I cannot stress enough how important sleep is to any emergency provider. We have accepted an arrogant lie in our career field that sleep deprivation is ok, it's not! I could talk for hours on the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. Shift work increases all cause mortality, and night shift is even more dangerous. All of the bodies repair and growth processes happen at night. If you do have to work nights, 24's, or any variation of shift work; I have some sleep hacks to help optimize your sleep.
1: Limit day time naps to 30 mins, preferably before 3 pm. I struggle with this one honestly, especially when working on the helicopter, but we all have our vices, lol.
2: Avoid caffeine after noon. 100 mg of caffeine can still be present in our system after 12 hours with just 200 mg. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Caffeine is a pretty bad drug for people who are sleep deprived and have taxed adrenal glands, but I will leave that for another day.
3: Stay away from foods that cause indigestion. You should typically not eat 3 hours prior to going to bed. Indigestion is obviously uncomfortable, as well as harmful to your esophagus. When you go to bed on a full stomach, your body utilizes the energy it would use to recover and grow to digest and process food. So basically, your body doesn't rest even though you are asleep.
4: Get at least 15 mins of sunlight everyday! Vitamin D is so crucial for optimal health and sleep. Well over 50% of emergency service workers are Vitamin D deficient.
5: Exercise at least 5 hours prior to going to sleep. There are varying studies on this, but the majority say to work out in the morning time. When we work out our cortisol and adrenaline levels elevate among a myriad of other processes. So, workout in the am, rest in the evening.
6: Get OFF of Electronics an hour prior to sleepy time. Blue light from our devices is detrimental to our health, in many ways. Blue light increases dopamine in the brain, waking you up even more. If you must use electronics, use blue light blockers and light filters for your devices. Also, stay off of social media. You don't need the social media drama right before bed. You want to be parasympathetic prior to sleep.
7: Develop a nightly routine. Hot baths, reading, stretching, etc. Helps you unwind, and relax. Get into the meditative mindset.
8: On off days and nights, try to strive to go to sleep at the same time. Develop a sleep time routine.
9:Breathing techniques are an unharnessed super power! We have the ability to harness the power of the parasympathetic nervous system. Our feed or breed, post orgasm nervous system. Box breathing, ujjiayi breathing, and even the Wim Hoff method are phenomenal tools prior to going to sleep. Get high on your own supply.
10: Use your bed for Sleep and Sex only. Do not work, watch tv or anything else in your bed. Trust me. Beds are for sleeping and f***ing.
11: Get the room dark as sin! Use blackout blinds, unplug ANY lights in the room. Even the little lights on your tv can interrupt your sleep. Like your hater shades, block out that light!
12: Unplug or install a kill switch on your wifi modem. Believe it or not, our devices emit a lot of energy and radio waves. These can affect your sleep in a bad way, so unplug at night.
13: Turn your device on airplane mode. You are not the damn president, it can wait until the morning. No Excuses. Seriously, you are not that important.
14: Kick the pets out of your bed. This is yet another one I struggle with because our pets our like our kids. Every time the dogs moves I feel it and it wakes me up.
15: Make sleep your non negotiable priority. Invest in comfortable sheets, mattresses, pillows, sleep aides, etc. We spend a majority of our lives asleep, make it count.
If you would like more info on hacking your sleep, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at 911 Buddy Check.
Yall Be Legendary today!