Second: one of the unpleasant side effects of stress and of a career in public safety is sleep disturbances. I do not need to tell you that we see some nasty stuff out there; we are human and trust me it all adds up. From shift work, dealing with the personal demons that haunt us after a bad call to metabolic problems from a bad diet - it all effects how we rest. If we are unable to sleep deeply and uninterrupted, 7-9 hours a day our normal body process will not occur as they are supposed to nor will we heal properly. Research clearly shows lack of sleep to directly correlate with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and memory issues. Let's face it, those are the same symptoms as stress!
Again we cannot just will ourselves to sleep better and longer but there are some easy tricks. Napping once a day for 15-30 minutes is a great way to rejuvenate yourself mentally. A nap will not do much for overall fatigue but the deep relaxed breathing and mental off switch will do the trick. With napping, longer is actually not better. If we nap past 60 minutes our body clock begins to get confused and can make it hard to sleep when its bed time. When it is bed time shut some stuff off: phones, pagers, lights and dim the digital clock. Get some black out blinds and use a sound machine. One of the best tricks to turn off your brain and drown out outside noise is a sound machine which basically provides white noise. Sound machines are especially beneficial for officers that sleep during the day. It works and you will wonder how you ever slept without one.
By the way, the more fit and regimented you are with an exercise routine the better your body will sleep. It's primed to want to heal from the workout and the best way to do that is to take advantage of nature's original design for recuperation: sleep.
In part two we'll discuss the next three stress-induced issues and how best to deal with them.