How important is your family and work life? I’m willing to bet it’s a top priority for you. Would you say your spouse and children are more important to you than passengers are to an airline pilot? There’s no FFA – Federal Family Administration, but take a look at this.
While visiting one of my squadrons not long ago I saw the following notice posted at a chief petty officer’s desk:
is an expected and ubiquitous aspect
For the average individual, fatigue presents a minor inconvenience, resolved with a nap or by stopping whatever activity brought it on. Typically there are no significant consequences. However, if that person is involved with safety-related activities such as operating a motor vehicle, piloting an aircraft, performing surgery, or running a nuclear reactor, the consequences of fatigue can be disastrous.
Notice the author? The Federal Aviation Administration. This notice comes from a pamphlet on fatigue, one of the best pieces I’ve read on the need for adequate rest.
Notice something strange about the notice? The second half of the warning contradicts the first part. Operating a motor vehicle while fatigued “can be disastrous” but for the average individual fatigue “is a minor inconvenience.” How often does a day go by when you don’t drive your car?
Contained in the pamphlet is another important warning stating any fatigued person will exhibit the same problems including apathy, feeling of isolation, annoyance, slowing of higher-level mental functioning, and memory problems. Think about the last disagreement you had with your spouse or child. Were any of these at least partially the cause? It seems to me for the average person fatigue presents a significant problem that can create long-term damage to physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
Among the FAA’s recommendations to stay properly rested are:
Don’t . . .
- Consume alcohol or caffeine 3-4 hours before going to bed.
- Eat a heavy meal just before bedtime.
- Take work to bed.
- Exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime. While working out promotes a healthy lifestyle, it shouldn’t be done too close to bedtime
- Use sleeping pills (prescription or otherwise).
Do . . .
- Consult a physician to diagnose and treat any medical conditions causing sleep problems.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment at home. Adjust heating and cooling as needed. Get a comfortable mattress.
- When traveling, select hotels that provide a comfortable environment.
- Get into the habit of sleeping eight hours per night. When needed, and if possible, nap during the day, but limit the nap to 30 minutes or less. Longer naps produce sleep inertia, which is counterproductive.
- Try to turn in the same time each day. This establishes a routine and helps you fall asleep more quickly.
- If you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, get up and try an activity that helps induce sleep (read, listen to relaxing music, etc.)
You cannot avoid the challenges that life throws at you and your family, but you can get enough sleep to deal with them more effectively.
How important to you is sleeping well? Please comment below.