Four tips for better sleep

Four tips for better sleep

Every day, three out of four people in Finland are drunk at work. Or at least their work efficiency is the equivalent of someone with 0.05% blood alcohol level. As a nation, we do not get enough sleep. More than half of Finnish people of working age feel tired every day. Young adults are the most tired of us all.

A researcher specialized in the human brain told one of Odum’s reporters a story that makes you think. She meets a lot of top leaders and politicians through work, and often hears them brag about how they make do with just a few hours of sleep per night.

– You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve wanted to say “I can tell! Imagine how much better decisions you could make, if only you slept enough!” For now, I’ve been able to control myself, she continued.

We’re not all responsible for nation wide decision-making, but sleep deprivation takes its toll on us too. When we’re tired we eat junk food, skip exercise and any other tasks that feel too strenuous, snap at our families and start looking like languished eels.

Denying ourselves the needed sleep makes us susceptible to burnout. In the worst case we start medicating our exhaustion with alcohol or other substances, and thus create a vicious circle.

Sleep does not make the stressful things in our lives disappear, but it’s easier to think of solutions and possibilities when you’re not tired.

Neither will you be able to snap your fingers and get rid of all your harmful habits, but you can try these useful ones for a start:

1. Put down your cellphone, and other devices that expose you to blue light, in time before you go to sleep. Read a book or a magazine instead.

2. Light exercise and fresh air (both, preferably!) a few hours before it’s time for bed make you sleep better.

3. Do not drink caffeinated drinks late in the day!

4. Write down the things you worry about before you go to sleep. You can pick up on your worries in the morning, after a good night’s sleep.

Sauna is good for your heart

Sauna is good for your heart

Sometimes stress and being under pressure feel like someone is squeezing your heart tightly. You feel anxious. These symptoms are often harmless, but that is not always the case. 20 144 people died of cardiovascular diseases in Finland in 2008, and many more have symptoms leading to sick leaves and medical treatment. This is a problem that almost all Western countries have in common. When it comes to heart based problems, the social and economic effects of precautionary acts are considerable.

Cardiologist Jari Laukkanen and his research group have been looking for ways to prevent heart problems in their study at the University of Eastern Finland. What was the medicine they suspected could prevent illnesses and deaths linked to cardiovascular problems?

It has something to do with hot rocks, steam, and heat.

Yes, the answer is sauna. A monitoring study extending over about twenty years revealed that a sudden death caused by a heart attack was up to 63% smaller in men who went to the sauna four to seven times a week, compared to those who only used the sauna once a week.

The reasons why sauna is good for your heart are not yet fully understood. It is thought that the heat of the sauna lowers the blood pressure and maintains flexibility in the veins. Cardiovascular health affects the functioning of the brain, but feelings of relaxation and calmness the sauna provides can also play a role.

Sauna alone does not keep a person healthy. It is important to exercise and to maintain a healthy way of life in general as well. Nevertheless, it is clear that the sauna protects the heart, and it may also prevent the risk of dementia. The study shows that those who use the sauna four to seven times a week are 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those using the sauna once a week.

Remember this: to maximize the benefits of sauna, you should enjoy its heat for at least 15 minutes at a time. It is not advised to eat a heavy meal just before the sauna, or to consume large amounts of alcohol. The heat of the sauna should feel pleasant, not burning hot. It is important to stay hydrated by drinking water before, during and after the sauna.

There’s more to life than work

There’s more to life than work

“I want to live more!” my friend said at a lunch restaurant, scrolling though her work calendar with an agonized look on her face. Work filled her days, making all the fun disappear.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Even Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining, one of the scariest movies of all time, knew it. Don’t let yourself end up like Jack – make the decision to give yourself enough rest. Remember to write down free time in your calendar before you start filling it with your responsibilities.

To some of us, our smartphone has become the most important tool at work, causing pressure to be available at any hour. The most stressed out workers are the ones with the highest and the most undefined goals. It can be a challenge to take your mind off work.

Smart employees can be motivated with reasonable working hours. If an employer wants to take full advantage of their worker’s brain capacity they don’t arrange late meetings or send work related messages to their employees at night.

Stretched out workdays do not correspond to better results for the employee or the organization they work for. A sleep-deprived brain is not the best at coming up with new ideas. Creativity needs space. To demonstrate, you can try to remember a time when you overworked yourself.

At some point you lost your playfulness, you didn’t laugh as often. One day you suddenly remembered the saying about beating a dead horse. Your dream vacation consisted of uninterrupted rest. At your worst moments you fantasized about accidents that took you to the hospital for weeks, and kind nurses who would bring you food and change the sheets in your bed.

The only cure for feeling like this is to take control. If your boss does not set you boundaries, you need to take leadership of your own use of time. While learning to manage your time in a new way, you might feel guilty for having empty spaces in your calendar.

Taking on a new perspective might help. Getting enough rest makes you a better and more productive employee, and you’ll also be more fun to work with! Who doesn’t want to work with a positive person who has more to life than work?

Does your back hurt?

Does your back hurt?

Have you seen the doctor or taken time off from work because of back pain? Are you wondering if a good massage might help you get through the days?

You are not the only one.

One in eight people in Finland suffer from back pain every day. One in three adults reports experiencing back pain during the past month.

There are many possible causes to back pain. As much as 90% of cases remain undefined, meaning the doctors have not been able to define a specific reason for the pain suffered. As little as 5-10% of back pain is caused by a specific illness or a problem in nerve roots.

It is known that obesity, stress, smoking and insufficient exercise are best friends with back pain, but it can also be connected to discontent at the workplace. It is also a common reason for sick leave.

It used to be thought a person suffering from back pain should lay down and rest as much as possible, but today we know immobility can make the symptoms worse. A back that hurts is not a useless back.

When suffering from back pain it is recommended you return to your daily tasks as soon as possible. Exercise has been proven to speed up recovery, and thus the treatment for back pain is no longer based on medication.

It is recommended to take up light exercise, such as walking, as soon as your condition allows it, even during your sick leave. The point is not to exercise heavily when undergoing acute back pain, but every day motion such as taking the stairs and walking the dog can promote recovery.

Although in some cases back pain requires further examination and medical care, getting better fast is likely for most patients. Approximately 80% of patients have been able to return to work within a month after their first severe symptoms.

After the acute phase of back pain is over, the important part is to make sure it does not come back. The best way to prevent and manage symptoms is to stay in shape.