Ever received a complaint from your wife or kids for not giving them quality time, especially during the weekends? Well, perhaps you are pretty comfortable with your traditional working hours which allow you to spend your free time as you wish. Imagine what your family would do if you were a shift worker?
In a nutshell, the shift workers have several challenges in organizing their schedules and activities. However, that is not the thorn in the flesh. Getting adequate and quality sleep is the biggest problem that these hardworking men and women face. It is not easy to adjust the biological sleep clock, not as you may think.
Probably you aren’t aware of how important quality sleep is regarding your overall health and mental sharpness. Lack of adequate and quality sleep affects your libido, attention, your ability to perceive things and react, memory performance, mood, concentration and much more. We cannot exhaust the list as that would probably take a day. Nevertheless, I am going to share very important tips that can help shift workers improve their sleep quality.
Slowly Adjust To The Biological Sleep Clock
We all have an internal clock that is regulated by the brain through circadian rhythms. These are cycles similar to the 24 hours clock system that regulates our body functions. Perhaps you have never asked yourself why you feel extremely sleepy past midnight and yet sleeping during the day when it is hot becomes pretty difficult.
The body clock naturally sends signals to our body so as to sleep or stay awake. In that case, if you happen to be a shift worker, try and adjust your sleep pattern. For instance, you may be an evening shift worker and plan to start night shifts.
Because you are going to be awake at a time when your biological clock is supposed to signal your body to rest, you may start delaying sleep a few days before starting the night shift. Through this way, your pattern will adjust, and you will be able to remain alerted when at work.
Have Proper Shift Rotation
Your body is not a piece of metal that you can turn around as you wish. It is highly advisable to ensure your company all or employer understands the impact of shift rotation plan. The main aim here is to help your body maintain the same sleep/wake schedule.
Talk to your fellow employees, involve the necessary senior staffs and come up with a shift plan that favors all workers. Shifts should be rotated in a proper way so as to align your body to a particular sleep pattern rather a hell of confusing shift changes.
Despite the fact that this may not apply to all shift workers, taking a short nap during the day helps a lot. There are moments when your body needs nothing else but a short 15-30 minute nap. You will always realize that after a short nap, your body feels reenergized and your level of alertness improves. If your job allows you to do so, kindly take a short nap. We do not want to hear that a daytime nap caused another disaster such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.
Make Your Environment Favorable For Sleep
Daytime sleep is often prone to disturbances and all sorts of interruptions. This, therefore, means that you should do everything that is within your means to make the most out of those 3-4 sleep hours. Check on the following:
- To begin with, make sure that your bed is super comfortable and with the best mattress.
- Put your phone off or in the silent mode. It can be one of the most disgusting disruptions
- Use heavy curtains to ensure that your bedroom is as dark as it can get. You can use sunglasses depending on the prevailing weather conditions
- Let your family understand and respect your sleeping time. No noise or loud music. You can consider using earplugs
- Fit the necessary temperature controls in your bedroom. High temperature is the number one reason behind poor quality sleep during the day
Check Your Diet And Timing
If you ask any honest shift worker if he or she frequently suffers from stomach problems, you will most likely get a yes reply. We all know that we should take heavy meals as the day kicks off and opt for lighter servings as the day comes to an end.
Because shift workers work at odd hours, most of them are not careful enough to observe proper dietary guidelines. Take regular meals just like anybody else so as to remain healthy. However, you must avoid taking heavy meals or stimulants such as caffeine few hours before going to sleep.
This will affect your sleep, and you may find yourself waking up from time to time. Do not take alcohol or smoke as this affects the quality of sleep regardless of the shift changes. Also, pack your diet with fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods to improve digestion. You can take stimulants few hours to starting your shift to remain alerted during the night. This is important for those workers that handle very risk jobs such as machinery.
Tens of thousands of accidents happening today are related to sleepiness. Follow the above tips to improve your sleep quality. Most importantly, do not engage yourself in sensitive activities such as driving when you feel your level of alertness is so low. Always try out some exercises or take a cup of coffee before driving home. Let the most alert person drive you home or, you can use public means.