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Sleep advice for shift workers

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can have serious consequences for shift workers.  

Shift work will twist the the dials on your body’s biological clock – sometimes your body won’t be able to tell when it is time to = wake you up and when it is time to go to sleep. Different strategies will work for different people – see which tips below work for you? 

Give your body a warning 

If you’re about to have a change in your work schedule, then you should begin to alter your sleep pattern two or three days in advance. 

Ensure that your family helps you out 

Shift work is tough on the entire family.  Make sure your partner realises how it’ll affect them.  It could come with increased house work, having the kids for longer hours and so on.  Make sure you have plenty of understanding before you sign on for night or rotating work.

Maintain your schedule

This can be easier said than done however, try and keep to your work schedule on days off.  You’ll help your body with understanding when you should be be alert and when you need to sleep.

Enjoy the outdoors

Once you are awake make sure you get outside. Take a walk and get some sunshine.

Lift Share 

Over 60% of shift workers report feeling tired whilst they are driving after a shift. If you can’t find a colleague to get share the costs of travelling then look at taking a bus or hiring a taxi.

Keep yourself hydrated 

Sometimes alcohol can help to relax you and assist you with getting to sleep quickly.  However, alcohol will interrupt your sleep later on – you will get less sleep and the sleep will be less revitalising.

Other simple tips, some free and some not, include,

– If you have kids then keep them out of the bedroom;

– Take a sleep at every opportunity you can get – take catnaps on your breaks at work;

– Eat well and ensure you have a healthy lifestyle;

– Really make the most of your days off.  Give yourself plenty to look forward to;

– Block all the light out of your bedroom;

– Wear earplugs to avoid being woken up;

– Invest in a wake up light that stimulates your body naturally;

– Keep your room cool – consider running a fan on low to circulate air around your bedroom and provide background white noise. 

Finally, if you have any concerns or you are struggling to cope with your shift work then speak to your employer immediately.

Healthy Performance are about to embark on a series of Sleep Promotion events throughout the UK in November and December.  You can find out further information on our educational workshops here:

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