How do I maintain good sleeping habits if I work in shifts (day/afternoon/night)?
Last Updated: 08/18/2020 at 3:48am
Jamitia Wilson, MS, LAC
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Top Rated Answers
I only had to do this short term, and there were a few things I found that helped, but I didn't perfect it. Keeping up a bedtime routine, having a dark room, and putting on some music softly and shutting doors to reduce noise during the day made it easier.
Stay on track with a sleep schedule. It's most important to go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time so your body can reliably produce the chemicals it should.
Building a routine is the best way that I find to work shifts. If you train your body to feel sleepy and fall asleep after certain things it will always do that if you continue it. Sometimes simple things like have a glass of water, brush your teeth and then curl up with your book can be all it takes to get you started.
The adult body needs 4-8 hours of sleep to function. Whether this means small naps throughout the day, or prioritizing sleep over a night out with friends, you need to find the amount of time your body needs to feel healthy.
Try and find a regular time in the day/night when your not working and try keeping to those times or just maybe try and sleep or have naps when ever you do have the time.
Coming from someone who works swing shifts I know how hard this can be. My greatest advice is, no matter what schedule you are working try to stay with a pattern of sleep. Don't stray from that. The more your body gets in the habit of going to sleep at specified times, the better.
You should make sure to establish a sleeping schedule that you can adhere to - going to sleep at about the same time every day, and waking up at about the same time. You should eliminate daytime light sources during the day - close the blinds, and try to make the bedroom as close to feeling like night time as possible. Try to speak to family members or roommates about respecting the time you need to sleep so they can avoid making too much noise so you don't wake up. It can help to buy disposable earplugs as well, and a sleeping mask which can help remove the light which can negatively affect your sleep habits.
Take naps when off shift and come back with a attitude that is ready to support those in need.
Try to set time aside to get some rest, it's recommended that you sleep up to 6-8 hours a day but of course that doesn't work for everyone. If possible, try to request for a more consistent schedule regardless of the time. If it calls for it, talk to a sleep specialist about it and see if there is any alternative. Asides from that, make sure your bed is only used for sleeping / sex, put your phone away at least 30 min - an hour before you sleep (turn on night shift), drink water or some chamomile tea, and turn the thermostat to a lower temperature (unless it's already cold) so your covers feel a lot warmer. If you find it difficult to fall asleep, set a time for you take melatonin. Typically, you should take melatonin 10-30 minutes before your bedtime so your body can metabolize it so if you plan on sleeping at 1, take it at 12:30. But as long as you keep it consistent, it may take a while for your body to adjust but once it does, your sleep should improve.
I found from having a night shift schedule for several years. That what works best for me, is setting a sleep schedule and keeping to it even if I am off on some days. Occasionally you just have to adjust for one day because life, but just make sure you get a little extra sleep before and after that day and take some good naps. As bonus melatonin can really help you get a better quality of sleep. And things like blackout curtains, blinds or a combination can be a big help. Sometimes the hardest part is getting people to respect your sleep shecdule. Good luck!
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