People who work nights or irregular hours often struggle with sleep. Help is available without the use of sleep aids, though. Here are some tips, courtesy of the New York Times:
- Try to maintain a steady sleep-wake schedule seven days a week. This includes your days off.
- Commit yourself to getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, with the same bedtime and wake time.
- On nights off, it's OK to go to bed later, but make sure you still get that 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Limit interruptions during the times you set aside for sleep - turn off the telephone, forget the household chores, and get others to help make sure your sleep time is quiet and uninterrupted.
- Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. It's also helpful if your room is cool.
- If you work rotating shifts, try to have them rotate in a clockwise direction - for example, work days, then evenings, then nights. You want your work schedule to get later and later each shift - although ideally, you want to minimize shift rotation.
- Try to remain in bright light from the start of your shift until two hours before your shift ends. If safe, consider wearing sunglasses for your commute home to minimize your light exposure.
Shift work sleep disorder puts you at a greater risk for car accidents, reduces your work efficiency and can put your emotional well-being at risk.
This isn't something to be ignored.
Last updated: September 7, 2010