4 reasons why you might be falling asleep at your desk

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By Liz Connor

The car alarm that was blaring outside your window at 2am. The after
work drinks that quickly escalated. That sixth episode of Orange is the
New Black.... There are plenty of reasons (both self-inflicted or
otherwise) why you might arrive at work feeling slightly worse for wear
and yawning into your third Americano.

Sleepless nights are never fun, but all of us will experience tiredness
at some point throughout our lives, and the odd disrupted night of sleep
isn't usually a cause for concern.

If you find yourself frequently nodding off and fighting sleep at work
though, it could be a sign that something else is up.

What could be the reasons for your persistent sleepiness? Here, Matthew
Reed, founder of health insurance company Equipsme.com explains just a
few.

1. Stress

"It's a sad but true reality that stress has become part of our everyday
lives, and unfortunately work is usually one of the main contributors,"
says Reed.

Stress can be physically and emotionally exhausting; it's how our bodies
react to situations that our mind deems threatening, uncomfortable or
perilous. "Usually, your heart rate will increase, breathing quickens
and blood pressure rises, so dealing with stress is key to prevent
feeling the need to have a nap during work hours," he explains.

"If your work has a stress support programme in place, then make sure to
utilise it. If not, then encourage management to look into adopting one,
as it could help to support you and your colleagues if you're feeling
fatigued.

"If this isn't an option, try deep breathing, taking a break from your
screen or confiding in someone close to you, to relieve some of the
burden. "

2. Overworking

"Overworking goes hand-in-hand with stress and often produces the same
results. It can seriously impair your sleep, leaving you feeling groggy
and exhausted," says Reed.

"Not only does overworking increase your chances of dropping off at your
desk, along with a myriad of other issues, but it's actually bad for
your employer in the long run. Productivity often falls if employees
reach the end of their tether and experience burnout.

If you feel as if your boss has given you far too much work and you
truly believe it's negatively affecting your health, Reed says you
should speak to management and see if you can divide your workload more
fairly.

3. Poor diet

We all know that diet has a serious effect on how you feel. "If you
don't have enough iron, for example, then you could be left feeling
sluggish, weak and distracted," says Reed.

"If you do find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open next time
you're working on a serious project, think about what it is you've eaten
recently and consider adapting your diet to promote a healthier and more
active lifestyle.

"If you aren't sure whether your diet could be a contributing factor,
start a food diary. Too much sugar or fat, for instance, can result in
energy crashes throughout the day.

"Instead of eating sugary snacks, try and fuel yourself with natural
energy sources such as quinoa, honey, spinach and even peanut butter.
Foods rich in vitamin D are also amazing at keeping you awake and raring
to go."

4. Sleep disorders

"Falling asleep persistently throughout the day or feeling groggy could
be a sign that you're struggling with a sleep disorder.

"Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), sleep apnea and narcolepsy are all
sleep disorders that can cause you to not get enough sleep at night,
which results in you falling asleep during work hours," says Reed.

Anxiety-induced insomnia can also keep you awake at night, making
staying alert during the working day much more challenging.

"Ultimately, feeling like you're about to nod off at your desk once or
twice a month is nothing to worry about initially," says Reed, "but if
you find yourself experiencing this frequently, do visit your doctor to
rule out a possible sleep disorder."

Catherine Devane