Good Sleep Habits

Sleep allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect your memory, judgement, and mood. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. For example, researchers found that individuals limited to 4.5 hours of sleep per night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. Upon resuming normal sleep, individuals reported a significant improvement in mood.

Insufficient sleep can also interfere with work—you may feel as though you are taking longer to complete tasks because of your tiredness or lack of concentration. As such, you may end up working more hours to compensate for diminished productivity, and subsequently have less time to sleep. Additionally, because the work you engage in is often stressful, you may feel too stimulated to sleep.

Sleep & stress are often intertwined—stress can impair sleep, both in length and quality, and insufficient sleep can increase stress levels. As a frontline worker, you may feel doomed to experience both stress and poor sleep.

So, what is one to do when working long hours under stressful conditions? You may not be able to adjust the hours you work or the type of work you engage in, but you can take other steps to mitigate the risk of experiencing poor—or not getting enough—sleep.

  • Attempt to keep a consistent sleep schedule (if possible)—get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends
  • Attempt to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Limit exposure to bright lights in the evening
  • Reduce your fluid intake before going to bed
  • Avoid drinking coffee or alcohol near bedtime
  • Avoid eating a large meal before bed (if hungry, opt for a light, healthy snack)
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid napping in the evenings
  • Prepare a quiet and relaxing sleep environment
  • If you cannot fall asleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired
  • Avoid looking at your clock at night
  • Consider using a melatonin supplement

Because of your work, you may be dealing with anxiety. Try these techniques to sleep better when anxious:

  • Practice relaxation techniques such as nighttime meditation or yoga
  • Schedule idle time before bed (don’t use this time to think about tasks for the next day or other anxiety-inducing activities)
  • Don’t dwell on issues that are keeping you from falling asleep

You might also consider using a sleep diary to better track your sleep habits (can be accessed at

If you are following all of these best practices and still experience daytime sleepiness, fatigue, or insomnia, you should consider consulting a sleep specialist who can assist you with arranging a better sleep environment, provide support for making behavioral changes that may be interfering with sleep, or perhaps diagnose a sleep disorder. You deserve to feel (and need to be!) well-rested. There are multiple resources available to help you get the sleep you need.

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