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The Fatigue Insider Blog

Give yourself the gift of sleep this holiday season

Dec 25, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

The holiday season may be a magical time to catch up with old friends, visit with family and enjoy holiday parties, but it can also be a time of significant stress, sleep deprivation, and habits that can damage our health and immune system. It’s important to prioritise staying as well rested and healthy as possible during the festive season.
 
We tend to overindulge on alcohol during this period, whether that be due to of end of year festivities or to deal with our relatives. While it is best to limit alcohol consumption, if you do partake, try to wait a couple of hours before you go to bed to get the best sleep possible.
 
The same can be said for food, as we tend to overstuff ourselves and go for more sweets than usual. If you can, reserve your overeating for specific meals and occasions, rather than falling off the wagon completely and having to work it off as part of your New Year’s resolutions. Eating heavy or sugary meals at night will negatively affect your ability to sleep, so try to leave a significant amount of time between eating and bedtime.
 
Even though you might be dealing with some end-of-year burnout, and even the ability to take naps while you have less work obligations, try to avoid sleeping too much, as it will just make you more tired. If you do feel the need to have an after-lunch food coma nap, try to keep it to 20 minutes or less.
 
It can be a really stressful time, so try to fit in things that provide some relief from all the hustle and bustle. This could be doing some exercise, meditation, or whatever makes you happiest. We hope that you all have a very happy holiday season!

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Can Japan's Kaizen method help you sleep?

Dec 11, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

The Japanese word ‘Kaizen’ means change, and it has become a philosophical framework that guides individuals to transform their habits. Using psychological teachings around why we find it difficult to give up bad habits and stick to new challenges, the Kaizen method encourages us to take incremental steps towards achieving identified short and long-term goals. Kaizen techniques can be a great way to alter your sleep habits and adopt a new, healthier bedtime routine. Some of these methods are more evidence-based than others, but even having the intention to change your sleep habits is a great step in the right direction towards better sleep.
 
1. Improve your sleep environment
 
For the best possible sleep, your bedroom should be a calm and clean environment, free of distractions. There are certainly incremental steps you can take that don’t require a minimalist overhaul.
 
- Dedicating time to keeping your room clean throughout the week when you are busy and exhausted can seem like an impossible task, so try setting a timer for a couple of minutes each night to do a quick tidy.
 
- Keeping your room cool, dark, and quiet is ideal for sleep, so try a sleeping mask and earplugs if blackout blinds and soundproofing are too big a step.
 
- Scents like lavender have shown to be calming, using a spray or a diffuser is a no-fuss way to signal to your body that it is time to wind down.

 

 
2. Self-care bedtime rituals
 
Implementing self-care rituals can help you to relax and feel good as you transition towards bedtime.
 
- It may seem unrealistic considering how plugged in we are these days, but attempting a communication blackout and switching off screens as early as possible is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A first step would be trying to keep technology out of the bed.
 
- Doing some yoga or meditation before bed can be really calming and help you get into the right headspace for sleep. Check out our previous blog post on some easy poses for beginners.
 
- Even if it’s just for ten minutes, reading a book is a good way to transition your brain towards sleep.

 

 
3. Utilise a journal
 
 - Doing a ‘brain dump’ and writing down everything that is making your brain spin a million miles an hour can give you some space to let go of everything on your mind.
 
- You can also use a journal to record the length and quality of your sleep and any factors that might have affected you that night. That way you can track your progress and success in implementing new habits, and tweak anything that is not working.
 
 
 
The Kaizen method is all about incrementalism, so even if you can only implement one new thing from this list, you’re on the right track to better sleep.

 

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Developing a blood test for drowsy driving

Dec 04, 2019 ISS Comments (0)


Some experts have said that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, and as such we should devote as much attention to tired and fatigued drivers as we do to speeding and inebriated ones. Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) says that fatigue is a contributing factor in 16-20% of the state’s road crashes. But until recently, without a tool like a breathalyser, it has been near impossible to identify fatigued drivers.
 
Now, because of breakthrough research led by Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, there may be a blood test that will tell us whether a driver is sleep deprived on the horizon. A unique study conducted at the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre used machine learning to a blood-based generic risk profile using mRNA sequences to help identify persons who were acutely sleep deprived. A machine learning algorithm identified a subset of 68 genes and with 92% accuracy could detect whether a sample was from a sleep-deprived or well-rested individual. For the study, 36 participants had their blood sampled after 40 hours of sleep deprivation to evaluate changes in the expression of thousands of specific genes reflecting acute inflammation.
 
Developing a simple test for sleep deprivation that could be used to keep drowsy drivers off the road may be a while off, Professor Derk-Jan Dijk says "This is a test for acute total sleep loss; the next step is to identify biomarkers for chronic insufficient sleep, which we know to be associated with adverse health outcomes." At the moment, this breakthrough may have more immediate use within the field of clinical sleep medicine, as it may assist doctors in the diagnosis of sleep conditions.
 
Nevertheless, sleep deprivation is a huge public health problem, and any step towards understanding and combatting it is one in the right direction. Hopefully this ground-breaking research can be applied to the fatigue management of those in transport professions like pilots, train operators, truck drivers, and bus drivers, who place the public at risk when they have had insufficient sleep; and eventually, contribute to a solution for enforcing against drowsy drivers.
 
Check out the study here, in the journal of Sleep.

 

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