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Why Am I Struggling to Concentrate at Work?

Struggling to Concentrate at Work

Why Am I Struggling to Concentrate at Work?

Every now and again we have all gone to work feeling tired and low on energy, finding it hard to concentrate. We do not achieve as much during the working day, we feel flat and find motivation difficult. 

For many of us a good night’s sleep rectifies the problem and we are back to normal the following day. For others, it is a scenario which can repeat itself every day, leaving them feeling constantly fatigued, irritable and struggling to concentrate.

Their lack of concentration can see their production levels at work fall, potentially hindering their career. The accompanying lack of enthusiasm and drowsiness can lead to mistakes and increases the risk of an accident and potential injury. 

This is a critical issue when driving company vehicles or operating machinery. There are a number of potential reasons for such extended periods when concentration is a problem, with the disorder sleep apnoea being one of the major ones.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the most common type of this sleep disorder, yet it is estimated around 80% of sufferers are unaware they have the condition. People with the disorder can awake numerous times through the night, sometimes gasping for air as their airways become blocked, interrupting normal breathing patterns. 

The other common symptoms for OSA are fatigue, heavy snoring, poor concentration, memory issues and morning headaches. More prevalent in men who are over 40 years of age it can still affect anyone, with being overweight and lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol contributing factors.

Besides the potentially serious consequences of falling asleep at work or while driving, OSA can lead to further serious health issues if left untreated. These include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Liver damage
  • Depression
  • Pregnancy complications

Treating the symptoms of OSA is crucial and the first step involves diagnosis, for which a simple in-home sleep test is available.

Diagnosing OSA With an In-Home Sleep Test

If you think you are experiencing the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea then you should not put off getting help to identify the root cause. An in-home test, called an Overnight Oximetry, can be run over two consecutive nights from the comfort of your own bed as you sleep. 

This in-home test is a straightforward process, requiring you to wear a small cuff on your finger which is connected to a small monitor. The job of the monitor is to record your blood oxygen levels through the night and your heart rate. 

Once the test is complete, the data will be analysed by trained sleep specialists who will provide a diagnosis on whether you have OSA. Once you understand the problem, you can seek help and treatment to control the symptoms, benefiting your personal and professional life.

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

More Reasons You Might Be Distracted

Sleep deprivation is not always caused by OSA and can result from lifestyle and environment. Sleep is a critical element for our bodies in recovering from the day’s activities and if you are struggling to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours a night sleep, you should explore the reasons why and look to make adjustments. 

Good sleep helps focus and concentration levels, you feel you have more energy and so trying to develop a regular sleep pattern is key. This means prioritising sleep and maintaining regular hours when going to bed and the hour you wake and get up.

Stress can also be an issue which makes focussing at work difficult and keeps people awake at night. There are many elements of modern life, particularly when work and careers are involved, which can result in stress and the inability to “switch off” at night. Mindfulness exercises, including just 10 minutes of meditation, can help to relax the mind, as can exercise. If you are not exercising enough – and tend to rely on a diet which lacks balance and nutritional value – this can also lead to problems with concentration at work.

Work environment can also affect your ability to concentrate. A messy work area is a work environment issue that can make it tough to concentrate. They say “cluttered space, cluttered mind”, and an untidy work space can be distracting, not allowing you to focus on one job at a time. 

Interruptions by coworkers can also be very distracting. Either in person, by phone or email, these can hinder any chance of having consistent focus. Developing a clear schedule, reducing the need to have to multitask, can also improve concentration on the task at hand.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? If none of these factors are an issue, or if you have corrected some of them and yet you still struggle to concentrate, you may have an attention disorder such as ADHD, of which it is estimated 4% of adults suffer. At this point you may want to discuss the possibility of a disorder with your doctor.

Lifestyle Changes

If you’ve thought through all the possibilities, and think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, an in-home test was the right step forward.

Also, making some lifestyle changes can help, particularly for mild to moderate OSA. If you are overweight the first focus may well be on losing weight. Many jobs today are very sedentary, not providing the level of movement the body requires. Therefore. your doctor can also advise on an exercise plan to introduce a level of physical activity. This can help with weight loss and can also help you sleep at night.

A healthy, nutritious diet including fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, combined with exercise, will help you lose weight. Your doctor will also ask you to quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake if appropriate, as well as suggesting you change your sleeping environment to ensure a dark bedroom, free of screens, to encourage sleep.

Therapy for OSA

Sleeping on your side, rather than on your back, can help relieve symptoms of OSA. Therefore, your doctor may suggest you try wearing a device around the waist or back which makes you sleep on your side. 

However, this may only reduce the symptoms and so an oral appliance such as a Mandibular Advancement Device may be suggested. This device pushes the lower jaw down as you sleep, thereby opening the airways up and making it easier to breathe.

One of the leading treatments for more severe OSA is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy (CPAP). This involves a small machine which provides a steady stream of pressurised air through a mask worn over the nose or mouth. 

Most modern CPAP therapy machines come with a humidifier which moistens the air to aid comfort and to avoid a dry mouth the next morning. The treatment will allow you proper sleep, removing the symptoms associated with OSA — so you breathe normally whilst you sleep, and your body gets the oxygen it requires for good health.

Whichever treatment is best for your OSA, testing, diagnosis and treatment are key to improving concentration at work, removing the constant fatigue and the inherent dangers that can bring.

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


About author: Helen Clarkson is a Sleep Specialist at Baywater Healthcare. Ms. Clarkson has worked with Baywater since 2008, working closely with patients in delivering sleep/bi-level services including sleep and respiratory, both in the home and clinic setting. This includes therapy initiation and troubleshooting support. Ms. Clarkson is responsible for delivering the Baywater Healthcare patient adherence management programme to ensure continuing patient therapy compliance. works in conjunction with NHS clinicians and procurement to deliver excellence in home and clinic-based services. She provides training on all aspects of sleep including devices and interfaces. Previously, Ms. Clarkson served as Respiratory Physiologist at Pontefract General Infirmary. Her position was Senior MTO for lung function/sleep department, and she was responsible for performing simple and complex sleep studies, sleep study analysis, CPAP initiation, therapy adherence and troubleshooting/service clinics, spirometry, lung volumes and transfer factor, reversibility, CPET, hyperventilation testing, EIA testing, skin prick testing, 6 min walk tests. She has also held roles as Respiratory Physiologist and Respiratory Technician, working closely with patients with respiratory disorders -- including ex-miners. Ms. Clarkson has a BSc (Honors) in Applied biology from University of Staffordshire. She also studied Developments in Sleep Medicine (advanced course) at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and took the Edinburgh Sleep Medicine course. She completed the BSS: Advanced sleep course and the ARTP NIV Course.

In-Home Sleep Test

In-home Sleep Test provides a quick, convenient and affordable way to have Sleep Apnoea confirmed. All studies are independently analysed by experienced NHS-qualified sleep professionals, and use the WatchPAT recording device for unrivalled accuracy.
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