Tips For Night Shift Workers

To minimize the side effects of working irregular hours, major adjustments must be made in every day living which require the understanding and support of your family and friends.

The home must provide a quiet environment, allowing the worker to have as much uninterrupted sleep as possible. This daytime sleep period is not a nap but the replacement of fundamental nighttime sleep.

The following are health care tips for the worker who must turn their nights into days:

  • Take an hour or so to relax after work, whether it is day or nighttime. Relaxing music or a warm bath will help.
  • Eat meals at the same time each day seven days a week. This schedule helps maintain the body's clock.
  • Eat high protein foods (vegetables, peanut butter on crackers, fruit, etc) to keep you alert. If you simply must eat some sweets, which tend to make you sleepy, do so at the END of your shift.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Although the sedative effect helps you fall asleep, it tends to wear off in 2 - 3 hours and causes disturbed sleep in the latter half of the night.
  • Avoid coffee, tea, colas, all other caffeine drinks, which interfere with sleep. On a coffee break, drink orange juice (protein) and walk around. Physical activity promotes wakefulness.
  • Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach. If you don't feel like eating much, try a glass of milk or dairy products, which promote sleep.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool, not cold, (64 to 66 degrees)
  • Darken bedroom or wear comfortable eyeshades. Eyes are sensitive to light even when the lids are closed, preventing you from falling asleep or getting consolidated sleep.
  • Block out daytime noises, which can disturb deep restful sleep. Use comfortable sponge ear plugs or "white noise" electrical devices such as fans, air conditioners, or a quiet tape.
  • Exercise at least every other day AFTER sleep. Daytime sleepers should avoid early morning exercise, which can promote wakefulness during the day.
  • Beware of certain medication. Avoid prolonged use of sleeping pills and other sedatives, which interfere with normal sleep patterns. Beware of cold and allergy medications which have sleep-related side effects. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) has a stimulating effect and antihistamines (Dristan) can cause drowsiness.

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