We all need 7-8 hours of proper sleep. But, what about the security guard who patrol our office space at night? Or what do you think about an emergency nurse or a doctor serving at night? What should do other night shift worker like police or other emergency maintenance workers to fulfill their sleep quota?
It’s always a puzzle to all of us. But the truth is human brain has excellent capability to cope up with almost every situation.
We will try to find out the appropriate ways to get some sleep and maintain a normal body function. Because at morning hours, it is difficult to sleep and a sleepless night may develop anxiety even psychic attack.
There are mainly 2 types of night shift worker.
- Having a regular continuous night shift work at least for 10 days-15 days in a month and remaining are evening or morning shift duties.
- Having 1-2 days of every week night duty with a roster. It is a little difficult situation to get a regular habit.
Here are some tips to get proper sleep for a night shift worker:
- Accept the situation:
At first you have to accept your situation. If you are anxious and feel irritated about your night shift work or about your job, it will make you worse and you can’t get a sleep after a hard try. Your brain is a magic box. Try to believe it and absorb it. You can control your habit and can get rid of this situation. It is the flow of time which gives you this position and this job, you have to accept it and try to do it properly.
- Get inspired and be motivated to accept this situation:
What do you think about night shift worker? Most of them are doing emergency jobs, like saving lives and properties. Their sleepless nights bring a calm and fearless nigh to all of us. They are guarding and managing gas, water and electricity supplies, selling emergency medications, helping people by providing oil or gas for their long drives, nurses and doctors are counting every pulse with a hope of a new life... Don’t think these are just businesses they do for their livings. It is the service what makes our life smooth. If you are a night shift worker don’t think you do your job only for your living. It is for maintaining proper order of other lives. So, be inspired by your job. Don’t think it is making you psychic. Don’t feel irritated. Try to accept it and be motivated to do it properly.
- Find a sleep hour:
If you are working in an office where you have to do night sift everyday or more than 10 days in a month you can have a permanent sleep routine. During the night shift block of a month, try to have regular 6-8 hour session with a continuous sleep at your daytime. It can be morning or evening. Try to have a 5-6 hour session of continuous sleep and you may take a 1-2 hour nap after a few hours of regular work.
During the other days of a month you should sleep at night for 7-8 hours. Don’t be afraid if you are taking on an average 6 hours of sleep daily. It doesn’t have so many health hazards. In fact, most of the Japanese don’t sleep more than 6 hours in a day.
If you are irregular weekly night shift worker then it is difficult to establish a biological sleep cycle in your brain. If you do night shift every alternative day then it is more difficult to sleep for you.
Try to convince your boss and colleagues to make a good roster where you all have a 2-3 consecutive nights for duty.
Make specific sleep roster for another 4-5 days. For example if you have to do 2 nights (Friday and Saturday), 2 evenings(Monday and Tuesday) and 2 mornings (Wednesday and Thursday) shift duties with a holiday(Sunday), then you have to do 2 nights consecutively (Friday and Saturday) and make a specific time for sleeping for other 5 days. If morning hours are suitable for you to sleep, you will get 5 subsequent mornings (Friday to Tuesday) in a week to sleep. If you think evening hours are more comforting for you to sleep you will get Wednesday to Sunday to sleep at evening.
In other 2 days you have to sleep at night. Though it is difficult to establish a regular sleep rhythm in your brain but if you accept your current situation and try to overcome it by your soul you can control your sleep habit.
- Sleep naps:
You can take 20-30 minutes 2-3 naps in your office, if there are no emergency situations, on your desk. It will help you to calm your brain and improve your confidence. If not possible forget about it. Try to think that you will have a 5-6 hours continuous sleep in the next morning. Don’t be paranoid.
- Creating a proper sleep environment:
- Family support is essential to establish a sleeping hours in an unusual time like morning or evening. Because at that time other members of your family will do different things. So, it will be difficult to accept your situation and establish an appropriate sleep routine by yourself without your family support.
- Use a dark and quiet room for sleep.
- It’s better to switch off your mobile or other electronic toys which can disrupt your sleep.
- After going to bed, don’t look at the clock and don’t calculate your sleep hours.
- Try to feel relaxed as much as possible.
- Use comfortable a mattress and pillow.
- Diet and drink habits:
Diet and drink habit should be accordingly adjusted.
- You should follow a proper diet plan containing all types of nutritious substances that are required for our body. You should take vegetables and fruit rich diet and carbohydrates, protein and fat should be added to your diet appropriately. You also can take quality multivitamins and micronutrients as a supplement to meet your daily requirements.
- Don’t eat too much before sleep. It is better to avoid food intake and drinking at least for 2 hours before your bed time.
- Don’t eat spicy and too much oily foods that can disturb your abdomen and can cause heartburn.
- Avoid tea or coffee for at least 8 hours before your bedtime.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol. Both are brain stimulant and impair greatly of your sleep pattern.
- Exercise and stress relieving techniques:
Daily 20-30 minutes of cardio exercises are very much helpful to increase oxygenated blood circulation to your brain and help to relieve stress and anxiety.
Fast brisk walking and jogging are very good exercises to maintain a proper health. But you can do other heavy exercises too.
You can try doing some yoga or meditation practices for relieving your stresses and anxiety. Daily 15-20 minutes of mediation session is enough to calm your mind and help your mind to accept any negative situations like night shift jobs.
There are many tips you can follow. But these are the main theme to establish your sleep pattern. If you are a night shift worker you have to accept your condition and try to cope with this situation.
Dr. Hasan Ebna Amin