Sleep Your Way to Great Customer Service

Get your mind out of the gutter.

This post is about sleeping – like you know, that thing you do at night to recharge your batteries. Perhaps you don’t get much of it anymore. If so, this post is for you.

Customer service can be gruelling. Your ultimate passion to help people can lead to long days, emotional stress and mental exhaustion. You enjoy what you do but you’re exhausted.

If we don’t take the time to prioritize sleep, however, it’s going to be really challenging to push through a day at work and be your best self for customers and coworkers. I believe this applies to any job, not just customer service.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that insufficient sleep is a public health problem.

If you’re not sleeping, you could be at a risk for some big mistakes and health issues that may offset your success in work and life.

Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes. Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity. (CDC)

Want to learn more about what happens to your body when you don’t sleep? Check out this article 7 Things That Happen to Your Brain When You’re Exhausted and Need Sleep.

The National Highway of Traffic Safety states just how easy it is to fall into this sleepy trap, along with a very simple prevention mechanism:

The loss of one night’s sleep can lead to extreme short-term sleepiness, while habitually restricting sleep by 1 or 2 hours a night can lead to chronic sleepiness. Sleeping is the most effective way to reduce sleepiness.

In case you didn’t catch that last part:

Sleeping is the most effective way to reduce sleepiness.

But, it can be so hard to get adequate sleep. For some advice on how to get better sleep, check out these 7 highly effective bedtime habits.

You’re so busy and you just flat out don’t have time to sleep. Your kids don’t let you sleep. You run your own business and it’s all work, no sleep. You constantly wake up throughout the night. You have loud neighbors. The list goes on and on.

We’re all going to have days in which we’re tired and we still have to work. That’s life. There are things out of our control. But, if we do have the ability to prioritize sleep more often, we’re definitely moving toward a healthier lifestyle.

Let Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of the Huffington Post, as well as the author of The Sleep Revolution, tell you about her experience with lack of sleep in her TED talk:

And, how many of you brag, perhaps unintentionally, about lack of sleep? An article on sums this up as “bragging about one’s sleep debt”:

When did bragging about one’s sleep debt become a thing? We talk about sleep as if it’s an inconvenience or an obstacle to getting work done. We wear our exhaustion like a badge of honor we won for doing more, sacrificing more, caring more than those who “chose” to sleep while we had more important things to do. We have a crazy long list of priorities, and sleep is at the bottom.
But, how the heck do you get more sleep? I’ve been the person who is guilty of working long hours (by choice) and sacrificing sleep. I’ve suffered from sleep anxiety attacks. I still wake up at 3 am for no good reason a few nights a week. I wake up extra early to get a workout in, but am half asleep the entire time. I don’t have this all figured out either, but I know that sleep is damn important. And, not just because I’m getting older (at least that’s what I tell myself).
When I need advice, I usually go to my trusty friend, Google, and learn through the experience of others.
Even for those that are juggling a day job and their own side business, such is the story in How I Made Sleep a Priority and Got More Productive, you can find a way to make time for adequate sleep.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine started a National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project that pointed out 4 elements to help you get a better night of sleep:
So, what actually works? Everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you. While the Huffington Post offers 37 Science-Backed Tips for a Better Sleep Tonight, I’m going to offer 4 tips that I have implemented into my life that have helped me get more, better quality sleep.
NOTE: These tips are not intended to the be answer to your sleep issues (we’re all different), but it is my hope that by sharing what has helped me, it will get you thinking about what could help you.

Jenny’s Tips To Get More, Better Quality Sleep

(based on personal experience, of course)


I quit caffeine for good
If you know me, you know I love coffee. As a former barista, how could I not? Over the years, I’ve written about Starbucks numerous times on our blog. But, in October 2016, inspired by a friend, I decided to nix the habit. I quit mostly because coffee often messed up my stomach, gave me migraines and gave my heart extra jitters – and I was only at one cup a day. I had no clue how much this would help with sleep. Back then, when drinking one cup of coffee in the morning, I’d still struggle to fall asleep at night. When caffeine was removed from my diet, life changed. Gone were the heart flutters, migraines and sleep came easier. Not perfect, but easier. It wasn’t difficult for me to quit, as I switched to decaf coffee for a while, but now, a year later, I sip herbal tea or make my own superfood coffee free lattes.


I got help to manage my stress
Let me tell you, sleep anxiety attacks suck. I was prone to anxiety issues during the day, but in 2015, these attacks found their way into my bedroom. I’d wake up in a heated panic, heart and mind racing. I would often get out of bed and walk around to calm myself. I’d sit and stare out the window into the night sky, shaking and almost in tears. These would usually happen around 1 or 2am and I’d be awake until 4, right before my alarm went off at 4:30 am. I became overly exhausted, irritable, and of course the anxiety became more present during the day time. I knew that if I didn’t deal with my stress, I’d be of no use to anyone at work or in life. So, I took myself to therapy to talk through issues and work toward making healthy emotional shifts. While I initially felt shame for going to a therapist, I am a big believer in getting help for mental issues and encourage anyone who may be dealing with this to seek assistance.


I exercise less, but more consistently
I’m not a professional athlete. I don’t know where life will take me, but my guess is that I will never be a professional athlete. Exercise for me is about getting up from my desk and moving my body. But, it also plays into my mental state. I used to work out hard – I’d push myself to run when my body really didn’t want to. I would lift weights and do cardio for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. Sure, I lost weight but I felt like crap. And, I ended up hurting my knee, which wasn’t fun. These days, I choose to have more quality exercise over quantity. I exercise less often, only around 3-4 days a week, but I stick to a consistent schedule. I focus on more flowing exercises, such as yoga, instead of running.


I schedule my bedtime
Yup, I schedule my bedtime. It’s in my calendar and a reminder pops up every evening, 10 minutes before. By sticking with a consistent bedtime schedule, I find that my body naturally is tired around the same time every night. This helps me fall into a relaxed state quicker, and leads to a better night of sleep. It wasn’t easy to do this, especially when it comes to social life (and now I get tired around this time on the weekends too), but it’s worth it.

In a nutshell, the better rested we are, the more we’ll be able to be present for our coworkers and to support our customers.

Here’s to everyone getting more sleep, more often and making it a priority in our lives!
Have a method for getting good sleep? Have a story to share about lack of sleep and causing a ruckus with a coworker or customer? Share with me in the comments or over on Twitter! 

PS: I’m your customer service health coach over at Jenny Dempsey Wellness.

If you’d like to create a healthy culture of self-care in your contact center, connect with me via email or via one of my social channels linked below.

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  • Great suggestions, Jenny!

    I’ve been working on better sleep myself for a number of years and it truly makes a difference.

  • Love this, Jenny! So much truth! A healthy and well-slept workforce is a productive workforce 🙂

    I used to struggle with sleep as well, but cut back on caffeine (1 cup per day), switched my workouts to the mornings, and started going to bed and waking up at consistent (early) times. These things have all made a huge difference for me!

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