Sleep Consistency is key for many employees working night shift schedules. If you wake up at 5 pm for your night shift and normally go to sleep at 8 am after getting home from work, then you also should maintain this sleep-wake schedule on your days off.
Before going to bed, consider a hot shower or bath, meditation, or another relaxing activity. Make sure anyone sharing your roof understands the importance of your designated sleep time. Although alcohol has sedative properties that help you fall asleep more easily, you may experience sleep disturbances or fragmented sleep as your body breaks down the alcohol.
Fixed shift work creates plenty of sleep challenges for employees, but rotating shifts that involve different start and times for shifts during a given week or month can exacerbate these issues. Shift workers with rotating schedules should prepare for shift changes by adjusting their sleep times. Let’s say you are currently working a day shift and planning to rotate to a night shift the following week. You should gradually delay your bedtime by one or two hours each night a few days prior to starting the night shift if possible. This will help you get enough rest and avoid sudden changes.
Some rotating shifts are better for sleep than others. For example, rotating from day to afternoon to night shifts is a more natural progression that is easier on your body compared to rotating in the opposite direction or in random patterns. Rotating shifts every two to three days may also be better for workers than rotating their shifts every five to seven days, and too many consecutive night shifts can be problematic.
- Danielle Pacheco & Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Medicine Physician MD