Shift work sleep tips.

If you’re anything like me…the older you’re getting, the harder you find it to sleep between night shifts or “turn around” after your last night shift.  I miss the days when I had to set an alarm to get up for my night shifts!

Here are some of my tips for sleeping during the day (between night shifts):

  • If it’s light out when you drive home after a night shift (which it soon will be in Saskatchewan!) wear sunglasses to help block out the bright sunlight.
  • Block out all light from your bedroom.  Either use an eye mask or install blackout curtains to block the sun.
  • Use a white noise machine or fan to help block out sounds from outside if you live on a noisy street….traffic, voices, dogs barking, etc.  You could also use ear plugs, but I always found that they would fall out.
  • Don’t drink caffeinated beverages a few hours prior to the end of your shift.  Some people are more sensitive than others to this, you’ll figure it out by trial and error.
  • Avoid the “nightcap”.  Alcohol is a bad idea before bed.  It may seem to improve sleep initially, but tolerance can quickly develop and can interrupt sleep.
  • This should go without saying, but TURN YOUR PHONE OFF!  Your non-shift working family and friends do not know or understand your schedule so will text or call you right in the middle of your sleep without fail!
  • After my last night shift I know I have to get up by noon in order to be able to “turn around” back to a regular sleep pattern.  I also try to schedule a few appointments and/or spend some time outside to keep me busy and awake for the rest of the day.  I may go to bed early, but by the next day I’m usually good to go.
  • When not working nights and/or you are on days off, try to have a regular sleep pattern (go to bed and wake up at the same time each day) and try to get 8 hours of sleep each night.

If none of these tips work for you and you’re struggling with sleeping either before, during, or after your night shifts I would suggest speaking to your doctor.  There are numerous natural sleep aids (herbal teas, supplements, etc.) and prescription sleep aids.  But like any supplement or prescription it is important to talk to your health care provider to fully understand their use and potential interactions with other medications you may be taking.

Hopefully some of these can work for you!  Happy sleeping!

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Author: thehealthylifesaver

I have been a paramedic for 17 years and over the years I have seen unhealthy lifestyle habits and many injuries to coworkers and friends. I have a passion for the health, wellness, and career longevity of Paramedics and decided to start a blog to promote these qualities. I hope to start a change in our physically and mentally demanding profession of paramedicine towards taking better care of ourselves.

3 thoughts on “Shift work sleep tips.”

  1. Excellent advice. The only thing I haven’t used is the turn off the phone. I have it on vibrate which is close 🙂

    Like

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