Sleep Deprivation

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Published on: September 26, 2017

By Mid-Maryland Vets

I had a weird experience at an early morning herd check.  Donald was bouncing off the walls, talking a mile a minute, yelling, and sprinting like a mad man.  He bragged about the all-nighter he spent out in the fields before coming home to milk and prep for herd check.  He had popped a few caffeine pills chased with black coffee an hour before to amp him up for the morning which explained his nuclear energy level.  I think I could even see his heart trying to explode out of his chest. A visit to another farmer during late spring revealed a completely run-down, exhausted, incoherent mess of a man barely able to function.  But like the aforementioned spastic man, this fellow also bragged about his lack of sleep.  Most farmers and a few veterinarians love to brag about the all-nighters and present their lack of sleep like a badge of honor.  They believe that pushing through exhaustion by extending the work day and depriving themselves of sleep makes them more productive.  In reality, sleep deprivation makes us less productive.

Sleep coach Cherie Mah, who works with collegiate and professional athletes, has provided data that may change your mind about your sleep habits.  Chronic sleep deprivation has a negative impact on our bodies.  Glucose metabolism declines 30-40% resulting in weight gain and a larger waistline, better known as “the Dad Bod”.  We become exhausted quicker than when we have a full night’s sleep.  Two days with sleep restriction leads to a 3x increase of lapse in attention and reaction to situations.  In other words, accidents happen.  Cognitive performance after less than 6 hours of sleep is the same as getting no sleep for 48 straight hours.  Cognitive performance relates to mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning.  Decreasing sleep debt increases vigor by 64%, effectively improving alertness, vigilance, and mood.  You will be a happier and a more-decisive leader.   Sleep improves split-second decision-making ability by 4.3%.  Finally, as many of you are well aware, a 20-30 minute power nap improves alertness by 100%.

As a soccer coach, I always preach, “Work smarter, not harder.”  The team that executes most efficiently with accurate passing, motion, and spacing will win the match.  If we are working too hard to connect a pass due to lack of accuracy and focus, we wear down more quickly.  We strive for a fluid and efficient game.  Apply this same concept to the farm.  Focus on efficiency, planning, and streamlining procedures in order to save valuable time.

As we enter the sleep deprivation season, make time to take care of yourself.  We lose too many lives and see too many injuries that may have been prevented if cognitive function was not impaired from sleep deprivation.  Schedule more sleep so your working hours are more productive.

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