GOOD SLEEP HABITS ARE KEY TO A SAFE AND PRODUCTIVE
Do you want to reduce the amount of sick leave taken by workers,
develop a safer work environment, and improve productivity? Then,
think about sleep.
In order to maximize productivity and get the most out of capital
costs, many mines are 24 hour a day operations. The problem is
that although equipment can operate any time of the day, workers
can't. Despite what mine managers want to believe and some workers
like to brag about, people are daytime creatures and they do not
operate as well at night. Mine management that recognizes sleep
induced problems can improve productivity, reduce sick leave,
and improve safety.
Unfortunately, the human is a daytime creature, who naturally
becomes less efficient when forced to work at night. Our bodies
are designed to function in tune with the circadian cycle, the
24 hour pattern of day and night. Our bodies want to be awake
during the day and they want to sleep at night. When we try to
change that cycle the body undergoes many physiological changes
that affects everything from attentiveness to a less effective
Workers who aren't getting enough sleep are a triple threat to
your operation. They are less attentive and productive on the
job because their body and minds aren't working at 100%. Since
their immune system is compromised, they are more likely to get
sick and infect other workers with colds and the flu. And, they
are an accident waiting to happen.
We can't change nature, but we can make some changes that help
the body operate more effectively at night. Here are some suggestions
DEVELOP BEDTIME HABITS. Have you ever heard someone say that
something, like reading a book, makes them sleepy? It may not
be that the book is boring. The body recognizes patterns that
you may use before going to sleep; listening to music, reading
a book, having a snack, taking a shower, or having a cup of tea.
This puts your body into a "shutdown" mode even before
going to bed and makes it that much easier to go to sleep.
If you work irregular hours, try developing some bedtime habits
that work with your lifestyle. That will give your body a signal
that it's time to go to sleep, even if everyone else is awake.
WHAT NOT TO DO. What you consume can inhibit a good sleep that
restores you. Caffeine obviously is one chemical that disturbs
your sleep pattern, but there are others. Many use alcohol to
get sleepy and it does make you drowsy. The problem is that it
does not produce the normal sleep patterns that produce the best
results. The same thing applies to sleeping pills.
FOODS THAT CAN HELP YOU SLEEP. As mentioned earlier, a light
snack or cup of tea can become part of your bedtime habits. And,
some drinks can actually help you become sleepy. Warm milk is
a traditional sleep aid. And, for those who aren't into warm milk,
there are several types of decaffeinated herbal teas that can
A GOOD SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT. Where you sleep is just as important
as anything else. Obviously the darker the room, the better because
the body recognizes darkness as a sign that it is time to sleep.
However, even small amounts of light can destroy that. If your
drapes aren't cutting out enough light, consider getting heavier
drapes, an eye mask, or putting something over the windows when
Noise is also a problem, especially if you are trying to sleep
while everyone else in the house is awake. Obviously, getting
family members to be as quiet as possible during your sleep is
important. However, as there are bound to be noises you can't
silence, experts recommend some sort of "white noise"
that will mask these other noises. Although there are white noise
generators available, a fan, air filter, or air conditioner can
also do the job.
Fans and air conditioners may help with the third environmental
factor; temperature and ventilation. A good sleeping environment
is cool (65 - 68 degrees) and well ventilated. Sleeping with a
blanket also helps.
These recommendations should help you sleep better during the
day. However, keep in mind that since daytime sleep is out of
sync with our body's biological clock and is more likely to be
disturbed, there will probably be less deep sleep and REM cycles
that make sleep more restorative. The result is that you may still
be tired and you may start to develop a sleep deficit. If that
happens, a couple of good sleep cycles during your weekend (whenever
that it) can help considerably.