Natural Ways to Reduce Fatigue
The roughest challenge that comes with working Beijing time is dealing with fatigue. We want to discuss some natural ways to combat fatigue in this article.
The first thing you need to know is that sleep preservation is absolutely the number one priority.
So often teachers end up relying on things like caffeine, pills, supplements to keep them going. Many times this ends up making us feel even worse by firing up our nervous system and keeping us in that tired but wired state.
For short term situations such as cramming for a test in college, being in a fight or flight mode is probably ok, but if we maintain this type of state chronically it can cause all sorts of problems, weight gain is just one of them.
When we work these odd hours, our circadian rhythm is disrupted
The key for us is to optimize our body’s circadian rhythm. Our body’s clock is linked to light and dark cycles. This clock has a profound effect on our bodies biochemistry by controlling the release of certain hormones.
The aim of this article is to describe some natural ways to combat fatigue by manipulating or biohacking the cues that synchronize our clock.
The first thing we are going to talk about is light. Light is the most powerful cue, controlling our exposure to light can help us move up or move back our bodies clock. When you want to expose yourself to light entirely depends on when you sleep but as a general rule we want to expose ourselves to light within 30 minutes of waking up. Conversely, we don’t want exposure to light for at least an hour before we go to sleep. This means eye mask, no devices and maybe some blackout curtains to achieve the effect.
Often we are not waking up when the sun is up and this is where a light box can come in handy. Here is a link to one such device, not an affiliate link, do some research and find a product that’s right for you.
Artificial light is not a replacement of natural light. Try to get at least 15 minutes of natural light exposure every day.
Conversely, we want to limit exposure to light before we sleep, especially blue light. This means Blackout curtains, blue blocking glasses, and not screen time just before bed.
Exercise is another great way to wake ourselves up. I think this can be especially effective later in our shifts. Late in the shift you might want to limit caffeine intake so it does not inhibit our sleep quality. Just a little exercise has shown to be as effective as caffeine for increasing wakefulness. For similar reasons you may not want to exercise just before bed. The effects of exercise however, will wear off faster than the half life of caffeine.
Standing in class, or at least the ability to sit or stand. Sitting leads to less movement which tells the brain that it’s time to rest.
Finally, we need to be mindful of our nutrition. Eating large meals, especially if they are primarily composed of processed carbs can make us sleepier in the long run. We want our meal timing to be consistent and composed primarily of nutritious whole foods. You want to time your meals so that your biggest meal is before you teach, have a mediumish sized meal/snack in the middle and a light snack just before bed. Try to keep health snacks balanced, this means they contain all 3 macronutrients, healthy proteins, carbs and fats.
I hope this helps gain a greater sense of control over your busy life. If you are already doing some of these things, keep up the great work!!!