First ask yourself some questions…
Definition: The way the term “Trouble sleeping or Insomnia” is used here is meant to cover a wide range of issues around sleeping. There is a distinction between trouble sleeping and insomnia. Trouble sleeping can happen during times of stress or life disruption as your mind may be “busy” trying to digest the information of the day. An ongoing issue with sleep that is becoming disruptive to other parts of your life (i.e., work, relationships, etc.) is when insomnia may be the cause. With the disruptive nature of shift work to consistent sleep patterns the mind and body may have trouble relaxing or your circadian rhythms may have become off balance.
This tab can be used to help you identify if you may have an issue that could be addressed.
In a recent study conducted by The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (2015) more than 7000 firefighters across the United States, about 37% had been diagnosed with least one sleep disorder during their career. Examples of these diagnoses include: obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg disorder and shift work disorder. Furthermore, they purport that firefighter sleep problems are a likely link for other health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety. This study also reasons that these sleep problems could explain why more than 60% of firefighter deaths are caused by either heart attacks or traffic accidents (Barger, 2015).
Although these may be hard to completely follow especially while working, they are worth consideration.
Thought Goal: I’m having trouble sleeping because I think… (Insert problematic thought here)… I can stop or lessen my issues with sleep by thinking… (i.e., Remembering I can only solve so much in one day, that I matter and sleep is important for my health, I’m going to be ok, etc.).
Feeling Goal: I’m having trouble sleeping because I feel… (Insert problematic feeling here)…. I can stop or lessen my issues with sleep by feeling… (That I am loved and important to my family, friends, etc., that I get to have time “off” and to myself where my body can be restored, etc.).
Behavior Goal: I’m having trouble sleeping because my behavior… (Insert problematic behavior here)…. I can stop or lessen my issues with sleep by behaving… (In ways that make you feel more like you (exercising, eating better, taking care of myself, etc.), reaching out when you need someone to talk to, taking care of yourself through regular medical checkups, etc.).
These goals are only examples; use them as guide not an absolute. You know if there is a problem, let now be the time to fix it.
Reaching out for help is never a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength. It may be intimating, annoying or frustrating to think about what to do and how to approach overcoming this, but it can be done. You do not have to do it alone. If you cannot reach or maintain all of these goals on your own, contact a peer supporter, medical provider and/or a psychology professional.
Written by: Cody Todd M.A., L.C.P.C. FPS Therapist and Brad Carter FF/PM ILFFPS Coordinator
Barger, L., Rajaratnam, S., Wang, W. Conor, S., O’Brien, B., Sullivan, J., Qadri, S., Lockley, S., & Czeisler, C.
(Jan, 2015). Common Sleep Disorders Increase Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes and Adverse Health Outcomes in
Firefighters. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 11. http://dx.doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.4534.