Farming is not a 9-to-5 job – just ask a farmer. Unfortunately, this can cause them to miss out on their sleep during the busy season. The stress in farming can also cause farmers to lose sleep as they worry about weather, prices, regulatory changes, family disputes, pandemic, finances and more.
“Usually you have to work until the job is done,” said Julie Sorensen, director of the New York Center for Agriculture and Medical Health in Cooperstown. “If you have plants that need to be harvested, you have to get out there and finish it before you lose products. Or if you are a livestock or dairy farmer it is a long day when it is time to calve. A cow has a calf, whether it is ready. The work is usually not easy to plan. “
The dangers associated with farming become particularly dangerous when combined with lack of sleep. Sorensen said that a person’s reaction time and cognitive function are “the first thing that goes out of the window when they are tired. Long days combined with dangerous work: You have unsafe conditions. But what can farmers do? It is their job. “
Soda Kuczkowski, diagnostic sleep consultant and owner and founder of Start With Sleep in Buffalo, New York, said that reaction time is reduced by 30% after a bad night.
“We think more slowly and react more slowly,” she says.
This poses a higher risk of injury and death for farmers.
When farmers get the chance to sleep, they may not get the quality of sleep they need to feel rested. This can cause or worsen existing mental and physical health problems and slow your response time.
According to Kuczkowski, farmers have to “anchor” their day in order to be able to sleep better. This means that whenever possible, you should stick to set times for getting up and going to bed.
“The time we wake up is more important than going to bed,” she says.
In winter this becomes more difficult as the sun exposure tells the body when to wake up in the morning.
“Light therapy helps adjust the circadian rhythm,” said Kuczkowski.
The circadian rhythm is the body’s “internal clock” that controls waking up and sleeping. Exposure to 10,000 lux of light for 15 to 20 minutes each morning can stimulate the body to wake up.
“Light regulation helps us produce serotonin, and that’s a precursor to melatonin,” said Kuczkowski. “You don’t have to sit in front of it like you do with seasonal affective disorder. We produce more melatonin during the winter because we have more darkness. In summer we have less. This hormone regulates sleep. If you go outside in the dark, light therapy is a good energy booster. “
She added that diet also has an impact on how well you wake up, which in turn can later affect how well you sleep. People deficient in vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc may feel less energetic during the day, which can disrupt their circadian rhythm.
Kuczkowski said eating a healthy breakfast, not one made primarily with simple carbohydrates like pastries or sugary cereal, prevents an energy crash. For a balanced meal, choose whole grain muesli, whole grain toast or hot muesli like oatmeal, along with a source of protein like eggs, turkey sausage or natural yogurt with a piece of whole grain fruit and a glass of milk.
During the day, keep all naps to 20 minutes or less to stay in the lighter stages of sleep and avoid feeling drowsy when you wake up. It’s also important to avoid coming home and falling asleep on the couch before bed.
“That can lead to insomnia,” said Kuczkowski. “When you are at home, you only sleep in the bedroom.”
Sleep hygiene is not about cleanliness, it is about preparing the right environment for sleep. The bedroom should be cool and dark. Avoid clutter or things like bills in the bedroom, or work on chores in bed. It should be an oasis of calm and relaxation. Eliminate blue light emitting screens like laptops, televisions and smartphones from the room. These stimulate wakefulness. Wear comfortable nightwear and layer up the bed to keep it at a comfortable temperature all night.
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Eat a light snack before bed. Some people find that chamomile tea can help them settle in; However, drinking a nightcap is not a good idea. While drinking alcohol before bed may seem like an easy way to relax, it does result in fragmented, less restful sleep.
People who stand or sit for too long can have restless legs syndrome. Ingesting enough magnesium can help fight it.
Sleeping pills (like sleeping pills) are only intended for four to six weeks. Melatonin supplements are also often misused. Kuczkowski said many people take too much, which can affect blood pressure medications, oral contraceptives, and prescriptions commonly used by diabetics. She recommends trying foods high in melatonin like tomatoes, kiwi, pineapple, and tart cherry juice.
“These are all good, natural sources,” she said.
Agriculture is hard work. For many farmers, much of this work, thanks to technology, is less physical than it was a generation ago. Also, some farm jobs are not as physically demanding as others.
“Being physical during the day helps promote deeper sleep,” said Kuczkowski. “With technology that does things for you, it becomes more sedentary than truck drivers.”
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to prevent weight gain (although more than 250 is recommended for weight loss). This can be split into several short sessions or less lengthy sessions.