Yawning in the afternoon? Learn how to fight daytime sleepiness

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Feeling sluggish while the sun is up? Try these tricks.

1. Avoid "energy" drinks

Colas, energy drinks, and other sodas may not give you that energy boost you're looking for.

In fact, research by the University of Loughborough in the UK found that those who consumed these low caffeine high sugar drinks actually became drowsier and less focused after an hour.

2. Don't over-eat

You skipped the turkey sub at lunch because it contains tryptophan, which you heard can make you sleepy.

Actually, this well-known amino acid is also present in other foods like fish, eggs, yogurt, and cheese - even soya beans contain more tryptophan than turkey.

However, the compound's lethargy-inducing effects may be over-exaggerated, shares Kim Sasso, a registered dietitian at Loyola University Health System in the US.

The way the tryptophan breaks down in our bodies means not enough may reach our brain to have an effect.

What's more likely to cause sleepiness is bingeing on large quantities of food, including carb and sugar-laden treats.

3. Do some exercise

Most people skip their workouts if they feel tired at the end of the day, but just 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise in a week can help you feel more alert in your daily dealings.

It could also get you more restful sleep at night, shares a report from the Oregon State University in the US.

4. Be wary of fatty foods

Studying a group of almost 2,000 men, researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia discovered that those who indulged in greasy, fried foods were likelier to experience daytime sleepiness.

Fatty cuisines tended to be linked to higher incidences of sleep apnea, leading to disrupted snooze time and cravings for more high-carb and high-fat food!

5 things to know about trans fats

  • Artificial trans fats found in everything from margarine to cookies and frozen pizzas are not safe to eat, FDA said.
  • Most trans fats are formed during the process of hydrogenation of vegetable oils - an industrial process which converts liquid oil into solid fat.
  • It is mainly used to prolong the shelf life of food products and ensures food such as cookies stay crispy.
  • It is present in margarine, cooking oil, cake shortening, pies, ice cream and cookies.
  • Deep-fried foods also contain high levels of trans fats.
  • Research has shown that it is currently one of the worst kind of fats for the heart, even more harmful than saturated fats, which raises bad cholesterol.
  • Trans fat reduces a body's good cholesterol that in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
  • It blocks up the arteries that lead to the brain and heart, resulting in heart attacks and strokes.
  • The use of partially hydrogenated oils that have long been linked to heart disease and fatal heart attacks.
  • New limits imposed in May 2012 on food makers, cooked food outlets and supermarkets in Singapore require that trans fat in all margarine, cooking oil or shortening be limited to no more than 2g per 100g.
  • According to statistics released by the Health Promotion Board that year, three in 10 persons here consumed over the daily recommended limit due to them eating out more often and snacking on fried foods.
  • When cooking at home, the Health Promotion Board recommends using less oil in cooking and adopt healthier cooking methods such as baking and steaming.
  • Spreads such as margarine, butter and kaya should be used sparingly.
  • Those who eat out should limit their consumption of fried foods and high-fat bakery products such as pastries and cakes.

5. Put away your phone

A recent report in PLOS ONE shared that smartphone use could reduce your quality of sleep, especially when used around bedtime.

In the study, 653 participants self-reported how well they slept, while a downloaded app tabulated their mobile usage duration.

It seems the longer participants spent on their phones, the shorter and poorer their snooze sessions tended to be. Perhaps it's time to seriously consider banning mobile devices in the bedroom.

8 ways sleep can solve your problems

  • If you often suffer from monthly period cramps, try to clock in more Zs. In a study done in Georgia, it was found that a lack of sleep made period cramps worse, as less serotonin is produced when we don't sleep enough, resulting to a lower threshold for pain.
  • Here's something we can't complain about. Sleeping more can indeed help you burn calories. So don't put in hours in the gym, but hit the sack an hour or two earlier for the sake of your waistline!
  • A lack of sleep causes the emotion centre of the brain, known as the amygdala to become more sensitive, hence sleep-deprived people often react more negatively to situations.
  • Your best self will definitely arise from a well-rested you. When we are sleep-deprived, we lose focus, attention and vigilance.
  • Even with excessive amounts of vitamins, you are still likely to fall sick if you're not sleeping enough. Our bodies stop reacting to vaccinations when we suffer from a lack of sleep, similar to how we always sleep to feel better after our medication when we're feeling under the weather.
  • Beauty sleep is indeed a real thing. When we are sleep deprived, our skin will suffer from inflammation and dehydration. Increased stress hormones can also arise which worsens any inflammatory skin conditions like acne.
  • Try getting a full night's sleep and you might see a difference to how you approach the everyday stressors in your life. Even with the world weighing down on your shoulders, a well rested night could definitely make anything better.
  • When we're running on minimal sleep, anything can seem more risky and daunting to attempt. With more sleep hours clocked in, you could be more willing to try out adventurous things in your life, be it in your work or downtime.

Shape, the only women's health & fitness magazine in Singapore is now available in both print and digital formats. Log on to www.shape.com.sg to subscribe!

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