Individuals who do not practice good sleep hygiene are more likely to be distracted while performing a monotonous task, according to a study published in the April 1st issue of the journal SLEEP.
Reducing the amount of sleep time to five hours results in an increased risk of distraction, regardless of whether or not an outside influence (e.g., a television) was present.
The authors noted that, even without a contributing factor, sleep restriction still produced a small but significant increase in distraction.
“This suggests that even in non-distractive environments, sleepy people will seek distraction, possibly in an attempt to overcome sleepiness or boredom,” the authors write.
“Whereas sleepiness-related distractions may be of little relevance to someone working in an office environment…for the individual who has to monitor surveillance screens, it could become more problematic. Of greater concern is the sleepy car or truck driver driving down a monotonous road.”
In order to be fully alert and functional, it is suggested that a person gets a full night’s sleep on a regular basis. Other tips for how to improve sleep hygiene include the following:
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
- If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, then get out of the bed.
- Begin rituals that will help you relax each night before bed.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
- Avoid taking naps if you can.
- Keep a regular schedule.
- Don’t read, write, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone or play cards in bed.
- Do not have any caffeine after lunch.
- Do not have a beer, a glass of wine or any other alcohol within six hours of your bedtime.
- Do not have a cigarette or any other source of nicotine before bedtime.
- Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
- Avoid any tough exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
- Avoid sleeping pills, or use them cautiously.
- Try to get rid of or deal with things that make you worry.
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
Those who think they may have a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult their physician, who will refer them to a sleep specialist.
SLEEP is the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Further information about this study can be found on the Internet at www.journalsleep.org.