Optimizing Sleep as a First Responder
Date:Friday June 2, 2023
Sleep is essential for everyone as this is when the body repairs itself in order to maintain normal functions. According to the IACP, law enforcement officers are twice as likely to have a sleep disorder as those in other professions, likely due to the amount of shift work and stressful nature of the job. While some level of sleep deprivation may be unavoidable, try these tips to make the most of your rest:
- Eat balanced, nutritious meals. Balancing your blood sugar by having healthy fats or protein alongside carbs will help prevent bloodsugar spikes that can make it hard to sleep.
- Reduce tobacco, caffeine and alcohol consumption. While some people use these to relax, they are actually stimulants that have a major impact on your body’s ability to rest.
- Regularly exercise. Exercise changes your brain chemistry, releasing endorphins and serotonin, both of which can play a part in supporting restful sleep.
- Participate in annual physicals. Make sure you tell your doctor about your job and any physical concerns you have about your sleep habits, including snoring which can be a sign of sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, treatment is a must for allowing your body to stay asleep through deeper sleep cycles and give yourself the rest you need.
- Maintain proper sleep hygiene. Showering before bed can be helpful, but “sleep hygiene” actually refers to creating a routine and setting yourself up for a restful night by eliminating things like bright lights, television, falling asleep on the couch or chair, or doing other things that create barriers to good sleep.
- Get between 7-9 hours of sleep. You have to give yourself time to recover and be ready to face your next shift alert and focused.
- Minimize the amount of time you are on a screen or device before bedtime. The bluish light mobile devices and computers emit can disrupt your brain’s natural wind-down process. If you have to use a screen, get blue-light blocking glasses to help prevent your phone from keeping you awake.
Remember, sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s absolutely essential to doing your job well and supporting yourself in your daily life. Do what you can to set yourself up for a successful night’s rest.