Do you want to stop feeling so tired at work? Here’s how to tell the difference between sleepiness and fatigue, and what you can do to sleep better.
Did you get a good sleep last night? Do you feel rested? If you answered no to either question, you are not alone!
Research conducted by the Sleep Health Foundation (SHF) tells us that Australia is in the grips of a sleep deprivation epidemic that is dragging down our productivity, risking safety and damaging our mental health.
Their research found that four in ten Australian adults sleep either poorly or not long enough most nights, meaning that they suffer from fatigue, irritability and other side effects of sleep deprivation.
In 2016-17, this inadequate sleep cost the Australian economy an estimated $66.3 billion and of this, productivity losses equated to $17.9 billion.
So how much sleep do we need?
Most adults need between seven and nine hours sleep each day. Losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.
Sleepiness vs fatigue
While both are linked with feeling tired, sleepiness and fatigue are two distinct states.
Sleepiness is when you feel that you need or want to sleep. Fatigue is when sleepiness or tiredness comes with a range of other physical, mental and emotional symptoms, including slower reaction times, poor mood, inattention and trouble focusing.
Fatigue can impair you as if you were drunk or on sedative drugs. In fact, studies show that 17 hours without sleep impairs your driving ability in the same way as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05.
Fatigue worsens your hand-eye coordination and makes it harder for you to communicate. Your brain does not process information or solve problems as quickly or as well as it should. You also tend to take more risks and your chance of making errors increases. To make things worse, as you become sleepier, you are less aware of your reduced performance.
Fatigue can often be solved by improving your health and well-being (i.e. better sleeping habits, eating better, moving more, etc.). In some cases, there may be underlying causes so it is always worth having a chat to your doctor.
What you can do to sleep better and boost your energy levels
- Aim to go to bed at the same time each night – regular sleep/wake patterns help regulate the body’s internal clock, which will help you get between 7-9 hours’ sleep.
- Avoid caffeine for at least four hours prior to going to bed
- Avoid alcohol – alcohol might help you get to sleep but it will make it harder to stay asleep. Alcohol also worsens sleep problems like snoring and sleep apnoea
- Avoid playing computer games, watching television and using mobile phones for one hour prior to going to sleep. Brightly lit environments and blue lights from screens can affect your levels of melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone.
- Don’t go to bed hungry and make sure you eat your last meal two hours before going to bed as a full stomach can make it harder to get to sleep. Also, try to have your last drink at least an hour before going to bed.
- Remove all distractions/technology from the bedroom (TV, computer, radio, phone, etc.) – treating your bedroom like a living room will make it harder for you go to sleep.
- As a rule, exercise is good for sleep, but not just before going to bed – exercise early in the morning or prior to the evening meal.
Being out in the sun during the day will improve sleep at night as it helps sync your body clock and improves melatonin levels.
Programmed is a leading Staffing and Maintenance organisation, providing staffing, professional, technical, training and maintenance services across Australia and New Zealand with more than 20,000 employees supporting industry.