Getting a Better Night's Sleep: The Work Edition
Feeling tired and uninspired at work? at home? It doesn't matter if you're a full-time employee at an office, from home, are a stay-at-home mother or father, a student, or anything else: sleep problems at night make it hard to accomplish ANYTHING. The following article will cover a number of different techniques and avenues to explore when trying to fix your sleep problems that are getting in the way of your work and other responsibilities.
Some people have problems sleeping throughout their whole lives and are either unaware of it or never find a cure. Others go through periods of their lives where sleep becomes a much needed but rarely found commodity. Let's start with daily habits.
What's your eating schedule like? How about your eating choices and exercise habits? We've all had nights where we ate too much dinner and started feeling tired shortly after, but people usually won't associate what they ate that past week with the tired or groggy feelings they are having today. Let's take a look at how eating habits and other basic aspects of lifestyle can affect sleep patterns and, ultimately, your energy levels.
Supplements and Energy-Boosters Bring You Down
Grabbing a cup of coffee is probably the first thing that pops into a lot of people's heads when they realize they are tired or groggy when they would rather be alert and active. Countless people have made a ritual out of it and pick up a cup of coffee every single morning on their way to work and claim that they can't "wake up without it".
The truth of the matter is that drinking coffee will actually tire you out in the long run, and force your body to rely on the coffee for your energy rather than producing it on its own. Energy drinks are about the same, but actually a lot worse for your body and with even more side effects in most cases when compared to your average cup of Joe.
Food Tires You Out
You might not be aware of it, but eating a big meal is like giving your body a physically intensive and exhausting task. All of the organs that make up your digestive system have to work together to eliminate bacteria, extract the beneficial parts of the food from the waste, and push all of what you ate through your entire body. What this means for you as an overly tired individual is that you might want to start viewing the meals you eat as something that tires you out, and a trip to the gym as something that will actually produce more energy for you. I'll explain this more in a moment.
The general consensus about exercise and physical activity is that it tires you out. Makes sense, right? While that may be true for the immediate future, this is actually not so when you consider the larger scale of things. Your body requires exercise to function properly. Without enough exercise, your blood-flow weakens, muscles shrivel, and your body as a whole becomes less and less reliable and healthy.
If you find that you are exhausted by 5PM every day, it could be that you simply need to start taking a brisk walk every morning before heading to work or otherwise beginning your usual day. The exercise will get your blood flowing, create a positive routine to add to your "list", and allow your body to sleep at night knowing that it actually needs it.
Your body creates energy for you to do the things you need to do with the foods that you eat. Let me say this again: Your body creates energy for you from the FOODS and DRINKS that you consume. In other words, the human body does not require coffee or anything other than food and water to have energy to function. Try adding more fruits to your diet, even just a single peach or some grapes in the morning could make a big difference. Get into the habit of eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and try to include some form of exercise into your schedule shortly after a meal, even if it's nothing more than parking a few blocks away and walking back to your car.
Interruptions at Night - A Few Possibilities
Adjusting the environment in which you sleep can make a world of difference when it comes to the type of sleep you get at night. Here's a quick list of all the things to check. Remember, even the slightest adjustment might be what you need, and it could very well be something so little that you don't even notice it; I'll try to be as thorough as I can.
- Bedding: Your mattress, sheets, pillows, pillow cases, blankets, and bed size are all very important. If there is another person that sleeps with you in bed every night, consider purchasing a larger-sized mattress to allow yourself a bit more space. Even though you aren't packed in like a sardine, it could very well be that you need more roaming space while you sleep. Everyone has a different preference when it comes to fabrics, but you are going to want something that wont snag onto your skin or a crack in your nail. Little things like this can wake you up and you won't even know what did it.
- Noise: Noise would probably be one of the top answers on family feud if the question was something like "things that keep people up at night", but it's still worth spending a few minutes analyzing before tossing it out as a non-issue. If you live in a noise apartment building and can't do anything about the noise, it might be a good idea to consider purchasing an ambient sound machine to drown out the noise. Many people prefer to sleep with the television on because they have just done it for most of their lives and feel uncomfortable without it. While this can be a very difficult habit to break, you might want to consider doing this to allow your brain to enter a deeper state of sleep in the silence.
- Temperature/Breeze: Most people prefer a cooler temperature while they sleep. It makes it easier to stay underneath your blankets at night without any problem, and I think a lot of people also have some sort of attraction to keeping warm in a cool environment. Possibly something written into human genetics. Not everyone has central air, so many have to use a fan to achieve these cool temperatures while they sleep. This works fine in some situations, but too strong of a breeze will cause your nose to dry up and often times make your sleep just a little bit less complete.
- Environment and Stress: If you've got a lot of stress in your life, work-related or family-based, this can be a HUGE factor when it comes to how much sleep you get at night. You can't exactly make all your problems go away with a snap of your fingers, but there are still some things you can do to help clear your mind and keep your daily stresses from interfering with your nightly rest.
- Cramps, Pains and Soreness: If you get a leg cramp in the middle of the night that sends you flying out of bed in pain, then you probably don't need anybody to tell you that this is something that is could affect your energy levels the next day. You already know this. Below is a quick 1-minute video that explains how a little animated character named Bob stops and prevents his leg cramps at night for a better sleep and more energy the next day. *spoiler*: he uses an old Amish remedy that more or less works like magic.
Structure In Life Helps Sleep Patterns and Energy Levels Greatly!
Structuring your day around all of the things that you need or choose to do is a great way to get a lot accomplished, keep yourself occupied, and build a healthy sleep schedule that promotes greater energy in the day and easier sleep at night. Really, you could have months of empty space in your schedule and still accomplish this task just fine - all it takes is a bit of ingenuity. Give it a try, you might find a few things out about yourself that you didn't already know.
- If you've got a lot of free time, take a day or two and think about the things that you like to fill this time with. Write all of them down, whether it's watching the TV, mowing the lawn, playing with your kids, walking to the store; whatever! See if you can organize the things that you do into a time-sensitive schedule that will work for you, you might find out that you have already built one sub-consciously.
- Choose tasks for the morning, afternoon and night. If you don't have anything to do, just make something up. Spend 30 minutes drawing, play with your dog, anything that can keep the day moving along, get your body a bit of exercise and keep you on some sort of schedule.
My grandfather is perhaps the master of this technique. Every morning, for what seems like hundreds of years, he walks to the top of the mountain he lives near. Initially he would just go up there, but this eventually developed into some yoga-like exercises that he does at the top of the mountain in a beautiful spot, bringing his dog with him every time. There's also a cat that follows him up and down the mountain, and it's little things like this that will make you happy to have kept up with a routine.
Don't get over your head - start small by trying to add one thing to your schedule that you'll do every day and go from there.
To sum things up, being tired is completely natural. Instead of cutting corners to expend less energy or trying to crunch minutes to get extra sleep at night, you have to look to your health and see where improvements could be made.
Imagine you were stranded on an island somewhere. Your body would be able to accomplish physically demanding tasks based on the foods that you ate, and the regular exercise would likely lead to a healthier physique. Of course, malnutrition and the countless other health issues that could befall someone stranded on an island wouldn't guarantee any sort of increased energy or feelings of vigor, but if you try and apply this same concept to your life you may very well have some success.
Train your body and provide it with the healthiest meals that you possibly can. Cigarettes, alcohol and drugs take away from your body, so you may want to consider cutting these out of your daily habits if you have been finding yourself altogether more tired and drowsy throughout the day.
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