How to improve your sleep with a shift work schedule
How to Improve Your Sleep with a Shift Work Schedule
Working the graveyard shift can have many advantages. While everyone else is working, you can be at home. You also can go to doctor’s appointments and take care of other things that you normally would have to take a day off work to do. If you have young children, you can be available to spend time with them during the day, attend school functions, or volunteer at their school. However, this free time during the day can come at a high price because of sleep problems associated with working at night.
Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) is a real thing. Although it doesn’t happen to everyone, somewhere between 10% and 40% of shift workers develop symptoms associated with SWSD. Some of the common symptoms of SWSD are headaches, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, and excessive sleepiness. Being aware of these symptoms and some of the things that you can do to help combat them will make your ability to work shift work easier.
People who do not manage SWSD well could be prone to have more work-related accidents, mood swings, poor coping skills, which could affect their relationships and social life. They can also develop health problems and be susceptible to drug and alcohol dependency.
Here are some tips to help you manage SWSD:
1. Make sleep a priority. It can be tempting to get all the items done on your to-do list but don’t overdo it. Recognize that your body needs at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day to function well.
2. If you can get off work and make it home while it is still dark, do so. Minimizing the exposure to sunlight will keep your body from activating its internal “daytime clock.”
3. Don’t work too many nights in a row. If you work at night, try not to work more than 5 nights with days off in between. If you can, take more than 48 hours off work after working you string of nights.
4. If possible, don’t commute for long distances. The sooner you can go to sleep after working the better. If you work at a job that provides a place to rest, consider taking advantage of it.
5. Make sure you get enough sleep on the days when you are off work. Maintaining a routine and practicing good sleep habits while you are off will help keep you from going back to work sleep deprived.
6. Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before going to bed.
7. If you're still having difficulty sleeping after trying the tips mentioned, you should go see your doctor. Your doctor can prescribe sleep aids to help you relax.
Depending on the type of employment you have, working shift work may not be an option for you. However, working the shift work can have many advantages if you can get the proper amount of sleep. If you follow the tips provided, working shift work can be a positive experience.