Researchers at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln (UNL) found that planting, harvest and calving season shave off 28 minutes of farmer’s sleep each night.
Susan Harris, UNL extension educator, and Amanda Prokasky, assistant professor of education and child development at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, found this sleep deficit is a recipe for disaster.
They recommend taking a nap.
“Half an hour less sleep in one night is no big deal,” says Prokasky. “But when you start subtracting 30 minutes of sleep every night for four to six weeks during a busy season, that sleep deficit can become pretty significant.”
To complete the study, 40 agriculture workers wore a wrist monitor that continuously recorded data on motion and activity for one week during a busy season and one week during a slower and more routine week.
They found that farmers not only spent 28 fewer minutes sleeping, but they also spent 25 fewer minutes in bed.
According to another farmer sleep study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, farmers who sleep fewer than 7.5 hours per night increase their risk of injury by 61 per cent.
NIH also found that decreased sleep results in decreased stability, making it 7.4 times more likely that you’ll have poor, inconsistent balance.
To avoid on-farm incidents, Harris and Prokasky suggest producers:
1. Take a brief break—even if it’s 15 minutes.
2. Consider a nap—research shows a 20-to-30-minute nap will improve mood, sharpen focus and reduce fatigue without leaving you feeling groggy.
3. Adjust your schedule.