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5 Ways to Fight Paramedic Fatigue

5 Ways to Fight Paramedic Fatigue

If you’re becoming or considering becoming a career paramedic, you likely know by now that one of the components of the job is its long hours and unpredictable day-to-day happenings.

This combination can and often does lead to burnout and employee fatigue, which can be dangerous and even deadly in some cases: Fatigue is a safety hazard for both the paramedic afflicted and those around him or her.

Here are 5 ways to manage and mitigate the threat of fatigue while working as a paramedic.

1. Sleep enough and sleep well every night. Adults know that 7-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal. Some people need a bit more; others less. The most important piece of the puzzle is the quality of sleep. Remove distractions and stimuli so you can sleep well for a full night, every night.
2. Take rests and naps as needed when circumstances call for them. When you can’t get adequate sleep at night, or even when other factors contribute to tiredness throughout the day, it’s important to take other opportunities to rest and restore the body and mind.
3. Get plenty of exercise. A regular exercise routine has been shown to improve sleep, so long as exertion doesn’t occur too close to bedtime. But beyond that, an afternoon run or 20 minutes of body weight training can help pick up your energy level so you can feel more alert on the job. This is not a substitute for a good night’s sleep, but a good solution to stave off sleepiness during the day.
4. Be mindful of your caffeine levels. Caffeine consumption can make restful, adequate sleep difficult at night. Resist the urge to over-caffeinate, but try this tip: Quickly drink a cup of coffee before a 20-minute nap to wake up rested and ready for the caffeine to kick in.
5. Stay mentally alert and awake on the job. When a nap or cup of joe isn’t an option and you need to stay alert for the rest of a shift, remember that mental engagement can help you feel more awake and functional. Something as small as a stimulating conversation with a colleague can tap into this fatigue-fighting technique.