Sleep Tips for the Night Shift Workforce.

Night shift workers are a unique set of employees; they are the ones working their tails off so we can live in a 24-hour society, plus they need to be able to function at their prime when biologically they should be sleeping. The health and wellness of night shift workers are often at an increased risk of illness*.

In an ideal world, a night shift worker should sleep from 9 am-5 pm to gain a healthy 8 hours of sleep; however, with family obligations and outside distraction, this is rarely the case.

Tip 1- Blue light blocking sunglasses for the drive home. Daylight triggers our wake hormones, and darkness triggers sleep hormones. If we want to be able to go to sleep when the light is up, we need to limit the amount of UV light exposure to our eyes*. When looking for blue light blocking glasses look for ones with amber color lenses as this reduces the most UV light.

Tip 2 – Avoid large meals after shift. So often we try to create our lives with night-shift as we were working 9-5 that doesn’t work. We need to create a new dynamic to help support a new circadian rhythm. The smallest/lightest meal (formerly known as breakfast) should be after the shift and before bedtime. The most substantial meal (formerly known as dinner) should be before starting the shift. The mid-meal shift should be lunch. If our bodies are trying to digest a large meal right before bedtime, it is more than likely to keep us awake.

Tip 3 – Create a bedtime routine. Trying to go to sleep exactly as the world is waking up is difficult, so it’s essential to have a good bedtime routine. Most people, when they get home from work like to unwind; however, night shifters don’t have that luxury; the goal is to get to sleep before your body realizes it’s daytime. When you get home, have a small/light meal, take a nice warm shower to soothe and relax then get to bed. Use room darkening shades or eye cover for sleeping to keep light out. If you can get to sleep by 9 am and wake by 4 or 5 pm, that would be a great “night” sleep.

Not all lifestyles or schedule support being able to get to sleep right after the shift, maybe kids need to get on the bus or to childcare. In that instance its really important to limit your exposure to blue light.

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