Categories
Insomnia Productivity Sleep Tiredness

Does Alcohol Help You Sleep Better?

Nightcaps

Avoiding the gin and juice

Depending on how much I used to drink, I thought that in some cases alcohol helped me to have a deeper level of sleep. No problem if I had a hangover the next day, all I needed was a few shots of coffee and loads of water and I’d be good.

However I made the mistake of drinking too close to a test once and thought that I could pull through with just coffee and water, but as you can guess things didn’t go according to plan.

As I have a few friends that drink heavily and always seem to bounce back unphased I wanted to figure out what I was doing wrong and what they did right. But, what I found out, with regards to productivity at least, changed my view of alcohol.

Night cap
Photo by @sophie.nva via Twenty20

A Drink Helps Me Sleep

It’s understandable. You’ve had a long, stressful day and want to unwind. It feels like too much effort to get up and do some exercise. A glass of wine or a can of beer helps you to relax.

Soon after you find yourself feeling less tense but drowsy, and you may even fall asleep on the sofa. Or perhaps for the past few days you’ve been finding it difficult to get to sleep, but after a drink, you seem to fall asleep faster.

So how can this be bad for my sleep? When talking with friends about this it seems that we all tend to agree that a light drink actually helps your sleep and doesn’t affect your productivity the next day.

But then I found a study on the effects of alcohol on sleep, which I found surprisingly interesting, not just because it was an interesting read, but also because it challenged some of my assumptions about sleep and alcohol.

 

The Productivity Disruptor

According to the study, there have been many studies documenting the negative effects of even low dosages of alcohol on sleep quality and next day productivity.

Not surprisingly the heavier the drinking session, the worse the hangover effects, but also the worse the quality of sleep and next day productivity levels.

Relative to their habitual night of sleep, Sleep Quality was significantly worse after the drinking session that produced the hangover. On the hangover day, daytime sleepiness was significantly elevated.
…Sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were significantly associated with the presence and severity of various individual hangover symptoms.

Schrojenstein Lantman, M., Roth, T., Roehrs, T., & Verster, J. (2017). Alcohol Hangover, Sleep Quality, and Daytime Sleepiness. /Sleep and Vigilance,/ /1(1),/ 37-41.

The top reported hangover symptoms included but weren’t limited to:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Thirst
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Reduced reaction speed
  • Nausea
  • Concentration problems

What I found fascinating was the similarities between hangover symptoms and caffeine withdrawal symptoms. It may be the reason why I thought that drinking lots of water and having a few shots of coffee was a legitimate cure for hangovers, as when you have caffeine withdrawal symptoms, drinking a coffee helps get rid of those symptoms very quickly!

Sleep Quality

So although alcohol may make you feel drowsy and fall asleep quicker, it actually can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep. Ok, so what should you do about it?

The easy answer, don’t drink close to bedtime (or give up alcohol completely) and get more sleep.

The more nuanced answer (for those that may suffer regularly from hangovers) is to:

  • Reduce the amount of alcohol that you consume when you have a busy schedule and don’t drink so close to bed time.
  • If you have a hangover whilst working, if possible take regular breaks and sneak a nap when you can.
  • Drink lots of water to rehydrate yourself.
  • It may be best to take the day off work to get yourself back to your normal productive self.

Review

Sleep is important, you don’t need me to tell you that. If you have a heavy workload or study schedule, it may be best to skip the drinks until things get a bit less hectic.

If you find that you have a hangover or just a bit fuzzy from the night before, be kind to yourself (and others) and take it easy until you are back to your normal self.

Afterword

If you are having difficulty focussing whilst giving up caffeine and/or alcohol, or in general, our app V-CAF can help. It’s an Apple Watch app that notifies you when your alertness levels drop so that you can take the appropriate steps to boost your alertness.

It’s available now on the App Store, download it today.

Categories
Sleep

Want Better Sleep?

Quick steps to better sleep

Quickly, let’s start…

Staring at the ceiling will happen to most of us from time to time. Perhaps you are thinking on a presentation that looms, tax returns, issues with the children in school, the multitude of thoughts that can swirl around your head at night is endless. It is good to know that it is not only your mind that needs to relax but your body too. We mostly live our lives at a frenetic pace will goals and task on a never ending to-do list, so just how do you keep things in balance for a better nights sleep?  

Happy, laying in the grass
Photo by Yingchou Han @hyingchou on Unsplash Enjoying the nature.

Keep it Simple

Many of us are experts at learning to live around clutter and all too often our bedrooms – out of view to unsuspecting visitors – becomes our sleep and storage area. Try to keep the bedroom, clutter-free. Open windows to refresh the room each day and regulate the temperature to the season. These simple steps will help to make your bedroom a relaxing space to gently lull you into a good sleep.

Let it Go

Sleep is essential to our well-being but stress can sometimes jeopardize our best intentions. Keeping a journal or blog can be one of the steps to reviewing the day and setting down thoughts that might otherwise keep us awake. It can be as detailed as you like, or perhaps you use it as a space to jot ideas, quotes and quick doodles. Just go ahead and let it go!

Silence Please!

Our homes may be bursting with claimed to be necessary mod cons such as the dishwasher. With a growing majority of the population living in apartments, our kitchens are closer to the bedroom than ever. By paying attention to our breathing, we can learn to not focus on the ding of background noise and help our mind & body relax in preparation for sleep.  A few deep breathes in through the nose and out through the mouth can be the beginning of a good nights sleep.

So when we take a few moments from our busy lives to tidy up, review the day and make time for mindful breathing, it will be time well spent for better sleep.

Categories
Caffeine Side Effects Sleepiness Staying Awake Tiredness

Would You Pay For Worse Sleep?

Would You Pay For Worse Sleep?

A good night’s sleep is priceless

We humans like the effects that caffeine has on us. It is one of the worlds most consumed stimulants and can be found in a variety of food, drink, and medical supplements.

However, there is a growing body of evidence that points to caffeine being responsible for interfering with our sleep and may be responsible for daytime sleepiness. 

Customer experience
Photo by Toa Heftiba @heftiba on Unsplash Customer experience, Camber Coffee, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

I’m Tired, Where’s The Coffee

It’s common for us to associate coffee and caffeine with alertness. So much so that we have hundreds of coffee phrases such as “Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep” and  “I don’t have a problem with caffeine. I have a problem without it.”

For many people a coffee first thing in the morning helps wake them up and sets them straight for the day, but by the time they get to work they need another, then another.

What most don’t realize is that it might be the caffeine that is making them feel tired in the first place!

Increased Tiredness

Various population-based studies suggest that ingesting more than the recommended daily limit for caffeine can be linked to daytime sleepiness. 
Ohayon MM, Malijai C, Pierre P. Guilleminault C, Priest RG. How sleep and mental disorders are related to complaints of daytime sleepiness. Arch Intern Med 1997;157(22):2645-52.

A Sleep Habits and Caffeine Use study of workers for the French National Gas and Electricity Company found a link between an increase of consumption of caffeine and the decrease of time spent in bed. The association suggests that caffeine is shortening sleep.
Sanchez-Ortuno M, Moore N, Taillard J, Valtat C, Leger D, Bioulac B, et al. Sleep duration and caffeine consumption in a French middle-aged working population. Sleep Med 2005;6:247-51.

Daily moderate to low usage of caffeine can interfere with your sleep and contribute to some people’s insomnia complaints; but stopping caffeine consumption can cause people to experience excessive sleepiness.

Decrease Tiredness

If you don’t consume a lot of caffeine then cycling your caffeine intake will keep you balanced without affecting your energy too much. That is, enjoy your caffeine product as usual but take a couple of days a week where you don’t have any. 

If you do consume a lot of caffeine then it may be best to gradually wean yourself off over several weeks. If you suffer from withdrawal, use the following:

  • Keep yourself occupied.
    By keeping busy you will have less time to think about your cravings.
  • Exercise.
    It helps lift your mood and helps you to have better quality sleep.
  • Have a sleep routine.
    Choose a time to go to bed and to wake up and stick to it. Be mindful of falling asleep during the day, and use a tiredness monitor like V-CAF. V-CAF will notify you when you are most likely to fall asleep, helping you to stay awake during the day.
  • Eat nutrient rich foods and drink plenty of water.
    Fuelling your body with the right foods and drinking water helps raise your energy over time.

Review

Over reliance on caffeine is causing us to deplete our energy levels. Reducing our caffeine intake or cutting it out completely can help reverse this trend but may initially make us feel even more tired.

Withdrawal tips:

  • Keep busy
  • Exercise
  • Stick to your sleep routine. 
  • Use a tiredness monitor, like V-CAF to keep you awake during the day.
  • Eat whole foods and drink plenty of water.

Conclusion

Your body deserves the best treatment that you can provide. Using caffeine ultimately takes from you and gives very little back.

Spend your time and energy on the things that will help enhance your life, not on things that cost you money and give you suffering.

Start giving back by following the advise in this post and making the right lifestyle changes.

You deserve it.

Categories
Caffeine Exercise Sleep Tiredness Weight Loss

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.

Categories
Caffeine Exercise Side Effects Weight Loss

Caffeine, Energy & Weight Loss

Caffeine, Energy & Weight Loss

Got to watch my figure…

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is on the rise. Not a day goes by without someone telling me about how good it is for weight loss and that they feel more energized. 

Whilst no stranger to IF I wanted to know if drinking caffeine would help me burn away those love handles faster and if there are any cons to this approach.

Starving
Photo by voidstern on flickr hunger

Caffeine and Weight Loss

For a lot of people drinking black coffee (or energy drink) and intermittent fasting works.

Reduced hunger, faster fat burn, more alert, what’s wrong with drinking caffeine?

Caffeine and its Potential Problems

Caffeine can affect some people rather negatively. The affects on your mind and body depend on how much caffeine you drink daily, your age, fitness and gender.

Some of the harmful side effects are:

  • Addiction to caffeine
  • Anxiousness
  • Poor sleep
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heartburn

Also, that alert or awake feeling is caused by caffeine tricking your brain into believing that the levels of a chemical called adenosine (which tells the body how tired you are) are reduced.

By blocking your brain’s cells ability to know how tired you are, neuron activity increases which alerts the pituitary gland to release hormones that tell the adrenal glands to increase production of adrenaline.

The Miracle of Water and Exercise

There are many ways to overcome this problem, but the first one is to take action and write something.

If you are used to drinking coffee or energy drinks, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop.

The key here is to keep going and use some of the tips outlined below, which will not only help with your withdrawal symptoms, but also increase the benefits of your fast.

  • Exercise
    Over time exercise can boost your energy. Deep sleep will be more common and that alone will make you feel less hungry and more alert. Also your body will become stronger and mind more focused. For more information read Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John J. Ratey 
  • Drink more water
    your brain is mostly water. Drinking more will improve your concentration, help balance your mood and emotions, increase blood flow and oxygen to your brain and help prevent headaches. And as a side benefit can increase your metabolism by 24-30%.
  • Use a tiredness monitor or alarm
    by knowing when you are feeling tired you can take control of your mood swings and act accordingly. V-CAF is an Apple Watch app that alerts you when you are most likely to be tired.
  • Preserve
    Keep track of the days that you complete a fast without caffeine and set yourself goals. Take things a day at a time, and over time you will reap the benefits.

Summary

On the face of it caffeine and intermittent fasting seem to be a match made in heaven. However, I’ve outlined that you can in fact get better results naturally, it is just a little bit more uncomfortable at first, but you will be in control.

Try these tips:

  • Exercise more
  • Drink more water
  • Track your tiredness (with tools such as V-CAF)
  • Track your progress using the above mentioned tips

Your Choice

You’ve made it to the end, congrats.

To reap the benefits of your hard spent time you must act on what you’ve learnt. Nothing beats informed practical application and now you have the advantage. 

Use the points highlighted in this article as you see fit, but please make sure you have fun whilst doing it.