Article by Tim Etherington-Judge & Laura Schacht Msc published in CLASS Magazine Autumn 2018
How much sleep did you get last night? Chances are if you’re a bartender, manager, bar back, brand ambassador or citizen of late night watering holes, reading this, the answer will be considerably less than the 8 hours recommended by sleep experts and health organisations around the world. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
As a population, we are getting less sleep than ever, up to 2 hours less than we did 50 years ago. Our fast-paced, always-on lifestyle, has demonised sleep as the enemy of productivity and achievement, smartphones and digital addictions disrupt our sleep patterns like nothing else in history whilst increased consumption of coffee and alcohol is affecting the quality of any sleep we do get.
But should we be worried about this rapidly decreasing time spent in the land of nod? Surely less sleep means we can get more done with our waking hours, achieve more in life, save the world like Elon Musk and work out all banging and clanging like The Rock.
The simple answer is yes. Whilst we still learning about what happens to our bodies whilst we sleep, we have all experienced first-hand the physical and psychological effects of sleep deprivation. Remember that time when you worked at the bar, got home in time to catch a couple of hours of alcohol riddled sleep before getting up to head to the airport/station/seminar at Tales, zombified, staggering your way to the nearest caffeine delivery point desperately trying to kick-start your body and mind into some sort of life.
A growing number of scientists think that sleep deprivation may be the world’s leading cause of death. In his ground-breaking book ‘Why we sleep’, one of the world’s leading experts on sleep; Matthew Walker highlights some of the most alarming effects of not getting enough. A lack of shut-eye can lead to an inability to create new memories, an increase in the risk of a fatal heart attack, decreased fertility rates and testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction, mental health illness and weight gain.
The World Health Organisation has chimed in as well and classified nighttime shift work which disrupts your natural circadian rhythms, the internal 24hr body clock that’s in sync with the day, as a probable Class 2A carcinogen1
One of the worst social experiments in sleep deprivation, Daylight Savings, happens every year to roughly 1.5billion people around the world and has tragic consequences. On the Monday following the clocks going forward, causing us to lose just 1 hour of sleep, there’s a 25% increase in the number of heart attacks2. Conversely, in the winter when clocks go back, and we gain 1 hour of sleep, we see a 21% drop in the number of heart attacks.
If good health was a house, then sleep is the foundation on which the house is built. Without that strong foundation, it doesn’t matter how strong the walls of nutrition, exercise, connection and mental health are, the house will eventually subside or even collapse completely.
Why did we conduct this survey?
Let’s be honest, our industry has a terrible relationship with sleep. We wear a lack of sleep like a perverse badge of honour that must be earned like some rite of passage, boasting of how little sleep we’ve managed to get between shifts, competing for who’s the most tired and toughest for pushing through as if it’s some test of commitment to the job.
We knew that our first big project at Healthy Hospo was always going to focus on sleep and reframing the industries attitude towards it. The vast majority of sleep advice that exists is targeted at day walkers yet what we need is advice that’s directly targeted at the unique conditions of the hospitality industry.
Over the past few months, some of you reading this, and hundreds more that aren’t, have taken part in the first-ever global survey into the sleeping habits of the hospitality industry. Our immense gratitude to those of you took the time to complete our survey, you’ve contributed to helping us improve the sleep habits of our industry.
This first stage of this project was to generate a rough overview on how this industry sleeps. But measuring sleep quality isn’t just that easy as we couldn’t be the creeps hanging out in your bedroom for a month watching you sleep nor lock you up in a sleep laboratory. Ultimately this would have given us the best data about your sleep but instead, we decided to go for an already existing tool that was developed and tested by Buysse et al. at the University of Pittsburgh in 19883. The Index they developed had the goal to be easy and fast applicable, to discriminate between “good” and “poor” sleepers and to provide a reliable, valid and standardized measure of sleep quality.
The PSQI (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) is a self-rated questionnaire consisting of 19 individual questions that form 7 component scores which subsequently yield one global score that ranges from 0-21, higher scores indicating worse sleep quality, scores above 5 indicate poor sleep quality and come with the recommendation to search for medical advice. Remember this number as you read on.
To collect the data, we send out this questionnaire via email, linked it to the Healthy Hospo website and shared it on social media to reach as many bartenders and industry people as possible.
In the groups of Bartenders, Owners, Managers, Barbacks and Brand Ambassadors we had 632 respondents. Almost 67% of respondents were male and 74% between the age of 18 – 34. Most respondents work in independent or high-volume cocktail bars (37%), chain bars / pubs (12.5%) and restaurants (13%).
Each of the 7 component scores that were calculated using the answers range from 0-3, again a higher score indicates worse sleep quality. In the table, you find the percentage of respondents on each of those scores per component. Habitual sleep efficiency and sleep medication are leaning towards a “good” result for most respondents, sleep latency and daytime dysfunction are centered around the score 1 and 2, while most people scored very high on subjective sleep quality and sleep duration.
|Scores||Subjective Sleep Quality||Sleep Latency||Sleep Duration||Habitual Sleep Efficiency||Sleep Disturbances||Sleep Medication||Daytime Dysfunction|
Since the global score is the sum of each participant on all component scores, the range in global score from 0-21 is possible, the actual global score we found ranged from 2-18, with an overall group mean of 9.94 with a standard deviation of 2.95.
While female respondents had an average score of 10.46, the male average score was slightly lower at 9,71 but the difference in variance was not statistically different. Neither was the small difference in score between bartenders, managers, owners, etc.
Maybe we were all a bit sleepy answering the questions, but it appeared that the seven component scores did not measure sleep quality as consistently as in previous research displayed in an overall reliability coefficient (Cronbach’s Alpha) 0.48.
Reading the results, we also have to keep in mind that the extremely high average global score could be a result from the way how we collected the data. It could well be that people experiencing sleep problems were more likely to follow our link and answer our questions than people that are less aware of it or generally have less problem with their sleep quality.
Interpretation of results
Going into this survey we knew that the results wouldn’t be pretty. With a combined 30 years in the industry with jobs from barback to global brand ambassador, we’d experienced industry induced sleep deprivation first hand.
Less than 3% of respondents to our global sleep survey manage to get an average 8 hours sleep a night and the mean score of 9.94 is easily the highest that we have come across in our search and whilst there are variables at play in our collection and interpretation of the data, it is a strong indicator that hospitality is one of the most sleep-deprived industries in the world.
Some comparison scores from other sleep-deprived industries:
Long Haul Truck Drivers – 4.2
Male Physicians Working Night Shifts – 8.1
Female Physicians Working Night Shifts – 7.6
Now that we know HOW you sleep, stage two of our project will see us take this data and work with one of the world’s leading sleep coaches to develop a first of its kind program designed specifically at the needs of the hospitality industry. We know that blindly repeating the 8-hour mantra probably isn’t going to work for your busy, night time lifestyle so we have to do something different.
Whilst we don’t know what this advice will look like yet and we’re keen not to just crowbar advice for 9-5’ers into a hospitality shaped shoe, there are some general tips that we can all apply to our daily sleeping habits.
Pre-Sleep & Post-Sleep
What we do in the 90 minutes before sleep has a huge impact on the quality and quantity of our shut-eye. When you get home from work, don’t go straight to bed. Instead spend some time preparing your body and mind for a period of good, restful sleep.
Disconnect from the digital world, replicate the night and darken your environment and avoid artificial light where possible. Use natural light if you have to such as candles or dawn simulators working in reverse. Declutter the mind through meditation, a gratitude diary or perhaps writing tomorrows to do list and do some manual tasks that require little thought such as the washing up or laundry. And if you struggle to fall asleep quickly try taking a hot shower as a drop in temperature is one of the signifiers that it’s time to go to sleep.
And when you wake up, what you choose to do has an impact on the rest of your day. Try and avoid checking your phone first thing, open the curtains and let the daylight in, your circadian rhythms demand it, stretch, embrace the day and have a little ‘me’ time, perhaps a coffee and a little breakfast before heading into the rigours of the day.
Sleep in a Cave
Ok, not an actual cave, but in conditions that replicate a cave. Evolution is a wonderful thing (yes, I believe in evolution, the earth is (almost) a sphere, and Hitler is dead) but it happens slowly. Our modern civilisation has changed far more rapidly, and our bodies have not yet managed to catch up. We’re designed to sleep in nature, not in the cold, hard confines of an artificially lit and heated concrete box.
Turn your bedroom into a temple of sleep
- Dark – If you’re working at night, you’re going to be sleeping through a portion of the day. Our natural circadian rhythms work in sync with the day, so we naturally want to be awake when it’s light outside. Cutting out the light can help delay this for a short period. Get heavyweight black out curtains, block up any gaps that leak light and if money is tight then invest in a comfortable eye mask.
- Cool – Having your bedroom at the right temperature is key to a good nights kip. Too cold and our bodies will naturally try and generate heat through shivering, too hot, well we all know what it’s like to try and sleep on a hot balmy summers night with no air conditioning. Whilst the advice is somewhere around 18-19C, find the temperature that works best for you, and if you sleep with your partner, a little compromise on both sides is required to find the temperature that works for you both.
- Quiet – Hard when you live in a city and are trying to sleep when the rest of the world is busy working. My advice here is to invest in a pair of earplugs and/or one of these modern sleep devices that play white/brown noise and a variety of natural sounds like waves or thunderstorms. These natural sounds act as a buffer against the aural intrusions of our urban environment.
Sleep position and breathing
Whilst we’re asleep we’re at our most vulnerable as our brain and body goes into rest and restore mode. Sleeping in the foetal position, ideally on your weaker side, provides us with our most protective position, which relaxes our brain and makes it easier to sleep.
Sleeping on your back places you in an extremely vulnerable position as all of your vital organs are easily attacked whilst sleeping on your front places pressure on the testicles and breasts as well as your neck as you’re forced to twist it at a 90-degree angle.
Do you wake up with a dry mouth? Keep a glass of water by your bed? Feel groggy for a period after you wake? Patrick McKeown, the author of the ground-breaking book The Oxygen Advantage, says this is because you’re breathing through your mouth whilst you sleep. Sleeping through our mouths rather than our noses, increases dehydration, puts you at great risk of infection and all snorers are mouth breathers. His simple solution to mouth breathing whilst sleeping? Tape up your mouth using a hypoallergenic product such as sleep tape!
Your bedroom is for 2 things, and 2 things only. Sleeping and sex. One of the biggest issues facing modern society is our 24/7 connected digital world doesn’t give us sufficient time to rest and recover. One of the easiest steps you can make to improving your sleep and recovery is to remove technology from your bedroom. Leave the phone in the kitchen, the laptop on the desk and the TV in the lounge. Android phones allow you to set them up to switch off at a set time of day and back on again at another time. Setting this up as a phone free period for 60 minutes either side of your sleep is a great habit to get into.
Conclusion & Next steps
The conclusions are easy to draw here. We work at night, our sleep habits are truly awful and we’re one of the most sleep-deprived industries in the world, due to a combination of the greater global trends plus the unique working environments we find ourselves in and our personal choices and attitudes towards sleep.
Thanks to a grant from the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation that’s funding the next stage of our project on sleep we’re going to be working with Nick Littlehales, international author and the man who teaches Manchester United, Team Sky and Christiano Ronaldo how to sleep and together we’ll be building a platform that’ll give you the tools and flexibility to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.