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Use Smart Sleep Strategies

Strategies for Sleep (1:16)

Michael Coplen, former Federal Railroad Administration human factors researcher and former locomotive engineer, discusses the need to find healthy sleep strategies that work for you.

"If I wake up and find I’m not going out right away, I try to have a normal day, go do some exercise, go have lunch, then take a nap later on."
-Al, locomotive engineer

Sleep strategies differ from person to person, yet there are some approaches that are consistently used with good success among railroaders.

If you know you won't be going to work for 14 or 18 hours, try to schedule your sleep accordingly. Maybe take a nap immediately to refresh, then get more sleep later, closer to work time.

If you are uncertain about your next start time, then sleeping immediately is your best bet, so that you don't get caught short.

Make use of time waiting in a siding. Naps and exercise both can boost alertness. If your company permits napping, take a nap when you can. If you must wait longer than that in a siding, take a walk, if possible. Jog or stretch in place. Devise a 10-minute workout you can do anywhere. 

Install shades or blackout curtains in the bedroom. This will benefit sleep at any time. If away from home, consider using pants hangers from the closet to clip the curtains together to block light during the day.

Install good soundproofing where you sleep, so that family members don’t have to tiptoe around the house while you are sleeping. 

Adjust room temperature to your liking. Most people sleep better in a cool room, with the thermostat set between 60F and 68o F.

Place extra blankets nearby on the bed in case you get too cold.