Managing Fatigue by Getting Enough Sleep
Fatigue is a causal factor in an estimated 20% of all vehicle safety incidents and indicated in 5% of all workplace safety incidents. When work and/or personal requirements cause us to extend our normal waking hours, it is important to recognize the health and safety issues that are created. Recognizing the symptoms of fatigue and assessing fatigue risks can help inform when mitigation is needed, and having a strategic plan for dealing with fatigue can help individuals take control and proactively manage the issue.
The main causes of sleep difficulties and lack of sleep are:
- Having to adjust to conflicting family and social expectations.
- Trying to sleep at hours when your body is “programmed” to be awake.
- External noise, excessive light and high temperatures.
Tips for good sleep include:
- One large block of seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per day is preferable.
- Good sleep can be achieved by use of air conditioning, heavy curtains, turning off cell phones, and noise insulation.
- Advise your family, friends and neighbors of your work hour commitments.
- Heavy smoking can lead to a mini-nicotine withdrawal occurring during daytime sleep and cause disrupted sleep as the body tries to wake and have a cigarette.
- Strenuous exercise one to two hours before bedtime raises the heart rate and blood pressure, making sleeping more difficult.
- Caffeine is a stimulant and should not be used within four to six hours of bedtime.
- Before the start of a new work schedule, go to bed early the night before and get a complete nights rest (for example, if you work Monday to Friday, get to bed earlier on Sunday night). Arrange your social life to allow for this to occur.
Remember, if you are too fatigued to perform your job safely, notify your supervisor immediately.