Tips for improving your sleep if you’re a shift worker
Sleep and safety go hand in hand. Maintaining healthy sleep and bedtime routines can help you to mitigate the challenges of a variable sleep pattern due to shift work.
It’s important to get adequate sleep while adapting to night shifts or rotating shifts. Here are some tips to improve your quality of sleep and alertness:
Getting ready for bed:
Include relaxation into your daily routine and make it a priority.
Avoid using light-emitting devices (e.g. tablets, smartphones) for at least one hour before bedtime.
If you’re a light sleeper, try using earplugs, a white noise machine, an eye mask or blackout curtains.
Keep your bedroom comfortable, quiet, dark and cool, ideally between 17-20 degrees Celsius.
When it’s time to be alert, maximize your exposure to daylight or another bright light source to give your body the cue it needs.
Where possible, keep your work area brightly lit. Get some exercise and eat light, healthy meals and snacks during your shift.
Ask for rotating shifts to be scheduled so that new shifts start later than your previous ones.
After a night shift, wear sunglasses to help keep your body from getting further cues to be alert because of being exposed to daylight.
To reduce the risk of drowsy driving (especially after a night shift), find alternate ways of getting home; get a ride, take a cab or public transit or use a ridesharing service.
Avoid running errands or doing chores after your evening or night shift. These types of activities keep you more alert and are best done after you’ve met your daily need for sleep.
Avoid caffeine or other stimulants when you’re preparing for sleep.
Discover the routine that works for you and stick to it, even on your days off work. If you have questions or concerns about your sleep health, please discuss them with your healthcare practitioner.