Joining the Night Owls: How to Balance Sleep and Shift Work

Many jobs within the transportation, manufacturing and logistics industry involve shift work. At Logical Staffing Solutions, we understand it isn’t always easy to get into a routine that is essentially nocturnal. If you don’t think and plan, your sleep pattern may suffer; so we’ve compiled some of the best advice on how to avoid shift work sleep disorder, as well as some top tips to adjust to a new work schedule.

Understand the Schedule

Employers want the best out of you, so shift work schedules usually have this in mind. Most companies will rotate shift work in the following way:

Moving in the opposite rotation is a far more challenging adjustment. You’ll also want to know how often the shift will change as this will affect the strategies you put in place to ensure your sleep doesn’t suffer. You might be working on fast shift rotations and changing every 48 – 96 hours or you might be on slow shift rotations and changing every few weeks. Long term contracts working nightshift is also a possibility.

Fast Rotation Sleep Tips

Fast rotation shift work is the hardest to get used to because the body is always only a few days away from entering a new sleep pattern. Bupa and the Australian Government suggest the following advice for fast rotation shift workers:

  • Spend time in daylight before and after your night shift
  • Avoid heavy meals at night
  • Have a nap at home, preferably in the early afternoon, before your night shift starts
  • Have a 20–30 minute nap during your night shift if possible and allow at least 10 minutes to wake up before returning to work duties.

Slow Rotation Sleep Tips

Advice for slow rotation shift workers and permanent night workers is the same. With long periods of time working from dusk to dawn it is important to become as nocturnal as possible. Bupa and the Australian Government suggest the following advice for slow rotation shift workers:

  • Go to bed as soon as you get home from night shift.
  • Avoid a main sleep in the evening — sleep may be more difficult then because your body temperature is up and you’re more alert.
    • Have an afternoon nap if you didn’t get enough sleep in the morning
    • Avoid napping during the night shift unless you’re very sleepy — if you do nap, keep it short, no more than 20–30 minutes
    • Try to avoid exposure to early-morning daylight on the way home. Wearing sunglasses may help.
    • Eat three regular meals a day including ‘lunch’ during your night shift

General Sleep Tips for Shift Workers

Sound advice for all shift workers includes the following. First up, get your partner or family on board. Discuss it with them, including the kids. Make sure everyone at home knows how important it is not to wake you up. Secondly, consider some investments like black out curtains, noise reducing headsets and an eye mask. Thirdly, don’t get tempted by quick fix solutions. Limit caffeine, as it will prove a false friend in the end. Next up, consider an alternative to driving yourself home. Can someone collect you? Can you walk or get the bus? Chances are you will be fatigued making driving a dangerous choice. Furthermore, once you have a schedule stick to it. The body likes routine. Finally, make sure you are drinking enough water and eating enough good tucker to energize your body for the shift ahead.

If your looking for employment in the manufacturing, logistics or transportation industry, get in touch with Logical Staffing Solutions today and sign up to our newsletter, or follow us on LinkedIn.

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