If you have an unorthodox working schedule where you have to work night shifts or rotate shifts during the same week, you have to make sure that your health doesn’t start to suffer. Your daily rhythms can become messed up. There is a condition called shift work sleep disorder and it affects a lot of night shift workers, and it can severely diminish the quality of their lives.
Our body has an internal clock that guides its circadian rhythms. It keeps us awake during the day, but when you come home exhausted from your long shift it might keep you awake. The signals your body gets from the outside conflict with your desire to sleep.
Overall effect on your health can be really bad. You are under higher risk of developing metabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and gastrointestinal distress.
It might also be difficult to organize your time well to not miss out on spending enough time with your friends and family. The constant struggle to balance everything out and the stress that your body suffers from because of lack of sleep must be kept to a minimum trough lifestyle changes.
If you’re often having trouble falling asleep and you think this disorder could be the reason why, make sure to visit your doctor first. Keep a sleep diary that can help with identifying what problem do you have and does it progresses over time.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Healthy sleeping-related habits include
- Establishing as regular as possible bedtime routine and sticking to it
- Making your environment sleep friendly (keeping your bedroom dark, cool and quiet, remove all computer, TV and your phone from that area if possible)
- Try to go straight to bed after work. Go home and sleep as soon as your shift is over. Try to group your night shifts together during the week if possible to not change day and night schedules constantly throughout the week.
- Decrease level of light in your room at least 30minutes before going to sleep to avoid light as trigger to keep you awake.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. If you drink caffeinated drinks to help you stay awake during your shift, try not to drink any in the last four hours before going to bed. That will give your body time to metabolize it. Drink it in moderation. Drinking alcohol at all is also not recommended.
- Tell people you will be unavailable. Let people know which ours you must spend sleeping so they don’t expect you to be available then. Don’t be afraid of seeming rude, you are doing it for your health. Your sleep patterns might make it difficult for you to keep up with your social interactions but you mustn’t sacrifice your health over them.
- Get medication if it’s necessary. Your doctor will decide whether behavioral techniques help you enough. He might prescribe you medication if he finds that necessary. You might get melatonin to induce sleep, medications to promote wakefulness, or prescription sleep aids.
- Don’t think that you must sleep long hours at a time. You can get two chunks of three hours instead of one big block if that works best for you. Amount of person each person needs is not set; it varies from person to person. You will know best how tired do you feel.
If you find yourself tossing and turning in your bed unable to fall asleep worst thing you can do is stress over it. Get out of your bed and do something else for 15-20minutes. It might help when you come back to try again.