If you are about to start working the night shift, you might have sleep concerns. Sleep is a legitimate concern. You might want to know how to get to sleep and stay healthy as a night shift worker. Here are some tips for prioritizing sleep as you work the night shift.
Make Rest a Priority
You must prioritize sleep and get enough rest. Although there is a strong temptation for you to handle errands or responsibilities right after a night shift, be careful. Doing activities and putting off sleep triggers the dangerous cycle of “sleep debt.”
You can avoid falling behind on your sleep by going to bed earlier and allotting extra time to catch up on rest. You will sleep more deeply when sleep-deprived, so do not worry about paying back each hour of lost sleep.
Sleep As Long As Possible
It is true that night-shift employees typically sleep less and experience poorer-quality rest than their day-shift colleagues. Try to spend as much time in bed as possible to prevent the adverse effects of chronic sleep deprivation.
Consider Taking a Nap Before Work
A nap before work can boost your overall sleep time. Better still, taking a nap 1.5 – 3 hours before your night shift begins can also improve your alertness at work!
Light plays a vital role in the regulation of the circadian rhythm. You can increase your overall alertness and energy by spending some time in a brightly lit area during the first half of your shift. Reducing the exposure to light as you near the end of your shift can ease your body from the chaotic workplace to your peaceful home.
Monitor Your Diet
If your daily rhythm is off-balance, your metabolism is too. Planning meals can help you stay alert during working hours and be more relaxed for sleep. Consider the following:
- Follow similar eating patterns. Keep your eating schedule like the one you follow during the daytime.
- Eat a little and often. Frequent light meals or healthy snacks can help you avoid the drowsiness associated with heavy meals.
- Choose easy-to-digest foods. Consider bread, rice, pasta, salad, milk products, fruits, and vegetables.
- Avoid foods that are difficult to digest. Stay away from fried, spicy, and processed meals.
- Avoid sugar. Although sugar provides a quick energy boost, an energy dip will quickly follow.
- Snack on fruits and vegetables. The sugar in these foods converts slowly into energy.
- Keep hydrated. Hydration promotes physical and mental performance.
Go Directly to Bed After Arriving Home
There is often a solid temptation to stay awake all day before the first shift in a block of night shifts and then work all night. Do not stay up. Remember that your cognitive performance after 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to working with a blood alcohol level of .10.
Suppose your circadian rhythm has not adjusted to sleeping during the day. In that case, you have a small window of time before your natural circadian-alerting mechanism kicks in to keep you awake. Help out your clock by resting as much as possible before 2 pm.
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