Seafarer Tiredness and Fatigue

The issue of fatigue, tiredness and stress at sea seems to be an almost constant topic of debate. Seafarers reported this as one of the biggest problems for them. Many responses talked about feeling run down, stressed and having difficulty sleeping.

These issues then meant that they felt fatigued, and there was then a spiral of feeling ever more lethargic, tired and generally fed up. Which meant it was harder to sleep, and so for month after month, or week after week, these problems simply got worse and worse until something had to change.

Thankfully most of the seafarers who spoke to us said that they usually managed to get to the end of their trip before their mental and physical fatigue caused serious problems, but many were concerned about the implications for accidents, mental breakdowns and illness.


Numerous respondents said that stress and worry often caused tiredness, but that they ironically then also struggled to sleep. The result for some was almost despair and a sense of being trapped in their role and onboard.

They felt that being away from home, working hard, having to deal with difficult situations, the dangers of the sea, and of potential uncertainty over when they would pay off and get home all had an impact. Additionally, some felt that money worries also caused stress.

For those who weren’t particularly worried at the start of their trips, they felt that issues such as a lack of exercise, and also poor diet seemed to make them feel run down and impacted the periods of rest that they were able to take.

There is great pressure to sleep when you are meant to be working watches, and this too can cause problems. Stressing about grabbing sleep when you know you have to be up in 4 hours can be detrimental to sleep, which leads to more problems. Seafarers reported that 6on-6off watches for sustained periods were particularly hard to cope with.


Even in the normal demands of the ship seafarers reported feeling tired, but then when there were extra duties thrown in, such as cargo watches or mooring stations, then these compromised any notion of normal sleep patterns. Seafarers who worked on smaller vessels, particularly in the North Sea said that weather issues massively impacted their ability to sleep. You can imagine if a ship is bouncing around for days at a time, then this can have a real negative effect.


#28Days #Seafarers #Shipping Also check out the Mission to Seafarers website to learn more that the charity does to address many of the issues raised across these challenges facing shipping.

The Seafarers Happiness Index needs the support of those at sea, and of the shipping industry. So if you would like to be a part of driving positive debate and change – complete the survey or share your thoughts with us.

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