Adapting to shift work and getting the right amount of sleep is often extremely difficult, particularly when you’re just starting in your role. Your ability to become accustomed to new lifestyle and sleeping patterns can depend on a number of things, from your age and health status to your home environment and day-to-day activity.
We have compiled a list of tips to help you manage changes in your sleep schedule and avoid sleep deprivation.
Tip 1: Change your bedtime
If you know you have shift changes coming at work, prepare in advance. Start to change the pattern of your sleep at least three days prior — try to go to bed later and wake up earlier. Start with a few hours difference on the first day, and continue to push it back until you’re sleeping in line with your new routine.
Tip 2: Watch what you eat and drink
Plan your meal times based on when you’d normally eat. Have ‘breakfast’ within an hour of waking up; plan your lunch for a few hours later and so on. If you can, take snacks to work with you to keep you alert during the shift. You want to eat foods that are easily digestible such as fruit and vegetables. Stay clear of fatty foods as they tend to promote drowsiness. Likewise, sugary food is likely to give you a short boost in your energy levels before they ‘crash’, leaving you feeling worse for wear.
Tip 3: Get plenty of exercise
Getting the right amount of exercise is guaranteed to boost your energy levels and can help to promote good sleeping habits. Engaging in 30 minutes of light physical activity per day can greatly improve your energy levels and help you feel ready to take on your shift.
Tip 4: Avoid stimulants
Avoid introducing drugs to your body that could result in an addiction or a dependency. This includes energy drinks, hard drugs and other stimulants that are designed to keep you awake. In line with this, avoid using sleeping tablets or excessive alcohol to force yourself to sleep. These inhibit your body’s natural processes and prevent you from resting naturally.
Tip 5: Change begins at work
You can start to change your sleeping routine at home by making minor changes at work. Before you start work, do some basic stretches or light exercise. During your shift, take short breaks regularly, even if that means just taking a 5 minute walk around the workplace. Keep the lights bright so that your mind doesn’t go into rest mode, and talk to your co-workers when possible. Drive straight home and avoid stopping along the way.
Tip 6: Adjust your sleep schedule
The best sleep patterns for shift workers depend on the job itself and your hours, so you need to establish what works for you. Generally you need to get 7–8 hours of sleep a night. If you don’t think you can manage that, at least try to get 5-6 hours and rest for another two.
Tip 7: Follow a routine
Imagine that you’re living a ‘regular’ working life where you go to work at 9am and come home at 5pm. Practice the same routines and post-work activities when you work shifts, including cooking and relaxation. Avoid exercise and caffeine for at least 2-3 hours before sleep, have a light meal so you will sleep longer, and take a bath or relax on the couch.
Tip 8: Change your sleep environment
One of the best night shift tips is to get some black-out curtains or blinds to ‘trick’ your brain into thinking it is night time. Make sure the bedroom isn’t too hot, as humidity is guaranteed to keep you awake. Try to sleep in a quiet corner of the house, use ear plugs to block out any noise, or turn on a little white noise in the background, such as your air conditioner or a fan.
Tip 9: Get the right mattress
Having a good mattress is imperative to a great sleep. A good quality mattress should have you feeling comfortable all night long and waking up feeling refreshed. Sealy mattresses are constructed using hundreds of coil springs arranged in a structured way to form the core of the mattress. A combination of specially selected comfort layers and premium natural materials are applied above the spring unit to assist in conformance and pressure relief.
Choose the right size to suit your sleep requirements, from a single mattress that you can fit into a spare room to our Super King mattress so you can stretch out.
When it comes to dealing with shift work and sleep deprivation, it is important to mimic the routines and requirements you would ordinarily follow for a good night’s sleep. We hope the above sleeping tips to provide you some relief so you can get back to living a comfortable and happy life.