Sleep v burnout

BY Added Health Editorial Team | 11 July 2023

Sleep hygiene and a strong routine are the essentials for a good night’s rest.

Burnout can leave us unrelentingly exhausted and relating slightly too hard to zombies, but that doesn’t guarantee a good night’s sleep (it really is unfair). Sleep hygiene and building a strong routine can work wonders for your sleep quality. 

Sleep hygiene tips 

  • Try waking up and going to bed at the same time every day (making sure to include plenty of time to actually get to sleep) — if you’re a night owl, try setting a bedtime alarm. 
  • Use blue light filters on your devices after sunset and have a “screens off” rule at least two hours before bed to reduce the impact on sleep. Blue light emitted from electronic screens can play havoc with our sleep cycle.
  • Turn your phone to “do not disturb” and ideally leave it outside your bedroom (or at least the other side of the room) to minimise interruptions to your sleep. 
  • A cool, dark, quiet environment is most conducive to restful sleep. If that means blackout blinds or earplugs, it’s a worthwhile investment.
  • Moving your body is shown to improve your sleep
    — you don’t have to run a marathon, a gentle walk, yoga routine or trip to the gym can be really beneficial. 
  • While most adults need an average of 7–9 hours a night, this varies person-to-person. If your body is telling you that you need more sleep: listen. 

Also consider…

  • Avoid drinking any alcohol before bed. Despite making it easier to nod off, it can inhibit reaching REM sleep and make you feel more tired the next day — even when you don’t drink enough to earn a hangover. So if you fancy a glass of wine, keep that good bottle of red for a Friday night. 
  • Smoking is for you and quitting is essential for your health. But if you are trying to quit, skipping that last cigarette before bed can have a bigger impact on your sleep quality than you’d think. Although many smokers have one last smoke to relax before turning in for the night, nicotine actually increases your heart rate and blood adrenaline, which continues for hours. The immediate and long-term effects on breathing also contribute to poor sleep quality and may increase the likelihood of sleep apnoea. 
  • If you find yourself focussing on the day’s worries once you’ve put your head on the pillow, try writing out a “worry list” before you go to bed — sometimes just depositing it somewhere outside of your brain can help. This way, you can sleep knowing that the most capable version of yourself — fully rested, awake, you — can deal with these problems head on in the morning (they may even feel a little less alarming in the light of day). 
  • Reserve your bedroom exclusively for sleep and relaxation (and perhaps your partner, but that’s none of our business) — although it may be tempting to watch a film in bed or even write a couple of work emails, doing so causes your brain to associate your bedroom with work or wakefulness. Having proper separation of work and home life can be tricky for those that work from home, and especially those that freelance or run their own business, but is essential to good sleep and mental wellbeing. 
  • If calming your mind before sleep is something you struggle with, breathing exercises are a great way to bring yourself a sense of calm. Breath work is the foundation of many mindfulness and meditation practices, and an easy-to-follow introduction to a hugely beneficial topic to explore. 

The take-home messages 

Sleep and rest are undervalued in our fast-paced world, with ever competing demands for our time. But even one poor night’s sleep can seriously effect mood and concentration, and chronic poor sleep quality can have serious consequences — poor mental health, burnout, obesity, even impacting heart health, and it is a major contributor to road traffic accidents. 
By making sleep a priority, you give your waking hours the best version of yourself and are better able to tackle the day with a clear mind. Building healthy habits around sleep and providing yourself with a calm and relaxing environment to go to bed, are often neglected aspects of self-care. It is worth it to be able to live your life as your full self, rather than a sleep-walking zombie. 
Kaur, D. (2022) ‘Impact of Blue Light Emitted by Smart Phones on Sleep Architecture and Chronotypes Among MBBS Students’, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 64 (Supplement 3), Available at:
Vallat, R., Berry, S. E. and Tsereteli, N. et al. (2022) ‘How people wake up is associated with previous night’s sleep together with physical activity and food intake’, Nature Communications, 13 Available at:
Pataka, A., Kotoulas, S., Kalamaras, G., Tzinas, A., Grigoriou, I., Kasnaki, N., & Argyropoulou, P. (2022). Does Smoking Affect OSA? What about Smoking Cessation? Journal of Clinical Medicine, 11(17), 5164.