The Shift Worker and Sleep


On the surface, shift work and flexible working schedules can seem like excellent choices. You may find it appealing in part because you have time to do things while others are at work. You can shop, travel, and complete tasks with relative ease.

Additionally, shift and flexible working schedules offer full 24-hour coverage and the ability to maximize productivity during open hours from a business and operations perspective. Effective applications for them include retail, call centers, healthcare, security, catering, hospitality, the emergency services, and overnight taxi or delivery driving.

However, for the worker, it is frequently realized that the people they want to spend time with are either preoccupied at work or unavailable because they are trying to get some much-needed sleep. In contrast to the more typical 7-8 hours, shift workers frequently only get 5 to 6 hours of sleep on average per stretch. Stress, FOMO, a feeling of isolation, and ultimately health issues can result from this.

Additionally, as a business owner, shift work can have a negative impact on your employees, who statistically are more likely to experience insomnia and other sleep-related problems, which can lead to more mishaps, drowsy driving, and absenteeism. It is possible for mental health to deteriorate over time, which may result in depression, poor work performance, and relationship issues.

Here are some tips for coping with flexible and shift working patterns;

– Rotating shift patterns have been found to cause havoc with the circadian body clock and ultimately can result in problematic sleep patterns developing. When not working, make an effort to maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Create a schedule that, if at all possible, gives days off in between night shifts so that you can rest. In order for your body rhythms to adjust, try to maintain a consistent routine.

– Some employers appreciate that sleep is an issue for the shift worker and offer on site employees 20 minute nap breaks during their shifts. Accept the offer to ease your extreme exhaustion. Given that many employers are aware that stress and lack of sleep can be linked to absenteeism, subpar performance, and many work-related accidents, it has been discovered to be a viable and effective method of promoting and maintaining a healthier workforce.

– Morale can be affected when staff find themselves regularly missing out on important family and social events due to their flexible work schedules. It’s important to deal with issues like FOMO, guilt, and interpersonal relations. A considerate employer will recognize the benefits of retaining qualified personnel, will not want to lose them, and will make every effort to provide open lines of communication, support, and training.

– Be active and keep your energy levels up during breaks. Get some fresh air, go for a walk or run, or do some exercise, and improve your circulation. Drink water and eat a healthy diet.

– Don’t overdo it on the caffeine. It’s crucial to stay awake at the beginning of a shift pattern, but as you get closer to the end of the shift and consider going to bed, it’s beneficial to reduce your caffeine intake.

– Be aware that the most sleepy time is between 4-5 am, so ensure that there are tasks which keep you alert and interested; avoid saving tedious or boring jobs until the end of your shift.

– To work, how far do you commute? Avoiding long commutes and running errands on the way home, which frequently serve to keep people awake and prevent them from falling asleep, will help you get the most rest possible. Drive without shoes, roll down the window, or sing along to the radio if you feel sleepy while driving (shift workers are nearly twice as likely to do so).

– Talk and share helpful hints and tips with co-workers and colleagues. See how they manage, and take a lesson from one another.

– Sleep can be elusive and difficult to schedule. For some shift workers, getting enough sleep turns into a major concern that occupies their thoughts all the time. Maintaining some semblance of normal life while working shifts, wanting to socialize, cultivate relationships, and keeping in touch with family and friends can be challenging. Even eating meals at odd hours can cause life to become chaotic, especially for those working flexible shift schedules where the schedule changes every week.

– Daytime sleeping can be fraught with all manner of distractions, ranging from the practical considerations of coping with daylight and external noises through to guilt at all the things we could, must, ought to be doing. We frequently bargain with ourselves about how little sleep we can get away with as well as our desire to live normal lives outside of work.

– Support good sleep by ensuring your bedroom is dark and comfortable. Consider using blackout blinds. We are designed to sleep at night and wake up during the day. To be quiet for a few hours, kindly request your housemates’ cooperation. Consider wearing an eye mask or earplugs. Switch to silent on your phone.

For a while, working shifts might be a good option. Know the value of taking care of yourself, and ask your employer to support you during this period.

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