How to Manage Sleep When Working the Night Shift


Working 9 hours a day, regardless of the time of day, can make getting a sufficient amount of rest difficult. Shift work sleep disorders are a real and pervasive issue among those who work night shifts or during obscure hours of the day, and regulating this complication can be extremely burdensome.

These types of sleeping disorders can cause all the health complications that come with the others, those being sleep apnea, insomnia, and more. However, this lack of sleep before going to work can lead to much more danger, as fatigue is likely to cause an increase in human error.

There may be an increased number of work-related accidents, and a general decrease in overall performance. Should you be in a career field that requires these difficult hours, there are a number of steps you can take in order to receive a sufficient amount of sleep, and maintain the safety of yourself and those around you while at work.

If possible, avoid working several night shifts in a row. Take time off if you have to, but 3 or 4 shifts at work during nighttime hours can lead to increased sleep deprivation. During daytime hours in which you are not working, be sure to maintain a regular sleep schedule, and avoid as much light as you can. You’ll want to replicate the night in order to essentially trick your body into thinking it is time to go to bed. When leaving work, be sure to avoid bright lighting as much as you can. Dark sunglasses are great for people who may have longer commutes the following morning.

Upon waking up, expose yourself to as much light as possible for a similar effect to avoiding light when leaving. If your day begins between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., you may want to consider investing in a device designed to aid your wake-up routine. These can be anything from light therapy boxes, to scheduled coffee makers. The trick is to replicate your typical morning in order to energize your body and mind.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, limit your caffeine intake when working a night shift. While it is encouraged to have a cup of coffee or two upon waking up, consuming caffeine throughout your workday can negatively affect your sleeping patterns later. The effects of caffeine usually last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, so plan accordingly.

Shift work sleep disorders are difficult complications, but are common. The more you age, the more difficulty you may have with managing these sleeping issues, but the strategies mentioned above are just a few that could potentially make a great impact in improving your nightly (or daytime) rituals.