Are you a new member of the nocturnal workforce? Well, you’re in good company with the estimated 15 million Americans who work full-time night shifts! If you’re just starting out at your new gig, you’re probably wondering how you’re ever going to adjust to sleeping during the day. It can be challenging at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll be just fine.
Read on to learn the best sleeping tips for night shift workers.
You're one with the nocturnal animals now.
Stick to a regular sleep-wake cycle.
It may seem like it's impossible to train your body to sleep when the sun comes up, however according to Dr. Charmane Eastman, who specializes in the sleep patterns of shift workers, it’s completely doable.
“Within about a week, permanent night-shift workers can reset their body clock so they feel sleepy at the right time of their day,” says Eastman.
You can view one of Eastman’s sample sleep schedules and workday plans here.
If you need additional help adjusting to your new sleep cycle, we recommend using Re-Timer light therapy glasses, which are designed to benefit shift workers specifically. To learn more about Re-Timer, click here.
Eliminate all distractions.
It’s especially important for night shift workers to create an environment that’s conducive for sleep, and this means eliminating all distractions—including sunlight and outside noises.
"Even if your eyes are closed, the sunlight coming into the room tells your brain that it's daytime,” explains Dr. Wesley Elon Fleming, director of the Sleep Center Orange County. Dr. Fleming recommends using blackout curtains or blinds to block sunlight.
You’ll also probably notice that the world is a lot noisier during the day when most people are up and about. Make sure your friends know not to call you or ring your doorbell during the day. Turn off your electronics if you need to. If all else fails, invest in a comfortable pair of earplugs.
Limit caffeine when you’re awake.
Don’t worry, we’re not telling you to give up drinking coffee entirely. After all, coffee is one way to help you stay awake and alert during work hours. You should, however, be mindful of how much you drink—and when you consume your last cup. The UCLA Sleep Disorders Center advises avoiding caffeine within four hours of bedtime so that it doesn’t interfere with sleep.
Do you have any helpful sleeping tips for night shift workers? Share them with us over on Twitter at @ShopBetterRest.