How to Navigate the Night Shift

How to Navigate the Night Shift

On 16 Nov 2014, in Wellness, health, Workplace

An economy that operates around the clock -- as ours now does -- is generally welcomed by consumers. We typically like stores to be open evenings and nights and we expect medical care and other services to be available to us at all times.

But what does around-the-clock economic activity mean for workers who provide labor at night? To minimize the side effects of working irregular hours, major adjustments must be made in everyday living. The home must provide a quiet environment, allowing the night worker to have as much uninterrupted sleep as possible. This daytime sleep period is not a nap but the replacement of fundamental nighttime sleep.

Here are tips for workers who must turn their nights into days:

  1. Take an hour or so to relax after work, whether it is day or nighttime.
    Relaxing music or a warm bath will help.
  2. Eat meals at the same time each day seven days a week. This schedule helps maintain the body’s clock.
  3. Eat high-protein foods (vegetables, peanut butter on crackers, fruit, etc.) to keep you alert. If you simply must eat some sweets, do so at the END of your shift. Sweets can make you sleepy.
  4. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Although the sedative effect helps you fall asleep, it tends to wear off in two to three hours and causes disturbed sleep later.
  5. Avoid coffee, tea, colas and all other caffeine drinks. On a coffee break, drink orange juice (protein) and walk around. Physical activity promotes wakefulness.
  6. Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach. If you don’t feel like eating much, try a glass of milk or dairy products, which promote sleep.
  7. Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool, not cold (64 to 66 degrees).
  8. Darken your bedroom or wear eyeshades. Eyes are sensitive to light even when the lids are closed, preventing you from falling asleep or getting consolidated sleep.
  9. Block out daytime noises, which can disturb deep restful sleep. Use comfortable sponge ear plugs and “white noise” electrical devices, fans, air conditioners or a quiet tape.
  10. Exercise at least every other day AFTER sleep. Daytime sleepers should avoid early morning exercise, which can promote wakefulness during the day.
  11. Beware of certain medications. Avoid prolonged use of sleeping pills and other sedatives, which interfere with normal sleep patterns.
  12. Beware of cold and allergy medications that may have sleep-related side effects.
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