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How To Make Sure You Get The Best Sleep When Working Nights

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Introduction

The modern workforce is seeing more pressure than ever before to work on rotating, fixed or even irregular night shifts. If you are one of the many who are called on to work through the night, then you might be concerned you aren’t getting the best sleep when working nights. We have put together a quick guide on what you can do to help facilitate a full and healthy sleep – even when it’s not through the night.

Minimalize the Light Getting to Your Eyes

The first thing you should consider when you need to sleep through the day is the sun’s effect on your eyes. Your retinas are always going to interpret light signals in a way that helps your brain construct an internal day & night cycle – but how can you minimize the effects of this if you are trying to sleep through the day?

This cycle is known as The Circadian Cycle and is what your body uses to regulate its sleep pattern. It can make night shifts hard to cope with, as light is inevitably going to get into your eyes when you leave your workspace. In fact, light is going to get into your eyes even when they are closed, as this is how the body naturally tells itself to wake up in the morning. So, how can you make sure that when you are trying to sleep through the day your body knows to stay asleep?

The answer is to stop the sun’s light from entering your eyes at all. To make sure this happens, you can always invest in a set of blackout curtains. These heavy-duty style curtains are commonly used in countries that are subjected to sustained periods of perpetual light, to ease and aid natural nighttime sleep.

If you are often on the night shift, these curtains are going to allow you to sleep through the day in artificial pitch darkness, that by design won’t interrupt your body’s natural sleep state with intruding light. Just make sure you have a decent alarm clock on hand in lieu of the rising sun

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Avoid Long Commutes

When you are working through the night, odds are that the first thing that is going to be on your mind when you walk out of work is getting straight home to sleep. The issue here is that a significant commute can have a costly effect on your sleeping health and schedule.

Studies have shown that factors such as commute time and stress whilst traveling have significant effects when it comes to your sleep pattern – a longer travel time means less time in bed, and a stressed mindset only offsets the time it takes you to achieve full REM sleep further.

The only real advice to give here is that you should be avoiding long commutes. As you travel, resist any temptation to stop and perform smaller tasks or errands you might have to do, and maximize the time you get in bed. Additionally, try to protect yourself from bright lights on the way home; some experts recommend wraparound sunglasses and a hat that offers decent shading to help you avoid having headlights, lamposts or even the sun disrupting your Circadian Cycle too much.

Optimize Your Sleeping Environment

Even when you are working on an adjusted sleep schedule, you must make sure that your keeping to a regular sleep pattern that your body can adhere to in order to get the best sleep when working nights.

7-9 hours is the perfect amount of time to allocate for sleep, and making sure that you are keeping a regular daily schedule of when you are settling down for that sleep is essential in making sure it’s easy for you to fall asleep every day.

A clean and healthy sleeping environment is just as important as a regular schedule when it comes to making your sleep as beneficial as possible.

Your bedroom should be tidy, your mattress should suit your body and sleeping style, the temperature should be controlled and to your liking – these small and simple factors take moments to put in place, but will reap you countless benefits when it comes to healthy sleep.

Control Your Diet

What you eat has a tremendous effect on your sleep pattern and the overall quality of the sleep you get. When you are on the night shift this becomes doubly important, as your regular metabolism is going to be upset by the change in your daily routine. In fact, night shift workers are more at risk of obesity thanks to this disruption – so diet is key when it comes to working nights.

Altering your eating habits slightly is a great way to make sure that your body is going to stay healthy, and you are maximizing the health potential of your sleep. Light meals throughout the night is a good way to avoid the common after-meal haze that some can easily fall into (which can be made so much worse during the night). Another good tip is to avoid foods that are high in sugar, as this will only provide a short time surge in energy followed by the all to familiar ‘sugar crash’.

From a general health perspective avoiding processed foods as well as sugary ones is always a good tip before sleep, as a body will process calories different during a sleep cycle and can potentially put more weight on than if it was digested in the day.

Finally, when it comes to diet and sleep its vitally important to watch what you drink. Energy drinks, tea, coffee and lots of sodas are going to be full of caffeine and sugar, which is only going to keep you awake long after you intend to go to sleep if you drink them too late. Keep an eye on the clock when it comes to having a coffee at night – its great for earlier in the shift, but be sure to avoid them at least six hours before you are planning on getting to sleep.

In conclusion

These are just a few tips on how you can make sure that you are getting the best sleep when working nights. Nothing can beat good exercise, a comfy mattress, a good diet and controlled light sources when it comes to sleeping in the day – but if you have any additions please let us know. Everyone is different, and if you have a personally preferred method of getting to sleep when you are working the night shift then we would love to hear it.