Many of our open positions for travel nurses here at RTG Medical are night shift positions. Though seasoned professionals may have no trouble at all with the adjustment, if you don’t typically work after dark, you may find yourself struggling to get enough sleep.
When you work while everyone else sleeps, it follows that you sleep while everyone else is awake. Noisy activities that would never take place in the middle of the night—like lawn maintenance, construction work, heavy traffic and community gatherings—can infiltrate the dream world of the night shift worker.
Night shift workers can actually face health problems related to their topsy-turvy lifestyle, from metabolic disturbances, to cardiovascular issues, and some of this is due to the disruption of the natural circadian rhythm (the “body clock”). However, most of the health problems associated with daytime sleeping stem from fatigue due to poor sleep quality.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that night shift workers can counteract this:
- Create a good sleep environment: It may take room-darkening shades or sleep mask, but find a way to block out the light. And to minimize sound, turn off your phone’s ringer, put a “don’t ring the doorbell” note on your front door, and invest in a good set of earplugs if you live in a lively neighborhood or building.
- Wind down before bedtime: Cut out stimulants such as caffeine in the hours before your “bedtime” and avoid large meals right before bed. Save activities like grocery shopping or bill-paying for your regular waking hours so you can let your mind relax before settling down for sleep.
- Keep to a schedule: If you drastically change your sleep routine on your days off, you may find it doubly hard to get back to normal when you have to return to work (it’s like jet lag). A less extreme transition of staying up a few extra hours or waking up just an hour or two outside of your regular time will help you get your normal business done on your days off–without compromising your sleep.
Especially for those new to night shift work, it’s essential to make sure that you still get good sleep. You wouldn’t want to show up to a normal hour job after not sleeping all night, so make sure not to do the same as a night shift worker.
Night shift workers, what do you do to ensure a good day’s sleep? We’d love to hear your tips!