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Tips to Combat Daytime Sleepiness

sleep apnoea daytime sleepiness Sleep Apnoea

Tips to Combat Daytime Sleepiness

We can all feel tired during the day from time to time. Yet for those who suffer with the disorder sleep apnoea daytime fatigue can be a major issue. The most common form of this disorder is obstructive sleep apnoea — where the upper airways narrow as you sleep, causing breathing difficulties. The brain responds by waking you up for air and depending on the severity of your disorder this can happen numerous times every night. 

These frequent interruptions to sleep mean fatigue and feeling drowsy during the day is a common risk factor. 

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a fairly common disorder, yet it is estimated around 85% of sufferers are unaware they have the condition. Diagnosis is key as sleep apnoea is treatable, allowing you to have proper sleep and helping to remove the symptoms of the disorder like daytime sleepiness. 

Other symptoms include heavy snoring, morning headaches, lack of motivation and poor concentration. A simple at-home test can provide an initial diagnosis if you feel you could be suffering from OSA.

Feeling sleepy during the day not only affects your productivity at home and at work, it also places you more at risk of a traffic accident. Without a diagnosis the fatigue could become a daily feature and reducing the effects of a lack of sleep can still be gradual once you have been diagnosed and started a treatment plan. 

Having a few handy ways to beat drowsiness and remain productive can be important. Now probably even more so. With more of us having to work from home, here are a few tips to help you fight off the temptation to head to the sofa for a quick nap.

Sleep Well

Although you know you need to resist the constant call of the couch when working from home a quick power nap in your lunch break can help if you are feeling particularly drowsy. Getting your head down for between 15 and 30 minutes is often enough to recharge your batteries ready for the afternoon. 

Sleeping well is of course the main way to avoid daytime fatigue, but for those who are not aware they have OSA this is easier said than done. Improving your sleeping environment can help you fall asleep. This can include ensuring a dark bedroom, which is quiet and with a temperature you are comfortable with. You should remove screens (TV, tablets, laptops) from the bedroom and avoid alcohol, caffeine and food items high in sugar prior to going to bed.

Bradley from Travel CPAP Machine cuts to the chase when describing the importance of sleep: “it is seriously such an underestimated factor in all health symptoms and we as humans typically pass it off as a minor annoyance. But the reality is so many little things that pop up on our health-radar can be attributed to lack of sleep.”

Get Up and Move Around

Regular exercise can help with sleep. However, if you sit for long periods of the day for work, you should also look to get up frequently and move around. If possible, you should routinely stand up, stretch and have a short walk around. This can be easier when working from home where you can have a quick stroll through the house or to the toilet if needs be. 

By doing this every 30 to 40 minutes you will get the blood flowing, which helps make you more alert and less sleepy. 

If you are working in an office and feel this would not be possible, you can still introduce movement to keep the blood flowing around the body by fidgeting in your chair or shaking out your arms and legs.

Eat Well

Be aware of your food and drink during afternoons and prior to bedtime; heavy meals, spicy foods, and hidden caffeine (in chocolate and other foods/drinks) can affect sleep. 

Also be aware of the effects of food during the day to help combat your sleepiness. The tendency can be to go for a high sugar content snack to boost waning energy. 

However, by choosing other options such as nuts you not only get a better energy boost, you are eating something healthier too. This goes for your lunch as well. 

Healthier foods such as chicken, fish, boiled eggs, veggies and fruit are good healthy choices as part of a light lunch. Try to avoid processed foods which are high in sugar and cut out white bread and pasta. 

Environment Matters

Our environment can affect many aspects of our lives. Most of us can appreciate how a sunny day seems to perk up our moods. This can also be transferred in to our daily lives at work. 

If you are stuck in a workplace or a cubicle deprived of natural light. your mood can be affected. Indeed, research has indicated how those working in black cubicles may be less productive. 

Sunlight can invigorate and remove a feeling of fatigue. Try to go outside during your lunch break. If there are no windows in the immediate vicinity of your desk or cubicle try using a light-box, which emits a low level of UV light to imitate the sun’s effect.

In fact, exposure to sunlight in the morning hours can help set your natural melatonin — so your body naturally feels the need for sleep at night.

Take an Electronic Break

The constant attention to digital screens often demanded in a modern workplace can be demanding and tiring. With emails and social media this does not always go away when we are at home either. Look to have a screen-free lunch break and have at least one technology-free hour in the evening at home. 

Break the Silence

Silence, although very welcome at times, can encourage a feeling of sleepiness over a period of time when working. If your workplace is quiet or if you are working at home, then you may need something to break the silence. 

This is when some good, upbeat music can get your attention levels up again and boost your overall alertness. Music can be an easier solution when based at home, but not always welcome in the workplace. If you’re lucky, your boss will be aware of how silence can make you drowsy and affect your productivity. Ask if you can bring in earbuds to help give you a boost when required.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a disorder which can have a large impact on your daily life. Staying busy at work can help keep minds focussed and concentrated, but for those with OSA the sleep deprivation resulting from the condition can be hard to counter. 

Do You Need a Sleep Test?

These are a few tips which can be implemented to try and improve alertness when starting to feel sleepy. However, diagnosis remains key, as by receiving the appropriate course of treatment for the severity of your disorder you can return to having proper nights of quality, restorative sleep again.

By taking a simple at-home test, you have a convenient way to see whether you have sleep apnoea. Left undiagnosed the disorder can result in an increased risk from heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and further serious health issues. 

OSA leads to nights of frequent interruptions to sleep resulting in fatigue from sleep deprivation. Only following a diagnosis can you address the condition and receive the treatment you need to help reduce the risk of these serious health problems. This will also reduce your feeling of fatigue through the day which can be so detrimental to your personal and professional life.

To order the Intus At-Home Sleep Test: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/

To shop for the highest-quality selection of CPAP devices: https://www.cpap.co.uk/shop.html


About author: Jenny Hall is a clinical manager at Intus Healthcare’s parent company, Baywater Healthcare. She has extensive specialist clinical experience from Regional Nurse Adviser through to Senior Nurse Adviser, Service Lead and Contract Manager. She has provided leadership for the Regional Nurse Advisers ensuring best practice, implementation of National Guidance and Clinical Governance. Ms. Hall has worked with Baywater Healthcare since 2013, with leadership responsibility in delivering Home Oxygen and Long-Term Conditions services. Her clinical team focuses on delivering services closer to home which offer the NHS value with optimum clinical outcomes. Previously, Ms. Hall provided leadership to Regional Nurse Advisors with Air Products, a company providing home oxygen services to Wales, East Midlands and North London. She has served as a Senior COPD National Trainer and Nurse Adviser COPD Response with Innovex, ensuring highest competencies were maintained and best practices delivered. Ms. Hall has a Ba Honours Degree as a Registered General Nurse from Oxford Brookes University and MSc Health Studies from Staffordshire University. She completed Respiratory Education and Training Courses and the Edinburgh Sleep Course. Jenny Hall’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenny-hall-34331b60/

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