Sleeping for Night Shift Workers

Do you work the graveyard shift? Whether you’re just starting a job as a contact center professional or already on your sixth or seventh year as an operations manager for a 24-hour food chain, getting enough hours of quality, undisturbed sleep is a constant challenge.

 It’s been estimated that 75% of adults have symptoms of sleeping or sleep-related problems, and the percentage can actually be higher for night shift workers.

And with a more global economy taking shape wherein more and more businesses cater to different time zones, expect more people working during the hours that is always associated with sleep.

In the United States alone, around 20% of the workforce already works between 8 pm and 7 am. Translation: an alarming number of people who can face potential health problems due to sleep deprivation and other related conditions.

If you’re a night shift worker, how can you get enough sleep during those hours when majority of people are awake? Fortunately, there are simple solutions out there that don’t necessarily require a visit to the doctor. Health experts have generally recommended the following tips to get that much-needed sought-after rest:

Allow a specified period of rest

This is the most important thing you need to do. Health experts agree that the human body needs at least six hours of undisturbed rest for it to get rejuvenated and refreshed. During these vital hours, nothing should distract you. And you should be consistent in maintaining your sleeping schedule.

Make your surroundings sleep-friendly

Remember, anything that lets in light is already a distraction. Darken your bedroom as much as possible by putting drapes, curtains or similar materials. Keep your alarm clock signals to the minimum. Keep out noise-generating electronics or appliances such as sound systems or television sets that you or those you are living with might have.

Avoid beverages that are known stimulants

Intake of coffee and caffeinated drinks like colas, especially during the last four hours of a shift, only increases alertness and, by consequence, sleeplessness. Caffeine contains adenosine, a substance which makes a person more alert. It’s okay to take stimulants to keep you awake on the job, but it’s best to avoid it during the final hours before your shift ends.

Refine your food intake

Avoid greasy, calorie-laden meals like burgers and french fries, which are hard to digest, and replace them instead with light, easy snacks.

Try having warm milk, herbal teas like camomile or a banana before going to bed. Bananas in particular contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into serotonin–which induces sensation of rest and calmness in the brain.

Avoid taking sleeping pills

While sleeping pills may seem to be a good solution to getting your eyes shut for good, they actually only offer short-term relief. That’s because regular intake of such medication only makes your body dependent on it-in other words, you may not be able to doze off naturally anymore. It is definitely okay to take sleeping pills when you have a major sleep problem-but get off the habit once you make progress in your journey to dreamland.

Keep it cool

Make your surroundings as cool as possible. Heat reduces sleep, so if you feel hot you will naturally feel sleepless. If you can afford it, get an air conditioner, but in many cases an electric fan will suffice. It also helps to have shower before sleeping.

Get a good mattress

You don’t need some designer-line or high-priced ergonomic bed-there are a lot of inexpensive but comfortable mattresses out there which can make bedtime a delightful and dreamy experience. Avoid sleeping on hard or static surfaces, since it makes the body react more sharply.

Don’t watch television or listen to heavy music

As soon as you get home, if you still feel awake, do light things like reading a book or listening to soft music. Don’t watch a TV show with intensive programming or listen to sounds that induce heightened activity. Your natural body signals are lessened, making you more agitated than usual.

Finally, condition yourself before sleeping

Think pleasant thoughts, and avoid thinking of work-related concerns or situations as you prepare yourself to doze off. In other words, don’t take your problems with you to bed. Shut off the world by shutting it off from your mind.