Managing Fatigue during the Work Day

LAST UPDATED: August 20, 2020
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Manage fatigue during the work day

Check whether your sleep habits are working for you or are you mentally fatigued during your workday.

Spot the signs of work fatigue. There are obvious signs like yawning and having difficulty keeping your eyes open along with less obvious signs like being unable to concentrate, feeling easily irritated or feeling overwhelmed.

Why fatigue matters. With the COVID-19 pandemic increasing stress for all of us, it's critical that we manage the one thing we know can help us respond effectively and perform at our best: Sleep.

Here are some tips and recommendations collected from experts at the Army Public Health Center and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Sleep Center to get you started:

Investing in sleep is critical. Cutting back by even one hour can make it tough to focus the next day and can slow our response time. Common short-term consequences of a lack of sleep include:

  • Decreased physical and mental performance.
  • Impaired memory.
  • Impaired concentration.
  • Decreased reaction time.
  • Poor decision-making.
  • Diminished emotional control.
  • Work-related errors

Take steps to mitigate fatigue. Double check your sleep habits

  • Are you leaving enough time in your schedule to get 7-9 hours of sleep per day?
  • Is your sleeping environment cool, quiet and dark?
  • Are you remembering to stop looking at your phone, laptop or tablet screens at least 1-hours before bed?
  • Are you tracking your caffeine intake and keep caffeine limited to the first part of the day and discontinuing 6 hours before bedtime?

Take breaks during the day

  • Take a 15-20 minute walk to boost energy
  • Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and move around every hour
  • Avoid scheduling your meetings back to back. Give yourself 10-15 minute breaks between
  • Take a power nap. Aim for a short, 20-min nap in the early afternoon when both circadian and homeostatic sleep drives make you drowsy

Watch out for screen fatigue

  • Give yourself a break from staring at the computer screen all day
  • Switch to audio calls to reduce eye strain and headaches from looking at the computer screen all day
  • Turn down the brightness on your screen or install a screen filter for your laptop meetings.

Keep yourself alert

  • Stay hydrated – make sure you remember to drink plenty of water (keep a water bottle to avoid spills on your laptop). Remember, drink before you are thirsty.
  • Get exposure to natural sunlight or bright lights during the day for a natural alerting effect
  • Participate in a mindfulness or meditation exercise to boost mental energy 
  • Leaders: Remember to keep encouraging your teams to stay healthy and look out for one another!

Healthy workplace, Healthy workforce

For more information on sleep, check out the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Sleep Resources External Link 

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