Working a night shift when your body should naturally be sleeping can be tough, but getting quality sleep after your shift can be even more difficult. Your body is naturally accustomed to sleeping during the night. Beyond this, distractions like natural daylight, noise, traffic and even wildlife can make it difficult to sleep during the day.
Here’s an essential guide on how to sleep better after a night shift.
It’s important for shift workers to get at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep during the day to avoid the potential risk of sleep disorders. Those who can’t sleep after night shifts are at a high risk of suffering from depression, irritability, lack of concentration, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Here’s how to ease the struggle.
Increase light exposure at work
The first step to take will be to increase exposure to bright light at work. This can be anything from table lamps, bright light boxes or simply ensuring your working areas are well-lit. This won’t only help your stay alert during your shift but will also help your body’s circadian rhythm to adjust. This works by training your internal clock to stay awake during the night and sleep during the day.
Avoid daylight when heading back home
Once you’ve finished your shift avoid heading home in bright daylight. If this isn’t possible, shield yourself with sunglasses and hat. Daylight will make you feel more alert which can make getting to sleep difficult.
Try not to run errands after work
It’s tempting to pick up groceries or make a visit to the post office once you’ve finished work. If you can, avoid running errands after your night shift. This will make you more alert and you’ll become more accustomed to the daylight, ultimately meaning that trying to fall asleep when you arrive home will be difficult.
Unwind before sleeping
The benefits of unwinding before bed are often overlooked. If you’re struggling to sleep, this can make a big difference. Once you’ve finished your shift and you’re ready for bed, try to do a few light activities for 10 – 15 minutes to help you relax and unwind. Reading a book, light meditation or listening to relaxing music will all help.
Avoid caffeine 4 hours before sleep time
Drinking coffee when you begin your shift may seem like a good idea, but when you’re getting towards the end of your time at work, it’s best to stay away from caffeine. Generally, avoiding caffeine for the four hours before you get into bed should be adequate.
Eat a light meal or snack
Do your best not to go to sleep when hungry. Hunger pains can cause some discomfort when you’re trying to sleep. Consider having a light meal or even a snack before bed. We’d recommend foods like walnuts, almonds, cheese, rice, tuna or warm milk. This is because these foods can be a good source of tryptophan (an amino acid that helps your body produce the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin).
Block out all lights
It’s vital to ensure your room is as dark as possible when trying to sleep during the day. Natural light can prevent you from sleeping, so be sure to block out as much light as possible. It may be worth investing in black-out blinds or curtains to help with this.
Don’t use LED screens
When it approaches the time you usually try to sleep, try to avoid watching TV, using computers, phones or any other devices. The LED lights are renowned for interfering with sleep, making sleeping after a night shift even more difficult.
Prevent noise disturbances where possible
This one can be a little tricky but is important. Do your best to block out any noise disturbances wherever possible. If you live with family, ask them to be courteous of your routine. Something as simple as a visitor in another room can make sleeping during the day increasingly difficult and frustrating. If your room suffers from noise pollution from nearby cars, wildlife or amenities, it can be worth investing in some noise cancelling ear plugs. White noise is another alternative solution if you need to assistance with this.
Make a sleeping schedule
If you can’t sleep after a night shift, we recommend making a regular sleeping schedule to follow after every shift. This will help encourage your body to sleep and wake up at specific times every day. It’s important to ensure you give yourself between 7 – 9 hours of undisturbed sleep.
Prioritise days off
Working night shifts can be tough on your body. Try not to work too many night shifts in a row. Ensure you have a few days off between your shifts to encourage your body to recover and avoid exhaustion.
Keep your room cool and comfortable
Keeping your room clean and cool will help your state of mind when heading to bed. Looking forward to comfortable, luxury bedding will also encourage you to fall asleep faster after your night shift.
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