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How to transition to shift work

23-05-2014

How to transition to shift work

If you have a new job or role that demands you do shift work then you will need to adapt. Going from a regular sleep routine to a shift work routine can be incredibly hard on the body. It is incredibly difficult and many people will never properly adapt to their shift work schedule. While there are no perfect solutions there are a number of things that you can do to make it easier on yourself.

Make sure you are sleeping well beforehand
Before you start your shift work schedule you need to make sure that you are sleeping well. In other words, if you are not sleeping well before you start your shift work then you are certainly not going to sleep well then so it is vital that you get your sleep health in order before this transition otherwise it will be incredibly disturbing. You need to be sleeping well before you try to mix up your sleep patterns.

Adjust gradually
The body likes to work to a routine, that is why it is best to go sleep each and every at the same time and to get up each morning at the same time. Any sudden changes will be hard to cope with, which is why you need to adjust gradually (if you can). This will obviously depend on your shift work schedule but the longer you can stretch your adjustment period out by the easier it will be.

Watch what you eat and drink
Everything we eat and drink has an impact on our sleep, some good and some bad. Avoid any caffeine while you are transitioning (this is hard) and do not use alcohol to get to sleep, make sure that you are eating foods that help you with your sleep, like cherries, diary and wheat. Be mindful of what you are eating and drinking and when.

Bright light is your friend
Right so you are at your job, it is the middle of the night. Make sure that you have bright lights on as this will help your body to adjust. The body clock is set using light so the more light you can expose yourself to the better. Blue light is particularly good for resetting your body clock so if you can place a gel over one of the lights that will really help.

Create a sleep space
One of the big issues will be trying to get to sleep after your shift, often this is when the rest of the world is waking up. You need to create a sleep space that helps you. The room needs to be as dark and quiet as possible, if you are unable to make it as dark and quiet as possible then you need to get ear plugs and a eye mask. This will help you to sleep.

Transitioning to shift work can be very difficult, there is no perfect method but there are a number of things that you can do to help your body to acclimatise better. Good luck and have a good day’s sleep!

 


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