We might be the Isle of Man’s bed specialists, but you probably don’t need us to tell you about the importance of a good night’s sleep. Most healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to be able to function at their best, but for some people, getting the necessary rest is not so easy.
Night-shift workers or those on rotating shift patterns, such as police officers, nurses, doctors, factory workers and office cleaning staff, are all at a greater risk of developing a sleep disorder. Not getting the sleep you need can lead to a higher risk of workplace accidents, increased absenteeism, impaired memory and ability to focus and reduced cognitive reasoning. There’s also a greater risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. But many people do not know that they’re sleep deprived.
The good news is that while some people struggle, there are also many who work successfully at night. Learning how to cope with night shifts and reducing the ‘sleep debt’ shift work can create is essential. With that in mind, here are our tips for night-shift workers to help you better manage your daytime sleep.
Whether your time in bed is spent fast asleep or tossing and turning depends a lot on your mattress. The ideal mattress is one that reduces the pressure points on your body. That will prevent you from rolling over so much, which briefly interrupts your sleep. However, the ideal mattress for every person is different. Here’s a quick guide to some of the factors you should consider when searching for the best possible mattress for you.
One purchase you will certainly not regret as a night-shift worker is a good set of blackout blinds. The bedroom should be a cool, dark and quiet environment to sleep in. Investing in blackout blinds will keep the sunlight out and trick your body clock into thinking it’s the night time. Foam earplugs are also an effective way to block out the daytime noises that can disturb your slumber.
This is not just a tip for night-shift workers but anyone who wants to improve their quality of sleep. Ideally, you should not have caffeine within six hours of your bedtime and not have a heavy meal less than two to three hours before bed. If you are hungry or thirsty, have something to drink and eat as those feelings can keep you awake. If you do need an energy injection towards the tail end of your shift, think about caffeine alternatives such as ginseng or high energy foods like bananas. We’d also advise you to avoid alcohol and cigarettes before bed.
One of the potential benefits of being a night-shift worker is the ability to avoid the rush hour traffic that can make the commute so much worse. However, even though traffic may be light, we’d still recommend you try and keep the commute to a minimum if you can. Driving when you’re tired at the end of a night-shift can increase the risk of an accident considerably. If you do feel tired, taking a pre-drive or mid-journey nap for 20-minutes can significantly reduce driving impairments.
Although your body might be exhausted after a night-shift, your brain could still be whirring away. One of our most important tips for night-shift workers is to use the hour or so after getting home from work wisely. Even though your brain might feel awake, this is not the time for socialising, exercising or even checking your email. Instead, focus on activities such as reading, listening to music or a podcast or taking a warm bath to help you relax. Read more about how to get ready for bed.
Not sure how to cope with night-shifts? One simple step you can take is to remove all distractions from your bedroom. Do you really need a television in your room? And don’t even think about using a mobile phone or tablet in bed. Even something as simple as having a calm and soothing bedroom décor can make all the difference to a great day’s sleep.