5 Ways to Sleep Well When You Work the Night Shift
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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.  Most people are “diurnal” — they sleep at night and are awake during the day. But for some, that’s not possible because their job requires them to work the night shift. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who work nights, you know that it can be tough to get a good night’s sleep.

There are a number of reasons why it’s harder to sleep when you work the night shift. First, your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is geared toward sleeping at night. So when you have to stay up late, it’s harder for your body to adjust. In addition, night shift work can be disruptive to your family life and social life.

It’s hard to spend time with your spouse or partner and kids when you’re working odd hours. And you may not have much time for friends either. All of this can lead to stress, which can make it even harder to sleep. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make it easier to sleep when you work the night shift.

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

You should also avoid caffeine in the hours before you go to bed. 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. If you smoke, try to quit. Cigarettes are a stimulant, so they can make it harder to sleep.

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. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. If you can, go to bed at the same time every night, even on your days off. This will help your body get used to sleeping at a certain time.

5. Keep it dark and quiet

It’s also important to create a good sleep environment in your bedroom. Make sure it’s dark, quiet, and cool. And limit your exposure to light in the hours before you go to bed. This means no TV, no computers, and no bright lights. 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. If you can’t avoid being exposed to light, try wearing dark glasses or using a sleep mask.

Do night shifts age you?

There is some scientific research that suggests that working night shifts can age you. One study found that women who worked night shifts for more than five years had a higher risk of developing premature wrinkles. Another study found that men who worked night shifts had a higher risk of developing grey hair.

There are a few reasons why you might want to avoid working the night shift. For one, working at night can be disruptive to your natural sleep cycle. This can lead to sleep deprivation and a whole host of other health problems. Additionally, working the night shift can be lonely and isolated.

How should I sleep for 12 hour night shift?

Long periods of inactivity are a reality of the night shift, and it may be challenging to maintain mental and physical sharpness as your body readjusts to its new routine.  Get in a 30-minute snooze before your shift starts, and more short ones of 10 to 20 minutes if you can. In order to maintain your energy levels, it’s best to sleep for shorter amounts of time.

Talking to other people keeps your mind engaged, which makes it harder to fall asleep. You may also be able to offer strategies for adjusting to the night shift and talk about the challenges you’re facing in making the move.

At what age should you stop working night shifts?

Working night shifts is hazardous to your health because it interferes with your body’s normal sleep cycle, often known as the circadian rhythm. Heart disease, diabetes, and extra weight are just some of the problems that may arise when people don’t take care of themselves properly. Relationships, social life, and sleep are all negatively affected by working night hours.

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has issued a new recommendation based on the findings of a recent study: give workers over the age of 50 more options to cut down on night shifts and lengthy hours. Scheduling work hours in a way that gives workers more say over their schedules has been shown to be helpful for everyone’s well-being, even older workers, who often face unique challenges in the workplace.

Researchers are looking at how these folks might mitigate the negative consequences of their unconventional work schedules, but so far, nothing has been proved to assist, not even light bulbs or sleep aids. Doctors recommend that, in the meantime, shift workers who are worried about their risk take every precaution possible to reduce it, including not smoking, obtaining regular exercise and a nutritious diet, and having frequent cancer tests.

Conclusion

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. In addition, exercise can help you sleep better. But it’s important to do it at the right time. Avoid working out in the few hours before you go to bed. But a moderate workout earlier in the day can actually help you sleep better at night.

Finally, if you’re still having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe medication to help you sleep.

About Post Author

Susan

My name is Susan and I am a stay-at-home mom who loves to blog and share tips for managing home. I have been married for 8 years and have three kids. I know what it is like to try to keep a household running smoothly while also trying to take care of a family.
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