by Dr. Curt Sumners
(and it’s lasting effects of your qualify of life)
Is defined as not obtaining adequate total sleep. When someone is in a chronic sleep-restricted state they’ll notice excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness, and weight gain or weight loss. In addition, being sleep-deprived affects both the brain and cognitive function.
Firefighters often don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to real problems, including safety concerns. During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things. The signals your body sends may also come at a delay, decreasing your coordination skills and increasing your risks for accidents.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also compromise decision-making processes and creativity
Sleep is a necessary bodily function that cannot be replicated through any other means. Fire service leaders need to let go of the attitude that “we don’t pay you to sleep” and firefighters need to lose the idea that they can function just as well in the 48th hour being awake as they did in the first.
Assuring quality sleep for firefighters is a health and wellness issue whose time is long overdue. Lives depend on it.
Steps for better sleep
1. First and most importantly, departments must recognize that adequate sleep is a wellness and performance issue equal to other priorities such as strength fitness, diet, and agility.
2. Fire departments should evaluate current logistics for sleep and consider changes. Some positive changes can be made quite simply — installing fans or white noise generating machines in common dorms, for example:
The room or place that is used for sleeping, should be relaxing and quiet. Lights, noises, a room that’s too hot or cold, or an uncomfortable bed, can keep people/firefighters from getting the sleep that they need. A dark room is more conductive for sleep, both night and day. The temperature should be 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Loud sudden noises from outside as well as the inside should be kept to a minimum. How old your mattresses,
Mattresses and foundations do wear out
•Cheaper is not better for the budget you will end up replacing sub standard mattresses more frequently
• Should be supportive and comfortable
• 10 or more inches is good, 8 inches should be a minimum,
• Many of the newer Foam, Cool Gel Mattresses Are good
• The newer Hybrid mattresses (Spring and gel foam) offer superior support and excellent comfort
• A good mattress manufacturer should offer a 10 year manufacturer’s warranty
Reasons Why You SHOULD Replace Your Mattress Every 5 to 7 years
1. Hygiene Your bed is made of absorbent fabrics so over the years as you sleep on it bacteria, germs, sweat and debris such as skin, scales, hair, dust mites etc. are being built up in the mattress materials.
Gross, I know. The good news is if you clean your mattress regularly, change the sheets, and maybe even use a mattress protector you can extend the lifespan of your mattress. 5 to 7 years is the general rule of thumb. If your mattress is particularly grimy you may want to replace sooner.
2. Comfort The second main reason why we recommend replacing your mattress so frequently is for your own good or, at least your own comfort. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night a quick solution may be to replace your old mattress with a new one. Over time, a mattress loses its firmness and begins to sag in the middle. This can make it uncomfortable to sleep in and over time can cause back pain. It may be time for you to replace your old mattress.
3. Health Last but certainly not least the 3rd reason why everyone should consider replacing their mattress every 5 to 7 years is for health reasons. Like it or not our bodies are constantly changing. What was comfortable for you many years ago may no longer suit your sleep now. Not to mention, many common health problems like INSOMNIA , BACK PAIN and SLEEP DEPRIVATION may be caused by your bad mattress. (this is particularly important for the Fire and EMS industry)
4. Do an assessment of the current state of sleep fitness among members. As much as possible, gather data anonymously to get an honest picture of how department members manage sleep both on and off the job.
5. Allow appropriate naps on duty. Numerous studies have shown that brief naps of 30 minutes or less can make a positive difference in cognition and reflexes for someone who is exhausted.
6. Make resources available for those who are suffering from sleep disorders. Do not stigmatize the use of these resources.
7. Reconsider shift scheduling and overtime rules to diminish the effects of sleep deprivation on emergency response.
Taking steps to minimize the effects of sleep deprivation keeps your liability down and improves the overall health of your firefighters.