The amount of sleep we need each day will change over the course of our life. On average an adult aged 18 years or older needs 7–8 hours a day, however, sleep needs vary from person to person.
Sleep is incredibly important for the human body, in fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. A good sleep needs to have quality, quantity and continuity to be most effective. Lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep and rest can cause fatigue, which is considered as the silent risk factor for seafarers.
Key characteristics of sleep
- Quantity: It is generally recommended that a person obtain, on average, seven to eight hours of good quality sleep per 24-hour period
- Quality: People need deep sleep. Deep sleep is a very restorative phase of sleep.
- Continuity: sleep needs to be uninterrupted in order to retain its restorative value. Six 1-hour naps do not have the same benefit as one 6-hour period of sleep.
As explained, a good sleep is vital, there are many reasons though that can result to sleep deficiency. Ongoing sleep deficiency affects how well we think, react, work, learn, and get along with others, thus it is of outmost importance to find ways and improve our sleep habits.
First and foremost, we need to make sure that we allow ourselves enough time to sleep. With enough sleep one thing is for sure: we will find ourselves happier and more productive during the day.
6 factors contributing to sleep disruption at sea
#1 Environmental factors: i.e. noise, vibration, light, ship motion, temperature & humidity, ventilation
#2 Operational factors: i.e. inspections, surveys, audits, visits, reporting, security measures
#3 Psychological factors: i.e. separation from family, loneliness, limited recreation activity
#4 Sleep disorders: i.e. insomnia, shift work sleep disorder, narcolepsy
#5 Medication and substance use: i.e. alcohol & drugs/ sleep medications are not intended for long-term use
#6 Food: i.e. heavy meals before bed, increased caffeine intake.
How to improve your sleep hygiene
a) Tips for a good night’s sleep
- Follow a regular sleep schedule
- Keeping your bedroom cool and dark
- Watch your diet and exercise
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine later in the day
- Turn off your electronics before bed
- Manage anxiety
b) Keeping a Sleep Diary