Shift work is a job that requires you to work at times when most people are sleeping. This can be difficult on your physical health, as well as your mental health. If you’re looking for tips on how to get better sleep while working a shift job, you’ve come to the right place!
Wake up at the same time everyday — even on days off.
You’ll sleep better if you wake up at the same time every day, even on your days off. That way, your body doesn’t have to get used to changing its internal clock (a process called circadian rhythm) when you’re not working and going to bed later each night.
The best way to do this is with an alarm clock—but only if it’s set for the same time every morning and does not allow snoozing! If it’s too tempting, try setting multiple alarms or using an app like Sleep Cycle that tracks how long it takes you to fall asleep each night and wakes you up when it detects that phase of sleep.
Prepare for shifts in advance.
As you prepare for your shift, think about what time you need to be awake, how long it will take you to get ready and where you’ll be going. If there’s a commute involved, plan how much time it will take so that you can leave early enough to be on time. Most importantly, plan what time you need to go to bed in order wake up early enough for work. You may have a nap before work or after (if possible), but the most important thing is getting those minimum hours of sleep in place so that when 3 AM rolls around and everyone else is yawning, you’re wide awake and ready to finish out your shift!
Have a bedtime routine and stick to it.
Another way to optimize your sleep is by having a bedtime routine. Have you ever wondered why people who go to bed at the same time every night tend to have better quality of sleep than people who don’t? It’s because they are following a pattern and their brains know exactly what to expect when they go to bed. This makes it easier for them to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake up feeling refreshed.
If you don’t currently have a routine, start one! It can be as simple as taking a shower or brushing your teeth before climbing into bed. If you already have one but find yourself getting distracted during it because of your shift work schedule or other obligations, try adjusting it so that each step takes less time. For example, instead of reading an entire chapter from your book every night after brushing your teeth and putting on pajamas, read just half of it before turning off the lights—you’ll still get the same effect without wasting an hour before actually hitting the hay!
Stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan. This is true for everyone, but it’s especially important if you work night shifts. Eating well means more than simply avoiding junk food; it also means balancing your meals and snacks, making sure to get all the nutrients your body needs from food, as well as staying hydrated throughout the day. Exercise is critical for maintaining good health, both physically and mentally—and when you’re working nights, chances are that your physical activity will be limited (or nonexistent). Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality, so find time during the day or early evening to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week.
Take mini-breaks throughout the day (or night).
The best time to take a break is when you feel sleepy. If you’re working the night shift, try taking mini-breaks throughout your shift as opposed to an hour or two at the end of your shift.
Take regular breaks and stretch for 15 minutes every hour or so. Get up from your desk, walk around, and do some simple stretches (such as touching your toes). Take a short walk outside if possible—even just around the office building—to get away from artificial light that tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime even though it might be 3 am!
If you’re sleeping during daylight hours and then staying awake all night long, try taking short naps in the early evening before starting work. A 20-30 minute nap can help refresh you for a few hours of alertness before bedtime comes along again.
Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.
To make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet, use the following tips:
Get a good mattress. A quality bed should be comfortable enough to help you fall asleep, but firm enough to support your back. If you’re struggling with discomfort while sleeping on your current mattress, consider replacing it with a new one that provides better support.
Use white noise machines or apps that offer soothing sounds like rain or waves crashing on the beach. They can drown out distracting noises by covering them up with their own soothing sounds so that they don’t keep you awake at night!
Use sleep masks if light from outside is keeping you awake during the early hours of morning or late evening when its time for bedtime rest.
Utilize sleep-aids like Jet-Asleep to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. It’s easy to add into your bedtime routine and can help your body get on a consistent sleep schedule.
We hope that you’ve learned some helpful tips that help you sleep better as a shift worker. Take care of yourself with these tips, get plenty of sunshine during daylight hours (which helps regulate our circadian rhythm), exercise regularly, don’t eat too much sugar before bedtime (which can throw off your insulin levels), and drink plenty of water throughout your shift so that you stay hydrated. You might just find yourself falling asleep easier than ever before!