It has been well documented for many years that fatigue has been an issue for those working in the marine environment. Numerous studies have been undertaken and changes to the way ships operate have been made to ensure that fatigue is managed as effectively and efficiently as possible.
There are challenges on board vessels which may cause sleep to be interrupted or daily routine altered whilst on board. However, seafarers can always ensure their sleep is as efficient as possible.
What is sleep efficiency
Sleep efficiency is a ratio between the amount of time spent in bed and the time actually spent sleeping. So as an example, if someone spends eight hours in bed and sleeps for six hours their sleep efficiency is 75%.
In a simplistic way if you spend most of your time in bed asleep then you are said to have good sleep efficiency. The opposite can be said for someone who spends much of their time in bed awake.
What is a normal sleep efficiency
When calculating your sleep efficiency using the above method, if you score 85% or higher then this is a normal efficiency. Above 90% is very good, below 85% is poor. Insomnia often leads to sleep efficiency below 75%.
How to improve sleep efficiency
It is easy in the social media era to remain in contact and communicating with friends and family during periods away from home. Whilst it is important to communicate with people when at sea, it can be easy to slip into a habit of habitual interaction which can lead to a distraction from ensuring efficient sleep and rest between working periods. To help ensure this does not happen it is important to eliminate all potential distractions when trying to sleep. This could mean ensuring your television and music is off and any connection to the outside world via wi-fi is off. For instance, ensuring you phone is away from your bed and in airplane mode so alerts are not received. Looking at your phone in bed can stimulate the brain and keep you awake even after you have put it down.
Using your bed for things other than sleeping trains your brain into associating the bed with awake-time activities, which again will reduce your sleeping efficiency.
Your aim is to create a sleep sanctuary.
Something as simple as exercise is also a method of improving sleep efficiency, tiring the body out during the day and when you get in to bed the body is ready to rest.
High efficient sleep leads to a deeper sleep, of a higher quality with fewer interruptions. This can result in feelings of higher energy and a sense of being well rested. This in turn can increase concentration whilst undertaking tasks making you less prone to making mistakes resulting in accidents.
The Club would like to thank Brandon Peters, MD and verywell.com for their assistance in producing this article.