Posted in Professional Blog Posts

The Myth of Getting Sleepy After Turkey

If you have seen the classic Seinfeld episode where Jerry drugs his date by feeding her Turkey and wine so that he can play with her elusive toy collection, you know just how pervasive the myth of getting sleepy after a turkey meal is. We have all passed out on the couch after a Thanksgiving meal, and many of us have learned to blame the tryptophan found in turkey for our sleepiness. But that is not the whole story.

 

The truth is, most meats and even shellfish contain tryptophan. Cheese, yogurt, and eggs are also rich sources. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which the body can’t make, so diet must supply it. The tryptophan converts to serotonin, which then converts to melatonin, which is the amino acid which is sleep-inducing. You may have seen melatonin supplements sold over the counter as a sleep aid.

 

But if the turkey isn’t the culprit and most of our everyday foods contain tryptophan, why do we get so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal?

 

What really makes us sleepy are the substantial amounts of carbs that we typically consume during a Thanksgiving meal. Consuming large amounts of carbs like stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams smothered in marshmallows, and pie triggers the release of insulin. Insulin removes most amino acids from the blood — except for tryptophan. This is how we wind up with more tryptophan in our blood and our brain, which leads to more serotonin, and eventually, more melatonin.

 

Therefore, while it is true that the amino acid tryptophan really is to blame for your post-meal sleepiness, it’s not really coming from the turkey.  It’s the carbs.

 

Since so many common foods contain tryptophan, is it possible to have too much tryptophan in the body? Not really, says Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of numerous nutrition books. “Except if you end up eating a lot of tryptophan, it means you’re eating a lot of protein and Americans already eat a lot of protein. It’s the only nutrient we get too much of,” she says. “If you’re getting even one serving of 3 ounces of meat, chicken, or fish; a couple of glasses of milk or yogurt; or if you’re eating beans and rice, you will get all the amino acids you need and in there will be the tryptophan,” Somer says.

 

Another reason you’re so sleepy is overeating. When you pile your plate high with food, digestion takes a lot of energy. That can make you tired. “Studies have indicated that stretching of the small intestine induces sleepiness and a protein–fat loading of the stomach induces sleepiness,” says biologist H. Craig Heller at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., “and, more blood going to the gastrointestinal tract means less going elsewhere,”—for example, the brain or skeletal muscle.

 

The lesson? If you want to have more energy after dinner this Thanksgiving, eat light and reach for the salad, with maybe just a dollop of potatoes for tradition.

 

 

Posted in Professional Blog Posts

Should the Boss Have a Separate Workspace from Their Employees?

The open-office trend as we know it began in the 1990s. Responding to new research saying open work environments fostered community and creativity, employers across the country began lowering cubicle walls or getting rid of them entirely. At the same time, computers were growing smaller and flatter, which allowed companies to reduce the size of their employees’ workstations. This led to some managers and even CEOs joining the fray, making the workspace completely communal.

Lately, the open-office trend has come under fire. Apparently, the setup—no walls, no doors, shared workspaces—undermines what the concept was designed to achieve: communication and flow of ideas among employees. According to some research , the open concept decreases employees’ job satisfaction and decreases privacy, which also affects productivity.

Some bosses never left their private offices to begin with; others are just joining the open-office space now. Many have joined the debate by writing op-ed pieces arguing for or against sharing office space with their employees. Here are the takeaways.

 

Top Reasons Bosses Should Share Workspace with Employees

  1. Opportunities to Offer Guidance

When the boss is in earshot of the conversations that go on in the office, they can easily provide advice or an opinion without having to schedule a meeting or interrupt workflow.

A good example happened at ShortStack, a Facebook contest App, which prides itself on customer service. When the boss overheard customer service representatives dealing with difficult customer complaints, he was able to jump in on the calls and resolve the issues himself. This was a bonus for the company, plus, the representatives didn’t have to put the customers on hold to ask questions.

 

  1. Approachability

 

This is the opposite of Mad Men, where the “staff” don’t feel comfortable talking to the “executives.” When the boss sits with the staff, anyone can ask them anything at any time. It also makes them privy to daily conversations which often include stories about personal life. This makes the employee-boss relationship friendlier and more open and gives the boss the potential to be a more empathetic leader.

 

  1. Meetings are Kept to a Minimum

Since everyone sits together and interacts regularly, there isn’t the need for constant meetings because everyone already knows what is going on. A 30-minute catch up every other week will suffice.

 

  1. Gage People’s Strengths

 

When everyone is working as a team, it is common for people to pick up several types of tasks. This is especially true if you work at a startup or smaller company. When the boss sits among their employees, they can keep an eye on who does what best and realign assignments according to employee strengths and talents. Maybe the accounting person is great with social media. Perhaps the copywriter has great ideas for new features. The boss can make the most of their talent pool when their boots are on the ground.

 

Why Bosses Should Not Share Space with Their Employees

  1. It Can Encourage Bad Behavior

 

Researchers in the Netherlands found that physical distance is a key factor in whether the bad behavior of bosses spreads to their employees. In a series of studies, the researchers found that participants were more likely to treat others unfairly and act unethically when in the close proximity to their bosses if they felt their bosses treated them unfairly.

 

  1. It Can Stop Employees from Thinking for Themselves

When your boss is tucked away in their own office, you are more likely to evaluate decisions based on their own merits, rather than mimicking your boss’ behavior. When your boss is sitting right next to you, you may rely on their opinion or way of thinking too much, stunting your own creativity.

  1. It Can Waste Time

You are less likely to waste time focusing on making a superficial impression and more time doing a fantastic job.

  1. Creating Clear Boundaries

Although it may seem great to appear friendly and approachable, there is merit to reinforcing the fact that you are their boss, not their friend, and they should think twice before requesting your time. Having your own office enhances your authority.

 

 

Posted in Professional Blog Posts

The Psychology Behind Reading a Person’s Eyes

By now we’ve all heard plenty about body language – the way we express our thoughts and emotions through our physical gestures. For instance, crossing your arms in front of your chest is a classic move that implies you are emotionally closed off. Constant fidgeting signifies to another person that you would rather be somewhere else.

Have you ever considered that there is a body language of the eyes? People say that they are  ‘windows to the soul,’ but do you really know how to read them? Body language experts look at everything from pupil size to blinking patterns to read the body language of the eyes. Read on to find out more.

 

The Pupils

We have no conscious control over the size of our pupils. “Dilation” is when they are enlarged; “contraction” is when they shrink. Your pupils naturally dilate in conditions of low light to allow the eyes to take in more light. They contract in the sun to reduce the amount of light taken in.

However, there are special conditions when pupils will involuntarily dilate, such as physical or psychological pleasure. If someone is talking to you about something you’re interested in, your pupils dilate in pleasure. If you are bored, your pupils will contract. If you find another person or thing attractive, your pupils dilate.

In turn, dilated pupils are found attractive by others. This is the phenomenon known as “bedroom eyes” because of the connotation.

Pupil dilation is also a reliable indicator of lying since enlarged pupils are a sign that your brain is working hard—which it must do for you to tell a lie.

 

Eye Contact – Persistent

We have all been coached to make regular eye contact on dates, in job interviews, and just in everyday life if we want to be successful communicators. But what if eye contact is too persistent?

For one, it can be intimidating. It can cause the person who is the subject of it to feel overly scrutinized and make them uncomfortable. In fact, this is true even between humans and animals. One reason that children are attacked by pets is that they often make persistent eye contact with them, making the pets defensive and afraid, which compels them to attack.

Overly persistent eye contact is also a recognized sign of lying. Because a liar will make a conscious effort not to avoid eye contact, they may attempt to hold your gaze too much.

 

Eye Contact – Evasive

Why do we avoid eye contact? We commonly think that it is because we are ashamed or trying to deceive. This can be true.

However, it has also been found that children who were asked to answer a question were more effective at finding answers when they looked away to think.  Children who maintained eye contact when answering had a more challenging time finding the correct answers.

 

Blinking

We have an instinctive and biological need to blink. But blinking can also be an indicator of attraction, which is why it is seen as a sign a flirting. Men and women blink at the same rate as each other. Blinking more than the average of 6-10 times per minute can be a good indicator that a person is attracted to the person they are talking to.

 

Winking

In the West, winking is a cheeky form of social expression that we use with people we are familiar with. Around the world, however, this may not be the case. In Eastern cultures, for example, winking is frowned upon.

 

Eye Direction

When a person is thinking, do you see their eyes turn to one side or another? This may give you a clue as to what kinds of thoughts they are having.

If they are looking left, it indicates that they are reminiscing or trying to remember something. If they look right, it means they are having more creative thoughts. Creative thoughts can also mean that someone is being deceitful i.e. creating a version of events.

If the person is left-handed, the direction indicators may be reversed.

 

Key Points to Take Away

  • Avoid looking to the right – it’s a universal symbol of boredom and deceit.
  • Demonstrate your interest in someone with regular intervals of eye contact but remember that constant eye contact can be intimidating.
  • Pupil dilation can mean someone is interested; or, it can mean the room has become brighter.
  • Try not to wink too often, even in cultures that accept winking in jest.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Professional Blog Posts

Tips for Sleeping on a Plane

You have booked your dream vacation to… Thailand! or Kenya! or Australia! No matter where you are going, you know you’re in for a long flight. You also know that if you don’t want to waste days of your precious vacation time catching up on sleep, you’d better find a way to catch some Zs on the plane. Here are some things to consider when planning for your flight that will help you arrive fresh-faced, rested, and ready to climb Kilimanjaro.

 

Pick Your Seat

Most airlines allow you to choose your seat either when you purchase your ticket, or online during early check-in.

If you are lucky enough to get a window seat, congratulations! This is prime sleeping territory. In the window seat you will be able to snuggle up against the wall of the plane, resting your pillow, and your neck, in the most comfortable position possible for this confined space.

If you are less lucky and get the middle or aisle seat, you have two options. 1) Buy a stable neck pillow and try to sleep upright, which is always difficult but can work if you are tired enough. 2) When the pilot says it is safe, unlatch the table tray and place your regular pillow on top of it. You can get a surprisingly comfortable sleep with your head and arms resting on the pillow/table.

Bonus Tip: If you book a seat in the Emergency Exit Row, you will have extra comfortable leg room. To sit in this row, you must be 18 or older and able to assist the flight attendants in case of an emergency landing.

 

Dress the Part

Obviously, you want to dress for comfort. Still, there are some special considerations when dressing to sleep on a plane. First, you want to dress in layers. Your body temperature may fluctuate from warm to cold throughout your flight. So, wear a soft cotton T-Shirt as your first layer for maximum comfort. For women, a pashmina is a stylish and practical second layer which can be worn as a shawl or a blanket. For men, a zip-up fleece makes for a good second layer.

Make sure you wear long pants with at least a little stretch in them, so that they don’t pinch and bunch when you sit. Yoga pants are perfect for this. For men, jogging pants work well.

Look out for your feet as well. Wear warm, cozy socks that you can pad around in on the flight. Also, wearing slip-on shoes will make it easier to take shoes on and off as you go through the security check as well as when you are getting on and off the plane.

Avoid metal jewelry, belt buckles, and keys in your pocket, all of which will poke you and make you uncomfortable as you try to sleep.

 

Prepare Your Playlist

Make sure you have sleep-inducing, happifying music ready to play on your phone, and don’t forget your earphones! Some airlines offer free internet, but many charge as much as $16 per flight and the signals can be spotty. Your best bet is to download the music you plan to listen to on your flight before you go. If you use Spotify, check out their “Airplane Sleepyhead” playlist. Besides Spotify, check out the Huffington Post’s Top 5 Music Apps for Offline Listening.

 

Sleep Aids?

The straight answer is No. It is better not to use sleep aids because they will probably leave you feeling groggy upon arrival. There is one exception that many professionals seem to agree upon, however. That is melatonin, an herbal supplement which may help switch your circadian rhythm, tricking your body into thinking it is the night when it isn’t. Melatonin isn’t regulated or approved by the FDA, but several studies have shown it to be effective.

 

What to Eat

Let’s start with what you definitely don’t want to eat; that is, starchy, fatty, or fried foods. These will leave you feeling overly “full” during your flight and make you too uncomfortable to fall asleep. Also, stay away from high-sodium items to avoid “jet-bloat,” which can be very disconcerting.  Better choices are nuts, which will satiate you for a long flight but are easy to digest (so no discomfort.) Opt for low-sodium foods like fruit and non-cruciferous vegetables. Finally, make sure you are well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Flying can dehydrate you, leaving you feeling groggy, sick, and disoriented. Drink water before, during, and after your flight.