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Shared & Halved – IHL series: Are you getting enough sleep?

On 22 July we held a webinar with Dr Guy Meadow (The Sleep School) author of “The Sleep Book: How to Sleep Well Every Night”, who covered top tips and how you and your employees can achieve the sleep you need and the impact it has on your performance.

Why is sleep even more important now?

  • Sleep is the single most important natural, powerful enhancer
  • Pandemic is linked with negative factors so sleep is even more important to maintain every day mood and mental health
  • Sleep helps on physical side to boost immunity and increase T-cells to fight off pathogens
  • If regularly get less than 6 hours sleep then 4.5 times more likely to catch common cold
  • Sleep is fundamental to managing appetite and keeps heart healthy
  • People don’t always think of how much impact sleep has
  • Emotional intelligence is so important and not getting enough sleep will impact this too. Tiredness can make it difficult to regulate how feel and the negative emotions that can impact teams in work

The legal profession and sleep

  • Guy and his team collect a lot of data from law firms around challenges with sleep
  • Three key skills requited for lawyers are accuracy, focus/ concentration and communication
  • Sleep deprivation can negatively impact on all of these and means we interpret things differently, can reduces the accuracy of how we work and means it’s much harder to focus
  • Legal industry culture can expect round-the-clock working and very long hours. No one would want a doctor who was sleep deprived operating on them so why do lawyers operate in a sleep deprived way. 100% more mistakes made in 12th hour of A&E shift than in the first hour

Solutions to help manage this

  • Address that we can’t always get the sleep we need but there are strategies to help maintain focus
  • Biological sleep need is determined by genetics and 95% of people will need 6-9 hours
  • Sleep quality is important and there are some simple things to improve this:
    • Trying to keep regular sleep cycle so that go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. Pandemic hasn’t helped with this as routine has been disrupted.
    • Managing light – resist urge to use phones in bed
    • Exercising
    • Eating at the same time each day

Why are you sleep deprived?

  • Different reasons for being sleep deprived and these are managed in different ways
  • New parent loses at least 2 hours sleep per night
  • There are catch-up methods that can be used such as power napping between 12-3pm and adopting catch-up nights
  • Therapeutic methods can help with anxiety and depression. Mindfulness can be used

Tips related to questions from the audience

  • Getting up and doing something will then help sleep
    • Keep phone out of the bedroom as will lead to more cognitive stimulation
    • Don’t engage in “day-time” activities (eating, reading etc) as this becomes a vicious cycle. Rest in bed even if it doesn’t lead to sleep
    • Learn to notice and let go of thoughts
  • How to stop mind kicking in when wake-up
    • You can’t force sleep or stop thoughts
    • Notice why you woke up in first place and let the thought go
    • Light, deep, REM, wake sleep cycle
    • Sleep drive can wear off during parts of the sleep cycle
    • Learn to mindfully accept thoughts and then let them gently pass rather than fight them. This will create right mental condition for sleep to the reoccur
    • Practice mindfulness exercises
  • Why am I constantly waking up at 4am and can’t get back to sleep
    • Sleep drive is wearing off and naturally waking up as part of the sleep cycle
    • Important to stay in bed and rest
  • Tiredness in day
    • Linked to insufficient sleep
    • Manage daytime energy – take regular breaks, walk and talk meetings, optimise diet
  • Sleeping badly following sad news/ grief
    • Seek professional help as therapists can really help
    • Manage strong emotions
    • Sleep helps with psychological repair so will help manage the grief
  • Will lavender help?
    • Doesn’t have huge amount of substantial evidence but it is known for calming effect
    • If you like it then use it but don’t form an unhelpful sleep aid/ association with it


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022.

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