5 tips for getting better sleep during calving season

February 16, 2015

3 Min Read
5 tips for getting better sleep during calving season

Whether it’s calving season, spring planting or fall harvest, there are seasonal times during a rancher’s year that can cut into a good night’s sleep. According to Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist, sleep is important to good health and personal safety.

She says the latest sleep research suggests that a 30-minute power nap can offset the wide array of effects of a poor night's sleep. “The study involved 11 healthy men ages 25 to 32 whose sleep was limited to two hours per night. After being limited to two hours of sleep, the men in the study were treated to two 30-minute naps. The researchers measured blood levels of certain hormones, and they found that the damaging effects of loss of sleep were reversed with the relatively short naps,” Garden-Robinson explains.

She says that sleep deprivation can upset hormones that affect blood pressure, weight, heart rates, the immune system, daily energy, brain function, and overall health.


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During times of high stress, late nights, and midnight calving checks, find time to take a nap. Garden-Robinson also provides these five tips to help you get enough sleep on a regular basis.

1. Keep a regular sleep schedule.

“Sleep on a regular schedule, even on weekends,” she says. “Aim for seven or eight hours. If you struggle with insomnia regularly, be sure to visit with a health-care provider to discuss treatment options.”

READ: Is stress wreaking havoc on your family ranch?

2. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated foods or beverages before bed.

"Some researchers promote having a small portion of a carbohydrate- and protein-rich snack. Be cautious on the volume of liquid you consume before bedtime or you might be awakened for other reasons,” she advises.

3. Set your thermostat.

“Maintain your bedroom at an appropriate temperature, not too cold or too warm,” she says.

4. Sign off from your technology.

“Turn off your computer, tablet and cellphone at least an hour before bedtime,” she advises. “The light from the screen can signal your brain to awaken. Read a magazine or book, but not a scary thriller that leaves you lying wide-eyed, staring at the ceiling and clutching your blanket.”

READ: Learn to manage work stress

5. Eat a little comfort food.

“A little comfort food might be in order before you settle in to relax and snooze,” she says. “Cooked rice made with protein-rich milk might fill the bill as an insomnia fighter. In a 2014 study of 1,848 Japanese men and women, researchers reported that those who ate the most rice had the fewest sleep issues.”

Remember fatigue can lead to farm accidents, so take steps to get some rest. How do you make sure to get enough sleep during calving season? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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