[Note: See another fun video PLUS
a list of alertness tips for work in the bonus articles at the bottom!]
Sleepiness Enhances Distraction During a Monotonous Task
Individuals who do not practice good sleep hygiene are more likely to be distracted while performing a monotonous task.
Reducing the amount of sleep time a person gets to five hours results in an increased risk of distraction, regardless of whether or not an outside influence (e.g., a television) was present.
The authors noted that, even without a contributing factor, sleep restriction still produced a small but significant increase in distraction.
“This suggests that even in non-distractive environments, sleepy people will seek distraction, possibly in an attempt to overcome sleepiness or boredom,” the authors write. “Whereas sleepiness-related distractions may be of little relevance to someone working in an office environment … for the individual who has to monitor surveillance screens, it could become more problematic. Of greater concern is the sleepy car or truck driver driving down a monotonous road.”
Indoor Exposure to Natural Bright Light Prevents Afternoon Sleepiness
A person who is indoors and exposed to natural bright light conditions faces a decreased risk of feeling sleepy in the afternoon.
The study examined the effects of brief indoor exposure to natural bright light on afternoon sleepiness. The authors found that such conditions would improve a person’s physiologic arousal in the afternoon, the effects of which lasted for at least one hour.
In addition, the authors studied the effect of a 30-minute afternoon nap on several kinds of task performances and physiologic arousal level. Their results measured consistent with previous studies, which demonstrated that a “power nap” in the afternoon does improve a person’s alertness level and ability to get things accomplished.
The authors concluded that a person profits from a 30-minute nap, but the benefits of short-term exposure to natural light should not be overlooked.
“Although the favorable effects of natural bright light exposure seemed slightly shorter than those of a brief nap, the present findings show natural light is a practical strategy to reduce afternoon sleepiness,” the authors wrote.
No Known Link Between Insomnia and Time Estimation Performance
Despite the common perception that persons suffering from insomnia may be poor estimators of time, a study conducted states that the opposite may be true.
The study compared the performance of insomniacs and of good sleepers on a time-estimation task. Contrary to the authors’ assumptions, the insomnia group was as accurate as the good sleeper group, and was not prone to overestimate time intervals. No significant relationships were found between the severity of insomnia complaint, sleep efficiency, depressive and anxiety symptoms and time-estimation performance.
“It is thus not possible to conclude that time estimation is affected in insomnia sufferers,” the authors wrote, noting that, in addition, several authors have discovered that time estimation was not affected by a person’s mood disorders (e.g., depression) as well.
The authors stated several reasons why insomniacs perform just as well as good sleepers on time-estimation tasks.
“Insomnia sufferers may misperceive their state of consciousness,” the authors wrote. “Insomniacs are more likely than good sleepers to report being awake when awakened from stage 2 sleep. Chronic sufferers can learn to discriminate sleep from wakefulness and, therefore, decrease their overestimations of sleep-onset latency.”
SLEEP is the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. Further information about this study can be found on the Internet at http://www.journalsleep.org
We get so many hits to this article on preventing drowsiness. I feel so bad for all those sleepy people seeking help. Wish I could jump inside the computer and do a tap dance or something, to keep our poor readers awake. But, instead, I am adding an article with even more ideas to stay awake. Good luck. At least if you realize you are sleepy, you probably won’t fall asleep on your keyboard. – Kimberly
A n o t he r s l e e p a r t i c l e…
Alertness Tips For Work
Found the article at DHMC.org
At DHMC, we have people working 24/7 and some whose shifts interfere with good sleep. Following are some tips to help us all get the sleep we need and be alert as we can be:
To Prevent Sleepiness
~ Don’t Get Behind On Your Sleep.
If you work the day shift, try to get as many hours of sleep on the days you work as you do on your days off. When you work other shifts, you’ll have to rely on your days off to catch up on your sleep. Don’t begin a new work period with an existing sleep debt. Usually this requires two nights of unrestricted sleep.
~ Take Naps. [Editor's note: Ian and I love a good nap. In Iceland, the hotels actually have "napping rooms", where there are several beds with cozy, wool blankets. And, there is an attendant, and you tell her what time you want to be waken up at. Now, that is what my office needs.]
If your work schedule doesn’t provide adequate “recovery” time between shifts or you have trouble sleeping for a full 8 hours daily, you may have to try several shorter sleep periods each day. Naps as short as 15 minutes can maintain or improve alertness, performance, and mood. The best time to take a nap is just before going to work, especially when it’s a night shift.
~ Develop A Bedtime Ritual.
Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine to unwind and send a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Avoid exposure to bright light before bedtime. Do take a hot bath. Don’t activate your brain by balancing a checkbook or doing other stressful activities.
~ Watch What You Eat Or Drink. Being hungry or overly full can interfere with falling asleep. If you’re hungry or thirsty at bedtime, a light snack or a small drink is preferable. Stay away from protein and stick to carbohydrates. Milk or dairy products also have been shown to induce sleep.
~ Avoid Caffeine And Nicotine. Stop consuming caffeine within five or six hours of your bedtime. Caffeine leads to lighter sleep with more awakenings and reduced total sleep time. Nicotine also should be avoided near bedtime or if you wake up during the night. Smoking, even though it feels relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream.
~ Limit Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol can promote relaxation and help you fall asleep, but it also produces easily disrupted, lighter sleep. Stop drinking alcoholic beverages within 4 hours of bedtime. Even then, the lingering effects may interfere with a good night’s sleep.
~ Avoid Drugs. Sleep medications (including natural supplements such as melatonin and valerian) may help you adjust your sleep pattern after a shift schedule change, but we cannot recommend their use on a regular basis. Stay away from drugs that can disrupt your sleep, such as prescription decongestants and over-the-counter medications containing caffeine or other stimulants.
~ Exercise. Although regular exercise will enhance deep sleep, you may not want to exercise vigorously just before bedtime. Some researchers advise avoiding strenuous exercise within six hours of going to bed as it raises your temperature and signals your body to wake up.
~ Maintain A Good Sleep Environment. Try to darken your bedroom and bathroom. Install light-blocking and sound-absorbing curtains or shades on the windows. If necessary, wear eyeshades and earplugs. Use a white noise machine, like a fan, to block other noises. Lower the room temperature, since a cool environment improves sleep. And finally, unplug the telephone and put a “do not disturb” sign next to the doorbell. To Increase Alertness
~ Be Active. Stretching and isometric exercises can be done while you are sitting. A brisk walk or stair climb may help during breaks.
~ Be Sociable. Conversation also can be useful in maintaining alertness. You must be actively involved in the conversation, however, not just listening.
~ Use Caffeine At Appropriate Times. [Editor's note: I am kind of a health nut. I am not sure I ever like the idea of using caffeine. But, guess it could be considered...]
Use it early in the shift to boost alertness throughout the work period. Exceptions might be when you are already alert, such as the beginning of a day shift or just after a nap. You may also want to consume it about an hour before expected times of reduced alertness, such as 3 to 5 a.m.
~ Eat Wisely. Certain types of food may provide a temporary increase in alertness (e.g., “sugar highs”), but this is usually followed by a decline in energy and on-the-job performance. Lean proteins, however, can maintain alertness over a longer period. A regular schedule of well-balanced, nutritious meals is recommended. Eating 5 to 6 smaller meals (or snacks) each day will minimize the peaks and valleys in your blood sugar and insulin levels.
~ Take A Nap On Your Break. Lab tests have shown that people who were allowed to nap had better performance and higher alertness than people who didn’t nap. On the other hand, napping is a lot like caffeine. It helps while at work, but can affect your ability to sleep at night. If you keep your naps to 15 minutes or less, you will minimize this problem.
~ Change Your Environment. Use your breaks to compensate for deficiencies in your work area. For example, if the work environment is too dark, find a place with as much light as possible. If the temperature is too warm, find a cooler location or one with a fan.
I messed up some of the footnotes. (Too sleepy, I guess) Please go to the main article to match up numbers in text and footnotes. Someday, when I am truly awake, I may try to re-do this. – Kimberly
FOOTNOTES:  Rosekind, Gander, Gregory, et al, “Managing Fatigue in Operational Settings 1: Physiological Considerations and Countermeasures,” Behavioral Medicine, Vol. 21, Winter, 1996. Carskadon and Dement, “Normal Human Sleep: An Overview,” in Kryger and Dement, editors, Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 1994. National Sleep Foundation, “ABCs of ZZZs,” undated.  Dr. Bob Arnot, “Alter Your Biology to Create Sizzling Mental Energy,” in USA Weekend, January 16, 2000.  Barry Sears, A Work in the Zone, ReganBooks, 2000. Rosekind, Graeber, Dinges, et al, “Crew Factors in Flight Operations IX: Effects of Planned Cockpit Rest on Crew Performance and Alertness in Long-Haul Operations,” NASA Technical Memorandum 108839, 1994. SS Campbell, “Effects of Timing Bright-Light Exposure on Shift-Work Adaptation in Middle-Aged Subjects,” Dept. of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College, White Plains, New York, USA Sleep, July, 1995. SOURCE: Shiftwork Solutions LLChttp://www.shift-work.com/2002(March, 2006)
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