Integrated Safety Support
Fatigue Management & Human Factors in our 24-hour Society
Fatigue Management & Human Factors in our 24-hour Society

The Fatigue Insider Blog

Smart drugs: the rise of cognitive doping

Nov 13, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

 
More and more people are turning to pharmaceutical drugs to improve their performance at work and university, which raises a lot of questions about their efficacy and safety. How did nootropics like Modafinil go from a powerful narcolepsy drug to the centre of the conversation about doping at work and unrealistic expectations of productivity?

 

Nootropics are a broad range of drugs said to improve cognitive function, from improving memory retention to spurring creativity. The drug Modafinil keeps you awake far beyond normal limits and is said to allow you to maintain intense focus for a period of time. It was taken by helicopter pilots to stay alert as they carried US Special Forces to and from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. It can also have serious side effects like intense headaches and anxiety, and we don’t even know the long-term safety issues for those using them as a performance enhancer rather than a narcolepsy drug.

 
In 2011, just over 650,000 people in the US had Modafinil prescriptions. By 2012, that number had risen to 1.9 million, a figure not including people obtaining it illegally. Drugs like these have become more widespread in competitive and high-stakes environments like universities and Silicon Valley, as expectations about productivity have skyrocketed. We must question the kind of working environment that incentivises taking powerful drugs in order to keep up with demands.

 

It also calls into question the efficacy of using drugs like these to get a competitive edge. Is it cheating? Some sports organisations ban the usage of drugs like Adderall for those with an ADHD diagnosis for the same reasons they ban steroids and other performance enhancers. Will employer drug tests soon screen for modafinil use? Or on the contrary, will CEOs welcome the rise of extra-sharp workers who never need sleep?


 

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Sleeping under the midnight sun

Dec 12, 2018 ISS Comments (0)

Humans are diurnal, meaning we are normally programmed to sleep during the night and are active during the day (unlike our koala friends). Our circadian rhythm is regulated through our optic nerves. Our bodies are signalled to stay awake when light enters our eyes and triggers communication via our optic nerves. When light wanes and we enter darkness, our brains are prompted to produce and release the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. Without darkness, our body doesn’t know when to produce/release melatonin. 

So what happens when you're exposed to constant light?

The summer solstice in Australia is fast approaching. However, unlike our clients and friends in the northern hemisphere, we don't get to experience perpetual daylight during summer! In places like Scandinavia, their summer break allows for fun and excitement after long, cold and dark winters. But being exposed to light when one should normally be experiencing a nocturnal period, can lead to sleep deprivation and other sleep-related health issues. This seems to be more of an issue for us as visitors than it is for the locals. We can definitely vouch that the lack of darkness completely threw our sense of time out the window. If it wasn’t for block-out curtains, eye masks and melatonin there is no doubt a zombie transformation would have occurred!

For those in the southern hemisphere, enjoy your summer downtime! And for our friends in the north, your time in the sun will come (in precisely 6 months!).

For more information on light and circadian rhythms, read our previous blog posts here:

Alternatively, contact us via Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter or comment below.

 


 


 

 

 

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How much sleep do you need?

Dec 05, 2018 ISS Comments (0)

 

Our bodies are all different, and the same rings true for our circadian rhythms. Some of us tend to be morning people, able to be wide awake and functioning at the crack of dawn. Whereas some of us tend to be night owls, able to stay up until the late hours of the night (or early morning!). However, when it comes to how much sleep one actually requires to optimally function, the range is not as big.

In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep durations all age groups.


When calculating what time to go to bed, it really comes down to your circadian rhythm. Individual’s circadian rhythm could differentiate by hours. If two people were to both go to bed at the same time, one could be sleeping at the perfect biological time and the other at an adverse biological time. Unfortunately, the easiest and best way to measure this is by testing melatonin levels through blood or saliva samples. The quality of your sleep heavily depends on the timing of sleep relative to your circadian rhythm. If you sleep at the right biological time, you'll get optimal recovery sleep. However, when you are sleeping at a non-optimal time, the quality of sleep reduces. An extreme example of this is when the circadian rhythm is disrupted, for example when jet lagged or working shift.

Our bodies respond well to routine. If you manage to find a bedtime that works best for you and achieve the amount of sleep your body requires, you might just find yourself waking up a couple of minutes before your alarm is scheduled to go off!

 

For more information on sleep, contact us via Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter or comment below.

 

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Can cherries help you sleep?

Nov 28, 2018 ISS Comments (0)

Summer is knocking on our door down here in Australia, meaning cherry season is upon us! Cherries are one of the few natural foods that contain melatonin - the hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm. Research shows that consuming foods containing melatonin increases the levels of the hormone produced by the pineal gland in our brains

So how many cherries should we be eating to aid a good night’s sleep?

Several studies have been conducted within the last two decades that have shown cherries (including juice) contain moderate to significant amounts of melatonin, helping those who suffer from insomnia or who are jet lagged.

Try a handful of cherries for an evening dessert and let us know if it works for you.

For more information on melatonin, read our previous blog post here. Alternatively, contact us via Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter or comment below.  

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A water cooler conversation

Jun 21, 2018 ISS Comments (0)

Every day deserves to be a day of recognition, celebration and/or awareness of worthy causes. Today, the 21st of June 2018, we get to know our fearless leader, Dr Adam Fletcher, a little more - over an espresso or two (or red wine) - with questions relating to today’s international recognition days and their link with fatigue and sleep.

 

International Yoga Day

What role do you believe Yoga has in Fatigue Management?

“I can only speak from my personal experience on that question. I have been practicing yoga on a weekly basis for about 7 years, and it has definitely helped me manage stress in my body and mind as well as improve my sleep.”

What relaxation techniques can be used for sleep, fatigue, etc?

“There is a large and growing set of scientific/medical research papers on this question. Some relations techniques require more discipline, and some are quite simple, which is what I personally lean towards. When I am trying to sleep, I simply focus on my breath, and don’t force anything but just let the breath happen.”

World Music Day, also known as Make Music Day

What music do you like to listen to when you are winding down?

“The only time I really listen to calming, classical music is when I am about to sleep; mainly just on a digital classical radio station.”

What music do you listen to, to keep yourself awake?

“Having looked at a variety of research on this topic I am not convinced that music can help a person stay awake for any sustained period. However, I do have different music choices for different types of tasks. Sometimes heavy rock for getting a report done, dance music for processing data and doing analyses and Jazz for reflectively working on strategic questions.”

 

Winter solstice

What are the long-term effects of less natural light exposure, and the reverse?

“That’s a very difficult question to answer, and maybe impossible. That’s because there are so many effects of light (or lack of it). Without being too wordy, I’d say having a healthy sleep pattern depends on light but many other systems also depend on the downstream effects of light, such as getting Vitamin D and the many benefits that can have on health.”

What are your tips in getting the right amount of natural light exposure during the winter months?

“For healthier circadian rhythms and sleep patterns, the ideal is to get a similar amount of light each day (the brighter the better), although that is impractical for many of us. Unfortunately, many places in the world are not conducive to Vitamin D production for many months of the year, so oral supplementation is necessary”.

 

If you have questions for Adam, or suggestions for future posts please let us know via email at info@integratedsafety.com.au or leave a comment below.

 

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Around the world in... 52 hours?

Feb 09, 2018 ISS Comments (0)

The team at ISS are seasoned travellers, working with clients and attending events around the globe. We may have a few around the world trips under our belts, however we certainly aren’t breaking any records like Andrew Fisher.

Andrew, an airline executive, recently circled the globe, flying 3 different airlines in a record-breaking 52 hours and 34 minutes. His trip begun in Shanghai, where he boarded a flight to Auckland, then Buenos Aires and Amsterdam before returning to Shanghai.

Having been in transit for a short total of 5.5 hours, Andrew admitted that travelling continuously is emotionally and physically taxing. When we are travelling long distances, we like to:

  • Plan our trip in a westerly direction where possible
  • Give ourselves enough downtime to shift our circadian clock once we arrive at our final destination
  • Use light and melatonin to help shift our circadian clock
  • Keep hydrated throughout our journey

For more information and tips on travelling, contact us via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or comment below.

 

 


 

 

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Dec 20, 2017 ISS Comments (0)

 

The winter solstice is fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, and the days are becoming shorter and colder. It is quite normal to be feeling the winter blues at this time of year, but some people experience a more extreme and seasonal form of depression that interferes with things like their mood and sleep. This condition is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and is believed to be caused by a decrease in light exposure during the winter months.

The body’s circadian rhythm depends immensely on sunlight, and when it’s not in abundance during the winter months, disruptions to the biological clock can be experienced. With lower vitamin D absorption, and lower serotonin and melatonin production, the following can be experienced:

  • Low energy and mood
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Disrupted sleeping patterns
  • Fatigue

During the winter months, we recommend to get as much sun as possible, stay active and ensure you don’t sleep for more than 7-9 hours a night.

For more information on seasonal affective disorder, contact us via Facebook, LinkedIn or comment below.


 

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