PPP093: Demystifying Sleep with Siobhan Banks



Speaker 1: 0:00:02 - 0:01:58

Hello and welcome to the Potential Psychology podcast. I'm your host, Ellen Jackson. And it's my mission to share the science of human behaviour in a practical fun and inspiring way.


In each podcast episode, I interview an expert from the fields of psychology, wellbeing, leadership, parenting, or high-performance. I pick their brain to uncover what they know about living well. What tips do they have for you and I. And I quiz them about how they apply their expertise in their own life. Join me as we discover simple, science backed ways to live, learn, flourish, and fulfil your potential.


Hello and welcome to Episode 93 of the Potential Psychology podcast. I hope you're well and finding the rhythm of a New year. I know it's mid February already, but seriously, it takes that long to find the rhythm of a new year, doesn't it? Or maybe that is just me. Anyway, speaking of years, I do have an admission to make. Today's guest interview with Professor Shiobhan Banks was recorded almost a year ago on the 11th of March 2020 to be precise. The very day that the World Health Organisation made the assessment that Covid-19 could be characterised as a pandemic due to the alarming levels of spread and severity and the alarming levels of inaction. And just days later, my home state of Victoria here in Australia, declared a state of emergency, and supermarket shelves were being emptied of basic supplies due to panic buying, and major events were being cancelled, and unbeknownst to us at the time, schools were about to close. So in essence, the world was turning on its head. And haven't we learned an amazing amount since then? What a year it has been.


But of course, because of all of that, our plans to release this podcast interview got pushed away to the back burner.



Speaker 1: 0:01:58 - 0:03:53

And it has seriously taken close to a year for us to get back to where we were. But I'm so glad that we're here now because it is such a great discussion about sleep and the impact that a lack of sleep and shift work have on our task performance and daily activities and things like workplace safety and our general wellbeing.


But before I introduce you to Shiobhan and that interview, it's time of course, to tell you a little bit about my three things for this episode and to say a big thank-you to those of you who have shared your three things with me. We have had some delightful responses on the socials, with great book recommendations, and the cool things you're reading and some very real, very genuine and insightful ways in which are seeking to fulfil your potential, as well as the great things that you're learning. So thank you for sharing. It really is lovely to see and I'm learning a lot about you as I shared my three things too.


So, my three things for this episode, well, first up I'm reading (or dipping in and out of at least), it's not really a cover-to-cover situation because I'm doing it as part of my research for a lot of my work with clients, and its book called Positive Leadership Strategies for Extraordinary Performance. And well, that's one book, and the second one is Practising Positive Leadership - tools and techniques that create extraordinary results. And they're both written by Professor Kim Cameron, who is the co-founder of the Centre for Positive Organisations at the University of Michigan in the States. And both of these books explore four strategies that enable organisations and their people to flourish. And there's a big or small or for profit or not for profit or community based organisations. Really any kind of organisation or system of people, really.


Speaker 1: 0:03:53 - 0:05:44


In the four things are creating a positive climate, establishing positive relationships, developing positive communication and instilling positive meaning. And when we're talking about positive in this concept, it's really not about glossing over the troubles or challenges. You know, we all have those, particularly in any group or system off people. There's lots of troubles and challenges that come about and we have to meet those are head on. And it's not about everybody being overtly happy or changing positive affirmations or anything like that. Positivity in a scientific context, certainly when it comes to the science of human behaviour and organisations, is about creating an environment and relationships and ways of communicating and systems in which we focus on what's working rather than what's not working.


So, a natural inclination was always to focus on what's not working. It's the way we're wired up, but in any of these ways of doing things, this way of thinking about and working positively in human systems and organisations and workplaces. We're really finding ways to focus on what's working. So seeking ways to help individuals within organisations to thrive and to flourish, to be able to operate at their best through supporting networks by creating positive energy and people having a real sense of meaning and purpose in their work. And it might sound polly-anna-ish, I’m conscious that it does, but there are actually now plenty of practical ways to implement these ideas. Lots of practical strategies and activities and ways of leading ways of interacting, ways of managing people that help.


Speaker 1: 0:05:45 - 0:07:37


And Kim Cameron and his colleagues have been researching these practises and their outcomes for a couple of decades now, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest that they not only lead to improvements in organisational productivity and profitability, and innovation and quality, and customer loyalty, but also improved physiological health, emotional wellbeing, interpersonal relationships and personal growth and development. So it's not being positive or creating a positive work environment to just produce results for organisations. But it does do that. It's also doing good for people at the same time. And I personally believe and I hope you agree with me that that, is a very admirable aim.


So, that's the first thing the thing I'm reading. My second thing is something I'm learning. And this is a shout out to all of the parents and carers who are standing on the sidelines while their charges start new things. New schools, new faces in their life for education, whether they studied pre-school or primary school or high school or day-care or whatever it might be. Because I have a child who's just started his seventh, so high school, senior school. And while that’s all very much about him and he is taking to it like a duck to water, I completely underestimated how much we parents also have to learn in this process. A new school means new online systems, and new family schedules, and uniforms, and school rules, and names and people, and it feels like we will have so many questions, and we're all just learning a whole new way of doing things. It's exciting, and I know we'll all adapt quickly enough. But, right now I feel like we're just on this steep learning curve, and it's a little bit exhausting.


Speaker 1: 0:07:37 - 0:09:23


So, if you're feeling a little worn out from all the new things that your child or family is doing right now, know that you're not alone and to make sure that you find the time to rest and recharge. And speaking of which, my third and final thing is something I'm doing to fulfil my potential. And that's a return to regular yoga classes. So last year, with the best of intentions and a concerted effort and a wonderful yoga studio, I did practise my yoga at home, but it was still hard to find a routine and so now I'm back in studio classes and really trying to stick to a schedule of at least once a week.


And so, I guess, how does this contribute to me fulfilling my potential? Well, glad you asked, because it has something to do with something that's called body intelligence. So, your body, my body, all our bodies, are almost always telling us what they need to cope with the stresses of everyday life. But not many of us are very good at listening to what our body is telling us. We tend to ignore the signals and symptoms and we press on through pain and tiredness and stress and anxiety. And we self-medicate with a glass of wine or maybe something else. And we push away the little niggles in favour of something that feels a bit more manageable or a bit more comfortable, or a bit more instant than paying attention to what's really going on and doing something about it. But, of course, that doesn't help us in the long run. We really need to pay attention. We need to do something a little more in the moment. And for me, yoga is about improving that body intelligence on my awareness of what my physical self is telling me about what it needs and then taking the small steps to act on those needs.


Speaker 1: 0:09:23 - 0:11:15


So, I guess it's kind of a training mindful awareness of my body, which just means that as well as getting the yoga in, I'm also more likely to better manage my posture at my desk and take walks when I feel like I've been sitting for too long and do stretches when I feel stiff and sore, and to go to bed earlier when I feel I need the extra sleep. And of course, a healthy body means a healthy mind. So, that's what I'm doing.


Please let me know if you're doing something to maybe improve your body intelligence or you're doing something else to fulfil your potential and what you've learned, of course, and whether you have any great books, or podcasts, or viewing or other resource recommendations. You can tag them PP-three things if you pop it on the socials, otherwise email me. And, of course, watch out for our posts that we’re publishing on the three things that I'm doing because we've had some wonderful comments and sharing on those as well. But right now, it's time to talk sleep with today's guest.


My guest today is Professor Siobhan Banks researcher and the co-director of the Behaviour Brain Body Research Centre at the University of South Australia. And like me, Siobhan loves sleep, but unlike me, she gets into the nitty gritty of research into sleep, in particular the impact of sleep deprivation and shift work on our psychological and physiological function. Siobhan’s worked extensively with 24-7 industries, such as healthcare emergency services, and transport and defence to help them manage fatigue in the workplace. Her research has attracted over $8 million in funding from government and industry. She has over 100 publications on sleeping fatigue, and she’s a member of the board of directors of the Sleep Health Foundation.


Speaker 1: 0:11:15 - 0:11:26


Now, I know sleep and the effects of the shift work in particular, is of interest to many of our listeners because you've told me so. So, I'm thrilled to have Siobhan here to answer some of our questions. Welcome, Siobhan.


Speaker 2: 0:11:26 - 0:11:28


Thank you very much for having me.


Speaker 1: 0:11:28 - 0:11:51


I do have lots of questions for you because this is something that sleep in itself has intrigued me for a long time. And I know we got exponential amount of research compared to back to it years ago on sleep, then shift work is just a added complication too. Before we get into that, could you give us a really quick summary of why sleep is important to our wellbeing in our function?


Speaker 2: 0:11:51 - 0:12:37


Yeah, it is just such an important part of our lives so important for our health. And really, we see it as part of a triad, really, with diet and exercise, that sleep is sort of that third structure that's just really, really important for our overall health and wellbeing. And as you said, there's been really, a surge in research over the past, sort of, 10 or 15 years to try and understand why sleep is so important for health and cognitive performance. And certainly some questions we’re getting a little closer at, you know, answering and some still mystery. So, there are still definitely some mysteries of sleep. But hopefully today we can have a bit of a chat about some of those things and make things a little bit easier to understand for everybody.


Speaker 1: 0:12:37 - 0:12:59


Absolutely! And the kind of headline items with regards to what you talked about in your intro there, you said that you're working on both the effects of sleep or sleep deprivation on our psychological and physiological function. And they're kind of headline items that we all need to know about what happens when we don't get enough sleep.


Speaker 2: 0:12:59 - 0:13:52


Yeah, probably the biggest thing is that everybody is different, and I know that kind of might sound a bit obvious. But it's especially these days where we’re often given very singular messages from media around sleep and how much sleep we need. What we do know is that it is quite different and that it changes over the life span. So, I think there's something really, a big headline message, is that everybody is a little bit different in how sleep loss might affect them. And everybody is a little bit different in how much sleep they need. And this is important because it helps us understand when we hear those messages that you must get eight hours sleep. A night helped us kind of perhaps feel less a little less worried if we routinely get seven and we feel good, or if we perhaps need nine to feel good. So, I think that for me probably the big headline message.


Speaker 1: 0:13:52 - 0:14:02


Okay, and is it that feeling good kind-of-element that is what we should use as our indicator as to whether, as individuals, we're getting an adequate amount of sleep.


Speaker 2: 0:14:02 - 0:15:27


It's so difficult because I suppose one of the other things that it's so hard to introspect, isn't it, about our sleep? It's so hard to know, was last night a good sleep or not? I suppose that's why we've had such a big uptake in people using wearables to try and track their sleep. But I think it's the kind of thing that you know when you’re getting enough sleep over time, and people have a sense when something's not quite right, and it's when it's that not quite right is when we say, look, go and see your GP so that you can go and talk to a sleep psychologist or a sleep physician about what might be some underlying conditions.


But really, if you know, perhaps, if you've been on a vacation, one that’s not action packed, but one where you're able to kind of perhaps laze about a little bit and get a good sleep each night you're sort of soon see that initially, your sleep is quite solid. You might have some very deep sleep nights initially, but as time passes and your sleep need kind of matches more of your activity during the day, you're able to get to that point where you're feeling quite good and you're getting a more even amount of sleep, and that might end up being something around seven hours a night for you. Or might be a little bit more. But it is that feeling of, “do I feel good after this sleep. Am I waking up feeling refreshed?


Speaker 1: 0:15:28 - 0:15:54


Okay so, as I often say on this podcast, one of my kind of personal philosophies around our wellbeing, is a bit of a test and learn approach. So, I guess that's what you're saying there, is it is just a kind of, when you get the opportunity, perhaps, you know, if life does calm down and holidays are probably a good example, just to pay attention to how much sleep you getting, how you're feeling at the end and maybe using that as a bit of an indicator of how much would maybe be an ideal amount of sleep for you?


Speaker 2: 0:15:54 - 0:15:55


Exactly. Exactly.


Speaker 1: 0:15:56 - 0:16:15


Okay, So, what are the impacts then on sleep deprivation? What happens when, where, and particularly starting to think about a shift work and perhaps even just those periods of life, like when there's a new-born baby in the house? When you can’t just not get good regular sleep?


Speaker 2: 0:16:15 - 0:17:52


Yeah, and I think that's the thing you said regular. That's a really important part. So we all know that on occasion we might get less than ideal amount of sleep. We might be running along quite normally, getting good sleep, and then, for whatever reason, we have a couple of nights where we have a short amount of sleep and you say, oh gosh, you know, I feel really weary the next day. I feel quite fatigued. But you don't necessarily have an overall huge detriment, say, in cognitive performance or indeed, your health. You know you might have a cup of coffee, and that keeps you going, so it's really short periods of sleep loss when you're just getting a little bit less than you normally would sleep. It’s quiet, normal and okay, and you'll just probably go to sleep a little bit earlier the subsequent nights.


When you're up all night and you completely lose a night of sleep, you really do feel it while you're awake through the night when your body is meant to be asleep. People do struggle very much, cognitively trying to stay on task. We often see that reaction times slow and that people really have a difficulty with kind of problem solving and decision making, those sorts of things, and sometimes they can even become a little bit more quick to irritate, so your moods can become a little bit more labile as well, when you have those, like total nights of sleep deprivation. But they're relatively easy to recover from. You just sleep, if you're able to, sleep the next day on, especially if you're a younger person, then you often wake up feeling quite good, and I would have continued as if you hadn't really had that sleep disruption.


Speaker 2: 0:17:53 - 0:19:27


Now, if you're in a situation, as you've said, like shift work, for example, or you're a new parent, where your sleep is disrupted night after night after night after night for quite a while, or indeed, your expected to work through the night and try and sleep during the day, where sleep is less than ideal. It’s not an environment that’s conducive for sleep in a bright light and lots more noise and those sorts of things and sleeping during the day is hard. So, when our sleep is chronically disrupted like that, or indeed if you have a sleep disorder. That’s where we can see that there is an impact on cognitive performance, and that there's an impact on health and these take a longer time to build up.


If it's a shorter period, so there’s interesting research to show that if you perhaps restrict your sleep during the week, but you catch up on the weekend that there is benefits for health, so kind of getting those recovery sleeps in between. If it's on longer term, we do see that there is a little bit of a carry on effect. And that's what we think is why we see relationships between short sleep and other things like cardiovascular disease and diabetes and those sorts of things. So, for people who are chronically getting less sleep, their risk for developing both chronic diseases is higher. So, we do see this sort of longer-term impact. When you're in that state of short sleep for a very long time.


Speaker 1:


Okay, so when you say a very long time, are we talking sort of years, decades somewhere in between?


Speaker 2: 0:19:34 - 0:19:48


Yeah, that magic number is hard. You know, the studies that were able to do in the laboratory, obviously short. But we do know from these cohort studies that studies out in the community, where we see these relationships after controlling for everything else. Things like smoking and diet and that kind of thing, we do see that the risk is just higher if you're longer term sleeping short. I know that doesn't quite answer your question, but we don't really know. For example if it's just a few months, or indeed, if it's a few years. But we definitely see that there's a risk of the short sleep associated with those chronic conditions.


Speaker 1: 0:20:14 - 0:20:49


So, as a kind of general rule, and I know it's very hard with science to kind of make these statements. But it sounds like if we're sort of getting from it a listener’s point of view, if it's not to do with your work patterns and shift work and if you've got young babies or there's just something that's disruptive, then you should be able to get back on track without any long term ill effects, hopefully. If you're dealing perhaps with sleep disorder, getting that addressed is probably going to be important if you want to. Can it reduce the likelihood of some of these long-term health effects?


Speaker 2: 0:20:49 - 0:21:33


Yes. Oh, for things like young children, where obviously it's quite chronically disrupted, sleep for, you know, a few years. What we see is that certainly people might find that their cognitive performance is a little bit affected. They find it harder to focus on those kinds of things that might feel a little sleepy. But when you get back on track, as you have suggested with one of a more normal sleep pattern afterward, there does seem to be the ability to sort of recover. Or at least it looks like perhaps your risk is less if you then go back into a more typical sleep pattern. You’re right, if you have a sleep disorder or something more chronic, it would be advisable to get it addressed.


Speaker 1: 0:21:33 - 0:21:59


So, that makes me then to people for whom work creates sleep issues. So as I mentioned in the sorts of industries that you've worked with, emergency services, the healthcare system, a lot of people in manufacturing, people whose jobs require them to work patterns of shift work. What do we know? What do you advise organisations around? How we kind of mitigate some of this risk for these people?


Speaker 2: 0:21:59 - 0:23:28


Yeah, it's a really important thing, and part of it is, as you said, the company's understanding that these risks to exist and making them a priority to address and also as well for individual workers to also get some idea of the things that they could do to also help themselves. So, that we can kind of come at it from these multiple kinds of pathways.


Obviously, there are many, many people in it, and without 24/7 life we’re needing to have people work around the clock on. Some of those fantastic people are absolutely vital that there's no way that we, our society, would be able to function without them. And so it's helping the companies realised the ways that we could better structure shift scheduled to allow for that recovery sleep that we talked about in between. It's about making sure that there's adequate rest facilities for people when on night shifts and those sorts of things that enable people to nap if they able to. To take breaks to break up that work, and also to help the individuals understand perhaps the best ways to take caffeine to help their alertness, best ways to prepare for shift and to rest in between that sort of thing. To be able to make sure that where having a workforce that is healthy and safe



Speaker 1: 0:23:28 - 0:23:30

Because safety is an issue, isn't it here?


Speaker 2: 0:23:30 - 0:24:13


Absolutely, absolutely. And you know there are all sorts of impacts that can happen in the workplace, whether it be due to an error. For example, if you were talking about in manufacturing, that could cause an injury, right the way through two more catastrophic kind of incidents where we know that fatigue, for example, has played a role in some aeroplane crashes or incidents. So we know that in these high risk environments, that there can be small errors that can impact even just the productivity of the work environment, but also the safety of individuals that are having to work through the night or work on some of these very long




Speaker 1: 0:24:13 - 0:25:06

That was something I think, that for a long time, they hadn't really given much thought to was the impact. Because as you say, if we're not really designed to be awake during the night-time hours, during those dark hours and it can lead to dips in concentration and some of those cognitive capabilities, then obviously we are putting individuals a little at risk. Somewhere on that spectrum that you've just explained on, then there's going to be organisational and industrywide impacts to is because I know for, you know, shift patterns has been something that different organisation different industries have looked at over the years. You know, what sort of on off type patterns is it better to do long ones? Short ones, however many days on, however many days off from a sleep point of view, Is there a better shift pattern?


Speaker 2: 0:25:07 - 0:27:11


Yes, there is. So, when you're thinking about the sleep and the placement of sleep, it's also important to think about your circadian rhythms a little bit. And so that's what, when we sort of think about the fact, that we're more biologically primed to sleep at night and not during the day, if we're able to place our sleep in the best possible place of, I suppose, in relation to that, and also to take into consideration our natural tendency to shift when exposed to light at night. So this is the others. It is a slightly more complex kind of component of it. But for those people who have experienced jetlag, when you effectively are travelling to countries or a place of, for example, from Adelaide or Sydney travelling to Perth, it's essentially like staying up later and our bodies more naturally, find it easy for most people to stay up later and sleep in a little bit.


And so, if we have shift schedules that do, they follow a similar kind of pattern. So, for example, gradually move through from, say, a day or morning into a day, into a night type shift, a mental time off that is a more natural progression and an easier one for the body to cope with. But there's an interesting research that's being done to kind of look at a way, that if you move through these shifts quite quickly, is it better to adapt or not adapt to the shifts? And so this is one of the big kind of controversies in our field at the moment, some people would say, if you cycle through the shift, they do a morning, afternoon or day shift and night shift quite quickly in succession rather than multiple ones of those in a row. Then you're not really adapting, and you're still able to sleep at your normal times on your days off. Whereas other people would say no, it's much better to have people on shifts for several days.


Speaker 2: 0:27:11 - 0:28:02


So, for example, being on night shift for a number of days, and then that means you've adapted, possibly, and so that makes your work on the shift better. There are downsides to all of these things. Typically, when people working nights when they come home, obviously they want to be around their family. And so, life tends to be still a daytime occupation for them, in the sense that they don’t become fully flipped night people. So because off the fact that we're dealing with the workplace and still interacting with life, these are these kinds of dualities that need to be taken into consideration. And I think that's where people themselves and when they learn about the importance of sleep and a little bit about sleep science, what they could do to help manage fatigue for themselves.


Speaker 1: 0:28:02 - 0:28:26


Yes, that's you saying the science just doesn't know. We just don't know yet whether that kind of cycling quickly through it, a series of different ship patterns, the day afternoon night-time and therefore kind of almost like not ever convincing your body that something's changed. Whether that's the better way to do it or whether that kind of more gradual several days, several afternoon, several night shifts, we just don't know the answer to that yet.


Speaker 2: 0:28:27 - 0:29:03


Yeah. I mean, there's some data, but it really also, I suppose, comes to the individual differences issue comes up again that I mentioned when we first started some individual preferences in there, some individual biology and then what suits the workplace. So there are these number of constraints that we might understand that some of the aspect of the biology, but for whatever reason in that emergency service environment worked if have to continue. And so, that's where some of the more on-shift solutions might be beneficial to help individuals as well.


Speaker 1: 0:29:04 - 0:29:42


Okay, so like most things that pertain to human beings, it's complicated. And there's lots of different as you say, you know, we're don’t hope to put doctors here are we’re looking at individual difference and individual level needs. We're looking at industry wide needs. We’re looking at the nature of what the community needs from these organisations and industries. We’re looking at what the organisation needs in terms of not just the logistics, but of shifts and rosters and how work gets done. So I'm intrigued that it's something I hadn't really thought about. It certainly hadn't read about this kind of on shift type strategy. So the napping. What about things like caffeine? Where does that kind of fit in?


Speaker 2: 0:29:46 - 0:31:46


Yes. So, obviously were you? Everybody, pretty much, uses caffeine in some form with that be chocolate through to coffee, tea's just about everybody would consume some sort of caffeine and we can use it in quite strategic ways on shift to improve alertness, for example. What we're still trying to kind of get a good handle on is how the more long-term use, might affect health. And so, we've got again some studies saying, but there are sort of negative impacts of caffeine use and some more positive or neutral.


What we do definitely see is that if too much caffeine is consumed while you're awake, it can impair your sleep. Unless you’re just very, very sleep deprived. And so, you know, we can also use caffeine quite strategically on-shift. So, if we’re thinking of it because it’s such a ubiquitous drug, I suppose you can put it in that class. That people, when we asked them about what they do on shift, they always talked about, I have a coffee, or I have some chocolate or I really like my green tea. All of those things have caffeine in them, but we can use it strategically.


What's a little bit? More unknown is about the health facts. We know that it really improves cognition and alertness but were unsure more about the long term health effects and whether it sort of is a neutral that has sort of a neutral effect, or whether it's more of a negative effect. What we do really know is that if you have too much caffeine when you're awake, it makes it really hard to go to sleep unless you're very, very sleep deprived.


So if you're one of those amazing Bush firefighters who were working ridiculously long hours to help keep people safe, they would have been working such long hours. The caffeine they consumed, if they did, would have been helping keep them alert and safe probably wouldn't have really affected their sleep because they were so sleep deprived.


Speaker 2: 0:31:46 - 0:32:47


But on a regular kind of situation where people are trying to get us much recovery sleep as possible when they get home from shift, it's really important to think about the optimal times to consume the caffeine and what is going to help basically in their drive home from work.


So, some of our research that we're trying to do at the moment is really looking at those factors when we can give the best evidence-based advice to workers about when to have caffeine, when to have and how to combine caffeine and naps. And also how late to sort of have coffee in the night shift before it might affect your sleep. And so these kinds of questions might seem very straightforward. But when you look at the literature, can be a bit confused for companies to try and work out the best guidelines. So that's what we're about doing at the moment trying to get really good evidence to provide workers with that information they need to make the best choices.


Speaker 1: 0:32:48 - 0:33:08


So it's very much a work in progressive. You know, shift work has been around for a long time. Is it that we didn't have the technology to start getting into the nitty gritty of some of these impacts? Or was it just not a popular research area? I feel the science is a little behind this experience. If you know what I mean?


Speaker 2: 0:33:08 - 0:34:15


Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean, you know, there's been shift work for a very long time or at least people having to be awake while others are asleep, keeping watch or making sure that things are going okay. And certainly, we have much more 24/7 work now that we're used to and it's increasing. So, I think there's some of that. But also, I think it's a realisation over the last 20 years or so that there are these health impacts and safety impacts, and you know they have been, ss I mentioned before, there's been a number of large industrial incidents that have being attributed to fatigue or poor work practises that have a fatigue as a component. And they can kind of see that there's a real need to perhaps investigate this further and look into it.


So it’s been a growing area over the last 20 or 30 years. But really now I think the fact that so many people are shift workers or working regular hours outside the 9 to 5, but now the question is really coming up of what? Well, what can I do to improve my health and wellbeing?


Speaker 1: 0:34:15 - 0:34:42


And it's something that, because I mean, we've talked about, sort of, I suppose, fairly conventional shift work in some of those industries that have and have had a need to run at that kind of 24/7 schedule with changes in technology is much easier now. For us to work globally from our own home-base, is that starting to have an impact on people's sleep patterns overall, do you think?



Speaker 2: 0:34:42 - 0:36:18

Oh, I think absolutely. And it's not really being researched. I think it's a huge area that just as you've pointed out is a relatively new one. This sort of interconnectedness that we now have from our homes is a fairly recent phenomenon and one that we're really grappling with. We've got some interesting projects that were trying to start up about looking very much at various different industries and how people take work home and how that impacts on their sleep.


I mean, I know certainly myself, my little ones, you know, go to bed and I go back to the computer and work in an evening, and sometimes that means I'm pushing my sleep much later than I probably should be. Whereas, once upon a time, once you left the office, that was it. You couldn't keep working. So, it's going to have, I think, a big factor in a lot of factor in affecting a lot of people sleep, a lot of people stress, connected to emails and just access to information in the evening, particularly in times like this, where we are bombarded with information from around the world. They can not necessarily impact you might be going to bed at a good time, but you're unable to sleep because you're worrying about things.


So, I think that the technologies have quite a broad range impact that we're only just starting to get a handle on. I think it's a really important one for industry and companies to be thinking about, not just what happened at the workplace, but what's happening at home for a lot of their workers as well and how to help people switch off.


Speaker 1: 0:36:18 - 0:37:04


Yeah, yeah, as you saying that, it brought to mind when I ran a session for YouTubers. So, some of the YouTube creators, who have large audiences, and these are Australian based individuals. A lot of young people, actually a lot of different age groups. And one of the things that they spoke about was the fact that for a lot of them, their audience is in America. And the demand for content on YouTube is such that these guys were getting up at a kind of stupid o'clock in order to publish content or get live-feed content out there for an American audience, or largely American audience. And the impact that, that was having on their sleep, which was something I had never given any thought to. So there's a little population to study there.


Speaker 2: 0:37:05 - 0:38:05

Absolutely, absolutely. And I think there is just more and more of people working remotely. So working from home for other countries overseas, we see that there are multinational companies, you know they might have a home base in Sweden, but they have workers here that have to join meetings and those sorts of things, and so it's affecting their usual kind of work day. So effectively, they're becoming shift workers when their work really isn't defined that way.


So, I think it's a really interesting area and I would say again shows how we need to get more information about their sleep circadian rhythms and what people could do to help look after themselves. Because I think people armed with information will make a lot better choices. But it's not that information isn't really kind of getting out there to everybody. And I know there's a lot of mixed messages in the media as well about sleep. So yeah, it's kind of our mission to help get that good evidence based information out there to people.


Speaker 1: 0:38:05 - 0:38:49


Such fun! Where do people go? And I know I've had questions from listeners who are in this position that you're talking about, and I think, as you say with this individual difference element in there, and given that we still got a lot we don't know yet, people just paying attention to “How do I look after myself in this circumstance?”. So some of the things that were raised from listeners for things like timing of exercise, you know, when do I fit it in. When should I be timing meals and snacks? How do I deal with the night shift hangover and that kind of just feeling headache and icky afterwards? Where should people go to be able to find the best evidence based information for their own personal use.


Speaker 2: 0:38:49 - 0:40:21



Yeah, fantastic question, because the Internet is filled with some good information and some not so good information. The Sleep Health Foundation website, the Australian Sleep Health Foundation, has a fantastic resource of fact sheets and being all fact sheets that are written by sleep professionals and sleep experts. And they've been written in such a way so that they're very easy to understand for a general audience. Obviously, there are lots of academic papers out there that people can get access to, but sometimes the information is hard to kind of interpret and understand. The Sleep Health Foundation has done a lot of work to take that work and put it in a form that's a lot easier for people to understand. And they have all sorts of things on there. There's a lot about different kinds of sleep disorders and shift work and melatonin and caffeine a little bit about technology use. And certainly, if there's a particular area like, for example, some of those timing issues, those of the sorts of things that if there isn't a lot of information that the Sleep Health Foundation can provide right now, they're the kind of body that will go ahead and if they see a need, fill that with a new fact sheet. So certainly, if people can't find what they're after on this sleep Health Foundation website, I would suggest they contact them on ask for some of that information. They are really, really fantastic community body helping educate about sleep.


Speaker 1: 0:40:21 - 0:40:55


Fantastic. That sounds like an excellent resource. And I think that's probably, you know, I think even just that conversation today about the fact that a lot of this research is in a burgeoning area is its new. We haven't, just haven't looked at it. So you know, there's clearly a need from the people who are experiencing some of these challenges around their sleep. And, you know, having a body like the Australian National Sleep Foundation being able to kind of do the interpretation, you grab the sciences, it comes to life, do the interpretation and get that information out there in a reliable way is fantastic.


Speaker 2: 0:40:55 - 0:41:00


And I think it's reassuring for people to know that it comes from a very good source.


Speaker 1: 0:41:00 - 0:41:26


Yes! Siobhan, I know you have to go. I've got lots of other questions that I would still ask you, but I realised that around the time schedule. So thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it, and I'm quite sure that we have at least given our listeners a little bit of insight into the state off the science of sleep. And I think those really key points about just paying attention to our individual needs and what's going on for us. And in working with that, it's a starting point.


Speaker 2: 0:41:26 - 0:41:28


Absolutely. Thank you very much for having me today.


Speaker 1: 0:41:28 - 0:43:20


Thank you Siobhan.


Thank you so much for sharing that conversation with Professor Siobhan Banks with me. I hope it's given you something to think about in relation to your sleep. We have, of course, popped all of Siobhan’s details and links to the resources that she's mentioned in the show notes for this episode. We've also included a link to a past interview with Dr Kate Sprecher, also on the topic of sleep.

If you struggle with getting good sleep for any reason, I like Siobhan, encourage you to check out the resources from the National Sleep Foundation or contact a sleep clinic in your local area, as good sleep really is fundamental to success and wellbeing in so many areas of our life.


Okay, a little update on some behind the scenes here at P.P HQ. Before we relieve you for this episode. If you're a long-time listener, you might remember an interview that I did with Dinah Rowe and Mia Northrop from Life Admin Life Hacks, about getting your life admin sorted for improved wellbeing. Well, turnabout  is fair play, and I had the joy of being interviewed by Dinah and Mia for their Life Admin Life Hacks podcast. And that interview has just gone live. So, if you're interested in learning a little bit more about me and motivation and personality and how it it all affect our approach to our life admin. You might like to check that out. We’ve included link in the show notes for this episode.


So, what do we have for you next week? Well, we've rearranged things again. And it's next week that I will be chatting to Cass Dunn fellow Australian psychologist and hosted the crappy to happy podcast, which consistently ranks in the top five health and wellbeing podcasts on Apple podcasts and has done so since its launch some years ago. Now Cass is also the author of the Crappy to Happy series of books.


There's crappy to happy, the original. Crappy to Happy, Love What You Do, which is about finding meaning, purpose and happiness at work, and the upcoming Crappy to Happy, Love who you're with, simple steps to build stronger relationships. And Cass and I are colleagues, and we're also friends, and she has been a guest on the show before. She's delightful, super easy to talk to. Full of great ideas and is really excellent at making psychology simple and accessible. So this will be a great fun and informative conversation. So stay tuned for that.


If you don't already subscribed to the show, hit subscribe or follow, depending on where you listened to your podcasts. And that episode with Cass Dunn will arrive in your listening feed as soon as it drops, of course, along with all the others. But until then, stay safe, go well, take small steps to fulfil your potential, and I look forward to seeing you soon