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Make time for sleep, protect against burnout

A recent report by LawCare lifted the lid on some of the mental health issues impacting on lawyers and paralegals, and what we can do better as an industry. In particular, it highlighted the correlation between getting a good night’s sleep and reducing the risk of burnout. Though the amount of sleep each of us needs varies, between seven and nine hours is widely-regarded as optimum. With only just over one in four of the legal professionals LawCare surveyed sleeping that much regularly, we thought we’d share our top tips to help readers improve their sleep.

 

#1 Pick up a book before bed

But not necessarily to read. Writing down anything that’s on your mind for a few minutes before you get ready for bed can help you settle down more easily. This might take the form of your to-do list for the next day, or reflections on the day just gone. Clearing your mind by parking your thoughts on paper can help you to disengage from the day and relax more effectively.

Total extra time in your day: 5 minutes

 

#2 Turn down the blue light

For the best sleep hygiene, experts advise avoiding blue light from mobiles, e-readers and other screens entirely for two to three hours before bed, to avoid disrupting your natural body clock. Despite our good intentions, that’s just not reality for most of us. There are other things you can do though. Wearing glasses that block blue light in the evening can help, as this research published in HBR found. Or if that feels a step too far, choosing the “night-time” setting on your screens and turning down the brightness is an easy fix.

Total extra time: 5 minutes – maybe a bit more if you want to pick out some fancy frames

 

#3 Eat for sleep: choose green vegetables and magnesium

Making sure you have plenty of green vegetables (cabbage, kale, spinach, spring greens etc) in your diet and topping up your magnesium with a supplement can also help you improve your sleep. Eating more vegetables is going to help you in a host of other ways too, as most people in the UK eat less than the recommended amount for good health.

Total extra time: none, just put more green vegetables on your shopping list and your plate

 

#4 Lay off the caffeine

It’s not new advice, but watch out for both your overall caffeine intake and the time of day that you’re reaching for that next cup of tea or coffee. Try to switch to caffeine-free options after lunchtime, such as herbal teas, water or juice. And while we’re talking about drinks, alcohol’s not good for your sleep either. So aim for “dry days” in the week as much as you can.

Total extra time: none, this one’s all about willpower

 

#5 Keep work well away from where you sleep

One of the potential downsides of more working from home is the temptation to check in on work wherever you are. Make it harder to do this by designating space in your home for work that is as separate from your bedroom as possible. Try to keep any mobile devices in your bag or a different room. And try to avoid working right up until bedtime as much as you can.

Total extra time: none, it’s willpower required here too

 

Take your sleep seriously

Sleep is a vital ingredient to our physical and mental health. Everyone has the odd bad night but if you find yourself consistently struggling with sleep problems, then seek professional medical advice. Otherwise, we hope you find making a few of these simple changes helps you feel more ready for whatever the next day may hold!

 

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