Shift work and sleeping can be an awkward equation. How should a shift worker take care of rest and endurance? Also, read what other things a shift worker should consider for their well-being.
There is a challenge: a shift worker has to pay more attention to recovery than a day worker.
It is not natural for you to be awake when you should be asleep. It is also not natural to be at work when your body needs rest.
Benefits of Shift Work
There are some benefits to working the graveyard shift. You can stay at home while everyone else is working.
Taking the day off allows you to go to doctor’s appointments and do other things that generally would have to wait until the next free time.
You can spend time with your young children during the day, attend school functions, or volunteer at their school.
However, free time can come at a price due to sleep disorders linked to working at night.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) is a real problem. Even though it doesn’t happen to all of them, 10% to 40% of shift workers experience symptoms of a sleep disorder.
Some of the common symptoms are difficulty concentrating, headaches, excessive sleepiness, and lack of energy.
If you are aware of these symptoms and some of the things you can do to help combat them, your shift work will be more accessible.
Those who do not manage SWSD well might be more likely to suffer from workplace accidents, poor coping skills, mood swings, affecting their social life and relationships. In addition, they can develop health problems and be prone to drug and alcohol dependence.
To help you manage SWSD, here are some tips:
- Make sleep a top priority.
It can be tempting to complete everything on your to-do list but don’t overdo it. You should sleep between 7 and 8 hours each day to function correctly.
- After the night shift, aim for as long, continuous sleep as possible.
Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep may not be possible in the middle of the day. For many shift workers, sleeping five or six hours in the morning is more appropriate. Sometimes you can do light exercise and then take another nap before the next night shift.
- If you can leave work and make it back home while still dark, do so.
By limiting your exposure to sunlight, your body will not activate its internal daytime clock.
- Avoid working too many nights in a row.
If you work at night, try not to work more than five nights in a row. After working your string of nights, take more than 48 hours off work.
- Avoid long commutes whenever possible.
After working, you should try to get to sleep as soon as possible. Take advantage of rest areas at your work if they are available.
- Get enough sleep on the days when you are not working.
Maintaining a routine and practicing good sleep habits while off will help you avoid going back to work sleep-deprived.
- Before you go to bed, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
If you continue to have trouble sleeping after you try the tips above, you should visit your doctor. If you need sleep aids, your doctor can prescribe them for you.
The Bottom Line
Using the tips provided here, you can improve your sleep quality even if you work shifts. Feel free to try what works best for you. With the right changes and help, it may even be possible to get rid of sleep aids.
If you can get the proper amount of sleep, shift work can have many advantages.