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Sleep is a building block essential for your physical and mental wellbeing. It is a time of restoration, and a time when you do not have to think, feel or act.

When sleep is disrupted, you can feel tired, irritable and as though everything requires more effort. If better sleep is not restored within a few days, negative feelings can increase and potentially impact on your mood and sense of wellbeing.

First responders are often called upon to repeatedly work long and stressful shifts, at atypical hours and sometimes with limited support. It is important to remember that sleep is essential in aiding recovery and your capacity to cope with stress and high intensity work environments.

Adequate sleep is essential for good health. Without this, your health may suffer significantly.

Let’s take a look at how you can build healthy sleep habits.

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1 Set up a relaxing sleep environment. Make where you sleep as comfortable and relaxing as possible. It’s difficult to sleep if your room or sleep space is chaotic, stressful or uncomfortable.

2Design a sleep schedule. It is challenging when engaging in shift work as most frontline workers do, to establish a predictable sleep pattern. Where possible, consider the predictable things you can schedule in to help you sleep.

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3 Get the basics right. Things like the type of pillow and mattress you use are vital to ensuring you are comfortable and ready for a restful sleep.

4 Don’t eat before bed. Stop eating two to three hours before bed, to give your body time to digest your last meal and to prevent spikes in cortisol.

5 Have a nap during the day. A short nap can make up for some of the sleep deprivation that comes with the job. 

6 Monitor your caffeine intake. High amounts of caffeine (including coffee, tea and softdrinks) make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep, so try to avoid it for at least three hours before bedtime.

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7 Move your body each day. Exercise (but not too close to bedtime) can promote solid sleep and better sleep quality.

8 Be mindful of how much alcohol you consume. Drinking alcohol can affect the brain in ways that can lower sleep quality and increase wakefulness.

9 Lower the lights in the half-hour before bed. This can help you transition to bedtime and help your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Different things work for different people. Play around with these tips and find what works best for you.


0 Fall asleep in bed. Avoid falling asleep on the couch, as it reduces your sleep quality and makes it hard to get back to
sleep when you take yourself off to bed.


1 Nice aromas can help. Try introducing pleasant and calming sleep oils such as lavender

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2 Schedule in time to let go of the day. Set aside some quiet time in the early part of the evening to help you think about your day, come up with solutions to problems, and put them aside for the night.


3 Set a fixed wake up time. Your body will find it hard to understand a routine if it wakes at different times. Where possible, pick a wake up time and stick to it.


4 Budget time for sleep. Build sleep time into your schedule, no matter how busy life is. Ideally, this should be seven to eight hours of sleep on your off days to help combat the negative effects of poor sleep on duty.


5 Prepare yourself for sleep. Wind down for at an hour before bed – that’s because it’s easier to doze off if your body has spent time soothing itself. This could be a quiet activity like reading, yoga, stretching, calming music, or a hot bath.

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6 Disconnect from devices. Phones, laptops, tablets, televisions can keep your brain active and make it harder to relax or wind down. Disconnecting an hour or two before bed will help promote better sleep.


7 Avoid light disruption. Excess light exposure can throw off your sleep and circadian rhythm. Blackout curtains over your windows or a sleep mask for your eyes can block light and prevent it from interfering with your rest.

It’s easier to doze off if your body has spent time soothing itself.


8 If you can’t get to sleep, get up. Lying awake in bed can feel frustrating, so it can be better to get up and sit quietly in a darkened room. Try to avoid screens or doing chores. Go back to bed when you’re feeling sleepy again.


9 Use the bed for bed and intimacy only. Your mind should associate your bed as a place of rest and sleep, and this can assist in building a healthy sleep routine.


0 Different things work for different people. Play around with these tips and find what works best for you.


Sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. This may be due to shift work, stress or other factors. Here are some things to try:

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