7 Sleep Tips for Shift Workers
Posted on 01 July 2015
How to get a good night’s sleep
This blog post, 7 sleep tips for shift workers, is going to conclude the series of posts on sleep.
The quality of your sleep is very important and it directly affects the quality of your waking life. No other activity delivers so many benefits, especially with so little effort!
Getting enough quality sleep and getting it at the right time helps you to function well throughout the day. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference to the quality of your nightly sleep.
What happens if you are a shift worker? It will be almost impossible to establish a regular sleep/wake schedule. Although shift work can disrupt your body clock, do not despair. By taking small practical steps you can keep your health and well-being intact.
7 sleep tips for shift workers
The following tips are aimed at mitigating the issue of shift work disorder and will stop you from falling into sleep deprivation.
- Minimise the number of night or irregular shifts – If your work/employer allows you to, try to limit working on night or irregular shifts for long periods in a row to prevent sleep deprivation from building up.
- Adhere to a set shift work pattern – If you have a choice, try to always work the same shift work pattern. This way, you can help your body adjust better to the new work schedule by having the same sleep/wake schedule.
- Adjust your sleep-wake schedule – Trick your body into producing melatonin. Melatonin is a drowsy-making chemical naturally produced by the body that increases a few hours before bedtime. As a shift worker you need to alter your sleep-wake schedule and the production of melatonin. Expose yourself to bright light when you wake up at night, use bright lamps or daylight-simulation bulbs in your workplace, and then wear dark glasses on your journey home to block out sunlight and encourage sleepiness.
- Taper off your caffeine – Caffeine remains in your body for many hours, so make sure to taper off your caffeine intake as your shift winds down, ideally limiting your caffeine to the first half of your shift.
- Make the most of your breaks – During your breaks try to move around as much as possible – take a walk, stretch or even exercise if possible. This will help you sleep more deeply when you are ready to go to bed.
- Make you bedroom a bunker – Eliminate noise and light from your bedroom during the day. Use blackout curtains or blinds, or even a sleep mask in a last resort. Turn off your phone or anything else that could accidently wake you up. Use ear plugs or a soothing sound machine to block out daytime noise.
- Make sleep a priority – At weekends or on your non-working days make sleep a priority so you can pay off your sleep debt.
The National Sleep Foundation in the article Shift Work & You asked a variety of shift workers how they balance their life and how they make sleep a priority. Do you identify yourself with any of the people interviewed? Do you find any of their tips useful? Please let us know; we are interested in your views.
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