Picture this: You woke up one day, not feeling bad but not feeling that great either. You mustered the willpower to resist the temptations of your bed. You left to work and spent what seemed like a month there, time moved way too slowly which in turn took a toll on your concentration. In fact, the same happened the day before, and also the day before that.
Fatigue is affecting millions of men, women and children living in increasingly dynamic worlds. Those worlds don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon it seems like that might not be changing anytime soon. But there is good news! Just because your environment doesn’t change, doesn’t mean you can’t adapt!
Feel like you could use a change in pace? What can you do to sleep better? Feel free to read and try out our following tips.
Drink Soothing Tea
Tip #1 on how to sleep well:
Tea is the classic choice for soothing yourself to sleep. While the actual, precise benefits of the following herbs are still discussed among scientists, they do have a historical weight and people swearing by them continue to use them anyway today. I like to think their relaxing effects depend on your own enjoyment. If you absolutely hate tea then it would probably beat the point. Either way, if you have trouble sleeping you can try choosing among our top 6 and prepare a nice cup of:
Chamomile is definitely the most popular of soothing teas. Allegedly, not only does it help with sleep, but it also has anti-cold and anti-bacterial properties, helps digestion by lowering gastric acidity and soothes sore throats. Antioxidants? Don’t mind if I do! Chamomile is very common can be found everywhere: Health shops, nature/bio markets, supermarkets, regular markets, online and good old regular tea/coffee shops at all kinds of different prices.
Valerian root tea
Although most herbs are up for debate, like I mentioned before, valerian root is amongst the rare ones with a somewhat conclusive scientific backing. Aside from being used against asthma, headaches, migraines and stomach upsets, it acts as a natural sedative and has commonly been used as a treatment for insomnia. If that’s not enough, it even has muscle and joint relaxant properties and has been used by some women to help cope with cramps!
Lavender is pleasant to look at (I mean, it’s purple. Purple!) and also pleasant to smell. Like Valerian root tea, it has relaxing and sedative properties in addition to helping digestion. If you happen to live in a region where lavender grows you can try to pick a few and make Lavender tea.
To make lavender tea you need:
2 to 3 tbsp of lavender (half if you happen to have dried lavender), or adjust to taste.
2 cups of boiling water
Let it infuse for at least 5 minutes, filter the bits out with a strainer and taste the Mediterranean!
See here our banana tea recipe using banana peels!
Lemon balm is a fragrant plant that resembles mint which has, you guessed it, a lemony taste. Aside from its herbal properties as a potential sleep and digestive aid, it is also used in the culinary world. My favourite use is in pesto, which gives a freshness and lightness to the dish. Interesting fact: Lemon balm attracts bees, making it a useful tool for producing honey.
Lemon balm can be found as an ingredient in brand teas like Yogi, though it is harder to find as the main ingredient for tea. You can always order the herb online and leave it in hot water, just like regular mint.
When it comes to tea bags, I personally dislike general brands and supermarket brands and tend to go for the pricier ones you can most commonly find in health shops (Clipper, Pukka, Yogi Tea…), as I just find them richer and tastier, but any tea brand should work fine. Just make sure to check the ingredients just in case, as time and time again you can find products that put an ingredient on the spotlight only to have something like 3% of the said ingredient.
Taking Naps To Stay Sharp
Tip #2 on how to sleep well:
¡Adopt the siesta! Especially if you feel tired all the time. Naps are immensely underrated. Not only do they address mid-day fatigue spikes, they also help regulate your need for sleep.
Despite taking a nap being frowned upon in certain workplaces or schools due to its stigma for laziness, this is slowly changing bit by bit. If you cannot find a way to nap during 9 to 5 style work hours, even after talking about it with your superior, try to build around those hours.
Changing your lifestyle from a monophasic sleep pattern (meaning one, big phase of sleep over 24h) into a biphasic sleep pattern (you guessed it, two phases) could help you be more productive during the day and compact your night without affecting the quality of sleep, as long as you keep to a regular schedule.
Be mindful to only take short naps. These naps should be 20 minutes at most, any more and you might summon that pesky sleep inertia again!
Tip #3 on how to sleep well: Take a power break/Coffee nap
You’d think that coffee and sleep don’t go together. Nobody would blame you either; caffeine is best avoided at night since it will mess with your day/night cycle, you’d find yourself having a harder time going to bed than usual.
I’ve written about the power of naps in general, and more and more workplaces start adopting the nap in the work schedule (thankfully), but if you want a real kick to that nap, look no further than coffee.
How on earth does that work? Simply put, the caffeine you drink doesn’t make you feel more awake straight away, contrary to what some people might think. The reason some people might feel active straight after drinking coffee is likely because of the placebo effect, where you’re convinced something is happening to you to the point that you’re actually tricking yourself.
If you like The Big Bang Theory, you may perhaps have seen an episode in which Raj, a character who can’t overcome his awkward social incapability of talking women unless he’s had a drink, had discovered his beer was actually alcohol-free all along, stopping his social skills dead on track.
Much like the wine or beer consumed at social gatherings or at home, caffeine actually takes roughly 20 minutes to take full effect. First, it needs to go through your intestines, then your bloodstream before finally arriving at your brain.
It just so happens that 15 to 20 minutes is usually the ideal time for a nap! Remember that sleeping for longer periods will make you more likely to enter deeper stages of sleep and therefore wake up with that pesky morning grogginess which would, of course, beat the point of a nap.
Here’s what you need to know: There’s a molecule called Adenosine, which is fabricated by your brain throughout the day and is involved in promoting sleep and energy transfer, in addition to slowing down your neurones (meaning your responsiveness and alertness).
In other words, it contributes to fatigue so you can go to sleep easier. However, it’s not very helpful when you need to be performing.
Tip #4 on how to sleep well:
When you drink coffee, the caffeine that arrives in your brain steals the spots in the receptors where Adenosine usually “parks”, thus blocking fatigue. On the other hand that doesn’t mean the Adenosine will disappear. But when you rest, the Adenosine will be naturally cleared by sleep.
The result? You get a successful powernap, and feel amazing! Make sure to drink a small quantity that you can drink quickly like an espresso or even a ristretto cup so that you can head straight for a nap, as bigger cups and mugs take time to be consumed.
Tip #5 on how to sleep well: Plan a short nap right after waking up
If you know you’re going to wake up overbearingly groggy or tired throughout the day, what I’ve found to be effective is planning a nap right after waking up. The big idea here is to naturally clear grogginess with rest. The trick here is to get up and compromise with yourself.
You’re catering to your grogginess which you feel will impact you over the whole day, but you must be telling yourself you’re only taking a light nap. Once again, it’s important to remember to keep yourself in a resting state and avoid entering deep sleep at all costs. Coffee naps are also definitely helpful is this regard.
Adjusting Your Diet
Tip #6 on how to sleep well: Getting informed on sugar crashes & afternoon fatigues
Feeling tired sometime after lunch? Pasta, bread, rice, beans, potatoes, yoghurt, cereals… These foods, which are especially prevalent in Western cultures, are all high carbohydrate foods that typically contribute to this fatigue. To be clear, high-carb foods are far from being unhealthy, they’re classified as a source of long-term energy and actually even excellent for active people. However, when it comes to sitting behind a desk and working 9 to 5, you will likely experience a fatigue wave in the afternoon.
So what can you do?
- The easiest fix for a sugar crash… Is sugar! (call me Sherlock.)
This is the optimal time for a sweet treat to help you compensate for the fatigue caused by eating sizeable amounts of carbohydrate foods. Be mindful, however, to not use that as an excuse to eat sugary snacks too often because quick fixes cannot replace true food.
- Exercise regularly to make good use of those carbs, in addition to keeping your body fit overall and more energised
- Limit your carb intake or try a completely different diet lifestyle for a few weeks. A good start would be substituting fast burning foods to slower ones.
These are all certainly good options, but we do understand that sometimes, a good sandwich, a nice spaghetti with tomato sauce or the ever classic rice & beans is what you need to fill your stomach.