Sleep hygiene is very important for good overall health. To accomplish this, you will need to get around 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a regular time each night. You should also be in near or in total darkness during your sleep. Here lies the problem while cruising.
Cruising means that you will have to sail from one place to the next. If the winds are unfavorable, or they die down, you will take on her to get to your next anchorage. This could mean that you will miss your regular bed time, and instead, need to stay awake for many hours longer than usual as you sail into your destination.
We were sailing from Solomons Island into the St. Mary's river one day. This is a simple 18 mile sail, so it should theoretically only take us a few hours to make the trip!We left at 10am, and were moving along at around 6 knots, meaning that the whole journey should only take a bit over 3 hours. Then the winds shifted and our track was no longer going to bring us directly into the next river south. Instead, we needed to tack back and forth as the winds kept shifting and loosing intensity.
We finally arrived at our anchorage at 2am, a full 16 hours after we had left.
At this late hour, I had to drop the sails and the anchor and get ready for bed. This might not seem like that big of an ordeal, since I can simply sleep in the next day to get my full 8 hours of sleep. The problem is the sun is rising at around 6:30am, meaning I would get about 4 hours of sleep before the sun would peer in the hatch over our bed and wake me up in the morning.
Here is an unsung benefit of hank-on, tanbark headsails. They can double as black out curtains!
I draped the dark sails over the hatch and went below to sleep. When I awoke, well rested, at 11am,, the V-Berth was still a black cave, devoid of light!
Another benefit of draping a sail over the hatch is you can open the hatch under it to get some airflow through it without getting any nightly rain through the hatch as well.
Using this nifty little trick, you can get a good night sleep even after a long and tiring sail!