Medical professionals, police officers, firefighters, factory workers and delivery drivers are just some of the people who are called on to work night shifts. Whether you are required to work the night shift on a regular basis or because your shifts rotate, adjusting to a schedule that requires you to sleep during the day is difficult. Lack of sleep can lead to health problems caused by increased stress and decreased immunity. Use some proven strategies to adjust to working the night shift.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule even on days when you aren’t working to help your body adjust to working nights. Turn off your phone and other distractions. Ask your family or roommates to support you by staying quiet during your sleeping hours.
Your body works on a circadian rhythm, a pattern that tells your body when to sleep and when to be awake. Sunlight plays a large role in this rhythm. Use dark, heavy curtains when you sleep to block out as much sunlight as possible. If possible, keep your workplace brightly lit to help your body stay awake.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants before it is time to sleep. Avoid sugar and processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables to increase and maintain energy levels. Sugars and stimulants provide only temporary energy surges and eventually cause you to crash.
Regular exercise, along with diet, improves your overall health, increases your energy levels and promotes healthy sleep. Try working out before your shift and after your shift to see which feels better and gives you more energy.
Sleeping during the day makes it difficult to get a full eight hours of sleep. To stay alert on your shift, take a short nap before leaving for work. Don’t sleep for so long that you are groggy when it is time to go to work.