Many of us are on the verge or have already burned out in our occupations. Law enforcement, firefighters, and especially healthcare providers have some of the highest rates of burnout among professions. The pandemic exacerbated this problem. As a result, people and organizations have scrambled to provide ways to mitigate burnout. Unfortunately, the plethora of options can become overwhelming.
Over the next few months I will take a closer look at the top burnout remedies and provide the pros and cons of each. Today, I start with Sleeping.
Sleep is the natural state where we experience low levels of external stimuli. Everyone knows sleep is beneficial, but most of us rarely get the adequate amount. Some people need more rest than others. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours a night. To verify this, when you have several days off, go to bed at the same time and sleep until you wake naturally. Take note of the time you wake up. On the third or fourth day, record the time when you wake up. The number of hours you slept is indicative of how much sleep you need.
Sleep is also an important remedy to combating burnout. Rest is necessary for recovery. Below are specific reasons why sleep benefits people suffering or recovering from burnout.
- Getting enough sleep restores your adrenal glands, which are over activated during times of stress.
- Sleep increases and balances your cortisol levels. Cortisol levels decrease during stress and adequate levels are integral to recovery from burnout.
- Adequate sleep optimizes memory. Getting an adequate amount of sleep also makes optimizing memory consolidation, which makes retrieving memories easier.
- Sleep deprivation causes multiple cognitive and emotional problems. It decreases alertness, attention, and our ability to be vigilant. This can exacerbate our ability to cope with stress.
- Sleep deprivation increases the formation of false memories.
- Lack of adequate sleep has a profound impact on our physiology at a molecular level. Decreased sleep can alter our DNA and add to the emotional exhaustion that is indicative of burnout.
Ways To Improve Sleep
- Go to bed at a set time, ideally before 10:30 p.m.
- Avoid caffeine, chocolate, and other stimulants. They can affect sleep patterns.
- Turn off the television. Some people are photosensitive and watching television can limit the rise in melatonin levels, which induces sleep.
- Try exercising later in the evening. Exercise raises cortisol levels and may assist in sleep.