There are many reasons why you might be working on the night shift. You might not have any choice, or you might like the higher pay that many night shift employees can enjoy. It might work better with your schedule — such as with child care — or you might just enjoy being able to work in the evenings rather than during the day.
Regardless of why you’re working night shift, it is important to make sure that you are getting ample sleep each day. This can be challenging for many people, but understanding a little more about how night shift work affects your body and how you can beat these issues can help you ensure that you get the rest that you need each day.
How Does Night Shift Work Affect Your Body?
First of all, you have to understand that night shift work can have a serious impact on your body. This is especially true when it comes to your sleeping schedule.
Basically, your body has its own internal clock, which operates off of circadian rhythms and basically tells you when you should be tired and when you should be wide awake. This internal clock works at least partially off of the sunlight, and your body — in general — is designed to operate based on a day and night schedule. When the sun comes up, it’s natural to feel wide awake and ready to begin your day. When the sun goes down, it’s natural for your body to tell you that it’s time to relax, unwind and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Obviously, this internal clock can present a challenge when you work on night shift. At nighttime, when you should be gearing up for a night at work, your body might be telling you that you are tired. In the morning after your shift, when you should be preparing to sneak in some shut-eye, it’s natural for your body to tell you that it’s time to wake up and start your day.
Over time, your body can become adjusted to a different schedule. However, it can be challenging at first. It’s tough to deal with sleepless days, when you know you should be sleeping and preparing for the evening ahead but when your body is telling you to hop up and get outside. Then, it can be challenging to work all night long, when all you want to do is crawl into your bed. It isn’t just uncomfortable and exhausting, either — it can be downright dangerous, since you might find yourself falling asleep behind the wheel on your way to or from work, or you could make mistakes and put yourself at risk while working at night, when you’re feeling extremely tired.
How to Combat These Issues and Get Adequate Sleep During the Day
Obviously, you don’t want to remain miserable and exhausted forever, and you probably don’t want to put yourself or others at risk at work or on the road due to a lack of sleep. However, you could be wondering what you can do to reset your body’s internal clock. Luckily, there are steps that you can take to help get adjusted to your new schedule and to ensure that you get ample sleep in the meantime.
- Make it Quiet – One big difference between sleeping at night and sleeping during the day is the fact that there can be a lot more distractions during the day. Not only do you have to worry about the people within your household, but you also have to worry about neighbors and everyone else making noise. Consider talking to your family members about your need to sleep during the day, and ask them to avoid disturbing you unless it is absolutely necessary. Also, consider investing in a good pair of ear plugs to help get rid of the noise, or consider playing soft, nature-type sounds that you can fall asleep to and that can drown out any noise in your home.
- Make it Comfortable – It’s hard enough to fall asleep during the daytime hours, an it’ll be even harder if you aren’t completely comfortable. Consider investing in a new mattress if your current one isn’t cutting it, and use comfortable sheets and blankets. Also, make sure that you change into your pajamas; it might seem weird to wear pajamas in the middle of the day, but if you aren’t dressed comfortably, you’ll have an even harder time falling asleep. Plus, getting in the routine of putting on pajamas can help turn daytime into your new bedtime.
- Black it Out – The sunlight can be one of the biggest issues that will keep you awake during the day. This means that you should consider putting black-out curtains or shades over your windows to prevent the sunlight from pouring in.
- Take Something – Consider taking some sort of supplement or sleeping pill, at least at first, until your body has been trained to get accustomed to your new sleeping schedule. Talk to your doctor about your options, or consider taking something natural to help you sleep, such as melatonin. You can purchase melatonin at a health food store or even at a pharmacy. Just make sure that you give yourself enough time to sleep after taking your medication; otherwise, if you end up having to go to work before the medication has worn off, you could find yourself in an even worse (and more exhausted) state while you’re on the job, which is dangerous.
- Don’t Try to Do it All – Some people who work night shift jobs find themselves trying to do it all, such as spending the day running errands or looking after children rather than taking them to daycare or hiring a babysitter. It might seem like the perfect alternative to allow you to work full-time and get everything done, but it can be easy to put too much on your own plate. You wouldn’t expect yourself to do these things in the middle of the night if you were working a day shift job, so you shouldn’t expect it from yourself now. It is absolutely imperative to ensure that you are getting enough rest, which is impossible to do if you find yourself trying to stay awake all day and all night long to get things done.
- Make Yourself – If you feel wide awake but know you should get some sleep, make yourself lie down. If necessary, consider reading a book or doing another relaxing activity that does not involve a screen. Once you’re in bed, you might find that you drift off to sleep more quickly than you thought you would.
- Rearrange Your Eating Schedule – Don’t try to eat on the same schedule that you ate on when you had a more traditional schedule. Instead, get accustomed to eating breakfast before you go to work in the evening, eating lunch while you’re on the job and eating “dinner” when you return back home, even if it is first thing in the morning. This is one of the best ways to simulate a more traditional schedule.
Working night shift and trying to get adequate sleep can be challenging. Luckily, following these tips can help. If you are in need of a new mattress to help make daytime sleeping even more comfortable, contact your local Urban Mattress store to find out more about our comfortable, all-natural mattresses.