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The Fatigue Insider Blog

Fatigue Science and the NFL

Jan 29, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

With Superbowl LIV right around the corner, there is no better time to talk about the integration of fatigue science in the world of sport, especially the NFL.
 
NFL teams obsessively track everything they can about a player: weight, muscle mass, hand-eye coordination and more. Yet in recent years, in the never-ending search for an edge, teams have opened their eyes to sleep as a priority, backed up by science that increasingly points to its importance for physical and mental health.
 
The Seattle Seahawks have been on the forefront of using innovative technology to optimise their players’ sleep habits, including using wristbands that tracks their sleep and scores their alertness. This focus is partly borne out of necessity, as the Seahawks spend the most time travelling for their games in the League, which can interrupt players circadian rhythms. The information they collect can also give insights into reaction times; data that can be used to help optimise a player’s performance.
 
Being an elite athlete in a sport as physically demanding as NFL, combined with a gruelling schedule and lots of travel, requires players and teams to take a holistic and forward-thinking approach to health. Sam Ramsden, the Seahawks’ director of player health and performance, told the New York Times in 2016, “I’ve always had a belief that sleep is one of the main ways your body recovers… some of the best players on the team are the best sleepers.”

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US Worksite Health ScoreCard to include fatigue

Jan 22, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

 

In a step in the right direction, the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) updated their Worksite Health ScoreCard in 2019 to include sleep and fatigue questions for the first time since it was introduced in 2012. The tool is for employers to assess whether they have implemented evidence-based health and wellbeing programs in their workplace.
 
The ScoreCard is comprehensive in nature and not intended to be a quick 'tick and flick' tool. As such, the inclusion of fatigue and sleep section signals that the CDC is taking this factor seriously in the provision of a safe and hazard-free workplace.
 
The new fatigue and sleep section includes questions on whether the workplace has written policy on scheduling that aims to reduce employee fatigue, the provision of educational materials and screenings related to sleep and common sleep disorders, as well as whether there are solutions offered to combat drowsy and distracted driving.
 
Introducing sleep and fatigue concerns into this ScoreCard alongside other important health risks like nutrition, diabetes, physical exercise, cancer, heart attacks and many others is a positive step in the right direction. It serves as an indication to employers of the importance of fatigue-related workplace concerns for the health, safety, and productivity of employees.

 

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Should truck drivers be tested for sleep apnea?

Jan 15, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

 

The results of a 2018 survey found that half of commercial truck drivers suffer from breathing disorders that could make them more susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel. This startling insight, gained through a survey of over 900 Italian truck drivers, has prompted many to call for routine testing of breathing disorders, particularly obstructive sleep apnoea.
 
Luca Roberti, in response to this survey, made an appeal to European haulage companies in a presentation at the European Respiratory Society international congress, “considering that drivers are in charge of transport vehicles weighing several tons, companies have a great moral and civic responsibility to ensure their employees are safe to drive and are not at risk of suddenly falling asleep at the wheel.”
 
Similar statistics have been recorded in an Australian context, with a study in Sleep found that 41% of truck drivers suffer from OSA. Some of the contributing factors to this are the demography of Australian truck drivers, who are overwhelmingly male, overweight or obese, and 40+, all of which a risk factors for the development of OSA.
 
Research has shown that a driver who is deprived of sleep due to OSA may be up to 12 times more likely to be involved in a driving accident.
 
The good news is that routine screenings followed by appropriate treatment can be a highly effective way to address this issue. A 2016 study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine showed that truck drivers with OSA who receive treatment for two years may be able to reduce their crash-risk to that of truck drivers without OSA.
 
You can access the article “Assessing sleepiness and sleep disorders in Australian long-distance commercial vehicle drivers: self-report versus an “at home” monitoring device” in Sleep here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296788/
 
You can access the article “Screening, diagnosis, and management of obstructive sleep apnea in dangerous-goods truck drivers: to be aware or not?” in the Journal of Sleep Medicine here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2016.05.015

 

 

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Getting through the day when you're sleep deprived

Jan 08, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

While we absolutely do not recommend letting yourself get sleep deprived, sometimes there are days when it’s just unavoidable. So if you couldn’t sleep last night, we’ve got some tips to help you power through a work day when you’d much rather hit the snooze button. They’ll also ensure that you are not relying on behaviours that lead to continued sleepless nights.
 
Be strategic about the tasks you have to get done
Be aware that a sleep-deprived brain can sustain focus for far less time than a normal one, so try to postpone tasks that require difficult decisions and critical thinking for tomorrow. Nevertheless, there will be duties that you cannot put off, and for those, you have to think realistically about how you are going to achieve them. You might have the urge to procrastinate your more difficult tasks for later in the day, but try to get them done as early as possible, because your cognitive function will continue to decline throughout the day. Leave busy work for the end of the day, when you’ll need a break from tasks that require focused attention.
 
Caffeine is your friend
This may seem obvious, but you’ll need some caffeine to get you through the day, just don’t overdo it. Everyone’s caffeine tolerance is different, but studies have shown that the body can handle no more than 400 milligrams a day (for comparison, a shot of espresso is roughly 100 milligrams). A caffeinated drink can be really useful to get you through tasks that require intense focus, like driving, but don’t drink it to close to bedtime or you’ll continue to compound your sleep loss. Try to avoid caffeinated energy/soft drinks, as the sugar will make you crash, counteracting the effect of the caffeine.
 
Get outside and do some exercise
While it might seem like the last thing you would want to do after a sleepless night, a brisk walk in the sunlight will do you a world of good. Getting your blood flowing and producing some endorphins will energise you, so try to do this in the morning and/or throughout the day, especially if your job requires you to be mostly sedentary. The sunlight on your face will also help your brain shut off melatonin production.
 
Eat well and stay hydrated
While eating well is important every day for cognitive function, it is doubly important when your energy supplies are already depleted. Make sure you don’t skip meals, especially breakfast, as eating within an hour of waking up will boost your mood and cognitive performance for the early part of your day. When you are sleep deprived you are more likely to crave simple carbs and sugars, but avoid them at all costs, as they will likely provide a rush of unsustained energy and a crash that may leave you more tired and hungry. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water too, it’s not going to combat sleepiness, but you’ll feel much worse if you’re dehydrated as well as exhausted.

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New Year’s resolutions: Is sleep the new fitness?

Jan 01, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

 

 

We hope that everyone had a fantastic New Year’s Eve! We are heading into a packed 2020 feeling refreshed and ready to work harder than ever.

Every New Year’s Day, we pledge that this is the year that we get in shape, and we go out in droves to purchase gym memberships and start new diets. Flash forward to a month later, and most of us are back into our packed daily lives with no time to stick to our fitness goals. This year, we’re focusing on our wellbeing by resolving to get a good night’s sleep. In other words, 2020 is the year for sleep to finally become the new fitness!

The world is finally waking up to the fact that when it comes to physical fitness, sleep is just as important as physical exercise and a good diet.
 
Sleep helps you maintain a healthy weight
Just like a good diet and exercise, getting the proper amount of sleep is an essential component of reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. Without sleep, your metabolism could be negatively affected, making it more difficult for you to process insulin. You are also less likely to snack irresponsibly if you are well-rested.
 
Sleep helps you manage stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are issues that most people will have to face at some point, but getting sufficient sleep is key in both dealing with and preventing anxiety from negatively affecting your life. Without sleep, you will find that your body will go into a state of stress. The body produces more stress hormones like cortisol, which will make it more difficult to fall asleep in the future.
 
Sleep helps you fight off depression
Studies have shown that depression may both cause and be caused by sleep disorders, so getting your sleeping habits in check is key for managing your mental health. Just as regular exercising helps to increase emotional resilience, proper sleep hygiene contributes to improved mood and resilience.
 
Sleep helps you live longer
All sorts of diseases have been linked to sleep deprivation, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, the worsening of blood pressure and higher levels of cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The good news is that getting enough sleep is a fantastic first line of defence against these conditions and will promote overall health.
 
Sleep reduces inflammation
Exercising and laying off unhealthy foods won’t be enough to reduce inflammation in isolation; sleeping is also key. If you sleep less than six hours a night, your blood levels of inflammatory proteins may be higher than people who sleep more. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging all have strong ties to inflammation, so reducing it is essential for overall wellbeing.
 
With all the reasons that sleep is important to a healthy lifestyle, it makes sense to plan around sleep the same way that you would make plans for physical exercise and diet in 2020.

 

 

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