March 14, 2011
It's daylight-saving time, which means clock has sprung forward and you're probably feeling sluggish. So do you sneak in a work nap to catch up on your sleep?
"Allowing workers to nap is considered a cutting-edge work practice," says Kyra Cavanaugh, president of Life meets Work, a flexible-work consulting firm. "There are some companies that have nap pods or nap rooms. But I think there's still a stigma attached. Sure, siestas are popular in Europe, but here in the U.S. there is still a negative connotation—I mean where do we get that phrase, 'sleeping on the job?' "
Rather than napping on your lunch break, Cavanaugh says it might be helpful to ask your employer for a new schedule.
"Research shows that flexible workers sleep better and eat better," she says. "After the time change, see if you can work one day at home during the week. Those who do can work up to 19 hours longer before they feel stressed as opposed to their in office counterparts who never work from home."
So what do you do if you don't have the ability to change your schedule or catch a catnap?
"The first thing someone should do each morning after a time change is exercise," says Jeff Gardere, a psychologist who specializes in anxiety and sleep disorders. "This will get that serotonin flowing, or what we call the 'feel good' chemical. Sit-ups, pushups or even running in place will help if you can't get to the gym."
Studies have shown vitamin D also helps increase energy, and if you can't get the real sun on your face, try light therapy.
"Light boxes can be very effective," says Gardere. "These replicate the sun and with our bodies in confusion, it can really stimulate a shift."
Some light therapy options include alarm clocks with light bulbs that replicate the sun's rays, to standing lights you can place anywhere in the house. Costs can range between $60 and $300 depending on the product. And Gardere is spokesman for a brand of watch that he says helps wearers get a more restful night's sleep.
"The frame of mind is important to get your body clock back in harmony," says Gardere. "Instead of lying in bed and thinking, 'I've lost an hour,' make a schedule and get on top of your world. Don't be a victim of your day."
And don't forget to adjust your work schedule too, if need be.
"If you're feeling sluggish, be sure to adjust your workload accordingly," says Cavanaugh. "We tend to think we need to be superhuman. … You need to be well rested to be on top of your game. It's OK to renegotiate deadlines and not take on too much."
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