Getting better sleep in 2017

So, what is so important about sleep anyway?

A good sleep is one of the most sought after resources in the world. It seems the more we yearn for it the less we get it. According to a study by the University of Hertfordshire 60% of Britons do not get enough sleep and sleep deprivation costs the American economy $411 billion in productivity. Loss of productivity relates to absenteeism, when people fail to turn up to work, but also presenteeism where people turn up to work and do not engage.

Not only is not getting enough sleep bad for productivity it also comes with some health concern. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to suffer from depression, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Similarly tiredness can impact decision making and may lead to impulsiveness which may affect people’s relationships, career, or even accidents on the road.

Create a sleep sanctuary.

The bed, a place dedicated to sleep, has been corroded in the modern era. How do we help it to return to the sanctuary that it is?

Unplugging your life-line: Removing your phone, tablet or laptop from your bedroom can help you disassociate work and worry from your sleeping ritual. Not only are phones and other electronic devices a part of your busy active life, they also use a blue light which disrupts your sleep hormones.

Keeping them out of the bed or bedroom allows you to leave the business of work behind, and helps you to focus on relaxing and psychologically transitioning into sleeping mode.

Lighting in your bedroom is also important, as light activates the brain and wakes you up. Scientists suggest making the most out of natural light in the morning and making sure that bedrooms are dark with thick curtains and dimmed lighting. You should consider using a light bulb that isn’t so harsh for your lampshade. Similarly, using a night mask might also help with blocking out any light that you can’t control.

Invest in a good mattress and pillows. Mattresses often have a lifeline of around 9-10 years, so investing in a new comfortable one might be worth it if it is going to help you sleep better. Most recent tech is an anti-snoring mattress which might help you and/or your partner get some quality uninterrupted shut eye.

Try and disassociate sleeplessness with your bedroom..

So if you are struggling to get to sleep in your bed, try and move to another room to do something that is not stimulating and will make you tired. If you associate your bed with sleeplessness it may be difficult to break the pattern.  

Lifestyle choices

We have all heard enough about what we should and shouldn’t eat this january. As dry January or Veganuary has taken its hold it is difficult to remember that eating healthily and not drinking alcohol is not just for show is not only good for our waist-line but also our sleeping patterns.

Scientists suggest that we should limit heavy food around 2 hours before we go to bed and should stay away from spicy food that might mess with our indigestion. Similarly, while alcohol might be useful to help us get to sleep but it will not keep us asleep nor will it be a quality sleep.

Caffeine is well known to keep us awake. It might be our lifeline through the day but when it gets to the afternoon it may also be our nemesis. The caffeine in our system can build up throughout the day and come to affect us later in the evening. Studies suggest that caffeine intake ( including tea, coffee and energy drinks) should be limited after 2pm.

Want better sleep? Activity is encouraged… Whether this is 30 mins a day in the gym or a 10 minute walk around the park at lunch. Activity and exercise is a necessary element to encouraging your body to feel tired.

However, it does matter when you do your exercise. It is suggested that you do it in the middle of the day rather than in the evening as exercise. Like coffee, exercise is a stimulant which can keep you alert for hours after you’ve finished. While libidos may decrease with sleep deprivation, sex is one of the only forms of exercise that can help you get to sleep.


Prepare yourself for sleep

The way that we prepare children for sleep, we must also prepare ourselves for sleep. Whether that be a hot bath, a few sprays of lavender on your pillow or setting up a dimmed lamp to read a novel. Slowing down activity up to two hours before sleep can help aid your brain into a relaxed state.

Relaxation, not sleep should be the goal.

While relaxation does not replace sleep it can also be a useful way for you to enter the realm of slumber.

In the period before sleep you can plan for the next day, write a to do list for what you want to achieve the next day, set out your clothes or even go through a mental list of what you have done that day and what you want to focus on the next day. Reflecting can be a great way to relax and close off.

By focusing on relaxation as a goal, rather than sleep, you can take the attention and worry away from it so it comes more naturally. Similarly, we should move away from the aim that we must get 8 hours to function. While, eight hours may be a recommended guideline: sleep is different for everyone and the quantity and quality differs from person to person meaning that focussing on the golden eight hours might actually be shooting yourself in the foot rather than putting yourself on the road to a good sleep.

So, while sleep is different for everyone, the benefits of it are indisputable.

Try and find what best works for you. Reflection can be a useful tool to understand how and why you want to get better sleep and can put you one step closer towards actually achieving what you want.

How to create “Zen” in the office

Autumn Season 2/3-Had enough of feeling stuffy and unproductive in the office?

Here are 6 tips to create a zen feeling in the office…

  1. Air quality

Studies have shown that good natural ventilation can do wonders for performance. The World Green Council found that better air quality in the office can improve productivity levels from around 8%, to 11%. Natural air is not only good for health but also can be part of a greener incentive for your office.

2.Good Lighting

Poor lighting has been seen as a detrimental to the health of your employees and their mental health. A report from the university of Groningen found that Workplace lighting can, “in addition to providing sufficient light to conduct work-related visual tasks, affect employees’ alertness, mood, cognition, sleep-wake pattern and health”



Of course good design is a must, but in the day and age of startups and being constantly strapped for cash a plant or two can go a long way. Embracing natural surroundings and a “wall of plants” can do wonders for uplifting moods, as well as producing much needed oxygen for the stuffy office. Similarly, and perhaps far more interestingly, plants can absorb noise and refract sound through their stems. Instead of using office partitions consider using screen plants.


Our offices becomes smaller as our love for kitschy items and technology increases.  However, the issue isn’t the space it is how we intend on using it.

  • Divide the workspace into zones and defined areas. The same with your desk.
  • Try and stop the catch-all cupboard or drawer filled with wires, pens, and old batteries that stopped working three months ago
  • Streamline your desktop so that when you start the new day fresh you are not bombarded with icons and clutter

5.Create a Break out area

Designate an area that is to be unassociated with work; it could be a place to do some reading, to eat lunch or for catching up with colleagues. This encourages employees to eat lunch away from their desk, and to be creative in a less constrained environment.

6.Promote proactivity

Organise half an hour football sessions, or turn your meeting table into a table tennis table. Sushi Friday and Latte Wednesdays may be useful to create connections in the office, but make sure they don’t become repetitive or sidelined for seemingly more important issues. The possibilities for work activities are endless and by communicating with your employees you can find out what they want to do to relax or ways in which you can reignite concentration when there are the inevitable lulls in the working week.

Motivii at Employee Benefits Live


eamon-about-to-go-live-with-rbsMotivii’s first event and what an outing it was.

With our grey personalised t-shirts we gave Zuckerberg a run for his money.

EBL is one of the largest rewards and benefits events in Europe and it brought together a number of interesting companies and ideals.

What did we learn from the event?

“Employee” and “manager” engagement were the buzz phrases over the two days and we had a lot to talk about on the matter.

The death of the employee survey?


“The annual engagement survey is too slow, too coarse and not very useful.

Replacing them with a new set of tools run on mobile is the future to understand the workforce.”

Josh Bersin – Deloitte

The term “employee engagement survey” dates back decades, but instead of fulfilling its rightful purpose many employees and managers alike see it as a waste of time. Why? Administering surveys annually, or sporadically throughout the business year, creates data that is no longer accurate and useful to anyone. In a rapidly changing business environment, what is the use of “old news”. If an employee has already been disengaged for seven months prior to the annual survey, they may have already cost their manager and their team lots of money and valuable time.

A disengaged employee not only wastes company time, but also their own. But with weekly meetings and a holistic approach, issues can be addressed immediately.  There is no magic ball that can see into the future and predict how employees may be feeling in a month or two’s time.

The past is often useless and the future is unpredictable – all this leaves us with then, is the present.

Collecting feedback consistently and frequently throughout the year is the most efficient and cost effective way of being able to really hear what employees have to say.

Through apps and websites (Hint.. Motivii!) employees can review their week. Monitoring their own progress and their focus for the week ahead. Through t mangers do not have to chase their employees for feedback. Not only does this engage the employee but also managers can use this information to frame weekly meetings. New sets of tools on mobiles can help companies make employee feedback a holistic and integrated part of their business strategy, rather than using inadequate and useless annual HR measurements.

In turn, everyone’s a winner; if you have a motivated workforce, the working environment will flourish and profits and success will come as a bi-product of this.


3 is the magic number

3 Magic NumberHere are the thoughts from Eamon, the founder of Motivii on 3 being the magic number…

It all started by feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do at work. I always found when I listed all the things I needed to do instantly my motivation would dip.

Separately when I was pitching people they seemed to get confused if I tried to sell in too many benefits. Without realising I started to limit myself to never trying to explain more than three things in one go. Actions following a meeting started being limited to to three things. And it worked! People remembered more, followed up on the actions and I started winning more deals.

I thought that I was onto something special… then I realised I was not the first person to understand the magic of 3!

If you look at politicians explaining ideas typically the better ones limit themselves to just three points. Even counting it on their fingers while presenting.

You can see the rule to three appearing everywhere:

  • Beginning, Middle, End – story telling
  • Veni, Vidi, Vici – Julius Caesar
  • Stop, Look , Listen – highway code
  • Thinner, lighter, and faster – Steve Job’s iPad 2 launch
  • Work, Rest, Play – Mars advertising campaign.

If you talk to psychologists they will tell you the human brain is fine tuned to remember three things. Ask it to remember more and you start running into trouble. Even things like telephone numbers, most people break it into around three groups of numbers to make it easier to remember.

On realising, that I liked keeping things to three I started writing down my three highlights of the week, the three challenges and the three things I wanted to focus on the next week. This simple list started helping me reflect and plan better. It felt like I had less to do and I got more done. I started to call it my Top3 report. (Highlights, Challenges and Focus are three things by themselves).

I know it’s not rocket science, but when I started getting everyone I worked with doing their own Top3, the benefits started being huge. Communication improved, stress was reduced and we started really nailing the important things.

However, it was still a very manual process. I wanted to get automated reminders to complete my weekly Top3; I wanted to do it quickly on my mobile; I wanted to add the option to answer anonymous questions; get automatic summary emails for my team; and I wanted the system to generate insight like, word clouds, run sentiment analysis and more… (I can’t help but want more than three things 😉

Though I looked, I couldn’t find anything in the market that could help. So… if you can’t find it build it. 

One year later the magic of 3 has helped launch Motivii which is making work better at GSK, Lloyds Banks, Find My Past and many more companies. And yes, Top3 is built into the service helping create fast feedback for employees, managers and organisations.