Let’s talk about sleep deprivation

If you’re a seasoned veterinary professional then you’re probably all too familiar with the dreaded feeling of waking up for a nightshift only to feel like you’ve hardly slept at all. Like your colleagues, you push through and accept that fatigue is part of the job description…but what if we told you it doesn’t have to be? 

In this blog, we shed light on the health hazards of sleep deprivation and explore strategies to help improve your sleep and ensure your shift (and well-being) isn’t impacted by lack of zzz!

What happens when you don’t get enough shut-eye?

Besides feeling like an extra in ‘The Walking Dead’, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for your long-term health. Research has found that a lack of sleep can increase your risk of:

  • Dementia 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity 
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression

Regularly disrupted REM can also lead to cognitive complications such as poor memory recall, memory retention and impaired emotional regulation. 

How to reduce fatigue 

While most vets don’t have a say on shift hours, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help improve the quality of your sleep. For example:

1.Prioritise sleep

We know it can be hard to sleep during the day, especially when you feel like you should be getting on with household chores or running errands. However, it is crucial that sleep remains at the top of your to-do list ahead of a nightshift. If you don’t get enough hours in you risk your clinical safety, as well as your general mental health. 

2. Eat well and stay hydrated 

As tempting as it might be to grab a share box of mozzarella dippers on your drive home, studies have proven that increased sugar intake can interfere with your quality of sleep. Instead, why not try meal prepping so there is food ready for you when you return? It’s also wise to carry a bottle of water with you at all times so you remember to stay hydrated – especially if you’re running around on shift!

3. Light exposure 

When you wake up for your next night shift, expose yourself to bright light as this will tell your brain that it’s time to be awake and alert. This is especially important if you drive to work.

4.Take breaks 

When/if possible, take short 15/20 minute breaks at work to improve your concentration. Even better if you can take a nap!

5. Don’t go ham on the caffeine! 

While an espresso might be necessary to help get you up and out the house, try not to go overboard with your caffeine intake on shift – otherwise you may have some trouble falling asleep when you get home…

We hope you found this article useful, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated consultants if you have any questions about our latest job opportunities.