Direction of travel makes a difference in performance.
You may have heard that teams traveling eastward are at a greater disadvantage than those traveling westward. A 20 year study of major league baseball (MLB) found teams were 3.5% less likely to win when they traveled eastward across at least two time zones. No significant differences were found when traveling westward. After multivariate analysis, researchers found the failure of the circadian clock to synchronize with the light-dark cycles (circadian misalignment) was the problem, not general travel weariness.
PositiveTip: Try traveling a day or two earlier than your appointments--especially if you must go east.
Optimizing sleep positively impacts functioning and enhances performance.
When crunch time comes sleep is often sacrificed first. Athletes are no exception! Stanford University researchers found basketball players who got at least an extra hour of sleep each night for 5-7 weeks experienced increased shooting accuracy and sprint times by almost 10%. They also reported increased vigor. less fatigue along with better physical and mental well-being scores.
PositiveTip: Make optimal daily sleep a priority. It improves your chances to reach peak performance--physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
Sleep-deprived rats showed impaired performance while acting fully awake.
During wakefulness, our brain wave patterns are typically fast and of low-amplitude. This is different from the slow, high-amplitude non-REM phases of sleep. Researchers have discovered that, at least in rats, when they were sleep-deprived the rats appeared fully awake, but showed increasing impairment on behavioral tasks. There was also electrical evidence that some neurons were "asleep" and not firing. This evidence supports the idea that sleep-deprived individuals who claim to be fully awake may actually have some of their neurons asleep.
PositiveTip: Get regular, adequate sleep to avoid impaired mental function.
We all recognize that a person under the influence of alcohol subjectively feels they are functioning at their peak performance, when objectively they demonstrate significant declines in cognitive and motor performance. So, even when sober, how can you determine if you are fit to perform your expected tasks safely and well?
This is not easily done when you are tired unless you have a standard with which to compare yourself. Unfortunately, the areas of the brain most compromised by fatigue are the same areas required to evaluate and recognize the deficits of the fatigued state.
When soldiers who have slept as little as four hours per night for several weeks were questioned about their performance, they indicated they were functioning very well--maybe better than when rested! In actuality, they were functioning at about 30-35% of their rested capacity! Functional losses in fatigue are very similar to those caused by the influence of alcohol.
Why do people attempt to drive cars, operate complex machinery, or fly airplanes when they are tired?
Answers to this question are varied, but usually boil down to one common attitude: we think the risk is trivial or perfectly acceptable! Often this is the case because we have done it before, toughed it out, or "made it safely". As a result we become cavalier and self-assured--too often to the determent of others and ourselves.
Consider the person who may drive several hundred miles while frequently dozing at the wheel without stopping because they wanted to get home. Yet this same person considers it criminal to drive while under the influence of alcohol. What is the difference? Sure, being sleepy is natural, but it is also as dangerous as alcohol when operating a vehicle or other equipment.
Replace fluids to prevent the consequences of dehydration during and after exercise.
Those who exercise vigorously need to follow a fluid replacement plan to prevent excessive dehydration (>2% body weight loss) to prevent early fatigue, cardiovascular stress, increased risk of heat illness and diminished performance.
PositiveTip: Replace fluids often and early during and after exercise--especially if you are in hot environments.
Tired and exhausted most of the time? Try some moderate exercise!
Many humans today report they feel exhausted and tired most of the time. People who have well-defined medical conditions such as heart disease or cancer consistently report improved feelings of energy and less fatigue when they exercise regularly.
A recent six week randomized controlled trial of healthy young adults who reported persistent fatigue found improvements in feelings of energy. The subjects were randomly assigned to a moderate-intensity, low-intensity, or no treatment group. Participants visited the exercise lab three times per week for their exercise depending on which group they were in. Aerobic fitness was measured before and after the intervention.
Feeling tired & out of gas? Sleepiness interferes with daily activities in 1/3 of Americans.
Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night for optimal performance and health. Without adequate rest on a regular basis the risk increases for:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Inferior work performance
- Risk of injury
Those who responded to the 2009 National Sleep Foundation poll indicated if they sleep less than 6 hours compared to 8 hours or longer they were less likely to:
- Exercise (28% vs. 8%)
- Eat a healthy diet (23% vs. 7%)
- Work efficiently and well (21% vs. 9%)
- Experience positive leisure time activities (30% vs. 7%)
PositiveTip: Sleep 7-9 hours on most days to experience your best!