Christmas is around the corner. And for many people that means working later than usual, and in some instances, tackling a night shift. For others, working the night shift is just part of any other working day of the year. Sometimes, working the night shift is simply part of the job. If you work in a hospital, if you are a truck driver, or perhaps a paramedic, working the night shift is simply something you will be expected to do.
You can see how turning your days upside down, by working through the night, can have quite the impact on your sleep. When you spend the majority of your life creating and getting stuck into a nightly routine, swopping it around so that you sleep during the day can take a lot of getting used to.
In fact, that is an understatement. It might take a while to get into the habit of sleeping during the day and being up at night. This, in turn, could lead to many tiring days before you slip into the new habit. Millions of people around the world do the night shift. And lucky for us, all of those long working hours have resulted in some helpful information.
Shift work along with working hectically long hours have been linked to a number of sleep issues. While buying a new bed can help you to improve your sleep and combat some of these sleep issues when you are working shifts, you need something more than a new bed to help you through your tiring days.
A lack of decent, quality sleep is also linked to other issues. Obesity, heart problems, and an increase in stress are all contributing factors. But working shifts can also have an impact on your DNA, thereby disrupting your sleep hormones and completely throwing your sleep out of whack. While it is not impossible to get a routine back in order, it can be time-consuming enough to leave you feeling exceptionally tired.
So when you take on this kind of lifestyle, you need to find a few ways to cope with the sudden change in your sleeping patterns. And we have the tips to help you!
Ways You Can Have Quality Sleep When You Work At Night: Change Your Sleeping Patterns
This one is very much obvious, but the first thing that you need to tackle and change is your sleeping pattern. During the transition, you need to understand that you might be very fatigued and start to suffer from the unpleasant effects of sleep deprivation. This is the result of not sleeping at night although the body is designed to sleep at night and not during the day.
Your body has a clock of its own. And this clock is far stricter than your bedside clock. Your body instinctively knows when it is time to sleep. The circadian rhythm rules your body’s sleep and it is also responsible for regulating your body temperature, your alertness and the production of your hormones. This clock has a 24-hour cycle, which is greatly influenced by the light of day and the darkness that comes after sundown. When night falls, your internal clock sets off the right hormones to make you feel sleepy.
Working the night shift means you will have to struggle against your body’s natural functions, both at night and during the day.
So how do you change and manage your new sleeping pattern?
It starts with knowing that you need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night, or rather every day in this case. This means that the only way to avoid being sleepy is to always get between7 and 9 hours of sleep. In many ways, daytime sleeping can be very difficult and result in a lower quality sleep. To fix this, you need to create the right sleeping environment, which you can achieve when you try these tips:
- Don’t delay your sleep. The longer you have been awake, the more alert you are likely to be and the less likely you are going to be able to simply drift off once you lay your head down.
- Try to actually sleep for between 7 and 9 hours after each night shift. Don’t use these hours as some kind of day off. This day is best spent sleeping.
- Eat and drink something before you get to bed. Just as you would end a normal day with dinner and a drink, end your night shift with a decent meal and enough liquid to keep you sated.
- But don’t drink alcohol before bed. Alcohol even on a good day can be enough to keep you tossing and turning. Don’t damage your precious hours of sleep by drinking alcohol.
- Control the amount of light coming into your bedroom. Light affects our sleep hormones, and not for the better. Our bodies are programmed in such a way that we want to sleep when it is dark. So to ensure that you get enough sleep, make your environment as dark as possible.
- Just as you control the light, control the temperature as well. We all have an optimum sleep temperature. For some, it is a warmer room while others prefer a cold sleep environment. Whatever your choice, regulate the temperature of your room.
- Let everyone know about your sleeping arrangements. Well, not everyone but certainly family and friends so that they will know when you are available and when they can get hold of you. You can also consider putting your phone on silent so that you won’t be disturbed by unnecessary calls from telemarketers.
As a night shift worker, you can also minimise the amount of coffee you drink and if possible you can also consider spending less time in front of a screen. All of those sleep tips we have shared on our blog in the past can be used to help you shift your sleeping pattern, the same rules apply regardless of the time of day you will be sleeping.