How to Improve Sleep and Recovery Off-Shift
By: Ryan Provencher – CRACKYL’s Executive Fitness Advisor
We have been talking recently about firefighters as tactical athletes, and strategies to develop the “Athlete’s Mindset”. The fourth installment in our Athlete’s Mindset series pertains to prioritizing sleep and recovery.
Sleep debt decreases cognitive and motor function just like alcohol intoxication. Sleep deprivation also decreases the ability of our bodies to fight off diseases, including cancer. We can’t control our sleep on shift, but we can utilize proactive strategies off shift to minimize the negative impacts of shift work on our overall wellness.
5 Ways to Improve Sleep Quality
- Avoid Coffee/Caffeine after 12 pm.
- Eliminate Light and Noise at night when you are sleeping.
- Avoid Eating 2-3 Hours before bed.
- Avoid Alcohol – Especially at night.
- Reduce/Eliminate Electronic Use – At least 1 Hour before bed.
Active recovery is also critical in maintaining overall health and wellness. Exercise modalities such as soft tissue work, yoga, joint mobility, and other restorative techniques go a long way to counter the intense physical, mental, and emotional demands of our job.
5 Ways to Improve Recovery
- Low Intensity Movement/Exercise – For Example, Walking, Yoga, Etc.
- Soft Tissue Work – For Example, Foam Roll, Massage Therapy, Etc.
- Relaxation – For Example, Meditation, Reading Books, Watching Movies, Etc.
- Relationships – Spend Time with Family and Friends.
- Recreation – Have Fun!
Please remember that Self-Care is the foundation of Service to others. Sleep deprivation along with the physical, mental, and emotional stress of the job can make it difficult to be “Response Ready”. Consider some of these strategies to help you in optimizing your readiness, well-being, and performance.
Ryan is the Training Division Chief, Health/Safety Officer, and Wellness/Fitness Coordinator in his department, founder of Firefighter Peak Performance, and Executive Fitness Advisor for CRACKYL Magazine. He has a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with a minor in Nutrition from Washington State University. He has worked as a Volunteer Firefighter, Firefighter/EMT, Firefighter/Paramedic, and Company Officer before promoting to his current position. Ryan is grateful to combine his love for firefighting and physical fitness over his career of nearly 30 years. You can get in touch with Ryan by email [email protected]
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