A Night Shifter’s Guide to Recovering From Lack of Sleep
You’re probably aware that adults require at least seven hours of sleep a night. However, if you’re working the night shift, this is easier said than done.
Night shift workers may experience drowsiness and sleepiness, and lack good-quality sleep. These issues arise because of disruptions to their bodies’ circadian rhythm or biological clocks, or signals that prompt them to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. Disrupted biological clocks can make it difficult for them to sleep within the day (when people are expected to be awake). Fortunately, it’s possible for night shift workers to recover from a lack of sleep. Take note of these tips that can help you get the rest you need and deserve.
#1: Reduce caffeine intake
While a fresh brew helps people get by with their shift, remember that caffeine is a stimulant. Drinking too much caffeine may be counterproductive and make it harder for you to fall asleep. Plus, it’s linked to stomach upsets and muscle shakes. It is important to note that other than coffee, there are also other caffeinated food or beverages such as tea (yes, that includes your favorite milk tea), and chocolates.
If you need caffeine to function, but find it difficult to get good shut-eye when you need to, try to avoid having it at least six hours before your bedtime or end of shift. This way, your sleep quality won’t be affected.
#2: Improve your sleeping space.
Getting better sleep is possible when your bedroom can “help” you do so. Ideally, sleep in a dark, cool, and quiet space. Wear comfortable clothing for sleeping and you may also use an eye mask if you wish.
Blackout curtains can also help block out sunlight and noise, thereby creating a peaceful and sleep-friendly environment. If this isn’t enough, you can also try using a weighted blanket, weighing 5 to 30 pounds. It utilizes deep pressure stimulation that helps promote production of serotonin (mood-boosting hormone), lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone), and raise amounts of melatonin (sleep-helpful hormone). Moreover, it may also assist in eliminating stressful and anxious thoughts and as a result, you may find it easier to sleep.
#3: Separate your workspace and sleeping space.
This way, you’re more aware that this part of the room is dedicated for work, while the other is reserved for sleeping. Consequently, leave all your work at the workspace and avoid bringing them over to your bed.
Making these distinctions will help your body signal that it’s time to either work or sleep. Blurring the lines between these two areas can make it difficult for you to rest properly.
#4: Establish a routine before going to bed.
Performing a consistent set of actions before sleeping can help your brain recognize that it’s time for shut-eye. Some steps you can add into a routine include listening to relaxing music, ambient sounds or white noise, practicing meditation, or reading a book.
Don’t forget to set your gadgets (phone, tablets, or laptops) to sleep or silent, if not switching them off entirely. All these devices emit blue light that trick your brain into thinking it’s not time to sleep. Blue light may also reduce melatonin production that’s needed for sleep.
#5: Try to nap as often as you can.
If you can sneak in a 30- to 60-minute nap before your shift, do it. Doing so may help you be more alert, refreshed, and awake before you start working. Also, if it’s possible for you to nap during “breaks,” go for it. Just remember to set your alarm to avoid overlapping and getting into trouble.
If you’re still dealing with sleep-related problems, consult a doctor or health professional right away. They can help you understand the possible cause of these issues and suggest other ways for you to get adequate sleep. For now, remember that your body isn’t meant to run without rest, so make sure you get enough sleep after your shift.