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Is your lack of sleep putting your safety at risk?

By: Josie Hammond-Thrasher

It’s been one month since I started my practicum with the communications team at WCB-Alberta. While I’m loving my time with the team, changing gears from being a night student to a daytime office worker has left me feeling pretty worn out.

I realized earlier this week that while I’d made lots of changes to adjust to my new role (e.g., waking up early, making bag lunches, wearing business clothes), the one routine I hadn’t changed was what time I hit the sack. In fact, I’d developed a nasty habit of trying to catch up on lost sleep by sleeping in on weekends.ImageBut lost sleep on any given day has immediate mental and physical consequences for the next day, according to the Canadian Sleep Society. It turns out lack of sleep messes with our internal body processes, leaving us feeling grumpy, dull and sluggish even after just one late night out or bad sleep.

Short-term fatigue makes it harder for us to concentrate, recognize risks and make decisions, and it slows our response time.  As a result, we’re not only less productive at work but also more likely to make mistakes that can lead to injuries at work or on the road.

With 60 per cent of Canadians admitting they sometimes drive while feeling sleep deprived, it’s no wonder Transport Canada reports an estimated 20 per cent of fatal collisions involve driver fatigue.

Counting zzzzzs

So, just how much sleep do you need? Aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep each night should leave you feeling rested when you wake up and help you remain alert throughout the day.

Keep these five tips in mind to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Go to bed when you feel sleepy and set your alarm to wake you at the same time each morning.
  • Limit distractions in your bedroom—do your snacking, tv watching, and video gaming in another room.
  • Avoid stimulants—alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, strenuous exercise and heavy meals in the few hours before bedtime will make it harder for you to fall asleep.
  • Keep your bedroom as quiet, dark and cool as possible.
  • Reduce your stress level with daily exercise and a healthy diet—you’ll sleep better for it.

I’ve made sleep a priority in my life this week. Each day, I wake up feeling better rested and able to do my best work. But more importantly, I’m no longer a drowsy driver—I’ve done what I can to make sure I don’t put myself or others at risk.

Why not challenge yourself to do the same? I know you’ll feel better for it!

And always remember, for your sake and the sake of those around you, if you feel yourself starting to nod off while driving, working with hazardous materials or operating machinery—take a break!


2 Responses to “Is your lack of sleep putting your safety at risk?”

  1. Awesome advice – I know too many guys with stories of falling asleep at the wheel. One guy landed his truck in the ditch while driving up North – lucky he did not kill anyone.

  2. […] moments. But we at Heads Up know that getting enough sleep is important. (Check out Lauren’s and Josie’s blog posts to see just how important sleep is!) Develop a sleep strategy so that you’re getting […]

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