Management of fatigue is a very important part of your personal safety and health. The average adult sleeps less than seven hours each day and more than a third of adults experience significant daytime sleepiness that affects their work and social functioning as a result. Most people need on average eight hours of sleep each day to mitigate the effects of fatigue, some might need more.
Sleep deficit is the most common contributing factor of fatigue and is built up slowly over consecutive nights of shortened or interrupted sleep. As a consequence it is often ignored but can produce a decline in performance such as slower reaction times, failure to respond to changes and the inability to concentrate and make reasonable judgments. 17 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05. If your sleepless hours add to 21, your blood alcohol content can reach 0.08.
Researchers say lack of sleep is connected to cardiovascular disease, hypertension and high blood pressure. It also compromises the immune system, contributes to obesity and severely impairs mental judgment. Dieting might be more difficult too. Recent findings also show that when you are sleep deprived, your body actually boosts production of the hormone that makes you hungry.
How can you improve your sleep?
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other chemicals that interfere with sleep, 3 to 6 hours before bedtime.
- Turn your bedroom into a sleep-inducing environment by making it a quiet, dark and cool environment.
- Establish a pre-sleep routine like reading or taking a warm bath as the warm temperature promotes drowsiness.
- Go to sleep when you’re truly tired. If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing (watching the television or using the computer are stimulating activities and not relaxing).
- Don’t be a night time clock-watcher as this can increase stress and make it harder to fall to sleep.
- Keep your ‘internal clock’ set with a consistent sleep schedule each day.
- Lighten up on evening meals or finish dinner several hours before sleep so as to allow your body to digest the food.
- Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly as long as it's done at the right time. Try to finish exercising at least 3 hours before bed or work out earlier in the day.