“As you start shift work, make sure you’re well-rested. Get seven to eight hours of sleep for least two nights before you begin a new schedule. Take a nap before your shift to ward off sleepiness the first night.
To get the sleep you need, stay consistent. Go to bed and get up at the same time on your days off as you do on days when you work. This will allow your body to adapt to the new schedule. Changing your sleep schedule when you don’t work makes it much more difficult for your body to adjust, making it less likely you’ll get the sleep you need over time.
When you go to work, surround yourself with plenty of bright light. If you drink caffeine, do it early in your shift. As your work day goes on, decrease the caffeine. By the end of your shift, avoid it completely. If the sun starts to rise during your commute home, wear dark sunglasses to dim the external light. As soon as you arrive home, go to bed. If you delay, it will be more difficult to get to sleep.
Set up your bedroom environment to help you sleep. Keep it dark, covering the windows with room-darkening shades or curtains to block out any external light. Wearing a sleep mask over your eyes also may be useful. Adjust the temperature in your room so it’s cool and comfortable.
Your surroundings should be quiet. If other family members are home when you sleep, ask them to respect your need to rest. If possible, sleep in a room located away from family areas that can get noisy. Unplug or turn off phones and other electronic devices so you are not disturbed.
Leading a healthy, active lifestyle can promote healthy sleep. Eat a well-balanced diet. Keep alcohol to a minimum. Although alcohol can make it easier to fall asleep faster, it makes it harder to stay asleep for the seven to eight hours of sleep most adults need. Exercise regularly.”
– Joseph Kaplan, M.D, Director, Mayo Sleep Center, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.
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