Many of us at some point in our lives will have a job which means we have to work unusual hours, and it can be difficult to adjust between our work days and our days off. Those who struggle to cope with working a strange shift pattern can suffer from something called shift work sleep disorder. What this means is you may struggle to sleep properly, are more prone to absenteeism and accidents related to lack of sleep.
If you work at some of the more challenging times of the day and are concerned about suffering from SWSD then fear not, because here at Sleepy People we have put together this list to help you cope with those tricky night shifts.
Keep your workspace as well lit as possible
Obviously this isn’t always an option, because if you work as a paramedic, police officer, firefighter or construction worker, there is a strong chance you will be working outdoors. If you work in an office or are constantly indoors, you can help this, and it is best for you to keep the lights nice and bright, as if it was daylight.
The reason this helps is because of circadian rhythms, which are the body’s internal clock and help us understand when it is time to be awake and when we should be asleep. Circadian rhythms are controlled by the part of the brain which is influenced by light, so keeping in a well lit space makes the brain believe it is time to be awake.
Don’t overdo the caffeine
Many of our natural reactions to working awkward shifts is to drink extra coffee or other caffeinated drinks. It is absolutely fine to perhaps start your day with a coffee to perk you up, but be careful about much more than that. If you overdo it there is a good chance you wont be able to sleep once you finish, it can be hard enough to sleep in the middle of the day, so being full of caffeine won’t make things easier.
Don’t take on too much
There is no getting around the fact that night shifts are hard, and adjusting between a night and day shift can be exhausting. The best way to avoid this is to keep to a routine as best you can. If you are offered nigh shifts, consider making the majority of your work night shifts,. If you are offered very little or have the opportunity to do none, then consider doing none because consistently rotating your sleep pattern is more likely to lead to SWSD.
Preparing your bedroom
Chances are that if you have worked unsociable hours you are going to have to try sleeping during the day. This means you might need to make some alterations to your room, such as buying blackout blinds or curtains, something which lots of people probably don’t have. Getting your recommended sleep is vital so make sure you have the perfect pillows, duvets, and bedding to suit you so you aren’t kept up being particularly uncomfortable.
Hopefully if you do work unsociable hours these tips can help you to live as healthy and sleep filled routine as possible. If you have found these tips helpful or have any others from your own experience please feel free to leave a comment below.