Sleep often gets sacrificed during the long hours of seeding, and that can be dangerous.
“When you’re tired, you may think and move slowly, make more mistakes, and have difficulty remembering things,” said Kenda Lubeck, farm safety co-ordinator for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Any time a worker disrupts (the sleep) cycle they need to develop a strategy that will help their body adjust.”
The National Sleep Foundation has lots of helpful tips for staying alert on the job and for sleeping, including:
- Taking short breaks throughout your shift and going for a walk or stretch.
- Working with a buddy.
- Exercising during breaks.
- Talking with co-workers when you can.
- Eating three normal meals per day and sticking to healthy snacks.
- If you consume caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, gum, mints), do so early in the shift.
- Avoiding exercise just before bedtime because it raises energy and body temperature. (Exercise should be done at least three hours before sleeping.)
“There isn’t a lot farmers can do to reduce shift work as it’s a necessity to getting a large amount of work done in a short amount of time,” says Lubeck. “The important thing is to have someone available to take the next shift at the specified time. When people push themselves too hard that’s when work incidents and injuries occur.”