillizers, sleeping pills and antihistamines at
bedtime, think dark! A dark bedroom encourages better sleep                 bedtime
so opt for “black-out” linings for curtains or blinds: these are ob-   •    Avoid alcohol for at least four hours before retiring
tainable from most curtain suppliers. When sleeping away from
8                                                                      5
•    Allow at least three hours for the digestion of a heavy meal    one of the proprietary brands of malted milk
     before going to bed                                             bedtime drinks may make a difference.
•    Establish regular sleeping patterns
•    Sleep on your side rather than on your back                     Caffeine is present in chocolate and cola-type
•    Raise the head of your bed by four inches                       drinks as well as in tea and coffee. It height-
                                                                     ens alertness but increases anxiety, too. Cut-
Smoking, alcohol and drugs Nicotine and alcohol poison our           ting out caffeine after midday can make an enormous difference
bodies. Smokers take longer to fall asleep and wake up more          to the quality of your sleep so think about replacing drinks with
often during the night. Using alcohol to help you to sleep has       decaffeinated versions from noon onwards.
the reverse effect: it increases wakefulness and, because it is a
diuretic, causes you to get up during the night to go to the loo.    The sleeping environment

The sleep induced by alcohol - and by medication - is of a differ-   Is your bedroom a sleep haven? Or do you simply put up with
ent quality to natural sleep and is not as refreshing. Taking        noise and discomfort instead of doing something about it?
sleep-inducing medication over a long period of time is not ad-
visable as it may become habit-forming and disturb sleep pat-        Noise Few people can sleep through the sound of car horns
terns in the long-term.                                              blaring or loud music being played next door and earplugs can
                                                                     certainly help here. A variety of earplugs are available: soft
The exception to this appears to be melatonin which is used          foam and wax ones can be purchased in most chemist shops
widely in the USA but is not at present licensed for use in the      while malleable plastic-based ones are obtainable over the inter-
UK. Melatonin plays a part in sleep control and the body clock       net. The latter, though more expensive, are more efficient and
but exactly how and why is not clearly understood. Hopefully,        work by covering the entrance to the hearing canal rather than
further research will shed more light on its efficacy.               by being pushed inside the canal.

Exercise Regular exercise relieves tension and stress and en-        “White noise” such as an electric fan can mask some external
courages restful sleep. Thirty minutes of exercise raises the        irritations such as a dripping tap or grumbling central heating.
body temperature and boosts metabolism. Exercising too close
to bedtime can make dropping off to sleep difficult. The best        Curiously, the absence of a familiar noise can disrupt your sleep
time to work out is during the late afternoon or early evening:      as much as random, external noises. The absence of the com-
you will experience a pleasant feeling of relaxation five hours      forting tick of a bedroom clock can keep you awake in a strange
after exercise and this is the time to head for bed!                 hotel room. City dwellers may struggle to drop off in a quiet
                                                                     room in the country because they are used to traffic noise!
Diet Avoid heavy, spicy, fatty and very sugary foods in the eve-
ning. Instead opt for foods rich in the anti-stress mineral magne-   Temperature There is no ideal temperature for sleep but re-
sium such as oily fish, green vegetables, sunflower seeds, nuts,     searchers have found that temperatures below 54 degrees and
bananas and dates. Calcium encourages sleep so warm milk or          above 75 degrees Fahrenheit will disrupt sleep. A hot sleeping

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