New look website with online training

Beyond Midnight Consulting have been working hard to take their face-to-face training and have it available online. We have developed 22 modules of fatigue risk management for individuals and employees to enable you to bolt together the modules that suit what you do.

For example, if you work at a fly-in-fly-out minesite, you might be interested in the modules on sleep, physical & mental health, shiftwork, FIFO travel, heat & hydration, etc. You will only pay one fee to do as many modules as you like out of the 22. In fact you can do all 22 if you like.

There will also be 6 modules for supervisors/managers and again for one fee you can do all or any of the modules. The online training is currently being tested and will appear on this site as soon as we know that everything is running wonderfully. The expectation is to have it running before the end of February. So watch this space!


Modules available

1 –  The Science of Sleep

2 –  Physical & Mental Health

3 –  Office Work

4 –   Local Commuting

5 –  Children

6 –  Shiftwork

7 –  Heat & Hydration

8 –  Construction, Production &  Maintenance

9 –  Road Transport

10 – Mining Operators

11- FIFO / DIDO Travel

12 – Offshore Oil & Gas

13- Emergency Services

14 – Health & Aged Care

15 – Forestry & Logging

16 – Maritime

17 – Rail

18 – Occupational Drivers

19 – Jet Lag & Time Zones

20 – Education

21 – Working Through Ramadan

22 – Driving Holidays


Modules available

1 –  Fatigue Compliance

2 – Rostering & Scheduling

3 – Communication

4 – Common Fit-For-Work Issues

5 – Employee Fatigue Risk Management

6 – Developing a Fit-For-Work     Culture

Top 10 Tips for Safe Driving Over the Holiday period

With the Christmas holiday period coming upon us fast, I thought it time to get a few driving safety tips out there. I put out a similar list last year but I would really like for your driving holiday to be enjoyable and not filled with tragedy.  Here are my best tips for not only surviving the drive but enjoying it also. Driving should be a pleasure!

  1. Plan your driving holiday well. Have the family discuss a Journey management plan, where you briefly plan each part of the drive, noting places of interest to stop every couple of hours. It could be an interesting shop, landmark, playground for the kids to expend some energy or even just your favorite bakery. The thing is, if it is fun or interesting, you will stop and break up the trip. Consider an overnight stop on those really long drives of more than 5 or 6 hours.
  2. Check the vehicle or have it checked a week or so before you go. Check all fluids and have extra coolant, oil and at least 10 litres of spare water (getting stuck on the side of the road in 45 degree heat will show you why). Make the sure the spare tyre is in good condition and inflated to the right pressure. Clean the inside of the car to make the journey more pleasant. Have a rubbish bag!
  3. Have everything packed well in advance and don’t leave it till last minute. Make up lists of what you will need for the holiday (fishing, kayaking, cooking, etc) and have a spot to start getting it all together. Have the kids help make up their list and they can cross each item off as they go. Aim to have all items ready the day before you pack the vehicle. Don’t let packing make you stressed!
  4. Make sure you are able to go to bed early and get sufficient sleep. Research shows that if you can get 7-8 hours of sleep each day for all of the week, you are in a great position to be resilient to stress and the odd short sleep. Remember, if you don’t get enough sleep in bed, you might find your brain driving you to sleep at the wheel. To do this, take an extra hour or two off work to get home early afternoon and start packing the vehicle. Have a slow meal cooking or order take-out to reduce the amount of work you need to do. Packing the vehicle should be increasing your excitement about going on holiday.
  5. Don’t get up early to avoid the traffic. Most people like to do this, however, there is too much evidence suggesting that driving prior to 6AM makes you get up too early and the result is driving tired. Many fatal fatigue crashes have occurred due to this. Try and sleep at least 7 to 8 hours and wake up fresh. Rather than beat the traffic, let the traffic go early so that your drive is more pleasant. If you are not in a rush, you may make better driving decisions regarding overtaking and tailgating.
  6. Have a plan to share driving if you have a capable driving passenger. Much research has shown that when drivers drive fatigued, they have often had the opportunity to swap drivers but did not do so. If you plan to swap drivers during the drive, you are more likely to do this.
  7. If your passengers go to sleep, you might too. Many of the fatigue crashes I have investigated have had passengers asleep. If your passengers are asleep, you do not apply alerting strategies, such as stopping often, winding down the window for fresh air, getting music playing to decrease boredom, etc. Have your passengers sleep a good sleep in their bed at home prior to leaving on the trip. Ensure they converse with you on the trip. Play games that are fun but do not distract the driver!
  8. Mobile phones are for passengers only. Get them to do your texting and making calls. There is absolutely no excuse for texting/calling while driving. It is never safe to do so. Get the family interested in the drive and places you might visit when you stop for a break. If your passengers are on electronic devices the whole trip, it won’t be as interesting and the driver may get drowsy due to boredom.
  9. Plan more stops than normal. I often plan to stop at places for a quick look at what is in the town, shop or place of interest. You only need a 5-minute stop here and there but it makes a huge difference to your levels of fatigue and boredom. Ask your passengers to add a stop to the list. It will help keep them interested and add to the family fun.
  10. Don’t drive past your limits. Most drivers are not professionals (like truck drivers) and are not good at estimating how far they can go before needing a rest. Most importantly, sleepiness portends sleep. If you feel sleepy, it is likely you will fall asleep at the wheel. Be smart and change drivers or stop.

I have just developed a module on Driving Holidays to complement the other 21 modules in the fatigue management training that will soon be on this website. Anyone can register and pay to do the online training, commencing in the New Year. See you back here and please drive safe!! Happy holidays.

Success Story

Last year I attended a driver safety forum as a guest speaker on managing fatigue. There was a young man who spoke of his obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition where your upper airway collapses while you are asleep, causing you to gasp for air and disrupting your sleep. This occurred  after I presented information on the subject. He had known of his condition for quite some time, but did not get help for it. The feelings created by the forum allowed the driver to feel safe and confident, that by speaking out about his disorder the company would look after him.

In short, his treatment consisted of application of a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine, use of a sleep diary provided by myself and monitoring on a daily, then weekly basis by his supervisor/manager. After two months of CPAP use, the young man now sleeps much better, has a more positive outlook on life and looks and feels healthier. His wife now sleeps much better too.

This combination of medical assistance (CPAP), sleep expert (myself) information and a company displaying excellent safety ideals, has allowed a swift control for a seriously dangerous condition. The young man and the company should be praised for their hard work and maturity on this matter. It was a pleasure to be associated with the return to work of the young man.


Alcohol & Sleep

One of the most common questions I get in training is: “how does alcohol affect my sleep”? We know it helps to get to sleep.

The answer is that one or two probably won’t affect sleep. More than a few standard drinks will affect both deep sleep  and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stages. The outcomes can include feeling tired and lethargic from missing deep sleep and somewhat vague and forgetful from the reduced REM sleep.

Research has also shown that if you are already tired, adding alcohol increases your tiredness, skills and reaction time in a multiplicative way. My own research in 2003 showed that drinking later in the night showed more performance deficits than drinking earlier, at the same intoxication levels.

It is important not to drink too much alcohol before sleep as it will reduce the quality of your sleep and can make your body become dehydrated. The end result is having a bad day of performance the following day.



Dreams of a weight on my chest

I had a dream about something crushing my chest. What is this about? I am not an oneirologist (one who studies dreams) nor a dream analyst. That said, I have an interest in both. The above mentioned dream has occurred in a number of people that I have spoken to who either have obstructive sleep apnoea or have slept in a position that seems to reduce their air intake. Sleep apnoea occurs when the upper airway collapses when you breathe in. The result is you don’t get any air into your lungs so your brain wakes you up just enough to get you breathing again. It is not unusual to hold your breath once per minute.  If this occurs you should check to see if you have obstructive sleep  apnoea. Ask your partner if you stop breathing in your sleep or if anything unusual is occurring. If you do, seek help immediately through your general practitioner, practicing pharmacy or sleep specialist. Happy sleeping!


Managing Fatigue – Catch up sleep and Monday – itis.

People tend to ‘sleep in’ to obtain extra sleep, especially on the weekends or their block of time off. The problem with sleeping in is that it takes you out of the rhythm that you have established over the work period.

Lets say you wake up at 5 AM for work from Monday to Friday. On Saturday morning you sleep in till 8 AM and feel great. That night, your sleep onset has been put back a few hours and there is no need for sleep until around 11 or 12 PM. Another sleep in on Sunday morning sets you up for another late sleep onset.

However, in anticipation for an early start on Monday morning, you go to bed early Sunday night. You spend hours trying to get to sleep and feeling anxious because you can’t sleep. You finally get to sleep and only get around 5 hours (checking the clock constantly) and suffer Monday-itis.

The tip to getting extra sleep is to go to bed earlier at night and wake around the same time in the morning.

This gets you the extra sleep whilst not disrupting your sleep pattern.  Try it on your next break!


Sleep cleans the brain

Unless you follow the scientific reports you may have not heard how your brain is actually cleaned while you are asleep. Scientists have found that cerebrospinal fluid runs through your brain while you are asleep and little channels in specific cells (Glial cells) remove waste products from the brain and eliminate them from the body. When you next feel tired in the afternoon, or while driving or working, consider this: your brain is trying to catch up on sleep to allow the brain to clean itself of waste products. If you sleep well, you will feel more productive for longer, you will be safer and you will think better (along with other positives). If you have problems with getting to sleep, see a sleep specialist as soon as you can.

Do you get enough sleep?

People often sleep for less hours than they should. For a number of reasons they just don’t put sleep high as a priority in their day. Ask yourself this: “Do you feel tired during the afternoon at work or when driving”? If you do, then you have a sleep debt. The debt can be a build up of waste products and toxins in the brain that normally get cleaned out when we sleep. As long as you have a sleep debt, you will not perform well at work and may be unsafe whilst driving. It is easy to pay back the sleep debt. Simply go to bed at a set time every night and allow at least 7.5 hours of time for sleep each night. See what it feels like to experience really being alive during the day. You will be more productive, safer and a friendlier person to be around. Remember, the level of fatigue you fell is determined by how much sleep you get.

Babies and night feeds

Babies need a lot of sleep. Many parents these days have a perception that babies should sleep all night and only be awake during the day. Babies do not develop good body clocks until 6-12 months old. A daily pattern should commence around 3 months old, where you should start to see at least some normality in their sleep patterns. If you have a baby waking through the night for feeds, consider getting help from a partner or family member before trying to get your baby sleeping all night. The baby’s development may benefit from it!

Contact Beyond Midnight: Phone: +61 8 9593 7575

Tips on sleep, health, safety & productivity

Keep a regular wake up time

Try and wake up at the same time each morning and you will develop a much better sleeping pattern. It also helps if you are not waking up before 5AM as that is too close to your circadian low point. The routine wake up will assist you to get to sleep around the same time each night and will help you to get used to the routine and get to sleep quicker. If you want extra sleep, try going to bed an hour or two earlier rather than sleeping in later in the morning. That way, you will get the extra sleep and keep the good routine. Try it and comment.