With long work days and fully-booked nights, it’s no surprise that sometimes a solid eight hours of sleep is just not an option for many. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 “Sleep in America” poll, about one in ten Americans say they are likely to fall asleep at an inappropriate time — like during a work meeting. With some positions, falling asleep at inopportune times is simply embarrassing, but in other lines of work, falling asleep is very dangerous. Try these tips from TOPS Club, Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly®), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, to relieve fatigue and stay productive.
Get up and go
Studies from the American Heart Association say that movement increases the flow of blood to the brain, which, in turn, helps you feel more alert. Incorporating more activity into your day can give you a mood boost, too. A study of 210 UK workers, most of them with sedentary jobs, found that exercising during the workday made them feel more forgiving of their coworkers’ mistakes and more confident in their own abilities, as well as increased their work performance. Take a short walk outside the office, or inside if the weather isn’t cooperating, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand while talking on the telephone, and take regular breaks for stretching.
Pack some protein
A 2011 study published in the journal Neuron found that protein stimulates orexin cells in the brain, which send electrical impulses that keep us alert and awake. A carbohydrate-rich snack, on the other hand, boosts blood sugar and then lowers it just as quickly, which can cause that drowsy, dragging feeling. Quick, work-friendly, high-protein bites include a hard-boiled egg, a cup of Greek yogurt, a handful of pumpkin seeds, or almonds.
Give in to your caffeine craving
The reliable favorite, caffeine, undoubtedly works to keep your eyes open, but what’s the healthiest way to get it into your system, and how much is enough? Experts consider 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day a moderate amount. So to avoid jitters or insomnia later in the day, limit yourself to three eight-ounce cups of coffee. By comparison, according to the Mayo Clinic, black tea can have up to 61 milligrams per eight ounces. Coffee and tea are a better choice than sugary and sodium-filled energy drinks and sodas but should still be sipped in moderation.
Let the light in
Does your work environment feel like a cave? With no indicators of time of day or weather conditions, fluorescent lighting, and bleak surroundings, it’s easy to feel sleepy. If you don’t work in proximity to windows, studies have shown that having a live plant can be just as effective. A study recently conducted at Washington State University showed that having plants around a work area can greatly improve employees’ energy level. The results showed that workers with desk plants were 12 percent more productive and less stressed than those who worked in an environment with no plants. Subject reaction time in the presence of plants was also 12 percent faster than those in the absence of plants.
Keep tabs on your hydration
Water is important for your overall health and plays a part in energy levels as well. Dehydration can cause fatigue, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Also consider eating foods high in water, including strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchinis, to replenish.
TOPS Club Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly®) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 65 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS also provides a customizable weight-management component to employee wellness programs in the form of on-site weight-loss support chapters at workplaces of all sizes. TOPS has about 150,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in thousands of chapters throughout the United States and Canada.
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.