Oversleeping is NOT a waking up problem

Six tips for academy cadets and new hires to make sure they get out of bed and arrive on time to class and work


Oversleeping or sleeping through an alarm is not a waking up problem. Oversleeping is a going to bed problem.

Sleep can help you learn better and faster, reduce the risk of error and injury, and perform at your best. The consequences of oversleeping and being late for school or work can include discipline, demotion, expulsion or termination. For young people, especially, making the switch from a free schedule of late nights, learning to get adequate sleep is a critical skill for professional and personal success.

Here are six tips for academy cadets and new hires to make sure they get out of bed and arrive on time to work, class and meetings:

1. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco before bed

Stimulants or depressants ingested or inhaled, in the hours before going to bed, can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

2. Follow a going to bed routine

Make the transition from working, exercising, gaming or lounging with a predictable set of steps that prepares you for sleep. This might include personal hygiene, light exercise or stretching, next-day meal prep, prayer, journaling or tidying up your living space.

3. Sleeping space is cool, dark and quiet

Turn down the heat, close the windows and minimize the intrusion of light into your sleeping space. If a fan or white noise generator is helpful to you, use one.

4. Sleeping space is for sleeping

Don’t bring screens – television, laptop, tablet, smartphone, gaming console – into your sleeping space. Any show, app or game is intentionally designed to reward continued mental and physical engagement.

5. Reading in the sleeping space might be OK

Some light reading, especially if it helps you transition from wakefulness to restfulness, might be OK. But make sure to have an endpoint, like a specific number of pages or chapters, of how long you will spend reading.

6. Pack away your worries and concerns

Sometimes I get busy brain at night and begin thinking about work and family concerns instead of sleeping. I have had success visualizing a chest of drawers, opening a draw for each of my worries and packing the worries away until the next day.  

If you regularly struggle with falling asleep and sleeping for seven or more hours, discuss sleep health and habits with your physician. Finally, if you are exhausted at the end of your shift, take a nap before you drive away. Increasingly fire, EMS and police departments are dedicating quite spaces for napping or safe sleep rooms.

Next: 6 mistakes every police rookie will make

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