Tired of Being Tired? So Was I
We shall overcome…
For most of life from my teens I can remember feeling tired to the point of distraction.
School was difficult because I felt like I was constantly fighting to stay awake. By the time I went to University I was known for falling asleep at the back of lectures.
One lecturer even called me out and asked if I found his lectures boring, and another student shouted out “Don’t worry Dave, he does that to everyone”!
Drinking more coffee and taking caffeine pills actually made things worse. Things finally came to a head at work when one of my colleagues told our boss that I would nod off briefly.
Tired of being embarrassed about being tired I decided to take back control of my life, and with the help of another colleague who also had a similar issue, we decided to share what we have found that works and to let you know about a tool that we built to help people like us stop being embarrassed, to be more alert, and to be more awake.
Tiredness and Productivity
Tiredness during work hours has reached epidemic levels. The problem is that most don’t like to talk about it as it could show them as being unprofessional.
According to research conducted by Westfield Health, 86% of those who took part in the study believe their colleagues, including managers, do not understand the potential consequences of fatigue and lack of sleep and only 9% say their workplace would accept tiredness or fatigue as a genuine reason to call in sick.
Open Access Government, Tiredness and fatigue epidemic is affecting employee work productivity
Tiredness affects everyone. No matter how skillful, knowledgeable, or proficient someone is in his or her profession, nobody is exempt.
Not Seen in the Best Light
A lot of people will not admit to being tired at work due to how they would be perceived by their colleagues.
However, this can be at the least detrimental to productivity, and at worst dangerous or even fatal as tiredness directly influences people’s physical and mental abilities needed to complete even simple tasks.
The affects of tiredness in the workplace include:
- Reduced or lack of motivation
- Slower reaction times
- Diminished alertness
- Poor concentration
- Lower hand eye coordination
- Difficulty in retrieving and storing information in memory
- Inefficient information processing and
- Poor judgment
Tired people can also become quick to anger and therefore potentially dangerous to themselves and others.
What We Found That Works
The secret to beating tiredness during working hours is to efficiently manage the different layers that cause you to be tired.
Use the techniques outlined below togetherto help manage your tiredness and eventually overcome it:
- Get more sleep
Sleep longer and deeper. Most people need about 8 hours a day to be fully alert. But everyone is different. Use a measuring tool to find out the quality and quantity of your sleep. I use Pillow to track my sleep.
- If you are in a sleep deficit, grab a few minutes nap when you can
If it’s possible, have a 30 minute nap. It’s been proven to increase alertness whilst at the same time reducing tiredness. Use your lunch break to catch up.
- Use a tiredness alarm
V-CAF is an app that alerts you to when you are most likely to be tired and fall asleep. We developed it in response to our need to stay awake whilst working, studying or traveling. Used with the other tips in this article we’ve been able to increase our own productivity and feelings of accomplishment. Available only on the Apple Watch (at the moment).
- Use Stimulators
This includes modafinil, amphetamines and caffeine. Caffeine didn’t work for me too well as my tolerance levels were/are quite high. Speak to your medical advisor or doctor about the other two.
- Drink Water
Water helps keep you hydrated and helps you to focus more easily.
If possible stand at your desk, or go for a walk. The act of moving will get your heart pumping and help your brain to be more alert.
This is a very sensitive issue for a lot of people, which is why I decided to write about it. By facing up to what we feel we are weakest at, we help strengthen our resolve to overcome it.
So, summarizing the steps we can take to overcome tiredness at work, or school:
- Get more sleep
- If possible have a nap (30 minutes)
- Use V-CAF to alert you to when you are most likely to fall asleep or be tired
- Drink water
There is no need to be embarrassed about being tired. Many people in the workplace feel tired, but try to hide it by drinking too much caffeine.
By taking the step to confront your tiredness, you are putting yourself back in control of your mind, body and life.