PEME Advice: Sleep Deprivation

Are your crew members getting enough sleep?

A recent US study into sleep found that sleep deprivation is one of the main contributory causes of accidents. George Radu from our San Francisco office explains.

Experts say that most people need seven to eight hours’ sleep each day. Getting enough sleep enhances reaction time,memory function and problem solving skills,which are, of course, essential onboard ships. Sleep will help your immune system and cut your risk of colds and other illnesses.The study also found that people who sleep less are more prone to being overweight.

Attaining enough sleep can be difficult during periods of bad weather, so it is important to get all crew back on a sound sleep schedule as soon as possible after the weather improves.

Unsurprisingly, the study found that crew engaged in shift work suffer more from sleep deprivation than those who work during the day. If vessels rotate crew members’ shifts, experts recommend that they rotate in a

clockwise rotation.Crew reported an increase in productivity and happier working conditions when changing shifts in a clockwise rotation. How to achieve better sleep Here are some useful tips to help promote better sleep for crew members:

We recommend posting signs in the mess rooms listing ways in which sleep can be improved. Exercise regularly - being unfit leads to sleep disorder as this will increase your deep slow wave sleep phase at the beginning of the sleep cycle. It is recommended that ships have suitable exercise equipment onboard: exercise bikes, treadmills and weights will help crew members get the exercise they need to keep fit.

Preparing for sleep is important: turn off all electronic devices,mobile phones, televisions and/or computers at least one hour before bedtime.

When circumstances allow, take a nap – naps can bring a burst of energy and help compensate for sleep disorder.

The ideal temperature to enhance sleep is about 15C, higher than 18C can diminish sleep quality.

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