Coping with Shift Work

There are more that 22 million Americans working evening, rotating or on-call shifts and facing sleep related problems like difficulty sleeping when off work and staying alert on the job.  Shift work may cause you social and family problems or even physical illness.  When you work a schedule different from most of the world, it can be challenging; but following the guidelines below can make shift work easier for you to live with - and safer too.

  • Get up at the same time every day (even on your days off)
  • Establish a relaxing pre-sleep ritual - such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack or 10 minutes of reading
  • Exercise regularly but confine vigorous exercise to at least 6 hours before bedtime
  • Keep a regular schedule.  Regular times for meals, medications, chores, etc.
  • Avoid ingestion of caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime.  Don't drink alcohol, especially when sleepy.
  • Avoid smoking close to bedtime
  • If you find napping helpful on a regular basis, try to nap a the same time everyday
  • Avoid sleeping pills unless prescribed by your doctor
  • Shift workers should eat meals that are high in protein and carbohydrates