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Confessions of an insomniac.

“And miles to go before I sleep.”

By Angela Unsworth

I don’t know about you, but I used to have a hard time getting up and moving on Mondays. It was a combination of staying up too late on the weekend and sleeping in during the day. The 6 a.m. alarm just seemed so much earlier on Mondays than on any other day.

I found myself dropping things all morning as I tried to get ready, whether it was my brush or my breakfast; my hands were too tired to function and would let go of things when I needed them the most.

Everything took longer because of this. I had to clean up the peanut butter off the floor and after that, I had to rush to get to work on time.

This is a dangerous combination – tired and in a rush.

Did you know research studies show that fatigue has an impact on work performance?

According to WorkSafeBC:

  • 17 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05
  • 21 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08
  • 24-25 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of .10

Not getting enough sleep (less than five hours before work, or being awake for more than 16 hours), increases your chance of making mistakes at work.

An accident waiting to happen

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety lists the following effects of fatigue on work performance:

  • reduced decision-making ability,
  • reduced attention and vigilance,
  • reduced ability to handle stress on the job,
  • reduced reaction time—both in speed and thought, loss of memory or the ability to recall details,
  • failure to respond to changes in surroundings or information provided,
  • inability to stay awake (e.g., falling asleep while operating machinery or driving a vehicle),
  • increased tendency for risk-taking and,
  • increased accident rates.

For a longer list, check out: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/fatigue.html

How can you get a ‘better’ sleep so you’re not like Chandler below?

One morning, as I was rushing to work, I almost got into a car accident. I was changing lanes and shoulder-checked, but not as thoroughly as I should have. I almost swerved into another car. Luckily, I saw the car just in time and swerved back into my lane, fully alert at that point. I know accidents can happen, but if I can reduce any possibility of getting into one because I’m tired, then that’s what I plan to do.

We need about 7.5 – 8.5 hours of sleep every day. Here’s what I have been doing to get this:

  • Practicing good sleep hygiene (this doesn’t mean brushing your teeth before bed):
    • Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day—this means on my weekends when I stay up late, I’m practicing bad sleep hygiene and making Mondays terrible for myself. I go to bed and wake up at the same time all week long now.
    • Avoiding caffeine before bed. I swap out my Earl Grey tea for peppermint.
    • Leaving my cell phone in another room. I used to keep it in my room and would check it frequently. Now that it’s not in my room, the temptation to look at that glowing blue screen is reduced and it’s easier for me to fall asleep.
    • Exercising regularly. I’ve always done this, but now that I know it helps with sleeping, I make sure to stay consistent.

My Monday mornings have been much easier since I started focusing more on getting enough sleep.

What do you do when you’re struggling with sleep? Do you have a story about a time when being tired impacted you at work? Comment here or tweet us @HeadsUpAB.

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