Getting a Good Day’s Sleep for Graveyard Shift Workers
For those who must or choose to work the night shift, sleep can sometimes be more difficult to get. People are more active during the daytime all around where you desperately seek peace, there’s more light, and most people will have to fight against their natural internal time clock. But there are ways to stack that sleep deck in your favor.
Make Your Sleep Area More Zen
Get rid of any clutter, screens with blue light (television, laptops, cell phones), and other distractions if possible. Consider getting a soothing bamboo sheet set to make sleep more appealing. Make your bedroom only for sleep, so your mind and body starts an immediate move toward sleep as soon as you walk into the room. If part of your sleep time is during the dark hours, such as sleeping from afternoon until an hour or so before your graveyard shift begins, try using red light instead of the usual white bulbs. If you wake in the middle of your sleep time and turn on a “white” light, your brain begins the wake-up cycle, but red light doesn’t trigger that reaction.
Make the Room Dark and Quiet
Either invest in some blackout curtains or a good eye mask to keep the light out if you need to sleep during the daylight hours. If your budget doesn’t run to anything at the moment, then hang a dark sheet or lightweight blanket over your windows to keep light to a minimum. If the neighborhood is noisy, you can get a relatively inexpensive “white noise” machine to cancel out much of the outside noise. Another possibility is getting a CD of natural noises such as the surf rolling in, or a bubbling creek. Find a noise that soothes and try that in your CD player.
Establish a Bedtime Ritual
It’s funny how the human brain is wired. Set a pattern and it very quickly creates the desired reaction. Try a soothing cup of herbal tea or five minutes of deep breathing and gentle stretching. Think hard about that bamboo sheet set to help ease you into your rest. Whatever you think might be an effective way to set your stage for sleep. This also works in reverse. If you go to bed and cannot sleep, get up and do something else until you are tired enough to fall asleep. Do your routine again and then go to bed. After a few weeks, you may be surprised by how quickly your body recognizes the pattern you’ve set and falling asleep should be easier.
Just a reminder, there are some people who no matter what their work schedule have chronic insomnia. The above tips may help, but may not be as effective all the time. If you know someone with those issues, take the time to be nurturing to them when you can. Then we can go to sleep knowing we’ve not only done all our work, but we’ve done what we can for another person. That always feels good.