Surviving the Night Shift

If your job involves working the night shift, (late at night until early in the morning) then you probably know how difficult it can be to maintain and take care of your health. According to a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans are working the night shift.

Our bodies are designed to be active during the day and resting at night. Many functions of your body, including digestion and heart rate, are dependent on your circadian rhythm. When you work the night shift, your body’s circadian rhythm can be disturbed, causing it to become out of sync. Here are some tips that will help you get through working the night shift.

  • Manage your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant. When used carefully, your daily dose of coffee can help you to remain alert throughout a shift. However, improper use of caffeine can cause gastrointestinal upsets and muscle shakes.
  • Take a hot shower before and after your shift. This will wake you up and help relax your muscles.
  • Sleep as much as you can before. If you are someone who usually wakes up early, try to nap for at least 3 hours to reduce your drowsiness at work. Be aware that if you sleep for more than 30 – 40 minutes, your body will enter deep sleep mode. It can take around an hour to feel fully alert afterward, so set aside time for that as well.
  • Stop unhealthy snacking. If you don’t feel like eating a huge meal or if you don’t have time, eat healthy snacks such as nuts and raw fruits or vegetables. Snacks that are high in sugar may help you initially when consumed, but you’ll more than likely end up feeling moody and “crashing” later, which will induce drowsiness.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry. Have something to eat and drink before you go to sleep. If not, then you will wake up feeling hungry and thirsty.
  • Spend your off days wisely. Once your body is on a schedule, it could take some time for it to completely switch routine. Stick to a routine. Even on days you don’t work, try to stay awake at night and sleep during the day.
  • Exercise regularly and when you can. If you’re someone who feels exhausted after finishing your night shift, try to schedule your workouts before your shift, or exercise on your off days.
  • If you’re used to falling asleep with the TV on or with your phone in your hand, you should definitely “unplug” before going to sleep. Take advantage of any time you have to sleep and try to make it uninterrupted. Sleep experts recommend turning off all of your devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Try to set aside 7 to 9 hours of sleep after getting home from your night shift. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electric fans are great for keeping air circulating throughout the room and it is helpful and neutral background noise.
  • Bond with your colleagues. It’s good to have a support system at work of other coworkers who are working the night shift as well. Be honest with them about how you are feeling.

Working the night shift can be difficult, but sticking to a routine, eating healthy, and improving your sleep patterns can make the adjustment smoother. If you’re struggling, see a doctor. Discuss your problems with them so that they can help you come up with a solution.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Battling Fatigue at Work

If you’re like many people, you may spend time at work battling fatigue. One minute you’re feeling wide awake and productive, and the next you start yawning and feel your body progressively getting more tired. Fatigue is a common problem that affects many people in the workplace – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of adults are not getting enough sleep each night.

If you’re someone who doesn’t get enough sleep at night, the drowsiness might hit you sooner as opposed to someone who is getting an adequate amount of sleep each night (at least seven hours). Here are some techniques you can utilize to stay awake so that you’re not falling asleep on the job.

  • Take breaks. Short breaks will help you sustain your focus and energy levels. If your eyes are tired from strain and your muscles are aching, it’s time to get up and walk around. You will feel better and be more productive if you walk around, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Drink more water and less caffeine. Dehydration causes fatigue – it can reduce blood flow to your organs, which slows down your brain. Keep water in your work area and condition yourself to drink 8 cups of water a day, which is the recommended amount. Caffeinated drinks will wake you up temporarily, but later on, you will feel jittery and eventually “crash.”
  • Get moving – take a walk. Physical activity stimulates blood flow to the brain. If you are feeling drowsy, take a walk or stretch to increase your level of alertness. If you are doing a task where you aren’t able to move around much, stretch.
  • Go outside. Exposure to the sunlight outside will improve your mood and concentration, and it can even boost your levels of Vitamin D.
  • Breathe. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a big, deep breath. There are many breathing exercises you can do while at work.

If you are still battling persistent fatigue even after making small lifestyle changes, you may have an underlying medical condition. See a doctor for help so that they can come up with a treatment plan for you.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Sealing Your Home

Air sealing is a seal that prevents the passage of air or vapor. Creating an air seal with foam insulation can work to block air movement both in and out of your home. The air leakage you may be experiencing can account for about 30% of your home’s heating and cooling costs.

Besides the financial aspect, sealing your home against air leakage is a simple way you can increase your comfort and simultaneously reduce carbon emissions by up to 25%. Air usually leaks through unsealed or poorly sealed doors and windows, unsealed vents, skylights, and exhaust fans, poorly fitted or shrunken floorboards, and gaps in or around ceiling insulation.

Air leaks also damage the structure of your house. The air that enters through the tiny gaps around your house can carry moisture, and this moisture can damage your home’s foundation. If you don’t already have the correct barrier to protect from outside vapor, the moisture than is absorbed can also result in the development of mold, water damage, and pest infestations.

Air sealing will especially help those who suffer from allergies or asthma, which is directly linked to pollutants and other allergens that are found in indoor air. Besides mold and pesticides, pollen and dust are other irritants that can irritate the airways.

Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the most common ways to air seal your home.

  • Weather-stripping is the process of sealing openings around doors and windows to prevent air from entering and escaping. Foam, vinyl, and tape are some of the material that helps to block air flow.
  • Caulking is a multipurpose material that seals the cracks created by caps, cracks, and joints. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, and ceilings.

Air that leaks out of your home is replaced by air that comes in from the outside, which creates unnecessary drafts within your home. The most effective solution would be to start by sealing the largest and most obvious leaks, and then moving on to the cracks that are more significant. When these are sealed, smaller leaks become more prominent. Larger leaks on the roof may be more difficult to locate and seal, so professional advice may be necessary.

You will notice a decrease in energy consumption and an overall improved air quality and be at ease knowing that your home is protected against mold and other air leak related damages. Air sealing will keep your home and its occupants healthy.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Health Benefits and Importance of Exercise

If you are trying to lose weight or keep it off, exercise should be a regular part of your routine. However, the advantages of physical activity don’t just include physical fitness. Here are the health benefits of exercise.

  • Maintains weight. Exercise can help prevent extra weight gain or even maintain weight loss. When you work out, you burn calories. The more the intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
  • Enhances immune system. Exercise improves your body’s ability to pump the oxygen and reduces the risk of getting colds and/or the flu.
  • Reduces risk for health diseases and conditions. Consistent exercise combats health diseases and conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. For Type 2 Diabetes, exercise helps to control blood glucose levels.
  • Boosts energy. Exercise increases energy levels so that you can be more productive.
  • Promotes sleep. Exercise helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. A good quality of sleep helps improve overall wellness and can reduce stress.
  • Strengthens and tones muscles. Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength and boosts your endurance. Strong muscles reduce your risk of joint and lower back pain by keeping your joints in proper alignment.
  • Improves mood. Physical activity releases chemicals called endorphins, which are known to make you feel happier and more relaxed. Exercise also decreases the amount of stress hormones that your body releases.

If you’re unsure of your health status or if you have health problems, speak with your doctor before starting a more strenuous exercise program. Here are some other factors that will make working out more enjoyable and productive.

  • Stretch before and after exercise.
  • Pace yourself and start slow. If you are starting to exercise after a long time or if this is your first time exercising regularly, start with 30 minutes a day, 2-3 times a week. Try to have at least one day where you don’t exercise at all.
  • Listen to your body. If you aren’t feeling well or if you’re in pain, don’t overexert yourself.
  • Have good, comfortable running shoes.
  • Know what the weather is going to be like. If it’s hot outside, protect your skin using sunscreen and wear proper clothing to avoid overheating.
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking water before, during, and after a workout.

You don’t need to spend money on a gym membership. There are at home exercises you can do that don’t require gym equipment, or you can start by walking or running around your neighborhood. Exercise and physical activity in general are both are a great way to feel better, boost your energy, and have fun. For most adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Exercise is good for your mind, body and soul.

Staying Put During a Disaster: How to Shelter in Place

Choosing to take shelter during a disaster is a necessary step for survival. Shelter-in-place is a precautionary measure and one of the instructions you may be given in an emergency, whether it’s a severe weather alert, or a chemical, biological, or radiological contamination that may have been released into the atmosphere.

During some disasters, evacuating your home or business may put you at greater risk than staying put. There may be some situations when it’s simply best to stay where you are, whether you are at home, at work, or somewhere else. To effectively shelter, you should first consider the hazard, and then choose an area in your home or building that will protect you.

The safest place to seek shelter and instructions will vary depending on location.

At home:

  • Close and lock all windows and doors.
  • Go to an interior room without windows that are above the ground floor level. In case of a chemical threat, an above-ground level room is best because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may leak into the basement even if the windows are closed.
  • Turn off electric fans and heating/air conditioning systems.
  • Make sure your vents and fireplace flue are closed.
  • Retrieve your disaster supplies kit.
  • Bring your family and pets inside. Be sure that you have additional food and water supplies for your pets, and make arrangements for them to use the restroom inside your room.

At work:

  • Close the business.
  • Bring everyone inside. Shut and lock the doors.
  • Turn on call-forwarding or alternative answering phone systems. If the business has a voicemail, change the recording so that it indicates that the business is closed.
  • If there are any clients, visitors, or customers in the building, encourage them to stay inside and give them directions of the shelter-in-place procedures.
  • Write down the names of every person in the room. Call your business’ designated emergency contact and let them know who everyone in the room is, and their relationship to the business (whether it be an employee, visitor, customer, or client).
  • Gather essential disaster supplies – nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radios, flashlights, batteries, plastic garbage bags, etc.
  • If there is a danger of explosion, close the window, shades, blinds, and/or curtains.
  • Keep listening to the radio or TV until you are told all is clear or you are told to evacuate.

Finding out what can happen is the first step to being prepared. You should develop a disaster plan within your home or workplace. Consider practicing drills so that in case of an emergency, you know exactly what to do.  You should also have an emergency package – this should include an adequate water supply (at least three days’ worth), batteries, flashlight, first-aid kit, scissors, duct tape, paper towels, non-perishable food, a battery operated radio, and cell phone chargers.

During a shelter-in-place alert, no one is to leave the area until you are given the “all clear” from authorities. Shelter-in-place can last a few hours or even longer. It’s important to try to stay calm and be patient. Local authorities may not be immediately available to provide information about what is happening and what you need to do. However, you should still watch TV, listen to the radio, and check the internet for news and updates.

 

Written by Dami Falade

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Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

Packing your own lunch can save you money and cut down on daily calories. Although it can be tempting to eat fast food instead or have other sweet snacks, there are many options for easy and healthy lunches that you can take with you to work. Here are some tips that packing a healthy lunch can be less difficult.

  • Plan ahead! Have a meal prep day, if your schedule permits. Prepare some large batches of salad, soup, or another healthy recipe on the weekends so it can be packed into your Tupperware containers for the week. Store the containers in the fridge, and in the mornings, you can grab them on the way out the door.
  • Make extra dinner and pack up the leftovers. If you make a large healthy dinner, put some away in a container and refrigerate it for the next day.
  • Pack your lunch early. Making your lunch the night before can save time in the mornings.
  • Keep water on hand. You can pack a reusable water bottle that you like. Drink water throughout the day and at lunchtime so that you can stay hydrated. Try to avoid sugary drinks, like juices or soda.
  • Don’t force yourself to eat foods that you don’t like. If you pack foods that you won’t normally eat, you’re more than likely to toss it out and go eat at a restaurant instead.
  • Consider investing in Tupperware containers and a lunch bag to put your food in.
  • Skip the processed snacks. When adding snacks to your lunch, consider fresh fruit, raw veggies, or nuts instead of packing potato chips and candy.

Here are some healthy lunch ideas.

  • Switch noodles for veggies. You can make zucchini noodles, which has fewer carbohydrates, instead of eating whole grain pasta.
  • Protein is very versatile. You can do grilled chicken breasts, turkey, or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Instead of having a sandwich, eat a lettuce wrap. You can still incorporate your choice of protein, such as ground turkey meat or grilled chicken.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Baby carrots, avocados, celery, or grape tomatoes
  • Chili or chicken tortilla soup
  • Snacks: Besides fruits and veggies, try raw nuts or seeds.
  • Turkey meatballs with green vegetables – zucchini, spinach, or kale
  • Chicken or steak fajita bowls with bell peppers and low-fat cheese

Finding time to cook during the week can be tough, but you can start by making small steps to beat bad habits. Bringing your lunch to work is a great way to start or maintain healthy eating habits. Making smarter choices can save you time and calories!

 

Written by Dami Falade

Effects of Stress on Your Health

Stress is the body’s reaction to unfamiliar situations. Stress is a normal part of everyday life, and so is our response to it. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to protect yourself. This reaction is known as “fight-or-flight”, or the stress response. During this process, your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens, your muscles start to tighten, and your blood pressure rises.

Some causes of internal and external stress include major life changes (pregnancy, getting married, or a new job), relationship problems, financial responsibilities, and academic pressure as well. Stress may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. Stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

The effects of stress on your emotional wellbeing are:

  • Constant worrying
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability (agitated behavior – twiddling your fingers, clenched jaw, grinding teeth)
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social withdrawal – decreased contact with family and friends
  • Overeating or undereating

The most common physical symptoms of chronic stress are:

  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Digestion issues – nausea or constipation
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased heart rate
  • Weight gain

Here are some coping mechanisms and ways you can manage your stress better.

  • Identify what’s causing your stress. Ask yourself about your feelings and the problems that you’re having. Is it something that you can control or is it always going to be an issue?
  • Exercise on a regular basis. It’s important to make time to exercise at least 3 times a week if your schedule permits.
  • Utilize techniques for physical relaxation. Activities such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation will make a huge difference in your overall outlook and help you to relax.
  • Socialize with family and friends. Talk to someone close to you about what’s on your mind. You’ll feel much better when your feelings are out in the open, instead of just bottling them up.
  • Find a hobby that you can enjoy. Read a book, draw, or listen to your favorite music.
  • Journal your thoughts. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, writing down your feelings is a great way to get it out of your system.
  • Sleep! Getting enough sleep is key. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your mood. Make sure you are sleeping at least 6 -7 hours per night.

Stress is inevitable. It’s always important to have a plan so that your stress levels aren’t getting too out of control. Finding stress-reducing routines that work well for you is the first and most important step of increasing side effects of stress, both emotional and physical. Learning how to manage your stress takes time and practice.

However, if you have tried all above steps and your stress becomes more difficult to manage, or if you start to develop more serious symptoms (chest pain, difficulty breathing, or irregular menstrual cycle) it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Electronic Devices and Eye Strain

American adults spend an average of nine hours a day using technology. If you are someone who spends a vast majority of their day in front of a computer, tablet, mobile phone, or other electronic devices, you are likely to experience symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that are a result of continued technology use.

The most common symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Itchy, burning, or watery eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

Computer vision syndrome is common and sometimes unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take small steps to protect your eyes. Here are some tips on how to combat computer vision syndrome.

Take a short break. Try to schedule a five-minute break every hour, if possible. Stand up and walk around or just rest your eyes for a few minutes.

Look away. While using electronics, look at something else other than your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. This will help to relieve eye strain.

Blink more. In order to reduce your chances of developing dry eye while using a computer, make it an effort to blink frequently. Blinking moistens the front surface of your eye.

Increase font size. This will help so that you aren’t struggling to read and strain your eyes. You can also adjust the colors – black print on a white background won’t be too strenuous on your eyes.

Lower your brightness. You can adjust the brightness of your display screen to where it has the same brightness as your work area.

Minimize glare. Clean your monitor regularly to remove dust. Position your light source at a right angle relative to the monitor, and/or position your screen to avoid reflecting light from overhead lights or windows.

Visit an eye care specialist annually to keep track of your eye health and seek treatment for any vision related issues. Preventative care helps maintain healthy vision.

 

Written by Dami Falade

The Importance of Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is crucial for a person’s health and wellbeing. However, millions of people are not getting enough sleep and suffer the consequences of that.  A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation has found that 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60% of adults have sleep problems a few nights a week. A lack of sleep on a regular basis can lead to continued health complications. Here are the factors that are impacted by sleep.

Overall productivity – Quality sleep enables your mind to be focused and stimulate creativity.

Weight – Researchers have found that people who sleep for less than 7 hours nightly are more at risk to be overweight or even obese. Being sleep deficient impacts the balance of the hormones that affect appetite. Leptin and ghrelin, the hormones that regulate appetite, are found to have been interrupted by lack of sleep.

Physical Health –

  • Sleep is your body’s way of fighting off infections. When there is a lack of sleep, your immune system is weakened, which makes you more vulnerable to illnesses.
  • While you are sleeping, your body restores the damage done by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposure, not to mention other traumas such as muscle injuries.
  • Your body goes into a state of stress when you are running low on slow. Bodily functions are put on high alert, which is where high blood pressure and stress hormones come into play. Stress hormones make you more at risk for heart-related conditions, cancer, and diabetes. High blood pressure increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks, and the added stress hormones make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Mental Health –

  • Along with your physical health, mental health is very important too in terms of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body enters a stressful state. A good night of sleep will make you feel more energized and alert.
  • During sleep, even though the body is at rest, your brain is processing your day, your memories, and your feelings. Deep sleep is a time for your brain to link things together, and getting better sleep will help you to process and remember things better.
  • Sleep can reduce your risk of depression by impacting many of the chemicals in your body, primarily serotonin. People who are lacking serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. One way to combat this is to make sure you are sleeping 7 to 9 hours every night.

A good night of sleep each night is a major key to living a long and healthy life. Getting enough quality sleep each night has many benefits pertaining to physical and mental health.  It’s important to make sure that you are getting the rest that you need. Your body will thank you for it!

 

Written by Dami Falade

healthy, lunch, eating, work, healthy heart, prevent heart disease

Energy Boosting Foods to Increase Workplace Productivity

The foods you eat lay the foundation for your overall body chemistry and processes. Here are some food and nutrients that are key to more energy and productivity:

  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s important to not skip it. What you eat in the morning sets the tone for how your day will go. Eggs are one of the most common breakfast foods. Whether they’re hard-boiled or scrambled, eggs are packed with nutrients such as Vitamin B which improves reaction time.
  • Fresh fruit is a light snack that can be eaten for breakfast or even be eaten in between meals. Bananas, berries, apples, oranges, and melons are a great source of natural sugars, fibers, and healthy vitamins, which regulate the body’s blood sugar.
  • Although green tea does contain caffeine, this caffeine will not make your body crash and burn, as opposed to coffee. Aside from improving brain function, aiding with digestion, and fat burning, drinking green tea helps you concentrate better.
  • Kale: Kale is very versatile – it can be eaten in salads or can even be blended into a smoothie with other fruits and vegetables. Kale is a great source of iron and Vitamin C, which improves overall blood flow and blood clotting. It also preserves vision quality.
  • Chicken: Chicken breasts are another versatile food that are low fat and packed with protein. Instead of deep frying, it can be grilled the night before and eat it for lunch with a salad, or with some vegetables on the side.
  • Nuts: Nuts are a great source of natural fat and protein that the body needs in order to be healthy. Not only do they contain antioxidants and Vitamin E, they’ll give your body the natural increase in memory and overall brain performance. You can have them as a snack in between meals.
  • Avocados: One of the best ways to increase productivity is to have a consistent and steady blood flow to the heart and brain. Avocados help blood flow and also improve focus.
  • And last but not least, water. The human body is made up of 70% water. Every single organ in your body uses water so that it can work well. Studies have shown that drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day will provide your brain the fuel it needs to think clearly and quickly, and be more focused.

The World Health Organization has confirmed that when the right foods are consumed, brain power can increase by as much as 20%. Eating healthy is not just a temporary fix – it’s a lifestyle choice. With food, it can be easier to go with the cheapest or faster option, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the most beneficial option. When you make healthier choices, you will feel better inside and out!