Dolly Parton may sing about working 9 to 5 but maybe you, along with many other mamas, are night shift workers and are in need of a restful day of sleep! Although you may face some obstacles in getting the daytime sleep you need, there are some things you can do to help improve daytime sleep. First up, you need to understand circadian rhythms.
What Is A Circadian Rhythm?
Your body operates on a 24-hour circadian rhythm which helps control when you are awake or tired. Being night shift workers, daylight and naturally occurring hormones, such as melatonin, can make sleeping during the day challenging because it goes against this natural rhythm. For example, your cells are stimulated by light so your body thinks it should be awake. As night shift workers, your goal is to trick your body’s circadian rhythm so that you can ease into a restful day of sleep. Here are some things you can control as a night shift worker to help work with your circadian rhythm. This starts before you even arrive home.
Help Your Body Get Ready To Clock Out
Did you know as night shift workers you can start getting ready for sleep even while on the clock? While you are at work be sure to work under bright lights, keep moving, and think before you eat! Here are a few suggestions you can incorporate into the end of your night shift to help your body recognize sleep is on its way.
1. Be active at work! Be sure to take advantage of stairs on your breaks for a burst of energy or even a walk down the corridors to help your body feel awake! Do what you can to move and keep your mind stimulated.
2. Beware of the foods you eat and the drinks you consume during your shift. As a night shift worker, you want to choose healthy snacks and avoid heavy sugary foods that can give a quick boost of energy just to send you crashing moments later. Also, know your caffeine limit! Caffeine can help some night shift workers with staying alert but too much and you’re wide awake long after you clock out.
Read More: How to Manage Your Caffeine Intake
3. When you leave work, LEAVE work! To help your mind shut down, do your best to leave any work issues or to-do list at work. Pondering over things once you clock out will not help your mind slow down and make easing into your much-needed sleep difficult.
4. Drive home with sunshades. Light is one of the triggers for keeping your body awake. As a night shift worker, it’s best to reduce direct sunlight the best you can after your shift. Also, try to avoid turning on all the bright lights in your house upon arrival.
5. As difficult as it may be, avoid devices and exposure to blue light as your shift begins to end. Blue light is known to increase alertness which is not what night shift workers want just before calling it a day. So it’s best to pass on a last-minute email check and wait till your alarm goes off before picking up your device again.
You’re Home, Now What?
6. Night shift workers need to get their family on board to understand the importance of a sleep schedule! For many kids, it can be confusing having mom sleep during the day. By taking the time to explain why you sleep during the day and how much better you feel after a good day of sleep, can help kids want to do their part in keeping the noise on a lower level. Your family may also find it helpful to know your alarm clock schedule so your kids can look forward to seeing you.
7. On your way to bed, be sure to set a routine. Such things as enjoying a light snack while catching up with family, allows you to fuel your body so you won’t wake up mid-sleep, hungry. It also allows for those essential moments of connection with your family. Follow up your snack with a warm shower and a few yoga stretches to help your body to relax. Don’t forget, as night shift workers, keep those lights low or use only a bedside lamp!
8. Now that your body is relaxed, focus on calming your mind! Take this time to listen to a calming musical playlist, journal, or make a quick to-do list to get those last thoughts out of your mind.
9. Most importantly, create your best sleeping environment. As night shift workers, it can be difficult to sleep with daylight streaming through your windows. It would be wise to invest in blackout shades or curtains to create a dark environment. Other items such as a noise machine or loud fan can help drown out other household noises. You may also enjoy an essential oil diffuser with a calming scent such as lavender to help ease you into sleep. Lastly, don’t forget the importance of the perfect thermostat setting, somewhere between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, for the most comfortable sleep.
10. Go to sleep! As tempting as it is to tackle a few items on your to-do list, it is best to get to bed as soon as possible as night shift workers! Your body will recognize you have put in a full night and will be ready for some restful sleep. The more activity you force your mind or body to do, the more difficult you’ll find getting to sleep.
Night shift workers will always have to fight against their natural circadian rhythm. But remember, there are things you can do to help your body prepare for sleep! By being aware of your body’s triggers for sleep, such as low lights and a cool room, you can ease off into dreamland much quicker.
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