5 practical sleep tips for shift workers
You need seven to eight hours of good sleep a day to stay mentally and physically healthy — here are a few ways to reliably get the sleep you need
The secretary called and had a question regarding a DWI report that I had transcribed in the early morning hours of the previous shift. I had responded to a report of a motor vehicle accident with a possible drunk driver. He had been headed into town, crossed the center line and continued on down into the ditch over a driveway, run over a telephone junction box and finally come to rest in a grove of pine trees.
It was just outside of town but I was the closest officer so I headed in that direction. To make a long story short, he ran into the woods, back up arrived, we set up a perimeter, and awaited the arrival of a dog. It was summer and it was hot. After about 20 minutes of hiding, the driver came back out and surrendered. Apparently the mosquitoes were so bad that he decided jail was a better option.
The suspect was transported and I stayed on scene to wait for the tow truck to haul the now wrecked car. As I sat, a truck pulled up and the driver asked if everything was OK. I was but he wasn’t. As soon as he opened his mouth to speak it was obvious he was drunk, too.
I drove the 20 miles to the jail tested and booked the suspect then drove back to the office and started to transcribe my reports. That’s were the problem started. It seems that my report started out ok with the correct info right up until I made the arrest. The things got strange and I started documenting what I was doing on the remodel of my garage. When I was finished with the remodel description, I slipped right back into the DWI report.
Needless to say the secretary had some concerns, and now, so did I.
Burning the Candle at Both Ends
Apparently, my brain had had enough and during the transcribing of the report I had drifted off mentally and had been so tired I hadn’t even noticed. Fortunately, I soon finished the garage and made an effort to get more rest.
Like every cop out there I had been a victim of the slow and silent enemy — a lack of sleep. Over the years I’ve learned some tricks than can help you get a good sleep.
You need seven to eight hours of good sleep a day to stay mentally and physically healthy — don’t fool yourself into thinking that you don’t. Take that as seriously as you take wearing your vest each shift (you are wearing your vest, right?).
Shift work takes a toll on your mind and body. Lack of sleep can be a precursor to stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and weight control issues. It’s been known for years that it can take years off your life. Being constantly fatigued can also effect your relations with others.
I got a new job as a law enforcement instructor. I had a regular job with regular hours but it had taken me quite a while before I could actually sleep all the way through the night. It had been about three months and I was talking to my wife one day. We were laughing and joking around and she smiled at me and said, “Welcome back.”
I asked her what she meant and she said that I’d been a moody and irritable S.O.B from lack of sleep for years, and now I was finally acting like the “real” me. She was glad I was back. Be careful that you don’t lose more than just sleep.
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