Tap to Read ➤

Sleeping Tips for Shift Workers

Buzzle Staff Nov 22, 2018
A good night's sleep is essential to be fresh and alert the next morning. However, working at night takes a severe toll on our sleep patterns and health. Those working throughout the night are vulnerable to this hazard, which is why it is essential for shift workers to know about some vital sleeping tips.
Most of us have a fixed work and sleep schedule. The 'work-during-day' and 'sleep-at-night' cycle keeps our body and mind alert at the right time, without any external interference. However, globalization has given rise to many jobs that require employees to work in shifts.
Various jobs that require night shifts include security guards, medical interns, nurses, bartenders, oil rig workers, gas station attendants, customer service, paramedics, and even IT workers. This creates a major problem for the body's internal clock, since the natural sleep-wake cycle is affected.
Certain adjustments must be made to one's schedule in order to train the body for different shifts so that the resulting sleep deprivation doesn't lead to any serious disorder.

No Rotating Shifts

Avoid frequently rotating shifts. Working from 11 p.m. - 7 a.m. one day, and then from 3 a.m. - 11 a.m. another day can take a severe toll on the body. Request your superior for limited rotations so that you have time between shifts to rest your body.
When you work in the same shift, your body's diurnal clock adjusts itself to a routine. Frequently changing routines affects your mental health too, and may lead you to become sleep-deprived. Imagine having an afternoon shift for 2 days, then a night shift, then another afternoon shift, and so on. Also, continuous night shifts can affect the health a lot.

Limit Stimulants

Caffeine, alcohol, or any other stimulants should be strictly avoided.
May be a cuppa when your shift is beginning might help, but if you overdo it, you'll end up messing with your sleep schedule when you return home. Avoid heavy meals, excess coffee, alcohol, and over-the-counter medications to promote wakefulness, etc.

Time Adjustment - 3 Days Before

Train your body to sleep as per the new shift, 3 days before it begins

If you have a change in your shift, give your sleep schedule a warning.
If your current shift is from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., you can sleep from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. If your new shift is from 11 p.m. To 7 a.m, change your sleep schedule 3 days before. On the 1st day, sleep from 7 a.m. To 3 p.m. On the 2nd day, sleep from 8 a.m. To 4 p.m. On the 3rd day, sleep from 10 a.m. To 6 p.m. When your new shift starts, your body will have adjusted.

No Driving or Long Commutes

Try to avoid long commutes, it interferes with your sleep time. Request your employer for a pickup. Also, after your shift, avoid driving. You may not know what kind of state you'll be in. Driving may be dangerous, especially if you have no company.

Avoid Bright Lights at Home

After a night/afternoon shift, all you want to do is sleep at home, which may be difficult due to the sunlight. The natural light tells your brain that it's daytime, and so, your brain creates less melatonin, resulting in less sleep.
At home, therefore, use heavy curtains and blackout blinds to block the sunlight. Wear an eye mask and ear plugs, and create the illusion of nighttime for your brain.

The Workplace Should Be Brightly Lit

If you are working at night, your brain registers that it's nighttime, and this may put you to sleep due to high melatonin levels. Therefore, at work, create the illusion of daytime.
Your workplace must be brightly lit to promote alertness and boost energy. Your body's internal clock gets trained to understand that bright lights means that the body has to concentrate and work, and not sleep.

Avoid Calls When You Sleep

A very convenient sleep tip for shift workers is to switch off cell phones and laptops. Nothing should interfere with your sleep time. Also, request your family not to disturb you during your sleep time. Once your sleep is disturbed, it can be tricky to get sleep again.

Stick to a Schedule

This is an important sleep tip for night shift workers. Stick to a fixed routine. If you sleep at a particular time, make sure you sleep at the same time everyday.
Don't get coaxed into going for a walk, shopping, or a party just because friends ask you to. For shift workers, following a rigid schedule is much more important. Even on your days off, sleep at the same time.

General Tips

~ Avoid heavy meals before shifts.
~ Take power naps at work.
~ Go to bed the minute you return from work.
~ Avoid naps at home; have a proper sleep instead.
~ While driving back in the morning, try to avoid sunlight exposure; it will help you sleep faster when you reach home.
~ Avoid frequent change in shifts.