If you’ve ever had to work a night shift you know what a challenge it can be to try to adjust to a sleep schedule that doesn’t follow the traditional day/night pattern. Besides investing in a high quality Sleepy’s mattress, here are some tips to help you get enough sleep and keep from suffering negative health consequences from lost sleep.
1. Avoid long commutes
People who work the night shift and then also commute a long distance are more likely to lose sleep. This amounts to hours of lost sleep over time, hours that your really can’t afford to lose. If at all possible, choose a residence that keeps your drive time short.
2. Keep your workplace well lit
Our bodies are accustomed to what is called a Circadian cycle, which means they operate on a 24 hour schedule and are directly influenced by external factors such as light and temperature. If you work a night shift it is important to surround yourself with as much bright light as possible. This exposure to bright light will help “trick” your body into thinking day is night and night is day, bypassing the genetic predisposition to sleep at night.
3. Limit caffeine intake
This can be a hard one, particularly at the end of a long all-night shift, but consuming caffeine can keep you from sleeping well when your shift ends and you head home. It takes hours for it to finally leave your system, cutting into your precious sleep time.
4. Don’t run errands after your shift
It can be very tempting to take care of shopping and other small errands on your way home from your shift, but this can endanger your altered sleep cycle. You’re already hard-wired to be more active during the day, by taking those quick trips to just pick up milk and cheese you are messaging your brain and body that it’s time to be awake. This makes it much more difficult for the day-sleeper to relax.
5. Keep it dark and quiet
Once you leave your shift, keep up the pretense of switching day and night. Wear sunglasses on your drive home, and a wide-brimmed hat to keep yourself shaded. When you get home keep the shades drawn, use blackout curtains if necessary, and keep lights as dim as possible. This will create a twilight effect in your home. When you’re ready to climb into bed make sure that your family knows to hold all your calls and not disturb your sleep at all. Sometimes a fan or other white noise maker can help day-sleepers tune out the normally increased amount of household noise present during the day.
Sound sleep is an absolute essential element of a healthy lifestyle. Take the steps to ensure you can get in your eight hours, no matter what time you clock in and out of work.