One often neglected area of healthy living is sleep. Getting sufficient sleep is vital to living life to the full. Never think that time spent sleeping is time wasted. Sleep is essential to your body’s healing and renewal processes.
Tips for a better night’s Sleep
- Try taking a warm bath.
- Lower the room temperature (a cool environment improves sleep).
- Don’t “activate” your brain by balancing a chequebook (check book), reading a thriller, or doing other stressful activities.
- Unplug the telephone.
- Make sure your feet are warm!! Studies have shown that it’s almost impossible to sleep when your feet are very cold.
- Avoid caffeine less than five hours before bedtime.
- Don’t stop for a drink after work; although at first you may feel relaxed, alcohol disturbs sleep.
- Eat a light snack before bedtime. Don’t go to bed too full or too hungry.
- If you exercise at the workplace, do so at least three hours before you plan on going to bed. Otherwise, exercise after you sleep. Because exercise is alerting and raises the body temperature, it should not be done too close to bedtime.
Sleep medications do not cure sleep problems, but may be recommended for short-term use. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are a shift worker. These medications may be helpful for one or two sleep cycles after a shift schedule change. Talk to your doctor about whether this type of medication would be helpful to you.
Facts about sleep
Melatonin is a chemical that is produced by the body to help induce sleep. Melatonin supplements have been advertised as a sleep aid. However, studies have not shown that melatonin helps shift workers. Also, questions about safety and dosing have not been answered.
It is important to keep a regular sleep schedule, even on days off and weekends. However, if you can’t get enough sleep or feel drowsy, naps as short as 20 minutes can be helpful. Naps (or “power naps”) can maintain or improve alertness, performance and mood. Some people feel groggy or sleepier after a nap. These feelings usually go away within 1-15 minutes, while the benefits of the nap may last for many hours. The evening or night worker can take a nap to be refreshed before work. The truck driver, bus driver or motorist can use the “power nap” to improve their chances of making it to their destination if they’re feeling tired. The “Hibermate” is perfect for this purpose.
Studies show that napping at the workplace is especially effective for workers who need to maintain a high degree of alertness, attention to detail, and for people who must make quick decisions. In situations where the worker is working double shifts or 24-hour shifts, naps at the workplace are even more important and useful.
The Circadian Clock
All animals need sleep – even plants appear to have rest periods. The human body naturally follows a 24-hour period of wakefulness and sleepiness that is regulated by an internal circadian clock. In fact, the circadian clock is linked to nature’s cycle of light and darkness. The clock regulates cycles in body temperature, hormones, heart rate, and other body functions.
For humans, the desire to sleep is strongest between midnight and six a.m. Many people are alert in the morning, with a natural dip in alertness in the mid-afternoon.
It is difficult to reset the internal circadian clock. It is not surprising that 10- 20% of night shift workers report falling asleep on the job, usually during the second half of the shift. That’s why shift workers who work all night may find it difficult to sleep during the day, even though they are tired.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sleep, most shift workers don’t get enough (most adults require 8 hours of sleep per day). When shifts fall during the night (11 p.m. -7 a.m.), the worker is fighting the natural wake-sleep pattern. It may be hard to stay alert at night and just as hard to fall asleep and stay asleep during the day. Night workers get less sleep than daytime workers do, and the sleep is less restful. Sleep is more than just “beauty rest” for the body; it helps restore and rejuvenate the brain and organ systems so that they function properly. Chronic lack of sleep harms a person’s health, on-the-job safety, task performance, memory and mood.
Driving after work can be risky for the shift worker, particularly since you have been awake all night and the body needs to sleep. For the evening worker coming home around midnight, the risk of meeting drunk drivers is higher. People think that opening the car windows or listening to the radio will keep them awake. However, studies show that these methods work for only a short period of time. If you are sleepy when your shift is over, try to take a nap before driving home. Remember, sleep can quickly overcome you when you don’t want it to.
Follow these steps to arrive home safely:
- Carpool, if possible. Have the most alert person do the driving.
- Drive defensively.
- Don’t stop off for a “night cap.”
- If you are sleepy, stop to nap, but do so in your locked car in a well-lit area.
- Take public transportation, if possible.
If you have tried some of these tips and your efforts to get enough sleep are not successful, it may be time to seek professional help. If problems persist, talk to your doctor.
Remember, when you are not getting the sleep you need, you are at risk… and so are those around you. Inadequate sleep increases your risk for falling asleep at the wheel, accidents on the job, and problems at home. Your doctor can help identify the cause, which can be successfully treated or managed. Your doctor can evaluate your sleep problem and determine whether you may have a sleep disorder.
According to a recent American Study, 65% of people reported that they do not get enough sleep. When sleep deprived, people think and move more slowly, make more mistakes, and have difficulty remembering things. These negative effects lead to lower job productivity and can cause accidents. The financial loss to American businesses is estimated to be in the billions each year! Lack of sleep is associated with irritability, impatience, anxiety, and depression. These problems can upset job and family relationships, spoil social activities, and cause unnecessary suffering.
Shift workers experience more stomach problems (especially heartburn and indigestion), menstrual irregularities, colds, flu, and weight gain than day workers. Heart problems are more likely too, along with higher blood pressure. The risk of workplace and car accidents rises for tired shift workers, especially on the drive to and from work.
Sleep and the traveller
Jet jag is experienced when a person travels over three time zones by air. The body takes time to adjust to the new time zone of the destination and the traveler may experience feelings of tiredness, fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite and even insomnia. It usually takes around three days to get over the effects of Jet lag, but there are some things a traveller can do before leaving home to minimize these effects.
- Try to avoid excessive eating and alcohol whilst on the flight and instead drink lots of juice or fresh water. It is very easy to get dehydrated on a long flight.
- Try to select flight schedules which minimize sleep deprivation. The best way is to choose a flight that arrives early evening so that you can go to sleep soon after you arrive. For the really long trips, check if it’s possible to organize a stop over.
- Try and rest a few days before you take your flight, and do your best to avoid the last minute dashing around.
- Wear an eye mask while on the flight to help you sleep.
In fact, an eye mask can be used when traveling on any form of transport if you’re sleepy. However in some places, make sure your possessions are safe from thieves while you’re dozing.
Business travelers may also find it difficult to deal with jet lag. They can find it difficult to perform to their top potential if they haven’t had enough time to acclimatise to their new time zone. If the budget allows, business people should allow at least 48 hours (minimum) to adjust to the new time zone before entering into meetings or stressful negotiations.
So what is the answer? Block out the bothersome light and noise and get a decent sleep with The hibermate, the world’s snuggliest, most versitile sleep mask! It blocks all light, significantly reduces noise and will have you snoozing in next-to-no time. Total sleep mask luxury.
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