Got the Sunday Blues? These 4 Tips Will Help You Beat It!

beat sunday monday blues

It happens to almost every working person.

Around mid-afternoon on Sunday we start to realize that our weekend is practically over and it’s time to get ready for a whole new work week.

With Monday right around the corner, we feel the oppression of the week (emails, tasks, the commute, business travel) suffocating us.

More than 81% of people experience Sunday blues according to a Monster.com poll while 59% experience them “really bad.”

But with the following 4 tips, you can keep Monday out of your mind until the clock strikes midnight, enjoy the entire weekend, and beat the Sunday blues for good.


Make Sunday, Funday.

Most people schedule the fun stuff on Saturday while reserving Sunday for the chores and other obligations that need to get done.

By moving all of your errands to Saturday, you get the chance to enjoy Sunday as a day off and have more fun.

By getting your obligations out of the way on Saturday, you free up Sunday to become a more fun and happier day. This provides you with joy when you need it most, according to Cassie Mogilner, happiness researcher and assistant professor at Wharton.


Get Social on Sunday

With so much research showing that people who are more social tend to be happier, use this scientifically backed tip to beat the Sunday blues.

Instead of going into hermit mode on Sunday, find time to enjoy with friends and family.

Try to turn your Sunday social event into a weekly ritual. Whether you go to church, yoga, or meet a friend at the café, doing something social will boost your mood.


Choose Active over Passive

Because Sunday is often “doing nothing” day, we tend to get our energy zapped and feel the blues even more.

Passive “doing nothing” activities like binge watching TV tend to not boost your happiness as much as an active leisure activity like running, a bike ride to the park or outdoor time with the family/kids.

Do something that gets you moving and you’ll be more in the moment and not thinking about the work week as much.


End the Work Week with a Plan

Before you leave work on Friday, set up your workspace so you can jump right in on Monday.

Create a specific Monday to-do list and flag all your emails that need attention.

Also try not to schedule meetings on Monday morning as they’ll just make your Sunday blues worse.

By planning ahead at the end of the work week, you can start the work week more relaxed, avoid forgetting something important and keep your mood elevated throughout the weekend.

There Are Consequences to Not Being Yourself at Work

being yourself at work

Sometimes who you are at work is not exactly who you are at home.

Perhaps your work persona is more organized or even more extraverted.

While it’s normal to behave differently in different situations, what happens if your job requires you to regularly be someone you’re not.

PhD candidate in social psychology at the University of Cambridge, Sanna Balsari-Palsule has been deeply researching this very issue.

Although personality seems to be largely genetic, people are able to act against their nature when needed. This concept named ‘free traits’ was pioneered by University of Cambridge psychologist Brian Little, who is collaborating with Balsari-Palsule.

Although capable of acting against our natures, it comes at a price. If it is done for too long, you risk increased stress, burnout, and even physical health problems.

Balsari-Palsule was curious how this would turn out in the workplace especially since your job can require certain behaviors from you that aren’t natural. She rounded 300 workers at a U.K. marketing firm and asked them to complete personality tests and surveys about their work life. She was also able to obtain information about their job performance and promotions history.

Although the data is still being analyzed, one finding so far is that it appears extraverts seem to suffer when they pretend to be introverts at work, even more so than introverts who take on an extraverted role.

Social people who were forced to perform quiet desk work reported higher levels of stress and less job satisfaction than social people who were allowed to express themselves naturally.

Suppressing your true self can also lower immune system response and have other health issues, reports Little.

Balsari-Palsule believes this research doesn’t just extend to introversion and extraversion but all personality traits. Acting out of character on any of the big 5 personality traits, can be harmful. The other four personality traits are:

  1. Openness: Includes characteristics such as imagination, insight, openness to new ideas and variety of interests.
  2. Conscientiousness: Cover attributes such as level of organisation, achievement orientation and dependability.
  3. Agreeableness: Includes features such as friendliness, kindness, trust and sensitivity.
  4. Neuroticism: Emotional stability, irritability and moodiness.

How to Undo the Damage

If you’ve not been yourself at work and feel the negative effects, you need to give time to allow yourself to revert back to your true self.

If you’re an introvert find time to recharge your batteries if you have had an extraverted day. Similarly if you’re extraverted go out to lunch with colleagues or find time to connect with other people.

Restorative periods allow you to recalibrate and remain stable at work which might be pulling you in unhealthy directions. While you may be able to fake it at work, you need to be able to restore yourself if you hope to have any longevity and lasting success and health

How to Gauge If You’re Sleeping Enough

how to know if you are getting enough sleep

Just recently the National Sleep Foundation issued a new breakdown of sleep guidelines by an individual’s age. But just like anything, an individual’s needs can vary from the norm.

A National Sleep Foundation representative says that individuals have a basal amount of needed sleep and as long as that is regularly had with good quality sleep, it shouldn’t change that much.

But did you know that if you miss out on sleep, you accrue “sleep debt” which needs to be paid back if you expect to feel rested. Now read these 8 tips to know if you’re sleeping enough.


Making Mistakes at Work?

If you’re not sleeping enough, you’re much more likely to make mistakes at work. If you’re experiencing more mistakes or accidents at work, sleep deprivation could be the cause. So notice if that is true for you.


You’re Annoyed

If you’re noticing more emotions whether annoyed, angry, or depressed, these mood changes could be caused by lack of sleep. If you’re feeling energized, you probably had a great night of sleep.


It’s a Stressful Time

When you’re going through a challenging time or dealing with a lot of stress at work, you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Big life changes can interrupt your sleep patterns and cause you to become sleep deprived.


Do You Sleep in on Vacation?

If you don’t set you alarm clock while on vacation, how late do you usually sleep in? The last time you had a whole week off without any commitments, did sleep in or wake up early? These clues shed light into your natural sleep habits. You can learn your body’s need for sleep and adjust accordingly.


Sleeping Light

If you wake up repeatedly at night or take a long time to fall asleep, you’re not an efficient sleeper and might need more than 8 hours.


After Sleep. How Do You Feel?

If you’re groggy upon waking (sleep inertia), that’s a sign you didn’t sleep enough or in some cases, too much.


The After Lunch Lull

While most people experience a drop in energy after lunch, if you’re downright groggy to the point of your eyelids closing, you need to get more sleep at night or take a quick nap.


How do Your Parents Sleep?

Genetics plays a role in our sleep behavior. Take a look at your parents’ sleep patterns and see if it relates to your own. But don’t dictate your sleep based on their habits alone since sleep needs can change with age.

Do you think you get enough sleep each night? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Sources and references: National Sleep Foundation, Fast Company

Best of the Web: Become Outstanding, Multi-task Properly, Setup an Ideal Workspace, Dare to Disagree and Sleep Better

outstanding leadership and management

This Million-Dollar Advice Will Make You an Outstanding Leader

“Earlier this month I was with a group of global experts who regularly consult with the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders both in small growing businesses and Fortune 500 companies. We were preparing for the Million Dollar Consulting Convention, hosted by the rockstar of consulting himself, Alan Weiss, and I realized I had to ask everyone for their No. 1 piece of advice so that I could share it here.”


Dare to disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.


When Multitasking Makes You Happy and When It Doesn’t

Would you be happier if you spent an hour juggling emails, meetings, and data analysis, or if you spent that hour focused only on data analysis? Which would you enjoy more: a Saturday spent bouncing from running errands, to cooking an elaborate dinner, to playing with the kids, or a Saturday dedicated solely to playing with the kids? In short, how does variety among one’s activities influence happiness? Our research tackles this fundamental question.


How A 15-Year-Old CEO Is Bringing Eyesight To Those In Need

Lillian Pravda is the CEO of Vision for and from Children, which helps people without access to vision care. Pravda is also just 15 years old, and her organization has already provided eye care to more than 24,000 people.

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9 Ways To Turn Your Desk Into The Ideal Workspace

“Your workstation should fit you like a tailored shirt,” says University of California ergonomist David Rempel. “If I come to your workstation and you’re six inches taller than me, it shouldn’t fit me.”


Better Sleep, Naturally

The world looks very different at 3 a.m. when you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling or the clock. “How will I make it through tomorrow without any sleep?” you worry.

Health Warning: Sitting Kills

sitting bad for health

Thanks to commuting, working and watching television, we end up sitting a lot. On average it’s around 9.3 hours a day, which is more than we’re sleeping (7.7 hours).

Many studies (1 , 2) have pointed towards the harmful health effects of sitting. Here are the findings from a few of them:

  • Sitting over 6 hours a day, increases the chances of you dying within the next 15 years by 40%, as compared to someone who sits less than 3 hours.
  • People who reported sitting for more hours of the day had a 24% greater risk of developing colon cancer, a 32% higher risk of endometrial cancer and a 21% higher risk of lung cancer.
  • Sitting makes us fat. After 1 hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90%.
  • Sitting for too long was linked to a 91 percent increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.
  • Sitting is directly tied to 6% of the impact for heart diseases, 7% for type 2 diabetes, and 10% for breast cancer, or colon cancer.
  • It takes just one hour of sitting to decrease the blood flow from your legs to your heart by 50%.

Also, exercising regularly does not curb all of these harmful effects. In fact, sitting reduces the benefits of regular exercise.

No wonder sitting is being called the new smoking!

Luckily, many of these health hazards can be mitigated by taking hourly breaks to walk around and stretch for a few minutes. And as Nilofer Merchant suggests in this video, you can also consider having walking meetings.


10 Signs Your Job May Be Damaging Your Health (And What To Do About It)

job work damaging health

Today’s 24 hour lifestyle can have detrimental effects on your emotional and physical health – and nowhere more than in the workplace. If any of these symptoms apply to you, your job may be affecting your health.

You work long hours : A study in Europe revealed that constantly working overtime can damage the health of employees. Staff working over 10 hours or more a day on a regular basis faced a 60% higher risk of heart related problems in comparison to those who didn’t work overtime. In addition, working more than 11 hours each day increases the risk of depression.

You are exhausted by your daily commute : Spending several hours a day travelling to and from work by car, bus or train may have an adverse effect on your health. People who walk or bike to work are generally more energized and ready to face the day. Commuting by train, bus or car often leaves workers feeling exhausted and lethargic.

You can’t sleep : Insomnia is generally caused by stress – and more often than not stress at work. Concerns over job insecurity, unrealistic deadlines and a company that demonstrates a stark lack of concern over the well being of its employees all contribute to sleep deprivation.

You feel out of control : Many professionals report a strong sense of a lack of control in their career, primarily caused by unsupportive bosses, hostile co-workers and uncertainty in the workplace. This can increase feelings of resentment and anger, both of which are related to heart disease and depression.  If you experience physical symptoms of distress, such as nausea or palpitations, make an appointment with your doctor to assess your overall state of health.  Ongoing chronic stress can lead to long-term health problems.

You suffer from regular headaches, backaches and neckache : Prolonged, regular use of computers can cause headaches and eye strain. On top of that, long periods sat in one position can lead to problems with your joints, spine and tendons.  Ask your boss to invest in an anti-glare computer screen to reduce headaches. Take regular breaks and request annual eye tests. An ergonomically designed chair may alleviate some symptoms, together with regular breaks away from your desk. Eight hours sitting at a desk every working day is not conducive to long-term health benefits.

You’re putting weight on : Combine a sedentary job with too much convenience food at lunchtimes and weight gain is inevitable. An inactive lifestyle can result in a variety of associated health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

You just can’t concentrate : If your desk is cluttered with mountains of ‘to-do’ lists and reminders you’ve ignored, it’s likely that you are suffering from overload. 

You’re short-tempered with your colleagues, customers, family and friends : If you are snapping at friends, family and colleagues on a regular basis,  you are probably suffering from classic signs of burn-out.  You need to take a vacation or take a step back from your life to assess what is causing the areas of stress.

You work shifts :  Employees working shifts can often experience more serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, ulcers and depression.  The fatigue from working irregular hours and the knock-on effect on your body clock can also contribute to an increased risk of injury.

You dread going to work : According to the Human Relations Journal, employees who remain in a job as there is no alternative yet hate every moment spent in the office are more likely to suffer from related health problems. In the meantime, if you have no option but to continue where you are, take regular breaks, avoid working long hours and get plenty of exercise.

If you recognize yourself in the above symptoms, these five additional tips will help you to take a step in the right direction to improve your physical and emotional well-being :

Monitor your diet : Avoid artificial stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine.  Eating a low fat diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables can help to maintain your energy levels, rather than relying on soft sugary drinks and fast food. Look into the effects of garcinia cambogia, as some of that can help you with your energy levels.

Manage your time : Avoid late nights in the week.  Try and get up at the same time every morning, even at weekends, to avoid that lethargic ‘Monday morning’ feeling.  Create manageable to-do lists and set goals that are realistic to help you to focus.

Exercise : Regular exercise – just three times a week – of moderate intensity will improve your sense of well-being and help you to manage your weight.  Create time in your schedule – either before or after work or during your lunch hour. Remember to consult your doctor if you have not exercised for a long time or have significant weight issues.

Seek support : Prioritize your tasks, delegate what you can and request a review with your manager if you believe you are being overloaded with work.  It is not in anyone’s interest for you to take on a workload that is over and above your capability. 

Work flexible hours : Speak to your boss to see if you can either work flexible hours or work occasionally from home. For example, eliminating the commute to work just once a week will contribute to reduced stress levels and increased productivity.

Happiness Leads To Success. And Not The Other Way Around

happiness-success-work

This is a very funny video, which has some interesting insights on the relationship between success and happiness.

According to Shawn Achor, who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and who’s research on happiness made the cover of Harvard Business Review in 2012:

  • Most people believe that factors in the external world predict our happiness. However, 90% of happiness is based on how your brain processes the external world.
  • 75% of job success is determined by optimism levels, social support and ability to see stress as a challenge (instead of a threat). Only 25% is determined by IQ.
  • So we need to change the way our brain processes the external world and also change the formula for happiness and success.
  • Current formula: If I work harder, I’ll be more successful and then I’ll be happier. This is flawed because whenever we achieve a success, our brain changes the goal post e.g. you got into a good school for under graduation – now you need to get into a better school for post graduation. You got a good job with a good salary – now aim for a better one. So you never reach the end goal of success and therefore never reach happiness.
  • New formula: The current formula needs to be reversed. We need a way to be positive and happy in the present. . We need to be happy first, which leads us to be much more productive in all aspects of life – which leads to success.


Healthy Workplace Eating Tips to Keep You Firing on All Cylinders

healthy-workplace-eating-diet

Never mind failing to eat healthily during the course of their working days, various sources suggest that anywhere between 10% and 20% of workers never take a lunch break at all, often as a direct result of heavy workloads.  Even when they do, eating seems to be fairly low on the agenda, with many employees using their meal breaks to do their personal chores instead.  As a report entitled Reclaim the Lunchbreak  which was issued earlier this year by Bupa Healthcare noted, however, this had led to UK workers’ productivity plummeting at around three in the afternoon, resulting in the loss of almost 40 minutes per person per day, at a cost of almost £50 million per day to employers.

Leaving aside the cost to businesses of poor eating habits, however, failing to eat at regular times and to take in the right amount of nutrients takes a direct toll on workers’ health.  Not only does it cause energy levels to crash, but the whole feast and famine routine can even lead to conditions such as stomach ulcers.  Snacking from the chocolate machine or picking up a take-out from the local fast food joint isn’t the answer either though, as it still leaves the body deprived of the essential goodness that we need to keep us firing on all cylinders.  What can you do to ensure that you eat more healthily at work then?  Here are a few top tips on what and how to eat to keep body and mind at peak performance.

  1. Although many of us have grown up with the idea that we need three square meals a day, recommendations nowadays tend to lean towards three lighter meals and two snacks spaced evenly throughout the day.
  2. If, like me, you’re one of those people who just can’t manage a full breakfast as soon as you roll out of bed in the morning, do at least try to eat something to get your metabolism going and give you a kick start.  Bananas are great for slow-release energy and a very valuable source of potassium, so if you can’t manage anything else, then at least eat a banana.
  3. When it comes to the snacks that you eat during the day, avoid anything with a high sugar content.  It might give you a short burst of energy, but when your body has metabolized the sugar, you’ll just crash and burn.  Stick to healthy options such as carrot sticks, whole grain crackers or cereal bars instead, but do check the latter because even some of these are high in sugar.  Fruits and yoghurts are ideal as snacks too.
  4. Forget buying out for lunch and brown bag it instead.  Not only will you save a fortune, but you will know exactly what has gone into your meal.  While salads make for a healthy lunch which is quick and easy to prepare in advance, you don’t have to restrict yourself solely to “rabbit food.”  Dishes based on brown rice or pasta which can be eaten cold or warmed up in the office microwave are great for slow-release energy and help to introduce a bit of variety into your diet.  Beans, pulses and tinned fish such as tuna are also excellent choices.
  5. Whatever you choose to eat at lunchtime, make a point of getting away from your desk and sit down somewhere where you can enjoy and savor your food properly.  If you stay where you are, you are still going to be bothered by distractions and the likelihood is that you will end up bolting your meal, which won’t just lead to digestive problems, but will also leave you feeling dissatisfied.  If the weather is fine, ideally try to get outside to eat and then take a brisk walk to help you feel rejuvenated.
  6. Make sure that you drink plenty of plain water throughout the day.  In keeping the body properly hydrated, you will also improve your levels of concentration
  7. Don’t overdo it on the caffeine front.  As with sugar, when the caffeine high wears off, you will be left feeling tired and lethargic.  Also, never drink coffee after 3pm as this will interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
  8. Trying to make a shift towards healthier eating habits can be difficult at first, so plan to eat out just once a week as a special treat for doing so well.

Phone Woes And Losing Our Ability To Think

I own one of those fourth generation touchscreen smartphones. Anyway this article is not really about my phone, but do bear with me as I walk you through my phone woes.

One fine day my supposedly invincible phone started giving me all kinds of technical troubles: flickering screens, hanging software and sudden shut downs. A visit to my service provider, the happy news that I was still under warranty, and a replaced handset later I was back home trying to sync all my data.

And as luck would have it, whatever virus got my first handset found its way into my second handset too.

A day later, another trip to the service provider, another new handset (number 3) and voila, a sync with my data gave me the same problem again. This time the same friendly staff saw me in the queue, waiting for a ticket number, and promptly went to get me another new handset. By now I had had enough of getting new handsets and wanted to get to the bottom of the issue.

To cut a long story short, this tech-unsavvy writer had to figure out a more permanent solution herself, which meant resetting the phone, deleting old data and deleting the sync application from her laptop (losing all the phone data in the process). Still, this permanent solution saved me innumerable trips and the service provider innumerable handsets (at least till I was on their warranty). All this technical warfare was enacted in front of a baffled customer service executive.

This little incident got me thinking, are we Gen Y’ers so used to the quick fix solutions that we make that our only option?

Not once did the customer service executives apply their minds for a long term solution to my problem, it was easier to give me a new handset as long as I was entitled to it.

As Gen Y, we have been credited with changing the dynamics at a workplace. Simply put (and this is a quote I picked from somewhere) “For Generation Y the old adage has become their credo: ‘we don’t live to work – we work to live’”. We have been called confident, entrepreneurial and goal oriented. But we have also been defined as impatient, weak on interpersonal skills and our problem solving abilities have been questioned.

You could turn it around and tell me that are our work place designs are the ones making us too process oriented and risk averse.

Often organisations have process maps to be followed to ensure critical steps are not forgotten. In the process of ticking off on various steps we do lose our ability to think ahead and ideation then gets encouraged only in research divisions. Maybe the customer service executive had to strictly follow the book and therefore was not allowed to think out of the box?

But is it a chicken and egg story? Because of our inability to come up with a solution we have processes to follow, or because we follow processes we have forgotten how to ideate?

Guess we may have similar cribs when Generation Z knocks on the work door. Till then I have extended my warranty coverage, figured even smartphones are after all not that smart and though I may come up with a solution, technology might just pose a problem that stumps me!

Help I Can’t Sleep! Causes, Effects & Remedies

i-cant-sleep

Sleep. Just hearing the word makes me want to go take a nap!

I’ve fallen asleep sitting at my desk, while typing on the computer, reading and watching TV. You probably think, what’s the big deal?

No harm done. Most of us have dozed off at one time or another when we shouldn’t have. However, I have also fallen off  chairs, couches or beds, while reading or watching TV, woken up in a different room and not remembered going there, dropped drinks, bowls of cereal, etc. all over the floor because I dozed off for just a few seconds.

Sounds pretty funny, huh?

Let’s see how funny you think these are. I’ve mixed up and taken wrong medications due to being half-asleep, fallen asleep in the lavatory and before I quit smoking, burned holes all over the carpet, blankets, sheets and clothing! I’m not done. Once, I walked directly into a brick fireplace, while it was lit, as I obviously wasn’t quite awake, stubbed my toes on the bed frame, table legs, or anything sticking out, countless times, and dozed off while driving.

I certainly don’t need any articles, surveys, quizzes, anyone, or anything to tell me, I am seriously and dreadfully sleep deprived! It’s been at least 10 years since I slept an entire night, without waking up. I can’t remember the last time I slept for more than two or three hours, continuously.

My family thought it was pretty funny, and even took some incriminating pictures of me, asleep in some rather odd positions; however, it wasn’t until recently I learned about the consequences and repercussions of being this severely sleep deprived. After learning a number of the latest facts (some that I will share), I realized this is not funny at all, and it’s amazing I can even function.

We are a sleep-deprived world and lack of sleep is very common phenomenon. I thought perhaps it was only something that affected the US population, but it’s just as bad in Singapore, or maybe worse. According to  Dr Lim (Medical Director of the Singapore Neurology & Sleep and President of the Singapore Sleep Society), “The biggest problem in sleep in Singapore is one of voluntary sleep deprivation. Most people like to sleep but they don’t feel it’s as important as working on a project or being on the Internet,” she said. “My sense is that over all, awareness (on the importance of good sleep) is not very high.”

Common sleep disorders in Singapore are insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where a person stops breathing multiple times while asleep because the upper airways are blocked and it is hard for air to enter the lungs. Doctors estimate 10 to 30% of the population in Singapore have insomnia, while up to 25% have OSA.

The Singapore Sleep Society surveyed approximately 400 college students and learned that 97% feel sleepy during classes, and 30% use caffeine to stay awake. Another study, involving gambling conducted in Singapore showed that sleep-deprived people make “riskier decisions based on inaccuracies in perceived gains and losses.”  Study participants were asked questions, such as “Would you choose an option that gives you a 30% chance of making $80, a 40% of losing $50, or a 30% chance of making $0?” They were asked similar questions twice, once after 7-9 hours of sleep, and once after not sleeping for 24 hours. The study revealed when the participants were sleep-deprived, there was increased activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for focusing on positive outcomes when making decisions. They also displayed decreased activity in the anterior insula, the part of the brain that takes negative outcomes into account. Well-rested people tended to look to minimize losses, while sleep-deprived participants looked to maximize gain, took decisions without considering negative outcomes sufficiently and took more risks. This is a reason gambling is so tempting and problematic for many individuals.

Ok, so let’s go through some of the facts about good sleep, causes of sleep disorders and a few remedies.

Why is sleep important?

In the last several decades, although scientists have learned a great deal about sleep through human and animal sleep deprivation experiments, the function of sleep itself remains a mystery. Sleep is believed to be a time of rest and repair for the body, and possibly a time for consolidation of learning and memory for the brain. We know a lot more about what happens when we do not get enough sleep than what precisely the function of sleep is.

What exactly is sleep deprivation or lack of sleep and how do you know if you are a good sleeper?

The amount of sleep we need varies according to age. In adults, there is a wide range of about 6 to 10 hours. However, getting less than4-5 hours of good sleep each night, for a prolonged period of time could be termed as sleep deprivation. A simple way to know how much sleep you need, is to observe your sleep pattern during a vacation, when there are no external pressures dictating when you go to bed and when you have to get up. During holidays we typically allow ourselves to fall asleep and wake up naturally and our normal sleep requirement can be estimated from such non-stressful times.

You are a good sleeper if you fall to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day, including weekends. You get at least 6-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis and when you wake up, you feel refreshed and can maintain normal alertness throughout the day. It is normal to feel a mid-afternoon “dip”, but there should not be overwhelming sleepiness. Toward bedtime, you know how to relax yourself after a busy day, and fall asleep within 10-15 minutes of going to bed. You do not wake up except once or twice to go to the bathroom, and fall back to sleep easily.

What are the most common causes for lack of sleep?

  • Stress is considered the number 1 cause of short-term sleep problems and lack of sleep. Usually when the stress is reduced, sleep returns to normal
  • Irregular lifestyle can contribute to sleep problems
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol too late in the day, exercising close to bedtime, or doing any mentally or physically intense activity right before going to bed, all are sleep “stealers”
  • Environmental factors, such as a room that’s too hot or cold, noisy, with too much light, and interruptions from family members can disrupt sleep
  • Physical ailments, such as backaches, headaches, arthritis and any kind of pain make sleeping difficult
  • If you, or your partner snores excessively, a true sleep disorder, called sleep apnea may be the cause. It interrupts breathing, causing the person to briefly wake up
  • Various medications, from vitamins and supplements, to medications for asthma, high blood pressure, heart problems and pain, can also keep you awake

How about the effects of lack of sleep, especially from the workplace point of view?

Lack of sleep affects work performance in countless ways. Just reducing sleep one night for 1 ½ hour could reduce responsiveness in the daytime by as much as 32%. Diminished attentiveness and excessive drowsiness during the day harm memory and cognitive ability — the capacity to think and sort out information. Sleep deprivation also doubles the risk of suffering a work-related accident or injury. Lack of sleep is a primary cause of industrial accidents, and has been indicated as a reason for unscheduled absenteeism.

Other things affected include productivity, quality and workplace relationships. Employees who don’t get enough sleep have a harder time concentrating, solving problems, and communicating. They also tend to be irritable, moody, and more intolerant of co-workers’ opinions. As work problems increase, stress levels also increase, which only make sleep problems worse. The combination of sleep problems, mixed with added stress, anxiety caused by worrying about it, leads to a vicious circle that appears impossible to break.

Lack of sleep also impairs other areas of Emotional IQ.  Sleep deprived people have difficulty distinguishing facial expressions and have a lesser ability to quickly assess and react to interpersonal situations.

The following is a general list of useful sleep tips. 

  • i-cant-sleepAvoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late in the evening
  • Exercise regularly, but at least three hours before bedtime
  • Don’t use your bed for anything  other than sleep or sex. If you have a problem with insomnia, you should not read, watch TV or work in bed. Associating the bed with other types of activities, especially if they are stimulating, will make it harder to fall asleep
  • If you have trouble sleeping, don’t take naps during the day
  • Take a look at your sleep environment. Is it conducive to sleeping?
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine that allows you to unwind, and signals your brain that it’s time to sleep
  • If you can’t sleep after 30 minutes, get up and do some relaxing activity, until you feel sleepy
  • Most of all, if sleep problems continue for more than a couple of weeks, are severe, interfere with your ability to function and how you feel, see a doctor!

Healthy Eating Tips For The Workplace: Eat, Drink and be Functionary!

I’m relatively certain that we all understand a car needs gasoline to run. Using the top-quality “premium” grade will make it run much better than filling it with the cheapest, lowest-grade of gasoline we can find. Then why the heck do so many of us think it’s okay to work a 10-hour day, either eat nothing at all, or grabbing a candy bar out of the vending machine, and still be able to function?

We can’t.

Just like cars, our bodies need refueling in order to keep us “running,” both physically and mentally. Furthermore, filling our bodies with low nutritional, unhealthy food choices is equivalent to putting the lowest grade of gasoline in our car. It may run for a while, but not to its maximum capacity, and eventually will putter out and shut down.

In fast-paced societies, like the United States and Singapore, our hectic lifestyles are typically  the culprits for compromising our eating habits. I’m the last one to give advice on this subject, as it is now 1:30 pm, and I haven’t eaten anything yet today!  I did open a can of Slim-Fast (I’m trying to lose weight) about 20 minutes ago, and have only taken about three gulps. I do promise to finish the can, while I write this. I will tell you something though, from my experience, not eating does not always make you lose weight. If that were true, I’d weigh about 76 pounds!

Recently, the New York Times published an article about obesity. They’ve found a new cause — workplace inactivity. Jobs that require a medium amount of physical activity have dropped from 50%, in 1960, to 20% today.  That’s 30% folks. We typically sit on our butts for 8 to 10 hours a day, then get in our car and drive home. I don’t know anyone who stands while driving, so we sit some more. And, what do we do when we get home? Sit in front of the TV, or at the computer. Then, we lie down in our beds and go to sleep. Physical inactivity at the workplace (and outside of it) plays a big part in why Americans are more obese than ever.

When my sons were younger, during summer vacations, they sat in front of the computer, or TV, playing computer games, till late at night long, then slept a lot during the day. When I was a kid I went outside, in the fresh air, and used my imagination. Just for the record, both my boys were considerably overweight at the time.

healthy-eating-tipsEating healthy is essential to feeling good and performing efficiently at work. It can help prevent obesity, heart disease, stomach and metabolic problems. I’m too busy at work,” is the number one excuse for not taking time out to eat a healthy meal. One out of 10 employees never take a lunch break, and those who do usually get only a 15-30 minutes.  Ironically, these people, “too busy” to eat right or exercise are the same ones you typically see outside, having a cigarette break, five times a day!

Scientists have been doing research on how our brains are affected by what we put into our bodies. It is now known that what we eat can sharpen our mental acuity.

The following are some of their findings and healthy eating tips:

  • Fish is called “brain food” for a reason. Tuna and salmon have omega-3 fatty acids called DHA. This is essential for our nervous system and prevents memory loss.
  • Folate, a B vitamin, found in orange juice, green vegetables and cantaloupe improve alertness.
  • Choline, which is in egg yolks, peanuts and soybeans support neurotransmitters.
  • Anti-oxidants, found in many foods, including pomegranates and prunes help fight off stress, and protect cognitive function.
  • A turkey sandwich for lunch has tryptophan, which helps our brain produce serotonin. Serotonin levels are low in people with depression, so this could improve moods and sleep.
  • Your body needs 11 to 15 cups of liquid per day to prevent dehydration, which causes concentration problems and fatigue. Dehydration is also terrible for the skin. Moderate your consumption of caffeine, sodas, alcohol, etc., which do more harm than good. In addition to water and other such liquids, watermelon, peaches and other fruits have high levels of water in them.
  • Eat breakfast! I can’t stress this one enough. You have to “start your engine” before you can go anywhere. Whether it’s cereal, (not Cocoa Puffs) and milk, scrambled eggs and toast (no butter, no bacon) or simply yogurt and a banana, eat breakfast!

To make the most of your work performance, increase alertness and simply function and feel better, here are some more healthy eating tips:

  • Avoid candy, cookies, etc., and other foods high in simple sugars. They will give you a quick surge of energy, but then make youhealthy-living-healthy-diet-healty-food feel less alert, less able to concentrate and less productive, in the long run. You might get a pounding headache as well.
  • Avoid large meals and unhealthy fats. These are usually in fast foods and are energy-zappers. Eat smaller meals more often during the day. The more energy you need, the more frequent you should eat.
  • Eat meals and snacks with protein. As proteins digest, it raises body temperature, which keeps you alert. Nuts, seeds, lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, low-fat dairy and tofu are good choices.
  • One of the best ways to eat healthy at work is to bring food from home. This will guarantee that you have healthy meals and snacks. Stock up on non-perishable foods that can be kept in your desk, locker, etc. These are the items you snack on — not that crap from the vending machine. Make sure to restock, and vary food choices, so you don’t get bored
  • Bring a water bottle to avoid dehydration. It’s easier to have water handy than having to run to the water fountain umpteen times a day
  • Avoid eating at your desk. Desktops can have 400 times more bacteria than a toilet!! Also, when eating at your desk, often you won’t eat your food in a relaxed way and you’ll be gulping it down, which is not good for digestion. Get some fresh air, and a new attitude, by taking a quick walk outside. Read that book you’ve never had time for, but make sure to go somewhere other than your desk. Simply a change in scenery will do you good.

And just so you know, I did finish the Slim-Fast!