The majority of articles on how to cure daytime sleepiness teach you how to use hacks to get over the slump. This is pretty easy to do because all you have to do is increase adrenaline, which can be done with a burst of exercise, a cup of coffee, by eating some quality protein and various other methods. But the reality is that such hacks only contribute to creating a habitual cycle of daytime sleepiness, and you get used to hacking your tiredness away rather than eliminating the problem at source.
The fact is this: with the correct amount of sleep, humans should be able to go a full working day without suffering daytime sleepiness. Considering there’s 24-hours in a day, to only manage a few hours work after waking before feeling tired again means something is badly wrong – and generally that something is poor quality sleep.
To cure daytime sleepiness there are a number of steps you can take immediately.
1. Monitor Your Sleep Duration
The obvious place to start analysing the problem is with the amount of sleep you’re getting. If you’re getting less than six hours sleep per night then you need to extend this by an hour or two and see if that brings positive change to your daytime dips.
It is important to consider that not all time spent in bed is spent asleep. It may take you between 15 minutes and one hour to fall asleep, and then you may break a sleep cycle during the night if you need to go to the toilet or have a drink.
To monitor your sleep duration it is worth keeping a sleep chart like the one provided with the Six Steps program.
2. Change Your Bedtime
If you’re getting 7+ hours sleep but still suffer daytime sleepiness, then you’re probably going to bed too late. You’ll feel far more energized if you go to sleep an hour or two earlier and wake closer to the rising of the sun. This relates to circadian rhythms and man’s historical sleep pattern, which is designed in line with Mother Nature – read more about my experience with this practice here.
3. Sleep Quality (Periodic Waking)
You may think you’re getting sufficient sleep, and you may be going to bed at a reasonable time of say 10pm or 10.30pm, but quality may be the culprit of your daytime sleepiness.
Periodic waking is the number one cause of daytime lethargy, and the fastest catalyst of sleep deprivation symptoms, even more so than lack of sleep. Depending on the health of an individual, the body can survive on 4-5 hours of unbroken sleep for a number of days. However, one night of consistently waking during sleep cycles will leave a person feeling shattered, with a number of accompanying side-effects that may include headaches, agitation, dizziness, micro sleeps and more.
Do the following to improve your sleep quality today:
- Don’t drink anything an hour and a half before bed. Make your last drink a glass of water, and ensure you take a wee before getting into bed.
- Make sure your dinner is at least three hours before you try to sleep, four hours where possible. Your body simply won’t sleep properly if it is still digesting.
- Try to sleep and wake at the same times each day. This alone will hike sleep quality in a matter of days.
- Turn off your computer at least two hours before going to bed to allow your brain adequate time to calm simmer down after pixel stimulation.
4. Take Adequate Exercise
The human body was built to work and play, and it can’t function properly without adequate exercise. You may know of someone who does nothing but sleep and sit around watching TV most of the time, yet always feels tired. This is a common side effect of laziness – the mind and body become habitually tired from lack of function.
Paradoxically, although a person may feel tired all the time, without adequate exercise the body won’t sleep. And why would it if it hasn’t been worn out by the day’s activities? More exercise means better sleep, which subsequently reduces daytime sleepiness.
Make sure you exercise every day, and if you can’t get to the gym, at the very minimum take a long, brisk afternoon or evening walk.
5. Implement a Sleep-Friendly Diet
Like it needs exercise the body needs the correct diet to function at optimum performance, and part of that diet should consist of sleep-friendly foods. Where possible, cut out high sugar content and preservative-laden foods, eliminate fizzy pop drinks, don’t drink caffeine in the late afternoon and evening and replace sugary snacks with sustainable energy foods like fruit and nuts.
To boost the quality of your sleep, eat foods that contain tryptophan. When the body coverts tryptophan to serotonin it induces sleep and prevents waking during sleep cycles. There are number of everyday foods containing tryptophan that you can incorporate into your diet, these include bananas, dates, tuna and whole grain crackers.
Make sure you avoid eating foods that contain tyramine before bedtime, too. Tyramine increases the level of a known brain stimulant named norepinephrine, and is present in foods like bacon, cheese and potatoes.
For comprehensive sleep-friendly diet information reference the Ultimate Sleep Diet Guide that comes with the Six Steps program.