7 Ways to Get Quality Sleep as a Shift Worker

shift work

By Dana Brown

When you have a job that requires you to work into the wee hours of the night, you have to make some major adjustments for sleeping. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can result in social isolation, loneliness and a number of other adverse health conditions. Therefore, it’s especially important to get quality sleep to reduce work-related stress. Here are some ways to improve your sleep.

  1. Make it dark

Some studies have shown that exposure to light during sleep can disrupt the normal sleep schedule and appears to be linked with poor mental health. Find different ways to make your bedroom as dark as possible. Get some blackout curtains or put a sheet over your window. A sleep mask can be a nice way to help increase some of that darkness as well. This will help keep you sleeping deeply as the sun comes up.

  1. Maintain a healthy diet

Results from sleep research have shown that eating a diet which is low in sugar and fat and high in fiber could help promote restful, quality sleep. It’s easy to throw your diet out the window when you do shift work and eat whatever food is available. Regardless of the stress you might experience at work, take special care to eat enough vegetables and fruits throughout the day. This can make all the difference in your sleep.

  1. Exercise consistently

For many people exercise and sleep might have a reciprocal relationship, where good sleep can promote healthy exercise habits. The reverse case is also true: Poor sleep will make you less inclined to exercise, and not exercising will make your sleep less restful. Even if you don’t have time, even if you don’t feel like it, make some extra time to do some exercise. You can do a short 20-minute workout, or even try some shorter ones that will help you get your heart pumping.

  1. Sleep at the same time each time

Give yourself a regular sleep schedule. Once you get off work, come straight home and go to bed. Don’t stop by the grocery store to pick up something and don’t get on your phone, no matter how tempting it is. If you have a hard time going to sleep at the same time each night, plan on putting away all electronics half an hour before you go to bed. This can help melatonin production and promote sleepiness.

  1. Limit caffeine intake

Important research has even shown that consuming caffeine, even 6 hours before sleep, can have important disruptive effects on multiple measures of sleep quality. This can be challenging when working so late into the night. However, if you consume caffeine earlier in your shift rather than later, you can still get a good amount of sleep.

  1. Ask your family to limit contact during sleep hours

Have designated sleep hours where your family isn’t allowed to interrupt you. Being interrupted may make you more likely to stay awake given that the sun will likely be up during that time. Put your phone on silent and put it far away from where you sleep. Establishing these boundaries can make it less likely for your family to interrupt you.

  1. Watch your mental health

If you work shifts that aren’t regular, it can throw your body out of whack. Watch for symptoms that might be hurting your emotional stability: increased irritability, extreme fatigue, losing interest in things you usually enjoy and so on. If you start experiencing this, try to change your situation, whether that means getting more sleep or changing your shift.

It can be hard to adjust to a new schedule and to get enough sleep. However, if you are able to get high quality sleep, you’ll become a more productive employee and find fulfillment in your life. Make sure you’re filling your basic needs first.

Dana Brown is the creator of HealthConditions.info, which aims to provide Internet users with helpful content and resources that will lead them to make healthier decisions. Dana has 15 years of caregiving experience, and after seeing some patterns of poor health she became determined to help inform people about healthy living.

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