The recent Bar Council report revealed that over half of barristers don’t sleep well.
They are certainly not alone.
Sometimes the difficulty is in falling asleep after a busy day and working long into the evening.
Sometimes we wake in the middle of the night to find thoughts racing and find we’ve been unconsciously planning tomorrow’s work and worrying about things that didn’t get done yesterday.
Sometimes we’ll wake too early and not to be able to get back to sleep.
This is a particular problem for perfectionists.
So what do I do?
Sleeping in as dark a room as possible will help. Melatonin, a chemical that regulates the sleep cycle only works when it’s dark.
Try to get a break from work and have time to relax a bit between working and sleeping.
Blue light from iPhone screens, TV and computers can suppress melatonin and affect the sleep cycle.
Don’t drink caffeine too late.
Nag, nag, nag.
There’s plenty more information about sleep out there. The NHS site is helpful.
Having a notebook by the bed can be useful. If you wake in the night with your mind buzzing about tomorrow’s work and you think you’ll forget the indispensable ideas if you go back to sleep, then jot them down on the pad.
For some however this might make them more awake and they might find it more helpful (and it is my personal recommendation) to remember that the object is to get back to sleep.
The idea is to use sleep to recover and forget about the day.
One way to tackle this which works for a lot of people is just to concentrate on breathing.
Just listen to your breathing.
When thoughts intrude, as they will, simply go back to listening to your breathing.
Sometimes counting on each out breath for up to say four breaths can help concentration on the breathing.
Thinking of a one syllable number is usually not sufficiently distracting to stimulate other thinking …
(This is an edited excerpt from my book A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress published by ARK Group in 2015.)