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How to fight sleep at work

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Know how to fight sleep at work and enjoy the day again

Think no one notices when you only have one eye open? They do. Tempted to close your eyes for just a moment you hunt for a suitable site, but most work places donít have a secret stash of cots. Sleep has followed you to work and you have two choices: surrender and face the consequences, or fight it off.

Sleep deprivation is a major problem, but trying to catch up at work is not the answer. Annoyingly, most of us canít get away with just being physically present with our eyes open. You need to be productive, and to do that you need to learn how to fight sleep at work.

Research shows that exhausted workers are more irritable, likely to quit and are highly accident prone. Professionals most likely to suffer from chronic sleep deprivation include nightshift operators, emergency technicians who work a lot of overtime, and executives that travel frequently. Parents and people working multiple jobs or taking classes are also in the club.

Unfortunately, the most tired workers are typically those who need to be most alert when on the job. Here are some tried and true methods to help next time your head feels too heavy.

How to fight sleep at work

Solution # 1:

Nap. The most effective way to shake the drowsiness is to take a 10 minute power nap. Now may not be the best time, but almost every worker can slip away for 10 minutes. The tricky thing is just because you can doesnít mean you will.

According to WebMD, the American Academy of Sleep medicine says a short nap improves performance and makes you more alert. Yet many of us would feel self conscious napping for 10 minutes of a break. The only way to change this is to start making co-workers and bosses get used to it.

The other challenge is finding a place to lay your head. Not all of us get to drive home for lunch or park on a quiet tree-lined street. Talk to your co-workers and see if you guys can come up with a few options, a corner of the break room for instance.

Warning: Donít nap for more than 20 minutes as this can throw off your bodyís inner clock or make you groggy.

Solution # 2:

Say ĎYes!í to coffee or black tea. Caffeine in moderation is a beautiful thing for sleepy heads. Doctors say itís normal for circadian rhythms to dip after lunch so grab a cup then, but avoid drinking it after 2pm.

Warning: If youíre not a regular drinker, start small with a half cup so it doesnít disturb your nighttime rest. 

Solution # 3:

Exercise. Itís a myth that working out will only make you feel more exhausted. Take a speedy 10-walk outside or do some stretches. No sleepy, slow stretches allowed. We're talking power stretches. Start jotting down the time that your energy starts to fade and schedule the burst of office exercise just before.

Warning: Exercise makes you feel so good youíll want to start doing more and more - just donít do it before bed as it stimulates the body.

Solution # 4:

Eat healthy food. Sugary sweets, energy drinks and processed snacks are desirable when youíre in heavy blinking zombie mode, but donít do it! Theyíre not how to fight sleep at work. Candy will give you a short boost, but youíll crash right after and feel worse than you did before.

Kick the cravings by eating a light healthy lunch with a lean protein. Limit your carbohydrates and fats, too. Go for the salad!

Warning: Vending machines and snack trays are the work place danger zone. Keep these things out of sight even if it means changing your path to the restroom.

If all else fails, splash some cold water on your face and jump up and down to get through the day. It canít go without saying that the permanent, healthy solution is to get more sleep at night. Find a way to go to bed an hour earlier, start winding down even earlier. Soon your only question will be what on earth to do with all this energy.


WebMD: Fight Sleepiness

CNN: Fight Off Sleep at the Office

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