Issue #63 – May/June 2020
Welcome to Focus on Fatigue!
It is a time of change for most of us – whether suddenly finding ourselves at home more than usual, or in a work environment with added stress and strain. In some way, we have all had changes to our normal routine recently.
While it may feel like there are many things we can’t control at the moment, let’s look at what we can control. In this month’s Focus on Fatigue, we are going to get back to basics and look at good sleep habits to support us through this time and give ourselves the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
The FRMS Team
InterDynamics Pty Ltd
320 Adelaide Street Brisbane Qld 4000
Tel +61 7 3229 8300
Views expressed in articles and links provided are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InterDynamics (except where directly attributed).
Back to Basics – Good Sleep Habits
Sleep plays an important role in immune functioning, emotional regulation and overall health – things we all need at the moment!
However, between the significant changes to our normal routines along with added stress and worry, many of us may be finding it even harder than normal to switch off and fall asleep.
So what simple steps can we take to encourage our bodies to fall asleep, stay asleep and achieve good quality sleep?
The Sleep Health Foundation of Australia has listed the following practices as important for a good night’s sleep:
1. Try to go to bed at the same time each night
This one is not going to be possible for shift workers who are sleeping at night one week and during the day the next. However, if you are working a long block of consecutive shifts, then it may be helpful to try to go to bed at the same time each day.
2. Have a relaxing pre-bedtime routine
This ‘wind down’ time can include activities such as a warm bath or shower, reading a book (a paper book that is, not an electronic book), listening to music or having a cup of herbal tea. If you find yourself struggling to switch off your thoughts, perhaps set aside a ‘worry time’ earlier in the evening to reflect and plan and then set these thoughts aside until the next day.
3. Avoid caffeine for at least 4 hours before bed
One study found that caffeine consumed as much as six hours before bedtime can have detrimental effect on sleep.
4. Avoid smoking and alcohol before bed
Cigarettes and alcohol have both been found to impair sleep quality. They can also make some sleep problems, like snoring and sleep apnoea, worse.
5. Avoid using electronic devices, especially computer tablets, smart phones, etc. in the hours before bedtime
Melatonin is a hormone that helps our bodies recognise when it is time to go to sleep. Blue light, which is emitted by our favourite electronics, suppresses our secretion of melatonin. Additionally, stimulation from electronic devices doesn’t help the brain to wind down. So, if you want to sleep peacefully, you’ll have to kick that smart phone out of the bed.
6. Don’t go to bed on an overly full or overly empty stomach
Hunger can keep anyone awake, but then so can a stomach that is hard at work digesting a big meal. Be sure to eat a few hours before bedtime. If hunger does strike, a light snack or a glass of milk is better than something heavy.
7. Sleep in a room that is comfortable, including temperature, bedding, dark and quiet
Get comfy! You’re most likely to be lulled to sleep with a warm blanket in a cool room. Ear plugs and block-out curtains can be helpful to keep out noise and light if you are a shift-worker trying to sleep during the day.
8. Keep the bedroom for sleep and intimacy only
Experts believe that going to bed should be a signal to the brain that it is time to go to sleep. Therefore, using the bedroom for activities other than sleeping and intimacy, such as watching television or eating, is discouraged.
9. If you can’t sleep within 20-30 minutes of going to bed, get up and do something relaxing until the next wave of sleepiness hits. Then go straight back to bed.
Anxiety and frustration can be experienced when you spend too long staring at the ceiling, which can have a negative impact on your chances of falling asleep! If you are still awake after 20 minutes, it’s time to get up and do something relaxing (such as reading a book) before trying again. Be sure to keep the lights dim!
10. Morning light and exercise
Being out in natural daylight, especially in the early part of the day, helps to regulate your body clock and melatonin levels in the body. Exercise has also been linked to improved sleep. So, getting out for a morning walk may well be beneficial to night time sleep.
- Drake, T., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J. and Roth, T. (2013) Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep, 9(11), 1195-1200.
- Harvard Medical School (2014) Blue light has a dark side. Harvard Health Publications. Accessed on: 08/04/2020 at http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side.
- Jaehne, A., Unbehaun, T., Feige, B., Lutz, U. C., Batra, A. and Riemann, D. (2012) How smoking affects sleep: A polysomnographical analysis. Sleep Medicine, 12(10), 1286-1292.
- Sleep Health Foundation (2017) Good sleep habits. Sleep Health Foundation website. Accessed on: 08/04/2020 at http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/GoodSleepHabits-0518.pdf
- Suen, L. K. P., Tam, W. W. S. and Hon, K. L. (2010) Association of sleep hygiene-related factors and sleep quality among university students in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Medical Journal, 16, 180-185.
- Orzel-Gryglewska, J. (2010) Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 22(1), 95-114.
InterDynamics’ staff continue to operate from home at this time. Training is still available via Internet video conferencing.
In the News
Provided below are a selection of articles from around the web on the issues associated with fatigue. We hope you find them useful and interesting.
Video: Why Sleep Matters Now More Than Ever
Matt Walker, Ted Connects, April 2020
A good night’s sleep has perhaps never been more important. Sharing wisdom and debunking myths, sleep scientist Matt Walker discusses the impact of sleep on mind and body – from unleashing your creative powers to boosting your memory and immune health – and details practices you can start (and stop) doing tonight to get some rest.
Article: Stressed to the Max? Deep Sleep Can Rewire the Anxious Brain
Yasmin Anwar, Science Daily, November 2019
When it comes to managing anxiety disorders, William Shakespeare’s MacBeth had it right when he referred to sleep as the “balm for hurt minds.” While a full night of slumber stabilizes emotions, a sleepless night can trigger up to a 30% rise in anxiety levels, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.
Article: Why Reading Before Bed Could Improve Your Sleep
Georgia James, Huffington Post, September 2016
With our technology driven 24/7 lifestyles, it’s little wonder so many of us go to bed with our minds still whirring from the stresses of the day. If, like many, you find it difficult to unwind and switch off at bedtime, a good book could be your best ally.