For the women yawning while reading this…
For starters, sleep deprivation is costing your company money.
We need this is our lives.
There’s no such thing as an easy cure.
We all know that feeling in the morning when the alarm goes off and it seems like the hardest thing in the world to get up. After our morning coffee/tea/juice, we usually feel better. However, if that feeling of being tired and exhausted becomes constant and it seems as though nothing can make you feel better, it’s time to make some lifestyle changes.
The most obvious reason why you’re always tired is of course, lack of sleep. Research shows that people who get at least seven hours of sleep every night are much better at concentrating and are less moody than people who sleep say, six hours. So if you’ve been getting less than seven hours of sleep at night, this is the first and most important change that needs to happen: Go to bed earlier.
The second most likely reason why you’re tired is because you’re dehydrated. If you drink less than two litres of water per day, your blood will thicken and your heart will have to work harder. This results in fatigue, so make sure you keep on top of your water intake.
The third factor when it comes to tiredness is exercise. As absurd as it sounds, moving – even though it requires energy – will give you more energy in return. It’s for this reason that we feel so amazing after a workout, while sitting all day makes you feel exhausted even though you haven’t moved a finger.
If you are sleeping enough, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly but still can’t shake the fatigue, talk to your GP. A blood test might reveal a thyroid problem or an iron deficiency – both can easily be treated through medication and dietary changes.
Do you need an energy boost right now? Take a quick power nap! Just 30 minutes can help you restore your energy levels. Alternatively, get up from your chair and walk around the block making sure you take deep breaths in order to optimise oxygen levels in your blood.
Image via doghumor.net
Counting sheep yet staying up all night? Sleep expert and Chairman of the Sleep Health Foundation, David Hillman, shares his top tips to help you get the ultimate night’s sleep!
1. Set the mood for slumber
Your room should be quiet and dark. Before you go to sleep, be sure to turn off the lights and any other stimuli such as the TV and completely close your blinds or curtains.
2. Sleep in a clean and pleasant environment
You know the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Well, a mess-free and uncluttered room will help aide a clear and undistracted mind. Spend just a few minutes each night tidying your bedroom before you get into bed. Instead of throwing your clothes on the floor, hang them up or fold them neatly in a pile to be put away properly later.
3. Get the room temperature right
There’s nothing worse than a freezing cold bedroom at night. An hour before you’re ready to hit the sack, get your room temperature right by closing the windows and adjusting the air conditioner or heater in winter. You’ll sleep better when you have the balance right.
4. Avoid interruptions
Switch your phone to silent mode so if it rings or you get a message you won’t be woken. If your partner is noisy then ear plugs can help block out the snoring or restless noises. Similarly eye masks are a great sleep companion whether at home or away, to help eliminate light and movement.
5. Choose the right bed and bedding
It’s essential to have the right bed and bedding. Have an expert help you pick your mattress and pillow. You’ll be surprised what a huge difference this can make!
6. Manage jet lag
If you’re travelling across time zones, help your body clock adapt more quickly to the time at your destination by adjusting your watch and phone as soon as you get on the plane. Try to eat meals and sleep as you will in your new time zone as soon as you can to make the adjustment process easier.
7. Bring a piece of home with you
For some, sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings is difficult, no matter how comfortable it is. Keep to familiar routines. Bringing a few personal items from home (e.g. a photograph, a mug, reading material) may help you to relax and bring familiarity to your new location.
8. Wind down and relax before bed
Have a buffer zone before bedtime. Sort out any problems well before going to bed. This may mean setting aside ‘worry time’ during the day. Use this time to go over the day’s activities and work out a plan of action for the next day. Try to avoid using your computer within one hour of bedtime, instead pick up a magazine or book to help take your mind off any problems. Exercise is fine, but not too late in the evening. Find a relaxation technique that works for you.
9. Spend the right amount of time in bed
Most adults need about eight hours sleep every night. Many poor sleepers spend much more than eight hours in bed and this makes fragmented sleep a habit. Except if you have lengthy sleep requirements, limit your time in bed to no more than eight and a half hours. If you often take hours to fall asleep, go to bed later or try reading to help you drift off. Remember that children need more sleep than adults.
10. Things to avoid…
Alcohol may help you to get off to sleep, but will disrupt your sleep during the night. Caffeine (tea, coffee, cola drinks) and the nicotine in cigarettes are stimulants that can keep you awake. Instead, choose special blends of herbal tea that encourage sleep. Steer clear of sleeping pills except in exceptional circumstances and as advised by your doctor, they won’t fix the cause of your sleeping problem.
What’s your best tip for a good night’s sleep?
Getting good sleep is important for your health, happiness and productivity, but it’s not always an easy task to do. Isn’t it frustrating when you decide to take charge of your daily routine and go to bed early, only to find yourself tossing and turning for hours after that? While frustration doesn’t help (if anything, it’ll make you stay awake longer), here some things that do.
1. Turn off screens an hour or two before bed time.
The blue light from our devices suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin and tricks our minds into believing that it’s still day time.
2. Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day.
It takes 5-7 hours for half of the caffeine to leave your body. It takes even longer to eliminate all the caffeine from your system, so if you have a cup of coffee in the afternoon or at night, it can affect your sleep.
3. Read a non-fiction book.
Do you love reading before bed? A good fiction book can easily keep you awake all night. Change it to non-fiction and notice your eyes starting to close only a few minutes later.
4. Listen to a podcast or meditation.
Meditation can help you relax, but if you find your mind wandering back to your worries too often, listening to a podcast can be a better idea. If it’s engaging enough, it will distract you from your own thoughts just enough to help you drift off to sleep.
5. Count your blessings.
Research has found that having a gratitude practice helps get more sleep and better quality of sleep. If you practice counting your blessings at bed time, it can also help you fall asleep faster. Instead of counting sheep, challenge yourself to find ten things in your day that you’re grateful for. Don’t be surprised if you’re asleep long before you get to ten!
Image by AlexVan via pixabay.com
If you’ve ever travelled internationally on a long distance flight then chances are, you’ve probably experienced jetlag. Sometimes it can take days to recover from, which isn’t ideal if you’re on a quick trip and you spend three days trying to get over it before you have to turn around and come home again. So what is jetlag and how can we deal with it? Read on to find out…
Jetlag is a combination of symptoms including fatigue, irritability, memory lapses and digestive upsets which occur after we have travelled quickly across different time zones on an aeroplane.
Why do we get jetlag?
Our bodies work on a 24 hour circadian rhythm which means that we are synced to day and night by sunlight and brain chemicals, so when we travel to a different time zone, we’re interfering with that rhythm. Most people will find that travelling in an easterly direction gives the worst jetlag and this is because your day is shortened and your body has to cut its natural 24hour cycle.
What can I do to reduce the severity of jetlag before I go?
- In the days leading up to your trip ensure that you get plenty of sleep, as sleep deprivation can make jetlag even worse.
- If you’re going to be travelling eastbound then adjust your bedtime in the days before your trip, making it an hour earlier each night. Similarly, if you’re going to be travelling westbound then shift your bedtime back an hour later each night. This should help you to adapt to the new time zone.
And what about when I’m on the plane?
- Once you’ve stepped onto the plane, get into the mindset of the new time zone at your destination and adjust your watch accordingly.
- It’s ok to sleep whenever you are feeling sleepy but most importantly, you should try and plan your sleep as if you are already on the same time as your destination.
- Avoid alcohol altogether or at the very least limit the number of alcoholic drinks your have during the flight. Drinking alcohol causes dehydration and flying at high altitudes also makes you feel like you’ve had double the amount of alcohol you’ve actually had.
- Drink plenty of water and eat light meals as your digestion can be sluggish when flying.
- Get up and move around the cabin as often as possible.
When I arrive at my destination what can I do?
Sunlight is the most important factor when resetting your circadian rhythm so avoid bunkering down in the hotel room if it’s daytime at your destination – the best thing you can do is get out and about and coordinate your sleep with the local time as soon as possible. If you land in the afternoon then try and stay awake until the evening but if you land very early in the morning then try to get a couple of hours sleep only, before you stay awake for the rest of the day.
Do you have any tips for easing jetlag? We’d love to know!
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Here we give you some brief guidelines and help tips to identify how to fight that awful ‘fall asleep at your desk feeling’.
Problem: Getting up in the morning
Symptoms: Inability to motivate yourself. Feel unable to do anything
Answer: Have 1mg of vitamin C per day. Take morning walks. Oxygen is a powerful tonic.
Problem: Mid-day drop in energy levels
Symptoms: Hits around 10am or 5pm.
Answer: Take zinc, nickel and cobalt to tackle against mid-day slumps. Don’t drink too much coffee, as it won’t actually wake you up.
Symptoms: Running on nervous energy with little sleep
Answer: Vitamin C, magnesium and zinc can help. Exercise regularly and drink herbal tea containing passion flower.
Problem: End of day exhaustion
Symptoms: Desire to collapse on couch as soon as day is done.
Answer: Get enough rest. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, sodium, magnesium and manganese can help boost energy levels.
Ros Layton, Travel Editor
In for the long haul…
The numbing fatigue and exasperating insomnia caused by jet lag can spoil, if not ruin, your long-awaited trip. But there is hope. These strategies can make a difference, not just to your jet lag, but to your wellbeing.
Why do we get it?
Crossing time zones throws the body’s circadian rhythms (the internal clock that tells us when to get up, eat, and when to sleep) out of whack. Without stimuli of light, darkness, or meeting friends for a drink in the evening, our circadian rhythms run on roughly a 25-hour cycle. When this is disturbed by crossing at least four time zones, your body clock will be out of sync with its destination which is why we wake up starving at 3am and are craving sleep at lunchtime. As a general rule, it takes one day to recover from each hour lost or gained.
Moreover, a plane is a very bizarre environment – it’s usually too cold, there’s less oxygen, the air’s dry, you’re sitting for agonisingly long periods of time, stuck next to strangers who usually have chronic BO or a nervous tick, or worse, want to talk to you. Plus we’re reduced to the level of children under the complete control of men and women in bad uniforms, like nannies with trolleys who dictate when we eat, sleep, and watch movies.
The first time most travellers think about the time in their destination is when the captain announces it when the plane’s commencing its descent, but you should start thinking about it way before that. Try to get into sync a few days prior to leaving. This could mean wearing two watches; one set to local time, the other to the time of where you’re going. Live, sleep and eat in the destination time as much as you can. If you find it hard to sleep on the plane, try getting more sleep for couple of days before travelling. If you normally need seven hours a night, try and get nine. That way, you’ve got sleep bonus points you can draw on if you can’t sleep on the plane or when you arrive. Failing that, set your watch to your destination when you get on the plane, and use your imagination to pretend it’s morning when it’s pitch black outside the window.
If you usually have little trouble sleeping on a plane, it might make sense to choose one that’s in the air during your destination’s night, so that when you land you’re ready for a full day. If you find sleeping impossible, fly during the daylight hours of your destination. Flying east generally causes more jet lag than flying west: the body seems better able to cope with a longer day.
Not only is the cabin air low on oxygen, it’s also desert dry, so it is essential to drink litres of water (some believe jet lag is caused by dehydration rather than disrupted circadian rhythms). Take your own bottles to gauge how much you’re drinking. If you don’t drink enough, take re-hydration salts (from chemists) after the flight. If you find plain water boring, try herbal teas such as chamomile and valerian root, which help induce sleep. Many QANTAS flight attendants add a few drops of apple juice to their water, which makes the water taste more interesting and prevents the need to pee all the time as the body absorbs the sugar in the juice.
You probably know that you should avoid alcohol on the plane because it worsens dehydration (one drink in the air is equivalent to two on the ground, according to cabin crew). But flying really is so tedious and just one little drink surely can’t hurt. Drink red wine and brandy, which have a soporific effect.
The lunchbox has landed
Many travellers take their own food, like that annoying guy on the Helga’s bread ad on TV. It does have its advantages: you can eat when you want to; you eat better if you pack a lunchbox full of fruit and vegetables (on some airlines such as Singapore Airlines, you can order a fruit platter in advance), or take carbohydrates such as cereals, which are sleep-inducing. One long-haul traveller swears that the carrot juice she takes with her combats jet lag. Carrots offer the best resistance to oxygen deficiency, but they’ve got to be fresh not betocarotene supplements from a health food store. Some travellers say spirulina, the so-called ‘green super-food’ also works as a jet lag remedy.
Potentially the most useful jet lag aid is one we naturally possess. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain as darkness falls. A synthetic form is sold in US health stores as a food supplement, but it’s not available here in Australia (except on prescription under certain circumstances) so some travellers stock up in the US. If taken just before bed, it can encourage sleep but, more importantly, it seems to speed up the rate at which the body adjusts to its new time zone. Note: not everyone is convinced. Some women find it disrupts their periods and others are not comfortable taking a substance that is not licensed.
Temazepam, a short-acting sleeping pill available from your doctor, works well, as does aspirin, which can promote deep sleep. These must be used with caution on the plane as lower oxygen levels increase the potency of drugs. Don’t mix with alcohol, or it could lead to embarrassing Valley of The Dolls-style behaviour! Many flight attendants take supplementary vitamins and vitamin C to counteract jet lag. Others swear by arnica – a homeopathic remedy for bruising.
Getting quality sleep on a full plane is tricky, particularly if you’re in cattle class. The pillows are teensy and are usually nasty synthetic ones, so take at least two small pillows, one for the small of your back, the other for your neck. Alternatively, grab one of those unglamorous (but effective) inflatable pillows to support your neck, and a set of earplugs to block out engine noise and to prevent the passenger next to you trying to strike up a conversation. Then take your sleeping draught of choice, stick the Do Not Disturb sticker on your forehead or jumper, and settle down. If you prefer to avoid drugs of any description but desperately need sleep, spray your pillow with sleep-inducing lavender, such as Jurlique’s. To keep warm, invest in a pashmina wrap. Yes we know they’re on the fashion ‘out’ list, but they are a traveller’s best accessory; they keep you warm, they look good, they make you feel good, like Linus’ security blanket, and they fold up small enough to slip in your handbag.
If you feel sleepy but need to stay awake to get in sync for the time of your destination, a double espresso should keep you going for couple of hours. But if you’re used to drinking lots of caffeine, it won’t have much effect, so cut down the week before you fly, don’t have any on the plane, and then drink it once you reach your destination. The best therapy for staying awake when your body is begging for sleep is to get plenty of light as it helps the body adjust to its new time zone. So if you’re exhausted after flying to London, for example, go for a walk, a run, a swim, or book a massage as soon as you arrive. If that’s not practical, switch on all the lights in your hotel room and put some upbeat music on and turn it up.
Sitting immobile on a cramped plane slows blood circulation, so keep moving as much as you can. Walk up and down the aisle and follow the ankle and neck exercises in the in-flight magazine. You may feel like a goose, but you’ll be glad you did them. This travel editor always asks to visit the cockpit (and hasn’t been refused yet). The view’s amazing from up there; especially the captain and co-pilot who have hot uniforms. Thanks to auto-pilot they are usually bored stiff and keen to chat (you up), and flirting can be counted as exercise. Just don’t touch any of the switches!
Use the In-flight Kit
Today’s amenity kits are much more than nifty little bags with a fold-up toothbrush, plastic comb, socks and Zorro eye masks. The bag that designer Anya Hindmarch put together for British Airways contains Aroma Therapeutics’ Sleep Enhancer spray. This airline also offers cute little Male Comfort Kits with Body Shop shaving cream, aftershave gel, lip balm, mouthwash as well as the usual toothbrush and comb. Air New Zealand and Malaysia Airlines provide passengers in First and Business Class with kits containing Daniele Ryman’s Awake and Asleep. You can personalise the existing kits with new jet-lag specific products, such as Crabtree & Evelyn’s pulse point balms, incense sticks, and candles which contain lavender, like Bloom travel-sized candles.