Sleep and the Farmer

Many people in the farming industry regularly work from morning till night, every moment being filled with labour-intensive activity. Certain times of the year are especially busy due to seasonal or climatic demands. Then there are the pressing matters of changing market forces, price fluctuations and negotiations, as well as government regulations to deal with.

There’s always plenty going on and taking care of yourself and your sleep can be pushed way down the list of considerations. Nonetheless, committing to good health and sleep are a crucial component in being able to continue to do your work well.

It’s important not to forget family or to allow a little time for yourself. But when all are wanting your attention it can mean that every minute of the day is crammed with demands and meaningful activity, things you want to do, but which are adding to the growing list. It’s no wonder if you fall into bed each night, exhausted, mind racing, hoping that you’ll have a good night’s sleep before the next early morning start.

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Some people struggle to drift off to sleep or awaken throughout the night, restless, wide awake and unable to go back to sleep after very briefly napping. Let’s look at ways to negotiate and support a deep, refreshing night’s sleep.

– Learning to prioritize is a useful skill in a busy life. Poor sleep often occurs when we work long hours or have too many balls that need juggling. Prioritising introduces some discipline and order and helps us focus on making the best use of our time. Decide what’s urgent and determine to make some inroads into the most pressing, time-sensitive areas. Include personal matters, like time with children, partners and friends. Maybe write down all that needs your attention and then order by importance. You can change the order as often as required.

– Recognise your personal warning signs of becoming stressed and over tired. I call them ‘amber lights’, the times when your mood changes and irritability, loss of sense of humour, poor concentration, feeling unwell start to occur. When you recognise those negative responses being triggered you can detach yourself and take a break. It may seem counter-intuitive to walk away from a busy situation but 10 minutes away often benefits your perspective and mood.

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– Establish balance in your life. Poor sleep can occur when you’re tired physically but not mentally, or vice versa. During periods when you’re constantly racing around, working outdoors or involved in heavy physical tasks provide balance by including mentally taxing activities like quizzes, crosswords, stimulating conversations, things that require you to think and exercise your mental abilities.

– Commit to winding down before bed. Turn off your technology, avoid stressful conversations, horror films, heavy meals or alcohol late at night. Enjoy a relaxing walk, practice yoga, try hypnotherapy, have a soak in the bath to wash away the day’s stresses and concerns. Have some personal ‘me time’ for switching off and preparing for bedtime.

We can cope with working flat out for a while, but maintaining that long-term ultimately affects your health, relationships and quality of life.


by Susan Leigh