It might not be that easy, but when you force yourself to take a short break every two to three hours and take a walk or get yourself something to drink or eat, it is going to help.
Choosing the right foods
Shift work and poor sleep are going to increase your desire for fatty and sugary foods. If your workplace isn’t offering healthy food, then you need to bring to work something nutritious so you don’t get tempted by fatty and sweet foods.
Watching what you drink
Shift workers usually use caffeinated drinks to work efficiently and stay awake when working the night shift. This might not be the best approach because it makes it harder for you to fall asleep once you have finished your shift. If you want to avoid this, stay away from caffeinated drinks at least five hours before going to bed.
It is also important for shift workers to avoid drinking alcohol in order to fall asleep. Getting sleep is not the issue here. Alcohol will affect your quality of sleep and you will have a harder time staying asleep, which compounds the problem.
Plan your meals around shifts
When working a 9-5 job, you get to wake up a few hours before your shift. After you are done with your shift, you come home and have dinner then stay a few hours before going to bed, which gives you time to relax and wind down before going to bed.
This pattern is rarely possible if you are working rapidly rotating shifts. After you’re done with the night shift, the most obvious thing to do is get your dinner at breakfast time then try falling asleep almost immediately. Sleeping during daylight hours is hard enough, but the normal advice is to avoid having a large meal three to four hours before going to sleep. It is important to do this because the work involved when digesting the food you ate is going to affect your sleep.
If you have to go to bed immediately after your shift because you are sleepy, then try avoiding a large fatty or sugary meal before going to bed. You can sleep immediately after you are done with the shift, then another one before you begin your next shift – and have a heavy meal between the two sleeping sessions.
Prepare for sleep after a night shift
It might also be a good idea to put the ‘do not disturb’ note on your door that explains that you are working shifts and you should only be disturbed if it is an urgent matter. The comfort of your bed is particularly important when working shifts. You will want to feel relaxed as soon as you lay down. This DreamCloud review study will help you to find the perfect mattress.
Turn on the silent mode on your phone. Before you try sleeping, make sure you have switched off notifications on your phone.
Transitioning between shifts
This is difficult, we are not going to lie. There are ways of managing it better:
You to sleep when you feel sleepy, no matter the time. You can’t force yourself to sleep when you are not feeling sleepy. If you feel sleepy, then your brain and body want to sleep. The important thing here is listening to your body.
You can’t expect to switch from the night shift to the normal day. You might have to get some sleep during the day on the first day of your rest period. The more hours you switch, the harder it becomes to adjust.
If you want to move from the day to night shift, it might be important on the day before the shift to get a long period of sleep early evening or late afternoon.
Napping and the body clock
One of the most important factors in making sure you good sleep and function properly during the day is having a correctly set body clock. It is a good idea for shift workers to be as regular as possible when it comes to their sleep patterns, within the limits of what is possible, given domestic routines and work patterns.
You shouldn’t make napping part of your sleep strategy – you need to use them as a ‘last resort’ to get sleep. You might benefit from a short sleep in the evening or afternoon before starting your night shift, but it is best to plan your sleep so you can avoid naps.
You need to try your best to avoid taking a nap during the ‘lunch break’ of the night shift unless your shift pattern rapidly rotates. Naps are not great because they confuse the body clock, which makes it hard for you to get quality sleep. If you get into the habit of napping regularly, you might end up suffering from ‘sleep inertia’. This is a condition where you feel groggy when you wake from a short sleep. Studies have shown that it is severe when you nap at 4 am, so try your best to avoid napping at this time or you might wake up feeling groggy instead of energized and fresh.
Putting it all together
There are some simple tips that you can use that are going to make it easier for you to get quality sleep after you are done with your night shifts. After being through a long shift, you may find it easy to sleep back to old habits if you don’t have a plan in place. This is why you need to have a good plan. Don’t make the mistake of trying to change everything at once. There are some simple tips that you can start using to see some great results.
Keeping your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet
Avoiding large meals before bed
Winding down properly before going to bed.