Starting a conversation on sleep

Ahead of World Sleep Day on 18 March 2022, ACE’s Claire Clifford shares some interesting thoughts on why sleep is vital for you and your business. 

I’m sure many of you reading this will recognise that sometimes it can feel as if we’re constantly living at 1,000 miles an hour. Do we apply the brakes to slow things down? Not often enough. I am more likely to stretch out my day to ensure things are completed, which can directly impact on the duration and quality of my sleep while misaligning my internal rhythm and clock. 

Like many of us, I know that sleep is important but since the ongoing parental nagging around bedtime from my childhood, the truth is I haven’t paid it the attention it deserves. We’re often reminded to eat better, do more exercise, take time out to positively reflect on the day, but sleep is ignored as one of the steps we should be taking to holistically take better care of our mind and body. 

It should be thought about in the same vein as eating more fruit and vegetables, joining a gym or improving mindfulness and having taken some time to dive into the importance of sleep ahead of World Sleep Day, it has firmly risen up my to-do list – both at home and at work. 

I was shocked to read on the Sleep Foundation website that a lack of sleep has been linked to a higher risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, poor mental health and even early death. If that isn’t a warning, I am not sure what is! Keeping all of this in mind, is being awake for that additional hour squeezing in a few more emails, or streaming one more episode of Peaky Blinders, really worth it? I think not.  

What can we do?  

On the face of it, some actions are pretty simple and common sensical such as creating a ‘sleep worthy’ room, switching off electronics, banning screens in bedrooms, etc. Others require a bit more effort such as creating a healthier eating plan or increasing your exercise regime. Building personal resilience and willpower and – this is the hard part – planning, managing and positively saying no to the stretching of the day in order to maintain a healthy sleep pattern is also vital.

Creating habits that help to ensure that you have a positive sleeping rhythm supporting your optimal functioning may take over two months, so it’s worth starting now with a new approach.   

Helping colleagues 

Part of this change in culture should be encouraging people to shout about it too! Not only does sleep need respect, but colleagues and organisations also need to understand its importance and the benefits of sleep to us all. This is why I’m delighted to have worked with ACE’s health and safety forum to produce a range of resources to help any organisation make the most of World Sleep Day and help start a positive conversation on sleep. 

Claire Clifford is director of HR, people and skills at ACE.

Let us know how your company is promoting greater sleep awareness amongst staff to improve health and wellbeing by emailing Infrastructure Intelligence editor Andy Walker at