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Manage fatigue: Get enough sleep

NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas -- Fatigue is a modern day impairment most of us have come to accept without resistance. Given the right tools, however, there are many ways to manage it.
     Sleep research has come far in recent years -- exploring sleep physiology to counter the effects of decreasing fatigue and performance.
     The Center for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia determined that after 17 hours of sustained wakefulness, our performance decreases to a level similar to 0.5 Blood Alcohol Content, which after 24 hours of wakefulness will increase to 0.10 BAC. The legal limit while driving a car is 0.8 BAC.
     Causes of fatigue include sleep loss, self-induced stress and circadian rhythm,* changes which may keep us feeling fatigued even after eight hours of sleep. The effects decrease our reaction time during critical actions, decrease our motivation and lower our standards and attention span.
     Some of the strategies include: creating a sound sleep environment; don’t eat heavy meals before going to sleep; shut out light and noises that could interrupt you; keep your sleep schedule even on the weekends; if you work evening – or night shifts, take a nap in the afternoon.
     Sleep occurs in four stages: drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep and Rapid Eye Movement sleep, the latter being the phase in which you’re most relaxed.
     Since your natural biological sleep pattern dictates a 90-minute interval from the time you go to sleep to the time you are fully relaxed in REM sleep, the rule of thumb is to sleep either less than 30 minutes or at least an hour and a half. Don’t allow a nap to end up in deep sleep or REM sleep.
     Exercise and proper nutrition will help you to manage fatigue during a stressful time – but never underestimate the effect the lack of sleep will have on you and your actions.
(* the cyclical 24-hour period of human biological activity.)