How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep When Working Night Shift Or Other Non-Traditional Hours

by: Ruby Russell, founder/CEO befitted bedding

More than 22 million Americans work evenings, on-call, or rotating shifts.

This is a problem since getting a good night’s sleep is critical to life expectancy and good health and it makes you a better person. Being sleep-deprived can make you cantankerous, unhealthy, and obese. It will make you more susceptible to health problems such as diabetes, strokes, accidents, and heart attacks. There are many challenges when working non-traditional hours.

Your physical health can suffer from shift work. It can be challenging to get the necessary sleep you need to stay well-rested. Your immune system weakens when you don’t get enough sleep causing you to get sick easier. Your performance can suffer as well and can be dangerous. Studies have found that a lack of sleep can affect concentration, memory, mood, and reaction time. Being tired increases the chance of work-related injuries.

Even driving home after work is a risk when you are sleepy.

An estimated 52 percent of car accidents occur within 5 miles of a person’s home, and 77 percent occur within 15 miles or less.

I remember a friend leaving my sister’s home and falling asleep at the wheel less than 2 blocks away.

Some of the major accidents blamed on human errors are partially blamed for a lack of sleep or are:

  • Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant in 1979- Clean Up Cost $1 billion dollars

  • Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former USSR in 1986 -Clean Up Cost $68 billion·

  • Exxon Valdez oil spill on the coast of Alaska in 1989 – Clean Up Cost $3.8 billion

Shift work is not that uncommon. Police officers, firefighters, doctors, office cleaning staff, and factory workers are all at risk for shift work sleep disorders. In industrialized countries, up to 20% of workers either work night or rotating shifts, according to an article in the England Journal of Medicine.

People with (SWD) Shift Work Disorder are at higher risk of accidents and missing work due to a lack of sleep. Night work and rotating and shift work can produce a higher risk of ulcers, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

But what to do is the question? We all don’t have the privilege of a fixed schedule for all of our needs. And there’s plenty of information out there about it. Today you read about every remedy imaginable, pill, injections, music, video, and Ted talks that just to name a few, all with many subscribers. They are feeding you so much information that if you spend an hour each day reading or listening it should put you to sleep.

Some tips for sleeping and dealing with working odd hours.

  • Avoid long commutes

  • Avoid frequently rotating shifts

  • Try not to work several night shifts in a row.

  • Keep the workplace brightly lit

  • Try and schedule days off minimizing too many days worked in a row

  • Limit caffeine, one cup at the beginning of your shift

  • Avoid bright lights on the way home from work

  • Don’t stop to do errands

  • Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule as much as you can

  • Limit phone calls and visitors during sleep time

  • Use blackout blinds or heavy curtains.

Short-term effects on your health working shift work are nausea, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn. Insomnia and decreased quality of life are all side effects of shift work along with heart disease, ulcers, and obesity. The Institute of Work and Health reports strong evidence that night and shift work is associated with an increase in occupational accidents. Worker fatigue sets in when there is less supervision and co-workers doing non-daytime shifts.

Working night shifts can boost your risk of early death. Researchers found that after doing 22 years of research that women who worked rotating night shifts for more than five years were up to 11% more likely to die early than someone who never worked such shifts.

Night shifts can mess up the body’s natural rhythms so much that the brain and digestive system. Here are several other ways the night shift can affect your health.

  • Increase risk of heart attack

  • Increase risk of depression

  • Increase risk of workplace injury

  • Changes your metabolism

  • Interferes with natural sleep rhythms

  • Increase risk of obesity and diabetes

In other words, shift work can be detrimental to one’s health. Make sure you are consistent with your sleep. Pay close attention to what’s going on in your bedroom surroundings. Ensure that you’re doing what is necessary to get sleep and improve your health because your life depends on it.

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