As digital marketers, we tend to go above and beyond in all that we do. It adds a lot of pressure—but I love every second of it.
After all, we’re the heart and soul behind brand success. We build the campaigns that achieve goals, create the messaging that resonates with audiences, and facilitate communication with consumers that promote sales. We’re an essential part of a brand and its story.
However, our drive to achieve success can sometimes take its toll on our bodies. More specifically, it can really affect our sleep schedules.
I can’t even count the times I’ve been up past midnight checking my inbox and tracking campaigns. Sometimes, it’s because I want to. Other times, it’s because I just can’t sleep to begin with.
After reaching out to fellow digital marketers on Twitter, I know I’m not alone in this sleeping schedule problem.
In fact, 16% of the Irish population suffers from insomnia. That makes Ireland the second-most sleep-deprived country in the world. What’s more troubling? Nearly one-third of adults in Ireland get less than six hours of sleep every night.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia is extremely detrimental. It’s debilitating, not just on our professional lives, but on our personal lives as well. It can make it impossible to eat, workout, communicate, and function altogether.
Initial symptoms include a general lack of energy and fatigue. As insomnia progresses and becomes more chronic, symptoms include hallucinations, paranoia and increased anxiety. Insomnia can even make driving almost impossible if left untreated.
Insomnia causes range from little things like jet lag and too much screen time, to bigger problems like anxiety, stress, and imbalances.
However, some of the biggest stressors are tied to the workplace.
This can be anything from a looming deadline, a pitch that needs finalising, or clashes between team members. To be honest, the working world can put major pressure on our lives.
That’s why I asked the community the ways in which they tackle their insomnia, put their mental health first, and beat anxiety-induced burnout.
I’m not a medical professional, so I can’t say with 100% certainty that the following methods work. However, they’re definitely worth a shot — especially when it seems like all other avenues fail.
Follow along for 13 ways to help overcome insomnia tested by other digital marketing professionals and myself.
1) Be Strategic with Screen Time
It’s no surprise that screen time is linked with insomnia and depressive symptoms. It can be hard to put the phone or laptop down when work is on the brain.
That being said, it’s extremely important that people limit their screen time at night. This could mean cutting back all together or turning off all devices at least an hour before bed.
This gives the mind more time to rest and relax — just like we need to do after a long day at work.
Staring at a screen can keep the mind busy, put a strain on the eyes and make it harder to find that peacefulness that’s essential for a good night’s rest.
2) Start Exercising
Studies show a link between exercise and the relief of insomnia symptoms.
There are a number of reasons for this. For one, exercising just eliminates a lot of extra energy pent up within the body. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good and promote sleep that is more restful in general.
Even I have to admit that I’m always tired after a good workout.
That’s why it’s important to add exercise to your daily regimen if you don’t already. If you do exercise, try switching up your routine with strength training to wear you out even more.
At the end of the day, going on a run or engaging in a more active lifestyle will only help in the end, so why not try it?
3) Add More Fruits and Vegetables Into Your Diet
Eating healthy is good for the mind, body, and soul. To combat symptoms of insomnia, it’s important to add some healthy fruits and vegetables to the mix.
Most people don’t get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. This can have a major impact on health overall — including sleep. I notice that when I eat particularly unhealthy foods – like pizza for lunch three days in a row – my sleep definitely suffers.
Fight back against this fatigue with a diet of healthy fats, fresh produce, and plenty of water.
4) Try Mindful Meditation
Meditation is a great way to calm the mind and put the body at ease. For those suffering from insomnia, adding a quick round of meditation at night can make all the difference.
Meditation allows people to let go of the stress and anxiety of the day. It lets them truly breathe and reflect within as an effective way to put the mind at rest.
I know that might sound cheesy but bear with me here.
Meditation helps people control their thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and behaviours. Studies show that this mindful control and understanding can promote better sleep and heal the body from the inside out.
The next time my head is full and chaotic, I’m going to take a few minutes to be mindful with my body and emotions, using meditation techniques to connect with my inner thoughts.
If it’ll shut my brain up for a time, I’m definitely happy to try it out.
5) Read a Book
What’s one of the best ways to wind down after an exhausting day? Reading a book. While it may sound cliché, reading is actually a fantastic way to open up the mind and calm down the body.
The genre of choice is absolutely up to the individual – my reading list varies depending on the day and my workload. I can agree on one thing though—reading has a number of benefits – it stimulates the mind, relaxes the body, boosts vocabulary, and strengthens communication skills.
Not only that, but it keeps the mind fresh and agile, ready to take on whatever life throws at it.
Ditch the Kindle or whatever eReader you have in favour of a traditional paper book.
6) Invest in a Weighted Blanket
Known to help people sleep, weighted blankets distribute weight evenly across the whole body. This deep tissue pressure (DTP) is linked to increased serotonin levels, which promotes restful sleep, calmness, mood regulation, and much more.
A weighted blanket could be the secret ingredient that gets someone one-step closer to beating their insomnia, and it’s a tip from the community that I definitely want to give a try myself.
I’ve heard people describe using a weighted blanket like being hugged all night long.
7) Stay Away from Caffeine Before Bed
This one is an obvious one. However, for me, it’s also one of the hardest to follow. I’m sure many other coffee-loving professionals out there agree.
Coffee has become a very natural part of my routine. I drink it first thing in the morning. I drink it when I’m tired at work and need a little push. I drink it when I’m thirsty — and I even drink coffee just because I’m bored.
If coffee isn’t your drink of choice, maybe it’s soft drinks that give you fuel to function. While the caffeine may give us extra energy, beverages are actually doing harm to our sleep cycles.
In order to put insomnia behind me, I started cutting back on my caffeine intake altogether, especially a few hours before bed, it’s important to cut back and reduce consumption.
Caffeine revs engines — not literally, of course, but it gives the body that extra kick to start moving and get stuff done. That’s absolutely not what anyone needs on a Wednesday night when there’s a huge presentation scheduled for 9 AM the next morning.
Big coffee and soft drink consumers who suffer from insomnia should definitely start reducing their intake and see what happens.
8) Stick to a Schedule
A schedule is key to getting to bed on time, no matter how annoying it might be to follow.
Creating this organisation and structure is a great way to get the body back on track. I’ve had huge improvements in my sleep thanks to sticking to a more robust and organised structure. It has helped me fall asleep faster, wake up easier, and has had a positive impact on my mental health as a whole because it’s reduced my own anxieties.
Make a nightly routine by setting an alarm and actually waking up to it—not pressing snooze five times in a row. When people do something enough, it becomes a habit. This way, digital marketers and professionals everywhere can sleep a little easier.
9) Drink More Tea
There are a number of links between tea and sleep, making it a great tool for those with insomnia looking for relief.
I love my coffee, believe me. At night, coffee just makes me crazy and definitely doesn’t put me in the right place to doze off. However, tea is actually known to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Certain herbs and spices in teas can regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm which tells the brain when it’s time to go to bed. One in particular, L-theanine, is an amino acid that is known to promote feelings of relaxation.
Who doesn’t love a hot cup of tea, right? Giving tea a chance before bed really is a no brainer.
10) Spend Some Time Outdoors
Between work, commuting, family commitments and hobbies, it can be hard to find time to enjoy your natural surroundings. You can take your new screen time strategy one step further by relaxing sans phone in your own garden.
Spending even 20 minutes in nature, regardless of weather conditions, is proven to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension — a big step in the right direction for fighting sleeplessness. Additionally, time spent outdoors reduces the mental fatigue that often contributes to burnout in the workplace.
If you’re low on time, try incorporating time outdoors into your existing routines. Take your lunch break outside, enjoy your nightly cup of tea on your patio, or opt for a run in the park instead of on a treadmill.
If you have a weekend to spare, Ireland has plenty of beautiful locations to spend a day or two enjoying nature at its finest. After reconnecting with the outdoors, you may be surprised to find how much easier you drift off to sleep at night.
11) Take a Soothing Bath at Night
A bath might be just what the doctor ordered if insomnia is eating away at blissful sleep. Taking care of oneself in general is definitely important, and it can help fight against symptoms of insomnia.
A nice, hot bath with soothing Epsom salts is one way to relieve tension from muscles to give the mind and body time to relax and unwind.
Pent-up stress, tension, and anxiety are leading causes of insomnia. They’ve definitely held me back from getting the right amount of sleep, meaning my ability to work effectively is threatened.
I can’t risk that — no one can. If there’s a bathtub handy, definitely try a good soak before bed to give the mind and body a new relaxation routine that kick starts sleep.
12) Organise Daily Tasks to Avoid Anxiety
I find that sometimes the biggest thing holding me back from a good night’s rest is the anxiety surrounding my next day of work.
That’s why I’ve started being more organised and prepping for the day ahead.
I take some time each afternoon to plan my responsibilities for the upcoming day. I make a list of what I have to accomplish and what I can push until the end of the week.
This structure puts me at ease. This way, come bedtime, I don’t have to worry about any looming deadlines or past-due projects because I will have already acknowledged and planned ahead for them.
Others can do the same. It really gives the brain a much-needed break when it’s time to rest.
13) Listen to White Noise
Listening to white noise can help drown out all of the other obnoxious sounds disrupting sleep.
For many like myself, sometimes the noises around us that are disrupting our ability to get a good night’s rest.
White noise can give the brain something calm and relaxing to concentrate on. It can also overpower the sounds of creaking floorboards, annoying neighbours, and a busy street.
With white noise, I can more easily close my eyes and drift off into an uninterrupted slumber.
14) Give Melatonin a Try
I asked my community of professionals their best tips for combating insomnia. The number one response was melatonin.
I was surprised to see how many people suggested trying this sleep aid. For many, this is the only way they can ensure they fall and stay asleep regularly. In Ireland, you need a prescription to obtain Melatonin, so for some, it is seen as a last resort.
For those who don’t know, melatonin is a naturally formulated chemical in the body that tells the mind when it’s time for sleep. Excess light, caffeine, stress and more can easily affect the ability to sleep. Therefore, adding melatonin can promote this chemical to formulate feelings of sleepiness.
If nothing else works, I would suggest others try melatonin to help balance out the body’s natural cycle and get it back on track.
Overcome Insomnia in the Workplace
Insomnia is a challenge for a lot of working professionals—including myself. At times, It can feel impossible to overcome and deal with after a long day of work. Fortunately, there are ways of navigating these sleep problems to ensure maximum success across the board.
Work comes with stressors that can definitely make insomnia worse. By following these steps, people can ensure that insomnia never gets in the way of a successful campaign ever again.
I’ve learned the hard way what happens when insomnia takes over—like stress and anxiety that bubbles over into the next day. I hope that these methods are a sure-fire way to get back on track and improve sleep schedules for other professionals as well.
I cannot stress enough how important taking care of mental health is within the workplace. While I have provided advice from other digital marketers in the industry, it is important to consult with a medical professional if you continue to experience sleep insomnia issues.
If interested in more serious industry topics like this, read more about why being always ‘on’ is unsustainable for both your mental and physical health.