How to Improve Sleep for Shift Workers

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What can be done to improve the sleep of those who work in shifts is to maintain a regular 8-hour rest, using Valerian-like teas that help to calm down when it is necessary to sleep, and consider the possibility of taking a supplement called Melatonin, which does not induce but improves sleep quality.

How to Improve Sleep for Shift Workers

In addition, it is very important to do between 5 and 6 meals a day, making the best possible intake of nutrients at each meal, but without overdoing the calories, to avoid weight gain and the risk of diabetes, which are more frequent in who has no regular hours to eat, sleep, and work.

Some tips to improve sleep and the quality of life of shift workers are:

 

1. Sleep at the right time

As the work schedule normally varies from week to week, what you can do is to draw up a plan to know when to sleep, in order to guarantee the necessary rest to the body and mind. A good example of a plan is:

Work shift What time to sleep (8am)
When working on the morning or afternoon shift Sleep at night, from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
When you leave the night shift Sleep in the morning, 08:30 to 16:30.
When to enter the Night shift Sleep at least 3 hours in the afternoon before starting the shift
When you have clearance Sleep at night if the next morning work in the morning or afternoon

After working the night shift, it is normal that even though you slept for the recommended 8 hours, you wake up to sleep and remain a little more tired the next day, but that sensation disappears throughout the day.

A good strategy for resting and waking up full of vigor is to wake up at the right time. So if you fall asleep fast and only wake up when the alarm sounds, put it to wake up 6 or 9 hours after falling asleep.

 

2. Do not drink coffee 3 hours before bedtime

Whenever you are close to your bedtime, which may be in the morning or afternoon, depending on the time you worked, avoid drinking drinks or foods that make sleep difficult such as strong coffee, chocolate, energy drinks or pepper because they leave the person more alert and active.

These foods should preferably be consumed during the work shift to give more energy, but 3 hours before the shift ends, should be avoided.

 

3. Ensure quality sleep

Whenever possible, it is best to sleep at home rather than in the workplace, trying to prepare a dark, quiet and comfortable room as this helps you to fall asleep faster and avoids waking up several times while trying to sleep.

Taking a relaxing bath or taking a juice or tea that has soothing properties may help. Good choices are passion fruit juice, chamomile tea, lavender or valerian, for example. If you do not like or do not have time to prepare these juices and teas, you can choose to take a natural remedy in capsules that contain these ingredients.

 

4. Take melatonin

Melatonin supplement is a good choice to help maintain a restful sleep, this supplement works by improving the quality of sleep but does not cause sleep. Generally a 3 or 5mg tablet before bedtime is sufficient to achieve good quality sleep, but although it can be bought without a prescription, it should be used with caution because there may be drug interaction.

Melatonin is a good choice for those who suffer from insomnia but do not want or can not take insomnia medications because they can lead to addiction.

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3. Ensure quality sleep

Whenever possible, it is best to sleep at home rather than in the workplace, trying to prepare a dark, quiet and comfortable room as this helps you to fall asleep faster and avoids waking up several times while trying to sleep.

Taking a relaxing bath or taking a juice or tea that has soothing properties may help. Good choices are passion fruit juice, chamomile tea, lavender or valerian, for example. If you do not like or do not have time to prepare these juices and teas, you can choose to take a natural remedy in capsules that contain these ingredients.

 

4. Take melatonin

Melatonin supplement is a good choice to help maintain a restful sleep, this supplement works by improving the quality of sleep but does not cause sleep. Generally a 3 or 5mg tablet before bedtime is sufficient to achieve good quality sleep, but although it can be bought without a prescription, it should be used with caution because there may be drug interaction.

Melatonin is a good choice for those who suffer from insomnia but do not want or can not take insomnia medications because they can lead to addiction.

 

5. Sleep during the shift

Some professionals, such as nurses, have the ability to take a nap during the shift and this is a possibility when you are very tired and the job allows. But when this is not possible, prepare yourself in advance, sleeping at least 3 hours before starting work can help you stay awake.

 

6. Eat well

Proper nutrition is also important to stay awake when you need to work. The meals should be well distributed, being harmful to be pinching all the time. The last meal before bedtime should be light to avoid poor digestion and a full stomach. The first meal after waking up should contain stimulating foods such as chocolate or coffee and bread or tapioca, for example.

 

What can happen to shift workers

If you work in shifts, you may find it very difficult to keep certain hours to eat or sleep, and therefore you are more likely to suffer from:

  • Sleep problems such as insomnia or excessive sleepiness, which occur due to working hours coinciding with the usual sleep phase, may lead to excessive use of sleeping pills;
  • Gastric problems that affect the stomach and intestine, such as gastritis or diarrhea, because they do not have regular meal times;
  • Menses delayed due to hormonal changes;
  • Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression;
  • Cardiac diseases , such as heart attack and stroke;
  • Type 2 diabetes and obesity ;
  • Cancer , especially of the lung and breast.

In addition to these consequences, lack of regular rest increases the risk of accidents and can disrupt family life and so it is so important to know what to eat and at what time to sleep to ensure quality of life, reducing all these risks.

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Dr. Anna Brist M.D.

“Optimal medical care is born out of creating a partnership between me and my patients with open communication and patient education as key components. My patients can expect to receive cutting-edge, evidence-based medicine in a nurturing and supportive environment.”