Use A Great Mattress
You knew we’d suggest this first, but it’s more important than you might think. Sleeping “against the clock”, like night shift workers must, is much more difficult than sleeping when it’s dark. It’s vital, therefore, to give yourself every advantage. Even under normal circumstances, many people find that a worn-out or uncomfortable mattress can interfere with their ability to sleep. To sleep on a bad mattress when you’re also trying to work against your body’s clock and the noises of the daytime world is like swimming upstream. Make sure that your mattress is comfortable, supportive, and correct for your body.
Make Sure Your Room Is Quiet And Dark
If you share a house with other people, this might be easier said than done, but it’s important to make sure that your room is as cool, quiet, and dark as possible to enable your body to produce the proper sleep chemicals. Room-darkening shades, eye masks, earplugs, white noise machines, and even strategic use of air conditioners can be a help to producing the proper sleep environment.
Try To Rotate Shifts In The Correct Order
If you work on “rotating” shifts–shifts where your work hours change every few days–you know that these are the most challenging type of shifts for your sleep schedule. One way to mitigate the impact of rotating shifts is to rotate them “clockwise”. That is, rotate from evening shift, to night shift, to morning shift, to day shift, and avoid rotating them either randomly (evening shift, morning shift, night shift, day shift) or backwards (day shift, morning shift, night shift, evening shift). Most scheduling managers are open to input about shift rotation direction, especially since it tends to make employees happier, more productive, and prevent illness and absenteeism.
Shift workers deserve the same great rest as everyone else, but it can be more challenging for them to get it. However, with determination and a few simple interventions, you can be on your way toward getting a great night’s sleep–whether or not you actually get it at night.
Shift Work And Sleep – www.sleepfoundation.org
Coping With Shift Work – www.sleepcenter.ucla.edu