Almost 15 million Americans work full-time on evening, night, rotating shifts, or other irregular schedules. Shift work poses negative effects on sleep, quality of life and overall health. Here are some tips to help you through your work schedule while protecting your sleep and health:
1. Go To The Cave
Caves aren’t just for men. The idea of a ‘cave’ is to have a fortress of solitude – a place you can go to be alone without disturbance (that includes light). This is especially important for sleep after a day or night shift. Light tells our brains to wake up, so you need to find a space that is dark. Investing in an eye mask to shield your eyes from the light while sleeping will also help.
2. Sleep Is Sacred!
Remember the importance of sleep and be considerate of others sleep in your household. White noise machines can also be used to help combat ambient noise.
It’s not always easy to get the recommended 7-8 hours in one block of time. Naps can help you make up for some of your lost sleep. If you’re worried about sleepiness on your drive home post-shift, take a quick nap in the car before you hit the road.
4. Anchor Sleep
Despite conflicting hours, shift workers want a social life too. This often means changing their sleep schedule on their days off to accommodate a social life. This throws off circadian rhythms, leading to sleep deprivation and sleepiness. ‘Anchor sleep’ encourages the overlapping of at last 4 hours of sleep during the same time frame on your work days and your off days.
Those still suffering after attempting all the above tips can try stimulating medications to help manage their shift work disorder.