How Can I Stay Awake?

I Need to Stay Awake II

More wide awake tips…

I’ve recently been extremely busy and had fallen behind on some of my tasks and also had a new bunch of tasks to take care of too.

I decided to put more hours in to get the work done but found that as I was working I just couldn’t stay awake!

This had the knock on effect of making me have to work longer to catch up with my work, which in turn made me feel more tired.

I eventually got the work done and what I want to share with you was what I learned by having to go through that difficulty so that it may help you if you ever find yourself in that situation.

Must-stay-awake!
Photo by Matthew T Rader@matthew_t_rader on Unsplash

Drowsy Whilst Working

Many of us go through phases where we feel too tired to get the job done but we do somehow. In my own life I’ve experienced this as a student, employee, employer and parent.

Even though we get through these phases and complete the tasks or goals that we have to achieve, the experience is far from pleasurable. Over time if we repeat these cycles it can become extremely difficult to motivate ourselves to even attempt to get things done.

This is bad as we can start to attribute these feelings with the tasks that we have to do, making us feel resentful and depressed.

What Tiredness Costs You

Having feelings of resentment because you are tired whilst working (or studying) makes the work more difficult than it needs to be.

Feeling tired makes it difficult to do basic cognitive functions such as paying attention, concentration, accuracy and memory recall, which results in less than stellar performance and less productivity – leading to feeling even more resentful and frustrated. 

Over the long term this can lead to mood disorders and chronic diseases, causing harm to your career or long-term life goals. 

Mix and Match

There are a myriad of techniques that you can use to get you over that hump when you’ve got to get some work done. 

But what I found that worked surprisingly well was mixing and matching the following techniques. The beauty of this is that everyone is different so it gives you the opportunity to tailor it to your own needs as you see fit, giving it more chance of success because it is your work that you put the effort into.

  • Motivation
    This is probably key to making all the other steps work, or work better. Give yourself a target that if you achieve you’ll get a reward of your choice. Make multiple or incremental goals to help motivate you to get through the difficult parts.
  • Give yourself time limits
    Set a time limit for blocks of work or study, say three twenty to twenty-five minute periods, using the Pomodoro technique, or other themed timer app (I use Forest).
  • Use a tiredness monitor or alarm
    Even though you are tired, use a tiredness alarm like V-CAF that notifies you when you are going to nod off. That way you can stop where you are and refocus yourself and wake yourself up so that you have full concentration until the next alarm.
  • Drink something (not alcoholic)
    For me water is best, but there are other alternatives to caffeine based energy drinks such as B vitamin products, herbal and protein supplements. And of course there are caffeine drinks and products too, but these are my last choice.

Review

What eventually worked for me was to motivate myself with a reward, drinking water and using the tiredness monitor.

You are free to try the same or make your own mix, as long as you try something to get over that hump.

Once again:

  • Motivate yourself by setting goals that give you a reward if completed
  • Give yourself time limits, use tools like The Pomodoro Technique or Forest to help focus on the task at hand
  • Use tiredness monitors like V-CAF.
  • Drink water, energy drinks, coffee – whatever works for you

Conclusion

The key here is to set your own goals and use your own system to get the results you need.

Nobody knows you better than yourself.

How Tiredness Affects Productivity

Tiredness and Productivity

Tiredness = no productivity

One of the best ways to increase your potential and value to yourself, family and the marketplace is through increased productivity.

Whether you are a student needing to be more productive in your study regime, a parent wanting to achieve more with your family, an employee wanting to increase your earning potential and/or status, or an entrepreneur looking to get the edge over your competition, we could all benefit from an increase of productivity.

Unfortunately, many people equate more productivity with more hours spent doing a perceived task that on the face of it looks productive, but is in fact draining their energy and making them feel tired and fatigued. 

This is especially so if the extra hours they gain to spend on tasks are taken from their sleep. It may seem to work at first, but eventually it catches up with you and can lead to serious health issues in the long term.

Do More
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl @carlheyerdahl on Unsplash My current desk setup as of 2016. I am a wedding and portrait photographer and have always believed the space you do work in has a big impact on the quality and kind of work you complete. I have been refining my workspace since I was in high school and I am really happy where it is now!

Too Tired to be Productive

These days many people equate having less sleep to being a productive go getter, a hard worker or dedicated employee.

Iconic political and industrial elites are lauded for their ability to run countries and business on the least amount of sleep possible. For example:

  • Donald Trump – 3 to 4 hours
  • Margret Thatcher – 4 hours
  • Jack Dorsey – 4 to 6 hours
  • Indra Nooyi – 4 hours
  • Sergio Marchionne – 4 hours
  • Martha Stewart – 4 hours
  • Thomas Edison – 4 hours
  • Benjamin Franklin – 5 hours

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat, fueled his productivity on four hours a night sleep and drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. And Thomas Edison is quoted as saying that sleep is “a heritage from our cave days”.

Whilst it is possible to work fatigued, is it the most optimal and efficient way of working whilst safeguarding your health?

Diminishing Returns

Lack of sleep has been linked to:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s

Also, as you become more tired you’ll find that your productivity starts to decline. It becomes increasingly difficult to pay attention, process information and even remember your tasks.

Worryingly, according to a study by Angus and Heslegrave, just one night of reduced sleep lead up to a 30% decrease in performance efficiency in test subjects.
Angus RG, Heslegrave RJ. (1985). Effects of sleep loss on sustained cognitive performance during a command and control simulation. Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 17:55-67

Paying Down Your Sleep Debt

So how do you get more sleep when you have a heavy workload? By organizing your time better.

Sleep should be a priority for your health as well as your productivity. Making getting enough sleep a priority in your life will help you to be more productive and less stressed which in turn allows you to be more productive during your waking hours.

Ultimately this is going to be a lifestyle change and a choice that only you can make. The following tips are guides to help you adjust your priorities and help make the shift as comfortable as possible.

  • Get to bed between 9pm and 10pm.
    Your body starts to release melatonin around 9pm. If you get to bed around this time then the deepest part of your sleep will be around 2am.
  • Exercise regularly to help your body to sleep deeper.
    Exercise is also a very good stress reliever which will lift your mood and strengthen your body.
  • Whilst working, when you feel tired take regular breaks.
    As we’ve discussed earlier, tiredness diminishes our productivity. Using an app like V-CAF will alert you to when you are too tired to focus efficiently so that you can take a natural break, before getting back to work.
  • Eat and drink healthily.
    I wouldn’t recommend Sergio Marchionne’s cigarette and coffee routine, but rather eating whole unprocessed foods and drinking plenty of water. The results will speak for themselves.

Review

Like anything of value in life, there are no shortcuts to increased productivity if you value your health and quality of living.

Working longer hours doesn’t necessarily equate to higher productivity, especially if we sacrifice sleep to achieve that end.

Prioritize your sleep and it will pay you back handsomely. 

To summarize:

  • Go to bed between 9pm and 10pm.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take regular breaks when focusing on your tasks. Use V-CAF to monitor your tiredness so that you can act accordingly.
  • Eat and drink healthily.

Conclusion

Your most valuable productive asset is you. If you value your productivity look after yourself by sleeping better and getting more rest.

How To Boost Your Energy

Energy Boosters

Lift off…

Feeling tired, fatigued or burnt out? You’re not alone. According to the National Safety Council more than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived.
Fatigue – You’re More Than Just Tired, NSC

The fact that tiredness is on the rise may account for the global demand for energy-boosting products being at an all time high. Caffeine consumption is on the rise and producers are capitalizing on the trend by providing more products that contain caffeine.

With all these products being put out in the market, it may make it easier to exceed recommended caffeine limits. 

So what are the alternatives to consuming caffeine to boost our energy levels?

Boost
Photo by dan carlson @dan_carl5on on Unsplash Full focus at a coffee shop

Why Are We So Tired?

Our modern lifestyles tend to encourage behaviors that as a whole can lead us to feeling tired. Demanding jobs, long shifts, long weeks, sleep loss, no rest breaks and long commutes are just a few of the ways that we may be contributing to our tired state of affairs.

Compounding the issue is our willingness to use stimulants such as caffeine to give us a boost of energy to get us through the day.

Does Caffeine Really Boost Our Energy Levels

Caffeine tricks our minds into releasing dopamine, which makes us feel alert, motivated and good about ourselves. This makes us feel as though we have more energy than we actually have.

Eventually, you’ll need ever increasing amounts of caffeine to achieve the same energy boosting effects. This can happen as soon as a week to 12 days.

When trying to give up caffeine, withdrawal symptoms can begin as fast as between 12 to 24 hours, explaining why some people need a coffee in the morning to feel as though they are awake.

Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

Alternative Boosters

Companies such as Bayer AG, PepsiCo, Boehringe Ingelheim GmbH and Sanofi are investigating using herbal and/or traditional medicines as alternatives to using caffeine.

As an individual you can use the following techniques and tips right away to help boost your energy:

  • Number one is to get more sleep.
    Although everyone is different, studies show that most people are most alert when they regularly get between 7 to 8 hours sleep.
  • If you are working on a tedious task, take regular breaks.
    Performance tends to decrease after 90 mins of continuously working.
  • Be alerted to when you are tired by using a tiredness alarm like V-CAF.
    V-CAF is an Apple Watch app that works by subtly notifying you when you are most likely to be drowsy and not focused on your current activity.
  • Eat whole foods and avoid foods containing processed sugar.
    This will help keep your energy levels balanced throughout the day.

Review

The best way to boost your energy is to make better lifestyle choices and avoid stimulants that trick your body into thinking it has more energy than it does.

Here are the takeaways:

  • Get more sleep
  • Whilst working or doing something that you need to focus on, take lots of breaks
  • Use tiredness alarms such as V-CAF
  • Eat whole foods, avoid processed foods

Conclusion

Tiredness is our body’s way telling us to slow down and take care of ourselves.

By trying to short circuit our body’s defense systems, we put ourselves and others at risk.

A few simple lifestyle changes can really improve our quality of life.

Caffeine and the Herd

Are You A Herd Follower?

Break free, be you…

Currently I am on a course learning about how to understand current market conditions and how to maneuver through them in these challenging times.

Everyone in the course seems very intelligent and if not at the top of their game, very near it. They all strike me as being independent thinkers and more suited to be leaders rather than followers.

The course instructor is intelligent and quick-witted and keeps everyone engaged. However, I couldn’t help but notice that he made a point of telling us the times of the coffee breaks, where the coffee was located and how much it costs.

At the break times more than half of the attendees would have a cup of coffee or at least debate having one. No big deal. A few of them in conversation told me that they needed their coffee in the morning to wake up, others said they drink out of habit.

This got me thinking about a study I read that suggested that a lot of people start drinking coffee or caffeine drinks because of social or work etiquette. The study went on to say that those who do have a caffeine dependency tended to develop them whilst working or studying.

So, in this article I’ll be looking into the role of peer pressure plays in peoples caffeine dependency.

break out from the herd
Photo by Theo Leconte @theoo on Unsplash A cow

Caffeine is the most commonly used legal stimulant. The majority of us get our fix via coffee, tea and soda.

It is noted in Wikipedia as a “Notable Stimulant” and is stated as being the world’s most widely used psychoactive drug.
Stimulant, Wikipedia 

Yet most don’t see it as a drug and rarely think about the effects that overdosing may have on their physiology. Caffeine is seen as normal and is entrenched in our culture. The following quote from Scientific American indicates how caffeine consumption has become part of our daily experience:

“Morning commuters seem to fall into one of two categories: the Caffeinated and the Un-caffeinated…

The Caffeinated are bright-eyed and engaged with the day’s events already—they’re reading their morning papers, or checking email, or reading for pleasure…

This is not the case for the Un-Caffeinated. This group sleeps through the AM commute both on the commuter trains and the subway. They’re bleary eyed.

The line that runs out the door of the Starbucks across from my job never seems to shrink. Are the ranks of the Caffeinated growing?

The culture of coffee has been carefully cultivated to ensure maximum reach.”

Krystal D’Costa August 11, 2011, Scientific American 

Pressure

In 2018 the global caffeine market was valued at $340 million, of which North America was the largest consumer (12,572 metric tons), 36% of global consumption.

Caffeine production is dominated by 11 companies, which account for 89% of global production. China is the largest global producer with a 54% share in the market. India is the second largest producer. The biggest companies are:

  • CSPC 
  • BASF 
  • Shandong Xinhua 
  • Kudos Chemie Limited 
  • Aarti Healthcare 
  • Zhongan Pharmaceutical 
  • Jilin Shulan 
  • Youhua Pharmaceutical 
  • Spectrum Chemical

MarketWatch

The market is expected to grow to $610 million by 2025. This translates to a projected increase in demand of 179.41%. Where do you think that demand is going to come from?

The global coffee industry is worth over $100 billion, and is currently experiencing compound annual growth rate of 5.5%.

“the coffee market is currently experiencing considerable growth in economies around the world, with the rise in urbanization and the demand for quick, quality product fueling the expansion.  The market is expected to continue to inflate in the next five years, leaving ample room for returns and profit.”

Andrew Menke, The Global Coffee Industry, Global Edge 

Manufactured demand for caffeine products is well underway now. Maybe it’s time to start asking questions about why you consume caffeinated products. 

Is it really your choice, or is something/someone else at work here?

Uniquely You

And now we can look at the bigger picture a bit clearer. Cultural norms can be created to get us to act in predetermined ways. Whilst good for companies, they are not necessarily always for our benefit.

I have outlined some of the effects of the overconsumption of caffeine in other articles in an attempt to bring awareness to this issue.

I believe that the best way to deal with the effects of over consuming caffeine is to take positive actions that will help us to reclaim control over our lives and ourselves.

This blog and our app, V-CAF, is an attempt by us to try to make a difference by being the difference we want to see in the world.

The following tips are things that I found useful to help me overcome my tiredness and lack of motivation:

  • Exercise – raises energy the old fashioned way by increasing our  body’s capability to deal with stress, and expands endurance. The benefits are too numerous to list here but, it just works.
  • Sleep – exercise helps us to have better quality deeper sleep. Sometimes the amount of sleep is not enough, but deep quality sleep is what we should be striving for.
  • Tiredness – feeling tired led to the development of V-CAF an Apple Watch app that subtlety informs you when you are most likely to fall asleep. By knowing that you are tired you can take measures to help bring your alertness and focus back to where you need it more efficiently.
  • Eat well – good quality whole foods will give your body the fuel it needs to get through the day. Also by eating healthily you can increase your energy and raise your mood.
  • Drink Water – keeping your brain hydrated will do wonders for your focus and alertness whilst helping your body to cleanse itself.

Review

Don’t follow the herd and take control of yourself. There is nothing wrong with drinking coffee or consuming caffeinated products in moderation. However, if you find yourself doing anything because of habit, ask yourself why?

Here are the takeaways:

  • Do Exercise
  • Get Deep Sleep
  • Use tools like V-CAF to help keep you notified of when you feel tired.
  • Eat Good Quality Whole Foods
  • Drink Water

Conclusion

If you don’t take control of your own life, someone else will.

Each one of us is unique and responds differently to stimuli.

Remember this and reclaim your most valuable asset, you.

Are Energy Drinks Dangerous?

Waking Up To The Dangers of Energy Drinks

Wake up…

The amount of people that consume energy drinks is increasing. Drinkers are looking for more energy, alertness and stamina, but aren’t necessarily aware of the amount of caffeine they are ingesting. 

Unaware that it is possible to be poisoned by caffeine, many consume more than the recommended daily limits of 400mg.

Unfortunately, because caffeine is a drug, you can develop a tolerance to it, which in turn leads to an ever-increasing amount of consumption to get the same effects.

In this article I’ll point out some of the dangers related to increased caffeine consumption due to drinking energy drinks.

Mercy Monster
Photo by thom masat @tomterifx on Unsplash Mercy Monster, San Francisco, United States

Caffeine Unawareness

A consequence of the increasing consumption of energy drinks is a rise in unintentional caffeine poisoning.

Consumers of energy drinks may think that they are harmless and overlook the dangers that they are exposing themselves too.

Compounding the problem is that many caffeine energy drinks do not list the amount of caffeine they contain, and are marketed as healthy dietary supplements because they contain ingredients such as milk thistle or ginkgo.

The Damage Caused by Drinking Too Many Energy Drinks

Caffeine is already seen as an acceptable drug by society, and few see any issues with consuming it. In fact it’s seen as being a valuable productivity aid.

Of late, energy drinks have also been increasingly used as a weight loss aid and as a strength booster whilst exercising.

Doctors and medical professionals are unsure about the long-term affects of over stimulating your nervous system.

By regularly consuming more than 400mg per day of caffeine you increase the likelihood that you will suffer from the following ailments:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Convulsions
  • Increased heart rate (possibly Tachycardia)
  • Abdominal pain

Know Your Limits

Being aware of the dangers of drinking too much caffeine is the first step in protecting your health. The next is to take action.

Below are some alternative tips to help you get the positive effects of drinking energy drinks, without caffeine:

  • Drink water
    Increasing your water intake can help boost your focus.
  • Do regular exercise
    Regular exercise can boost your strength and stamina, as well as help increase your focus and alertness.
  • Take notice of your tiredness
    Take note of when you are tired and work with your body’s natural rhythm. Tiredness alarms such as V-CAF subtly alert you to when you are most likely to be tired, so you can take the appropriate action.
  • Get better quality sleep
    Quantity of sleep isn’t enough. By also having better quality sleep you can increase weight loss, increase productivity and boost your mood.

Summary

People have died due to over consuming energy drinks. Researchers think that it is the lack of public awareness to the dangers of drinking too much caffeine that has lead to these deaths.

By being aware of the elevated caffeine levels in energy drinks you can help protect your health.

To avoid drinking energy drinks:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Have a regular exercise routine
  • Take notice of your tiredness by using tiredness alarms such as V-CAF 
  • Get better quality sleep

Conclusion

Caffeine is becoming more popular as an ingredient in many food and drink products, making it difficult to keep track on how much caffeine we consume.

It may be wise to limit the amount of caffeine that we consume each day so that we don’t unwittingly poison ourselves.

Is It Okay To Caffeine Relapse?

What To Do When I Relapse?

Take it one day at a time

It is difficult for many who have become dependent on caffeine to give it up.

Many of those that try to abstain from consuming caffeine find themselves at some point going back to drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks. Some even find themselves consuming more than they did before they tried to abstain.

In this article we’ll discuss if it is such a big deal to go back to consuming caffeine and what to do if you find yourself going back.

Enjoy The Café in Italy
Photo by jwlez @jwlez on Unsplash Enjoy The Café in Italy, 10 Corso Como, Milano, Italy

Caffeine Relapse

You have done the difficult thing of accepting that you have a problem with caffeine dependency and decide to take the plunge and to give it up.

The first few days are tough, but you do well. Then one day you find yourself with a caffeinated drink in your hand about to take a swig saying to yourself, “I failed”!

This is far more common than you may think. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that between 40 and 60 percent of people recovering from drug addiction relapse.
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Triggers

This is further compounded by the fact that the withdrawal symptoms are similar to the reasons why so many people start consuming caffeine.

Withdrawal symptoms including, but not limited to the following are common:

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Lack of focus
  • Diminished concentration
  • Irritability

The withdrawal affects themselves can act as relapse triggers. Other triggers such as feeling down, lack of sleep and environments that remind you of consuming caffeine make it very difficult to give up caffeine.

What You Can Do

Relapse doesn’t mean that you can never quit. In fact it’s actually part of the recovery process. Your attitude towards your relapse can greatly affect if you try again or give up.

Here are some tips to help you to get back on track:

  • Restart immediately
    The faster you decide to continue your abstinence, the easier it will be for you to get back in the flow.
  • Avoid triggers
    Analyze what frame of mind you were in when you relapsed, and work to avoid or overcome it next time around.
  • Don’t be tired
    Being tired increases the risk of you falling back into your caffeine dependency. Get more sleep and use tiredness alarms such as V-CAF that will alert you when you are most likely to be tired, so that you can take the appropriate action to wake yourself up.
  • Join or build a support group
    By joining a support group you can get very helpful positive feedback and advice that can help you either stay on course or put you back when you fall off. 

Review

Relapsing is part of the recovery process and many people have found that after a relapse, that they are stronger in facing caffeine dependency the next time around.

Remember to keep a positive mindset and follow our tips:

  • Restart immediately
  • Avoid triggers as much as possible
  • Get enough sleep and know when you are tired, by using tools such as V-CAF 
  • Become a member of a support group

Last Thoughts

Again, be positive and don’t give up!

To benefit you must act on what you now know. Nothing beats informed practical application and now you have an advantage. 

I’m sure that you’ll be successful, but here’s wishing you luck anyway.

How to Build a Plan Against Caffeine Addiction

How to Build a Battle Plan Against Caffeine Addiction

Win the war against addiction

You’ve finally done it. You’ve decided to give up caffeine once and for all. That’s great, and well done; but where to start? What’s needed to succeed?

In this article we’ll walk through the process of creating a plan that will help you to conquer your caffeine addiction! 

Planning
Photo by oxana v @arttravelling on Unsplash my work space. I’m the founder of the company Arttravelling ( travel for artist)

Wanting to Quit

We all know that addictions are difficult to overcome. Many addicts want to give up their addiction but find it too difficult to let go of the temporary satisfaction that giving into their addiction brings.

Unfortunately when someone is under the influence of an addiction it becomes difficult to think logically, which in turn leads them to act irrationally and continue to depend on a substance that they know is doing harm to themselves.

It’s Difficult to Stay the Course

Caffeine addiction is so effective because it tricks the brain into releasing dopamine and serotonin.

Dopamine activates the pleasure or reward centers of the brain. When an activity releases dopamine, the brain makes an association between the action and pleasure, which if abused can lead to addiction.

Serotonin acts as a mood regulator, and is known for inducing good moods and happiness. The body needs tryptophan (an essential amino acid) to produce it. Sources of tryptophan include eggs, salmon and nuts. Because caffeine is known to increase the production of serotonin, natural levels of serotonin will feel less than adequate. 

The fact that these two chemicals are affected by caffeine may explain why when people try giving it up they feel some if not all of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Low energy

Your Plan

Many people that are trying to quit caffeine fail, and feel bad about it. Some feel so bad that they flat out wont try to quit again, believing that they are just more naturally addicted to caffeine.

However, everyone has the potential to beat a caffeine addiction, it’s just that they underestimate how difficult it can be.

There is no one thing that can beat an addiction, rather it takes planning and numerous strategies to overcome it, some of which are outlined below.

  • If you are in a work environment, try starting your caffeine abstinence on a weekend.
    That way you can go through some of the withdrawal without the temptation of watching others drinking coffee or energy drinks.
  • Share your struggles with others.
    Join a social media group dedicated to fellow caffeine addicts to get nonjudgmental encouragement and support. They are also often a goldmine of info and resources that can help make the withdrawal easier.
  • Be aware of your tiredness.
    When you are tired it is easier to relapse back into old habits. For me I replaced waking up in the morning and reaching for a coffee, with reaching for water to drink. I also use a tiredness Apple Watch app called V-CAF . It alerts me when I’m most likely to be tired so I can take preventative measures.
  • Seek professional help – councilors and doctors can help with advice and in extreme cases medication.
  • Take it a day at a time.
    Track your progression using a chart or journal so that you can see the progress you are making. The charts and journal can also help you on your weak days to remind you that you’ve done it before and can do it again.

Review

Addictions are very complex. There are no known magic bullets that can slay the beast. However, there are positive steps that you can take to battle and win.

  • Choose to take action and commit, and then plan.
  • If you are starting your abstinence, start on a weekend.
  • Join a social media caffeine addicts support group.
  • Be aware of your tiredness and use a tool like V-CAF.
  • Seek professional help.
  • Keep a journal or chart your progress.

Conclusion

Taking charge of your response to caffeine addiction goes a long way in helping you to overcome it.

Use the techniques in this article as a starting point, but to get the best results make it personal to you.

You can do it 🙂

Difficulty Staying Awake?

Do This Every Day To Conquer Tiredness

Be Victorious

Whenever I ask my friends and family how’s things going, a significant amount of the responses I get back state that they are tired.

Looking at a few of the headlines out there seem to suggest that tiredness is becoming more common than ever before:

The reasons why exhaustion and burnout are so common, BBC

The exhaustion epidemic, The Guardian

The Fatigue Epidemic, Honor Society

The reasons for why this appears to be a growing trend are numerous and are beyond the scope of my understanding, what I do know from personal experience are that there are measures that we can take personally to help beat tiredness.

Conquerer
Photo by Robin Corps on Flickr Fighting

Tiredness Today

Although tiredness appears to be a growing trend, I personally believe that it has always been a factor in a lot of people’s lives. The difference today is that with social media and the Internet people are more willing to talk to others about how they really feel.

Of those that seek medical advice, many come away feeling disappointed as they were expecting a magical cure to something that is fundamental to the human experience.

Holding Me Back

Tiredness reduces your ability to fully appreciate life. It reduces your productivity; alertness and can affect your mental health as well as your relationships and social interactions.

If not dealt with effectively, tiredness can manifest in numerous ways in your life:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Loneliness
  • Increase in risk of being involved in an accident
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Weight gain

What Can I Do?

The one thing that you can do every day to reverse this condition in your life is to commit to yourself to take action to overcome your tiredness. 

Unfortunately there are no quick fixes, but there are steps that you can consistently take to help yourself overcome your tiredness. I know it’s not a very popular message these days, but by taking responsibility for your response to the problem, you empower yourself to eventually succeed in overcoming your tiredness.

Here are some steps to help you on your way:

  • Sleep
    Make sure you get enough quality sleep. Deep sleep is quality sleep. This helps you feel less tired during the day and helps your mind and body prepare for tomorrow. How do you deep sleep? See the next point.
  • Exercise
    Just 25 – 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 4 hours before you go to bed can make all the difference to your sleep. It can help you fall asleep faster, improve your sleep quality and help you sleep longer. Also, the effects of exercise on your sleep can be seen to benefit you immediately, on the same night. 
  • Be aware when you are tired
    Notice the signs of tiredness in yourself and act appropriately. Tiredness alarms like V-CAF subtly notify you when you are most likely to be tired. Best of all it’s tailored to you.
  • Eat healthily 
    don’t eat processed foods, reduce your sugar intake and avoid caffeine in all it’s forms.

Review

The points outlined in this article aren’t easy, especially if it means a big lifestyle change, but at the same time they are not so hard. You can do this.

The most difficult part is agreeing to take responsibility and start.

  • Increase your quantity and quality of sleep. 
  • Increase your exercise (amount or intensity or both)
  • Be aware with your tiredness (use a tool like V-CAF)
  • Eat healthy 

What Will You Do?

Thank you for reading this far. This was a bit of a tough article, but hopefully you can see the benefit of a little tough love 😉

Take control, stay awake and stay alert.

Tired of Being Tired? So Was I

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.

Working Hard, or Hardly Working? Hahaha
Photo by Murray Barnes on Flickr Working Hard, or Hardly Working? Hahaha Funny, what? Tom, sleeping

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.
  • Move 
    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.

Review

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
  • Move

Closing Thoughts

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.

Caffeine Pills for Energy?

Do Caffeine Pills Give You Energy?

I want to know…

I have had a mixed relationship with caffeine pills. I used them quite a bit whilst studying, and although they worked, I was shocked at the effect they had on me.

Since then I haven’t touched them, but continued to use caffeinated drinks until fairly recently. My issue at the time was with understanding what I was risking by consuming more than the recommended amount of caffeine in one day over a relatively long period of time.

In this article I’ll highlight how easy it is to over consume caffeine and look at strategies that can help us to stay within the safe zone.

Energy in a pill
Photo by Dmitry Bayer @dmitrybayer on Unsplash

Unaware of the Limits

A lot of people, like me whilst I was studying, don’t keep tabs on how much caffeine they ingest.

Going over 400mg per day of caffeine is easily done. Two cans of an energy drink, or four cups of coffee is not that much. Especially when you are focused on completing a work assignment or studying.

Even more so if you enjoy eating chocolate, or have to take a headache pill, both of which contain caffeine.

Caffeine is even in chewing gum and candy.

Potential Dangers

Taking caffeine supplements further increase the risk of over consumption. Many dietary supplements and caffeine tablets contain higher levels of caffeine than food or drinks.

Typical side effects of normal caffeine consumption can be:

  • Increased alertness
  • Irritability
  • Higher body temperature
  • Dehydration
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate

Beware of these signs if you think you have gone over the limit:

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion

Alternatives and Reduction Strategies

Where possible, for the sake of your long term health and wellbeing reduce, or completely stop your ingestion of stimulants that trick your body into releasing chemicals to keep you awake.

Here are some guidelines that colleagues have suggested to me in the past and have worked:

  • When taking caffeine pills, don’t drink beverages that contain caffeine, and stick to the recommended dosage on the side of the bottle.
  • Drink water to rehydrate. It will help your mind focus better and help get more oxygen and blood circulating around your brain.
  • Know when you are feeling tired by using an alarm. V-CAF was and still is a game changer for me. It’s an Apple Watch app that notifies you when you are most likely to be tired or nodding off. I use it to let me know when I’m tired or have reduced focus so that I can take measures that wake me up, whilst avoiding caffeine.
  • Get up and take a walk. Very simple, but it works every time.

Review

Caffeine pills don’t so much give you energy but rather trick your brain and body into thinking that you must have energy.

Whilst the effects of taking them can be immediate, the long-term effects on your body leave a lot to be desired.

Try these action points to help reduce or even stop your dependency on caffeine to help you stay awake and focused:

  • Reduce the amount of caffeine you ingest when taking caffeine pills
  • Drink more water.
  • Know when you are tired, and take the appropriate actions.
    (Use V-CAF to help alert you to when you are tired).
  • Move about, get up and walk.

Now You Know

Hopefully you now are more aware of how easy it is to over consume caffeine.

Stay focused, stay alert and stay safe.

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