Defend Your Sleep, Shift Workers
It is very important that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Get less sleep than 7 hours, and you get tired and sleepy. You are three times as likely to get into a car accident. Work place accidents increased. Attention and memory are worsened. Work performance is impaired. You tend to gain weight. You may develop high blood pressure. You may shorten your life.
About one in 3 adult Americans do not get 7 hours of sleep per night. Insufficient sleep is even more common in shift workers (and those working two jobs or working and going to school at the same time). This is a serious problem and it costs the US economy.
Shift workers, it is crucial that you Defend Your Sleep. No one else will do it for you. Too many shift workers do not get enough time in bed. Make sure you get 7 hours of sleep. Ideally, sleep should be in one long night spent in bed. Obviously, it will not be the night for you. It may even have to be broken up into two segments of several hours each, one upon arriving home from work, and one before leaving for work. That is better than not getting the sleep.
Tips for Shift Workers
Even when shift workers do get enough time in bed, they often do not sleep as well. Here are some tips to help you sleep better:
1. Avoid bright light before the time you will be going to bed.
2. Keep the bedroom dark. Invest in room darkening shades.
3. Avoid noise in the bedroom.
4. Turn off your phone, TV, smart phone, computers.
5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the few hours before you will be going to bed.
Even if they get enough sleep, shift workers may be tired and sleepy during their work shift. Here are some tips to keep you refreshed during your work shift:
1. Keep your work area brightly lit.
2. Use caffeine, but not towards the end of your shift.
3. Keep active during the work shift, if possible.
4. Take a nap during a break if it is possible.
5. Avoid a heavy meal during the work shift.
Days off (weekends for many) are also a problem for shift workers. Too many shift workers try to revert to a regular schedule during days off, sleeping at night and staying up during the day. Ideally, you would keep the same schedule 7 days a week. However, social pressures and needs often make this impractical. If you are determined to sleep at night and stay up during the day on your days off, here are some tips, which might help:
1. Take a long nap when you get off work.
2. Stay up the rest of the day.
3. Sleep that first night you are off work.
4. Stay up all day the second day, and sleep the second night you are off work.
5. Stay up the final day before you return to work, and take a long nap before starting work.